Benchmark offers over 1,500 integrations and competitive pricing plans to aid your business in a cloud-based email marketing platform. From offering click heatmaps to advanced segmentation options, Benchmark operates with a simple and welcoming UI.
From creating dynamic content to enticing landing pages, survey forms to managing your subscribers, Benchmark does all this and more. Their CAN-SPAM Compliance can ensure that every email you send reaches its target.
While Benchmark works for both small and large businesses, larger companies have more to gain from its features. Let’s take a look at each of its features and their performance!
Benchmark Email Features
Benchmark is a full-featured email marketing solution. Tons of helpful options to customize your emails, templates for multiple industries, visual workflow automation and quick support are some of them.
Let’s take a deeper look at its other features.
Dashboard and User Interface
The Benchmark UI is one of the most simple, though not the most compelling one that I have seen. Everything is in its place – neatly labeled and complaint. The directions are clear. To the left, we have the main menu containing all the necessary tabs. Help is available at the bottom and opens the official Benchmark Help page in a new tab.
To the top right is your account bubble. You can access your image gallery, integrations and partnership programs from here. With a paid plan, you can create various sub-accounts within a single Benchmark account and switch quickly with the bubble.
Set-up is quick and easy. The main dashboard through all the steps that need to be completed. Once done, it shows you real-time data about your Account Usage and current storage used. The free plan comes with only 10 MB of image gallery storage.
The only thing I would change would be a tiny pop-up that keeps appearing towards the lower right corner with helpful quotes. It’s quite disruptive to the workflow and could perhaps have been better positioned somewhere else.
Newsletters and Templates
Benchmark offers the usual option between creating a regular email or an RSS email. The RSS emails can be automated so that you automatically get sent to a list every time you update a blog. Under the regular email option, you can either opt for a drag-and-drop editor, an HTML editor or a plain text email.
Benchmark’s drag-and-drop editor is pretty neat and easy to use. While the elements adhere to a grid layout, you do have some flexibility in placing and moving the sections. You can choose from blank templates (that are still segmented into columns and headers) or from existing template layouts.
You can choose to add images, image groups, headers, buttons, videos, navigation bars and more.
The editor UI is one of the cleaner ones I have seen with every action concentrated towards the left. However, there are some features that are hidden. For example, you cannot directly edit the text on a button on the main screen. Rather, you will have to refer to the new tab opening towards the left for it.
Once this is done, you can choose to test the layout by sending a sample email or printing it out. An “Inbox Checker” option allows you to see how your email will appear in the various service provider inboxes. The list includes all major clients like Gmail, AOL, iPhone Email, Comcast, Outlook, etc.
However, only the Gmail design testing is free and the rest are paid. Spam testing is free in all plans. However, there do exist reports where an email was said to pass the spam test but was still marked as spam when sent to the user.
You can also view your email in its standard desktop, tab or mobile version. Along with this, a plain text version is also available. The Inbox Checker tab is available separately under “Emails” as well.
Benchmark offers four different ways of creating a list.
- You can either import it from .xls, .csv, and .txt files.
- Or you can copy-paste the email addresses all at once.
- Alternatively, you can use integration like Google Contacts, Zoho, Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
- And as always, you can manually create contacts one by one.
You can further segment a list using different tags and criteria filters. With the paid plan, you can create a Targetted List. Targetted Lists are created based on user actions like whether or not they have opened an email or clicked a specific link. A segment can only exist within the list itself. One cannot create a segment across multiple lists.
Benchmark has a cleaning option for removing stale users that verified the email and checks for unopened emails and bounces. Based on the criteria set, it will remove inactive or uninterested users. Generally, Benchmark considers a target as a confirmed bounce if the email has bounced thrice.
The A/B Testing feature is only available in the paid plans. Benchmark allows you to set up a maximum of 3 different variants. You can alternate between things like subject line, From address, and body. You can experiment between the overall success rate of sending a single email or multiple emails as a part of a campaign. The percentage of people who receive each variant is up to you.
Benchmark self-selects a winner based on the opening rates, CTR or a combination of both. You can automatically select the winning criteria and set the winner to be sent out. Or, you can select the option “save as draft” and later manually send the winner. In a nutshell, the options you have are:
- From Name/ Subject Line Test
- Delivery Time Test
- Multiple Variable Test (one vs. many)
- Campaign vs. Campaign Test (compare two campaigns)
Benchmark offers two types of automation – Automation Pro and Automation Lite.
Only the lite version is available in the free plan. For each, you can choose to create a Regular Automation (meant as reminders, birthday deals, etc.) or an Email Engagement Automation. The latter is again, only available in paid plans.
- Automation Lite offers an extremely simple and trigger-based automation process. There is no visual board that you can use. You can simply select from a set list of triggers like anniversaries. You cannot create a drawn-out process involving multiple triggers and if-else processes. Benchmark suggests you use a company email for these. The emails you send out are also standard content created from their templates. It will not contain any dynamic content. You can customize delivery timings.
- Automation Pro on the other hand allows a fully visual workflow process. You can create process flowcharts within an expansive space, including triggers and various conditions. One can check it out in the free plan, but the paid plan is needed to implement it. There are also existing templates for some common ones like abandoned carts, buyer follow-ups and Facebook ad targeting. The Benchmark Automation Pro is much easier and smoother to use than various other industry standards. It is truly intuitive and allows you to focus more on the process than satisfying conditions on dashboards on the side. The visuals are also pretty cool!
Landing Page Builder
The Landing Page Builder is pretty standard and as we have come to expect from Benchmark – clean. Similar to its email editor, you can start with a blank layout segmented into parts, a fully blank layout or start from a template. The editor is almost exactly the same as the email editor except for the bottom ribbon.
You can add elements like social media buttons, share buttons, dividers, navigation bars, headers etc within the segmented grids. It is easy to use and does not perform unexpectedly in any sense. The Free plan allows you to create and curate a landing page. However, you will need to upgrade to a paid plan to make your page live. Once done, you can preview it out for desktop, mobile and tabs.
Benchmark allows you to create 4 different types of sign-up forms:
- Embedded Forms – This includes forms that are a part of the page itself. No need for a separate tab, link or pop-up. You can use these on the right side to get newsletter subscribers.
- Pop-up Forms – This includes forms that come up in the form of a pop-up bar based on a particular trigger. You can use the Benchmark editor to create a customized one for your website. While creating a pop-up form, you can also select the specific segment of users for who you want to show the form.
- Small Embedded Forms – Embedded forms can take up quite some space. Small embedded forms are the same, but they are small enough to fit within the bottom ribbon.
- Third-Party Forms – You can also use the Benchmark editing option to create a form and add it to some other third-party platform. The current integrations include WordPress, Unbounce and Twitter.
For every form, you can select either a Single Opt-in or a Double Opt-in. In the Single Opt-in, any user who fills the form is added to your subscriber list. Under the Double Opt-in option, a second email is sent to their email for verification. Once this is done, they are added to the subscriber list.
You can also set up a new landing page and set the URL as the next page the user will be directed to. For every confirmation, you may or may not choose to receive a confirmation email yourself. Overall, the Benchmark sign-up forms are pretty compact with beautiful templates. The opt-in options make the entire system complete.
Surveys are a great way to collect demographic data and user opinions. You can create up to 6 different templates of surveys using Benchmark’s inbuilt tools. You can click on the “Preview” option for every template to see a functional preview in a new tab. You can choose from:
- Blank Survey – This template essentially offers no template. You start with a blank screen and go on from there.
- Services Provided – This template is for customer feedback regarding a product or service provided.
- Event Participation– This one is meant to gather responses for people attending an event or for the feedback of an event that has already occurred.
- Company Satisfaction – Another feedback form for the services provided.
- Website Survey – This form is meant to analyze whether someone enjoyed your website or not.
- In-store purchase – This template gathers information regarding a customer’s satisfaction with a purchase.
You can edit existing templates by deleting, moving or adding questions. The answers can be in the form of one-liners, checkboxes, multiple checks, radio, descriptive and more.
Then, you can add a URL for people to be directed to when they have completed the survey. Benchmark even allows you to add a short, introductory message for every survey. While the tool is easy to use, I do wish Benchmark allows a few more aesthetic options. The final survey preview could do with some more spacing.
This is possibly the easiest to use feature Benchmark has. The Poll tab directs a simple editor to edit the questions, options, and background color (only 2 options). Once done, Benchmark will generate a URL for it. However, there is no option for integrating it within your landing page or any other existing site.
So it seems kind of redundant.
For promotion goods, you can integrate with eBay or Etsy. Other integrations include PayPal, SurveyMonkey, Facebook Business, Twitter, WordPress, Unbounce and more. Benchmark has partnered up with Zapier and Slemma so these are available as well.
Using the API Key provided, you can easily transfer data or database programs from one internal system to Benchmark and vice versa.
Benchmark gives you all the regular details you need. This includes clicks, bounces, open rates, subscribers and growth. You can change the infographics to see the growth monthly, weekly or hourly. Apart from this, Benchmark also offers clicking heatmaps and results based on geo-tracking. You can integrate Google Analytics for every email you send out. Benchmark allows you to see the following reports and analytics.
- Email Reports
- Automation Reports
- AB Test Reports
- Complaint Reports
- Survey Reports
- Poll Reports
Once you click on a particular stat (say, clicks or bounces) – it opens up the exact users who have performed these actions. For a single email with multiple links, the tracking rate for each is displayed separately. This is quite an interesting feature for tracking the performance of multiple products within a single mail. However, Benchmark does not offer any e-commerce tracking as of yet.
Benchmark offers three different pricing stacks – the forever free plan, the Pro Plan and the customized Enterprise Plan.
While 13 USD for the Pro Plan may not seem like much, there are quite a few extensions you will need as well.
For example, if you want unlimited image hosting, you will need to pay another 5 USD.
Even with the Enterprise plans, some features like Inbox checkers and email verifications are only free up to a certain extent (like up to 200 contacts). After that, it costs 3 USD for every 1000 contacts.
This is why I feel the Benchmark pricing is curated with established businesses in mind.
Interestingly, with every plan (including a free one), you get unlimited video storage space.
So, who should use Benchmark?
Benchmark excels in the case of customer support and offering security. They have Swiss-US Privacy Shield certified protection and your data will be under SSL encryption. With a paid plan, you can set up a four-digit PIN required before downloading data. This could be quite useful in case there are multiple people using a single account.
It does offer an excellent visualization tool for work funnels. The clarity and lack of distractions are quite interesting. The UI is simple and presents a little challenge, though overall, it is a bit monotonous. The free plan has very few features and cannot compete with the other options in the market. The 10 MB image gallery space provided is downright too less.
Benchmark also looks like a great email marketing service for bloggers.
However, with the paid plans, Benchmark performs quite well. They also have a separate CRM called Benchmark ONE previously known as Hatchbuck.
After all is said and done, Benchmark does have a poorer delivery rate than its contemporaries. For smaller businesses, there are certainly better options than to go for Benchmark.
For larger agencies, Benchmark is a good option with its customized plans and extensive set of features.