Benchmark began with three people and one desk. They've grown a lot since then. In fact, they now have more than 73,000 users. Their mission is to "be a part of your origin story" by giving you the tools to connect and engage with old customers and entice new customers. Benchmark promises to have the tools you need to help your business grow-whether you're a "kitchen table operation or a major corporation."
- Social media
- Google Analytics integration
- Events tool
- Company assistance
- Free-for-life plan
Given that Benchmark is promising to connect you to your customers, they've provided their customers with the ability to connect in other ways besides just through email. You can link Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Digg, and other social media platforms to your email campaigns.
Using campaign reports and Google analytics-enhanced customer tracking, you'll be able to see helpful data to improve your future email campaigns. See a visual map of where your subscribers are located, see who clicks links in your email, which pages get visited, how your subscribers then navigate your site, whether they add anything to their shopping cart, and even whether they leave their shopping cart full without making a purchase. Real-time analytics and A/B testing can help you better understand your customer base. You can also include surveys and web polls in your emails and track answers in your report section.
Benchmark currently offers over 400 professionally designed email templates created with different purposes in mind (from the local real estate agent to the non-profit organization) and new templates are being added constantly.
Benchmark has created a lot of buzz with their new Events tools. Not only can you email invitations and reminder emails, you can register guests and sell tickets. They offer customizable templates for event registration, just add your own logos, videos, branding, maps, etc.. You can even sell tickets; guests can pay with a credit card, PayPal or Google Wallet and then you can track registration, create lists of registrants and even check guests in digitally using your iPhone or iPad at the event.
Autoresponders allow your customers to automatically receive emails for birthdays, holidays, and special events, which keeps you better connected without actually having to create a new campaign. And in an effort to make sure your emails are actually received, not just sent, Benchmark runs them through a spam checker to flag words known to trigger spam filters.
Benchmark is designed to help you reach your customers with less time and effort on your part. Now they offer an optional add on that, while not inexpensive, has the potential to save you even more time. For $149.95 a month, a "dedicated email concierge team" will do all of the email marketing steps for you.
Benchmark's free-for-life plan is a nice option for those looking to save some money. This plan allows you to send 10,000 emails per month at no cost and gives you access to virtually all of the tools and features-templates, email tracking, drag-and-drop editing, etc.. However, you can only send emails to people who subscribe through the sign-up form on your account, so you can't upload your own contact list. This is still a nice option for a new company with limited funds. Benchmark also offers a 15% discount if you pay for an entire year up front rather than monthly. They also offer a 25% discount for non-profit organizations.
- Misleading prices
- Setup fees for some plans
- Limited contact importing options
- Lack of mobile testing
The prices are a little misleading because there are two popular add-ons that will run your tab up. On the two less expensive plans (Send Based and List Based) Benchmark only gives 10MB of image storage. If you want more than that (which you likely will, given that 10 MB won't hold much), it will cost you an extra $5 a month for 50 MB of storage. Unlimited plans are available, but the pricing is not readily listed on the site. Instead, you have to fill out a request form for a custom quote. None of the plans include a dedicated IP, although this is a more optional upgrade than the photo storage. A dedicated IP will add an additional $30 per month to your bill.
The High Volume plan will cost you $399 per month, but unlike the other two plans, you'll also be charged a one time "setup fee" of $199.00 and if you go over 150,000 emails, you'll be billed for every additional email.
While users can quickly upload an Excel file with contacts, Benchmark doesn't have Gmail or other third-party contact integration, which could potentially cost users a great deal of time in manually entering contact information.
Benchmark does allow you to send a test email and preview an email before sending it out, but only on the desktop, not on the mobile, despite boasting that emails can be create via mobile.
The Bottom Line
Benchmark's pricing is built for a wide range of customers-from the massive corporation to the PTA president. Even the inexpensive plans offer a lot of helpful and user-friendly tools for users to both create emails and analyze data after the customer receives the email. Some of the tools are a little glitchy and other tools aren't available when using a phone rather than a computer, but as a whole. Upgrade options may not always be cheap, but are provide you with some pretty helpful options to save you time. Customer service is easy to reach and helpful, with 24/7 email and live chat. Social media integration isn't always seamless, but Benchmark does have tools to integrate most popular forms of social media to better reach your customer base. Benchmark offers its customers a lot of tools and support for the price compared with competitors.