Benchmark is another contender that provides a generous offering in its free e-mail marketing package. They stand out for their 24/7 customer support even for free users, along with dozens of short, helpful tutorial videos in their support database. Plus, if your native language isn’t English, Benchmark is one of the few e-mail marketing service providers that offers support for multiple languages, which at the moment includes Dutch, Polish, Turkish, and Swedish. Note, though, that if you’re only going for their free plan, it can be somewhat limited in a few critical features.
A Clean, Simple Email Marketing Tool Designed for Marketers Around the World
A year or two ago, I started seeing the name Benchmark Email frequently mentioned in forums and chats.
Why only then? After all, the company started back in 2004. Well, supposedly, Benchmark Email went through a big overhaul and became a beautiful email marketing tool that was an absolute pleasure to use.
Ever since then, it’s been simple enough that a beginner could learn to use it quickly, yet powerful enough to give experienced marketers access to advanced automation features.
There’s a great free plan to test out Benchmark Email, too, and the platform has been translated into several languages (e.g., French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, and more).
Of course, I had to try it for myself to see whether it lived up to the hype.
If you’d like to see what I found out and learn whether Benchmark Email is right for you, keep reading.
Intuitive Features that Are Powerful Enough for Advanced Marketers
Benchmark has a smooth email editor. It lets you make basic autoresponders. But those are a given for a good email marketing tool.
Here, I want to go over the features that make Benchmark stand out from other tools. I’ll focus on the most important ones, but there are others that can also be useful, like creating sub-accounts and previewing what emails look like in different inboxes (e.g., Gmail, Outlook, etc.).
Over 220 Templates
You can send plain emails or code in HTML of course, but if you want to send an attractive email easily, you’ll want to start with a template.
There are over 220, and you can filter by type (e.g., announcement, promotion), industry, holiday, and more. While you can switch templates for an email later on, you’ll lose any content you’ve changed.
Automation Workflows Based on Time or Behavior
If you want to maximize your return on email marketing, you’re going to need more automation than a basic autoresponder. I’m pretty impressed with what Benchmark offers for advanced automation, and by how simple the workflow builder is.
To save you time, you can choose from ten pre-made templates (e.g., welcome new subscribers, abandoned cart). Alternatively, you can start from scratch.
You can create nodes that are either conditions or actions.
Conditions trigger certain paths in the workflow, which can include:
In or not in a certain list
Opened an email
Clicked a link in an email
Visited a URL on your site
There’s a handful of actions you can choose from when a condition is met:
Send an email
Add to or remove from a list
Add a time delay (before next action)
Add or remove from Facebook advertising audience (if you’ve connected Facebook ads)
More than 300 Integrations
You probably want to collect contacts from more than just your website. Whether you use a CRM, social media, blog, or online store to get new subscribers, Benchmark likely has an integration for you.
There are currently over 300 integrations, and one of those is Zapier. So, even if a particular integration isn’t available, you can probably make a workaround with Zapier.
I won’t list all the integrations, but these are the major ones that caught my eye:
For e-commerce: Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce
For websites and landing pages: WordPress, Unbounce, Magento
For payment processors: Stripe, PayPal
For social media: Tumblr, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Pinterest
List Verification to Weed Out Bad Emails
This fairly unique feature has both good and bad aspects to it, but mostly good.
First, the bad news: basically, Benchmark charges $3 per 1,000 contacts addedon paid plans to verify their quality. Then Benchmark categorizes them for you, so you find out whether anyone gave you an invalid email.
Why is this good? Any experienced marketer will tell you all about the benefits of cleaning your list:
Lower email bounce rates
Clearer campaign results (invalid addresses will lower results, making it hard to tell how well you’re doing)
A better sender rep
No wasted money on useless contacts
You can also segment contacts into inactive ones to further try to re-engage or clean your list.
Split (A/B) Testing for Optimization
To optimize your results, you should test different versions of a particular email. Split-testing allows you to show different versions to small parts of your contacts, and you can send the winner to the rest.
Benchmark offers the standard options that most other email marketing tools do. You can vary emails by:
Simple Form Builder
I’ve always thought that forms are overlooked by many email marketing tools. Usually, they offer the bare minimum as a form builder, and you end up having to lose time messing around with CSS.
Overall,Benchmark’s form builder is one of the best I’ve seen.
You can create an embedded form, popup, or a third-party signup form (Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Unbounce).
The form builder gives you quite a bit of control over styling your form, and it lets you choose which fields to show. You can select the color of each element (or form background), and a few other settings like border color and size, and corner radius.See full list of features
Ease of use
An Intuitive and Attractive User Interface
If you’ve ever used an email marketing tool before, figuring out how to do what you want in Benchmark shouldn’t take more than a few moments — it’s designed to be very intuitive.
Only the essentials are shown on a particular screen, and the main menu uses clear, familiar terms and is easy to navigate.
With a new account, you could have an email ready to send within 15 minutes. Just go through four main steps:
Choose a type of email editor to use (drag-and-drop, code, or plain text)
Give your email a title and choose any settings (most are optional)
Choose which list to send the email to
Create and edit your email (which may involve choosing a template, depending on the editor you chose)
If you use the drag-and-drop editor, there are three aspects of the process that stand out compared with other email marketing tools. This is what you can do with Benchmark:
1. Save Time with Email Blocks
In the email editor, instead of just being able to drop in single elements (e.g., text, image), you can drag in pre-made and formatted blocks.
For example, you can drag in different layouts of social buttons, or choose from different combination layouts of text and image blocks.
This feature saves you time, as well as any frustration trying to get your columns and blocks to line up how you’d like.
2. Pick from Layouts Instead of Templates
Templates can usually save you time, but sometimes you need to replace a lot of the images, text, or blocks.
If what you’re mainly after is the layout, you can choose from a variety of blank layouts for an email instead of a template.
In certain situations, these can save you even more time than templates.
3. Set Global Styles
While you can select individual blocks in the email editor and style them (e.g., color, font, size, etc.), you can also change the entire style of the email quickly.
You can choose an overall color scheme to change the entire email at once. You can create your own color schemes on top of the default ones if you plan to apply it to future emails.
You can also style individual sections of the email together (e.g., header, footer, body, etc.).
24/7 Support Around the World
Benchmark offers quite a few support options.
First, you can get support through four main channels:
Phone (9:30am – 8:00pm, Monday – Friday U.S. Eastern Time)
On top of customer support, Benchmark also offers just over 40 video tutorials showing you how to use the platform, and there are also regular webinars on the basics of email marketing.
What’s fairly unique about Benchmark is that it offers support in nine different languages.
The availability is about as good as you’ll find anywhere.
But what about the quality of support? The only way to know that is to put the support to the test.
So that’s what I did. I contacted them multiple times through the course of a week with a variety of questions (some easy, some hard).
Overall, the quality of support I received was decent, but not perfect.
First, I started with live chat. I asked about the hours that live chat support would be available in the future.
It took a few messages to get an actual answer, and it wasn’t the clearest, but it was reasonably quick, taking about five minutes total.
I gave support a call a day later to ask about adding multiple users to an account. The phone rep was very quiet, mumbled a bit, and had a fairly thick accent that was a little hard for me to understand. Honestly, it wasn’t a great experience, and I left without a clear answer.
Finally, I submitted a ticket to get clarification between Automation Lite and Automation Pro. I received a clear, well-written answer within 20 minutes.
Overall, I was disappointed by the phone support, but the ticket support was great, and the live chat support was decent.
Reasonably Priced Plans No Matter Your Size
Benchmark offers a generous free plan. It’s just missing a few features you may need, like automation and A/B testing.
The paid plans come with all the features Benchmark has to offer. You just pay based on the number of contacts you need. The price is reasonable whether you have ten subscribers, or over a million.
You can pay with PayPal or credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, or Discover). Wire transfer is another option, though you must contact support.
Cancellations & Refunds
You can cancel your paid plan or even cancel your account altogether in your account settings.
The option to cancel is not highlighted on the plan information page, but it’s also not too hard to find if you know what to look for.
There’s a link to a cancellation form to take you through the process. If you’d like to see the entire process in detail, with screenshots, see this guide.