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Benchmark Email is a pretty darned good service overall, with a decent free plan and very few flaws to be found in its feature set. It’s good enough for beginners and experienced marketers alike, and it’s quite good at keeping spam off the platform.
The only real disappointment was my customer service experience. Even then, your mileage may vary, as mistakes just happen sometimes. Overall, I like Benchmark email quite a bit and do heartily recommend it.
Does Benchmark Email Set the… Well… Benchmark?
Benchmark Email offers itself up as a streamlined experience. The whole idea is to spend less time on setup and customization, and more time on watching your contact list grow.
As usual, we have to ask ourselves, “Does this ideal match the reality?” Does this platform really provide everything you’d actually need for your email marketing? Is it right for you, and your business specifically? Is it going to bring in the potential customers, and help you keep them? Or would you be better off with a different option from the list of the best email marketing services?
I went in, disguised as a regular customer, to send some emails and find the answers to your burning questions. If you don’t mind a spoiler, I was largely very happy with what I found. I think you might be too.
No, really. Benchmark Email is one of the more complete email marketing solutions I’ve found to date. While other platforms might focus on extra features like site builders and event management, or even CRM platforms, Benchmark Email wants to do one thing for you: Email.
The focus is on doing one thing and doing it as well as possible. Personally, despite a few nitpicks that you’ll run into down below, I enjoyed this comparatively slimmed-down experience.
Email Campaigns, Templates, and Personalization
You can, of course, send out your benchmark newsletter or marketing campaign via regular email. It’s in the name. Funnily enough, you can also send out a newsletter automatically whenever an RSS feed gets updated, which is a feature I love.
If you’re into social media, you can also auto-tweet your newsletter out whenever you send one. Other social networks, however, may have to be configured via third-party integrations. The same goes for SMS-based marketing.
As for actually creating your emails, you’ve got three ways to do that:
The drag-and-drop editor
A code editor for custom templates
A plain text editor
That last option is for people who don’t want to bother with “a design” so much, and just want to write.
Benchmark Email has around 50 email templates, and most of them are pretty great-looking. They vary in style from bright and flashy to minimalist and understated; you’ll very likely find something that works for you. And if not, you can always start from a blank template, and make everything look (almost) exactly how you like.
The drag-and-drop editor itself is simple but good. You have some semi-flexible layout options, predefined blocks of content, and you can customize it all. You can even see the raw HTML code for every bit of it if you want. Change any and all colors you like, but do note that the font selection is rather small. It’s limited to some Windows base system fonts.
The templates are responsive, and mobile-friendly, and also “internationally friendly.” That’s right, there’s RTL language support for anyone who wants to do their marketing in Hebrew or Arabic.
There are personalization features, too. Email personalization is basically a tool that uses variables to insert custom content that’s unique (or unique-ish) to every reader. For instance, you can say, “Hi Dave,” instead of “Hi Customer-person!” It just feels a teensy bit more personal, you know?
In Benchmark Email, you can include details like their name, address, phone number, job title, location, business location, and so much more. You can also include surveys, and Facebook Like buttons. I don’t know why those last two are in the personalization feature, but they are.
Unfortunately, there’s no conditional content. That’s a feature that would allow you to display or show whole sections of an email depending on the information that you have about your contacts. Basically, you might want to show a specific block of text with shipping information if someone is in the UK, and another if they’re in the US.
But you can’t do that here.
Last for this section is A/B testing. A/B testing is a technique where you send two different versions of an email to your readers; half to one, and half to the other. Then you use your analytics to see which performed better. For example, does your audience like cat or dog pictures better?
On Benchmark Email, you can create A/B tests for simple things like your email subject lines, and you can test variations in the actual email content. This makes me happy, as some platforms only let you test the subject lines.
Mailing Lists and Segmentation
Importing your contacts is easy enough. You can collect contacts via signup forms, surveys, and polls. You can manually add contacts one by one to fill in all the details you want. You can copy and paste emails from spreadsheet files and so on.
To make things even easier, you can import contacts from a file. Benchmark supports XLS files (that’d be Microsoft Excel), CSV, and comma-separated text files. What’s more, you can import contacts from third-party tools such as Google Contacts, Zoho, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Slack, Formstack, and many more.
Every import method I tried (mostly file imports and copy/pasting them) went without a hitch.
Sorting your contacts into lists is dead easy too. You can list contacts by email address, first name, last name, date modified, and the contact’s overall rating. You can search by more advanced criteria in the search bar. Mind you, this is all for “Regular Lists.” And no, that’s not the only kind of list.
If you want to get crazy, give Targeted Lists a look: Targeted lists are lists created by Benchmark Email itself. Basically, you select some campaigns you’re already sent out, and the software will analyze the stats for those campaigns. It will create a list of people who have previously engaged with your emails, and allow you to “target” them more effectively. As you might expect, this feature is only available from the Pro plan and up.
Segmentation is another really cool thing for the data nerds, and it’s here whenever you need it. It allows you to create a filter for certain kinds of contacts, regardless of the list they’re already in. These filters are saved as their own lists and automatically updated when more contacts meet the criteria that you set.
You can filter contacts by their email, the date they were added, if they’ve opened a particular email in the last year (or another period of time), and their overall rating. Add as many filters/criteria as you want, and go.
Related to segmentation, you really want a way to clean out contacts who have had their emails bounce, or who haven’t opened one of your emails for a while. Well, Benchmark Email has a simple and easy-to-use cleanup tool for just that purpose.
Suppression lists are up last in this section. Suppression lists are lists of people you do not want to send emails to. Ever. These are typically used to make sure you don’t accidentally send emails to people who have unsubscribed. After all, complaints of spam are bad for business.
And uh… Benchmark Email gives you exactly one suppression list. This is not an actual problem, just a nitpick from someone who likes organizing information.
There does not seem to be a way to add more than one suppression list. You get one when you first open your account, and everyone who unsubscribes automatically goes there. You can also add contacts to this list manually, of course. It should be enough for most people, though it can be helpful to have more than one list for organizational purposes.
You can, technically, create a regular list of people you don’t want to send emails to. Then, when you send out a new email, there’s a field where you can select lists of contacts that you don’t want to send the email to. But then, you have to do this every time you send out a new email campaign.
Landing pages are a great way to sell specific deals and products, especially if you don’t feel like cluttering your main website with extra pages for marketing purposes, or temporary deals and discounts. Luckily, Benchmark Email has a pretty decent landing page builder.
Unluckily, it doesn’t have a lot of variety to work with, design-wise. Benchmark Email’s landing page templates come in at a total of 9: that’s 3 blank-ish templates to start from, and 6 templates that are fully designed.
Those 6 designed templates are pretty good though, and mobile-responsive. So there’s that. They’re on par with the best of the email templates. And the option of designing your own (more or less) from scratch to match your branding is an excellent inclusion all around.
The actual landing page editor is exactly the same as the email drag-and-drop editor. It’s got enough content blocks and layout options to satisfy most needs. And there’s RTL language support. Don’t forget the RTL language support.
Lastly, you can connect a custom domain to the landing page builder, so your landing pages will look (to visitors) like a part of your existing website. That’s just generally good for branding and helps your website users to feel safe and know that they really are dealing with you directly.
Automation is one of the coolest things about modern email marketing, at least for nerds like me. Basically, it allows you to set up a process that, once in place, you never need to touch again.
This could be anything as simple as sending an automatic welcome message to someone who signs up for your newsletter. Or it could be something as complex as a system that sorts contacts into different lists for you, depending on which products they’ve clicked on in your latest deals newsletter, and sending them related deals a month later
Benchmark Email lets you do this to varying degrees… depending on how much you’re paying.
First, there’s Automation Lite: On the free plan, you can apply simple automation to your mailing lists. You can send welcome emails, birthday emails, anniversary emails, and reminder emails to any of your contacts.
It’s not a terribly flexible system, but it’s quite good for beginners. And for people on the free plan, of course.
Advanced automation requires the Pro plan or up. It’s called Automation Pro, and it includes stuff like adding contacts to another mailing list if they click a link in one of your emails. This advanced automation system allows for far more complex and customizable processes, so I’d recommend the Pro plan for anyone who needs to manage their contacts in larger numbers.
Now, let’s take a quick look at some of the extras that Benchmark Email has to offer:
There are 1,500+ integrations and add-ons to choose from. All the usual suspects are here, of course: Google Analytics, eBay, Shopify, Flickr (there’s a blast from the past), PayPal, and Zapier, which is where the bulk of that 1,500 integrations comes from.
Basically, if you need Benchmark Email to work with one service or another, it’s probably possible, with minimal effort.
There’s also a Benchmark Email app for Shopify, which you can (as you might have guessed) use to connect your Shopify and Benchmark Email accounts more easily.
What’s more, there’s a Benchmark Email WordPress plugin. You can build your list right on your site, and send out email-formatted versions of your blog posts. If you’re running on WordPress (and over 40% of websites are), then this is an easy way to get your newsletter started.
Benchmark Email Has Strong Deliverability Features
Kinda hard for people to read your emails if they don’t get through, right? Well, let’s see how Benchmark Email campaigns do at getting through.
Lots of deliverability tests all make one big mistake: they try to give you a numerical rating that tells you how likely your email is to get through. Well, numbers like “73% deliverability” mean little, unless you can manually test every server and wire between your computer and the reader’s computer. Here on Website Planet, we do things differently to give you the information you really need.
The best anyone can really do is evaluate the features that improve your odds of deliverability, and that’s what I’ve done here. So remember, the score at the bottom is about the features, not a fake “deliverability rate.”
With that disclaimer done, let’s go:
First, we like to make sure every email platform we consider has DKIM authentication, and you should too. For the non-nerd, DKIM authentication is a system that verifies an email is actually coming from you, and not from a probably-malicious third party. Email that looks like it comes from someone else is likely to get blocked.
DKIM is definitely here, and there’s an easy-to-follow guide to make it happen. ‘Nuff said.
Next up, you want to make sure that your email platform doesn’t allow anyone to send spam from its platform. See, email providers like Gmail like to stop spam at the source, so any email marketing platform that allows spam is likely to get blocked entirely. Keeping unwanted spam off the platform is good for you and the potential spam-ees.
Benchmark Email has a strong anti-spam stance,and excellent features to make sure spam rarely gets through. Before you import contacts, you have to confirm that all contacts have given you permission to email them. Your list cannot be purchased, and certainly cannot contain email addresses scraped from the web.
Lists of contacts you import may be subject to list verification. This is a process where all of your emails are checked against a database of, well, bad emails. Benchmark email is working with email verification services called BriteVerify and Kickbox to make this happen.
I tested this feature. Specifically, I uploaded a list of known spam email addresses to see if they’d get flagged. The list was put under review immediately, and none of the spam email addresses were approved. Test passed! I love it.
Now how about if you want to do some affiliate marketing? That is allowed, technically, upon review. So basically, if you want to put affiliate links in your emails, you’d have to run the specific affiliate marketing you want to do by the Benchmark Email team. Since a lot of affiliate programs are pure and unadulterated spam, this caution is warranted and appreciated.
Simply put, having bad affiliate marketers on the same email service you use is like having regular spammers using it. Your email deliverability would be affected.
Lastly, let’s have a look at private IPs. Having an IP address dedicated to your email (and yours alone) means that if someone else uses Benchmark Email to send spam, it won’t affect your emails. Because even if their IP address gets blocked, yours doesn’t.
This service is available, but only to Enterprise customers. Then again, you usually don’t need it unless you’re sending emails at the enterprise level. It’s a nice-to-have feature, not a make-or-break feature.
Analytics are, of course, the best way to see if your Benchmark Email marketing is actually working as intended. While people and their human intuition will always be a necessary component of the marketing world (can’t leave it all to the machines!), you need to know if your marketing is having the desired effect.
Sure, you could watch your bank account and hope for the best. Or, you could get real-time insights into who’s opening your emails, and how they’re interacting with those emails. Then, define your strategy based on those numbers.
Benchmark Email’s analytics, even on the free plan, provide a number of useful stats that can help you to draw insights that you’ll need. Not only do you get the usual number of emails opened, clicks, and bounces, but you can also see which of your contacts opened their emails, and clicked on said links.
You also can get individual statistics on link performance, and then there’s one of my personal favorites: geolocation statistics. There’s a map that’ll show you where people are opening your emails. That’s already quite a bit of info, and plenty of other email services don’t have this.
You can also see graphs that show when, on an hourly basis, your emails are being opened. All in all, I am quite happy with the statistics on offer, and you get even more if you start paying for the Pro plan. It’s great.
Benchmark Email uses email (heh), phone, and live chat as your primary methods to contact the support team. The email and live chat options are available 24/7, every day.
There’s also a help center and knowledge base, with lots of basic tutorials. Video tutorials and webinars are also available. You can even catch the webinars live, or go back and watch the ones you missed.
For beginners, there are also tutorials on integrations, which I do appreciate. More platforms should put this kind of effort into making sure their customers can set up integrations more easily.
But my actual interactions with the support team were, unfortunately, a mixed bag.
I wrote to ask if there was any way to create custom suppression/block lists. As I mentioned before, you get one automatically at account creation, but you can’t create additional suppression lists manually… as such.
And before I could get that answer, there was a bit of confusion as to why I was even emailing. I first received an email that apologized for my “login issue” and said that my request was being forwarded to the appropriate support team. I had to write back, and tell them there was no login issue.
Then, I assume, someone read my actual question, because I got the answer I needed.
If you really, really like talking to people more directly, you can always pick up the phone. With that Public Service Announcement from your parents out of the way, let’s talk phone support:
The phone line is available from Monday to Friday, 6AM to 5PM PST in the US. Note: there are actually quite a few support numbers you can call all over the world, including Mexico, Brazil, France, Italy, the UK, India, Japan, and more.
I called the US line to ask how to create an automatic “abandoned shopping cart” email.
The first time I called, I had to wait on hold for a bit. And then, I got a message saying everyone was busy and I should leave a message. So I did. In theory, someone would be able to get back to you, but I couldn’t test that theory, as I made my call via Skype.
I called a second time some hours later, and someone picked up, apparently didn’t hear me, then hung up on me. Eh, fair enough. Bad connections happen.
I called again, then finally got the chance to ask my question. And well… the agent told me to send my question via email. This uhhh… could have gone a lot better, all things considered. My advice? Stick to the email and chat options.
In my live chat test, I asked if the drag-and-drop email editor email supported RTL languages like Arabic and Hebrew. I got a response in about a minute saying that, well, yes it does.
God, I love a simple one-and-done conversation with customer support. This interaction saved my whole customer support experience.
Perfectly Fair Prices for Good Features
Benchmark Email’s pricing structure is very simple. There’s a decent free plan, and it allows you to send 250 emails per month. No muss, no fuss. You can even have more than 250 contacts, so long as you don’t exceed your allotted number of emails.
The Pro plan is the only one with listed prices on the public side of the site, and those prices all depend on how many contacts you have/want to pay for. You can send as many emails per month as you like, and the plan starts at 500 contacts a month, for $13.00 per month. In addition, you get advanced statistics and automation.
Then there’s the Enterprise plan. That gets you email whitelabeling (i.e. it won’t say Benchmark Email at the bottom), a dedicated IP address, and priority support. You’ll need to talk to the sales team to get a quote… or sign up and go to the in-app payment page. That’ll show you prices. Having seen them, I can say that the enterprise pricing is pretty decent, too.
If that all sounds good to you, you can pay with all major credit cards, wire transfer, check, and PayPal. Good stuff all around.
The only real downside? No refunds. I’d recommend starting with a monthly plan if you want to evaluate the paid features. Paying yearly, incidentally, will get you a discount.
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January 13, 2021
I used this service on the advice of guys from the field of email marketing! Great service at a great price! It is easy to use the tool of this service, the support of the service works with a bang and I recommend it to everyone who is engaged in email marketing
Benchmark Email is a pretty darned good service overall, with very few flaws to be found in its feature set. With its decent free plan, a beginner would absolutely be able to start a simple free newsletter and grow it over time. A life-long email marketer shouldn’t be disappointed by the Pro/Enterprise feature set in the slightest.
I wish there were more landing page templates, but that’s basically nitpicking. The only real disappointment was my customer service experience. Even then, your mileage may vary, as mistakes just happen sometimes.
Overall, I like Benchmark Email quite a bit and do heartily recommend it.
What is Benchmark Email?The Benchmark Email app is designed, as the title may suggest, to send emails. Lots of them. All at once. But more than that, it can help you keep track of who’s interested in your products, how people interact with your emails, who’s reading them, and so much more.
You can automate processes to welcome new customers, add or remove people from lists, send reminders and greetings on birthdays. You can also build landing pages to help sell your products, or entice even more people to sign up for your newsletters.
It’s a complete email marketing solution, and you can use the free plan to try it out without paying a dime.
If you’re not sure if Benchmark Email is right for you, see our reviews of the best email marketing platforms.How much does Benchmark Email cost?The starting price is $13.00 per month for 500 contacts. The more contacts you have, the higher the price gets, but you can send unlimited emails. Truth be told, this is a fairly standard pricing model, and Benchmark Email has better prices than most.
At least, they’re better prices for the features you get. If you’re looking for a discount, check out our email marketing coupon page.How do I cancel Benchmark Email?Go to your Account Settings, and then click on Plan Information. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, where you’ll see a tiny link that’ll let you unsubscribe from services and cancel your account entirely.
Then you’ll have to talk to a service representative to actually get the cancellation done. If there are no reps available, you’ll need to leave a message, essentially. Still, the cancellation will happen sooner or later.Does Benchmark Email have a free plan?Yes it does, and it’s pretty good. The Benchmark Email Free plan allows you to send up to 250 emails per month while testing out simpler versions of features like automation and analytics.
It’s a great way to evaluate the service, or even start your very first newsletter. It’s not the most generous free plan out there (take a look at Sendinblue), but it’s far better than you’d get on most other platforms.
Ezequiel Bruni is biologically Canadian, legally Mexican, and self identifies as a total nerd. He’s been a web and experience designer off and on since he was a teenager, and loves sharing the kind of beginner’s advice he really wishes he’d had when he first started. He also loves video games, tacos, open source software, video games, sci-fi and fantasy in all their forms, and video games. He does not love writing in the third person.