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Benchmark
3.8

Benchmark Review - Hitting the mark?

Professor

With a presence in fifteen countries around the world, Benchmark pride themselves on international service. I found myself speaking to several of their (more than 100+) staff on many occasions, and it’s true that their support is not only fast but also friendly. In fact, Benchmark’s support won top prize in PC Magazine last year, so I guess that’s something to brag about.

Aiming for a ‘powerfully simple’ tool, Benchmark have done a decent job in terms of both user experience and features offered. This is particularly true when you consider that many of their features can be accessed without paying a cent. Which limits you to slightly fewer features and also the amount of subscribers and emails you can send. But, nonetheless, it’s not a bad deal.

But do they stand up when compared to other email tools in the market? Let’s find out.

2,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$0/MO

Free plan has limited features

3,500 SUBSCRIBERS

$39.95/MO

7,500 SUBSCRIBERS

$59.95/MO

15,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$96.95/MO

50,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$230.95/MO

Easy-to-use editor:

Strangely a lot of newsletter tools get this wrong, but Benchmark’s is a breeze to use with all the elements you’ll need.

Flexible templates:

Their template choice is wide and high quality. They even include mobile display options for some elements, which is a nice touch.

Lacking true automation:

Their version of marketing automation is mostly advanced autoresponders, lacking the complexity of some other services out there.

File storage charges:

They offer a uselessly small amount of image storage, and then charge for the upgrade. They should just include it as part of the plan prices.

criterion rating comments

Ease of Use

Benchmark is very easy to use, with a visually pleasing
interface that mostly makes sense. Some sections look a little dated, though, and a few things are hidden away.

Newsletter Creation

Editor

The editor is one of the better ones out there, with easily interchangeable templates and a good variety of blocks. You can add images within any block of text, and they also have several image+text ready-made options. Anchor points can also be added with one-click. You can only ‘undo’ while you’re editing a block, so keep that in mind.

Personalization

yes

Only simple personalisation is available, no if/then/else logic.

Email types

Classic, autoresponders, recurring, once-off (date-based), RSS to email, A/B testing, surveys.

Choice and Flexibility of Template Designs

There’s a good choice of templates available, and they’re all responsive. One good thing about the templates is that you can choose specific options for how certain features display separately on mobile devices.

Email Automation

Benchmark’s automation is mostly advanced autoresponders, allowing automatic emails to be sent based on signups, opens and clicks.

List Management

Only basic list management is available, segmenting lists via and/or criteria. It’s not that flexible to manage users across lists either, as you can only delete a subscriber from either one, or all, lists. There’s nothing in between.

Registration Forms/ Opt-in & Opt-out- Process

The forms are done well, allowing you to create pop-ups and other basic forms with relative ease, yet some sections could do with an update. You can add your own database fields, yet the options are limited, for example no drop-downs.

Reports and Analysis

The reports are good, giving you the detail of openers and clickers. They also have an email heat-map, Google Analytics integrations, geo-tracking and social tracking. There was no client or ecommerce tracking though.

Languages

A relatively good 9 languages, but we found a couple of instances where pages didn’t quite work correctly, such as when choosing Portuguese.

Further Features

Spam- and Design-Testing

They do have these available within the editor. Spam testing is free, while design testing needs to be purchased. We did have issues where our emails passed the spam tests though, and all were delivered as spam. This also happened with all emails from Benchmark’s marketing team too, which is a little concerning.

Bounce Management

yes

Pretty standard bounce management, flagging contacts as ‘confirmed bounces’ once they hard bounce twice. Note that these count towards your active contact count as long as they are not deleted or set to ‘unsubscribed’.

Blacklist

no

This is not available.

Storage available for data and images

10mb-10gb

Benchmark only offer a tiny 10MB of image storage, meaning that the average user will have to pay an additional $5 per month to increase it to 10GB.

Pro Features

Authentication

yes

SPF, DKIM and whitelisting all available.

Own Domain

no

Tracking links use bmetrack.com as domain name.

Different levels of account access

yes

Benchmark have sub-accounts available on their paid plans. It lacks some of the customisation depth that other tools have.

Integrations

yes

Quite a lot of integration available, including social media and most popular products.

Landing Page Editor

no

This is not available.

Support

4/5

The knowledge base is great due to its large library of videos, webinars and even several free ebooks on different topics. The online support was fast, and mostly useful, but they can be quite pushy with trying to call you every time you ask something.

Overall rating

3.8/5

A breeze to use and offering a handy free plan. And although parts of the interface can seem outdated, you could do worse than Benchmark.

When comparing Benchmark’s paid plans to its competitors, they sit within the middle to higher end, depending on subscriber numbers. They can match their competitors in the areas of ease-of-use, especially when it comes to the editor and template flexibility. But Benchmark starts to lose some of it’s lustre when you look at things such as their basic list management and spam testing issues, which could be important for some businesses.

Unfortunately their marketing automation (a.k.a. ‘Engagement Automation’) is really just a version of an autoresponder and doesn’t stack up against the powerful automation offered by, for example, ActiveCampaign.

Coming back to support: while friendly, it can often be a little pushy. I had several calls, and requests for calls, when I just wanted a simple question answered. Also, I’d recommend giving free users a trial period that allows them to try out the paid features, like many other services do.

Benchmark is surprisingly stingy with their image and file storage: 10 MB won’t get you far. Keep that in mind when deciding for one of their plans as you’ll probably end up paying $5 on top for additional storage.

Benchmark is a capable tool, with a good design and simple enough for first-time users. And with their free plan, it’s worth at least trying them out to see if they fit your needs.

 

Try Benchmark now for free.

steve lamattina
His career has spanned across areas such as film, digital media and literature, with the tech and mobile world remaining a personal passion. Now he’s interested in sharing that passion for email marketing, through honest reviews and good content. Oh, and he’s Australian...but don’t hold that against him.
 
 
 
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