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Benchmark
3.7

Benchmark Review - Hitting the mark?

inka wibowo
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 (complete with a fresh, newly-revamped interface), 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.

Try Benchmark: https://www.emailtooltester.com/out/benchmark-conclusion Find a more detailed Benchmark review here: https://www.emailtooltester.com/en/review... Benchmark Review - Find out its Pros and Cons 2018-04-19 https://img.youtube.com/vi/vUNfcZEbSRc/hqdefault.jpg

Try Benchmark for free

2,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$0/MO

Free plan has limited features

3,500 SUBSCRIBERS

$43.99/MO

7,500 SUBSCRIBERS

$65.99/MO

15,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$106.99/MO

50,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$254.99/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, with mobile display options for all templates, which is a nice touch.

Marketing automation:

Benchmark allows you to set up useful, behaviour-based email campaigns that are ideal for things like abandoned cart follow-up and basic lead nurturing.

Deliverability issues:

In previous email deliverability tests, we came across quite a few issues with Benchmark emails getting flagged as spam. Disappointingly, more recent tests have had similar results.

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 brand-new, stripped-back interface that’s clean and simple – getting familiar with the system takes no time at all.

Newsletter Creation

Editor

The drag-and-drop editor is fast and pretty intuitive, although you’ll come across a few instances where things don’t quite work as you’d expect – or as you’d like. For instance, some elements can be edited directly within the email (for example, body text), whereas simple things like button text need to be edited in a separate (and slightly hidden) area. Still, there are some very handy features, such as a built-in image editor that allows you to crop, resize and add filters to images.

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. You can preview the mobile version of all emails from within the editor.

Email Automation

Automation Lite is available on all plans and allows you to send basic trigger-based emails. If however you’re looking to set up more sophisticated automation based on email clicks, webpage visits or abandoned cart follow-up, there is Benchmark Automation Pro. They also have some nice, ready-to-go templates to help you get these campaigns up and running quickly. It’s great if you’re looking to build targeted campaigns based on contact behaviour, but the automation is limited to sending emails and adding contacts to lists – there’s no way to do more complex tasks like sending emails with dynamic content, for example.

List Management

Segmentation based on contact fields with and/or criteria is available. On the paid plans you can also create ‘targeted lists’ based on email opens, unopens, or URLs clicked within email. However you can only create segments within lists, not across, which may be limiting for some. And you can only delete a subscriber from either one, or all, lists. There’s nothing in between. One useful feature though is their ‘clean list’ option, allowing you to remove bounces or those who haven’t opened your last few campaigns.

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. You can also add a limited number of your own database fields, and integrate with tools like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Unbounce. One slightly buggy feature however was the ‘Preview’ option from embed forms – it offers a field to enter a URL, making you think you can preview how the embed form would look on your website. But it didn’t work this way and even Benchmark support weren’t able to help us to get this working.

Deliverability

Deliverability has proven to be a challenge for Benchmark. They scored especially badly when trying to reach Outlook emails, one of the most popular providers. If you are worried about this (you should be), other alternatives like ActiveCampaign performed better.

Reports and Analysis

The reports are good, giving you the detail of openers, clickers, bounces, unsubscribes, etc (all data is exportable too). They also have an hourly performance graph, 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 within the tool, but we found a couple of instances where pages didn’t quite work correctly (the Automation Pro editor for example isn’t available in the Portuguese language). Chat support is available for 5 languages.

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 three times. 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 - Unlimited

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 unlimited.

Pro Features

Authentication

yes

SPF and DKIM are available.

Own Domain

yes

Although tracking links use Benchmark’s own domain by default (trk169.benchurl.com), you can contact support to request to use your own domain name.

Different levels of account access

yes

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

Integrations

yes

Quite a lot of integration available, including social media, CRMs 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, although they struggled with getting back to me on things they couldn’t answer straight away.

Overall rating

3.7/5

Benchmark is a breeze to use and offering a handy free plan. While their automation features aren’t the most sophisticated out there, they will probably be more than adequate for most small-to-medium businesses looking to send more targeted email campaigns.

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 its lustre when you look at things such as their deliverability issues, which could be important for some businesses.

Its Automation Pro feature is a decent attempt to offer users a way to set up simple yet useful automated campaigns, and is ideal for businesses who are just getting started with marketing automation. It should be noted however that it doesn’t stack up against the powerful automation offered by, for example, ActiveCampaign. A definite plus though is that you can try out Automation Pro on the free plan – you will just need to switch to a paid plan in order to be able to activate your campaigns.

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, you can get a good sense of whether its marketing automation and email capabilities will fit your needs.

 

Try Benchmark now for free.

inka wibowo
Coming from a digital agency background, Inka has helped businesses of all shapes and sizes to get their email marketing up and running. Now, she's excited to be helping businesses in a different way - by equipping them with the information they need to find cost-effective, easy-to-manage tools for their email marketing.

Latest Updates

20 Apr 2018 - Video review added
20 Mar 2018 - Deliverability rating added
8 Mar 2018 - Updates in interface and marketing automation
16 Jan 2018 - Prices update
28 Nov 2016 - Small updates in the storage section.
15-27 Oct 2016 - Initial tests.
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