Benchmark Email Review
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- Date Established
- Los Alamitos, CA
- Excellent customer service
- Easy-to-use platform
- Advanced feature-set
- Occasional bugs reported
Benchmark email marketing provides an excellent feature-set for almost any type of small business. With guided workflows and an attractive, easy-to-use platform, you’ll find what you need to tackle your email marketing goals. While the free plan is quite robust in its own right, you’ll find Benchmark PRO provides even more capacity to deliver targeted campaigns to your contacts based on their interactions with you. With over 1,500+ integrations, you’ll also find it easy to coordinate with other essential platforms at your organization, too.
We’re going to take a closer look at what makes up the Benchmark email marketing services and features, but first, let’s take a look at a short background on the company itself:
Benchmark email marketing was birthed in 2004 when three people sat around a single desk in a small medical office — an office which served as the group’s conference room, lunchroom, and idea hub. Backed by a small programming team in India, the trio (consisting of Benchmark Internet Group founder Curt Keller, his wife Denise, and an SEO expert) discussed ideas for how to implement a deceptively straightforward concept: simple email marketing.
The first customers of Benchmark Email were small businesses located near Benchmark’s one-room HQ in Long Beach, CA. Keller and his team personally sold them on the use of email marketing while also working hard to create a simple user interface that would be easy to operate. All the while, the company championed such novel ideas as customizable templates and software that adapted to user needs. Benchmark also made sure from the outset that anyone who needed help would have quick access to excellent customer support.
Benchmark has kept its focus on these core principles and continued to grow and prosper while maintaining a generous 25% discount to every nonprofit organization and completely waiving charges for organizations that serve children, such as Girl Scouts and the YMCA. We love to see companies with a charitable spirit here at Merchant Maverick, as it typically reflects a thoughtful approach throughout the entire organization as well.
Let’s take an in-depth look at Benchmark by diving into each category below so that you can determine if this is a smart option for your small business email marketing needs.
Table of Contents
The Benchmark pricing model reflects a very competitive value based on what’s in the platform compared to other email marketing options out there. I like that you can try out much of the features to all of your contacts on the free plan, and when it is time to upgrade to PRO, pricing is based on the number of contacts you have. Here is how that breaks down:
Benchmark’s free plan does not require a credit card, which is always refreshing. You will have a little Benchmark logo at the bottom of your emails — which is to be completely expected on any free email marketing plan that I’ve come across. While you have unlimited contacts on the free plan, you can only send 250 emails per month, and you won’t have access to more advanced features, such as A/B testing or advanced automation features. Here’s what does come with Benchmark’s free plan:
- Unlimited subscribers
- 250 emails per month
- Responsive templates
- Drag-and-drop email editor
- Plain text editor
- Code editor
- Signup forms
- Basic drip campaigns
- RSS email campaign
- Email delivery management
- Google Analytics tracking
- List management and segmentation
- List hygiene
- Live engagement reporting
- Open-by-hour reporting
- Surveys and polls
- Unlimited video storage
- 10MB of free image gallery storage
- Social media integrations
- eCommerce integrations
- Email template integrations
- Contact list integrations
- Reputation health scoring (after sending 500 emails)
If you have more than 250 contacts, or you want to get into all of Benchmark’s features, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. But the good news is that Benchmark’s pricing plans inch up based on the number of contacts. You can easily determine exactly what you’ll pay by using its online calculator feature.
Pricing starts at $13.99/month for all PRO features and up to 600 contacts and unlimited sent emails. I’ve added in a few different price points as examples:
- 1,000 contacts and unlimited sends is $21.00/month
- 2,500 contacts and unlimited sends is $31.99/month
- 5,000 contacts and unlimited sends is $51.99/month
- 10,000 contacts and unlimited sends is $81.99/month
- or choose another custom contact limit and find your accurate pricing
If you are a nonprofit company, you can enjoy a whopping 25% discount for your registered organization.
Here are the services you’ll get with any PRO plan — everything in the free plan, plus:
- Dedicated account manager
- Unlimited subscriber allowance for signup forms
- Master and subaccounts with security pins
- A/B testing to test subject line, send time, and more
- Add subscribers to your Facebook Audiences
- Automation Pro to target abandoned carts on your site, new subscribers, or segmenting with provided templates to create a customer journey from scratch
- Targeted segmentation
- Removing Benchmark logo
Benchmark delivers an exemplary value for the price, offers a generous try-before-you-buy free plan (and with no credit card required to boot), and provides a robust set of features to satisfy your marketing department. For these reasons, I’m confident in giving Benchmark an excellent rating in the pricing category.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Benchmark is entirely cloud-based and does not require any installation on your computer.
Hardware & Software Requirements
Since Benchmark is a browser-based service, you won’t have any software to install, and it will work just fine on a Mac or your PC. Just like most any other email marketing platform, you’ll want to run the latest web browser:
- Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 or IE10 or IE11
- Mozilla Firefox
- Safari 5.0
- Google Chrome
Benchmark Email also has an iPhone app that allows you to check your reporting or add contacts. You won’t be able to use the professional email editor on the mobile app. However, you do have access to exclusive iPhone templates that are simpler in design and can be used to send a one-off email blast, message, or video to your list. Having a functional email marketing app is somewhat rare, and it’s a bonus.
Benchmark has no notable limitations as far as hardware or software requirements. You’ll be able to access what you need on all browsers, earning it an excellent in this category as well.
Specific Size Of Business
We think Benchmark has been designed to serve everyone from the smallest kitchen-table startup to large email marketers. However, the company’s main focus is on small to medium businesses, especially those just starting with email marketing. This is especially reflected in the fact that customers subscribing to the medium plans get unlimited emails, while larger plans do have some limitations.
Ease Of Use
Signing up and onboarding for a Benchmark account is straightforward and easy. After entering your name, email, phone number, and company name, you need to confirm your email address. It’s worth mentioning again that I did not have to share any billing or credit card data with Benchmark before I signed up and started creating and sending an email campaign.
Once I logged into my new account (using the free plan), I was greeted by an attractive UI that was easy to navigate, with clear direction on how to create my first email campaign and easy-to-find workflows based on my needs. Everything is intuitive and easy to navigate, with easily searchable FAQS and a nice knowledgebase if I did have any questions. I can confidently say Benchmark is easy to use even for someone that has little to no email marketing experience, and an excellent rating is well deserved.
When I reviewed the features that Benchmark provides, I found a robust offering featuring a plethora of situational templates. Unless otherwise noted, the free plan includes the features you see below. This list serves to highlight some of the more notable features but is in no way exhaustive. Refer back to our pricing section for a more comprehensive list of what’s included and to determine what limitations, if any, you have with features or deliverability.
- Hundreds Of Industry-Specific, Themed Templates: Benchmark offers all users access to its generous library of over 500 templates. These are further organized into industry-specific categories, such as business, education, entertainment, and retail. There is also a category for social media-specific templates.
- Email Campaign Reporting: The first thing I noticed about Benchmark’s email reports was something I’d read about in a few reviews: They are quite fast. Benchmark provides users with stats for clicks, forwards, bounces, unsubscribes, and abuse. Each stat further breaks down to the exact email addresses associated with a given action. Users can export this data for further analysis via a CSV or XLS file. There is also a social media area that reports shares via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, as well as a map that breaks down who opens your emails by country. When I sent my first email, I checked reports to see what information was going to be measured. I noticed right away that each link has its separate click-through-rate tracking percent in the rectangular box shown under the links in the image below. This distinction is something that will help a marketing team figure out which story in a newsletter was most popular or which offer did the best, for example.
- Video Emails: One of the best-known distinctive advantages of Benchmark is its support for video emails. You simply won’t find that in a lot of email marketing platforms. So if your company is video-oriented, you’ll find what you need.
- Online Surveys: You can create professional-looking online surveys using one of Benchmark’s online survey templates. Post your survey on your website or build it directly into an email.
- Responsive Templates: Responsive templates aren’t just mobile-friendly when displaying emails; they actually adjust dynamically by rearranging text, images, and blocks to look better on any device.
- Automation Triggers: With a PRO plan, you can create automations based on birthdays, reminder dates, or engagement automation (e.g., after a contact opens an email or clicks on a specific link). Automation LITE can be used with the free plan to create a welcome email.
- Segmentation: When you are selecting a contact list, you’ll have the option to send your email campaign to the segments you’ve designated. Segmentation helps you organize contacts (e.g., by state, business name, or tracking code). Advanced segmentation is available on the PRO plan.
- Mobile Apps: Benchmark’s mobile apps allow customers with an iPhone to access several functions on the road. You can access and add contacts, read reports, send videos through integration with a YouTube account, and even design and send quick email blasts with one of the iPhone-exclusive templates. This is quite a bit more than many other companies offer on their mobile apps, making Benchmark’s app considerably more functional.
- Signup Forms: Benchmark provides a few signup forms for you to aid in growing your email list.
- RSS-To-Email: Regular bloggers can create newsletters from their blogs automatically through the RSS-to-email feature, which works with any blog that handles an RSS-feed. Users only have to set up a campaign and template within Benchmark once.
- API Integration: An API (Application Program Interface) allows different software programs to communicate with one another without a formal plugin connection. In a nutshell, this allows them to perform three functions: manage contact lists, manage campaigns and campaign sending, and check statistics.
- Multiple-Language Interface: Benchmark is available in seven languages: Chinese, English, German, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.
When I compare Benchmark’s features with other email marketing platforms, I can confidently award it an excellent in this category. Additionally, we’ve observed that the feature-set continues to evolve and regularly improve, which is a good signal of long-term value.
Customer Service & Support
Benchmark offers its users a lot of support resources. Customer service is generally responsive, with minimal waiting times. The site offers good learning resources that I was able to find easily through searching the database.
What really impressed me was the email communication I received from my Benchmark Guide. I received an email as soon as I signed up with an offer for a quick call and then another one a couple of days later. I hadn’t created a campaign by this point, and she checked in again to ask me if I needed a 15-minute demo she could help me with.
All of these touchpoints were under the completely-free plan, and I have to say it was very refreshing. I haven’t heard of this type of outreach on even a paid account, let alone a free account. I can see why customers specifically call Benchmark out for good support. It’s something you don’t always see, and there is a good reason — it’s expensive for the platform! Despite this, you’ll find many avenues of support and a strong library of resources that have improved since our last Benchmark review.
Here are some of the resources Benchmark offers:
- Guides & Downloads: This section of the site provides a list of guides that help you get started and improve your approach to your campaigns, too.
- Email Marketing Guide: This resource is set up like a how-to with steps and statistics that help you navigate email marketing and come up with better strategies.
- Blog: Benchmark has an extensive blog, and you can search its contents by category. To give you an idea of the scope, the blog has over fourteen categories you can choose from and search, including eCommerce, inbound marketing, social media, marketing automation, and more.
- Video Library: Benchmark offers over forty videos that can help you with nearly every feature it offers.
- Knowledgebase/FAQ: This resource is built for those getting started, and it offers a searchable list view of some of the most frequently asked questions by new customers.
If you can’t find what you need, customer service options are plentiful. Unlike most email marketing platforms, you can access 24/7 help by phone or live chat (English users only). Additionally, Benchmark offers support in nine different languages from its international offices. If your inquiry is less time-sensitive, you can send an email that will likely get responded to in 24 hours or less.
I’m once again impressed by Benchmark with its personalized support and 24-hour customer service. Customers report positive experiences across the board, and I can attest that its support team is on the proactive side when it comes to customer care. They reached out to me first to make sure I understood how to set up my first email campaign. For these reasons, I’m easily awarding Benchmark an excellent rating in customer service and technical support.
Benchmark has over 500,000 users from small businesses to international brands that the company has featured on its site. The use of the brand logos and fully named and attributed customer testimonials are great indicators that people are, in fact, satisfied with Benchmark.
To do my full due diligence, I wanted to take a look at some independent review sites. This is what I found:
- G2: 4.1 out of 5 stars with 45 reviews
- TrustRadius: 7.9 out of 10 stars with 15 reviews
- Capterra: 4.2 out of 5 stars with 148 reviews
Negative Reviews & Complaints
I was not able to find many people who disliked their overall Benchmark experience. However, I was able to find a couple of dings that showed up more than once:
- Restrictive email editor
- Inconsistent display upon sending the email
- Limited signup form options
If I go about four years back, users complain about send-time issues, but I’m not seeing anything currently mentioned, which leads me to believe Benchmark has improved with send-time consistency and accuracy. Here are some more current issues that reviewers on G2 and TrustRadius, respectively, cited as issues with Benchmark, however:
Some of the customization options [are] limited so when we really need to have something look a certain way, the text or spacing might be slightly off and is difficult to fix without coding knowledge…
You can customize well in the editor but it can be an extremely painful experience if you make a mistake. There’s no undo button after you save something.
I’d like to note that I spotted at least a few instances where a user complained about something that Benchmark has updated in the last several years. Namely, improving automations, the ability to export reporting data, and email send-time consistency, to name a few. This observation leaves me with the impression that the company does pay close attention to reviews and strives to improve.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Whenever I analyze public reviews, I always keep in mind a little thing called negativity bias. This term refers to the observable fact that people typically write a review if they are feeling negative. So if a company has overall good reviews, you can bet that it is a solid choice. Another thing to keep in mind is that the capacity of the user may play a big part in any particular frustration. For example, I noted that for as many negative dings on the email editor being frustrating, I found even more who cited it was easy to use (go figure). Here’s what I mean, with the following quotes coming from reviewers on Capterra:
When creating an email, it is ever so easy. There are many templates to chooses from and if you don’t want a template you don’t have to use one! I can create an email within minutes as the click and drop feature allows me to have my email layouts exactly the way I want it.
The platform is very user-friendly. It doesn’t take much effort to get up to speed on how to use it, and there are many email templates to choose from so you don’t always have to create something from scratch! I think it’s good value for the money, and the support team has been very helpful in my experience.
Users also mentioned the following things as pros on the three customer review sites I examined:
- Convenient and easy to navigate for adding lists and contacts
- More control over the look and feel of the final email
- Flexibility with custom coding is a plus
- Templates and email editor is easy to use
- Good email automation options
- Detailed tracking information on sent campaigns
Benchmark also has a unique section that shows off its customer testimonials — and I have yet to see many companies feature something this personalized. Videos highlight local businesses and how they use Benchmark for their email campaigns. There are a lot of reasons to feel comfortable with Benchmark’s reviews, so I’m giving the company a solid good rating in the user review category.
Integrations & Add-Ons
Since our last review of Benchmark, it has significantly increased the integrations you can utilize from twenty to over a whopping 1,500+ integrations. That’s certainly above the industry average that I’ve come across, and you should have no trouble finding what you need. Here’s a brief list just to give you a few examples of what you can find:
Of course, the above is a very limited list. You’ll likely be able to find exactly what you need at the company’s full library, and if you can’t, Benchmark developers are on hand to potentially create what you need ad hoc. Overall, I’d say Benchmark deserves an excellent rating for the large list of integrations it offers.
Benchmark is compliant in the following:
- Trust Arc
- Privacy Shield Framework
Benchmark uses up to TLS 1.3 for transmitting emails with the email service providers that support it. TLS 1.3 is a new encryption protocol update that reduces HTTPS overhead and is more secure than TLS 1.2, resulting in greater speed.
Anti-Spam Policy & Protection
Like all legitimate ESPs, Benchmark takes spam seriously and outlines a clear zero-tolerance policy for any of its users trying to engage in spam activities. The company is fully in compliance with the US CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Benchmark also takes several measures to preserve its reputation as a spam-free provider.
To prevent users from unknowingly sending spam-like materials, Benchmark provides a spam check feature that looks for words commonly used in spam messages. It scores each email, and in the event of a high score, the program suggests better alternatives for you. Individualized IP addresses also help large-volume senders reduce their spam numbers. Benchmark provides good security overall, and you can reasonably trust the security of your email communications.
I found the Benchmark email marketing platform easy to use, observably open to innovation based on customer needs, and competitively priced for the features offered. As far as free email marketing options, we think it very well may be the best in the business.
Benchmark is a fantastic option for anyone who just wants to dip into email marketing — particularly small, local businesses. If you operate a small or even medium-sized business and are looking for a simple email marketing program with a host of great features, Benchmark is an excellent choice. It offers a generous try-before-you-buy option and provides a lot for the money for the paid levels, gives excellent support, and the company appears to be sensitive to the needs of its users. You can’t ask for much more! I’m very comfortable giving Benchmark a 5-star review for these reasons.
Benchmark is far from your only option, however. Check out The Best Free Email Marketing Software Programs to compare other companies that let you try before you buy and offer generous free plans. And when you need some tips on improving your email campaigns overall, check out How To Create A Successful Email Marketing Strategy. If you have experience with Benchmark email marketing, by all means, share in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.