Benchmark's site is very clear and uses bold icons throughout. Though there are a lot of different tabs and options, it is very intuitive and all the tools you need are clearly marked. You can set up contacts and lists under the "Lists" tab, create newsletters under the "Emails" tab and view each email's statistics in the "Reports" tab. When adding contacts, users can choose from uploading an Excel document, adding contacts individually and a copy and paste option, helpful especially when you have a mass collection of email addresses. They also have a great system for creating signup forms. You can choose from various templates and color schemes, as well as fill in the text that will show up in the signup form. You can even create and customize an email confirmation sent out to those who sign up for your emails. After creating the signup form Benchmark will give you an HTML code that you can paste right into your website.
To begin creating emails, you must enter a reply address and which list you want to send the email to. Benchmark has an impressive selection of templates to choose from, in fact, it is one of the largest collection of templates we've seen. It costs $299 if you want Benchmark to create a custom template for you. Once you've selected a template, you can begin editing. Benchmark's template editing is super customizable and easy to use. In the editing section, templates are divided into sections that Benchmark refers to as "blocks." Once you click "edit block" in a certain section of the template, an editing toolbar appears for fonts, alignment and other options. You can also choose to add additional elements to each block, including images, videos, links, etc.
You can click "use own HTML" on the side of the template selection page to use your own code. You can easily toggle between the HTML screen and the design screen, using Benchmark's editing tools on the design. When we sent out our email, it appeared in the email client as it did on the design screen. In general, we grant Benchmark 5 out of 5 stars for both their HTML and template editor. Benchmark has also added a new feature in their Inbox Checkers, allowing you to see what the email will look like on pretty much any device or platform before you send it.
You can view statistics for the last email you sent or compare multiple emails together by going to the "Reports" section. As usual, you can see the number and percentage of clicks, opens, unsubscribes and bounces. Below the interactive pie chart there is a map showing where your readers hail from. There is an option to view the stats in an Excel sheet and PDF as well. Benchmark also added a new feature to the analytics section called AB testing. This feature gives you the ability to test 2 different subject lines or even 2 different emails with a sample of your list. The email with the best result, automatically gets sent to the remainder of the list.
You can contact Benchmark through live chat 24/7, as well as email and phone 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET Saturday. We received a response to our email request within half an hour and our live chat was answered fairly quickly, earlier in the day. Our live chat request was not replied to when it was later in the day, even if it was during the business hours we mentioned above. The representatives on live chat and phone were friendly and knowledgable.
Benchmark offers send-based plans, list-based plans and high volume plans. In general, the list-based plans are much more affordable, since with the send-based plan each contact will need one email to be sent to. The list-based plans start at $11.95/month for 600 contacts. Sending to up to 1,000 contacts per month costs $18.95/month and 2,500 contacts costs $28.95/month. With the list-based plans, there is no limit to how many emails you can send per month.
Benchmark's solid and comprehensive email editor is definitely a good idea for those who want to create some quality emails. Their analytics and customer service are average and in general we like the site. This service is worth checking out the with 2,000 for free contacts, for life.
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