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Support Update: Joining the Benchmark Email Community

Support Update: Joining the Benchmark Email Community

Beyond • July 15, 2011

You can find yourself part of a new community with just a click of a button these days. Well, a virtual community, anyway. I’m not sure it is quite so easy to join a local community. I am trying to remember the last time I was part of a physical, meet-in-person-on-a-regular-basis, no-internet-involved kind of group. I honestly think it was The Girl Scouts of America back in elementary school. I’d be willing to bet that even the girl scouts have turned to the internet these days. Since Benchmark relies almost entirely on the web, it should come as no surprise that our “community” is virtual as well. If you have an account with us, you have the ability to include your campaigns in the Benchmark Email Community with just a few simple steps. How to Add/Remove Your Campaign After logging in to your Benchmark Email account, click on the “Reports” tab. You will see a list of all the campaigns you have sent out. Underneath the name of the campaign, it will tell you whether or not it is currently published in the Community (shown above in the red rectangle.) On the right hand side, you will see an icon that looks like two people standing next to each other. I have pointed them out with a blue arrow. They kind of look like twin brothers forced to wear matching shirts and can only be distinguished by the color choice. I have an urge to name them but I will resist for the time being. Click on the twin brothers, who are without names, and it will open a window that looks like this: This window provides you the option of either adding or removing the email campaign from the Community by checking or unchecking the box, pointed out above. This screen is also where you will select the category for your campaign and add any tags to it that will help other users find it in their search. Our Community doesn’t have an oath or secret handshake, but it is still a great place to be. Here are a few reasons why: Increased Visibility Your email can be accessed from the Community listings as well as from external search engines. This can give your content more hits. HTML Formatting The emails are in their HTML versions and there is no issue of spam filtering, images being blocked or other such errors encountered with email clients. Networking The URL for your email on the Benchmark Email Community can be used by the readers in other social media networks like Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, etc., thus making your email more viral. Feedback You can get feedback for your content from registered users, who can comment and vote for your email. This could be useful for making your future emails more effective. Access to Previous Content Readers can easily access other emails sent by you by simply clicking on your name (which will be displayed along with the email).


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Support Update: Sub-Accounts: Managing the Monthly Allowance

Support Update: Sub-Accounts: Managing the Monthly Allowance

Beyond • July 11, 2011

When I hear the word “allowance” I immediately have flashbacks to being a kid and often begging my mom for one. If I needed money from time to time, she didn’t have a problem giving it to me...within reason. However, she refused to implement an ongoing allotment of funds for my ever growing need for cash. Most of my friends received a specific amount each week or each month from their parents and I was often jealous of this. Wouldn’t you be if you had been in my shoes? Sometimes I would hear a friend say, “My mom changed my allowance from $15 a week to $20!” It was enticing to think about a fluctuating allowance. When I started here at Benchmark Email, I learned about another kind of “allowance.” Are you a business or organization with different departments or functions? You may want to look into the sub-account feature provided to you by Benchmark Email. To enable sub-accounts, first call in or email us to let us know you\'d like this feature activated. Then log in to your Benchmark Email account and click on My Account. Click on the User Management Box and on the next page select Create New User. Once you have set up your sub-accounts you will have the ability to give an “allowance” of emails to each one, which are subtracted from the total number of emails allowed in your master account. Here are the steps you need to follow in order to adjust the “Monthly Volume Allowed” per sub-account: First, click on the My Account tab and find the “User Management” option. Then you will come to a screen that lists all of your sub-accounts. It will display the current “Volume Allocated” for each one. To change this number, you will need to click on the sub-account’s “Name” located on the far left and then click on the dropdown menu near the bottom of the screen, which will look something like this: The available options will be based on the total number of emails allowed within your master account. For this particular user, it is 10K. You may be under a different plan, so keep that in mind when you are making the changes. When you are finished updating the account, click on Save Changes to complete the process.


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Support Update: Using the Document Library

Support Update: Using the Document Library

Beyond • July 1, 2011

The other day I was at home working on a project and realized I wanted to reference an article I had written a few years ago. However, when I checked my computer files it was nowhere to be found. I checked the various folders, including the ever popular “My Documents,” but it seemed to have just disappeared. It made me miss the days when we had physical filing cabinets, with hanging folders, all of which had labeled tabs usually set up in alphabetical order to make locating a specific document easy. I can still remember being in the library as a kid and pulling out the card catalog in order to find what I needed. Did you know that you have a document library available for use in your Benchmark Email account? It may not contain such pieces as The Complete Works of Shakespeare or Moby Dick like your public library, but it does give you the option of uploading your own documents for use in your email campaigns. Let’s say you have a new menu of delicious food that you want to make available to your subscribers in the newsletter. You will need to utilize the Document Library in order to attach it to the campaign. You can also attach such things as a calendar of events, brochures and coupons. Locating the Document Library Unlike the video or image gallery, the only way to access your document library is in Step 4 of the email builder. Click on the “edit block” tool for the section you want the document placed in. This will cause the “Insert Additional Elements” box to appear on the left side of your screen. Click on the link for “Documents,” shown below: This will open a window that looks like this: After you have uploaded your document(s), the file(s) will show in this way: Any document you upload into the library will remain available for use in future campaigns until you decide to delete it.


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Support Update: Accidentally Uploading to the Sample Contact List

Support Update: Accidentally Uploading to the Sample Contact List

Beyond • June 27, 2011

Not too long ago I wrote a blog addressing the problem associated with uploading contacts into your Master Unsubscribe List and how involved the process is to remove those contacts when they have been added unintentionally. I suppose I should have included information regarding the “Sample Contact List,” as this seems to be an area of concern for clients as well. Recently I came across a client who had uploaded 20K addresses into the Sample Contact List. While it is not recommended for you to utilize this Sample Contact List as your actual list, the option is available for you to add addresses there if you’d like. If you decide to do this though, you may run into a problem much like this client had when he decided he wanted those 20K contacts removed from his account. For any user-created list within your Benchmark Email account you are given the option to delete that entire list. You will see a trash can icon on the right hand side of the list name. This provides a quick and easy way of maintaining the various lists you may have in your account. As you can see in the image, the bottom list does not have a trash can available. This row belongs to the Sample Contact List. The Sample Contact List is a list that is automatically added to every user of Benchmark Email and therefore you are not able to remove it. This means that if you add your contacts to this list, such as the previously mentioned client did, it will take some extra steps to remove those contacts later on. Removing Contacts from a Sample Contact List In order to remove those contacts from the list, click on Sample Contact List, which will open it up for you. You then have the option to either click on individual contacts to remove just a select few from the list or you can click on the box next to “Email Addresses” in the blue tool bar on top to select every contact showing on that page.If you decide to utilize this option and you happen to have several thousand contacts in the list, you will want to first increase the number of contacts displayed per page. You can do this by scrolling down to the bottom of the page. You will see a box that looks like this: The higher the number that you select, the longer it will take for the page to completely load. Please keep this in mind when utilizing this feature as it will take some time to go through each page of deletion if you have a large number of contacts added. Once you select the number of contacts to display per page, you will then scroll back up to select the box that will check off every contact displayed (up to 4,000 total). Once this is completed, scroll down the page until you see the “Delete” button at the bottom. You will need to do this until all contacts have been removed. You can see how time consuming this can be for you, especially if you have 15, 20 or 30 thousand contacts to remove. I can remember someone who once had over 100K contacts. That took a long while to complete. It is recommended to always create a new list when you are ready to begin using your Benchmark Email account. The Sample Contact List is meant as a demonstration of Benchmark Email features only and you will save yourself time in the long run to simply create new and unique lists for yourself and your needs.


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Support Update: What Is the Benchmark Free Edition?

Support Update: What Is the Benchmark Free Edition?

Beyond • June 13, 2011

If you want to go bowling but don’t have your own bowling shoes, what do you do? You rent them. If you want to go on a road trip but don’t own your own car, what do you do? You rent one. If you want to begin sending campaigns to a list of subscribers but realize that you don’t have a list established yet, what do you do? If you said that you would rent one, that would be wrong - at least if you want to sign up for an account with Benchmark Email. We do not allow lists that have been purchased, rented or harvested. So how do you take advantage of email marketing if you have not yet established your own list of contacts? You would want to sign up for our “Free Edition” version of Benchmark Email. With this version of Benchmark Email, you start from scratch with your contact list. You place a signup form onto your website, blog, Facebook, etc. People sign up and are automatically added to a list in your Benchmark Email account. You can then begin sending campaigns to those who have signed up. You will see the difference between a “free edition” account and a “paid” account when you are in the section to “add contacts” to a list. The screen will look like this: The option to “Import Contacts from a File” and “Copy & Paste Contacts” are disabled. The only way to have lists with the free edition is to add those contacts with a signup form. Other than this small difference, Benchmark Free Edition is the exact same product as our subscription service, only it’s completely free. Really. Email tracking, drag & drop editing, online surveys, video, award-winning templates and unlimited email campaigns are yours free forever. Benchmark Free Edition was created to help people that are new to creating email marketing campaigns. If you are a more advanced user with an established list of contacts, you will want to view our different pricing plans to determine which one best suits your needs.


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Support Update: What Is the Difference between Polls & Surveys?

Support Update: What Is the Difference between Polls & Surveys?

Beyond • June 9, 2011

The other day I received a question from a client that stumped me. She asked, “What is the difference between a poll and a survey?” On the surface they didn’t seem all that different to me but I couldn’t really say that to the client. That answer would have prompted her to ask why we offered both if they achieved the same results. I knew there had to be a reason why we offer both and so I made it my mission to figure it out. After some careful research, which was really just typing in questions like “What is the purpose of a poll?” into Google, I have it all figured out. Well, maybe not all...but I at least have a decent answer now in case I am asked that question again. I thought I would share this information with you because I am in a giving mood today. Both polls and surveys are helpful tools to obtain information from people who come across your business. Each one may be utilized to gauge opinions and receive feedback. Satisfied customers typically become loyal customers. They come back for additional products/services, recommend you to friends and put you above the competition. Finding out what it is that satisfies your customers can help your business succeed. But how do you decide which one to use and when? And what exactly are those differences I hinted at above? One of the main differences between our polls and surveys is the anonymity that a poll offers. Those who decide to take part in your poll are not required to provide their email address at the end. They simply fill in the answers to your question(s) without having to identify who they are. I decided to test out the poll in regards to my blogs so that I can show you how the results will look. Based on those nine responses, I can tell that 77% do take the time to read my blogs. That is some good news. I am very curious though as to who responded with “Michelle who?” But because the polls do not provide an option to identify yourself, I will never know. If I had decided to use the survey instead of the poll, I would have the email address of the respondent. I could then contact them with a personalized message introducing myself, explaining my blogs to them and hopefully developing a great “writer/reader” relationship. This same situation could be applied to you and your business. Surveys allow you to collect data from both potential and current subscribers that will help you build and maintain positive “business/customer” relationships. Of course, I couldn’t resist testing out the survey as well since my curiosity was piqued. Here is an example of the type of report you may see after launching a survey: Much of this is similar to the poll in the sense that you can see which percent responded in which way. However, since the survey does require that the respondent input his or her email address, you are given the option of seeing both overall results as well as individual results. Take a look at the way info is provided for one particular respondent: Knowing how this one particular person answered every question is helpful because it will allow you to become even more familiar with your subscribers to get as close as possible to their individual needs and wants when it comes to your business. You can even provide an open answer format for some of your questions, giving your subscribers the freedom to input whatever they want as a response. As pointed out above with the red arrow, this particular user was able to give their opinion on my next blog topic. This eliminates the guessing game for me when it comes to blog topics. The surveys and polls can be placed on your website or you can send them out in an email blast. I decided to place mine on my Facebook page, which is a great way of using social media sites in connection with your Benchmark Email account. Whether you choose to utilize the poll, the survey or mix and match the two, the benefits offered will help improve your relationship with your subscribers and your business.


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Benchmark Support Update: Manually Updating Master Unsubscribe List

Beyond • June 3, 2011

You know what they say...you learn something new every day. Even though I don’t really knows who “they” are, I did actually learn something new yesterday regarding your Benchmark Email contact list management. I was assisting a client with cleaning her contact lists. We noticed that during one of the clean ups, a couple of email addresses were not being removed even though we were selecting to clear out the “unsubscribes”. The client assured me that these were subscribers who had personally requested to be removed from her lists. The email addresses were showing up in the “Master Unsubscribe List” so I assumed they would have been removed from the active contact list during clean up. However, after I did some investigating, this is what I discovered: The client I was assisting had manually added some of her contacts into the “Master Unsubscribe List”. If you manually enter an email address into your “Master Unsubscribe List”, our system will recognize that the owner of that email address does not want to receive correspondence from you and the system will prevent email campaigns from going out to that email address. But because the owner of that email address did not actually click on the “unsubscribe” button in your campaign, the email address will not be removed from the active list during the “clean list” function. Only users who selected “unsubscribe” will be removed during this process. You will want to keep in mind that if you are manually adding someone to your unsubscribe list, you will also need to manually delete them from your active contact list(s). This will help you to keep your lists as up-to-date as possible. For more information on unsubscription practices, check out these previous articles: Support Update: Accidentally Unsubscribing Your Subscribers Support Update: How to Re-Add an Unsubscriber


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Support Update: What Are My Email Plan Options?

Beyond • May 19, 2011

You may already be aware that Benchmark Email provides two different types of plans for your email marketing needs. However, there seems to be some confusion when it comes down to the specifics of those plans and ultimately deciding which type of plan is the best choice for you and your business. Let’s do a bit of “head-to-head” action between our Email Plan vs. List Plan to see who will come out the winner. I cannot guarantee this battle will be as entertaining as the movie Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus though. Nothing can quite compare to that epic battle. But I promise that by the end of this match up, you’ll feel more confident about your knowledge of the two different plan types. Email Volume Plan We’ll start out with the Email Plan. This option allows you to pay based on the total number of emails you wish to send within your 30 day billing cycle. I like to compare this to a cell phone plan. I know that for every month I have 1000 minutes available to me. It doesn’t matter how many different phone numbers I call. In fact, there is no limit to how many numbers I can call. As long as I keep my usage to 1000 minutes or under each month, I am good to go. One month I may decide to call 1000 people and talk to each one for 1 minute at a time (not advisable by the way). Another month I may decide to call 200 numbers and talk for 5 minutes each. I am given that freedom and I like it. If you decide to go with the “Email Marketing Plan,” you will have that choice as well. You just need to watch your email usage throughout the month. If you send any emails over your limit, you will be charged for the overages. Email List Plan My cell phone company also offers another kind of plan for me, just like Benchmark Email offers another kind of plan for you. It is a sort of “Frequent Contacts” plan, or here at Benchmark we call it Email List Plan. Users who decide to go this route will be paying based on the number of contacts they have in their account. This is helpful for clients who email the same group of people multiple times in one month. It removes the worry of “How many emails am I at now?” and instead allows you the freedom to contact them when you need to. The plan with the cell phone company works in the same way. Some consumers only call 4-5 contacts every month. For them, they are allowed unlimited minutes to those specially selected contacts. If you decide to go with the “List Plan” option, you will be able to have a specially selected group of contacts that you can email many times in one month. Unfortunately, we do still set a limit to how many times you can email that same group of subscribers. The limit is 7 times per month and this is because anything more than that might result in higher levels of spam complaints. If you feel you need more than 7 times per month, you can contact us and we might be able to work something out. Which Works Best for Your Email Marketing? When making the decision between paying for the emails sent or paying for the number of contacts, try to keep in mind what your needs are at this specific moment. We do offer the flexibility to change from one type of plan to another, so you are never locked in with your choice. Anytime you feel the need to switch over from one type to the other, simply contact us by either email, phone or through live chat and we can make that adjustment for you. As always, any time you are changing plans, please do so before your next billing cycle to avoid being charged twice.


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Support Update: View Your Subscribers’ Activity with Email History

Support Update: View Your Subscribers’ Activity with Email History

Beyond • May 4, 2011

This past weekend was a big holiday event for many people. Gift-wrap, bows and ribbon filled my house as I sorted through the gifts I had purchased for various relatives and friends. I realized in the middle of it all that I had given more to those who I had spent the most time with in the last six months or so. My relationship with those friends and family members had been strengthened by the amount of interaction we had and I wanted to show my appreciation to them for being a part of my life. Many businesses take the same approach when it comes to their customers. Awesome coupons and discounts are usually given to those who are actively involved with the business. With that in mind, are you aware that you can view how active a subscriber has been in the last 90 days with your email blasts? Our system will tell you which email campaigns were sent to them, how many they opened and whether they clicked on any links or forwarded the email to others. This information can be useful to you when gauging which contacts you may want to reward for loyalty. This can also be used to clear out subscribers who have lost interest in the emails you send. In order to see the Email History of a subscriber in the last 90 days, simply click on the email address of the subscriber from within any list. Then click on the link from the right side of your screen that says, “View Email History.” You will be directed to a screen that looks like this: If I were evaluating this subscriber, I would be able to see that she has opened all three of the emails I sent her in the last 90 days but did not click on any links I might have included. I may want to encourage more interaction by using more efficient call-to-action phrases in my next campaign and see if that makes any difference. Be sure to check out your subscribers’ email history the next time you have a promotion or are just curious to see who is actively involved with your campaigns. Remember, it can be nice to show and receive appreciation for good customer loyalty, and will help to maintain a strong contact list.


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