BenchmarkONE is an all-in-one sales CRM and marketing software. It’s convenient, it’s a great value and has an impressive ‘free forever’ plan.
Formerly called Hatchbuck, they were founded in 2012 and helped lots of agencies, SaaS companies, and financial services grow. But is it the right choice for you?
In this review, we’ll take BenchmarkONE for a test drive. This is what I found out about its features, pricing, and best parts:
BenchmarkONE: What I Like the Most
BenchmarkONE combines CRM (Customer Relationship Management) with marketing automation to cover the whole sales funnel. This includes contact management, communications, campaigns, and business intelligence.
What does that mean for your business? Here are my top features for turning leads into loyal customers.
- Landing pages and forms are easy to create. There’s nothing standing in the way of your list growth.
- Contact scoring means you can see your hottest leads at a glance. Focus your marketing campaigns where they will have the biggest impact.
- Deals pipelines make it easier to convert leads into sales. Deals suggest targeted ways to move leads forward in their buying journey.
- Email marketing campaigns are simple to build. The user-friendly drag and drop editor means you don’t need any design or coding skills to create high-quality emails.
- Marketing automation saves you time on everything from contact management to sending emails.
BenchmarkONE has all the functionality that small businesses need to build automated sales funnels. And the free plan is perfect for businesses getting started online.
BenchmarkONE Review: CRM and Marketing Automation
In short, CRM is all about nurturing relationships with people to increase sales. It starts with lead generation and managing contacts. Then it helps you nurture those relationships right through to sales.
A platform like BenchmarkONE covers a lot of ground. Let’s unpack what it has to offer in more detail.
BenchmarkONE CRM and Sales Automation Features
Like all CRM software, BenchmarkONE puts people front and centre of sales and marketing. The whole service focuses on nurturing contacts into paying customers.
This starts with simple contact management. The first job is to build your customer database. You can import existing customers or add new contacts manually.
There is a long list of actions you can perform with your contacts. These include:
- Setting up automated campaigns.
- Tagging. Custom tags mean you can segment long contact lists into smaller groups. This is important for targeting your marketing efforts.
- Adding contacts to events.
- Editing contact details and adding notes.
- Creating tasks to contact people directly.
Communication is a key part of CRM. Tasks let you schedule calls or meetings with specific contacts. The outcomes of these conversations can be recorded in notes. This makes it easy for people working in larger sales teams to share information.
Each BenchmarkONE contact is given a Contact Score. This lead score system measures how engaged people are with your business. Or how likely they are to buy.
Lead scoring is a useful feature because it helps you focus your energies on the best prospects.
BenchmarkONE lets you track customers’ interactions in different ways. You can track webpage visits and store them in your customer database. When contacts land on a page or click on an email, BenchmarkONE logs it and can identify returning visitors too.
As part of this monitoring, BenchmarkONE gives points for different actions. So if a contact opens one of your campaigns, their contact score goes up. If they click a link, they get more points. If they visit your website or make a purchase, they get more again.
Equally, if they go a period of time without doing any of these things, their score starts to go down.
I like that you can customize the scoring. Some pages, like a pricing or demo page are likely more indicative of an upcoming purchase, You can add more points for visiting that URL. Then you can set up a follow-up email sequence to give people a nudge.
Creating deals and a Sales Pipeline
Anyone in sales knows that you have to keep a close eye on deals and your sales pipeline. In BenchmarkONE, you can see exactly what stage your buyers are in.
Based on interactions, each contact is tagged from “Not Interested” all the way up to “Hot”. This way you can sort your hot leads and know who to focus your attention on.
In Deals, you can create your own customized sales pipeline. Here is an example with deal stages:
Once a Deal is created, you can track how customers move through the sales funnel. This gives you the opportunity to take actions that will increase conversions.
Deals provide data for monitoring performance. You can, for example, compare ‘win probability’ to actual revenue.
BenchmarkONE Email Marketing
Email campaigns are a part of a good CRM. As BenchmarkONE puts it, emails let you “reach out with the right message at the right time.”
Create your emails with Drag and Drop Email Editor
Never designed an email before? No problem. BenchmarkONE has a ‘drag and drop’ email editor. This is an HTML email builder tool that lets you build emails from pre-formatted blocks. No coding skills required.
Three main editing options are listed in the left-hand menu of the email editor:
- Sections, which lets you change the layout of your template with one, two and three-column options.
- Blocks, which are the main content types – text, headers, images, buttons etc.
- Styles, which is where you format things like font type and size, colours, borders, alignment etc.
More editing options are available by clicking directly on the template. From here, you can drag blocks and sections to change the layout. This is where you add dynamic content.
BenchmarkONE saves your design as you edit it. You can preview your emailto see how they look on both mobile and desktop. More than 40% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. It’s essential to make sure your designs look good on smaller screens.
Once you have finished with your design, you can send a test. This lets you check how your message looks in a real inbox.
Email Templates in BenchmarkONE
BenchmarkONE includes 59 pre-designed email templates to help you create emails quickly. Some specialised email marketing services have more, but the templates in BenchmarkONE are high quality. The designs are clean, uncluttered, and tasteful. They don’t overdo it on images or gimmicks. Every template has a clear purpose and has been professionally created to fulfil it.
Email templates are sorted into categories to make it easier to find one for your purpose.
You don’t have to use a pre-made template. If you want to build your own, choose the ‘start from scratch’ option. Even here you’re not left completely on your own. BenchmarkONE provides 19 basic layout options to help you on your way.
Send the right message with Segmentation, Personalization, and Dynamic Content
You can segment contacts based on demographics, behaviour, or by creating custom tags. Another option is to personalize the content of the same email campaign. This is called dynamic content.
Dynamic content uses personal data to set rules. The simplest rules add the person’s name or home city to personalize the email. Or you can go further and show different promotions or calls to action to different people.
In all cases, the idea is the same. The more relevant your emails are to each individual contact, the more likely they are to respond.
BenchmarkONE shows email campaign performance in opens, bounces, and link activity. The most valuable information comes from link clicks. This tells you who is clicking through from your emails, which links they are using, and ultimately whether it’s leading to conversions.
BenchmarkONE Marketing Automation
BenchmarkONE is great for drip email campaigns.
A drip campaign is an email sequence built to get people to take an action. Each email is designed to complement the one before. So if a contact doesn’t open that initial email, you have a polite follow-up ready and waiting.
The key is that the whole series is automated. Once the campaign launches, you don’t need to do anything else. Some emails will be sent after a specified period of time. Others will only be sent if a contact triggers a specified action.
When you go to set up an automated campaign in BenchmarkONE, you get six pre-built options. All of them are drip campaigns, each designed for a specific marketing purpose.
If you prefer, you can ‘start from scratch’.
Then, the 2 basic options are a Regular Campaign or an Event based Campaign. Regular campaigns let you build straightforward sequences over a series of days. Event based campaigns let you set different triggers for actions. Here’s how an automation campaign summary looks like:
BenchmarkONE doesn’t have a visual automation editor. You can add plenty of rules and conditions. There is a lot of flexibility and you can build sophisticated automated workflows. But it’s all done in text. That makes it a little trickier to work with. It would be great if BenchmarkONE had a similar visual automation builder, like Benchmark Email.
Automating emails is one thing. But it’s not all you can automate. Automation steps can be anything from adjusting a contact’s lead score to creating a task.
BenchmarkONE is, after all, a CRM software platform. It lets you automate as much around customer relationship management as it does with campaigns.
A great example is how it lets you automate contact tags. I mentioned earlier how you can track link clicks and hits on your web pages. You can use this data to add tags to contacts. Imagine you post a blog. That blog probably links to one of your products. If someone reads it, you can assume they are interested in that product.
In BenchmarkONE, you can record this potential interest by adding a tag. Condition: Click on blog X. Rule: Add tag as lead for product Y. What’s really clever is that you can use these automated tags to score leads. When a contact builds up a high enough score, it triggers an action.
This is called a Tag Rule. Every time a prospect picks up the same tag, the tag score goes up. The higher the score, the more time they have spent researching a product. You can assume they are interested. The next step is using these scores to trigger automated follow-ups.
You can set up similar automations linked to purchases. Purchase Rules trigger follow-up actions based on transaction conditions. The aim is to turn one-off customers into loyal customers.
Lead Generation in BenchmarkONE
BenchmarkONE manages lead generation with landing pages and forms.
Generate leads by adding forms to your website
BenchmarkONE’s form options impressed me a lot. First of all, you get a choice of four form types:
- Pop-up forms that appear on the screen as a visitor navigates a page.
- Embedded forms that sit in the main body of the page.
- Topbar forms that sit at the top of a page. These are designed for speedy newsletter subscriptions or limited-time promotions.
- Scrollbox forms. These appear at the side of the page so the visitor can still see the main content as they scroll down.
Each form type has up to 20 pre-made templates. These are professionally designed and look great. And having plenty of choices means you have a good chance of finding just the right form for your page. One that fits well with the design and doesn’t feel intrusive.
You don’t need any technical skills to add online forms to your site. An easy wizard walks you through from choosing your template to posting the form on your site.
The editing options are straightforward. You can change the text and edit the colour scheme to fit with your site design. Forms ask for subscribers’ emails by default but you can add more fields to collect other details.
There are more technical options in the Behavior tab. Here you set different forms for mobile versus desktop. For pop-up and scrollbar forms, you can set when the form appears. So it might be after so many seconds, or when someone scrolls down X percent of the page.
If you’re not sure about adding an online form to an existing page, you can also create entire landing pages.
Collect contact data with standalone landing pages
You can build different landing pages for specific campaigns or promotions.
There are 26 templates available, all fully customizable in a drag-and-drop editor.
And the landing page editor is excellent. I found it really easy to use. Some web page builders trip you up because the tools and features are cluttered and hard to find. But you won’t find this one difficult to use at all, even if you are a complete novice. Everything is well laid out and easy to access.
Whatever template you choose, you can change how it looks completely. Page designs are organized into layout blocks and content. You can place blocks into columns as well. All you have to do is drag the block you want into position. Then, just drag the content you want into the space.
If you want to add images, BenchmarkONE links to Unsplash, Pexels, Pixabay. You can search millions of license-free images from within the page editor. That will save you a lot of time searching and uploading stock images.
A feature I really like is the Audit tool. When you’ve edited your template, the page builder flags any issues with your design. If you’ve made a typo in your text, or if a layout you’ve chosen doesn’t work well on mobile, it gets flagged before you go further.
Another cool feature when you’re ready to publish your landing page is on-page SEO. If you want your new landing page to be visible in search, you can set a meta title and description.
BenchmarkONE integrates with over 4000 tools via Zapier. So whatever other platforms you use, they will work seamlessly with BenchmarkONE.
What’s great about it is that for a one-time fee of $99, the BenchmarkONE team will help you set up a Zap. This is great if you haven’t used Zapier before and want some expert help.
For example, Zapier connections create, update and tag your contacts from activity in other apps. Say you create an event in an event management platform. When people sign up to attend, you can create new contacts in BenchmarkONE. You can tag contacts from appointment software. You can add notes from Live Chat platforms. Similarly, you can use BenchmarkONE to trigger actions in other apps.
Gmail and outlook CRM
There is a dedicated Gmail integration and an add-on for Outlook. These plug-ins let you create new contacts and tasks, or add notes and tags, all within the email platform. It’s like adding a CRM and marketing automation platform to your inbox.
BenchmarkONE Customer Support
There is a ‘help’ icon in the bottom right of every page in BenchmarkONE. You can either click through to the Help Centre or contact the support team by email.
The online knowledge base is full of how-to articles and guides on dozens of different topics.
There is ‘live’ support available on paid plans. This certainly helps with onboarding. When you first sign up, the support team will give you a training session to explain the platform. After that, you get access to a dedicated consultant for 30 to 60 days (depending on which plan you are on).
Premium support includes a business strategy session and a ‘health check’ every six months.
BenchmarkONE Pricing and Discount
BenchmarkONE offers three pricing plans, two paid and one free.
BenchmarkONE’s free version has all the contact management tools, including tagging and task creation. You can run email campaigns, set up automations, create forms and landing pages. You don’t get the more sophisticated CRM features on the free plan, like deal pipelines. And there’s no live dashboard telling you what’s happening in real-time.
The free tier has 500 contacts, 1,000 emails a month, and a single user account. That’s perfect if you are a tiny start-up or one-person micro-business. But for a marketing agency or small company, you need more.
The paid plans start at $69 for 500 contacts. And increase based on the number of contacts you have. The more contacts you pay for, the more emails you can send each month. On the Enterprise tier, you get unlimited user accounts.
You have to be on the Enterprise Plan to use Dynamic Content in your email campaigns.
We negotiated a special deal for our readers. Get 50% off your first month if you sign up for a monthly package. Or sign up for a year and get an additional 10% off your annual plan + 1 month for free! Sign up today for BenchmarkONE!
BenchmarkONE Pros and Cons
- The automation builder would be easier to use if it was a visual editor.
- The knowledge base could be better with more articles, FAQs, and videos.
BenchmarkONE: Is it the CRM & Marketing Automation software for you?
Does BenchmarkONE sound like the CRM solution for you?
Here’s how I score it:
Ease of Use: 5 / 5
Value for Money: 4 / 5
Editor and templates: 4.5 / 5
Functionalities: 4 / 5
Marketing Automation: 4 / 5
Customer service: 4 / 5
Total score: 4.3 / 5
For me, BenchmarkONE is a great option for small teams. It covers all the sales and marketing features you need, in one place. It’s easy to use. It’s affordable. It can help you understand your customers better and increase conversions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are the benefits of using an all-in-one CRM?
All in one CRM solutions take this further by connecting CRM to marketing. There are several benefits to this:
- Everything from lead generation to conversion happens in one place.
- All data is integrated, which makes for better decision-making.
- You can tailor your marketing efforts based on a deeper understanding of customers.
- You can automate more processes.
What is the best CRM for small businesses?
Hubspot is another well-known CRM software. Rival email marketing platform ActiveCampaign has a strong CRM offer, too. Both boast a bigger range of features than BenchmarkONE. But both can be tricky to get to grips with.
Hubspot and ActiveCampaign both suit larger companies and specialist sales and marketing teams. But if you’re a smaller business, BenchmarkONE is very good value. It gives you high-quality CRM, sales, and marketing automation tools that are easy to use at a fair price.
What is Hatchbuck?
What type of pricing plans does BenchmarkONE offer?
Who are the typical users of BenchmarkONE?
BenchmarkONE promotes itself as a good option for marketing agencies, SaaS companies, education providers, health and fitness businesses, nonprofits, and financial service providers.
What languages does BenchmarkONE support in their product?
BenchmarkONE as a Hubspot Alternative
Hubspot is one of the biggest names in CRM software. It’s a huge all-in-one business solution that covers every angle in sales, marketing, and CRM. If you can think of it, you can probably do it in Hubspot. And with a modular set-up, you can customise features to suit your business.
It’s a great fit for larger businesses. But for smaller companies, it can be daunting. It gets very expensive quickly, too. For these businesses, BenchmarkONE is a strong alternative to Hubspot. It’s easy to use and focuses on all the core CRM and marketing tools you need. It’s also better value.
Hubspot does offer a free plan, but its features are very limited. BenchmarkONE’s free tier comes with similar features to Hubspot’s cheapest plan.
BenchmarkONE as an ActiveCampaign Alternative
ActiveCampaign is best known as an email marketing service. But over the years it has developed a broader package of business software.
ActiveCampaign offers more of an all-in-one sales solution than BenchmarkONE. It integrates with all the leading eCommerce platforms so is an attractive option if you run a webshop. It offers advanced account-based marketing (ABM) and automated sales engagement tools. These are great tools for marketing specialists.
These are advanced tools and take time to learn. As an alternative to ActiveCampaign, BenchmarkONE is much easier to get to grips with. There’s no free plan on ActiveCampaign and its cheapest tier offers limited features.
BenchmarkONE as a Keap Alternative
Keap positions itself as a CRM for smaller businesses. There are a lot of similarities in features with BenchmarkONE. But BenchmarkONE is more affordable. Keap has no free plan, just a 14-day trial. And no matter what paid-for plan you sign up for, you only get one user by default. You have to pay for each extra user.
BenchmarkONE’s Enterprise plan costs the same as Keap’s Pro plan. You get more features and unlimited users. BenchmarkONE’s Core plan includes landing pages, lead pipelines and lead scoring. You have to pay way more to get these in Keap.