I am going to start by saying that Active Campaign is the only email autoresponder I have given a five star review to.
The first email auto responder I ever used was MailChimp.
It didn’t take me long to realize they had nothing to offer and so then it was ConvertKit.
Then Sendlane, then Drip, then Aweber, then GetResponse.
So many problems. So many transfers.
The last 18 months I have been using ActiveCampaign and it has frankly been email marketing heaven.
I’m not even going to pretend this is an unbiased review, because I clearly love ActiveCampaign and use it every day.
But it is absolutely an honest review.
And I have used almost every mainstream email marketing software out there.
ActiveCampaign is simply the best software I’ve ever used. It is reliable, simple, and yet has the ability to do everything I can ever imagine with email marketing.
Every time I think up some new hair-brained email marketing scheme I go to ActiveCampaign to see if there is a way I can make it work. Every time I’m surprised to find there is.
That said, this ActiveCampaign review will give you a complete understanding of the software’s features, its pros and cons (yes even I admit there are a few), and how it measures up to the competition.
Now that I’ve had my say, let’s look at ActiveCampaign.
Or if you are already sold by my rave, you can just grab a trial now.
One thing is for sure: it doesn’t matter how great your marketing emails are if they don’t show up in people’s inboxes. That’s why deliverability is probably the most important feature of ActiveCampaign.
I’m going to let this chart speak for itself.
This test was conducted by a well-known platform in the email marketing space. Here is a link.
The main reason ActiveCampaign has excellent deliverability is that they’re very picky about who they let in. They won’t let just anyone deliver emails using their platform. As a result, those of us that use ActiveCampaign have much better delivery than entrepreneurs that use other email platforms.
I say this based on my experience using the platform extensively. But it’s not just my opinion. Others have run tests of email deliverability using different platforms including Constant Contact, Drip, ConvertKit, MailChimp, and more. ActiveCampaign had the best deliverability results of all platforms tested.
I’ve run my own tests and come up with very similar conclusions.
This is probably the main reason I love ActiveCampaign. Automations make it so that you can personalize your email marketing for every single person coming to your sequence. This can all be done in the background while you focus on other parts of your business.
And there is no one that comes close to what ActiveCampaign can do.
The really cool thing about ActiveCampaign automations is that it has a visual builder. This makes it very easy to map out your processes and see what’s going on.
Some auto responders have a lot of options, but without visually seeing it it gets really confusing what is actually happening.
ActiveCampaign visually lays it out so you can see the path you choose your takes.
For example, you can set up a series of triggers that you use to automatically add people to a certain list. You can add triggers for pretty much any kind of behavior.
Once the series is triggered, you can set it to automatically send out the first email at an optimal time for that individual subscriber’s time zone. How cool is that?
And that’s just one example of the many “conditions” you can add to their automations to personalize and optimize your marketing message to each user.
ActiveCampaign redid their form builder a couple of years back and now it offers all sorts of impressive features. You can use it to create inline forms, floating bar forms, floating boxes, and modal forms:
The options are completely customizable, so you can add your own fields and assign certain tags to new subscribers, etc. You can create the form you like using their drag and drop fields or insert your own HTML code, images, header text, and other relevant content.
You can also control how forms appear on the page, using slide-in or fade-in effects.
All of that being said, their form builder is probably the weakest point because it is a little clunky to use.
I gave it three stars because I just don’t love using it.
Site Tracking Pixel
This is a really cool feature that puts ActiveCampaign into another category entirely. You can put a tracking pixel on your website and use it to monitor visitor behavior. It sounds complicated but ActiveCampaign makes it really easy. They provide you with a set of code that you just have to copy and paste into your site header. Then you can track all kinds of visitor behavior.
This is super valuable because you can tell ActiveCampaign to send out emails to people based on actions they take on your site. So for example, if someone made it all the way to my checkout page but didn’t convert, I can have an email sent out reminding them about their abandoned cart.
If you can’t see the value in that, you should stop selling online.
This is an amazing feature for personalization. You can actually create slightly different versions of your email content tailored to individual subscribers. You do this using personalization tags and custom fields.
So, for example, say you’ve launched a new product (e.g. a watch) and want to email all your subscribers announcing it. Some of your subscribers have previously expressed interest in purchasing watches. You can include a special discount offer in your email, and set it to only display for subscribers who are tagged as interested in watches:
Any part of your email message can be conditional. All you have to do is insert a conditional content block, select the right conditions, and you’re good to go.
You can also use conditional content as part of automations. For example, you can automatically insert keywords related to individual subscriber interests into the subject line of your emails.
I refer to contact profiles all the time, which is why I’m mentioning them in this ActiveCampaign review. With this feature you’re easily able to go in, click on a contact and see all sorts of helpful information about them, including what tags they have and what lists they’re already on.
I love being able to quickly go through on individual contacts and see every way I’ve interacted with them:
You can also easily make changes to these profiles — even mass changes like tagging or moving groups of people from one list to another.
This is especially helpful if you’ve got a sales team and you are using their CRM and want to see exactly what they’ve been interested in what emails I have enticed them.
ActiveCampaign has really high quality reporting. You get stats on the performance of your campaigns as well as stats on on automation, which is what I use most. You can get a broad overview of the performance of all your initiatives or click through and see more granular insights as well.
ActiveCampaign offers three main performance reports:
- Automations Performance
The Automations Performance report shows you an aggregate of all automations on your account that have at least one sent campaign. You can visually see how many contacts have gone through each automation, as well as the overall performance of your automation campaigns.
- Campaigns Performance
The Campaigns Performance report provides all the detailed statistics you need to analyze your campaigns, including open rate, click to open rate, click rate, unsubscribe rate, bounce rate, and more.
- Tag Counts Report
The Tag Counts report is only available for Plus plans or higher. But this just shows all your tags and the number of contacts the tags were applied to.
Spit testing is super important if you want to succeed at email marketing. It’s all about learning what kind of content your audience likes best and what drives your marketing goals. You want to increase email open rates, click through rates, and conversions.
The best way to do this is by creating different versions of your email content then testing them against each other to see which works better.
ActiveCampaign makes it really easy to do this. You can test email subject lines, body content, form information, images and your calls to action. Monitor the performance of different email versions using deliverability, opens, link clicks and more. You can compare up to 5 emails at a time.
And what I love most about ActiveCampaign split testing is that you can test entire automations. So you can see if a combination of marketing factors work better at achieving your goals:
In today’s world every software needs to play nice with the others.
ActiveCampaign has been around for quite a while, so they’ve built up a strong database of apps and integrations they work with. This includes over 250 options covering all the things you need for accounting, analytics, CRM, ecommerce, lead generation, social, and more.
You can go through and browse their database of integrations yourself. If by chance they don’t integrate with a tool you use, they do integrate with Zapier, so you can use that to automate processes between the two.
The reason I am giving it four stars is because some integrations require the upgraded plan which I’m obviously not a fan of.
As I’ve mentioned before, I mostly use ActiveCampaign for automation. The platform has lots of unique features that really encourage you to get the most benefit from your marketing automations. For example, you can easily share automations with just one click:
Why would you want to share automations? There’s lots of great reasons:
- Moving automations and messages between accounts
- Previewing automations
- Creating templates for frequently used automations
- Backing up your automations
- Creating a product by bundling useful automations
- Using automations to promote ActiveCampaign as an affiliate
- Get creative…
ActiveCampaign also has an automation marketplace where people can access automation templates designed by other entrepreneurs. You can browse their categories of automations for various marketing purposes, such as boosting contact satisfaction, customer follow up, contact scoring, increasing referrals, and more.
The only reason I’m giving him four stars is they don’t have a free plan, which a lot of their competitors offer. I think they know they have the best product and don’t have to do that.
ActiveCampaign does have ton of different pricing plans available. What I really love though is that almost all of the best features are on their cheapest plan.
Most competitors make plans based solely on features, but ActiveCampaign builds their pricing more around subscriber count.
Basically just pay more as you grow.
On the “Lite” pricing plan you get all the email marketing and marketing automation features you need, plus chat and email support. When you upgrade you get packaged features that most don’t need like a custom domain and custom branding.
A lot of small entrepreneurs are switching to ActiveCampaign and already have these things taken care of elsewhere.
I’ve been on the cheapest plan of ActiveCampaign for a while now and haven’t felt restricted at all in my ability to use the software to optimize my marketing strategy. That’s saying something!
The Pros & Cons of ActiveCampaign
At this point in the ActiveCampaign review, you should have a good understanding of the software’s most important features. Now I’m going to add some more detail about what makes ActiveCampaign so great, and where it’s lacking compared to other softwares.
Here are the most important benefits I get from using ActiveCampaign over other options:
Active has unlimited automation options. Really anything you could dream of doing with automation, ActiveCampaign has the capabilities. That’s is really important, since this kind of software is supposed to help entrepreneurs save time with their marketing initiatives. If you make full use of ActiveCampaign’s automation features, you can not only save time but also improve your marketing message and deliverability.
One important thing to understand is that ActiveCampaign isn’t just an email marketing platform. It’s full blown marketing automation software, offering a variety of tools and options to help you with all sorts of digital marketing initiatives.
Besides the email marketing and automation features mentioned above, it also has solutions for sales and CRM. It can store and organize all your customer data, and help you optimize your sales strategy. If you’re interested in marketing or providing support through messaging on your site, the software can help you with that to. In fact, if there’s anything that ActiveCampaign can’t do, one if it’s many integrations should cover it.
Everyone I’ve talked to who uses ActiveCampaign says they love its simplicity. Just about anyone can to learn how to use it in a day. I know a lot of would-be entrepreneurs stall on the idea that they don’t have enough technical skills to succeed online. Tools like ActiveCampaign show that anyone can do it. The whole platform is simple and intuitive, and even the most complex automations are easy to do.
ActiveCampaign offers 24/7 live chat support, no matter what pricing plan you’re on. A lot of the other options out there are moving away from this kind of support setup. They only offer one-on-one support for high paying enterprise businesses. ActiveCampaign is happy to help out any kind of entrepreneur. I message them all the time and they answer instantly. Whatever problem I’m having is fixed as soon as possible, then I’m back to work.
As I mentioned before, ActiveCampaign’s pricing plan is a really important factor for me. I’m sure it is for a lot of you as well!
The fact is you just get more features for your money with this software when you’re using the cheapest plan. A lot of other softwares only offer the most basic features so you can’t even optimize your campaigns properly without upgrading to a more expensive plan.
No software is perfect. Every platform has features that are better than others. I’ve used this marketing software for a while now and love it. But I should mention things that are less-than-optimum in this ActiveCampaign review. My cons list is short:
The builder is probably ActiveCampaign’s weakest feature. It’s usable and it can help you build some basic things you need, but it’s nothing to write home about. They have some predesigned templates you can choose from, but the selection isn’t impressive.
In the builder, you have all the options you need to customize your content: blocks, images, text, etc. You can also click and drag things around which is helpful. But it’s not the prettiest builder and not particularly intuitive. It has all the important features you need to but it doesn’t go out of its way to help you learn how to use them.
ActiveCampaign vs the Competition
In the last section of this ActiveCampaign review, I’m going to go over how the software measures up against the competition. I’m uniquely positioned to comment on this because I went through several other email marketing tools before finally choosing ActiveCampaign.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign
ConvertKit is one of the other email marketing softwares that I tried out before ActiveCampaign. It’s a simple tool, which attracts some bloggers and solopreneurs, and that’s fine. ConvertKit is specifically about creating embedded forms for your website to get subscribers and grow your email list. You can also tag and segment your audience, and develop automated sales funnels.
ConvertKit simply isn’t in the same class as ActiveCampaign since it’s not a full marketing automation software. It doesn’t have anywhere near the same number of integrations or internal features to handle various marketing tasks like ActiveCampaign.
ConvertKit is a good tool for someone who’s just learning about how email marketing works. But as you learn and develop your strategy, you’ll quickly realize that you need more features and options than what ConvertKit has to offer. For example, ConvertKit only offers basic A/B testing features for subject lines and very simplistic automation. ActiveCampaign is also more visual than Convert Kit, making it easier for marketers of any skill level to map out and optimize their campaigns.
Since moving autoresponders can be a huge pain down the road, I always recommend starting with the one you will stay with forever. And if that is the case, I of course recommend ActiveCampaign.
ConvertKit starts at $29/month for your first 1,000 subscribers. You’re bumped up to more expensive plans as your contact list grows.
Mailchimp vs ActiveCampaign
Mailchimp is one of the most widely used email marketing tools out there because it offers a free version for your first 2,000 subscribers. That makes it appealing for people just starting out as online entrepreneurs. But eventually you’re going to outgrow the free version. And once you start paying, the feature you receive pale in comparison to ActiveCampaign.
So if you are actually planning on building your list, and grow your business (I hope you are), then don’t choose an autoresponder because it saves you $5 a month right now. That kind of thinking is why we have Suzuki cars.
Both platforms offer a drag-and-drop interface to design emails, and a database of templates to choose from. But Mailchimp lacks the customization options of ActiveCampaign. They have no option to create conditional content, and the segments that you can use to deliver personalized content to your audience are limited.
Like with ConvertKit, the Mailchimp campaign builder doesn’t measure up to the visually intuitive option with ActiveCampaign.
ActiveCampaign’s analytics features also offer more flexibility for different kinds of users. MailChimp offers basic data reports and allows you to compare your performance to other users in your industry. ActiveCampaign analytics can help you focus more on individual performance and achieving specific marketing and sales goals for your business.
Mailchimp is free for your first 2,000 contacts, but you’re limited on how many emails you can send.
Constant Contact vs ActiveCampaign
The last alternative I’d like to discuss in this ActiveCampaign review is Constant Contact. This tool is designed specifically for contact management and growing your contact list. Its main focus is list building, but it also offers some basic segmentation features. You can use the tool to create email drip campaigns that are triggered when people sign up for your list. You can also monitor the performance of your emails to drive important insights.
One thing that surprised me about Constant Contact is that they don’t have any features to help you track audience behavior on your website. Being able to track contact behavior and use this information to send a more personalized message is an important aspect of successful email marketing. ActiveCampaign makes this possible with their site tracking pixel.
Constant Contact also offers no dynamic email content, so personalization and automation are limited. Nor do they offer free phone or live chat support. To their credit, Constant Contact does come with a library of millions of stock photos you can use for free in your email content. But this unique feature isn’t enough to outweigh everything the software lacks.
Constant Contact starts at $20/month for 0-500 contacts. The price goes up incrementally as your list grows.
The Bottom Line
Congratulations on making it all the way to the end of my epic ActiveCampaign review! Hopefully at this point you have a good idea of the overall value of ActiveCampaign, why I like it, and how it measures up to some of the other options out there.