ActiveCampaign Review 2018

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Choosing the right email and marketing automation tool for your business can be challenging. That's why we've written an extensive Activecampaign review. Most people looking for a marketing automation app like ActiveCampaign are coming from email apps like Mailchimp or CampaignMonitor. These email solutions are great at delivering solid basics for the best possible price. Whereas apps like ActiveCampaign offer the same basics together with powerful automation features, thus helping you to get more work done in less time. And, surprisingly, at a very affordable pricetag.

ActiveCampaign Review Summary

Overal Score

Total Score
85 %

Detailed Score

Effectiveness
90 %
Ease of Use
80 %

Price
85 %
Support
80 %


MAIN PROS:
  • Price / Value
  • Advanced segmentation and Automation Features
  • Solid automation builder
  • 20 premade HTML templates & 1 click automation imports
  • Large number of integrations, either native or with Zapier
  • Good support and active community

MAIN CONS:
  • Can feel slow and clunky at time
  • No online storefront or shopping cart
  • There is a bit of learning curve if you need all features
  • Strict affiliate policy

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If you want to take a deep dive into ActiveCampaign, we've got you covered:

ActiveCampaign Review Summary

ActiveCampaign is often compared with services like Drip, Constant Contact or Converkit. I think this comparison is somewhat misplaced, because the latter focus solely on email automation (and do it very well). With ActiveCampaign you get email automation as a part of the package. And their email automation features are one of the best in the market considering the price tag.

Besides that you get an integrated CRM function and features like site messages, which allow ActiveCampaign to be compared with complete Marketing Automation software, such as Infusionsoft, Pardot, Hubspot and Marketo.

The main difference is the price tag. ActiveCampaign starts at 9 dollars compared to hundreds of dollars for other marketing automation solutions. So if you are serious about marketing automation but you also have budget constraints ActiveCampaign should give you great value for your buck.

ActiveCampaign is fairly easy to use. As with any marketing automation platform there is a learning curve. What sets Actie Campaign apart from the rest is that it offers 20+ premade HTML email templates and basic workflow automations ready to be used. So you can start sending great looking emails almost right away. Furthermore you don't need any technical skills to deal with the tool so even if you're not very techsavy you should be able to manage all of your marketing automation yourself.

And despite some shortcomings in areas like usability, the pure automation power make ActiveCampaign a safe choice for any type of business incl. (local) services, ecommerce or a blog.

if you are still wondering whether ActiveCampaign is the right email marketing automation app for you, this in depth ActiveCampaign review should answer some of your questions.

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ActiveCampaign Features & Benefits

Let’s focus on the main areas of the app.  These are high level stuff that each marketing automation app should offer:

  • Lead capture (whether through forms on your website or by importing email lists from other apps or databases)
  • Segmentation (list based segmentation, tag based segmentation, behavior based segmentation)
  • Personalization based on different segment
  • Testing and optimlization (emails subjects or contents, email frequency, sending time etc.)
  • Automation (ideally with minimal technical skills)
  • CRM and deals
  • Integration with other tools in the ecosystem (CMS, Payment providers, Ecommerce tools, Page builders etc).

Let’s get into the ActiveCampaign review details and see how it performs according to this checklist.

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Dashboard: first impression

To start off this ActiveCampaign review, let's take a look at the dashboard. This is the screen you get when you log in. You can customize the dashboard to some level by adding or removing widgets from the available selection.

Drag and drop the widgets to order them in any way. Nothing too fancy but gives you an instant feel of the overall situation like number of subscribers, the level of engagement, best performing campaigns, best performing automation and contacts.

 

 

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Lead forms

ActiveCampaign offers you a selection of form types:

  • inline form
  • floating box
  • floating bar
  • popup box

You probably won't be using all of them all the time, but it's nice to have them in your toolbox.

ActiveCampaign Review Leadforms

Nice thing about having these options is that you probably won't need any 3rd party optin tools. However, if you still want to use other forms like Optin Monster or Gravity Forms, ActiveCampaign allows you to integrate with them very easily.

Important to mention: basic account allows only inline forms, so if you want access to all four types you need to have a plus account (starting at 49 dollars a month)

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Segmentation: the first step toward personalization

Organizing contacts: Lists vs Tags

ActiveCampaign allows you to use both lists and tags to segment your contacts. If you are reading this ActiveCampaign review coming from a traditional email service provider like Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor or Aweber you will be familiar with managing different lists.

As long you have a limited number of list and you mainly send broadcast campaigns to those lists the list based approach should work fine.

However, once you start incorporating automation in your email marketing you may find yourself creating new lists to segment your audience. Before you know you have duzens of lists and list management becomes an issue. Because now you have to keep track of who is subscribed to what list so you don't end up accidentally emailing people that have unsubscribed form your communications.

Fortunately thereis a simple solution to this problem. By working with a a single list, the so called 'Master' list and using tags to segment your contacts.

This way you can have different contact segments reside on a single list but have them tagged differently. The tags become your main segmentation method and that allows you to keep your account organized. If you are interrested in learning more about using tags instead of lists this is a great article to start: Lists vs Tags

Custom fields and behavioral rules

If you want to capture specific information from you subscribers you can use custom fields. ActiveCampaign presents you with a generous set of options for you custom fields:

 

ActiveCampaign Review Fields

 

In addition you can track email engagement (opens en clicks) and website behavior of your contacts using website and event tracking. This allows you to better understand not only who your contacts are but also how they engage with your content (both website and email).  Using this data you can do all kinds of cool things (more on this in the automation section).

ActiveCampaign Review Segments

 

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Email design: beautiful design made easy

At the core of activecampaign’s email function is a very solid drag-and-drop visual builder.  There are 20 great looking email templates in the template library. You can customize them or just use as is.

ActiveCampaign Review Newsletter templates

If you rather build an email from scratch you can do that in using visual emaail builder or a html code editor. Alternatively you can import a html template.

Basically you can create emails anyway you want.

One feature about visual builder in ActiveCampaign that is particularly helpful is the ability to save parts of emails to 'saved library'.  Think of elements like different company logos, headers, signatures, body content that you use in several emails.

This small addition to the visual builder makes creating emails just so much easier. It can be a great time saver if you find yourself constantly creating new emails that share common elements. The following video illustrates this feature in action.

 

Once an element is saved to the content library you can re-use it in the same campaign or any other campaign. Just drag the element from the menu on the right onto the canvas and you're done.

 

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Email personalization: basic to highly advanced

When it comes to personalization ActiveCampaign offers a variety of ways to personalize your messages.

At the very basis level you have personalization tags that you can use, think of %FIRSTNAME% or %FULLNAME%. Basically you use personalization tags to place contact's information in the email. This is a standard feature in most apps so you are probably familiar with it. For the full list of personalization tags checkout this page

A more special way to personalize your messages is by using conditional content.  

Conditional content lets you dynamically change parts of the email based on contact's attributes (tags, field values or triggered events).

This allows you send more tailored content to different segments of you list using just one single campaign.

Instead of creating a separate campaign for each segment you can just create one generic campaign and use a conditional logic to dynamically change parts of the content for each subscriber based on contact's information.

But there is more to cover in this ActiveCampaign review! ActiveCampaign also offers custom message variables. At first, custom message variables look very similar to basic personalization tags, but there is a BIG difference.

Unlike personalization tags custom message variables are not attached to any specific fields or specific subscriber. Think of them like of containers that can store any information you want.

This can be text, images and even conditional content (yes, conditional content within your custom message variable). This allows you to create all kinds of cool stuff.

 

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Automations: the backbone of ActiveCampaign

If there is one thing we can't skip in this ActiveCampaign review, it's the Automations. This is probably the single most important feature in ActiveCampaign. From simple action like sending a welcome email series after a sign up, to highly complex sequences of automations that work in conjunction. If you can imagine it you can probably automate it with ActiveCampaign.

You can create a new automation by navigating to the Automation tag and clicking ‘New Automation’ button in the upper right corner. You will be presented with three options:

  • Build your own from scratch
  • Choose from a set of automation templates and modify them for your needs
  • Import an automation

If you choose to start from scratch, ActiveCampaign offers you the following start triggers.

This is probably the most extensive list of automation triggers out there. But if that's not enough you can use API to add or remove contacts to and from an automation.

Important! The number of automation triggers depends on the type of plan you have, but luckily most triggers are available in all packages.

Once you have chosen how to start your automation you will have to pick the first action. And list of automation actions is equally impressive.

Automation builder

The automation builder in ActiveCampaign has a nice visual layout. You can drag and drop elements which makes it very easy to re-arrange the flow in the automation.

Another nice feature is the ability to add notes to each step in the automation. This may look trivial at first but becomes very important when you have several dozens of automations running in the background. It’s easy to forget what each automation does exactly and why you built it a certain way. Using notes consistently really eliminates that problem.

 

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What automations can you use in your business today?

Let's a bit of practical stuff to this ActiveCampaign review :). Depending on the type of business you are running there are hundreds of ways you could use ActiveCampaign to automate your processes. Here are just a couple of examples that are widely used.

Cart abandonment campaign for ecommerce stores

Create a ‘Win back’ campaign. Every time someone from your list visits the shopping cart but does not complete the purchase you can automatically send them a cart abandonment email. In addition you could offer them a special discount coupon. By setting up a win back campaign you can automatically convert some of your leads into customers. We have seen conversion rates anywhere between 5% and 20% using a cart abandonment campaigns.

Tagging contacts based on their product interests

You can automatically tag contacts based on the products they have viewed recently and then follow up with an email. If they have visited a particular product page several times you can automatically send them a special offer for that product. Or you could simply offer your assistance in answering any questions they have about the product.

Cross selling and upselling additional products

Create an automation that automatically sends an email with products that are related to the ones you customer bought recently.

Customer support follow up

Ask your customers about their experience with your company. If they are positive ask them to leave a review on a third party review platform. If they are not completely happy with your service you could follow up on that as well.

Onboarding sequence

Create an series on onboarding emails after someone creates a (trial) account. In case of a trial account you can add a couple of upsell emails offering them to upgrade. This one is very common in saas world but the same idea could applied to other types of businesses as well.

Deliver course content

Create a series of emails that deliver educational content. Another great addition from ActiveCampaign is a WordPress membership plugin, ActiveMember360. It allows you to create a membership site and integrate it with ActiveCampaign email automation. So if you are thinking about building a membership website and using ActiveCampaign this is a perfect match.

Sales team notifications

Using engagement tracking, contact scoring and automations you can alert your sales team once a contact has shown particular behavior. Set up email notifications that fire off ones a contact reaches a minimum threshold.

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ActiveCampaign Review Highlight: Automations + Split Testing

Probably the most unique feature of this whole ActiveCampaign review.  Most email automation tools will let you A/B test single or broadcast campaigns. ActiveCampaigns lets you run split tests within automations. So now you can run split tests in the background and you can also automatically determine the winner using any of the conditions you have specified.

Not only can you test email subject lines, different email copy and other parts of content, but you can now splittest complete series of emails at once.

For example, you can set up an automation that splittests two sequences of welcome series. Then you can add new subscribers to the automation where they will be funneled through either one of the variations.

This way you can continuously test different messages , sending frequency, time of sending etc.

And it gets even more powerful when you combine split Splittesting, Automation and Website/Event tracking. Where  most email marketing tools stop at opens and clicks, ActiveCampaign takes it much further.

Not only can you see which version delivers more email engagement, but you can now tie them directly to website conversions. This could be anything from a purchase in your ecommerce store, submitting another optin form or any other custom event.

 

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CRM, deals and lead scoring: more than just email automation

The thing that sets ActiveCampaign apart from other email automation apps like Drip and Converkit is the Sales and CRM module. Activecampaign allows you to create  deals, pipelines, contact and lead scoring. Combined with powerful automation features and email integration their CRM module can be used to automate your sales process AND the after sales process.

ActiveCampaign CRM module is not competition to apps like Pipedrive or Salesforce. So if you are looking for an advanced sales CRM app this may not be the right choice for you.  Other than that you should be fine. If at some point you do decide to switch to an app like Pipedrive and Salesforce you can easily integrate with them using native ActiveCampaign integrations.

Another very useful feature we want to cover in this ActiveCampaign review is the contact and lead scoring. This feature allows you to add another layer of segmentation to your audience and can be extremely useful regardless of whether you are in a b2b or a b2c market.

Using a lead scoring system you can distribute points to your contacts based on their attributes and actions. Think of actions such as whitepaper downloads, page visits, email opens and email clicks. In the following example 5 points are given to a contact each time he clicks on a link in an email. You can choose specific links and/or emails, but in this Activecampaign review we will use a general scoring system:

 

You can then use the scoring points to trigger an automation. In this example the automation is triggered once a prospect reaches a minimum of 50 points.

Once a contact reaches a minimum threshold you could trigger a number of different actions. For example:

  • Add or remove a tag
  • Add or remove from a list
  • Send your sales team a notification
  • Send a special offer email or a personal email
  • Send a site message
  • Create a deal
  • Move the contact to a different stage in a deal
  • Etc...

Doing this manually would take hours. Instead, now you can fully automate this process and let the app do the work for you. It does take time to develop a reliable lead scoring system, but once you have one it can greatly help you with your lead qualification. That way you can engage with your leads when they are ready. And easily identify those who need more nurturing.

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Integration with other apps: over 150 integrations available

Another very important factor to consider in this ActiveCampaign review is the ability to integrate with other apps in the ecosystem. It's safe to say that most businesses today use multiple online services and apps. Be it marketing, sales, customer support etc. And with the rapid growth of the technology landscape we can expect even more apps to come into play. So not being able to get different tools to work together is a legitimate concern.

At the time of writing this ActiveCampaign review, they offer integrations with over 150 apps. This may not be the most extensive list of integrations. For example Infusionsoft offers more than 600. However this should be enough for most people.

Besides these integrations ActiveCampaign offers a solid API. We have been using ActiveCampaign successfully with a number of other apps, incl. pagebuilders, optin forms , crm solutions and different shopping cart services. Very happy with the integrations so far.

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Things to improve

We also want to cover some thing to improve in this ActiveCampaign review. We've talked about why ActiveCampaign is a really cool email marketing automation app. Time to cover the lesser things about this app. There are a couple.

Usability
Based on the personal experience as well as experiences from other users one major area for improvement is the usability. If I had to choose one single thing to improve about ActiveCampaign it would be the app loading speed. The  loading times can be extremely annoying. In rare occasions it can be as slow  as (30-40 seconds). It sounds crazy but it’s true. ActiveCampaign said to be working on resolving the issue so let's hope they get it done quickly.

Automated campaign Reporting
Another area for improvement resides around reporting. Although the overall report is pretty solid. The interface for automation reports is lacking some important features. You can filter broadcast campaign based on a particular period. But you can’t do that in the automation reporting. Seems like very logical thing to have, but it's not there.

 

Ease of use

Because the app offers so much in terms of features it can be overwhelming in when you first start to use it. Finding your way around the app can be a challenge in the beginning. The positive thing here is that you don't need technical skills to be able to build advanced automations with the app. My advice would be to take time to read and watch the training materials on their website. This can save a lot of time in the long run.

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ActiveCampaign Pricing

All ActiveCampaign plans come with a 14 day free trial. If you are new, The ActiveCampaign Lite Plan is a great plan to get started. If you need some more funtionality, you can always decide to upgrade later.

Lite Plan

500 subscribers

$15/month

Lite Plan

2.500 subscribers

$49/month

Lite Plan

5.000 subscribers

$89/month

Lite Plan

10.000 subscribers

$139/month

Try a 14 Day Free Trial

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ActiveCampaign Review FAQ's

How is the deliverability with ActiveCampaign?

Based on our personal experience delivarbility is very good. Their servers have a good sender reputation, which you can check using Sender Score.

Do I have to pay for unsubscribed contacts?

ActiveCampaign doesn't charge you for contacts that have unsubscribed, event if the contact is still in your database.

Can I use affiliate links in the emails?

ActiveCampaign has a strict policy regarding use of affiliate links in the emails. You can send affiliate emails just make sure you follow the rules. This can be a major drawback if you rely heavily on affiliate sales.

Is there any setup fee?

No. There is no additional costs besides the monthly fee. They even offer a free one-on-one training to get you started.

How is their support?

Based on our own experience as well as other users ActiveCampaign really focuses on providing good support to their clients. The support staff is really helpful and tickets are handled within 24 hours. They even offer a (basic) free custom email design service starting from Plus Package and up. In addition there is an very engaged Facebook community so most questions can be answered there.

Is there a big learning curve?

Is does take some time to figure out the app, mainly because there is a lot going on in terms of features. ActiveCampaign does offer good training resources including how to guides and videos, webinars, blog and a podcast. Their facebook community is another great resource of tips and know-how.

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ActiveCampaign Review Conclusion

At our online marketing agency in the Netherlands we use ActiveCampaign for all our clients. We've tried a few email software tools but none of them offer the value ActiveCampaign while having a really affordable price.

It's great for B2C and B2B customers and we have accounts with 2.000 to 100.000+ subscribers in both markets using ActiveCampaign to their advantage. It's really consistent across the board with all the important features and a great tool to start with for marketing automation. You can make an impact quickly while never running out of features when you want to get more advanced.

Ofcourse this is our opinion, but if you’re thinking about trying ActiveCampaign we really advise you to do it! You can click here to get a free 14-day trial of ActiveCampaign.

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Author: Team EmailDrips

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