Out of all marketing channels, email marketing is one of the most effective directions. And there are tons of reasons why – higher customer engagement, a more direct approach, enough time between nurturing and convincing to pay, you name it.
But while email marketing is a phenomenal channel by itself, it would be useless without an equally phenomenal software to organize it with. Hence, today we’ll review ActiveCampaign, one of the biggest fishes in the pond. It’s jam-packed with features marketers will love, features you didn’t even know you needed, and everything in between.
This ActiveCampaign review will go over every question you could potentially have before choosing and committing to an email marketing tool. We will cover ActiveCampaign features, what it’s best used for, ActiveCampaign pricing, alternatives, and more. By the end of this review, you’ll be a lot more confident in your decision, and that’s a promise. So let’s dive right in.
As mentioned in the beginning, ActiveCampaign is one of the biggest and, frankly, oldest email marketing tools in the market. The Chicago-based company was founded back in 2003, and quickly gained popularity among marketers. It now has over 145,000 customers that use ActiveCampaign daily for personal or business needs.
ActiveCampaign became a unicorn company with a valuation of over $1B in 2021. The impressive company profile leaves only one question to ask – does it live up to its colossal progress and hype? We’ll try to find out.
What is ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign is a customer experience automation software that tackles email marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, sales automation, and more. In a nutshell, ActiveCampaign is a type of complex marketing tool that covers multiple needs of small to medium-sized businesses, all from one platform.
Every one of ActiveCampaign’s features is geared toward building and improving customer experience. Compared to some of the other email marketing tools available, ActiveCampaign is by far one of the most functional ones. No wonder it’s also on the pricier end of the spectrum. This is particularly true if you compare it with relatively simpler tools like MailerLite and Moosend. So considering how much value you’re getting, the price can be justified. However, to be sure of that, let’s continue exploring what ActiveCapmaign is best used for and what you can do with it.
What is ActiveCampaign used for?
Whether you have or have not heard about ActiveCampaign before, at this point in the review you already know it’s primarily used for email marketing purposes. But it’s so much more than just an email service provider.
As the company itself states, businesses use ActiveCampaign to reach, nurture, convert and grow.
You can use it for lead generation, warming up your audience, setting up marketing and sales automation, converting clients, and providing them with a personalized approach all throughout the cycle. On top of that, ActiveCampaign has also dipped its toes into the customer support pool with a Facebook messenger now available to users.
An important part of all these features is that it helps you cut down customer churn rate and increase your retention rates. In the next section of this ActiveCampaign review, we’ll explain each feature and its use in more detail. Off we go.
Regardless of your past experiences with email marketing, ActiveCampaign is mega-packed with features you probably haven’t seen before. The upside is that these features are superbly useful, but on the other hand, on the more complicated side. Even for marketers well versed in other email marketing tools.
The software itself categorizes its features collectively into the following groups:
- Email marketing
- Transactional emails
- Marketing automation
- CRM & sales automation
- Sales engagement
- Service & support
We’ll cover the features we think are the essentials in the pack and explore what novelty ActiveCampaign brings to the table. And after that, you can decide whether or not it’s worth your time.
ActiveCampaign features: Email marketing
Let’s start with the basics. First things first, despite the enormous variety of ActiveCampaign features, this is still primarily an email marketing tool. So you can organize all types of email communication with your audience through ActiveCampaign. You get your classic email flows based on triggers, one-time newsletters, targeted emails for each segment, scheduled emails, and more.
Crafting your emails with ActiveCampaign is straightforward. Though we’ll be honest, it’s not as simple and fun as, for example, with MailerLite. ActiveCampaign is a more technically advanced tool, so the entire process, though still easy, is not a piece of cake.
The drag & drop editor is fairly easy to navigate, and the rich templates gallery will help you create emails in no time.
ActiveCampaign also has advanced segmentation, which allows you to group your audience based on numerous factors. This ensures you’ll reach each group of subscribers with as precision-targeted emails as possible.
Add to the basic features list personalization, mobile responsive design, reporting, and A/B testing, which ActiveCampaign excels at. You also have the option for dynamic and conditional content, which will essentially help you show a certain part of the email to only specific subscribers based on a certain condition.
Later in this ActiveCampaign review, we will dedicate a separate section to integrations, but right now we’ll suffice by saying IT. HAS. MANY. You can connect ActiveCampaign to your Google Analytics and create special deals for your subscribers as soon as they perform a certain action or click on a link in the email.
And last but not least in the impressive list of features is you can connect your marketing channels with ActiveCampaign. Based on customer behavior, you can automatically add a subscriber to a specific audience for your Facebook ads and thus achieve holistic and multichannel marketing activities.
ActiveCampaign features: Marketing automation
Marketing automation is a goldmine for digital marketing experts. ActiveCampaign boasts about its marketing automation feature with good reason. There’s really no limitation to how many complex strategies you can implement with it.
Set one automation to trigger different automation based on a specific action. Segment your audience within the automation. Test multiple marketing automations against each other to determine the best-performing one. Essentially, with the help of advanced marketing automation, you can understand your customers better and deliver more targeted content to them. This will, in return, pay off in the form of higher conversions and customer loyalty.
You can also pair ActiveCampaign’s marketing automation with its sales CRM that stores consumer behavior data and will help you categorize them better.
According to customer reviews and a general grasp of marketing automation, this saves you tons of manual resources, and most importantly, time. And anything that cuts down time while increasing efficiency is a win.
ActiveCampaign features: CRM & sales automation
One of the most frequently asked questions about ActiveCampaign is whether you can use ActiveCampaign as a CRM. We wanted to make sure we went over this particular point as best as possible in this ActiveCampaign review. So that’s what we’ll do now.
Yes, you can use ActiveCampaign to manage your contacts and integrate it with your sales team’s activities. But let us explain what the tool offers you in more detail.
With ActiveCampaign, you can automatically create a Salesforce contact for every new lead. You can set the trigger to be a page visit, mention the specific page you want, and ActiveCampaign will generate a contact every time a lead visits that page. As soon as your lead enters your pipeline, you can send them a 1:1 personalized email and get to selling.
You can get a centralized view of your entire pipeline and from there, manage your contacts with ease. ActiveCampaign also allows you to see the recent activities of the leads in the pipeline. This comes in handy if a sales team member needs to pick up where another rep left off or ensure everyone is on the same page.
Another major bonus with ActiveCampaign CRM & sales automation is lead scoring. Based on customer behavior and characteristics, you can assign a scoring mechanism and handle your leads easily. Leads with higher scores can automatically be transferred to the sales team, which will help convert them faster. For leads with lower scores, you will need to continue nurturing them en masse until they’re ready to be approached by the sales team.
Lead scoring has been around for a while and has turned out to be one of the most effective filtering methods. Before lead scoring, the qualifying of gathered leads was essentially a guessing game.
Another helpful set of features within the ActiveCampaign CRM & sales automation is that you can assign tasks to the sales team and make notes for each lead, while never leaving the ActiveCampaign platform. Isn’t that a gem?
It’s now time to look at the financial side of this ActiveCampaign review and see the asking price for this feature-packed software. We’ll discuss ActiveCampaign pricing, dive into all the available ActiveCampaign plans, and break them down so you can see which plan fits your budget best.
Though we already mentioned that ActiveCampaign pricing is on the more expensive side of the equation, it’s undeniable how much value this tool provides. Some even say it’s relatively affordable compared to its advanced features. But we’ll let you decide that for yourself. Either way, you will have a 14-day free trial to test out the features for your business.
As with many other email marketing tools, ActiveCampaign’s pricing is divided into 4 sections, each taking into account the number of contacts you have and the features you need:
To find out all the comprehensive information on each plan or view the features in each plan based on your business type, we suggest visiting the official pricing page on the ActiveCampaign website. For now, we’ll concentrate on summarizing each plan for easier navigation.
ActiveCampaign pricing: Lite ($29/mo paid yearly for 1000 contacts)
The Lite plan on ActiveCampaign starts at $29 per month for 1000 contacts. With the Lite plan you get all the basics of ActiveCampaign:
- Email marketing
- Marketing automation
- Unlimited emails
- Drag & drop email builder
- Subscription forms
- Website and events tracking
- Campaign and automation reporting
If we’re being honest, the asking price for these features only is a bit high compared to other email marketing tools out there. Most of the ActiveCampaign alternatives we’ll discuss in the upcoming sections will give you these functionalities for much less.
The Lite plan doesn’t include some of the best features we’ve covered earlier. For example, you don’t get the luxury of automatically adding leads to Facebook custom audiences, lead scoring, SMS marketing, etc. You also don’t get the much-needed landing page creation feature, CRM, and sales automation. And lastly, with the Lite plan, you only get 1 user account.
Needless to say, investing in ActiveCampaign if you’re going to get the Lite plan might not be the best option for you. However, it’s still one of the better choices in the market. So it all comes down to your own business needs.
ActiveCampaign pricing: Plus ($49/mo paid yearly for 1000 contacts)
With the Plus plan, now we’re talking. ActiveCampaign’s Plus plan includes everything in Lite and some hefty additions. In fact, the difference between the two is very big. You pay a big chunk of money, true, but in return you get:
- Landing pages + over 50 templates
- Facebook custom audiences
- Contact and lead scoring
- SMS marketing
- SMS follow-ups
- Automations map
- Conditional content
- Advanced performance reporting
- Custom branded forms
- CRM & sales automation
- Mobile CRM app
- Task reporting
- Customer success pipelines
- Customer health overview, and more
As you can see, the Plus plan tackles the Sales and Service suite, while building on the marketing activities too. With this plan, you get way more of the platform. Namely, with the Plus plan, you can now manage activities of multiple marketing channels from one platform.
The huge jump also shows in the number of users, which drastically increases to 25 compared to the 1 user included in Lite. 25 users per account might seem too much, but that’s exactly why ActiveCampaign allows you to assign custom permissions for each user. This will help keep the processes smoother and avoid security risks.
For e-commerce businesses, Plus makes a lot more sense because it supports advanced integrations with Shopify, BigCommerce, and similar platforms.
Even though you get access to Marketing automation in Plus, you’re still a bit restricted in your experiments. For example, this plan does not support Split automation, 1:1 email automation, predictive sending, and custom reports. However, if these aren’t of too much essence to you, the Plus plan, though pricey, can actually be a good solution for you.
ActiveCampaign pricing: Professional ($149/mo paid yearly)
Now we know what you’re thinking, if you need to use the Professional plan, you probably have way more than 1000 contacts. If you need more than 50,000 contacts, for any of the plans, you will need to contact the sales team directly to craft a custom plan for your needs.
As expected, the Professional plan includes everything from Plus and more advanced personalization features.
- Website personalization
- Predictive content & sending
- Marketing attribution & reporting
- Split automation
- Site messages
- Sales engagement automation
- Win probability
- Personalized product experience
As far as the account-related benefits go, you get 50 users in this plan and a dedicated onboarding specialist.
ActiveCampaign’s Professional plan brings a lot to the table if you need and can afford these features. However, depending on your business type and growth stage, the Plus plan seems to cover most of what’s essential, for a lower price.
ActiveCampaign pricing: Enterprise (upon request)
Just like with every SaaS platform, to find out more about ActiveCampaign’s Enterprise solution you need to talk to their sales team. Expectedly, the Enterprise plan includes everything from the lower-end pricing plans.
The difference in features of this plan is mostly tied to security and branded actions. For example, here you get:
- Custom Mailserver domain
- Custom domain
- Free design services
- Unlimited email design testing
- Social data enrichment
- Custom objects with API
The Enterprise plan finishes off customization to business by allowing you to have a custom phone number for SMS sending.
Most of the remaining benefits of the Enterprise plan come forth in platform support – phone support, customized marketing strategy, and custom implementation service.
Now that we’ve gone over the platform’s extensive features and pricing options, it’s time for the most competitive section of this ActiveCampaign review – the ActiveCampaign alternatives. By now we have reinstated that ActiveCampaign is one of the leaders in the market. But leading the charts doesn’t magically make them the best choice for your business.
To find out whether or not you should settle down on this particular software, we’ll be covering three ActiveCampaign alternatives.
ActiveCampaign vs Mailchimp
Mailchimp is one of the oldest players of the email game. It’s a powerful tool with amazing features, and the quality speaks for itself. However, there are some major differences between Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign you should know about before you make up your mind.
So, what is the difference between ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp?
Mailchimp is way easier to use, and that’s a fact. This isn’t surprising since we’ve already mentioned that there’s a steep learning curve with ActiveCampaign. That being said, Mailchimp’s simplicity doesn’t fit every marketer’s cup. Compared to ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp lacks major advanced features, such as lead scoring, dynamic automation, SMS automation, site and event tracking, and more.
In return, Mailchimp offers users a freemium model starting businesses can explore without having to pay from limited resources. The freemium model obviously comes with a multitude of restrictions, whereas ActiveCampaign only keeps adding better and better features to its paid plans.
With Mailchimp, email marketing is made easy for all but lacks advanced customization. And this is one of the most commonly made points while comparing the two.
Taking these into account, Mailchimp would be great if you’re not looking into too advanced technicalities and want to keep your focus on email interactions only.
ActiveCampaign vs MailerLite
MailerLite, compared to ActiveCampaign and Mailchimp, is a fairly new email marketing platform. And if we’re being honest, it’s a tough job trying to compare both tools as they differ in many ways. Where MailerLite is a very easy-to-use and decent email marketing platform, ActiveCampaign goes way beyond simple email marketing.
Both platforms have different target markets and sets of features. And while MailerLite is very good at what it does, let’s face it, it doesn’t come close to ActiveCampaign’s complex customer experience automation (CXA) platform.
That being said, though, if we go back to ActiveCampaign pricing of this review, MailerLite is a better solution for you if you’re hunting for an alternative to ActiveCampaign’s Lite plan. And it’s also more diverse and affordable.
What we’re trying to say here is that MailerLite is probably the best solution for smaller-sized businesses that are not looking for complex marketing integrations.
ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit
ConvertKit entered the race back in 2013 and is now loved and valued by lots of marketers. ConvertKit is more affordable than ActiveCampaign, and the reason behind is functionality. It’s a great tool mostly targeted at creators and covers email marketing needs very well.
When it comes to features, ActiveCampaign wins the race with, you guessed it, more advanced features. While ConvertKit does offer lead scoring, advanced segmentation, and reporting, it doesn’t come nearly close to ActiveCampaign’s end-to-end CXA.
Unlike ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit offers a freemium model perfect for newer creators. However, if your business needs way more than email marketing, the choice is obvious.
What does ActiveCampaign integrate with?
Leaving behind the ActiveCampaign alternatives section, it’s time to answer another frequently asked question – “What does ActiveCampaign integrate with?”
To keep it short, with way too many apps. But we won’t leave you hanging like this without a bit of a more elaborate explanation.
ActiveCampaign has every built-in integration – over 870 apps – that any business could ever need. Regardless of your business direction, you can build the ultimate martech stack with ActiveCampaign. It connects to the most widely used e-commerce platforms, social media and advertising suites, CRM software, form makers, Content Management Systems, analytics and reporting tools, scheduling solutions, and more.
Rest assured your needs will be covered.
ActiveCampaign pros & cons
We know this was a very long ActiveCampaign review, but if you didn’t have the time to go over it all and needed a quick recap, you’re in the right section. We’ve covered a lot of ground today, but now we need to put this entire review into a few bullets for our ActiveCampaign pros & cons section.
|ActiveCampaign Pros||ActiveCampaign Cons|
|Extremely advanced marketing automation features||High cost|
|CRM and sales automation||Is not the easiest to use|
|SMS sending||Custom domains only available in higher tiers|
|Predictive content||Landing pages are not the best|
|High deliverability||Email editor lacks some necessary basics|
|Email automation templates|
|Machine learning for better results|
ActiveCampaign: Final review and rating
And just like that, we have reached the final stop of our ActiveCampaign review – our final rating. But before the jury announces the verdict, we feel as though you might need a quick recap of the whole thing. After all, it’s been a long ride.
ActiveCampaign is an advanced customer experience automation platform, including but not limited to email marketing, marketing automation, CRM and sales automation, hundreds of useful integrations, and more.
The platform offers an A-Z solution for lead generation, nurturing, scoring, and converting. You can use ActiveCampaign to onboard clients, build lasting relationships, increase conversions and grow your business.
If you campaign ActiveCampaign with other email marketing solutions in the market, it’s definitely on the more expensive side. But given how much it gives you in return for your investment, we think it’s definitely worth your time.
If you’re looking into getting a good email marketing tool that won’t break the bank, you can easily look past ActiveCampaign. And the only reason behind this statement is that ActiveCampaign is better used as a complex of marketing efforts, not merely email. Otherwise, you’d be overpaying for an email solution.
But if you see a need for all the advanced features ActiveCampaign is offering, we think you won’t regret investing in it.
Whichever the case is, you won’t know for sure until you try it. So you can sign up for a free 14-day trial and test out all the features before committing.