ActiveCampaign Review - The Height of Automation?
Self-appointed ‘All-in-one Marketing Platform’, ActiveCampaign has been working towards having marketers send fewer email, whilst also allowing them to achieve better results. Boasting many features and integrations, as well as quick and friendly support, they really do sound like a powerhouse newsletter marketing tool.
One of the most important features of this Chicago-based company is its automations. Not only does it allow autoresponders, based on myriad conditions, but it also allows automation of your contacts and list management, as well as automations within its CRM system (known as ‘Deals’). This ‘Deals’ system is also worth noting, and allows you to add notes to contacts, set up appointments or simply send direct messages to them, keeping all your communications in one place.
Apart from a host of features, ActiveCampaign have really honed in on creating an enjoyable and intuitive user experience. And, while at first glance pages such as the Dashboard can seem a little busy and overly complicated, it’s not hard to understand how useful it is to have all your information in one place, particularly if you’re using the system to it’s full capabilities.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look at ActiveCampaign:
ActiveCampaign in Detail
|Ease of Use||ActiveCampaign have a very user-friendly design, with menus being easily navigable. The dashboard, which could feel crowded if not designed correctly, has a useful ‘Getting Started’ slider to help new users. And it has demo data to give you an idea of how best to use sections. It may be a little complicated for the absolute beginner though.|
|-Editor||The editor is fast, and has a couple of handy features One is saving custom ‘blocks’ to reuse, and the other is allowing you to see changes other people have made, Google Docs-style. Although finding your last action to undo can be painstaking due to multiple auto-saves every minute! Another issue we had was in trying to create columns, this was needlessly finicky and didn’t give us the desired effect.|
|-Personalization||yes||An easy to use If/Then/Else logic is available via ‘conditional content’ which allows you to show certain customers different content based on certain conditions like interests, links clicked in the past etc.|
|-Types of Emails||Classic newsletters, SMS, autoresponders, A/B testing, RSS triggered, birthdays (date-based).|
|Choice and Flexibility of Template Designs||ActiveCampaign have around 25 modern, responsive templates to choose from. You can handily preview them in another window. Other tools offer more template options, and also slightly more features/content blocks within the editor.|
||Their marketing automation really is the one to beat for newsletter tools. It’s extremely powerful, and very user-friendly, allowing you to automate follow-up campaigns, edit multiple conditions and much more. This is all done via an easy-to-use flow chart-style system. There are also pre-made ‘recipes’ for you to use, or get ideas from, otherwise you can start your own automation from scratch. Learn more in these video tutorials.|
|List Management||Compared to some other tools, managing contacts and lists is made much easier, and automated, due to being able to use their automation functions to organise people into lists. Learn more here.|
Opt-in & Opt-out- Process
|Easy to use, can create your own fields, and it also allows you to create floating forms. If you input the web address you want to add the form to, it even brings up the page in the background to see how it looks together. Simple but effective.|
|Reports and Analysis||Basically allows reporting on everything (opens, click-maps, page visits, geo-tracking) except for eCommerce, there is no purchase-tracking available.|
|Languages||The site is only available in English, yet they pick up points for the implementation of a volunteer translation site for multiple languages. You still have to search and implement these yourself though.|
|-Spam- and Design-Testing||These are both available. Spam testing is simply a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ that you get before you send out your campaign, yet there are no factors present to help understand the ruling. An email client preview is available, too, but at a price of $1 per test/client, which seems a bit steep.|
|-Bounce Management||yes||Soft bounces are counted as hard bounces after three times, and this then puts them in an exclusion list.|
|-Blacklist||yes||This is the aforementioned ‘exclusion list’. You can import contacts directly into this list, and export too.|
|-Storage Available for Data and Images||unlimited||Images above 1000px will be downsized.|
|-Social Media Integration||There are many integration options available for social media within ActiveCampaign.|
|-Newsletter Archive||no||Only a basic internal archive of old newsletters.|
|-Authentication||yes||SPF and DKIM are supported.|
|-Own Domain?||yes||It’s possible to use your own tracking domain to improve your newsletter’s company branding.|
|-Different Access Levels||yes||This is a very flexible system, without specific levels. You define the group names and also the exact access for each of those groups via tickboxes.|
|-Integrations||yes||ActiveCampaign offer a massive amount of integration options, such as PayPal, Shopify, Google Analytics, Facebook and WordPress. You shouldn’t have a problem finding what you need. Find all integrations here.|
|-Landing Page Editor||no|
|Support||Support is fast and friendly, via all mediums. Their knowledge base is particularly useful and easily searchable, I had very little difficulty finding relevant search results. They also have video tutorials available, webinars (live and archived) and one-on-one training on the ‘Plus’ plan.|
|ActiveCampaign is one of the most powerful newsletter tools on the market. Hardly missing a thing when it comes to features, and also simple enough for most people to make full use of them.|
© EmailToolTester Matrix
It’s really tough to fault ActiveCampaign, not only do they offer almost everything you need within a newsletter marketing tool, but they do it very well. The reporting offers you insight into almost all facets, such as page visits, geo-tracking, openers and more. The only thing lacking in that area is the ability to track purchases on your website. Another area that is slightly lacking is the newsletter editor, not offering an experience as slick as other tools out there, with a few niggling features that could be done better (like the revision history).
The support is as advertised: friendly, helpful and fast. Email and chat support are great, with a personal feel to the communications. Their knowledge base is easily searchable and actually returns relevant results a high percentage of the time. With their ‘Plus’ plan you even get access to one-on-one training and helpful webinars, which is a nice addition.
ActiveCampaign really are one of the best choices you could make if you’re looking for an all-in-one newsletter marketing tool. Their automation is the real deal, and makes other tool’s versions of this pale in comparison. You’ll need to be prepared to put in a bit of time, and perhaps spend a little more money, but your business will reap the rewards. If, on the other hand, you’re just looking for a simple way to blast out newsletters, a solution like GetResponse or MailChimp might be a bit easier to get your head around.
09 Aug 2016 - Minor text updates, top choice banner added.
10 Aug 2016 - Video review added.
09 Mar 2016 - Initial tests.
Last Update: 09 Aug 2016 | Steve Lamattina
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