It’s almost unfair to pit one of our top and lowest rated solutions against each other. We’ve written extensively about how ActiveCampaign is one of the strongest newsletter tools you can use for your business thanks to their mastery of automations. Meanwhile, AWeber underwhelmed us with their lack of features and sometimes confusing editor.
However, it’s worth going into detail about what each platform offers. Who knows, you might actually be better off with the underdog this time? Let’s find out below:
With a fast and neat backend, ActiveCampaign’s platform offers an excellent user experience. Which is funny because they have a ton of features, and it usually means more complexity. But no complaints here: managing lists and subscribers is both flexible, powerful, and easy to do. Another example of excellent UX is when creating campaigns: you can check previous and next steps, which makes the process fast and easy to review.
ActiveCampaign’s campaign navigation system
AWeber, on the other hand can be a bit confusing. For instance, some options are unnecessarily hidden, like reusing a campaign or choosing senders’ addresses. Their naming also muddies things. For example, they call “Broadcast” regular newsletter and say “Campaigns” when talking about email automations. Your main selector is the subscriber list, which makes it harder to go to the campaigns and automations. And finally, they lack a visual, workflow-based navigation menu like ActiveCampaign’s.
AWeber's newsletter editor – missing a clear navigation for the creation process
ActiveCampaign offers 40 responsive and modern-looking templates. They also let you modify the layouts, which adds flexibility to the templates, especially with all their customisation options. You can also type in HTML if you’re confident with that.
AWeber gives you a lot more options out of the box with 150 templates available in various color schemes. However, their designs look a bit outdated. Similarly, the editor feels a bit clunky and lacking in flexibility. For example, you can’t modify certain layouts to change the number of columns. HTML is also available.
Winner: Based on the number of templates alone, AWeber would win this round. But we’d rather have less choice with better looking templates and a sleeker editor. So ActiveCampaign takes an extra point here.
ActiveCampaign’s automations are as good as they get. Their system allows you to monitor (registered) visitors on your website and to adapt email marketing programs to their behaviour and interests. For example, if a registered user on your cooking blog visits a page about cheesecake, you can send an automated email with different recipes. Or you could ask them to rate the recipes after three days. The possibilities are endless. What’s more, creating automations is done through visual workflows, both intuitive and easy to use.
ActiveCampaign’s visual automation workflow
AWeber’s automations (confusingly called Campaigns) are a new addition and still a beta feature at the time of writing. You can apply tags to users when they subscribe to your list (for example: “interested in cheesecakes”) and you can segment your mailing lists accordingly. In short, it’s not the most advanced system there is.
You can create and customise ActiveCampaign’s registration forms with a good amount of flexibility, including all the fields you need. Note that if you’re on the lower price plan, they will keep their branding on the form. The other advantage of the pricier Professional and Enterprise plans are additional form types: on top of inline, you also get floating boxes, modal pop-ups and floating bars.
AWeber form editor
AWeber’s forms give you a lot of toys to play with, including fields of course, but also things like audio files, page redirects, videos and more. You also get a customisable Thank You page when users finish their subscription. Unfortunately, the templates look as dated as the ones for the newsletters themselves, and the forms aren’t super easy to set up.
Winner: you can pick your own winner here. AWeber’s forms are more flexible, and if you need specific features like audio forms, then they’re great. If you want ease of use and no frills, go for ActiveCampaign.
If you want to make sure your emails reach subscribers, you can use ActiveCampaign’s pass / fail test. It’s not detailed, though, so don’t expect great insights about why your emails end up in the spam inbox. Additionally there is a third party service for previewing emails in different inboxes (Gmail, Outlook, etc…). It’s a paid service though….
…but we’ll still take it over AWeber, who offer nothing at all in this category.
Winner: Clearly, ActiveCampaign. But they’re definitely not the best here compared with other providers.
If you want detailed reports, ActiveCampaign is yet again one of the best solutions for you. Yes, they are missing ecommerce reports, but you get pretty much everything else, from opens, clicks, bounces and unsubscribes to advanced reports like geo-reports, social media reports or link CTR distribution.
AWeber’s reports give you the basics such as openers, bounces, clicks, and even a “Domains” reports that will show you the percentage of different email providers you sent a campaign to. They also have advanced ecommerce and geo tracking data, but these can be a bit hard to find. We counted half a dozen clicks to get to the that kind of info, which is annoying.
Winner: another point for ActiveCampaign. If they offered ecommerce tracking, they’d be hard to beat here.
Of course, one of the most important tasks an newsletter service needs to help you with is to actually arrive in your reader’s inbox (as opposed to the spam folder).
We’ve done an in-depth test of various providers’ success here. The table below shows the summary:
Winner: It’s pretty close here. ActiveCampaign wins by a hair, but bear in mind that deliverability goes up and down due to (sometimes) uncontrollable factors. These are more guidelines than anything else.
Both ActiveCampaign and AWeber do well here. You can find the full list for ActiveCampaign integrations here. Notable ones in both camp include Facebook, WordPress, WooCommerce, Paypal and Zapier.
Winner: we’ll call it a draw. You’ll have to search for the integrations you need and make sure they’re there if they are really important to your workflow.
We liked both ActiveCampaign and AWeber’s support. Their answers were fast and friendly. Both offer chat and email, but AWeber also has a phone line. Their knowledge base is a bit harder to trawl for good info, unlike ActiveCampaign’s, who also offer webinars and foster a good community with questions and answers.
ActiveCampaign’s support pages
Winner: Another tie here. If you really need phone support, go with AWeber. But we doubt you’ll need to call them up.
Neither ActiveCampaign nor AWeber offer free plans. The entry tier for ActiveCampaign is the $15 a month offer, which lets you manage 500 subscribers and 3 users. AWeber’s offer for the same amount of subscriber is twice as expensive at $19 a month.
After that, Active Campaign’s prices shoot up dramatically. You can go up to 5000 subscribers for $69 a month vs $49 for AWeber. Then it’s 10,000 for $111 a month with ActiveCampaign and $69 a month with AWeber.
Winner: AWeber’s entry plan is twice as expensive as ActiveCampaign’s. Moving up to other tiers, ActiveCampaign’s prices are not low. But they seem fair as they offer more than other newsletter services. AWeber on the other hand has lots of cheaper competition. You get what you pay for, after all, so let’s call it a draw. .
By the way if you want to compare their prices with other email marketing alternatives, you can check our pricing tool.
Have a look at our table below for comparing their features at a glance.
In summary, reasons for choosing AWeber over ActiveCampaign are few and far between. These include phone support, and funky registration forms that integrate audio files or videos.
But really AWeber are a hard company to recommend. Their prices are similar to the competition (or more expensive) and they are seriously lacking in features. ActiveCampaign offers one of the best solutions in terms of automations and reporting, which can make them a very sophisticated solution for your email marketing.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that other factors could steer you towards different providers. For example, if you want a cheaper or free solution with good features, MailerLite comes highly recommended, and GetResponse is our top pick for reporting that includes ecommerce tracking.