ActiveCampaign Review (2024): Why It's Our Top Pick for Automations

Last updated: See Updates

This article has been written and researched by our expert tooltesters through a precise methodology. Learn more about our methodology

Inka Wibowo

Inka Wibowo

Author

Charlotte Evans

Charlotte Evans

Researcher

EmailTooltester is supported by readers like yourself. We may earn a commission when you purchase through our links. Of course, this won't increase the cost for you.

Best Email Marketing Tool

The words "intuitive" and "marketing automation" aren't often used in the same sentence. A decade back, I navigated clients through pricey, cumbersome, enterprise-level marketing automation solutions that were anything but intuitive!

Then along came ActiveCampaign, a game-changer during my tests for EmailTooltester. Its flexible automation features not only outshine big-name competitors in ease of setup, but also come with a price tag that won't break the bank.

Curious about why we awarded ActiveCampaign our Best Email Marketing Tool for 2023 badge?? Let me take you through its pros and cons, and help you decide whether ActiveCampaign is the right email marketing solution for you.

ActiveCampaign Review Summary

  • ActiveCampaign is ideal for experienced email marketers who see marketing automation as a priority.
  • Its features might be overwhelming for those who simply wish to send basic newsletters.
  • Prices start from $19/month for its basic Starter package. On higher-level plans, you can also add a CRM from $50/month. We’ve found prices to be fair and comparable to similar providers.
  • In our tests, ActiveCampaign consistently showcases excellent deliverability, often ranking at the top.
  • One of its key features is marketing automation. Aside from autoresponders, which can be based on myriad conditions, you can automate list and contact management, as well as deals, if you decide to use their CRM software. This ‘Deals’ system (sales pipeline) also allows you to add notes to contacts, set up appointments, send direct messages to them, and much more.

best esp comparison template

Let’s dive in and take a closer look at this ActiveCampaign review:

  • ActiveCampaign Review
  • ActiveCampaign Tutorial
  • AC vs Mailchimp
ActiveCampaign Review video

Try ActiveCampaign for free

ActiveCampaign Screenshots

ActiveCampaign Pricing

$ 19

1,000 Subscribers

10,000 Emails

Starter plan. Includes 5 actions per automation.

$ 49

2,500 Subscribers

25,000 Emails

Starter plan. Includes 5 actions per automation.

$ 99

5,000 Subscribers

50,000 Emails

Starter plan. Includes 5 actions per automation.

$ 189

10,000 Subscribers

100,000 Emails

Starter plan. Includes 5 actions per automation.

$ 489

25,000 Subscribers

250,000 Emails

Plus plan. Includes unlimited actions per automation, plus landing pages and generative AI.

$ 759

50,000 Subscribers

500,000 Emails

Plus plan. Includes unlimited actions per automation, plus landing pages and generative AI.

ActiveCampaign’s most affordable plan is their Starter plan which starts at $19. Their prices then rise quite quickly as you collect more subscribers, or if you start needing more advanced features. Learn more about ActiveCampaign’s pricing in our guide. You can compare it to other email marketing programs here.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros
  • Cons

Pros

  • Extremely powerful automation

    One of the best marketing automation tools out there. This key feature of ActiveCampaign is not only extremely powerful but also easy to use. You can also purchase the CRM and SMS add-ons to integrate sales automations and text messages. Its powerful ecommerce automations also make it a great email marketing tool for Shopify.

  • Thorough reporting

    Offers reporting on all areas such as click-maps, geo-tracking and page visits. Purchase tracking is available on higher plans for Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, etc., and the “Recommendations for you” section is a nice addition to help you increase purchases, loyalty, and engagement.

  • Great deliverability

    In our deliverability tests, ActiveCampaign proves to be one of the best email tools for getting emails delivered. They have scored around 90% in the last 11 rounds and even came first place in our latest deliverability test.

  • Free migrations

    If you are coming from a different email marketing software, ActiveCampaign offers to do the account migration for free. Learn more about what’s included in our ESP migration guide.

  • All-in-one sales and marketing platform

    ActiveCampaign’s CRM can be purchased as an add-on if you’re on the Plus plan or higher. Having all your information and activity in one place means that you can quickly get a holistic view of how your sales and marketing efforts are performing. Centralizing your digital marketing efforts will also potentially save you money.

Is ActiveCampaign the right newsletter service for you?

  • Recommended if:
  • Not recommended if:
  • You’re serious about marketing automation

    ActiveCampaign is hands-down the most powerful automation tool we’ve tested, allowing you to set up virtually any automation you can think of – triggered campaigns, sales follow-ups, automated segmentation, dynamic email content, and so on. You can now automatically send one-to-one sales emails via your own inbox.

  • You need an integrated sales and marketing platform for your business

    ActiveCampaign’s CRM add-ons seamlessly link to all your email marketing data, allowing sales teams to act quickly. Features like lead scoring and social data can also help to streamline your sales follow-up processes.

  • You need a tool that performs multi-channel marketing

    Apart from sending emails, ActiveCampaign also allows you to set up landing pages, send SMS to website visitors and even manage how Facebook ads are displayed to contacts. It’s a great solution if you’d like to be able to centralize a good chunk of your marketing and give your customers a better all-round experience.

  • You need white labeling features

    ActiveCampaign is one of the few platforms to offer white labelling and an Agency Reseller program, making it an interesting option for agencies running email marketing on behalf of clients. Agencies can add their own branding and use a custom domain. Customers can also log in directly from your agency’s website. Learn more here.

Rating Details

Ease of Use

ActiveCampaign have a very user-friendly design, with easily navigable menus. The dashboard 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. A nice feature is the Content Manager, which stores all your assets in a centralized hub, making it easy to keep things organized.

With so much functionality, it may be a little complicated for absolute beginners at first.

Editor Info popup

The drag-and-drop email builder is fast and has a couple of handy features. One is that you can save custom ‘blocks’ to reuse, and the other is that it allows you to see changes other people have made, Google Docs-style. Previously, it wasn’t so easy to add columns, however, a recent update has added a whole section on structures, which simplifies things. You can now also edit the code directly in the template editor and preview your changes in real-time. Another very cool addition is that you can add actions (add a tag, add to a list, end automation, etc.) when a contact clicks on an element like an image or a link, which is great for segmentation.

Personalization Info popup

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. You can now add personalized signatures to your one-to-one emails with the new signature personalization tag.

Email types Info popup

Classic newsletters, SMS, autoresponders, A/B testing, RSS triggered, advanced automation. ActiveCampaign don’t have a dedicated transactional email server, but you can easily integrate with Postmark.

Choice and Flexibility of Template Designs Info popup

ActiveCampaign have around 250 modern, responsive templates to choose from. You can handily preview them in another window, both on mobile and desktop. They offer users a free customized email design on the Plus plan and higher.

Email Marketing Automation Info popup

Their marketing automation really is unbeatable. 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 flowchart-style automation builder. There are also plenty of pre-made ‘recipes’ (templates) for you to use, or get ideas from. Otherwise, you can build your own automation from scratch.

List Management Info popup

Compared to some other tools, managing contacts and lists is made much easier due to their automation functions, which allow you to organize people into lists. ActiveCampaign also supports tagging, which is a very flexible way to segment audiences. Learn more here.

Registration Forms/ Opt-in & Opt-out- Process Info popup

Easy to use, lets you create your own custom fields. Aside from the standard forms, which are fully responsive, it also allows you to create floating forms and modals. If you’re on Shopify, you can automatically embed a form on your site instead of having to copy and paste it into your store’s code. This form can include a discount code to encourage users to make a purchase.

Deliverability Info popup

In our deliverability tests, ActiveCampaign tends to score pretty highly, landing emails in the main inbox of the most popular providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and AOL. ActiveCampaign’s deliverability is fairly consistent, which is good news for email marketers.

Reports and Analysis

Allows reporting on basically everything (opens, click-maps, page visits, geo-tracking). Ecommerce reports are also available on certain plans for Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and more. The “Recommendations for you” section offers helpful suggestions on actions you can take. Other reports include contact trends, deal reports, chat conversion, automation reports, etc. Unfortunately, custom reports are only available on the Enterprise plan.

Languages Info popup

Their website and support are both available in English, plus 5 other languages. You can change your user profile to one of more than 20 languages (including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, etc.).

Spam- and Design-Testing Info popup

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 $5 for 5 tests, it seems a bit steep. You can now send a test email for review to up to 5 email addresses. Find out how to avoid spam filters here.

Bounce Management Info popup

Soft bounces are counted as hard bounces after three times, and this then puts them in an exclusion list.

Blocklist Info popup

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.

Authentication Info popup

SPF and DKIM are supported.

Own Domain Info popup

It’s possible to use your own tracking domain to improve your newsletter’s company branding.

Different levels of account access Info popup

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 tick-boxes. 2-Factor Authentication for an additional security layer is available too.

Integrations

ActiveCampaign offer plenty of integration options, such as PayPal, Shopify, Google Analytics, Eventbrite and WordPress. You shouldn’t have a problem finding what you need as they also integrate with Zapier. Find all the 900 native integrations here.

Landing Page Builder Info popup

The templates are varied and easy to edit. Landing pages are hosted on a custom domain or subdomain. On the Professional plan and up, you can create personalized web experiences by hiding or removing certain elements. You can also add special buttons, which include calling a phone number, downloading a file or sending an email.

Customer Support

Support is fast and friendly, via all mediums and available in several languages. 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. Live chat is also available on all plans, but no phone support.

Overall rating

4.5

ActiveCampaign is one of the most powerful email marketing services on the market, hardly missing a thing when it comes to pro features. Small businesses will benefit from excellent sales automation, subscriber management through the use of automated workflows and the new features they’re constantly adding

A More Detailed Look at ActiveCampaign's Top Features

As you can see from what we’ve already covered in this ActiveCampaign review, it offers a good range of pro features. Let’s break those down a little and assess what works and what could be improved:

At EmailTooltester, we’ve reviewed the marketing automation capabilities of dozens of ESPs and haven’t yet found a match for ActiveCampaign. Though ActiveCampaign’s competitors include marketing automation as part of their product, it isn’t necessarily at the center. ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, has made this their focus, allowing you to automate virtually anything: campaigns, deals, ecommerce automation, SMS, contact management, etc.

Marketing automation is included on all plans, however, sales automation is reserved for users on the Plus plan and higher with the addition of a CRM add-on (starting at $50/month).

One-to-one email automation is quite unique to ActiveCampaign. You’ll be able to trigger automations directly through your inbox communications with leads. The only downside is that you’ll need to enable the Sales Engagement CRM add-on, and this isn’t cheap at all (with prices starting at $150/month).

We’ve been monitoring ActiveCampaign for years, and have seen them proactively add new features constantly, especially around the area of automation. This is a very good sign, as some other ActiveCampaign competitors haven’t been quite so forthcoming.

I looked into ActiveCampaign’s automation templates, otherwise known as ‘recipes’ and found that they are both really well put together and easy to edit. There are tons to choose from (750 in fact!), and the categories make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

activecampaign automation templates

Other tools tend to provide quite general templates, whereas ActiveCampaign provides a whole host of integration-specific templates, like these automation recipes for Shopify:

activecampaign shopify automations

The only downside is that, with so many templates, you can feel overwhelmed by the options. It may appear that some recipes are repeated, however, after revising the templates closely, you can see there are small differences between them. I can see how this could be a little confusing for some, but, at the end of the day, our experience tells us that the more targeted you can be with your campaigns the better.

SMS automation is included on the Plus plan and higher. You can integrate with a number of tools, such as ClickSend, MessageMedia and Twilio, and ActiveCampaign provides you with a variety of automation templates:

activecampaign sms templates

Be aware that SMS sending is only available on the Plus plan and higher, and you’ll need an add-on of around $21/month, plus sending credits. You’ll also need to be on the expensive Enterprise account if you want your own custom SMS number for sending.

ActiveCampaign CRM

As mentioned above, ActiveCampaign features a built-in CRM.

Small business owners looking for contact management software will find this feature particularly useful, to use alongside the advanced email marketing capabilities.

After extensive testing, I found that the software was pretty easy to use. You can set up multiple deal pipelines, and edit/add new stages to reflect your unique sales process. The drag and drop software makes it easy to manually move deals through the pipeline.

The more advanced user can benefit from this range of CRM automation templates, which covers everything from lead scoring to task management:

crm actions activecampaign

There are two CRM add-ons available: the B2C-targeted “Pipelines”, and the B2B-focused “Sales Engagement”. Pricing starts at $50/month, and it is reserved for those on the Plus plan and higher. It’s not exactly cheap, but when you consider everything you’re getting (advanced sales and marketing automation, contact & lead scoring, email & SMS sending, Facebook Custom Audience integration, etc.) it’s actually not a bad deal.

When compared against the best CRM software for small businesses, we found that most services charged per user, whereas ActiveCampaign included 25 user accounts, which will really help keep costs down.

We also conducted a detailed comparison of ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot and found that ActiveCampaign actually had a lot of advantages over the CRM giant. Most notably, it’s value for money.

ActiveCampaign Landing Pages

There are a total of 56 responsive landing page templates, and you can also build your own and save it as a custom page for future use.

activecampaign landing page templates

After analyzing the designs and editor, I’d say they are attractive and modern, the only thing is that it isn’t so easy to move blocks around the page when editing. For example, you can’t move an element up or down slightly, instead, you can only move it between the outlined sections. I imagine ActiveCampaign has set it up like this so that every element is aligned, but it means you have less creative freedom than with other website and landing page builders like Wix.

I also couldn’t find a way to add a link to images, which isn’t ideal.

landing page builder activecampaign

The cool (and unique) thing about ActiveCampaign’s landing pages is that you can include dynamic content (web personalization) so that each user sees exactly what’s relevant to them. This will help you to target leads in an intelligent way, e.g. only showing users content that’s relevant to their geolocation or industry or showing them products based on their purchase history. You can also enable tracking on your pages. Check out our complete guide to ActiveCampaign’s landing pages here.

ActiveCampaign Deliverability

best email deliverability 2024We’ve tested ActiveCampaign’s deliverability in our bi-annual tests over the course of five years and found that it has some of the highest delivery rates amongst top email marketing services. In fact, ActiveCampaign won our best email deliverability award (again) after coming out top in the tests we ran in Jan 2024. Their score was slightly lower than the previous two rounds, however they still managed to come first place!

Find out how it’s performed over the years, and how it compares to other emailing services in our detailed deliverability analysis.

Conclusion

So do we recommend ActiveCampaign?

As this ActiveCampaign review highlights, it’s really tough to fault ActiveCampaign. I was impressed at how far its automations can take you, letting you build finely targeted campaigns and segments. And its reporting offers you insight into almost all facets of your digital marketing, including page visits, geo-tracking, sales, and more.

The support is as advertised: friendly, helpful and fast. With their ‘Plus’ plan you even get access to one-on-one training and helpful webinars, which is a nice addition.

One area that is slightly lacking is the email builder, with a few niggling features that could be executed better (like the revision history).

However, I think this ActiveCampaign review shows that it is really one of the best choices you could make if you’re looking for an all-in-one digital marketing tool as part of your email marketing strategy. Their marketing and sales automation makes other tools’ automated workflows look basic in comparison. (See why it makes an excellent Mailchimp alternative here, and a great Constant Contact alternative, for that matter!)

You’ll need to be prepared to put in a bit of time due to the slightly steeper learning curve, and perhaps spend a little more money, but your business will reap the rewards.

> Try ActiveCampaign now for free for 14 days.

On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a simple way to blast out newsletters, there may be another ActiveCampaign alternative (like GetResponse or MailerLite) better suited to you. And if budget is the main issue, there are also many cheaper email service providers available in the market.

 

I hope you’ve found this ActiveCampaign review helpful. Feel free to leave us a comment if you have any questions!

FAQ

In general, ActiveCampaign is GDPR-compliant. User data is stored on U.S. servers. This storage is permissible under the “EU-U.S. Data Privacy Framework”.

However, it is theoretically conceivable that this framework, just like its predecessors, might be repealed in the future.

Beyond this, ActiveCampaign provides all the tools necessary to ensure your email marketing is GDPR-compliant.

You must, however, ensure that you don’t use features that infringe upon EU rights (e.g., tracking your visitors’ activities on your website without their consent).

If GDPR compliance is a major concern for you, you may want to look EU-based newsletter services like Brevo or MailerLite instead.

 

Yes! You can use ActiveCampaign to manage your contacts, deals and leads. There are plenty of automations to help you streamline your processes. Find out more here.

ActiveCampaign can be used for anything from newsletter creation to contact management. Coming with a myriad of features, this all-in-one marketing automation software is a great choice for all business sizes.

With ActiveCampaign, you can perform a whole host of tasks, such as send out email newsletters, monitor deals and manage your contacts. However, the most notable feature is the sales and marketing automation capabilities.

Yes! ActiveCampaign’s landing page builder allows you to create modern landing pages with dynamic content blocks, meaning you can personalize your content depending on who’s viewing it.

Yes, ActiveCampaign’s mobile app is available for iOS and Android. You can view campaigns and email automation details, schedule and send campaigns, track email performance metrics, manage contacts, and much more.

ActiveCampaign is a legit email marketing service for small businesses. It safely stores your customer data and offers a secure way to manage your subscribers.

ActiveCampaign’s deliverability rates are among the top 5 results in our bi-annual tests. Scoring in the early to mid-nineties, we’d say they have very good deliverability.

No, ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer a free plan – only a 14-day trial. If a free plan is important to you, check out our list of free email marketing services here.

On a side note, ActiveCampaign does offer a range of really useful free tools, regardless of whether you’re a customer or not. You can find everything from content and social media calendar templates to a subject line generator. Check out the free tools here.

ActiveCampaign Alternatives

There are plenty of excellent ActiveCampaign alternatives.

GetResponse is a powerful alternative to ActiveCampaign with loads of pro options (e.g. a webinar tool) and good automations. Unlike ActiveCampaign, they offer their platform in more than 20 languages, and their design and testing tools are excellent. Read the full comparison in our GetResponse vs ActiveCampaign guide.

Brevo is one of the cheapest all-in-one email marketing tools on the market. It’s available in 6 languages and comes with advanced automation options and a built-in CRM.

MailerLite is one of the most affordable solutions, in fact, their free plan is very generous. Their approach to email marketing design is admirable, offering modern-looking templates. It’s also one of the easiest tools we’ve ever used. (Read more about MailerLite vs ActiveCampaign.)

See how Mailchimp compares to ActiveCampaign. You can also compare it to newcomer tinyEmail in our ActiveCampaign vs tinyEmail guide.

Still not sure which is the right newsletter tool for you? Try our Smart Finder.

The authors

Learn more about us

Inka Wibowo

Senior Content Manager

Hi, I'm Inka! I spent the earlier part of my career in agency land, helping businesses of all sizes get their email marketing campaigns up and running. Now, at EmailTooltester, I'm using my experience to help businesses like yours find the best email marketing services for your needs.

Charlotte Evans

Content Manager

Hey, I'm Charlotte! I've always been enthusiastic about helping others. After working for various tech startups and eCommerce businesses, I developed a strong passion for email marketing. Now, at EmailTooltester, I'm putting this knowledge to good use by recommending the very best digital tools for your business.

Learn more about us

We keep our content up to date

19 Jun 2024 - Pricing changes including introduction of Starter plan
06 Feb 2024 - Updated deliverability section
25 Aug 2023 - Information about GDPR-compliance added
11 July 2023 - Updated deliverability section
23 May 2023 - Removed Conversations feature
23 Mar 2023 - New pricing details
09 Mar 2023 - Added deliverability section
16 Feb 2023 - Pricing update
18 Jan 2023 - Won 'best deliverability' award
15 Dec 2022 - Badge added
29 Nov 2022 - New video added
29 Sept 2022 - New pricing
07 Sept 2022 - New editor
27 Apr 2022 - Added new badge
26 Apr 2022 - Added CRM and landing page section
11 Apr 2022 - Added section on marketing automation
17 March 2022 - Note about legitimacy added
25 Jan 2022 - Added some new smaller features
16 Dec 2021 - General update
16 Nov 2021 - General update
02 Nov 2021 - Updated reports and cons section
22 Jul 2021 - General update
20 Apr 2021 - General update
19 Oct 2020 - Landing page builder added
02 Aug 2020 - ActiveCampaign increased prices
03 Apr 2020 - Updated screenshots
07 Mar 2019 - Smaller updates (including available languages)
7 Jan 2019 - Deliverability rating updated
12 Jul 2018 - Recommended section added
20 Mar 2018 - Deliverability rating added
25 Oct 2017 - ActiveCampaign changed prices
25 Apr 2017 - Site messaging added.
09 Aug 2016 - Minor text updates, top choice banner added.
10 Aug 2016 - Video review added.
09 Mar 2016 - Initial tests.

Our Methodology

This review has been written and researched following our EmailToolTester methodology.

Our Methodology

Comments