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ActiveCampaign Review - The Height of Automation?

roberta phillips

Apr 20, 2021

Professor

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This Chicago-based automation tool is helping their 100,000 customers send fewer emails while, at the same time, achieving better results. Boasting many features and integrations, as well as quick and friendly support, they do sound like a powerhouse newsletter marketing tool. We'll put ActiveCampaign under the microscope to see if they measure up to their bold claims.

ActiveCampaign Summary

ActiveCampaign offer almost everything you need within a newsletter marketing tool, plus their advanced automations are hard to beat. The entry-level plan starts at $15 per month (for up to 500 subscribers, paid monthly), or, if you want to access pro features such as the in-built CRM, lead scoring, landing pages and SMS sending, the Plus plan starts at $70 per month.

One of their most important features is automations. 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 also allows you to add notes to contacts, set up appointments, send direct messages to them, and much more.

The 'Conversations' feature is another one to note. You can use it to send targeted messages straight to your website visitors in order to optimize the overall customer experience and create a kind of sales funnel to help you convert more visitors.

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. Not having to use a number of providers for different tools will also potentially save you money.

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

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Try ActiveCampaign for free

500 SUBSCRIBERS

$15/MO

Lite plan. Discounts available for yearly contract.

1,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$29/MO

Lite plan. Discounts available for yearly contract.

2,500 SUBSCRIBERS

$55/MO

Lite plan. Discounts available for yearly contract.

5,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$99/MO

Lite plan. Discounts available for yearly contract.

10,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$155/MO

Lite plan. Discounts available for yearly contract.

50,000 SUBSCRIBERS

$345/MO

Lite plan. Discounts available for yearly contract.

Extremely powerful automation:

One of the best marketing automation tools out there. Not only extremely powerful but also easy to use.

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 and WooCommerce.

Great deliverability:

In our deliverability tests, ActiveCampaign proves to be one of the best tools in getting emails delivered.

Free migrations:

If you are coming from a different email marketing software, ActiveCampaign offers to do the account migration for free.

Features can be overwhelming:

This might only be considered a con if you’re after a quick and simple email solution. There are simpler newsletter services out there, so you may want to look elsewhere if this is all you need.

No free plan:

Unfortunately, there is no free plan available (only a free trial). If you’re looking for a simple tool, there are cheaper alternatives.

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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.

Newsletter Creation

Editor

The editor is fast, and has a couple of handy features. One is that you can save custom ‘blocks’ to reuse, and the other that it allows you to see changes other people have made, Google Docs-style. However, finding your last action to undo can be painstaking due to multiple auto-saves every minute! Another issue we had was in creating columns, this was needlessly finicky. Also, there is no quick way to preview your newsletter – you’ll need to go into the email settings.

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.

Email types

Classic newsletters, SMS, autoresponders, A/B testing, RSS triggered, advanced automations.

Choice and Flexibility of Template Designs

ActiveCampaign have around 125 modern, responsive templates to choose from. You can handily preview them in another window, both on mobile and desktop. Other tools offer slightly more features/content blocks within the editor. They offer users a free customized email design on the Plus plan and higher.

Email Automation

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 system. There are also pre-made ‘recipes’ (templates) for you to use, or get ideas from. Otherwise, you can build your own automation from scratch.

List Management

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. Learn more here.

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

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. Simple but effective.

Deliverability

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.

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 and WooCommerce. Other reports include contact trends, deal reports, chat conversion, automation reports, etc. Unfortunately, custom reports are only available on the Enterprise plan.

Languages

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.).

Further Features

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.

Pro Features

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 levels of account access

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

Integrations

yes

ActiveCampaign offer plenty of integration options, such as PayPal, Shopify, Google Analytics, and WordPress. It also supports all kinds of form and survey tools like Typeform and SurveyMonkey. You shouldn’t have a problem finding what you need as they also integrate with Zapier. Find all integrations here.

Landing Page Editor

yes

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.

Support

5/5

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. Live chat is also available on all plans.

Overall rating

4.5/5

ActiveCampaign is one of the most powerful newsletter tools on the market, hardly missing a thing when it comes to pro features.

best email service 2021It’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, ecommerce and more. One 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 MailerLite might be a bit easier to get your head around.

Try ActiveCampaign now for free for 14 days.

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.

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.

Sendinblue 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.

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

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

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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.

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roberta phillips
Having worked as a digital marketer, Roberta has tried, tested, fallen in love with and despaired with so many digital tools. She is excited to be helping businesses find the email marketing tools they need in order to thrive.
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.
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