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ActiveCampaign Review - The Height of Automation?

roberta phillips

Apr 27, 2022

Professor

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This Chicago-based automation tool is helping their 180,000 customers send fewer emails while, at the same time, achieving better results. ActiveCampaign reported that their customers saved 38.4 million hours between July 2020 and July 2021 using its automated workflows. That certainly implies good value for money, but considering it's on the pricier end of the spectrum, how much bang for your buck do you really get?

Boasting many features and integrations, as well as quick and friendly support, they do sound like a powerhouse email marketing tool. We'll put ActiveCampaign under the microscope in this ActiveCampaign review to see if they measure up to their bold claims.

You might have checked out the ActiveCampaign reviews offered by users online, and whilst they are pretty positive, they may not give you the whole picture. Our review of ActiveCampaign is based on a methodical approach and uses our practical experience and knowledge of dozens of other simple and advanced marketing automation tools.

ActiveCampaign Review 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 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.

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 your various digital marketing efforts will also potentially save you money.

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

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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.

Though we recommend ActiveCampaign, its prices are something to take into consideration. Despite the most affordable plan starting at $15, prices quickly rise as you collect more subscribers. ActiveCampaign’s pricing is on the higher end of the email marketing spectrum. You can compare it to other email marketing programs here.

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. Integrated engagement lets you combine all the channels that can be used within an automation: marketing campaigns, sales follow-ups, text, and more. This feature makes 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 tools in getting emails delivered. See how they did in our latest tests.

Free migrations:

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

Steeper learning curve:

This might only be considered a con if you’re after a quick and simple email solution. There are simpler email 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.

Charges for client preview:

You can preview how your newsletter looks on various email clients, however, this is charged at $1 per test/client.

criterion rating comments

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.

Newsletter Creation

Editor

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 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, though, in the case of products, this has been aided by the new product block. Surprisingy, 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. You can now add personalized signatures to your one-to-one emails with the new signature personalization tag.

Email types

Classic newsletters, SMS, autoresponders, A/B testing, RSS triggered, advanced automation. ActiveCampaign don’t have a dedicated transactional email server.

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 email builder. They offer users a free customized email design on the Plus plan and higher.

Email Marketing 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 automation builder. 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. 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

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

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. You can now send a test email for review to up to 5 email addresses.

Bounce Management

yes

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

Blocklist

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 Builder

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. You can also add special buttons, which include calling a phone number, downloading a file or sending an email.

Customer Support

5/5

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

4.5/5

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

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:

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 (from $70/mo) and higher.

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 be on the Professional plan ($187/mo) or higher and this isn’t cheap at all.

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.

We 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, which starts at $70/month, so it’s not cheap. 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, we 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

Pricing starts at $70/month for this feature, as 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, we’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.

best email service 2022So do we recommend ActiveCampaign?

It’s really tough to fault ActiveCampaign, not only do they offer almost everything you need within an email marketing platform, 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 email builder, not offering an experience as slick as other services 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.

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. Their marketing and sales automation is the real deal and makes other tools’ automated workflows look pale in comparison. (See why it makes an excellent Mailchimp alternative here.)

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. 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.

On a side note, ActiveCampaign offers 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

Try ActiveCampaign now for free for 14 days.

 

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

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.

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.

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.

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. Find out more here.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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roberta phillips
Hey, I'm Roberta! Having worked as a digital marketer for a host of online businesses, I've tried, tested, fallen in love with and despaired with so many marketing tools. I'm excited to help you find the email marketing and CRM tools you need to thrive.
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.
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