ActiveCampaign Review: Marketing Platform with Exceptional Automation Capabilities

ActiveCampaign Review: Marketing Platform with Exceptional Automation Capabilities

ActiveCampaign is an affordable option for serious bloggers and small to medium-sized businesses seeking a powerful email marketing tool and an intuitive sales CRM.

Pros

  • Advanced automation capabilities include customizable triggers and workflows
  • Subscribers can be managed using both lists and tags
  • Includes a fully-functional sales CRM platform
  • Attractive user-interface with an intuitive step-by-step campaign builder

Cons

  • Unable to create landing pages
  • Number of built-in templates are limited compared to other systems

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

Table of Contents

ActiveCampaign Pricing

  • Starts at $15/month for up to 500 contacts, and ranges to $599/month for up to 25,000 contacts
  • Option to pay yearly (rather than month-to-month) for a discount
  • Free 30-day trial

ActiveCampaign Full Review

Founded in 2003, ActiveCampaign is a Chicago-based tech company with over 250 employees. Their SaaS-based marketing platform helps small and medium-sized businesses automate a wide range of marketing processes, to help grow their business. Over the years, ActiveCampaign has evolved from being a simple email marketing provider to an all-in-one marketing tool that provides advanced email marketing capabilities, intelligent automation, and a built-in sales CRM platform.

Automation is a consistent theme across ActiveCampaign. A visual drag-and-drop workflow builder helps you map complex customer journeys. It’s straightforward to learn, and doesn’t require technical experience to get started. Intelligent automation allows you to start or stop campaigns, update data, add behavioural branches, and even move leads along your pipeline within the CRM if they meet specific conditions. Event and site tracking combined with "If/Then" conditions can also ensure that you adapt to your customers' behavior, and send your messages at the right time.

Contact management is also very strong, with a combination of tags and lists used to manage subscribers. Considering the robust number of features offered across all plans, ActiveCampaign is reasonably priced, making it a suitable option for small and medium-sized businesses.

While ActiveCampaign is billed as a complete marketing’ package, it is still missing a few noticeable features, such as landing pages, which could take the software to the next level. However, if you’re looking for a highly customizable marketing automation tool to grow your business, and for a reasonable price, ActiveCampaign is an excellent choice.

Key Features

Below, we'll discuss the key features of ActiveCampaign and how they can benefit your business.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are one-time messages sent to a list of contacts to offer promotions, notify customers about product updates, and to stay in touch with your contacts. Campaigns are easy to set up, and there are several campaign types to choose from, including standard one-off emails, autoresponders, and date-based email campaigns.

ActiveCampaign Review Campaign Types

As with other email marketing systems, ActiveCampaign utilizes a step-by-step approach, making it extremely easy to create messages to send to your audience.

ActiveCampaign Review Campaign Creation Steps

After selecting a campaign type and corresponding list, you will be prompted to choose a template. Compared to MailChimp and AWeber, the template selection is slightly underwhelming with only 30 different options. You can also build your own from scratch, although we've found the drag-and-drop editor to be a little clunky, which means that it can take a while to design the email to your liking. If you do have the time, there are plenty of customization options available within the builder to create an engaging newsletter that matches your branding, including colors, fonts, and image uploads. A useful feature in the builder is the ability to save content blocks to use again in future campaigns. As an example, you can save header or footer information to keep your branding consistent across all newsletters.

ActiveCampaign Review Campaign Templates

Once you’re happy with the design, you will be taken to the campaign summary, where you can review the final details before sending your message. At this stage, ActiveCampaign provides a variety of different settings that allow you to track and analyze your campaign's performance.

ActiveCampaign Review Campaign Options

You can also preview how your email will look on both desktop and mobile devices, while a spam check feature ensures your email will make it into your recipients' inbox.

ActiveCampaign Review Spam Check

Automation

Email automation saves time and increases output by streamlining your sales and marketing efforts. Once set up, automations can run when triggered by specific actions, helping you to target potential customers at various levels of granularity. For example, if a user makes their first purchase on your website, you can send them different messages or offers compared to a loyal customer who frequently purchases from your site.

ActiveCampaign has some very impressive marketing automation features that allow you to build complex workflows from scratch. Similar to GetResponse, the software utilizes a visual workflow builder that makes creating advanced automation simple.

ActiveCampaign Review Automation Workflow

If you’re building automation workflows from scratch, you'll have to select various triggers that will set off your automation. The automation wizard includes various trigger types that you can include, and it also comes with descriptions of each trigger, so you'll know exactly what they do.

ActiveCampaign Review Automation Triggers

Once you've selected a trigger, there are a variety of different actions that you can include to build out your automation workflow such as subscribing to a list, waiting for a period of time before sending your email, or using conditional logic to create a branch.

ActiveCampaign Review Automation Trigger Conditions

Contacts that enter an automation can also be segmented using a combination of over 60 conditions, providing even more opportunities to create highly targeted automations across your lists. As an example, you can trigger a drip email sequence based on whether a subscriber opened an email AND clicked on a link OR didn’t engage with an email. A wide range of combinations makes ActiveCampaign an extremely powerful automation tool.

ActiveCampaign Review Creating Segments For Automation

One useful feature that is unique to ActiveCampaign is the ability to split test your automations. This allows you to distribute your contacts evenly and let the software analyze the winning path. There are a variety of different conditions you can apply to select the winner, which helps you make data-driven decisions to optimize your overall marketing strategy.

List Management

ActiveCampaign uses both lists and tags to segment and manage contacts. This provides you with several different options to help maintain your lists. As an example, you can have one list that uses multiple tags or a variety of different lists that utilize a few important tags.

All contacts in your account are managed from a central dashboard. From here, you can use filters to find contacts and apply various actions. Contacts can then be added manually, imported from a file, or added by integrating with a range of third-party software.

ActiveCampaign Review Editing Contacts

Clicking on a contact provides more information and allows you to manually assign tags or lists, add tasks or notes, and see recent activity. There are also several fields you can add to ensure you have all the information you need on each contact.

While it can be overwhelming when you first get started, it’s a good idea to incorporate tags if you really want to take advantage of ActiveCampaign’s powerful automation capabilities.

Reporting

Reports are a crucial element to the success of your email marketing. Without analyzing important metrics you won’t be able to see what’s working, and what isn’t. ActiveCampaign provides reporting functionality for Campaigns, Automations, Goals, Contacts, and Deals.

Clicking on the Campaigns Reports section, you'll see a quick snapshot of all campaigns and the opens/clicks. However, to really utilize the reporting functionality, you'll need to select an individual campaign to view additional information, which enables you to segment metrics by location, social shares/mentions, email client, unsubscribes, and bounces. A dashboard shows an overview of engagement, open trends (as a graph), and an activity stream.

One useful feature is the ability to resend your campaign to subscribers that didn’t open your original email, or to new contacts that have joined your list at a later date.

Integrations

ActiveCampaign integrates with a library of over 150 different apps. While not as extensive as MailChimp, all popular integrations are covered including WordPress, Shopify, PayPal, and Facebook. Unless you have an obscure setup, ActiveCampaign’s range of integrations are likely to satisfy your needs.

Sales/CRM

The recent addition of ActiveCampaign's CRM can help you automate the sales process and move leads further along your pipeline to close more deals.

The CRM works through drag-and-drop functionality, and has a similar layout to Trello. You can organize leads into various stages of your marketing pipeline (which is customizable). For example, your pipeline may be called "Company Outreach", which includes the stages "To Contact", "In Contact", and "Follow-up". You can create as many pipelines as needed.

ActiveCampaign Review Leads management

Leads can be created manually, although if you really want to maximize your output, you need to be using the automation functionality. Leads can be added, updated, moved, and prioritized in your CRM automatically based on a range of criteria. As an example, if a recipient clicks a specific link in your email, they can be added as a lead.

The CRM also includes a scoring component, which lets you assign a score for each lead. This is helpful in ensuring that you target the most important leads with the highest chances of converting, allowing you to deploy your resources accordingly.

Is ActiveCampaign the Right Software for You?

ActiveCampaign is a leader in email marketing and sales automation, and it's an excellent solution for serious bloggers, as well as for small and medium-sized businesses.

While the software is very user-friendly, beginners may struggle to really capitalize on the extensive features, at least initially. However, for experienced marketers, the visual automation and advanced segmentation make it possible to build highly targeted and complex customer journeys based on personal interactions. The integrated CRM also lets you keep track of leads, and automate various processes to help grow your business and save time.

For the price, ActiveCampaign offers a lot of functionality. Email marketing, automation, and chat/email support are all included in the Lite plan at $9/month for up to 500 subscribers (paid yearly). However, with a growing subscriber list, and to access the built-in CRM, contact/lead scoring, and deep data integrations, you will need to upgrade to a higher plan. It’s also missing the ability to create landing pages, which means you will need to pay for additional software if you want to incorporate landing pages in your marketing strategy.

To learn more about ActiveCampaign, you can visit their website.

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