- SMB’s to eCommerce & Enterprises
Founded in 2003, ActiveCampaign is one of the most affordable and feature-packed email marketing services for business small and large. The platform’s over 100,000 active users benefit from its numerous advanced tools designed for testing, sales, CRM management, lead generation and more.
Where the platform excels is in its advanced segmentation capabilities, allowing marketers to send a message only to interested contacts based on custom fields created from real data on pages visited in the past, and purchase history.
The following review will explore the elements that make ActiveCampaign exceptional value and a solid platform for email marketing efforts, optimization and ultimately, retention.
CRM is a key element of any email marketing platform. In the case of ActiveCampaign, its CRM walks a thin line between traditional CRM and a sales tracking platform. Through ActiveCampaign’s CRM, marketers can assist sales representatives with automation. Each automation is based on actions taken, time spent on deals, emails, stages, website browsing history and more.
For example, you can set up a fully-automated process of welcome emails, birthday emails, trigger campaigns and sales follow-ups from a specific action. Here are a few more key capabilities of ActiveCampaign’s CRM tools:
Automate the life cycle: Adjust contact data, move contacts and send specific follow up campaigns triggered by actions such as site visits, emails (both sent and received). There’s even the option to trigger actions based on SMS interactions.
- Auto import contacts: ActiveCampaign can find and add new contacts from trusted CRM, eCommerce platforms and other sources.
- Social analysis: Take a look at all social reactions to your campaigns in real time, and set up actions to trigger as your campaign receives social shares.
- Campaigns on autopilot: Initiate campaigns with dynamic content whenever you make modifications to your company site or add new content. This feature is designed for updates such as blog posts, product announcements and eCommerce deals.
- Smart email content: Share updated content in messages relevant to contact data, interactions, social media data and most importantly- interests.
- Up-to-date notifications: Keep tabs on specific leads and the actions they take for fast follow up.
Access lists via the main dashboard: ‘Contacts>Lists.’ Here you can take actions such as creating a new list, updating an existing list and segmenting a list. This is made possible by clicking on the ‘Import Contacts’ drop-down menu in the top right-hand corner. You can import existing contacts from a file or third-party service, including Batchbook, Google Contacts and Zoho.
You can access or modify the following details of list members:
- Edit: Make changes to lead details such as name, website URL and add text that reminds contacts why they are receiving an email.
- View Contacts: Once you have enough contacts built up, you can view them and export them.
- Engagement Management: Once you begin sending marketing emails, you’ll be able to gauge engagement across your lists and gain insight into delivery rates and inbox placement. The tool’s primary purpose is to help clean up lists when you discover a lack of message engagement.
- Segments: Create custom segments.
- Subscribe by Email: View all subscribers who’ve signed up via email. You can make updates and customizations to lists.
- Subscribe by SMS: View all subscribers who’ve signed up via SMS and make updates to lists.
- Advanced Settings: Decide who can manage lists of valuable contacts, send subscription notifications, enable or disable unsubscribe notifications and more.
- Copy: Copy select items from lists like exclusions, personalization, templates, custom contact fields and contacts.
- Delete: Delete select lists.
There are over 90 apps/integrations designed to automatically sync contacts with your email marketing lists. This ranges from landing page builders such as Leadpages and Instapage to CRM platforms such as Salesforce and Zoho CRM.
Head to Contacts>Export/Import to import lists via CSV file, copy/paste contacts or connect with other services to add contacts automatically.
Growing your List
With tons of integrations for eCommerce and more, you can grow lists by enabling sign up via social channels, SMS, email, PayPal and a lot of other third-party apps and integrations.
Be sure to check if there is a fee associated with the monthly use of certain apps/integrations.
List segmentation is one of the best ways to ensure your customers are receiving the most relevant messages and deals, therefore increasing conversion rates from email.
ActiveCampaign has a number of built-in tools designed for segmentation and targeting. When creating a campaign, find the ‘List’ tab and select it.
You’ll want to check the box next to the list(s) you wish to send to- after this, ‘Segment Selected Lists’ will appear.
Click on ‘Segment Selected Lists’ and a new option will appear to ‘Create New.’
After this, give your segment a name.
Next, click ‘Add Your First Condition’ and the Segment Builder will appear. This will assist in creating conditions for your segment. You’ll use boolean operators like “And” and “Or” to implement logic, which combines conditions.
After you’re finished making modifications, click ‘Done.’
How to Build an Email Campaign with ActiveCampaign
Access templates through the main dashboard, which you will notice is loaded with features and metrics. This is a major plus, as you gain a true overview of performance at a glance.
ActiveCampaign has thirty pre-designed templates, which you can view from ‘Campaigns>Manage Templates.’ Create your own customized template to align with company branding, messaging, etc.
From here, create your own templates utilizing knowledge of HTML and or import a template created elsewhere.
Manage your email campaign from the homepage dashboard by clicking on the ‘Campaigns’ tab. Choose from creating a standard, automated, autoresponder, split test, RSS triggered or date-based campaign.
Each of these options is easily-accessible from the template editor itself.
What makes editing your template so effortless is the use of drag-and-drop technology. Make edits to text, images, buttons, add video, line breaks, spacers, social links, HTML blocks and RSS Feeds. You can also enable mobile responsiveness for templates by clicking the gear in the top right-hand corner of the editor.
Sending A Newsletter
So, you’ve made edits to your template, now it’s time to send your newsletter. You can do this via ‘Campaigns>New Campaign.’ From here, select the type of campaign you wish to start.
You have six options:
- Standard (one at a time)
- Split Testing
- RSS Triggered
From the editor, you’ll also be given the option to enable or disable mobile responsiveness. Digital marketers can even view a preview of their desktop version, email client, send a test email and their name emails.
Within the editor, track the following parameters:
- Open/read tracking
- Link tracking
- Reply tracking
- Google analytics
- Campaign Archive
After finalizing edits, you will be shown a summary of your campaign which will ensure all of the details are accurate before pressing send.
Finally, after ensuring everything is ready to go, you can press send on your first email campaign.
Since each of ActiveCampaign’s templates are mobile responsive, there is no mobile editor.
Automation & Workflows
There are dozens of automations available through ActiveCampaign, there’s also the ability to import custom automations and a wide range of categories to choose from when selecting automations to add to your campaign.
You can reach the ‘Automations’ section through the top of the main dashboard. Once there, find categories ranging from:
- Automate Sales Team (Automatically notify sales representatives once new leads arrive and when older ones are nearing the end of the funnel).
- Managing Customer Relationships (Send automated thank you emails after a purchase is made).
- Increase Traffic (Notify subscribers of new blog posts).
- Lots More
Automated campaigns are designed to run by themselves, based on set triggers. In creating an automated campaign, you’ll start with choosing one or multiple triggers to set the automation in play.
In all, there are 23 automations available for this feature.
This includes, but is not limited to triggering a specific campaign when someone:
- Submits a form (In which case you can set up an automation that sends an email to users after submitting a form, a ‘thank you’ email of sorts).
- Is added to a subscribers lists (Send custom automated follow-ups tailored toward the specific reason the visitor has signed up to become a subscriber).
- Unsubscribes from a list (When a subscriber unsubscribes to a list, send a follow-up email confirming they are unsubscribed).
Set up autoresponders. For instance, if someone makes a purchase, you can implement an automated thank-you or upsale email.
Workflows for eCommerce
Among the standout automations is the abandoned cart reminder, an extremely relevant integration capable of automatically sending email reminders to those who have abandoned their cart. You can customize the timing and frequency in which customers receive emails, as well as the style of the email received.
Workflows for Sales
There are also integrations for automating your sales team — especially for things such as the sales pipeline and lead scoring.
Take actions such as setting up an automatic lead-scoring process so you don’t have to manually enter points for everyone who earns them.
Workflows for Subscribers
Automations geared toward subscribers are also a core feature of ActiveCampaign, with explicit automations created for strengthening relationships and for enhanced customer support. Each automation serves a unique purpose:
- Re-engagement Campaign: This trigger sends re-engagement emails to those who have abandoned their cart or been inactive (not opening emails, etc). If the receiver elects not to open them, they will be automatically removed from your list.
- eCourse Delivery: Create an eCourse and send it via automation. An automation such as this is set up to motivate customers and inspire them to use whatever product you’ve created the eCourse for. That means, content for the course should be highly-valuable.
How to Unsubscribe
Unsubscribing from a list in ActiveCampaign can be done by clicking ‘Unsubscribe’ at the bottom of the email received.
In doing so, they will unsubscribe from ALL future updates.
Tracking & Optimization Tools
ActiveCampaign provides reporting for each campaign, including open/read rates, click data and geo-tracking. Integration with Google Analytics is also available to track conversions on your website for each campaign.
- The basic reports offered by ActiveCampaign include:
- All social shares, Facebook shares and Twitter shares
- Link clicks (unique and total) and clicks-per-link
- Email clients (eg. Gmail, Yahoo etc.)
- Geo tracking – in real time and time lapse.
- Opens, non-opens and forwards
Perhaps one of the best features of the ActiveCampaign platform is its Split Testing feature. In order to perform split testing, navigate to the Campaign Overview screen. Click ‘New Campaign,’ name it, and select ‘Split Testing.’
You can test the following elements of your campaign:
- Sender information (the name and email address the campaign is from)
- Content (the body of the email)
- Subject lines
Through split testing, create multiple versions of an email and make specifications as to how many contacts receive each version of the email.
With ActiveCampaign’s Enterprise Solutions you can take advantage of more features, and customization capabilities such as:
- Priority Support (Email, Phone and Chat)
- A Dedicated Account Rep.
- 99 percent uptime guarantee
- Unlimited Apps and Integrations
- Unlimited Users with Custom Permissions
- Social Data for Individual Contacts
- A Custom Marketing Strategy
- Automation Design Consultation
- Unlimited Email Testing Custom Design Services
- Personalized Delivery
- In-Depth Onboarding
For pricing, plan options and further information — contact ActiveCampaign’s customer service team.
With over 150 apps and integrations, there’s no shortage of options to enhance your email marketing campaigns with form creation, lead generation tools, event management, sales assistants, eCommerce, analytics and even CMS tools.
|Shopify & Shopify Integration by Revenue Conduit||Yes||This integration allows customers to opt-in to emails via Shopify. This is done by placing an ActiveCampaign sign-up form on your Shopify site. Additionally, you can segment and target specifically those who signed up via Shopify.
Available for premium usage, Revenue Conduit syncs data to 119 custom properties in ActiveCampaign such as
|Google Analytics||Yes||With Google Analytics, campaign managers can add tracking links into their campaigns to later analyze how those who came from specific sites spent their time on their website.|
|Salesforce||Yes||Manage contacts between the two applications as new contacts are added.|
|GoToWebinar||Yes||Set up and deliver online video/audio conferences for up to 1000 people.
This is a premium integration.
|WordPress||Yes||Easily embed subscription forms in your site and set up site tracking for advanced segmentation.|
|Yes||Using ActiveCampaign’s form builder, easily embed opt-in forms to capture new leads or distribute marketing materials.
You can also post campaigns on Facebook to keep followers constantly up-to-date.
|Slack||Yes||Sign up to receive campaign notifications to your Slack channel.|
|YouTube||Yes||This integration allows you to embed screenshot links to videos in email campaigns.|
|SendOwl||Yes||SendOwl lets you add buyers to mailing lists to later be included in campaigns based on products they have purchased or are interested in.|
|automate.io||Yes||For whichever automations aren’t available through the ActiveCampaign platform, you can connect active campaign with over 50 other popular apps, build custom integrations.|
|PayPal||Yes||Add a ‘Pay with PayPal’ CTA to your email campaign. Subscribers can click on your CTA and be taken directly to PayPal’s secure payment system.|
There are a number of additional apps available, many free, and some available for premium accounts.
- First, is the app free, available for a one-time fee or a recurring monthly fee?
- Second, if the app or integration is not free, is there a free trial associated with it?
Additional Marketing Services Offered
ActiveCampaign also offers services in design, development (data migration), partner (reseller) integration, consulting (automation design) and consulting on content preparation.
Digital marketers who use ActiveCampaign can access support over the phone between the hours of 8 am – 4 pm CST. They can also access Live Chat, which is available via ActiveCampaign’s Help Center when you click the ‘help’ button.
Lite, Plus, Professional and Enterprise plans include live chat and email support. Enterprise plans also have access to phone support.
There’s also an online help center where you can find helpful articles, one-on-one training, videos, guides, community answers, provide feedback and have the option to contact support.
ActiveCampaign offers four plans- Lite, Plus, Professional and Enterprise. Starting at $199/mo on an annual plan with 10,000 contacts, ActiveCampaign’s ‘Plus’ plan gives campaign managers access to the following features:
- Customer user permissions
- CRM w/sales automation
- Contact and lead scoring
- Deep data integrations
- One-on-one training
- Unlimited sending
- Custom branding
- Custom domain
- SMS marketing
- Up to 25 users
ActiveCampaign bases its pricing on your list size, so for the purpose of this review, we have based our pricing on 10,000 contacts. For up-to-date pricing, it is best to check ActiveCampaign’s website.
Active campaign accepts major cards, including:
- American Express
If purchasing an annual plan, take advantage of Paypal, wire transfers and checks as forms of payments. There is a 14-day trial which allows marketers to test out each relevant feature and really get a feel for how the system operates.
Pros & Cons
- Well-designed user interface.
- Extensive automation options.
- Affordable, feature-rich plans.
- Costs associated with some apps and integrations.
- Limited range of email template designs compared to competitors.