A Detailed Review of ActiveCampaign
In the first part of this piece, I set up the framework – the construction plan for building a solid foundation. That is, in the realm of email service providers (ESPs). In today’s piece, I’m doing a deep dive and pointing out what’s happening with ActiveCampaign and why I can say, “I’m lovin’ it!”
Now, if you think I’m a salesman and everything will all be hunky-dory, then let me be the first to attest that no email service provider is perfect. They all have their pros and cons. Hopefully the former outweighs the latter.
Know When You’re In Good Hands
Nevertheless, they all have cons and I’ve noticed a few on ActiveCampaign. And if that’s what you want to read about then jump to the last part where I offer some constructive criticism and point something seriously lacking with this EPS. And while it can be a gamechanger and potentially throw people off, I do offer a solution – and that is key.
Today’s world is far from perfect but the key is to be resourceful, find solutions, and come to understandings to make it a better place. With your permission, I’d like to apply this analogy to ESPs. When it comes to their negative aspects, how do you deal with this? Do they have a top-tier support team to troubleshoot your way out of a mess? Do they offer customer success reps that ensure you onboard properly? Finally, does your ESP offer flexible ways to accomplish a singular task?
If you answered yes to all 3, then you’re in good hands. If not, keep reading and discover why ActiveCampaign is winning email marketers over in bunches.
First Impressions About ActiveCampaign
Let’s go. The first thing to start with is their pricing model (reason number 1), which is a gamechanger. ActiveCampaign – true to its name – believes that you should only pay for “active” subscribers you send campaigns to. Why is this important? Well, when your list is churning, most ESPs start licking their chops because an inflated list equates to an inflated invoice.
With ActiveCampaign, their reps taught me how to build “unsubscribe” automation campaigns that in essence lower my monthly bill. These automation rules come as pre-built templates in the system (2). You also don’t have to worry about send volume, as the business model and bill are based on active contacts (3). As a trailblazing SaaS company, they offer monthly and annual payment plans with 4 tiers. Each one offers more and more features, which should be evaluated depending upon your needs, but it’s another reason that makes ActiveCampaign affordable (4).
Once we’re in the system, I want to point out ActiveCampaign’s sleek design (5). All too often, companies buy companies – it’s the nature of the game. And while this happens companies integrate their solutions with other companies. In an ideal world, it should yield a polished product, but more often than not I’ve seen – with my keen eyes – SaaS solutions that look more like Frankenstein (and not just in the email marketing space).
The Secret Sauce for a Winning Email Marketing Program
Beyond that, the real power of ActiveCampaign is when it comes to their marketing automation campaigns (6). As pointed out above, you don’t need to utilize automation campaigns just for sending campaigns. Building automated segmentation, tagging, and reporting processes is the secret sauce of any winning email marketing program and ActiveCampaign’s automation tools are not just geared to sending out emails, but are capable of doing some heavy lifting, too (7).
First, the system offers a ton of ways to inject contacts into an automation (8), which is brilliant because it negates the need for the marketer chase down developers and allows them the flexibility and the power to do what they’ve got to do (and should do best): email marketing.
Then, once you’ve got your campaign you can launch a plethora of actions – even a split test if you have their Professional Plan (9).
Naturally, you’re going to have emails in (most of) your automations. And when you do, this is where I see so many ESPs fail. Things get very tricky with automations. There’s a lot going on (or at least there can be) and keeping tabs of all your emails in an automation can be difficult. If you’re not sure what I mean, feast your eyes on this screenshot courtesy of ActiveCampaign’s automation map. It is a pre-built customer service follow-up campaign that ends with sending a notification to the support team’s manager. Of course, this can be tweaked and tinkered with to meet all of your needs.
But hats off to ActiveCampaign for creating a simple way to see AND edit your emails within the automation (10) and you can easily clone your marketing automation campaigns, which allows you to build high and cater to wider segments (11):
A Look at Their Campaign Creator
Now, let’s shift gears a bit and go into the email campaign creator.
On the one hand, what I like about this is that it is so straightforward (12), which you probably guessed is one of its flaws.
However, before pointing this out, I’d like to focus on the good and one of the most powerful tools in ActiveCampaign – or any email service provider that I’ve ever seen – is that you can tag, subscribe or even begin/end an automation if someone clicks on a link in an email. This is great for salespeople because they can seamlessly throw hot leads into a sales pipeline and automatically follow up with them. I personally use this feature to keep tabs on what topics stimulate the highest click-through rates (13).
One downside of this, though, is that you cannot code this feature in. Admittedly, I was a bit of an HTML snob before ActiveCampaign and this took some time to get used to. In addition, they offer several ways to insert various blocks into an email:
However, this brings me to my critique – the big problem. Their rudimentary editor lacks the ability to make eye-popping, stunning emails using layer techniques. The layering technique is excellent for newsletters and allows email marketers to overlay text and buttons on background images. ESPs like Mailchimp and GetResponse offer this, so it is a shame that ActiveCampaign does not offer this.
Though, there are workarounds because ActiveCampaign has like a gazillion integration options (14). I’ve started to research this and email editors like BePro seamlessly integrate into ActiveCampaign.
That said, at the end of the day you need to ask yourself if you can implement workarounds to accomplish your goals. ActiveCampaign is one of the strongest and most economical marketing automation platforms that’s (probably) strong enough to manage your email marketing program. This email service provider’s pros strongly outweigh some minor issues and email marketers that are looking to up their game must check out ActiveCampaign.
For more information and how to get started, check out the ActiveCampaign website.
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