Active Campaign: The Good, and the Not So Good

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Why Active Campaign is a good Email Marketing solution for growing small businesses.

Active Campaign is an Email Marketing Platform known for its automations and segmentations. Whilst a step up from the simplicity of MailChimp, it’s more sophisticated features and customer journey automations enable this platform to integrate into a broader digital marketing funnel with ease.

Here are my top 5 likes and dislikes with Active Campaign.

5 Great Things About Active Campaign

 Straightforward Email Automations

Active Campaign is known for its email automations and with good reason. They are simple to set up utilising a great visual automation designer and yet they are very powerful. Automations in Active Campaign hinge around a menu of predefined actions. The conditions and workflows are the keys to what makes Active Campaign so effective; they are simple to understand, persistent to the contact and have enough range of options to be very effective. 

The Automations features in Active Campaign are powerful enough that experienced Digital Marketers can implement them to effectively steer a customer journey whilst at the same time being simple enough that an intern can set up an automation under direction. Making Active Campaign a great option for smaller teams.

Conditional and Dynamic Content in within Emails

The ability to provide differentiated content for pre-segmented audiences is another key feature of Active Campaign. The conditional content is based on tags which segment a contact. These tags can be automated as a contact moves through the customer journey. The conditional content is simple to implement and provides enormous flexibility for growing businesses.

Conversion Goals 

Put simply, the goal feature in Active Campaign prevents you from being spammy to your customers. As long as you have set the conversion events up properly on your website or wherever you count converters, the goal feature enables contacts to be removed from an automation once they have reached the conversion goal. In our own online shopping experiences, we all know there is nothing worse than getting more high-level funnel marketing emails once you have already purchased a product. This feature, set up correctly, is essential for any e-commerce business that heavily utilises email marketing.

Easy Email List Clean Up

One of the rather small features that I particularly like in Active Campaign is the List Cleanup feature. This is a one-click method of cleaning up any emails that have bounced, unsubscribed or are not confirmed. This leads to much better list integrity and increasing deliverability of your emails.

Simple to Use

For the most part, Active Campaign is simple to use. All the features have been designed so that they can be used effectively by all members of the marketing team. In one of the teams I have worked with, even the CEO would jump into Active Campaign to send an email.

5 Things Not to Like About Active Campaign

Unsophisticated Reporting

The reporting features of Active Campaign leave a lot of room for improvement. There is no way to compare individual emails, no decent dashboard to visualise results and much of the information that is provided is not overly powerful for marketing analysis. Because the reporting is not great, there is often a need to export data to play within Excel however even the export to CSV function is clunky and ill-thought through. This is a definite bugbear with Active Campaign.

Lack of Intuition

Throughout Active Campaign, there is a lack of intuition across the platform. Whether it be intuitive segmentation of contacts, tag management or content display options, there are many opportunities for the platform to anticipate the needs of the user and respond. This is the way forward for all SASS products. Active Campaign has recently launched a beta machine learning feature, hopefully this will create some much needed intuition across the platform.

Too Many Additional Features

Perhaps I am old school, but I am getting rather fatigued with email marketing platforms trying to be all things to every marketer and small business person. I understand from their perspective why they are doing it but honestly, I would prefer for each platform to do it’s own thing well and provide a decent integrations. Active Campaign falls fowl here also. Trying to be a sales CRM and messaging platform makes users feel like they are constantly being upsold to. Tiring, to say the least.

Glitchy Email Visual Editor

The biggest issue with Active Campaign is the actual email builder. Whilst laid out well it has so many quirks that it can be painful to build your email. The visual builder is slow to use, often taking seconds to respond, especially a problem when your internet connection is not great. The image manager is cumbersome and glitchy also. Quite a disappointment when the automation process builder is so seamless.

Customer Support is Patchy

Whilst the pre-sales and onboarding systems within Active Campaign are great, the ongoing customer support is sparse. Even with larger accounts, there is no ongoing point of contact for troubleshooting or customer service. In my own experience, there have been multiple occasions when I have submitted tickets for assistance that have not been dealt with swiftly or were closed off too soon. For a system that prides itself on being user-friendly, excellent customer support should be a strong pillar of this.

Would I recommend Active Campaign?

The answer here is yes, I would recommend Active Campaign but with provisos. The platform is great for growing smaller businesses with a large customer base who are looking at creating more sophisticated marketing funnels. It is also a good email marketing solution for a medium sized business with a small marketing team and developer support to integrate across to their other software and systems. In these situations, Active Campaign is my recommendation because of its ease of use and flexibility of options. In short, Active Campaign enables smaller organisations to level up their marketing strategy by creating multiple, sophisticated marketing funnels to suit their customer, product and business systems.

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