ActiveCampaign Review With Demo 2020: There’s Marketing Automation & There’s This!

ActiveCampaign Review With Demo 2020: There’s Email Marketing, Marketing Automation & Then There’s ActiveCampaign.

Email marketing software has come a long way in the last few years. This is largely in part to email automation and autoresponders. Just like many industries automation has revolutionized email marketing for businesses. ActiveCampaign is a prime example of this. 

ActiveCampaign is an email automation system and email marketing software. In this review, we’ll be looking at the major features of ActiveCampaign and how they work. Features including email marketing, automation, sales and CRM, as well as messaging. 

This review will show you what ActiveCampaign can do. How to use ActiveCampaign for business email marketing and how it can grow your business

I will walk through what you need to know before moving forward with ActiveCampaign. I’ll also look at their powerful email automations. Automations which allow you to send targeted messages based on your subscribers activity.

activecampaign email marketing autoresponder

ActiveCampaign Overview

An email marketing system, especially an email autoresponder is designed to help a business customize its emails to meet high deliverability. It’s also designed to send timely automated emails based on customer activity on and off your website.

The choice of email autoresponder is plentiful. There are many autoresponders available like Aweber and GetResponse to name just two.

But, if email automation is a key factor when deciding which platform you need. ActiveCampaign’s automation features may be the one for you.

ActiveCampaign’s system goes one step further by giving you access to a customer relationship management system, which allows you to store customer information to use in your marketing. 

Depending on which ActiveCampaign plan you choose to buy, there is the ability for a business to interact on many levels with their customer.

Later in the review, I will look at how you can use ActiveCampaign to personalize and automate your marketing.

I will look at how it compares to other similar email marketing automation systems.

ActiveCampaign integrates with many cloud based apps you may already be using so that you can maximize the effectiveness of your promotions.

Currently, according to their website, over 80,000 businesses use ActiveCampaign. 

ActiveCampaign Pricing

On the homepage of the ActiveCampaign website, you will be able to see their pricing. If you go to the pricing menu, and click on it, you will see a responsive price matrix with different options.

They give the option to pay monthly or once per year. If signing up, you’ll need to make sure that you classify whether you want to pay either monthly or yearly. 

The yearly payment will cost more upfront but when broken down by month, it will be less than if you choose a monthly subscription. 

How much you pay depends on the number of contacts on your email list and what features you need.  

Simply, drag the price toggle bar to match the number of contacts you already have. If just  starting out, you can choose the lowest price plan. 

This helps to get an accurate picture of what your monthly costs will be. For example, if you have 500 contacts or less, the price for the most popular plan is $129 per month. If instead you have 5000 contacts, you’ll see that the price for the most popular plan is going to be $199 per month. If you move this forward to 10,000 you’ll see that the cost rises and so on. 

When choosing between subscription plans, you’ll notice their plus plan includes:

  • CRM
  • Sales automation system
  • Contact lead scoring
  • SMS marketing

If you move up a level to the Pro plan (third level), you’ll notice that site messaging is available on this plan. 

If unsure which plan is best, you can try ActiveCampaign for a 14 day period from this page by clicking this link. 

Below is a short video on their pricing plans which may change depending on when you are watching. 

Start the trial by first clicking the green button. Then open your free trial account by clicking the blue Create Account button. 

During the free trial account creation process, you will be asked for a phone number. In this case, you can either use your business number, your mobile number or your Google Voice number. Once you specify your information, you’ll then be able to go to the next step. 

The next step is where ActiveCampaign customizes your new account based on specific information you provide. You can skip this step and go straight to your account dashboard. 

Before you do this, you’ll need to agree to their Terms of Use and Spam Policy.  You should read both sections completely before you decide to use ActiveCampaign. 

Once finished, you’ll be taken to the ActiveCampaign dashboard and can begin creating emails.

ActiveCampaign Free Trial

The ActiveCampaign free trial lets you see first-hand the power of this excellent email autoresponder for 14 days. If you’re using the ActiveCampaign trial, you should be aware of the limitations of the trial when using it.

During the free trial, there is a contact limit of 100. There is also an email sending limit of 100. Know that the trial limits won’t change based on the number of contacts that you enter into ActiveCampaign to start the trial.

activecampaign review free trial

Fig: ActiveCampaign Review – Free Trial

If you have a bigger list and a 100 contact limit isn’t suitable, one workaround is the ActiveCampaign lite plan. At the time of writing the lite plan with 5,000 contacts will cost $89 per month. 

The ActiveCampaign lite plan does not include their CRM feature, custom domains, branding, or SMS marketing. It does include email marketing, sending newsletters, and marketing automation.

So you can either work with or around the trial depending on what your needs are when getting started. 

Why It May Not Be The Right Autoresponder For You

ActiveCampaign is a powerful piece of kit packed full of features. Learning how to use the software effectively comes with a learning curve. If you’re not willing to go through the learning curve, then it may not be right for you. 

Fortunately, ActiveCampaign has a comprehensive knowledge base that can help you get up to speed faster.

They also have a live chat feature if you get stuck and their support technicians are knowledgeable.

The other reason ActiveCampaign may not be right for your business is if you’re planning to use it solely for affiliate marketing purposes. They have a strict policy about promotional emails. You can learn more about it in the section below. 

Partner Programs

If you would like to promote the ActiveCampaign, this section will show you how to become an affiliate for ActiveCampaign.

In order to access that program log in to your account and click on the help button to open the help screen. Then type in the word affiliate and click enter. You’ll see a couple of related links with one being the commision based program. Scroll down and click on this link for the ActiveCampaign affiliate page. 

Their program allows you to earn up to 30% recurring Commission on any referrals that you send to ActiveCampaign. 

The system is tiered. Newbies start by earning 20% Commission. Once you start bringing in more, you can then earn 25%. And then once you’re earning up to $500, you’ll earn a top tier of 30% Commission. 

The program pays out on a monthly basis. 

One of the reasons that you might want to join the ActiveCampaign partner program is that you can offset some of your own costs. This way you can get some more features available on the ActiveCampaign upper plans.

The company also has a reseller program which allows you to sell ActiveCampaign as a service. This is not to be confused with the affiliate program. 

Once you’re comfortable using ActiveCampaign, you can also become an ActiveCampaign certified consultant. This means you can help other businesses integrate ActiveCampaign into their business and as a result generate another revenue stream for more profit. 

These three programs make up the overall ActiveCampaign partner program. Choose the one that fits your business best you can apply to that program through your dashboard.  

Affiliate Marketing Policy

If you are an affiliate marketer and intend to use ActiveCampaign as a marketing tool, you should be aware of the company’s position on this type of marketing. I recommend doing this early on during the trial. 

What they don’t allow:

It is important to note that ActiveCampaign does not allow the following:

  • Sending affiliate offers where you have a single list and send various offers to it. 
  • Sending emails with the sole purpose of pushing an sponsored link or offer. 
  • Sending an email with the sole purpose of promoting another product or service that your contact has no prior relationship (nor opt-in) with.
  • Any emails related to getting rich, making money from home etc.

What they do allow:

That said, they do state where an sponsored link is going to be okay. 

  • If you’re adding an affiliate link to an email with high quality content.
  • Sending updates and info about your own commission program.

If ActiveCampaign determines that you are not a fit for their business,. They state that they will not suspend your account and delete your contacts. You will still have access to your contacts.

They will discuss how you can comply with their terms or if you need to move your relationship from ActiveCampaign to another autoresponder. 

Again, go to the help area and type in the word affiliate and hit enter. Click that link that says affiliate marketing policy and go to the page to see the policy in full.

You’ll also see their entire Terms of Service and this is something that you’ll definitely want to read along with their policy. 

This policy has been in place as of January 16 2019.

Settings

To get started with ActiveCampaign, there are a few settings to be aware of. These can be found using the left side menu in the settings section. 

GDPR 

GDPR has become a major issue for the internet. To help you comply with GDPR, ActiveCampaign gives you access to a GDPR policy statement. 

Clicking the GDPR link brings you to a new page where you need to setup the GDPR policy. The document will be emailed to you for you to open, review and then sign electronically.

To complete the signature process, you need to have an address at the bottom of all of your emails. You can add in addresses to use depending on the brands and companies that you are going to be using in your emails.

Additional Users 

You can also have different users access and use your ActiveCampaign account by using the Add User button. This will give them access to your account which is ideal for businesses with a marketing team.

Email Deliverability 

ActiveCampaign has advanced settings you can use to assist in email deliverability which I will cover later on. 

Email Appearance 

With ActiveCampaign, you can change the correspondence details people see in your emails. In particular, you can change the site name, as well as changing the email logo by placing a URL in this appearance settings.

You can also place a favicon there, which is a small image that people will see when they come to some of your pages. 

Site & Event Tracking

If you need to track the activity of your contacts, this feature can be switched on in settings. For it to be successful, you’ll need to place tracking code on your website. This means every time your customer clicks a link and goes to your page, you’ll be able to track their activity on your site.

If you’re going to use event tracking this will require you to work with ActiveCampaign’s API. 

Those are the basic settings needed in order to get started using ActiveCampaign. There are other settings that will require more extensive knowledge of the email automation platform. 

Integrations

Activecampaign has integrations for over 270 third party cloud based applications. If you need to connect to an app that is not available, it can be done using the cloud based connector, Zapier. 

By going to Zapier and searching their app directory for ActiveCampaign, you can look for the cloud based applications that you’re currently using. 

For example, Zapier has 131 possible integrations for ActiveCampaign + Many Chat. Similarly, they have integrations for stripe and Go To Webinar. 

Some of the connections are only available with a paid Zapier account. Without it you cannot set up a connection between ActiveCampaign and the other cloud based application. 

If you would like to test the zap, what you can do is choose a non-premium integration such as Stripe. 

You can watch the video below to learn how to do this.

ActiveCampaign has a number of internal integrations that do not require a Zapier connection. These are direct integrations. 

  • Shopify
  • Facebook
  • BigCommerce
  • WooCommerce
  • Square

These can be found inside of the settings area, on the left side menu under the link for integrations. 

For example, if you click the Facebook campaign link, ActiveCampaign will request access directly to your Facebook account. 

In each case, rather than using a third party application, these are direct between ActiveCampaign and the cloud based application.

Automations

If you are interested in moving from email marketing to marketing automation, this is what you need. Likely the most powerful feature of ActiveCampaign, their automation features are impressive to say the least.

Choose automation recipes from different categories like increasing revenue, increasing traffic or sales team automation.

One particular feature, I love is the ability to import pre-built automations from a URL.

activecampaign automations categories

Fig: ActiveCampaign Review – Automations Menu

Automation Recipes

There are simply too many ActiveCampaign automations to list them all in this article. I’ll go into all the automation recipes in a separate article. For now, I’ll mention a few to give you an idea of their power.

FYI, these are just 20 ActiveCampaign automations out of a few hundred.

Product Interest Targeted Follow-up.

Deliver messages that align with the product a contact is interested in.


Part 1 – Engagement Tagging

Keep up-to-date tags on your contacts based on their engagement level. These tags are useful for analytics.


Product Interest Tagging

Tag contacts who have repeatedly visited a product page on your website. If they visit the product page.


Site Tracking Abandoned Cart

This automation uses Site Tracking data to send an “abandoned cart reminder” email.


Upgrade Incentive and Outreach

Send a series of emails to contacts that have viewed your upgrade page.


Accessory Upsell After Purchase

Make sure your contacts have everything they need to complete their product experience.


“Forward a Campaign” Incentive

Reward your contacts for forwarding your email campaigns.


“Share a Campaign on Social Media” Incentive

Reward your contacts for sharing your campaign on social media. To encourage this, include a call to.


Invite to Follow When Referred by a Social Media Site

If a contact visits your site from a social media service (like Twitter or Facebook), send an email inviting.


Re-engagement Campaign Triggered by “Disengaged” Tag

When a contact is tagged as “Disengaged,” send a re-engagement campaign. If they don’t open or click.


“Need Help?” Message Triggered on Visit to Help Docs

Send out a “How can I help you?” email after a contact visits your help documentation.


Customer Service Follow-up

If a contact is given the tag “Customer service follow-up,” a follow-up email is sent after one day.


Add Points for Campaign Link Clicks

Add points to a score any time an email link is clicked.


Add Points for Email Opens

Add points to a score each time a campaign is opened.


Ecourse Delivery

Create an ecourse drip delivered by email. You can use the ecourse as an incentive to get more opt-in


Opt-in Incentive Delivery

Give your contacts a reason to join your list. Offer something valuable in exchange for their contact.


Identify Possible Advocates

If someone returns to your site over and over, it’s safe to assume they’re a fan. Apply a tag to keep.


Webinar Reminder Series

Maximize your webinar attendance by using this automation to remind your contacts it’s coming.


Send New Blog Posts

Use RSS to automatically send out your newest blog when your feed is updated. 


Customer Win Back Sequence

When a “Canceled” tag is applied to a contact due to them cancelling your service, send emails that invite.

Email Contacts

To start using ActiveCampaign, you need to have contacts to send emails to. There are two ways to do this. 

The first is if you already have emails in a CSV file that can be uploaded. Alternatively, if you have contact email addresses elsewhere, you can add them to ActiveCampaign manually.

When adding contacts this way, you can add in email, first name, last name, phone number, and organization where applicable.

Contacts can be added to specific lists. You can add in any tags that you want them to have or you can use advance List options. 

As I mentioned, you have the ability to also import individuals into a contact list by using a CSV file. 

AC also allows us to connect with other services to add contacts automatically. For example, adding contacts that come into a GoToWebinar account. 

Finally, Zapier is another option to add contacts. Again, you will need to have some knowledge if you want to add contacts from some of your existing cloud based services of Zapier.

Contact Management Tools

ActiveCampaign has comprehensive contact management tools. There are features within the contacts menu that you should be aware of.

In particular, you want to be aware of the exclusion management tool. Clicking on this link allows you to exclude certain contacts within a specific list. 

This gives you the ability to broadcast an email to an entire list yet exclude certain individuals that we do not want to have access to a specific email. 

Another feature in ActiveCampaign contact management is list hygiene. This allows us to clean up our list every so often which can boost deliverability rates. 

For example, we can pick a specific list or lists by removing all contacts with a particular status before a specified date.  

This feature keeps inactive contacts out of your list. These contacts will not count against the number that determines what you’re going to be paying. 

You can also manage any tags and we can bulk add individuals to those tags. For example, we can bulk edit all contacts and then add in specific tags etc.

You can also organize your contacts by organization.

So ActiveCampaign’s contact management tools give you control over how you clasify your email subscribers.

activecampaign review of contacts feature

Fig: ActiveCampaign Review – Contact Management

Creating Email Lists

Before you can begin creating email campaigns and sending emails to subscribers, you will need to create an email list. Once you create an email list, you must assign the list to your website URL. Then set up a reminder message explaining why they’re on your list and why you’re emailing them. This goes back to the ActiveCampaign terms and conditions mentioned earlier in this review.

You can create as many lists as you need and assign different URLs to them. 

This is not to be confused with your mail server domain for email sending. Your mail server domain is the domain that your emails will be sent from. 

While other email systems let you customize the mail server domain, this feature is only available on the enterprise plan. 

If you are on another price plan, your emails are sent from an ActiveCampaign subdomain. This looks like myaccount.activehosted.com. When registering for your trial be sure to use an appropriate account name.

Once you setup email lists, you can add contacts which by importing a CSV file, or manually one by one. 

Another way to add contacts to an ActiveCampaign email list is the subscribe by email feature. This feature lets you give an email address to individuals in order to subscribe. 

There’s also an email address that individuals can use in order to unsubscribe. 

List Management 

ActiveCampaign lists include list management tools,. With this feature you can access list management tools inside the lists sections. This is under the manage lists section.

If you have multiple users in your AC account, you can change the list owner using a drop down menu. 

You can also reset the last campaign that was sent to all of your new contacts by turning on this feature. 

Another list management tool is being able to auto-post your campaigns to Facebook turning. 

You can send copies of each campaign to specific individuals by simply entering their email address in the dialog box. Which is great for testing email campaigns. 

You can also receive notifications of new subscribers by email address.

Aside from those general list settings, ActiveCampaign has configurable settings for public pages. In this section, you can dictate the nature of unsubscribing as well as archiving campaigns. 

Email Campaign Broadcasts

Once you have set up your list, only then can you create email campaigns. ActiveCampaign lets you setup several campaign types. 

  • Standard Campaign: Like a newsletter which can be part of an overall email automation 
  • Automation Campaign: A custom sequence of email automation actions and conditions
  • Autoresponder Campaign: An automated campaign for new subscribers
  • Split Test Campaign: Multiple emails to test which one works best
  • RSS Triggered: For whenever your RSS feed is updated
  • Date Based Campaign: Send on birthdays anniversaries etc. 

Once you choose the type of campaign, the next step is to design the email. ActiveCampaign has existing email templates to choose from or you can build the entire email from scratch.

Alternatively, a text only email can be sent. 

Once you have your email content the way you want it, you can send immediately or schedule for a later time. 

In order to test the email, you can then send it to your test email. 

Before sending an email, ActiveCampaign will give you an email check to help prevent your emails looking like spam and avoid the spam folder. 

activecampaign review of campaigns

Fig: ActiveCampaign Review – Campaigns

Campaign Management

In the campaigns tab, there are campaign management tools that are available to you. These include templates and message variables. 

Basically, when creating your own template, you’re able to save it along side the pre-made templates that are available to you to write emails. 

The message variables tool allows you to create content that you use over and over in your emails. For example, email signatures or a specific message, banner etc. 

The message variables tool has a text editor with visual and code editing tabs. When creating a message variable, you will assign it a unique tag (like a shortcode). This tag is then inserted in your emails when you need to use the message variable. If you are familiar with the classic text editor in WordPress, you know what I am talking about. 

The last feature of campaign management is the campaign archive area. In the campaign archive you can customize and set up message archives.. This gives individuals an archive where they can see all of your broadcast emails.

The archive is customizable meaning you can add and take things out of the archive if you wish.

Autoresponders

Autoresponder campaigns are “set and forget” email automation campaigns. Meaning you set them up once in advance and when a new subscriber joins your list, it triggers the sequence. 

How many emails and how often they are sent is completely up to you. 

You can then track things like opens, link clicks, replies and google analytics. 

Typically when you have a new subscriber the initial email is going to be sent immediately upon them becoming part of your list. You can then schedule the second email to send after X amount of days after the first one and so on, and so on. 

You can also determine if the autoresponder campaign will be sent to new and or existing contacts.  

ActiveCampaign’s Google Analytics integration makes it easy to insert tracking links into your campaigns. This lets you see what visitors do on your website after they click through an email you’ve sent.

This allows you to track the conversions from your campaign and see the path visitors take through your site. It’s a useful tool and I recommend using it so that you have a way to measure open and click through rates and the effectiveness of your campaigns. 

Forms

To capture names and email addresses, you need to create a form. You can choose from four form types, inline form, floating bar, floating box and modal.

ActiveCampaign’s form wizard helps you design and build great looking forms. Building ActiveCampaign forms is quick and easy. The form builder has a side menu with drag and drag and drop fields to choose from. 

ActiveCampaign Review of Optin forms

Once the form is built, you have the option to copy and paste the code directly on your web page. If using WordPress, you can simply install the ActiveCampaign plugin and insert the form that way. 

You also have the option to use a URL link to send subscribers directly to the form. 

Finally, ActiveCampaign lets you post forms directly to your Facebook page.  

You can choose what happens when the individual submits the form. You can then send individuals to a specific URL, or show a standard ActiveCampaign thank you page. 

Deals

ActiveCampaign’s CRM feature is called deals. It allows you to map the sales pipeline for individual leads. 

The default pipeline has three stages. Someone that you’re going to contact someone, Someone that you’re in contact with, and then someone that you need to follow up with. 

ActiveCampaign’s deals features lets you add further stages if you need to to complete your pipeline. 

When creating a deal pipeline you will add contact details for the prospect along with a title, a dollar value and any other information that will be pertinent to the deal. 

ActiveCampaign’s Deals feature has two views including a kanban view which looks similar to a trello board.

At first glance, deals might look like a basic feature but upon closer look you will realize that is not the case. 

Clicking on any of the stages will open a new section where you can easily manage the activities needed to work with the prospect inside that specific stage. 

You can add specific tasks related to that stage of the deal and then track those activities. 

Tasks can be assigned to different individuals inside of your organization so that you can work together to complete the activity. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, ActiveCampaign is a powerful, fully featured email marketing automation system. Starting at just $15 per month makes it very affordable even for the smallest of businesses.

In my opinion, choosing ActiveCampaign as your primary email automation platform ensures you can get the most from your list. It is a wise investment for any business interested in building an active and  engaging list. 

ActiveCampaign Pros

  • Powerful automations that can be shared
  • Has an automation marketplace
  • Affordable per month pricing
  • Trigger actions based on replies
  • Powerful add-ons like conversations
  • Advanced Tracking Features

ActiveCampaign Cons

  • More features means higher learning curve
  • New features released on the higher plans
  • Price goes up with with more contacts

I hope this ActiveCampaign review was helpful. Please note that any links inside this ActiveCampaign review may contain affiliate links. Money UberFunnels make through links pays for hosting, content research, writing etc. and keeps this site running.

ActiveCampaign Review With Demo 2020: There’s Marketing Automation & There’s This!

by Wes James time to read: 23 min
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