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ActiveCampaign claims to be an all-in-one marketing platform, but what does that actually include these days?
Apart from a heap of automation features, you can also send a variety of emails, from simple marketing campaigns, to A/B testing, and SMS as well as setting up workflows based upon reader interactions with your website.
They even boast sales and contact features you would traditionally only expect from a CRM.
With so many things on offer, they almost sound too good to be true.
Well, let’s take a look and see if ActiveCampaign can come through with the goods.
ActiveCampaign is not the cheapest email tool out there, especially at the lower end of the subscriber number spectrum.
While some email tools offer free options for these lower boundaries, they come with sending restrictions.
Even though you still need to pay for the lowest tier on ActiveCampaign, you do have the bonus of being able to send unlimited emails to your contacts, and also accessing their great automation tools.
So this could work well if you’re a small business that sends out multiple emails a month to its members.
It’s worth keeping in mind that once you get to higher subscriber numbers, their plans become much better value for money, undercutting other large providers as you can see in our cost calculator.
Once you’re signed in, you’re presented with a full dashboard, which may come as a surprise on your first visit.
But this is mainly dummy data, just to show you how your information could look.
Whilst this amount of information could feel too busy if not done well, ActiveCampaign seem to strike the right balance between information and design.
And, once you’ve used it a few times, you notice just how useful this information can be at a glance.
You can easily create a new campaign from this menu too, so let’s try it out.
As mentioned earlier, ActiveCampaign have quite a few options for newsletter creation, you can even access their automation features from this menu.
Let’s have a look at a standard email for now.
After you’ve chosen your list, you are taken to the templates.
It’s quite a good selection, and they have a handy preview available which opens up in another window, also displaying the responsive version.
You can also create your own, or use a previously saved template.
Once you’re inside the editor, you’ll notice some green flashing points, which give you helpful information about each section.
The drag and drop editor displays the element blocks on the right, as well as options for each element.
You can also save elements that you use regularly here.
It’s simple enough to add elements, and to create columns or spaces between sections, you’ll find yourself using the ‘Spacer’ element quite a lot, but this can be a little fiddly to use, especially for sections with more than two columns.
One negative aspect of the editor is that to undo something can be a lot of work.
At first glance, their ‘time machine’ style seems like a great idea, but in practice it saves every tiny action, leading to several steps each minute.
This means a lot of trial and error just to undo your own initial error.
The next section gives you an overview page with several options regarding tracking and analytics, as well as preview and spam tests.
To preview, though, you will need to shell out $1 for each test, and the spam test just gives a simple pass or fail.
Once you’re happy then you can send away.
One of ActiveCampaign‘s highlights is its marketing automation, allowing you to create both simple and complex automation of emails or contact list segmentation.
Let’s take a look at an example of what we can do.
Once you create a new automation, you’re given a list of templates, or recipes, that you edit to fit your purpose.
Let’s try to tag a customer as interested in one of your products.
ActiveCampaign make this easy for beginners by using a setup wizard that guides you through the process.
First we choose a domain, and product page, that we want to track.
Then we enter the exact URL again for two instances, one will be for someone who has visited the page more than 6 times, which means they will get a ‘very interested’ tag.
Then we do the same thing, but it will be for users who visit between 2-5 times, and this will earn them an ‘interested’ tag.
You can see that this is quite complex, but it’s a great way to take advantage of ActiveCampaigns user tags.
If you go into contacts, you can see a lot of information about each one, such as their location, any tags they’ve been assigned, activities and also any site or event tracking.
It’s great to have all this information in one place.
You can even email them personally with a click of a button.
Another interesting feature of ActiveCampaign‘s has to do with their form creation.
Not only can you create stock-standard forms, but you can also design more modern floating versions that can fade in, or pop-up when you scroll past a certain point.
One extremely useful advanced feature is that you can hide them from people who have already seen them.
It’s difficult to fault ActiveCampaign, they really are one of the best tools out there right now for the English market.
Their powerful marketing automation is by far the best we’ve seen, not only being extremely customizable, but also easy enough to get your head around after using it a few times.
You have the choice of several types of messaging with ActiveCampaign, allowing A/B testing, date-based, automated and SMS options.
ActiveCampaign have another added bonus, incorporating sales and CRM features which allow you to automate actions based on subscriber behaviors within emails and on your website, for example.
Their support is very helpful, being both fast and friendly.
Their knowledge base is easy to navigate and relevant.
You also have access to video tutorials, webinars and even one-on-one training on the ‘Plus’ plan.
Perhaps some first-time users may find the breadth of advanced options a little confusing at first glance.
Although, as mentioned, if they spend some time using the support tools it shouldn’t cause much of an issue.
Pricing may be an issue for small businesses who have a limited subscriber pool with simple newsletter needs.
But for bigger businesses it’s probably worth the investment, and becomes a better deal the more subscribers you have.