If you run an online business, you know how vital marketing is. In doing your business, you’ve most likely accumulated a mailing list of some size. It may surprise you but email marketing is still the best digital marketing resource in 2017. The marketing automation revolution is in full swing, and there’s lots of companies looking to cash in. There are now hundreds of email marketing automation services competing for their slice of the cake, promising the best delivery rates, conversions and much more. Among the top players, there’s one name that keeps popping up – ActiveCampaign.
What makes ActiveCampaign different from the rest of the email marketing bunch? On the face of it, the features and pricing are similar to competitors’. However, there’s a few tricks up its sleeve that make it truly unique.
Not all email marketing services are created equal. While there’s a lot that ActiveCampaign offers, we will not cover everything in this article. It sends emails, there’s a visual editor, you can create forms, it has great deliverability rates, the whole shabang. We’ll focus on the things that it does exceptionally well or completely different from its competitors.
We’re not a fan of saving the best for last, so here goes the big one. Out of all the email marketing services, ActiveCampaign has the most detailed marketing automation. There’s nothing uncommon about split testing emails, but split testing automated emails is a pretty novel feature. Below is a screenshot from ActiveCampaign’s automated split test example with a coupon that expires after a certain time period:
So how does it work? Using ActiveCampaign’s automation builder, you can set up an email sequence as you would with any other service. You can then fully automate the split test with a practically endless list of variations. For example, you can try different subject lines, email body, date and time of sending and so on. What’s so cool about this?
Over time, you can see the minute changes your contacts make and see exactly what works and what doesn’t on the path from a cold to a hot lead. Theoretically, you can add an infinite number of variations and parameters and see what will increase open rates and engagement the most.
One of the woes of email marketing is that mass emails don’t read that great. If your recipient can tell that they received the same message as 50,000 other subscribers, they won’t be too inclined to read it. But what if you can make mass personalized emails?
This is exactly what you can do in ActiveCampaign. Depending on the parameters you choose, your recipients will get a different email, complete with subject and body. For example, you can enter a different email body depending on the stage of the customer lifecycle. You can make different offers depending on the contacts’ interests. Or you can send a different piece of content based on what the contact was searching for. Bottom line, you can customize your email to great lengths and make it seem very personalized.
If you’ve been perfecting your sales process and forgot about lead scoring, you’re wasting valuable time and resources. Lead scoring can improve your ROI and boost your conversions. In essence, using their lead scoring tool, you can award points for any action your contact takes.
For example, once someone subscribes to your newsletter, clicks on a link in your email or attends your event, they are given a point. You can give these actions a designated number of points, depending on how important they are to your sales model. For example, requesting a personal demo should get more points than subscribing to your newsletter. Some actions are worth less than others, so you can set them to expire after some time. Opening an email can be worth 3 points, but as it is the least commitment a lead can make, those points can expire after 2 months.
The purpose of these points is to separate your cold and hot leads. In other words, you grade them depending on how likely they are to become a client. Of course, there’s a lot more to the process and you can adapt this to your specific product, sales technique, current market trends and so on. Ultimately, lead scoring allows you to pay close attention to those leads that are more likely to spend money on your product or service. The best part – ActiveCampaign makes it super easy and intuitive to use.
What if you could copy email marketing strategies from other successful businesses? And do it as simple as one click of a button? We have good news.
The ActiveCampaign Automation Marketplace allows you to buy email marketing templates. These can be sorted according to popularity, category, function, and many other details. There are hundreds of useful templates to choose from, and the majority of them are completely free.
The great part about this is that even if you don’t want to use someone else’s template, you can take a look at the inner workings and learn from it. This way you can build unique automation sequences specifically for yourself. Unfortunately, there are no stats, but there are plenty of user comments to rely on. Alternatively, you can use some of the pre-made templates that come with the app by default.
Being a marketing powerhouse it is, there have to be some glitches in the ActiveCampaign system. If you take a look at some of the product testimonials, there’s one thing that keeps showing up – user experience. The truth is, ActiveCampaign’s UX is not exactly spectacular. You will end up struggling when using their form and email editors. If you want to make an incredibly detailed automation sequence, it’s a piece of cake. But at the same time, creating a simple email in their editor can be a hassle.
If you’re a small startup with a small client base, the CRM features will be just enough for your needs. However, keep in mind that Active Campaign is email marketing with CRM on the side, not a standalone CRM solution. More advanced users will find the CRM portion of the app rather restrictive.
If time is of the essence to you, ActiveCampaign may not be the ideal app for you. Loading times vary greatly, and sometimes a simple screen may take half a minute to load. Searching for contacts can also be pretty daunting – especially if you have a large list.
Finally, a consideration regarding email list size. If for some reason you lose a large number of subscribers, you won’t be automatically put into a lower pricing class. You will have to personally get in touch with their support to solve this issue.
If you want to test out how Active Campaign works without committing, you can take their free trial for 14 days. For the paid plans, you can opt to pay monthly or yearly. Of course, there are significant savings when opting to pay annually.
There are four plans: Lite, Plus, Professional and Enterprise. For the most basic of users, Lite is a great solution, as it allows unlimited sending and marketing automation. However, we would advise going for Plus at least. It is only with Plus that you get the CRM features and sales automation, as well as lead scoring. For the basis of 500 contacts, the jump from Lite to Plus is $15 to $70 per month. The increase is pretty steep, but absolutely necessary if you want to use ActiveCampaign to its full potential. The Professional and Enterprise plans cater to the most advanced users and the upgrades are not as drastic. There are no setup fees for any plan. If you run a non-profit organization, you’re eligible for a 20% discount.
Figuring out how much ActiveCampaign is going to cost you monthly will take a bit of work. First you select your number of contacts, then the payment method (monthly or yearly) and finally the plan. For example, the cheapest plan is $15 per month for 500 contacts. This works well if you know your needs and have a steady growth in subscribers. For example, if you have 5000 subscribers, the Plus plan will set you back $135 per month, when paid yearly. It’s best to check out the pricing page and see which options best suit you.
We’ve laid out some of the best ways to use ActiveCampaign for marketing. However, would we recommend it? Well, it depends. If you’re new to email marketing, it may not be for you. Its capabilities are astounding but the learning curve can kill a beginner’s enthusiasm. On the other hand, if you know your way around email marketing automation and you don’t mind the user interface that gets weird at times, ActiveCampaign is the right tool for you.