When it comes to managing your business, picking the right tool isn’t just some choice, it’s a matter of survival in today’s competitive landscape.
Imagine stepping into the boxing ring with a feather duster instead of a pair of boxing gloves. You wouldn’t land a punch, and you’d be knocked out before the first round ends.
I’m AJ—here to lend a hand. I’ve spent the last ten years building my business to a successful seven-figure exit, using hundreds of tools along the way.
My goal with Small Business Bonfire (SBB) is to empower small business owners like myself to scale and sell their businesses (in a fraction of the time it took me).
So let’s look at one of my all-time favorite platforms—ActiveCampaign. The SBB team and I went all in on the platform (over three months) to bring you this comprehensive ActiveCampaign review.
Let’s dive in!
Side note—be sure to check out our list of the best Small Business CRM platforms when you’re finished!
You Can Trust Small Business Bonfire
We’ve been rating and reviewing software for the better part of a decade in an effort to help you (our Bonfire Nation) succeed in your business endeavors. To learn more about our testing methods, please read this article here.
What is ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign is a cloud-based business management solution designed with small and midsize businesses (SMBs) in mind.
ActiveCampaign is essentially all of the following, in one platform:
- An email marketing software
- A sales and marketing automation tool
- A customer relationship management (CRM) solution
You’d think with so many different facets, the platform would be complicated to learn. Not true!
ActiveCampaign is incredibly user-friendly, and you can get up and running quickly.
Some features that ActiveCampaign offers include the following:
- Email marketing services
- Contact management
- Web forms & landing pages
- Analytics & reporting
- Automated workflows
- Tons of automation features
- Pipeline customization & management
With ActiveCampaign, you can streamline every aspect of the customer journey from start to finish.
We think it’s fantastic for SMBs because it offers some of the best marketing automation tools in the biz.
Plus, it’s extremely beginner friendly, with helpful tutorial videos and guided lessons to make even the most complicated tasks a walk in the park.
Pros and Cons of ActiveCampaign
Even the best products have a few flaws. Regarding ActiveCampaign, the pros significantly outweigh the cons (in our opinion).
Who is ActiveCampaign Best Suited For?
We’d love to recommend ActiveCampaign to just about everyone, but let’s narrow it down a little.
Here’s who we think ActiveCampaign is best suited for:
- Small businesses – ActiveCampaign is designed with small businesses in mind, offering a comprehensive suite of marketing tools at an affordable price.
- Midsize businesses – If your business is growing and ready for more sophisticated automation tools, ActiveCampaign can provide you with the needed features.
- Enterprises – Even if you have an enterprise-level business, ActiveCampaign has a robust enough feature set to meet your needs.
- Marketing teams – ActiveCampaign is a fantastic marketing platform that provides a ton of marketing automation to empower your team’s effectiveness.
Who is ActiveCampaign Not Suited For?
It’s hard to think of situations where we wouldn’t want to recommend the marketing automation platform.
However, here are some situations it’s not necessarily the best fit for:
- Startups – ActiveCampaign doesn’t offer any kind of free plan, so it wouldn’t be our first choice for startups that don’t have a lot of capital. Plus, even the basic pricing ($93/month) can be a lot of money for businesses on a tight budget.
- Freelancers – There are plenty of platforms out there that focus on project-based collaborations for freelancers. That’s not really ActiveCampaign’s strong suit. It’s also worth pointing out that ActiveCampaign’s plans are designed for a minimum of five users, therefor it’s not ideal for solo users.
ActiveCampaign Software Pricing
ActiveCampaign offers three paid plans.
These include the following:
- Plus – $93/Month
- Professional – $386/Month
- Enterprise – Custom Pricing
How Does ActiveCampaign Pricing Compare?
Let’s see how ActiveCampaign compares to the competition regarding features and pricing.
We’ll compare the basic plan of each, then determine the winner based on which one offers the best value for money and the best overall help for your business.
ActiveCampaign – $93/Month
- No free plan
- Advanced marketing automation
- Advanced email marketing
- Powerful contact management
- Great sales automation
HubSpot CRM – $30/Month
- Free plan (1 user)
- Limited marketing automation with the basic plan
- Basic email marketing
- Powerful contact management
- Limited sales automation with the basic plan
Keap – $199/Month
- No free plan
- Advanced marketing automation
- Advanced email marketing
- Powerful contact management
- Great sales automation
Agile CRM – $14.99/Month
- Free plan (10 users)
- Advanced marketing automation
- Advanced email marketing
- Basic contact management
- Great sales automation
There you have it! Our winner for pricing has to go to Agile CRM here. With a powerful free plan that includes 10 users, and only $14.99/month per user, it’s almost impossible to beat.
Throw in the fact that Agile CRM is easy to use and has a ton of powerful sales and marketing features, and it’s easily one of our favorite platforms.
However, we have to give ActiveCampaign the victory regarding features. It’s even easier to use than Agile, and while the price tag seems high, it comes out to only around $20/month per user ($93/month for 5 users).
Overall, while it’s definitely close between the two platforms, we’ve got to give the nod to ActiveCampaign for its sheer power and accessibility.
ActiveCampaign Pricing Tips
Email campaigns are the heart of every successful marketing strategy.
At Small Business Bonfire, we use them for the majority of our marketing efforts. So naturally, we were eager to test out this feature with ActiveCampaign.
After all, with a name like ActiveCampaign, you'd think the email campaign capabilities would be top-notch.
Spoiler alert: they're awesome.
We got started by navigating to the clearly labeled campaign tab, and we were taken to the campaigns dashboard (shown below).
From this dashboard, ActiveCampaign makes it easy to manage the following aspect of each campaign:
- Design service
- Message variables
Plus, you can track the metrics of each campaign right from the dashboard, which we thought was awesome.
To fully test out the campaign creation capabilities, we created tons of fully-formed marketing campaigns (throughout our three months of using the platform).
The first campaign we created was called "lead nurturing."
The purpose of this campaign was to essentially follow our affiliate marketing partners from the initial contact stage all the way to post-sales (or post-deal, in our case).
We were able to select from a list of the following campaign types to start with:
- Auto Responder
- Split Testing
- RSS Triggered
- Date Based
Here's how it looked (to give you a better idea).
We loved the sheer amount of options available and how ActiveCampaign presented them in a way that was extremely easy to read and navigate.
For the purposes of our lead nurturing campaign, we went with automated. That way, we could set up a series of action-based emails that would be sent automatically to our partners.
We then selected from a list of initial automation triggers (pictured below).
We went with the "when the page is visited" trigger and then the "send email" action—that way, we could send an introduction email to capture and further nurture each potential lead that visited the site.
From there, we created some basic email templates, and we sent out emails like a boss through every step of our customer lifecycle.
Our takeaway: We've tested and used hundreds of software over the years, and we can safely say that ActiveCampaign has some of the best email marketing campaign tools in the game.
In today's digital era, having a well-organized contact management system is a non-negotiable aspect of successful business communication.
In our efforts to provide a comprehensive ActiveCampaign review, we tested this feature extensively.
The importing process was a breeze, with ActiveCampaign allowing us to import contacts from a variety of sources.
There's a staggering amount of options available (shown below).
Some of our favorites from the list included:
- Popular CRMs
- Google Contacts
So if you're making the switch from another platform and worried about the opportunity cost involved, rest assured—ActiveCampaign makes it incredibly easy!
Now, let's talk about manually adding contacts. We added our affiliate marketing B2B contacts at Small Business Bonfire to test the waters.
We got started by clicking the "add a contact" button.
Here's how the "new contact" form looked with ActiveCampaign.
As you can see, ActiveCampaign keeps it simple, only requiring basic contact info (name, email address, and company name).
You can also add custom fields to further refine the process.
We added a few custom fields for tracking our progress in the partnership talks with each affiliate.
This really came in handy because it allowed us to keep track of sales data that we otherwise would have had to manually record in a separate document.
Plus, we were able to easily accomplish the following with each contact:
- Add to deals
- Add to lists
- Add tags
We think this is super helpful for teams managing hundreds (or even thousands) of contacts simultaneously.
Here's how our contact management screen looked once we had everything put in.
So what's the takeaway? With all these options available, ActiveCampaign stands leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors when it comes to contact management.
Creating powerful web forms and landing pages is extremely simple with ActiveCampaign.
This feature truly shines when it comes to capturing leads and gathering customer information.
We think it's perfect for SMBs looking to ramp up their sales efforts in a big way.
To initiate the web form creation process, we started by clicking on the "Website" tab, which took us to a user-friendly interface.
From there, we selected "create a form" (shown below).
Here, ActiveCampaign offers a variety of templates that cater to different business needs. These ready-to-use templates can be customized to match your brand's aesthetics, further driving home your brand's identity with every interaction.
They included the following:
- Inline form
- Floating bar
- Floating box
We found the customization options particularly impressive, allowing us to easily add and rearrange fields (without the need for any coding knowledge).
This simplified process translates into high-converting forms designed to capture your audience's attention.
ActiveCampaign also allows you to integrate forms directly into your website or share them via a link.
Here's how ours looked after just under a minute of customization.
The ability to track the performance of each form right from the dashboard was the cherry on top.
In conclusion, ActiveCampaign's web form and landing page builder is an absolute winner. They are intuitive, flexible, and powerful, transforming your lead generation process into a seamless operation. ActiveCampaign marketing automation
ActiveCampaign truly stands out from the crowd of CRMs due to its robust marketing automation capabilities.
We tested this feature over three months at Small Business Bonfire, and we were blown away by the ease of setup and the power of automation available.
ActiveCampaign gives you the tools to create, manage, and execute powerful automations that can take your business to the next level.
The different types of marketing automation ActiveCampaign offers are as follows:
- Sending Options
- Conditions and Workflow
- CX Apps
One of our favorite aspects of this feature is the wide range of sending options available; from time-based scheduling to advanced segmentation, you have complete control over when, where, and how your messages are delivered.
This works extremely well in conjunction with the platform's email marketing capabilities, making it fantastic for marketing teams.
To test this feature out (over three months), we navigated to the "automations" tab, where we were given some awesome templates to help get started.
Here's what we saw.
We ended up creating a ton of automation so we could work smarter, not harder.
For example, we created automation to do the following:
- Add contacts to specific lists
- Send personalized emails based on customer behavior
- Trigger follow-ups to customers who haven't engaged in a while
- Nurture new leads with welcome messages and follow-up sequences
- Perform A/B testing and create reports based on the results
Here's an example of an A/B testing automation we created for a customer win-back scenario.
We thought this would be a complicated process based on some other ActiveCampaign reviews we've read, but honestly, that wasn't the case!
ActiveCampaign offers a handy "automation wizard" that basically walked us through the entire process from start to finish.
So while other CRMs offer long videos on how to figure out the complicated automation diagrams, ActiveCampaign held our hand and pointed us in the right direction (with almost zero effort on our end).
Talk about helpful! We'd recommend ActiveCampaign's automation capabilities on ease of use alone, but when you throw in the fact that there's a ton of utility here as well—it's almost too good to be true!
Great deal pipeline management can help you stay on top of the progress of your most important sales leads and deals.
This is especially true if you have multiple sales reps working on different accounts or if you're running a large-scale operation that requires volume sales.
ActiveCampaign's deal management feature helps streamline this process by providing an intuitive user interface with powerful tools to help you focus on what matters—closing more deals.
Our first step in managing deals with ActiveCampaign was creating a pipeline (shown below).
We named ours "Affiliate Marketing Partnerships" so we could track our affiliate marketing deals at Small Business Bonfire.
From there, we could customize each aspect of our deal stages (screenshot below).
We loved the layout and how easy it was to customize the following:
The SBB team and I think a great user interface goes a long way to making for a successful sales CRM, and ActiveCampaign certainly passes with flying colors!
Once we had our pipeline customized to our liking, we added in some of our affiliate deals to really test this feature out.
Here's how it looked to give you some perspective.
Once we had all our deals put in, we were able to easily see the following:
- What deals are being worked on
- Who's responsible for each deal
- How far along we were in each stage of the deal
This level of visibility was a huge plus for us, especially as our list of affiliate partners has grown over time.
We also liked that we could add and manage multiple pipelines with ease.
Overall, ActiveCampaign's deal management feature is an absolute powerhouse that will help you get organized and close deals.
At Small Business Bonfire, we firmly believe in making data-driven decisions.
So, we were excited to learn that ActiveCampaign offers advanced analytics and reporting tools rivaling the best CRMs in the game.
The platform provides comprehensive insights into almost every aspect of our business, allowing us to measure, analyze, and optimize our strategies for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
ActiveCampaign offers insights into the following areas:
- Sales process analytics: ActiveCampaign lets you track your entire sales pipeline with ease. From initial contact to deal closure, every interaction is recorded, giving you a crystal clear view of your sales process. This feature allows us to identify bottlenecks in our pipeline and optimize our sales process.
- Email marketing campaign analytics: The platform provides detailed reports about your email marketing campaigns, including open rates, click-through rates, bounce rates, and more. This data-driven approach allows us to continually refine our email marketing strategy and boost engagement.
- Customer engagement analytics: ActiveCampaign offers deep insights into customer behavior, helping us understand how our customers interact with our content and services. From website visit tracking to event tracking, we get a full picture of our customer's journey.
- Automation reports: The platform offers detailed reports about the performance of your marketing automation. This includes information such as how many contacts have entered the automation, what actions they have taken, and the overall effectiveness of the automation.
- Web page analytics: The platform provides detailed insights about your website's performance, including visitor statistics, bounce rates, page views, and more. This lets us fine-tune our website performance for better user experience and conversion.
If you're looking to scale your business, you will need to understand what works and what doesn't.
ActiveCampaign makes this process a breeze, allowing you to easily measure, monitor, and optimize your strategies.
What are the Limitations of ActiveCampaign?
No CRM is perfect, and that includes ActiveCampaign.
In this section, we’ll review a few limitations of the platform.
These include the following:
- No free plan – This can pose a barrier to entry for startups or small businesses operating on a shoestring budget. The absence of a free plan might deter those who are just getting their feet wet in the world of CRM and are hesitant to immediately commit to a paid option.
- High cost – ActiveCampaign’s pricing tiers can be steep, especially for smaller businesses or startups that are mindful of their budget. While the platform offers a wealth of functionalities that arguably justify the cost, the pricing can be a deterrent for those businesses that are cost-sensitive and are looking for more affordable CRM solutions. It’s important to carefully assess your business needs and your budget before deciding if ActiveCampaign is the right fit for you.
- Lack of live chat and chatbot capabilities – In today’s digital age, where instant response is not just appreciated but often expected, the absence of live chat or chatbot capabilities in ActiveCampaign is a noticeable shortfall. The need for real-time customer support and immediate query resolution is paramount, especially when it comes to CRM platforms.
What Sets ActiveCampaign Apart from the Competition?
ActiveCampaign truly differentiates itself in the CRM market through a unique combination of features.
Essentially, ActiveCampaign excels at the following:
- Email Marketing Software: ActiveCampaign elevates email marketing to a whole new level. It’s not just about sending bulk emails anymore. It provides advanced tools for segmenting your audience, personalization, A/B testing, and robust analytics that can give your email marketing campaigns a serious boost. It’s about targeting the right customer with the right message at the right time.
- Marketing Automation Software: Where ActiveCampaign shines brightest is its powerful marketing automation capabilities. It delivers a fully integrated platform that allows you to automate your entire marketing workflow. From sending automated emails based on specific triggers to creating sophisticated multi-step and multi-channel campaigns, ActiveCampaign handles it all with ease.
- Top-tier Email Marketing Platform: ActiveCampaign isn’t just a great tool; it’s a great platform. Its ease of use, combined with its powerful features, makes it a top choice for businesses of all sizes. The platform ensures that all your marketing efforts, especially email marketing, are coordinated, efficient, and effective. It’s not just about doing more but doing more right.
ActiveCampaign seamlessly integrates with a broad range of applications, making it a highly versatile and compatible tool for various businesses.
Some of its key integrations are:
- Shopify: Sync your Shopify store with ActiveCampaign to create targeted campaigns based on purchase behaviors and automate follow-ups after a purchase is made.
- WordPress: Integrate with WordPress to manage your contacts directly from your WordPress dashboard.
- Zapier: With Zapier, you can automate workflows by connecting ActiveCampaign to over 5,000 third-party apps.
- Salesforce: Enhance your Salesforce CRM capabilities with ActiveCampaign’s marketing automation and email marketing tools.
- Slack: Keep your team updated with every marketing move by integrating ActiveCampaign with Slack for immediate notifications.
- Google Analytics: Track and analyze your email marketing campaigns in conjunction with your website’s performance with the Google Analytics integration.
- Facebook: Connect your ActiveCampaign to Facebook to help you retarget audiences, create lookalike audiences, and send highly targeted advertisements.
Check out the marketplace, which is easy to find (and didn’t require navigating through our settings like most platforms).
These integrations underscore ActiveCampaign’s commitment to providing a comprehensive, all-in-one CRM solution.
At Small Business Bonfire, we use Slack for the majority of our internal communication. So we were pretty thrilled to find out that ActiveCampaign offers a native integration with Slack.
This has allowed us to easily generate notifications within our team whenever an automation is triggered, or a campaign is sent out, so we can stay on top of all our marketing moves.
Overall, ActiveCampaign’s integrations give you the power to tap into the data and insights from their favorite platforms and use them to better understand their customer base.
How to Get Started with ActiveCampaign
Onboarding with ActiveCampaign took just a few seconds!
Let’s walk through how it went for us.
We navigated to the homepage (shown below), where we put in our Small Business Bonfire email to get started.
From there, we filled out a few fields (name and phone number).
The last step was selecting the following information:
- Number of contacts
- Number of employees
- Our business industry
- Which platforms we’re using
Here’s how it looked for reference.
And that was it! Not even 30 seconds later, we had our own custom domain with the marketing automation tool.
We were creating affiliate marketing deals, adding in our B2B contacts, and creating powerful automation!
If we had to put a number on it, we’d give ActiveCampaign a 10/10 for onboarding.
Is ActiveCampaign Easy to Use?
Ease of use is a pivotal factor when choosing a CRM platform.
It’s the fine line between a tool that collects dust on your digital shelf and one that becomes the beating heart of your marketing strategy.
With that in mind, let’s dive into some of the key usability features and aspects that make ActiveCampaign easy to use:
- Intuitive User Interface: ActiveCampaign’s user interface is refreshingly intuitive and user-friendly. The layout is clean, the navigation is straightforward, and the tooltips are incredibly helpful.
- Quick Setup Process: The setup process was surprisingly quick and seamless. The step-by-step guide was easy to follow, and we had our account up and running quickly.
- Responsive Support Team: The ActiveCampaign support team was readily available to answer any questions and provide assistance during our setup process. Their prompt and effective support made the process a lot smoother.
- Comprehensive Knowledge Base: ActiveCampaign has an extensive knowledge base filled with helpful articles, tutorials, and how-to guides. This resource made it much easier for us to understand and utilize the platform’s features.
- Onboarding Tutorials: Immediately after signing up, we were presented with onboarding tutorials that guided us through the initial setup and familiarized us with the platform’s functions. This proactive approach to user education further eased our entry into using ActiveCampaign.
In terms of ease of use, it’s safe to say ActiveCampaign manages to make the most complicated tasks accessible for beginners.
ActiveCampaign Customer Service Review
While using ActiveCampaign, we’re surprised to say we never actually needed to contact their customer service.
However, to be fully transparent in this review, we wanted to test the response time.
We reached out with a simple question regarding native Slack integration.
ActiveCampaign offers the following in terms of customer service:
- Phone support
- Email tickets
We went the chatbot route, which promptly found the answer we were looking for in the form of a knowledge base article. The whole process took about 5 minutes, and we walked away feeling like our question was given high priority!
We also loved the helpful guided tours through the more complicated features of the platform.
There were several times when we thought it might be necessary to watch a video, and then a helpful guide popped up and led the way!
All in all, ActiveCampaign has fantastic customer service in just about every aspect!
Does ActiveCampaign Have a Mobile App?
ActiveCampaign does have a mobile app! It’s available on both iOS and Android.
We downloaded it on iOS and got started right away.
The navigation was intuitive, and the interface allowed us to quickly glance through the following:
- Daily tasks
We were also pleased to discover that we could customize notifications for our campaigns while on the go.
This gave us an easy way to keep track of emails sent out in real time and take actionable steps if needed.
Overall, the app was a pleasantly useful addition to ActiveCampaign’s suite of products that made managing our campaigns more accessible and convenient.
ActiveCampaign Alternative Comparison
ActiveCampaign is one of our favorite platforms, but it’s not the only option. Let’s look at some of our favorite alternatives.
Is ActiveCampaign Worth it for Small Business Owners?
ActiveCampaign is absolutely worth it for SMBs across the board!
Not only does it provide an all-in-one CRM platform with comprehensive features, but its also incredibly easy to use.
It’s fantastic for scaling, offers amazing automation, and is guaranteed to ramp up your marketing efforts—what’s not to love?
Don’t just take our word for it—sign up for a free 14-day trial to see what all the hype is about!