Have you launched a business in the last year, but it isn’t growing as quickly as you’d like? Are you an established store looking for better conversions?
In either case, you might be in the market for a new email marketing tool to help you make the most out of one of the most effective marketing strategies.
Email isn’t going out of fashion any time soon. With the right email marketing strategy, you can drive conversions, nurture new leads, and encourage customer loyalty.
To succeed with email marketing, you need a range of tools at your disposal. Personalization, email automation, segmentation, and analytics, just to name a few. In this review, we are taking a detailed look at two competitors on the market: ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how their features, pricing, and customer support compare. In addition, you’ll be able to tell if one of these tools could become the latest member of your existing tech stack.
Let’s dive right in!
What Is ConvertKit
ConvertKit is still a (relatively) new kid on the block. It was founded in 2013 to enable bloggers and creators to reach their audiences through email. ConvertKit has always had a more specific focus than some of the other email marketing solutions.
Instead of serving small businesses of all types, ConvertKit is aimed explicitly at online creators and their needs. That means a focus on blog newsletters, merchandising, updates, and announcements.
ConvertKit is a great way to turn readers into fans and earn a living as a creator online. Influencers and creatives might flock to this tool. ConvertKit provides extensive features, including email automation, landing pages, subscription forms, and more.
What Is ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign has a long history and boasts plenty of industry experience. Founded back in 2003, it aimed to enable businesses to automate and enhance every customer journey stage.
ActiveCampaign is a well-rounded platform that suits an omnichannel approach to marketing and customer service. It includes features for lead generation, customer service and support, social media, SMS marketing, and, of course, email marketing.
With any email marketing provider, the email editor is where you get to be creative. Whether you are working from scratch or using a template, you’ll want the opportunity to customize your newsletters to bring your vision to life.
That said, here’s what I noted about ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign’s email editors.
ConvertKit doesn’t offer a drag-and-drop email editor like most of its competitors. Instead, it focuses on providing a cleaner, less distracting approach. For example, rather than dedicating a whole sidebar of content blocks to choose from, you just click on a plus icon inside your email template. Then, you can select which element to insert into the section and reorder these sections as you see fit.
Content blocks include files, quotes, videos, links, dividers, images, personalization tags, and more. In addition, you can store frequently used media in ConvertKit’s image library and access Unsplash stock photography to enhance your online content. You also benefit from a basic in-built imaging editing tool, where you can do things like rotate and crop your picture.
ConvertKit also allows you to edit HTML snippets for a greater degree of flexibility. However, it falls a little short on overall design customization as you can’t edit your email’s text font or color. It also doesn’t offer up a wide range of email templates — there are only nine pre-designed HTML templates to choose from.
This HTML focus may be a good playground for anyone wanting to start from scratch, but it doesn’t provide much assistance if you are not design-savvy. Needless to say, it’s not the quickest or most accessible option for beginners.
ActiveCampaign comes with a refreshingly flexible drag-and-drop email editor. Unlike many of its competitors, you can edit the text within the template itself. Also, thanks to the wide variety of block elements, it’s easy to build more complex designs.
To get started, there are over 125 email templates to choose from. These are categorized by B2B, B2C, and eCommerce, and are fully responsive, meaning they look just as good on mobile devices as they do desktops. As well as that, these templates also support HTML edits.
You can even adjust borders, shadows, margins, paddings, background colors, and more from the sidebar. On top of that, you can flexibly resize images from inside the email and fit them responsively into the available space, making the creation of unique layouts a breeze.
It’s easy to place elements such as buttons, images, text blocks, line breaks, videos, products, and more. You can even include RSS feeds and HTML blocks that you can fill with your own content. Plus, you can add personalization tags to auto-populate your customer’s name, birthday, companies, and locations.
Predictive content blocks are also available for more granular personalization. Here, you are prompted to create up to five versions of the block. ActiveCampaign then sends the most appropriate variant to the recipient based on existing data insights.
Like ConvertKit, you also get access to a basic image library where you can save your media and retouch images and videos.
Email Editing – Winner: ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign’s email editor is easier to use thanks to its drag-and-drop interface and customization potential. It also offers a broader range of email templates to choose from.
For all these reasons, ActiveCampaign’s email editor is much more accessible to newbies.
Segmentation allows you to split up your email list to tailor campaigns to meet the needs of smaller audience groups. This kind of customized approach is much more likely to convert.
Here’s how ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign enable you to segment your audience.
ConvertKit grants complete freedom over how you arrange your email list using segments and tags. For instance, you can create and assign custom tags to subscribers for more granular control over your email segmentation.
You can even automate the assignation of tags based on a trigger event of your choosing, for example, when a product is purchased or an email is opened.
The tag system allows you to combine multiple tags or conditions for even richer segmentation. Aside from tags, you can also filter customers based on custom form fields, location, prior purchases, and more.
ActiveCampaign doesn’t stop at the basics where segmentation is concerned. You can combine lists, tags, and custom fields to create highly tailored audience groups. This includes the ability to segment subscribers based on user behavior — for example, who has opened your emails or used coupons.
You can also segment subscribers based on customer information such as product types they have previously looked at, location, demographics, and more.
In total, you can apply up to 20 conditions to each segment. This should give you some idea of how granular your segments can get. You can also condition segments based on a numeric value. This empowers you, for example, to target customers within a specific customer lifetime or total sales range.
Segmentation is also fully accessible from your workflow editor, making the process more seamless and intuitive.
Segmentation – Winner: ActiveCampaign
ConvertKit’s custom tagging feature is pretty impressive. However, ActiveCampaign goes further by enabling you to create incredibly niche audience groups according to value ranges and up to 20 conditions per segment.
Landing pages are essential for converting new subscribers. Often, this is where you’ll publish subscription forms to entice new readers or advertise a new product to a tailored audience.
Luckily, landing page builders are included with both platforms. But, let’s see how they compare.
Landing page creation is included with ConvertKit’s free plan. You can generate as many landing pages as you want, with 35 templates to choose from, covering themes such as coming soon, sales, book releases, lead magnets, and many more.
Now, let’s turn our attention to ConvertKit’s landing page editor. One neat feature about it is the color picker. This identifies the exact colors used in your images and backgrounds to help you locate the right accent color for your fonts. This is a great design feature for helping you achieve a beautiful and consistent color scheme.
ConvertKit also integrates with Unsplash, enabling access to a vast library of high-quality stock images that you can add to your landing pages with just a few clicks.
Lastly, the landing page editor allows you to edit the CSS for more in-depth customization. If you have the coding know-how, this grants you that extra bit of freedom to achieve your exact vision.
ActiveCampaign users can access landing page creation from the Plus plan upwards.
The landing page editor falls in line with its intuitive email editor and offers plenty of customization options. You can use the advanced drag-and-drop functionality to place elements in a grid and resize them as you desire.
You can utilize more advanced customization options such as inner spacing, corner radius, borders, drop shadows, opacity, and more for each design element. This alone sets ActiveCampaign apart from many of its less flexible competitors.
Speaking of content blocks, you can add countdown timers, columns, lists, PayPal and Shopify sales buttons, and other elements to your landing pages.
To get started, you have a choice of over 50 landing page templates that can be edited to meet your requirements. Alternatively, you can start from scratch. You can also save any template you have created into your personal library and reuse it at any time.
Landing Pages – Winner: ActiveCampaign
In this round, ActiveCampaign wins with a more narrow margin. While you have to opt for a more expensive plan to access landing page creation tools, the editor is intuitive and powerful. Plus, you get access to plenty of customization options and a broader range of templates.
ConvertKit still offers a good selection of landing page templates, neat design features, and CSS access. However, I have to give a slight edge to ActiveCampaign’s detailed albeit intuitive landing page editor.
With powerful insights at your fingertips, you are better positioned to understand what customers want from your emails and optimize the experience to drive better conversions.
But, exactly how much insight can ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign provide?
With ConvertKit, you can generate a variety of reports, including:
- Sequence reporting: This includes metrics such as click and open rates, bounce rates, unsubscribes, and more. It also shows how many subscribers are included in a pipeline and how many make it through the entire funnel.
- Broadcast reporting: This reviews the total number of recipients and unsubscribes for each email campaign.
- Deliverability reporting: This is a pro feature that shows how many emails successfully reach their targets. You’ll also receive granular insight into deliverability filtered by email service providers.
ConvertKit also comes with basic A/B testing. This, however, only allows you to change the subject line of your emails, meaning you can’t quickly test the effectiveness of message content or other aspects of your campaign. Once you get the results from a split test, you can choose the winning variant and send it to the remaining recipients. You can base your A/B testing on just 15% of your subscriber base to optimize for the majority.
Like most email marketing providers, ActiveCampaign makes it easy to review basic metrics such as click, open, and unsubscribe rates. However, it goes some steps further by putting a distinct focus on the customer journey.
You can track goals and customer scores, reviewing which buyers are the most loyal and which stages they reach in your conversion pipelines. Additionally, ActiveCampaign comes with conversion attribution monitoring so that you can see where customers are coming from and what their whole journey looks like. For example, you may observe that they stumble across your brand on Facebook, clicking through to your website. Then, they may fill out your subscription form after visiting a few days later via an organic Google search.
If you trace these paths at scale, you can better optimize the customer journey and focus your budget and time on the channels that convert the best.
ActiveCampaign enables you to generate reports about your site, automations, attributions, contacts, campaigns, and eCommerce. You can also create custom reports using metrics from all the above to analyze the most important data for your campaigns.
ActiveCampaign also comes with advanced A/B split testing. In addition to splitting your emails by subject line, header, message content, and text message, you can also split workflows and test customer journeys. Set a time for when you want the split test to stop or a goal that needs reaching before the workflows come together again, such as a minimum product sale number.
Analytics – Winner: ActiveCampaign
It goes almost without saying that ActiveCampaign emerges victorious. It knocks ConvertKit out of the park with its in-depth customer journey metrics, goal tracking, A/B split testing for emails and automations, and much more.
Advanced users will be more than happy with the analytics available at their fingertips. Whereas, in comparison, they might find ConvertKit limiting.
Email automation is what makes email such a manageable and effective marketing tool for businesses. You can trigger pre-prepared email broadcasts when the time is just right without having to constantly monitor your progress or take manual action.
Email automation functionality is included with both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign, but to different levels — let’s find out more!
ConvertKit comes with a simple and intuitive automation workflow editor. With a drag-and-drop interface, you can easily set triggers, actions, events, and conditions to adjust your workflows according to your needs.
The workflow editor’s most noteworthy feature is that you can create emails without having to leave the workflow designer. You can simply open a smaller window on the same page and edit the content you need. This makes it much easier to keep the overall workflow in mind while you are writing your emails.
The automation tools themselves are simple and follow basic principles. As I have already hinted at, you can create events that trigger the workflow’s actions. These events could be when someone subscribes, completes a form, makes a purchase, and more. In response, an action such as an email blast, moving subscribers to different segments, delaying before an email is sent, or adding and removing tags from your subscribers may occur.
Finally, you can set conditions to set what happens based on different triggers. For example, you could send a follow-up email after two days, but only if a subscriber hasn’t clicked on a previous email.
The basic principle of email automation is the same in ActiveCampaign. However, as with many of its features, it goes that extra step further.
When you set actions in the drag-and-drop workflow editor, you get more advanced options. You can add notes, remove or add tags, update contact information, add subscribers to a custom Facebook audience, adjust their customer score, and so on.
The customer score is fundamental because it allows you to track your most loyal customers as they progress through your pipelines. This includes the ability to track goals and set conditions based on a customer’s lifetime value.
You also get more granular control over triggers for actions and delays. For example, you can determine that a workflow should start if a customer has watched a specific percentage of a video or started on an online course.
ActiveCampaign allows you to create and manage email segments from within your workflow space to help you target the most appropriate audience in each workflow.
Finally, ActiveCampaign boasts a unique automation map tool. This provides an overview of all your automations from one place, and more specifically, where they all connect. For instance, several of your workflows might lead to sending the same newsletter or subscription form. The map allows you to review bottlenecks and spot if an automation isn’t contributing to your overall goals. Put simply, it’s big-picture editing in a straightforward automation editor.
Automation – Winner: ActiveCampaign
While ConvertKit has some useful automation features and covers all the basics, ActiveCampaign offers more advanced email automation. The email automation map is a powerful tool and allows you to get really specific with your automations.
Most importantly, ActiveCampaign enables you to track customer scores and observe their journey through your pipelines, feeding you even more valuable metrics to work with.
Pricing is undoubtedly a primary concern when picking the best email marketing solution for your business. With hefty subscription models, email marketing software can quickly add up to a considerable sum.
So, let’s see whether these platforms provide decent value for your money.
ConvertKit offers a free plan which is ideal for those just starting out. This freemium package enables you to create unlimited landing pages and email broadcasts for up to 1,000 subscribers. You can sell digital products and subscriptions with a 3.5% + 30 cent transaction fee.
Additionally, ConvertKit offers several premium plans based on the number of subscribers you have, meaning a more extensive list will incur a higher price. However, if you opt for annual billing, you’ll save two month’s worth of expenses.
To give you an idea of costs, assuming 5,000 subscribers with monthly billing, the prices are as follows:
- $79 per month on the Creator plan: This comes with the automation workflow editor, ConvertKit’s API and integrations, and priority support.
- $111 per month on the Creator Pro plan: This unlocks more advanced reporting, unlimited team members for your account, and extra features for your email broadcasts. You’ll also get free migration and Facebook custom audiences.
For a more complete list of features that come with each plan, check out ConvertKit’s pricing comparison.
ActiveCampaign’s pricing also depends on the length of your subscriber list, but there’s no free plan. Instead, the cheapest offer is $9 per month for a list of 500 contacts, billed annually.
ActiveCampaign offers three premium plans and an enterprise plan. To compare against ConvertKit’s pricing, we’ll look at the cost of 5,000 subscribers with monthly billing:
- $99 per month on the Lite plan: This comes with all the basic features such as marketing automation, email marketing, unlimited email sends, the email editor, 125 templates, and segmentation.
- $169 per month on the Plus plan: This unlocks contact scoring, SMS marketing, and landing page creation.
- $239 per month on the Professional plan: Here, you’ll access website personalization, predictive sending, and predictive content blocks. You can also split automations and send website messages.
Finally, the Enterprise plan costs $449 per month. It comes with a custom domain, custom reporting, free design services, and social data enrichment.
For the purposes of this review, I have only explored ActiveCampaign’s core email marketing features. On ActiveCampaign’s pricing chart, you’ll find additional information on its service and sales capabilities with each plan, as well as its most noteworthy B2C, B2B, and eCommerce features.
Pricing – It’s a Tie
There’s no denying that ActiveCampaign can get far more expensive than ConvertKit. However, based on 5,000 subscribers, ActiveCampaign’s Lite plan costs just a bit more than ConvertKit’s Creator package.
As such, it’s safe to say that ActiveCampaign offers much more in-depth features focusing on omnichannel solutions for the money. ConvertKit, in comparison, doesn’t offer sales or customer service features to the same extent.
That said, we can still consider pricing a tie because ActiveCampaign only unlocks landing pages with its more expensive plan — whereas this is included with ConvertKit from the start. ConvertKit also comes with a generous free plan, making it much more cost-friendly for smaller businesses and solopreneurs.
If you run into an issue, you need to know you can rely on your provider’s customer support team and resources. Otherwise, your conversions might suffer, or you might never make the most out of the software you have purchased.
So, here’s how ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign’s customer support compare.
ConvertKit’s customer support team can be contacted via a support ticket. If this isn’t enough for your liking, you can access priority support with the Creator plan. This ensures a response within 15 minutes. However, operating hours are limited to 8 AM to 8 PM EST, Monday to Friday, no matter which plan you choose.
There’s also an online knowledge base with blog articles, video training, and frequently asked questions. This includes how-to-guides on some of the most common objectives such as building a community with newsletters, improving your Instagram game, creating high-converting landing pages, and more. There’s also a creator community you can join in with, where you can talk to peers and discuss tips and tricks.
ActiveCampaign offers slightly more flexible support; live chat and email support are available with all premium plans. Higher-paying users get additional help such as one-on-one training and onboarding. However, phone support is limited to Enterprise users.
Just like ConvertKit, 24/7 support isn’t available. Instead, ActiveCampaign’s business hours are Monday to Thursday, 8 AM to 11 PM CST, and on Fridays, they are open from 8 AM to 6 PM.
On top of this, ActiveCampaign offers extensive self-help documentation, including the ActiveCampaign University, where you can find videos and resources. However, the courses aren’t as comprehensive as you might expect from an online learning resource like this. Instead, the focus is on shorter video tutorials.
ActiveCampaign also has a user forum you can join and participate in.
Customer Support – Winner: ActiveCampaign
Sadly, neither provider offers 24/7 support or extensive phone support. However, ActiveCampaign is a bit more flexible thanks to its broader range of video tutorials and live chat support. There’s also the possibility of unlocking phone support with the Enterprise plan.
Up to this point, I have compared ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign on their email marketing toolkit because this is where the tools overlap.
However, it’s also important to address the wealth of other features ActiveCampaign offers that make it a more well-rounded, omnichannel solution. For you, this may justify the hefty price tag and make it a better addition to your tech stack.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to say here – ConvertKit doesn’t offer much in the way of extra features. Instead, its focus is on email marketing and landing page creation.
First off, ActiveCampaign enables you to use SMS marketing to share quick discounts, announcements, surveys, shipping updates, and more.
You can also trigger website messages to appear when customers visit your website. This is great for announcing new products, qualifying leads, and giving visitors a solid call to action. You can also point them to your FAQ so that they don’t get lost on your site. ActiveCampaign makes it easy to tailor these messages according to your customer’s previous interactions. For instance, if they have visited your website before, you can welcome them back!
You can also create custom Facebook audiences based on your subscriber list — simply indicate that your Facebook ads should utilize a particular segment for a more tailored approach.
Finally, ActiveCampaign allows you to personalize your website using similar targeting criteria as you would to segment your website messages. For instance, you can edit the heading of your page based on who is visiting. Your website doesn’t even have to be created with ActiveCampaign for this to work — it integrates with several popular website builders.
Other Capabilities – Winner: ActiveCampaign
We won’t waste much time here; the obvious winner of this round is, of course, ActiveCampaign.
Pros and Cons of ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign
We are close to wrapping up our ultimate review of ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign. So, this is the perfect opportunity to recap the most important points and highlight where the two tools really shine and where they come up short.
That said, here are the platforms’ most noteworthy pros and cons.
- Its free plan makes it very accessible for small business owners and sole traders.
- It’s affordable. On all programs, you get unlimited email sends and landing pages.
- While it’s more basic than ActiveCampaign, it still beats many other competitors on features such as reporting, segmentation, color picker, and the email editor integrated with the workflow builder.
- It only offers email support. Premium support guarantees a quicker response. Still, neither live chat nor phone support is available, and operating hours are limited.
- There are only nine HTML email templates to choose from.
- Its editor doesn’t utilize traditional drag-and-drop functionality and might take some getting used to.
- While it isn’t the most limiting email marketing platform, it can’t compete with ActiveCampaign’s more advanced features.
- It doesn’t offer capabilities for Facebook custom audiences or SMS marketing.
- It’s a well-rounded, feature-rich tool with omnichannel marketing features. It can handle email and SMS marketing, website personalization, and ads for your social media.
- It comes with a flexible and intuitive drag-and-drop editor for emails and landing pages and a wealth of design options.
- It lets you overview all your workflows at once, visualizing the connections between them.
- It comes with robust reporting, including attribution reporting, eCommerce reports, and customer lifetime value.
- You get access to powerful segmentation, automation, and split testing tools.
- It’s quite expensive compared to many competitors, making it unsuitable for solo creators or those just starting out.
- There isn’t a free plan.
- It comes with multiple bells and whistles, and the many features can be challenging to grasp straight away.
- Only enterprise-level customers get access to phone support. Also, the community for ActiveCampaign isn’t the most active.
- You have to opt into a higher plan to unlock core features such as landing page creation.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign: Final Verdict
We have reached the end of our ultimate ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign review, and it’s time to come to a verdict.
There’s no denying that ActiveCampaign provides the more advanced feature set at almost every stage. It has more complex segmentation and automation features, a more flexible and design-friendly editor, and it branches out into SMS marketing and Facebook advertising.
In comparison, ConvertKit seems to fall short. However, it’s worth noting that ConvertKit offers all the basic features you need for a successful email marketing strategy and offers robust tools to work with. Its free plan especially makes it a very affordable and beginner-friendly option.
In short, ActiveCampaign is the obvious recommendation if you are already looking at premium pricing with a higher subscriber count. If your business is thriving, I would recommend investing a little extra to access ActiveCampaign’s more advanced omnichannel capabilities.
In contrast, ConvertKit may be the right choice for you if you are a creative individual on the cusp of transforming your passion into a living.
What do you think? Is ActiveCampaign worth the money for all it offers, or do you prefer the sound of ConvertKit? Either way, let us know in the comments below.