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Activecampaign vs Convertkit: Which is Best for a Service Business?

Back in July 2018, I considered leaving ConvertKit to move my email marketing for Love At First Search over to ActiveCampaign, and I spent a few months testing it out; here’s my experience of what I loved & disliked about each tool, and what you should consider if you’re trying to decide on ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit.

When it comes to my business philosophy, I’m a bit of a tool minimalist. Remember how much I love Dubsado, because it took the place of Gmail & Bidsketch & FreeAgent & HelloSign, rolling it all up into one simplified workflow?

Well when I heard that ActiveCampaign has a fully-formed client CRM built into its platform (currently I use and love Nimble) and it had all the functionality of ConvertKit, I had to check it out. Especially since at first glance, it looked like it would cost me LESS to use ActiveCampaign than ConvertKit + Nimble! #frugalentrepreneur

So without further ado, here is my overview of the pros and cons of each, and why I made my email marketing software decision.

Pros of ActiveCampaign

  • The rumor is true: the ActiveCampaign CRM is pretty robust. I had a chance to check it out during the free trial, and I was impressed by the amount of data that I could import and track. The CRM also includes client purchase histories within the data, and I could use it to segment my email list. (ConvertKit is just rolling out this feature, but ActiveCampaign has it on lock.)
  • ActiveCampaign could easily replace not just ConvertKit, but also, my email inbox. The CRM could be the place where I do ALLLLLL my emailing, not just my broadcasts. (Which is cool, but also a little scary for me … what if I intended an email for just one friend and ended up sending it to my whole list? Eeek!)
  • The automations are powerful. Like, I could set up a branched logic automation that could easily take a subscriber through multiple buying scenarios, with a lot of “if they buy, do this,” “if they open but don’t buy, do this,” “if they don’t open, do this.” It’s really freaking cool, and I felt like I could fall down a rabbit hole very easily with all the ways I could use those systems.
  • The versatility of their opt-in boxes is extensive. They can be added as a top-bar, in-line, mobile popups, and/or at the end of every blog post. (Unfortunately, you have to add the code for each of those separately — their WordPress plug-in is pretty lame.)
  • It can focus on different tasks to help grow your business. When I opened up the workflows, the goals it was working towards were ambitious: increase review, increase traffic, automate sales funnel, boost customer satisfaction, manage contacts.

Cons of ActiveCampaign

  • Notice the words I used to describe it: robust, powerful, ambitious. Those are all positive traits … but there’s a dark side to being able to do everything: the software is overwhelming.
    Guys, I’m a self-proclaimed tech geek, and I adore a good marketing funnel. But I looked at all the possibilities and was totally in over my head — both strategically and functionally.
  • It is NOT intuitive. I’m sure I could have figured it out eventually, but gosh, there are a lot of moving parts. I’m used to ConvertKit, where the plugin puts a default form on my each post (unless I turn it off), the autoresponder has an attachment that goes with the opt-in confirmation, and that easily flows into a sequence (which can all be written in one window).
    But with ActiveCampaign, I would have had to embed each form by hand into each post, and then specify an automation that would trigger a workflow, and each email in the workflow needs to be opened separately.
  • It looks like it’s going to be cheaper than ConvertKit … but the “Lite” version (which is $17/mo for <1000 subscribers, compared to ConvertKit’s $29/mo for the same number) is really lacking. It doesn’t include the CRM, everything is branded, you can’t include a hello bar or modal lead captures … in order to really utilize the power of ActiveCampaign, you’re looking at $49/mo, at least. (Which is what I’m paying for ConvertKit + Nimble, so turns out it wouldn’t save me any money after all.)

Pros of ConvertKit

  • I’ve already written about all the reasons I love ConvertKit when I made the jump from MailChimp. All those pros still hold:
  • It has a 14-day free trial, if you want to check it out. (Note: That’s an affiliate link; consider that a hint at which of these e-mail softwares I ended up choosing!)
  • It’s really easy to use, and intuitive to navigate. I feel like I was up-to-speed on how to run ConvertKit within a few hours of poking around.
  • It’s focused on email marketing and doing it well, without trying to bite off too much functionality.
  • The WordPress plug-in makes things SO EASY.
  • Email courses are easy to create and modify, with a drag and drop interface that lets you rearrange emails in seconds. Automation rules are equally simple, with no development experience required to create powerful automated email campaigns.
  • ConvertKit sends clean, readable emails that look great on desktop and on mobile.

Cons of ConvertKit

  • Because it doesn’t have the CRM functionality, segmentation & customization isn’t nearly as robust.
  • The landing page builder kind of sucks. Like I’m a designer & I know CSS, and I still can’t get the damn things to look pretty. (I just embed a form on a page on my site.)

On paper, it seemed like a good idea … but now that I’ve tried out ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit, I’ve decided to stick with ConvertKit for my service-based business. Let me share why.

ActiveCampaign considers itself “a powerful all-in-one solution for marketers and sales teams.” It goes beyond e-mail marketing to include every part of moving a prospect to a customer, including customer segments and lead scoring.

But for me? I’m a solopreneur with a small team: ConvertKit is made for businesses like mine — it brands itself as being made for bloggers and content marketers, and that’s exactly what I am. ConvertKit gives me an easy way to connect with the people on my e-mail list, and the opportunity to set up automated sequences to onboard new subscribers … without needing to bring in a specialist to set up complex, linking code in my site. It’s really easy to write email sequences all in one window, and to update them quickly & easily.

So if you have a robust sales team AND want to do complex email marketing sales funnels, ActiveCampaign is probably for you.

If you’re a solopreneur or running a small team and want a system that just works out of the box? ConvertKit’s probably a better fit.

Want to try before you buy? Get a 14-day free trial to ConvertKit.

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