Featured Image Courtesy of Jon Torres
Are you looking for a way to improve your marketing results, convert more leads, and increase your revenue?
Believe it or not, out of all digital marketing opportunities, email marketing is more profitable than virtually any other channel? Due to mounting trust issues that users have with social media, and not-so-good engagement rates, establishing an email list is more important than ever before!
And if you can build a solid list, then instead of doing everything manually and spending hours on your marketing campaigns each month, you can use an email marketing automation tool that handles the hard work for you. Even better, an email marketing tool will also improve the quality of your campaigns by allowing you to segment your audience, build beautiful email templates, carry out A/B testing, and track outcomes.
But with so many available tools, which one should you choose? In this post, we delve into two of the most popular marketing automation tools on the market: ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign.
ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit
ActiveCampaign has been the go-to choice since 2003, due to its easy automation and convenient A/B testing options. ConvertKit, on the other hand, appeared back in 2015. Instead of trying to capture the whole market, ConvertKit has maintained its differentiation by positioning itself as the ultimate platform for bloggers specifically.
Let’s take a closer look at ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign and see how they stack up!
Side Note: If your budget can’t cover the costs of an email marketing tool yet, try generating passive income that will help you pay for the subscription!
What is ConvertKit?
ConvertKit is a relatively new tool in the email marketing software industry. They describe themselves as a perfect tool for professional bloggers as their goal is “to make email easier and more robust for professional bloggers like you.” Besides bloggers, they also target YouTubers, course creators, and podcasters.
One great advantage of ConvertKit is that it offers all the advanced features in all of the paid plans. The only excluded feature from lower tiers is the free platform migration. (If you purchase a plan for more than 5,000 contacts, they’ll migrate your lists into their system.)
Who is ConvertKit for?
Not everyone will find ConvertKit suitable for their email campaigns.
You must get ConvertKit if:
- You have less than 1,000 contacts. ConvertKit offers a generous freemium plan with advanced features for all users who have less than 1,000 contacts.
- You want to run ultra-targeted campaigns. ConvertKit has a very flexible tagging and segmentation system that allows you to run very specific and ultra-focused campaigns.
- You’re interested in easy campaign management. ConvertKit features a built-in landing page editor that allows users to manage end-to-end campaigns within just one tool.
ConvertKit is not suitable for users who:
- Want to send visual emails. ConvertKit offers its users only three email templates and all of them are text-based. There is no option to create or upload your own email templates.
ConvertKit Monthly Plans & Prices
ConvertKit’s pricing works quite simply: no matter which paid plan you sign up for, you get ALL of the advanced features. Not all email marketing tools offer this, including MailChimp, which is another of the most popular email marketing tools.
The only excluded feature from lower tiers is the free platform migration. When you purchase a plan for more than 5,000 contacts, ConvertKit will migrate your lists into their system so you don’t have to worry about it.
When choosing a ConvertKit plan, the only thing you’ll have to pay attention to is the number of your subscribers. Prices start at $29 a month for a maximum of 1,000 contacts, $49 per month for up to 3,000 subscribers or $79 monthly for a list of 5,000 contacts.
ConvertKit doesn’t offer a free plan to all users like MailChimp, however they do have a fairly generous freemium plan for those with less than 1,000 subscribers. ConvertKit offers pricer plans as well; for example, if you have 50,000 contacts, you can sign up for a plan that costs $379 a month.
Here is some additional info regarding ConvertKit pricing:
- The free plan includes 30 premium landing page templates and allows you to create as many landing pages as you like.
- There’s a 30-day refund period, no questions asked.
- ConvertKit comes with 70+ integrations.
- If you invite friends to join ConvertKit, you both can grow your list by 100 more subscribers for free.
- ConvertKit allows you to choose between purchasing a monthly plan or a yearly plan (pay in advance for one year of use). Yearly plan comes with a 16% discount. But, if you choose to cancel the account, you won’t get a refund.
- Unlike MailChimp that charges you extra if you go over the limit of your subscription plan, CovertKit automatically bumps you to a higher level.
- There are no hidden fees! You won’t have to pay extra for storage or any other random service.
Also, ConvertKit offers a free 14-day trial to all its new users!
What Is ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign will provide you everything you need to run a successful newsletter campaign. The tool is best known for advanced automations that are hard to beat. Not only do users get access to autoresponders, but they can also automate contact and list management, and carry out automations within ActiveCampaign’s CRM system called “Deals.”
The ActiveCampaign team prides themselves on their approach to helping users build meaningful connections with their customers. The “Deals” system allows users to add notes to contacts, set up appointments, or simply send direct messages to them, which greatly enhances user experience.
The only downside of this email marketing tool is that its dashboard can seem complicated at the first glance. However, it won’t take you long before you get the hang of things and realize how useful it is to have all your information in one place.
Who is ActiveCampaign for?
Not everyone will find ActiveCampaign suitable for their email campaigns.
You must get ActiveCampaign if:
- You’re serious about marketing automation. ActiveCampaign is one of the most powerful automation tools you’ll ever come across. You can use the tool to set up any automation you can think of, ranging from sales follow-ups to triggered campaigns or even automated segmentation.
- You’re looking for an integrated sales and marketing platform for your business. ActiveCampaign has a built-in CRM that links up to all your email marketing data, allowing sales teams to act quickly.
- You’re in need of a tool that performs multi-channel marketing. You can use ActiveCampaign to set up landing pages, send SMS messages, and allows personalized “Conversations” with website visitors. It’s a great solution if you’d like to centralize a good part of your marketing and ensure a better experience for your customers.
ActiveCampaign is not suitable for those who are:
- Looking for an easy to use, beginner-friendly tool. Since ActiveCampaign is quite an advanced tool, it takes more time to get familiar with using it. Also, you’ll need to set up regular maintenance to monitor and optimize your campaigns.
- In need of simple automations. If you’re looking for a tool to set up basic email sequences, then ActiveCampaign is not the right choice for you. Instead, look for more user- and budget-friendly options, so you don’t end up paying for a ton of extras that you never use.
- Not sure about ActiveCampaign. If you’re not 100% sure that this is the tool for you, you may be better off without it. There is no free plan available, but they do offer a 14-day trial, which isn’t long enough to try out all the amazing features that come with this tool.
ActiveCampaign Monthly Plans & Prices
ActiveCampaign pricing is quite simple and based on the number of subscribers you have. The plans begin at $15 for users with up to 500 contacts. One great advantage is that there is no limit on how many emails you can send. If you choose a yearly plan, you’ll be paying $9 instead of $15, but you will have to pay the entire sum right away.
At each subscriber level, you can upgrade to a Plus plan that adds several features including customer relationship management (CRM), a custom domain, and custom branding. For 500 contacts, the Plus plan would cost $70 or $49 per month, depending on whether you’re paying monthly or yearly. There are also two more plans – Professional and Enterprise – which come with even more advanced features, such as a dedicated account representative. However, the price of these plans can go up to $279 per month.
ActiveCampaign also offers a free 14-day trial to its new users, and the trial won’t prompt you to add a credit card. All you need to get started is to enter your company name and email address. Then, you proceed by setting up a password and choosing what service you’re looking for: email marketing, marketing automation, CRM, or sales automation. Then, you can select the number of your contacts.
ActiveCampaign plans go all the way up to 100,000 contacts; if you need more than that, you can contact the company for a custom plan!
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign: What’s the Difference?
ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are quite similar. Both tools are designed to help you manage and build an email list with segmentation and tags.
In addition, you can use both platforms to design an immersive automation strategy based on drag-and-drop triggers and events. An additional plus is that both feature sign-up forms and landing page templates that are very useful for acquiring leads.
But they have some differences as well. Here is our quick overview of the similarities and differences between ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign. Then we can look at them in more detail.
How Are ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign the Same?
Here are the features that ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign have in common.
- Automations. You can use both tools to create complex email marketing funnels based on various triggers.
- Web Forms. Both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign allow you to add signup forms to your blog.
- Tagging. Both tools allow you to add tags to your email subscribers.
- Schedule Broadcasts. Create your broadcast and schedule when to send it out.
- Segmentation. Both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign allow you to segment your audience based on tags and other metrics.
- RSS Feed. You can use both tools to automatically email your latest WordPress blog post to your audience. One slight difference is that ActiveCampaign’s setup gives you more customization options.
- WordPress Plugins. Both tools have compatible WordPress plugins that can be used to integrate their web forms on your blog.
- Two-Factor Authentication. It’s important to always stay cautious, especially with premium tools you pay for. Both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign allow for two-factor logins for added security.
- Facebook Custom Audiences. ConvertKit recently introduced this feature, so both services now offer Facebook Custom Audience functionality.
- Free Migrations. Unlike many other email marketing tools, both ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit allow you to move your existing setup from another ESP for free.
- Landing Pages. Both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign allow you to create landing pages. However, the catch is that this option is available for ActiveCampaign only if you purchase their Plus plan (or higher). It’s also important to point out that if you’re serious about your landing pages, you should consider using a more professional service or build them yourself, since both these tools have limited options.
How Are ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign Different?
Even though they have plenty of features in common, these two tools also differ from each other.
- Integrations. The most significant difference between these two tools is the number of integrations. ActiveCampaign can be integrated with more than 340 other services, whereas ConvertKit is limited only to about 70. But the most important thing is that both tools are compatible with Zapier, which can resolve this issue and help you connect the tool to most third-party services.
- API Functionality. ConvertKit allows you to track email opens and email clicks. But if you’re linking a third-party tool, ConvertKit’s application programming interface (API) doesn’t support this. This is not the case with ActiveCampaign.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign: Main Features
The most impressive feature you’ll get with both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign is email automation.
In ConvertKit, your sequences are called “Automation.” You can automatically list subscribers in an automation as soon as they join your list. One great thing about ConvertKit is that they offer you blueprints if you’ve never designed automation maps before. You get to set your rules for actions and triggers using “If this, then that” logic.
ConvertKit’s visual interface is incredibly easy to use and it allows even beginners to build out effective campaigns. For example, you can use this marketing tool to develop a funnel that sends subscribers unique content that isn’t on your blog, then pulls them back to your website. Then, you can have each subscriber receive an email when they make a purchase and create an upsell opportunity.
ActiveCampaign works similarly to ConvertKit. When you open the tool, you get to use a visual workflow builder for your automation.
ActiveCampaign’s builder is also quite easy to use thanks to the “if this, then that” logic. You can make your funnel as complicated or simple as you like. You can even send your contacts automatically into different segments and campaigns when they complete a certain task.
In addition to this, you can use ActiveCampaign’s triggers and intelligent site tracking to make your marketing automation opportunities go through the roof. The only downside of this tool is that your building experience may be clunky from time to time. But still, it remains very comprehensive.
ActiveCampaign also gives you the option to combine your automation tools with a CRM integration, which is not the case with ConvertKit. Doing this is very likely to boost your sales.
The sales and CRM offerings on ActiveCampaign come with lead scoring features and even machine learning tools to help you determine which of your campaigns perform best.
But having a more comprehensive tool is not always desirable. The more comprehensive the tool is, the more challenging it gets to use it, and the more expensive it may be.
So, which tool is better when it comes to automation? Well, that depends on your needs. If you’re just looking for a basic email software tool that is easy to use, then ConvertKit is the right choice for you.
But if you need to make complex sales funnels and segmentations, then ActiveCampaign will be a much better choice for you – even if it takes some time to get the hang of using the tool.
Reporting & A/B Testing
Analytics and reporting are incredibly important for running a successful email marketing campaign. Luckily, both tools come with A/B testing and reporting options. However, there is one difference – ConvertKit’s A/B testing and reporting is rather basic when compared to ActiveCampaign.
But before we move on, let’s make sure to cover that you know what A/B testing is exactly. This term refers to a comparison of two variants of the same element to see which performs better in an experiment. With email marketing tools, you’ll be testing emails and landing pages to maximize your conversion rate for a desired action.
As soon as you open ConvertKit sequences, you can see how well each one is performing. The tool gives you an insight in the open rate, click-through rate, and that’s pretty much it. No more details… However, this is perfectly fine if you’re running a campaign for about 3,000 subscribers. If you need to reach more people, then ConvertKit’s reporting might not do it for you.
When it comes to ConvertKit’s A/B tests, the tool does a much better job. For example, you can run a test right from the subject line.
But ActiveCampaign’s analytics and reporting are a century ahead of ConvertKit. This tool is packed with various reporting options!
You can use ActiveCampaign to monitor the performance of each email sequence of yours. But you can also check out how well your tags, forms, contacts, deals, or even goals perform.
Of course, you have an insight into the performance of the entire automation sequences and overall campaign performance as well.
When it comes to A/B testing, ActiveCampaign is also a bit more comprehensive. You can test the subject line and content to figure out exactly which kind of email gets the most engagement from your subscribers.
All you have to do is select the type of test, choose from a template, and you’re good to go.
If you want to test the entire sequence, just split your contacts evenly via the “Conditions and Workflow” tab.
ActiveCampaign is clearly more advanced than ConvertKit when it comes to A/B testing, reporting, and analytics. It will give you all the info you need and take the guesswork out of your email campaign.
As we already mentioned, both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign can be integrated with plenty of third-party apps. However, ActiveCampaign integrates with more than 340 services, which is significantly higher than ConvertKit (more than 70 services).
The good news is that both services have API options and integrate well with Zapier. This allows you to integrate both tools with almost any app or service you need.
We covered the most important features of both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign. However, all the bells and whistles don’t mean a thing if your emails are never delivered to your subscribers.
When it comes to deliverability, both services perform similarly. Here are the results that AuthorityHacker got.
Keep in mind that deliverability rate can be complex, as it often depends on various factors. Don’t rely too much on these figures when making your choice.
However, there is one significant difference we should also point out. ConvertKit’s emails have a more personal feel to them. This feature makes ConvertKit a much more suitable choice for personal brands and small businesses. With ActiveCampaign, it’s almost impossible to create emails that don’t look like they are coming from a mailing list.
It is important to mention that both tools allow you to include an option for unsubscribing at the bottom of your email footer. When it comes to mass emails, you’re required by law (the CAN-SPAM Act) to include an option for unsubscribing, and these tools will help you do this in an elegant fashion.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign: Which One Should You Choose?
As you can see in our ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign review, both of these marketing automation tools come with many useful features – and their price tags are acceptable, if not a little high. However, each tool has certain pros and cons you should consider when making your choice.
Choose ConvertKit if…
You should choose ConvertKit if you’re looking for a simple and straightforward solution for managing your subscribers, setting up email automation, and managing your triggers. The company offers pretty straightforward pricing, great customer support, and unbeatable ease-of-use.
If you’re interested in ConvertKit, make sure to sign up for their free 14-day trial. Or if you have less than 1,000 contacts, you can immediately sign up for their freemium plan too!
Choose ActiveCampaign if…
You should choose ActiveCampaign if you’re looking for a comprehensive tool to create and manage your email campaigns. ActiveCampaign comes with more email templates, forms, and better reporting and analytics.
However, ActiveCampaign has an extensive dashboard and plenty of options for customizing your emails, which may be overwhelming for some users. If you’re someone who wants the latest and greatest features in your marketing tools, make sure to sign up for ActiveCampaign’s free 14-day trial!
In the end, the choice depends on your particular needs. If you’re looking for simple functionality, streamlined simplicity, fewer options, and you’re an absolute beginner in email marketing, then maybe you should get up to speed with ConvertKit first.
ActiveCampaign has a bit of a steeper learning curve, but they also offer great customer support, so you shouldn’t have any problems with learning how to use the tool. Don’t worry – if you can’t figure out something on your own, you can set up a one-on-one training session.
Hopefully you can find the right email solution for your business! If you’re still not sure and are interested in discovering some other email marketing tools, make sure to check out our MailChimp vs ConvertKit review to see how Mailchimp stacks up!