In a previous blog post on the website, I wrote about how to build an email list from scratch. In that blog post, I quickly mentioned the tools I use to manage my email list. I never had the chance to explain why I chose ActiveCampaign for my business out of all the other email marketing tools out there.
You may be curious as well as to why I, and so many other businesses, have chosen ActiveCampaign.
There are a bunch of other email marketing tools out there for you to use for your business. It can get overwhelming to decide which one is best for you. You have other excellent email marketing and CRM tools out there like MailChimp, AWeber, and Drip.
In the end, your tool of choice is completely up to you.
This is the reason why I have decided to write this blog post. In order to help you decide whether ActiveCampaign is the right tool for you, or not.
What makes this tool so special anyway? Let’s find out today.
Today, I will be sharing with you the following key points:
- What is ActiveCampaign?
- Why ActiveCampaign?
- ActiveCampaign “Newbies” Walkthrough
- Creating Emails
- Pros of ActiveCampaign
- Cons of ActiveCampaign
- Is ActiveCampaign for You?
- Is ActiveCampaign Not for You?
It is through this blog post that I hope you will make the ultimate decision of choosing whether you should use ActiveCampaign or find another platform that suits your business needs.
But before that, let me give you a quick introduction to this amazing tool.
WHAT IS ACTIVECAMPAIGN?
ActiveCampaign is not just an email marketing tool.
It’s an “all-in-one” tool for businesses who are looking for a bang for their buck.
ActiveCampaign has (almost) everything you need from automations, to managing your customers, to creating landing pages and so much more.
Because of its versatility, many businesses of every shape and size have chosen ActiveCampaign over all its competitors.
I will be sharing with you my personal experiences using the tool so that you can get “up close and personal” with ActiveCampaign.
The reason why I have chosen this tool is because of its vast number of features that are relevant to my business (and I’m sure many other business owners can attest to this as well).
I will be sharing with you my top 4 favorite features together with a quick introduction to each of these. The features I will be talking about in this section are the following:
Later on in this blog post, I will be giving a more in-depth walkthrough of some of ActiveCampaign’s features, but for now, here are the main reasons why I have chosen this tool for my business.
One of my favorite features is the Site feature.
There are several features in the Site tab, but my top 2 are Site Tracking and Web Personalization.
Web Personalization allows you to customise your content based on what stage your customers are at in their buyer’s journey.
Site tracking is a great tool because it lets you track how people interact with your website. You will be able to track the number of visits, which pages they have visited on your website, and even from what device did they access your website from!
When you use ActiveCampaign, you are given access to integration with a wide array of other tools.
Some tools I have integrated with ActiveCampaign are ConvertBox and Zapier. I have found these integrations to be quite useful in the business. But this conversation will be saved for another day, since we are solely focusing on ActiveCampaign for this blog post.
This is another amazing feature of ActiveCampaign.
Automations let you build out conditional sequences based on the characteristics or identities of the people on your email list. You will be able to customise what your subscribers see based on what links they have clicked, what tags they have been assigned to, and a whole lot more.
What’s also cool about this feature is that it’s so easy to map out everything and set the right triggers. Check out the screenshot below for a sample of one of my automations.
I mentioned in the previous section on automation that you will be able to segment your subscribers through tags.
Tags are important because it allows you to see how your subscribers interact with the messages through the links they click, or what they’re interested in. That way, you will know what stage a customer is in their buyer’s journey, or simply what topics your subscribers are more interested in.
If you see in the image down below, the tag [CU] RecruitVTM Success Kit shows me that there are 15 people interested in recruiting virtual team members. I also know that this tag is used in 1 automation.
I’m not saying that ActiveCampaign is the only tool out there that provides these features.
For me, it was more of a personal preference because I like the layout and I like how I interact with the tool.
There are more advanced services out there that offer these features and even more. Some of these tools include Drip, ConvertKit, and Infusionsoft, to name a few (I’m sure there are plenty more but these are the ones that I am more aware of).
Another factor that you need to consider is the pricing of ActiveCampaign.
There are so many other features that I haven’t mentioned yet.
To get a quick overview of what other features ActiveCampaign offers, check out their pricing page.
They offer a wide range of price points for both small businesses on a budget, to more established ones that can afford to pay higher rates. It all depends on how much you are willing to spend, how many contacts you have, and what features you want to use.
The prices below are for people who are managing 500 contacts or less.
They also have a 14-day free trial if you just want to try out the tool first before making any commitments.
The plan I am personally using isn’t available in ActiveCampaign anymore. I signed up around 5-6 years ago before they became as big as they are so their pricing plans have drastically changed.
I am currently paying around 19 USD per month and using about 1,000 contacts. I can send unlimited emails and I get everything in Lite and maybe some of the things in Plus. I chose that plan because my email list is very small and I am still fine with it until now.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of ActiveCampaign, let’s cover the most awaited part of this blog post — a deep dive into the features that I have been using regularly.
ACTIVECAMPAIGN “NEWBIES” WALKTHROUGH
I shared a few of ActiveCampaign’s awesome features earlier. This time, I will be talking about how I use these features in my business. That way, you have an idea how to implement these features as well.
The first thing I will be talking about is the main reason why I use ActiveCampaign. And that is to create emails. It’s a pretty straightforward process, and I will show you right now how it’s done.
To send a new email, simply click CREATE A CAMPAIGN
You will then be able to choose your type of emails.
Here are what each of these types of emails are for:
- Standard – just a standard, one time email
- Automated – you can have emails automatically sent out to contacts based on different tags, etc. I personally don’t use this feature because I use the Automations feature (which we’ll cover later on)
- Auto Responder – this is the more traditional email follow-up you get with service providers like GetResponse and AWeber where somebody buys something or opts into a list and then you send them a generic email, so there’s not much you can do in terms of customisation
- Split Testing – I don’t use this but it’s a pretty good idea if you’re running an E-commerce business to split test your emails. Naturally this will depend on how good of a copywriter you are.
- RSS Triggered – This is a recurring campaign type and is triggered to send to your list when there is a new post in your RSS feed. I haven’t tried using this yet.
- Date Based – I’ve played around with this but I haven’t used it as extensively as I would like to. The idea is that whenever you get a whole bunch of data from your contacts (birthdays, anniversaries) and anytime that item is true, it sends out an email and if it’s false, it does nothing
Today, I will be talking about Standard emails because that’s the most basic one.
Once you have selected Standard, the next stage is for you to select the List you are emailing to.
Let’s say I want to choose the Ambassador List and the Master List if those are the only people I want to send to. However, if from this group, I only want to send to people who have a certain tag, I select Create New Segment, then choose the Campaign Name:
You then add your Conditions > Contact Details > Tag and then pick your tag from there if it exists or doesn’t exist.
Once that is done, click Next.
You will then be directed to where you design your emails.
Now a lot of people complain that the email builder in ActiveCampaign isn’t all that great. I personally don’t have a problem with it. I like it and I have a template that works for me and I’ve edited it so I work well with it. It’s super simple as you can see below.
This first part is the body of the email.
And then you have the super signature in the bottom. A super signature is a way for you to be constantly promoting something without having to promote something (check the image below for a clearer understanding). This lets you take a more relaxed approach to email marketing. But that’s a topic for another day.
The email builder allows you to drag and drop the elements you want to add. That’s why I like it because creating emails is very quick and simple.
The style of emails I like to send is plain text emails with basic HTML at the bottom. The reason why I use basic HTML is because it allows us to track open rates and click through rates. If you send just a plain text email, you’re not able to track these.
Once you’re happy with your email, click NEXT and then ActiveCampaign will present you with a summary of that email so that you can actually see that everything is properly set up.
What’s important here is the Spam Check which checks for spam words or commonly used phrases associated with spam emails and you also get a passed score. But in the screenshot below, since I didn’t include any of those words, it says “Passed.”
If I also wanted to send this at a specific time, I can choose the specifics at the Schedule section.
And in this section, you will be able to review the people included in the Lists that you’ve chosen as we’ve discussed earlier and you can see how many people are you sending to.
Once you’re happy with the Summary, you can then click Send.
If you want to review all the emails that you sent, go to the Campaigns section from the Home page.
And that’s how you send an email in ActiveCampaign.
I use this tool when people are subscribing or when people get lead magnets, for example. Automations not only deliver the lead magnet, but also add tags or send people down specific paths based on the lead magnets they’re getting.
Cool, right? Let’s talk about how to set up a basic automation.
Automations can be found in the Automations tab in the homescreen.
You can start by clicking Create an Automation, and you will then be shown all the different automation templates you can use. Let’s just start from scratch for this example.
Here are some of the triggers you can start with. They’re very straightforward so it’s not difficult to understand.
Normally, I start with either “Subscribes to a list” or “Tag is added.” If you are doing anything more advanced, the trigger that you use will probably be different.
There are so many options to choose from, which can be overwhelming at first. The reason for the vast number of choices is so that you can create a highly personalised marketing journey. This is done to help build your know, like and trust (KLT) with your new subscribers based on their interest and engagement, so that you can send the right messages to the right people.
For this example, let’s go with Tag is added.
You can then choose this to either be sent out Once or Multiple Times.
I personally choose Once because I don’t want multiple people to go through the same automation at the same time.
You will then be led to the first part of the automation. In the example below, the tag is for my Delegation Starter Kit. This means they are interested in that product, and were tagged after interacting with my content about delegation.
You can then choose what happens next in the + button.
If you choose the action of Send an Email, you will be prompted to go through the same process that we have talked about a while ago on creating emails. Let’s select that for the sake of this example.
Once your email has been created, ActiveCampaign allows you the option to Send Immediately or Send with Predictive Sending. The second option basically uses machine learning to send emails when a contact is more likely to open them.
We can also choose to add a Wait for 1 day(s) action so that the email is sent 1 day after the first trigger.
This is how the automation now looks after adding a trigger of Wait for 1 day(s) before the email gets immediately sent to the email list after.
Next, what I can do after waiting for a day is to check for a conversion. We can do this through an If/Else condition. That way, ActiveCampaign can check if a condition is met before the next action takes place.
For this example, I have chosen to check if the customer purchased the Delegation workshop.
You will then see that ActiveCampaign splits it into Yes and No.
So let’s say that if they do have the tag, we can choose to End this automation, which means they get removed from this automation. If no, we can choose to send another email to ask them why they haven’t bought yet (since I am not an email copywriter, I will not go into detail about writing this email).
And if they did not buy, you want to check if someone did buy after you sent the follow up email. You can basically repeat the same If/Else automation as we did above since we’re still checking for the same criteria.
If for the second time, some people still did not buy and go down the “No” route, you can send another batch of emails and go from there. We won’t be doing it anymore for this example since the steps are exactly the same. You get the gist.
When it’s done, you can then click on Active.
One thing to note with automations is that when you are creating a new automation, it will not automatically fire for people who were already in your email list BEFORE the automation was made, even if they meet the trigger criteria. It only fires for new contacts AFTER the automation has been made.
This is why it’s important to identify what you want to do and what you are trying to achieve with your marketing so that you can pre-build all of this and then you have this process run on autopilot without you having to manually check.
It’s going to be much more convenient that you create your automations before you start building up your contacts and your promotions. That way you don’t have to manually move your contacts around and figure out who got a message or not.
And now that your automation is running, you can see it in the list of automations that you have.
You can quickly see the number of contacts through the blue button, your open rate through the black button, and goals for your automation through the yellow button.
And that is how you set up your automation.
This function is universal amongst email service providers. But I will say that the way that you use lists in ActiveCampaign will be different from what you’re used to.
When I used Aweber for example, if you have a list, people go on a list and you can message that list individually. Whereas with ActiveCampaign, you can message everybody on a list, but you can also choose to segment based on tags or characteristics that they have, and how they interact with me based on the emails that I send.
If you see in the image below, I have several lists and each list is used for different reasons.
You need to figure out what your lists are going to be and how you are actually going to get set up. I personally prefer as few lists as possible and most of my segmentation is done either with people who engage and then tagging them or using custom fields.
The way that I set it up is that I individually reached out to people and invited them to join my email list, which a whole bunch of people did. And this is how I started email marketing.
I also ran a 5-day challenge, which is why I have a separate email list for that.
My Client List is for where I put my contacts on, and they have a client tag. So when I want to send an email to the client list for people who are, for example, paying for my podcast management services, I can then select this list and create a segment of just people with that tag.
Also, when you make lists, people can’t subscribe to that list. This is because they need to subscribe via Form in Site and this is where you create the form for people to actually subscribe to your email list.
Here is a quick walkthrough of how to create the form.
Once you click Create a form, you can choose the form style and the Action, which is basically what happens when somebody submits this form. In this example, the action will be for a subscriber who subscribed to the Master List.
I can also choose to add a tag to make it more specific. So let’s say that we want to segment for people who purchased the delegation workshop.
You will then be led to the form builder. Here is how I quickly edited my form.
You then go to Options and the first thing is that On Submit, you can either have ActiveCampaign open a specific URL or show a thank you message.
Then the Form Action just allows you to see what the form action is, which is what we determined a couple of steps ago.
You can then select Integrate and you will be shown the code to be embedded on your website, or to be sent to others via a Link, or on Facebook.
And once that is set up, you can click Save and Exit.
That is how you create your email lists and have people sign up.
This function is where the web personalisation and site tracking functions are.
Through ActiveCampaign’s site tracking, you place a snippet of code on your website and then you can track how your email contacts are using your website.
So say I have a list of contacts and of that list of contacts, there are 5 or 10 people that are constantly checking out my sales page. I can use ActiveCampaign to create an automation and send them an offer email for that specific product that they have been looking at.
Site tracking allows you to send the right messages to your contacts based on their buyer’s journey and how they interact with your site.
Reports let you see how your emails are performing.
When you send emails frequently, you want to know what works and what didn’t work. And this can be seen through the Reports tab at the bottom.
You can see how your email performed, as well as your Open Rate and Click-Through Rate.
For a more in depth insight, you can click on one of the emails and will be directed to a more detailed report which includes the activity stream, summary, and the engagement. The activity stream allows you to see who opened your emails already.
PROS OF ACTIVECAMPAIGN
I love ActiveCampaign for many reasons, and one of the pros, in my opinion, is the fact that you have all these features that let you customise how you interact with your audience.
The best way to put it is from a quote that I’ve heard from a fellow ActiveCampaign user. It went something like this…
“You’re no longer doing shotgun marketing, you’re doing sniper marketing where you are sending the exact message, to the exact prospects, at the exact right time that they need to see that message.”
That, personally, is the biggest selling point.
Another thing I like about ActiveCampaign is that you can manage your entire marketing system and the automation of your marketing. You can do this through all the possible integrations that I have mentioned earlier in this blog post.
These integrations make it very flexible in terms of what you can do with ActiveCampaign and how you can market and grow your business.
One last huge selling point for me is their amazing customer support. Every time I’ve had an issue in the past, their team has been able to solve it within 3 days.
This is much better than some of the other email marketing platforms that I’ve used in the past, where support requests don’t get dealt with as quickly.
CONS OF ACTIVECAMPAIGN
The fact that ActiveCampaign has so many features to choose from makes it a double-edged sword.
This can be a drawback for some people who get easily overwhelmed. It may put some people off if they see that there are too many features to learn.
Other than that, I don’t see any other con with using ActiveCampaign, in my opinion.
IS ACTIVECAMPAIGN FOR YOU?
I believe ActiveCampaign is suitable for people who want a complete marketing and automation platform.
If they want a platform that can handle their email marketing, and also be able to store data for the deals that they have in their pipeline through a CRM tool, ActiveCampaign may be the tool for you.
ActiveCampaign is also for people who want more advanced email marketing features like segmenting your audiences based on what they read, or what page they visit on your website.
IS ACTIVECAMPAIGN NOT FOR YOU?
ActiveCampaign is not for someone who is a little bit of a technophobe, because the platform can be intimidating for some people.
So, even though I personally know and understand how simple it is to use, it’s not going to be the same case for everybody.
It is actually simple to use, once you learn the basics. But with all additions such as email marketing, marketing automation, CRM & sales automation, and so much more, it can be a bit too much if you’re not tech-inclined.
But I believe that if you need the features for your business, with a little bit of time and effort to learn the tools, things will become less intimidating along the way.
And that, my dear reader, was a brief introduction to ActiveCampaign, its features, and why I use it for my business.
In this blog post, I showed you how to set up campaigns, send emails, design a basic automation, organise your lists (which is more of a personal preference), how to set up a form and hook that form up to your list and set up an action for that form.
I hope you learned a lot from this “newbies” way to get started with ActiveCampaign.
As time goes on and as I use ActiveCampaign more and I use more tools, I will be updating this guide just so that it’s kept up to date and it becomes a guide for you to get comfortable with the program as you’re using the program.
I am definitely planning on writing more blog posts about this tool and maybe give an in-depth look on how to set everything up and manage your email lists.
If you have any other topics on ActiveCampaign that you want me to talk about, feel free to shoot me an email as well.
In the meantime, explore the application and enjoy learning!