ActiveCampaign (opens in new tab) was founded in 2003 by an entrepreneur named Jason VandeBoom. It began as a consulting firm before pivoting to building email marketing software (opens in new tab) that helps small and midsized businesses to engage with their customers via email.
As of 2021, ActiveCampaign had over 145,000 customers across the globe and over $165 million in annual sales. The company is backed by nearly $400 million in venture funding from investors including Dragoneer, Tiger Global, and Silversmith Capital Partners. It has made several acquisitions to expand, such as the email delivery platform Postmark in 2022.
ActiveCampaign is headquartered in Chicago, U.S.A. and has additional offices in Ireland, Brazil, and Australia. It is a "unicorn" company, as in a privately held startup valued at over $1 billion.
ActiveCampaign: Plans and pricing
ActiveCampaign doesn't have a free plan, which puts it at a disadvantage compared to rivals. You must pay for a premium plan if you want to use the app. However, there's a 14-day free trial that you can take advantage of to test its features before paying.
There are four premium plans; Lite, Plus, Professional, and Enterprise. Lite starts at $15 / £15 / AUF$25 per month for 500 contacts and increases according to the number of contacts. For example, 100,000 contacts on this plan will cost $505 / £500 / AUD$750 per month. This plan gives you access to basic email marketing and automation features.
The Plus plan starts from $70 / £70 / AUD$110 per month and increases according to the number of contacts. For instance, 25,000 contacts on this plan will cost $399 / £380 / AUD$600 per month. This plan gives you access to more sophisticated features like landing pages and lead scoring.
The Professional plan starts at $159 / £150 / AUD$230 per month for 500 contacts and increases from that level. For example, 25,000 contacts on this plan will cost $599/ £550 / AUD$900 per month. This plan gives you access to advanced features like split automation and predictive sending.
The Enterprise plan has no standard pricing, so you'll have to contact ActiveCampaign's sales team to get a quote. This plan includes exclusive features like single sign-on and a custom mail server domain.
You’ll get a discount on the standard pricing if you pay annually instead of monthly. The company doesn’t offer partial or full refunds, so ensure you take advantage of the 14-day free trial period before paying.
Designing effective marketing emails can be difficult, so ActiveCampaign makes it easier by providing templates that users can choose from and edit to fit their tastes. The templates are designed by professionals, and you can just edit them using the platform's drag-and-drop editor. If you have good design skills, you can also use the drag-and-drop editor to design your own template from scratch.
You can use ActiveCampaign to send automated emails to your subscribers. For example, you can send welcome emails to every person who subscribes to your newsletter or schedule celebratory newsletters for events, holidays, and birthdays. You can also send targeted emails based on your contacts’ interaction with your website. These personalized emails make the recipient feel important and more likely to open them.
You can also create landing pages for your products with ActiveCampaign; the platform offers templates that make it easy to do this. Likewise, you can create signup forms and embed them on your website to gather more email addresses for your subscriber list.
ActiveCampaign: Interface and use
For the many tools that ActiveCampaign includes, we find the software well-organized, and easy to navigate.
When you create a campaign, then next you can filter and segment lists for inclusion of only contacts. Additionally, this platform incorporates one of the most versatile drag-and-drop email designers that we’ve encountered. With a significant amount of control over how every content element displays, you can then decide whether a block should be only for contacts that meet certain conditions.
For setting up a marketing automation, you can then have hundreds of templates from which to choose. We appreciate that the visual designer is intuitive while offering highly flexible triggers and responses. By way of example, connecting ActiveCampaign to a third-party software like Slack and triggering a message when a contact tag is updated can be done easily.
One notable missing element from ActiveCampaign is a tool for creating landing pages. This software has support for highly customizable forms, but they left out the integrated creation of your own landing pages. Rather, you need to revert to either your own website design software, which we are disappointed with, or sign up separately for Pages, at an additional cost.
Help is available for ActiveCampaign by sending them a message through the portal or live chat. The hours of operation in the US are Monday to Thursday from 6 am - 11 pm, CST and Friday from 6 am - 5:30 pm, CST, which means no help on the weekend and holidays.
All accounts come with free migration if you’re switching over from another CRM or email marketing service. In addition, Professional users get access to one-on-one training sessions and Enterprise users receive free phone support that is lacking in the lower tiers. We would have liked to see some additional methods of support, such as a direct email, and also the hours and days of support.
The company also has a very robust online knowledgebase, complete with video tutorials and a community forum. We found the help articles to be extremely detailed, and plenty of webinars, such as “Accelerated Onboarding,” and “The Digital Study Hall.”
ActiveCampaign: The competition
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to ActiveCampaign, consider Sendinblue (opens in new tab). This alternative offers all the essentials for email marketing at a fraction of the price of ActiveCampaign. You can send 300 emails per day for free, or 20,000 per month for just $25, and there are no limits placed on the number of contacts in your database. That said, Sendinblue also has SMS marketing, but there is a separate charge based on the number of messages and the country they are being sent in. Overall though, we find its CRM features are much weaker than those that ActiveCampaign offers.
ActiveCampaign: Final verdict
ActiveCampaign is a platform with plenty of grunt as it combines the best aspects of email marketing along with a CRM. We like the unique features including automated email scheduling and SMS marketing, and also does a nice job with standard tools like marketing automation and email design.
We think that the biggest downside to this platform is the higher price. A Plus or Professional plan can cost hundreds of dollars per month for a comparatively small number of contacts.