Starting to look for an email marketing platform that offers some sweet automation… but doesn't require a huge budget for starters?
If you are, you're likely looking at something along the lines of a mid-level CRM/email marketing system and ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign might be at the top of the list.
This search is what introduces many bloggers and online entrepreneurs to the great ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign debate: two CRM systems that are so similar at face value that it can be tough to differentiate which would be a better fit for your business.
So today, we're diving into some of the major comparison points to help you decide when you might want to choose one over the other.
Let's take a look:
Table of Contents
- ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign: Tagging
- Automated Sequences
- ECommerce – Apps & Integrations
- Ease of Use
- General Pros/Cons
- Which is a Better Fit for Your Business – ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign?
ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign: Tagging
Both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign including the much sought-after “tagging” ability. Tags allow you to further segment your list and to trigger new action sets within your automation sequences.
However, because neither system offers a way to organize these tags, it's helpful to either limit the number of tags you create or create a spreadsheet to help you remember the names and purposes of each tag.
In ConvertKit, creating a tag happens under the automations category.
Here, there are two sides: the trigger (“when this happens”) and the action (“do this”).
First, each tag can be associated with a trigger (“user subscribes to a form > tag is added”), like in this example:
(From there, you can keep adding action events to build up a full automation sequence.)
On the flip side, you can also use a tag as a trigger, which comes in handy when you're using an external integration that can apply ConvertKit tags.
Inside ActiveCampaign, tags can be added to a subscriber at any point inside your campaign automations (more on that in the next section).
And, like ConvertKit, you can also use tags to trigger a new series of action steps.
Like Convertkit, though, there is no way to “organize” your tags, so keeping track of them in a separate spreadsheet will help you to search for the ones you need when necessary.
The need for an automated sequence is what brings many users to ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign. Typically, an email sequence is the most commonly used.
However, as your online business grows, a more robust, tag-based automation system is preferred.
ConvertKit: Simple Sequences
ConvertKit provides a polarized automation setup.
On the one hand, you have “Sequences” which are your automated emails. Inside this area, you can create a series of emails with a timed delay between sending.
On the other hand, you have “Automations”, which are your trigger action sets. This is where you can specify what happens when, choosing from the trigger/action steps below:
There are a couple limitations here.
First, since sequences and automations are totally separate, you have to create single-email sequences if you want to alternate email – add tag – email – add tag. And, since “completes sequence” is its own trigger, you might have to create a series of different automations for more complex operations.
The second limitation is that there's currently no way to send a webhook or HTTP post in ConvertKit's automation. This does limit the amount of integration possible with third-party systems like AccessAlly, which requires a two-way communication in order to drip-feed membership site course content to your users.
Finally, the polarized automation builder/sequence builder is a bit bulky to workaround. Fortunately, ConvertKit's team is working on releasing a more streamlined, visual builder (read more here).
ActiveCampaign: Flexible Automations
ActiveCampaign's automations are a lot more flexible.
The automation builder offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop format that allows you to create fairly advanced automations. Here, it's easy to add anything from emails to tags.
Conditional formatting can also be added into the automation for advanced segmentation purposes.
Overall, the automated capabilities of ActiveCampaign are a bit more advanced and easy-to-use than ConvertKit's current system.
However, if you're only looking for a fairly basic email automation, either will work just fine.
ECommerce – Apps & Integrations
Neither offers e-commerce, but they both integrate with apps that will give you this capability.
ConvertKit: A Strong Integration Suite
ConvertKit only advertises a little over 30 integrated apps, but the ones that it does provide are your typical, trusted big-names.
Granted, they also connect with Zapier, which may give you an additional link to other systems that you currently use for your business.
As always, not all integrations are created equal!
So if e-commerce, for example, is a big part of your business, take the time to check through their documentation here to make sure the integration you need is going to fit the bill.
ActiveCampaign: A Wide Variety of Integrations
While ConvertKit currently advertises just over 30 integrations, ActiveCampaign boasts of 150+ different options for you to choose from.
This is a huge help if you're currently working on building and expanding an integrated online business and want to know right away if your tools are going to work together.
Using e-commerce as an example, keep in mind that one app might suit your purpose better than another:
For example, the Shopify integration will only auto-add a new customer to your list if they opt into marketing updates when they purchase your product. Otherwise, you’ll have to manually add in each client if you want to apply a specific set of tags and add them to a sequence.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is a bit subjective, since each person's mind thinks a bit differently!
If you think in a very linear, bullet-list way, ConvertKit‘s sequence builder is going to appeal to you. (Once again, though, they've promised to release a more visual builder soon.)
But if you're a visual thinker – or simply would like to see how everything fits together on the same page – then ActiveCampaign's automation builder will probably come out ahead.
Outside of the automation sequence builders, the ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign comparison “ease-of-use” factor is fairly comparable.
ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit both offer a price range that depends on your list size.
With ConvertKit, this can range anywhere from $29 – $79+ per month. (See their current pricing here.)
Their pricing model is fairly straightforward, which has it's pros and cons. It's quite easy to see at a glance what your cost per month will be, but there's also a bit less flexibility in terms of tweaking numbers to reduce costs.
ActiveCampaign offers a wider range of prices, from $9 – $460+ per month. (See their current pricing here.)
ActiveCampaign's pricing module is based both on the number of subscribers you have and the types of features/resources you'd like to have access to.
It's hard to give a strict “this option is a better price,” since your budget and cost will depend totally on the number of subscribers you have (or will have) on your list and what features you'd like to pay for.
In general, ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are both really strong options if you're ready to invest in email automation for your business but have no need for the more robust Infusionsoft/Ontraport platforms.
- Simple pricing structure
- Offers email automation and tagging
- Limited integration opportunities
- Email sequences and automations are fairly limited
- Flexible pricing structure
- Offers email automation and tagging
- A flexible automation builder that's easy to use
- A large variety of integrations
- Pricing structure can get expensive, depending on your needs
Which is a Better Fit for Your Business – ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign?
ConvertKit is a great option for you if you have a small email list and are in need of some basic, streamlined automation capabilities in your email marketing platform. While it doesn't have as much “flexibility” as ActiveCampaign, you might not even notice a difference depending on what you need it for.
ActiveCampaign currently offers a much more robust and easy to use automation builder, which is a huge help when you're getting a big campaign ready to go.
From a user perspective, the big ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign debate does run pretty neck and neck… as long as you know what you want (and are willing to pay for), however, the decision should be fairly easy to make!
Still Trying To Find A Good Fit?
Check out our other CRM comparison posts:
- Infusionsoft vs. Ontraport
- Infusionsoft vs. ActiveCampaign
- ActiveCampaign vs. Ontraport
- The Ultimate Tag-Based CRM Comparison Guide for 2017
Maria Myre is the word person at AccessAlly, where she spends her days sipping on espresso and exploring new, intuitive ways to connect entrepreneurs with the tech tools and training that will best fit their business needs. When she’s not writing tech-y business stuff, Maria enjoys art and horseback adventures in the Great Outdoors.