ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport
An in-depth, side-by-side comparison of ActiveCampaign and Ontraport: from pricing to features and integrations.
Pick the CRM that
Switching email marketing platforms down the line can be expensive and disruptive for your business.
Use this guide to make the best decision for your business.
This ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport comparison guide was last updated January 2019.
Is it time to upgrade to ActiveCampaign or Ontraport?
If you’ve been in business online for awhile, you might have reached a point where your current online marketing systems aren’t serving you as well as they used to.
Maybe you have more products and need to be able to segment your email lists better, or you’d like to automate different campaigns and track affiliate sales more effectively. Or, you’ve just got too many different systems cobbled together and things are falling through the cracks.
That's where marketing automation platforms like ActiveCampaign and Ontraport come in. Both of these systems require an investment of time and money to get set up so I want to give you my honest take on each one so you can make the right decision for you and your needs.
I’m an affiliate for these companies, which means I might earn a commission if you sign up through my link, at no additional cost to you.
Both platforms provide some sweet automation, which can definitely streamline your email marketing and site management. However, advanced functionality comes at a slightly higher price point than some of the free email marketing systems that are embraced by those who might not have a huge budget.
Tag contacts for organization and automation
Both Ontraport and ActiveCampaign utilize "tags" to categorize and assign properties to the members within your CRM. In each platform, these tags are automatically applied and function according to the parameters that you set. Within both platforms, these tags can be used for a variety of purposes.
For example, you might choose to segment your email list, or grant a user specific permissions based on a purchase or opt-in. Tagging is invaluable when you're ready to really start targeting specific client groups and provide a more personal experience for them.
ONTRAPORT EXCELS IN COMPLEX TAG SCENARIOS
Ontraport's tag manager allows you to categorize your tags by "groups." When you're working with dozens - or hundreds - of tags, the ability to filter and group is definitely pretty handy. Likewise, when working with several complex email marketing campaigns (all of which are guided by unique tags) and a membership site (whose access is also made possible by tags), a lack of filtering could definitely make tag management a bit of a hassle.
ACTIVECAMPAIGN TAGGING IS GREAT FOR STRAIGHTFORWARD USE
Although ActiveCampaign also uses tags, it does not currently allow you to organize these in any way.
Realistically, for a number of entrepreneurs who have, say, less than 100 tags, this doesn't pose a problem in the least.
Of course, there are super easy ways to work around this if ActiveCampaign seems to be your perfect fit in the other areas.
Creating a spreadsheet for your tags can be a great way to manage them (as long as you have a process to always keep it up to date). Since ActiveCampaign does allow you to search for tags by name, you can easily locate the right ones that you need to edit or merge.
E-Commerce & Sales Tracking
If you are planning to sell products on your website, the e-commerce side of the Ontraport vs ActiveCampaign debate is going to be big.
In this area, Ontraport has a lot of strengths that ActiveCampaign currently falls short of. If you're big into product sales, upsells, and automated follow-ups, you're probably going to lean towards Ontraport.
But, if ActiveCampaign is a better fit overall for your online business, take the time to really look into which e-commerce integration will also be able to do what you want it to. And if you're only working with a few products and don't mind using a couple different tools to create a solid sales sequence, ActiveCampaign will be perfectly fine.
ONTRAPORT: BUILT-IN E-COMMERCE
Ontraport offers a built-in e-commerce management area, which will allow you to create product listings and easily integrate them into your sequences.
Although Ontraport does use a payment gateway for the actual transfer of funds (they offer detailed information about that in their knowledge base here), the rest of the e-commerce happens inside of the Ontraport platform.
Not only can you set up your products, but Ontraport also includes a super handy one-click upsell form that you can use in your sales strategy.
When you add in the sweet selection of sales reports (kind of a "must" for your business, especially when it's time to call in your accountant or tax person!), the Ontraport e-commerce platform is really one of the best around.
Note: the e-commerce feature is only available at certain subscription levels.
ACTIVECAMPAIGN: INTEGRATE WITH A 3RD PARTY TOOL
Within ActiveCampaign, the e-commerce side of things requires a little more work on your part, in addition to the basic setup.
To begin with, ActiveCampaign actually does not include any e-commerce within its platform. However, it does have the capability to integrate with any number of payment processing systems, such as PayPal, Stripe, WooCommerce, etc.
Before you get super excited that your favorite payment processor claims an ActiveCampaign integration, be aware that not all integrations work the same. (See the current list of integrations here.)
Example: The Shopify integration will actually auto-add a new customer to your ActiveCampaign email list only if that customer chooses to optin to your marketing updates during the checkout process.
If they don't, you'll have to manually add them yourself before you can apply any tags and add them to a follow-up sales sequence.
Whereas the Bigcommerce integration does point out that it will automatically add any new clients to your ActiveCampaign CRM.
Ontraport and ActiveCampaign both automate the email marketing process by allowing you to use a drag-and-drop sequence builder.
Ease of Use
This is where ActiveCampaign really shines in the eyes of most users! It's so, so sleek and user-friendly, requiring minimal effort on the part of a dedicated user to become familiar with getting stuff done.
The drag-and-drop interface of the sequence builder is super nice (and kind of fun, if you like that stuff!), and the site is easy to navigate.
Ontraport, on the other hand, is a little different story. It does require you to take some time to learn how to navigate and take advantage of its functionality, whether you're going to do something basic or more complex.
Yes, it does have more options to offer in terms of customization and potential, which definitely adds to the steeper learning curve.
After you've become familiar with the interface, you'll probably find that the more complex things (think coupons, limited trials, and a couple hundred tags to manage) will probably perform better for you in Ontraport...Keeping in mind that these more complex functions might also require a bit of tech savviness on your part to make it happen.
Fortunately, if you're leaning towards Ontraport and can't (or don't have the time to) do all the setup yourself, there are actually quite a few Ontraport certified consultants (some of whom are also trained and approved AccessAlly Certified Partners) who are ready and willing to help make your Ontraport dreams a reality.
Overall, if you're not going to get down and dirty with the more intricate features of Ontraport, you'll probably enjoy using ActiveCampaign much more. But if you're maxing out on CRM capabilities and are longing for more advanced potential, Ontraport is the stronger contender.
If the whole ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport decision is still a toss-up for you, the pricing system should help you lean in one direction or another.
The ActiveCampaign pricing system (see it here) is separated into three tiers: Lite, Small Business, and Enterprise. Each of those tiers represents the functionality you'll get, rather than a set price range.
The price is actually largely dependent on the number of contacts you have within your CRM. So if you have under 5,000 contacts, pretty much any of the three tiers will cost less than Ontraport.
Ontraport's pricing (see it here) is also divided into three tiers.
However, the price point of each tier varies much less (if at all) on a per-user basis than ActiveCampaign...until you get into the realm of 100,000 + subscribers, at which point you'll have to start paying extra.
Definitely take time to look through each of their pricing pages to see which area you fall into.
Generally speaking, though, a business with a smaller email list is going to lean towards ActiveCampaign as the more affordable option. It seems like the price plateaus between the two at about 10K subscribers, after which Ontraport starts coming out ahead.
One more thing to think about when deciding based on price is whether you intend to expand your business significantly in the future.
If this is the case, you might find that you'll "outgrow" ActiveCampaign and should consider whether it will be worthwhile to start small now and port everything over to Ontraport later on, or whether you'd prefer to start with Ontraport in anticipation of a large email list of subscribers coming down the road.
ActiveCampaign vs Ontraport: Pros and Cons
+ Great automation and tagging of people based on their actions
+ A solid marketing automation system that can integrate with 3rd party tools
+ Can integrate with other platforms if you need e-commerce or an affiliate program
+ You can use AccessAlly to design your membership area on WordPresss
+ User-friendly interface that's easy to learn
+ A visual automation builder that's straightforward and fun to use
+ Starts at a much lower price point
- Not an all-in-one solution, so you'll have to turn to 3rd-party tools for e-commerce, affiliate programs, etc.
- Tagging system can be overwhelming since it lacks categorized organization
- A large volume of email contacts can significantly raise your subscription price
If you are a newer business owner or have more confined email marketing needs, ActiveCampaign is probably your strongest option.
+ Great email deliverability, and segmentation of people.
+ Recently added a visual campaign builder that rivals ActiveCampaign's in terms of visually reporting statistics
+ Free membership site plugin for WordPress sites to create a members only area for your customers, or if you're looking for a PilotPress alternative you can also use AccessAlly now.
+ Handles email marketing, e-commerce, and affiliates all in one place
+ Customer relationship management for 1-1 sales processes
+ OntraPages landing page builder for opt-in pages and sales page
- Affiliate tracking links don’t always work as expected and might not reflect clicks properly
- Not as many integrations and plugins in the marketplace specifically for this platform because it is newer
If you find yourself in the category of a more experienced entrepreneur - or have simply outgrown your current CRM - Ontraport is going to be a great option.
How Will These Systems Integrate with Your Tech Stack?
Chances are, you won't be using your CRM in isolation and you'll want to integrate with other tools. If you plan to take payment, run online courses, or put together a membership site then you'll love knowing that AccessAlly is the ideal companion to both ActiveCampaign and Ontraport.