ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign
An in-depth, side-by-side comparison of ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign: 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 ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign comparison guide was last updated January 2019.
Do you need to upgrade to ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign?
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.
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Tag contacts for organization and automation
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 the example screenshot. 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.
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.
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: SEQUENCES + AUTOMATIONS
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.
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 around creating webhooks to send information back to other websites. You'll need to use our free ConvertKit webhook creator to make these, because there's no built-in way in ConvertKit.
ACTIVECAMPAIGN: FLEXIBLE AUTOMATIONS
The first thing you'll notice is that ActiveCampaign's automation builder offers more functionality, from webhooks to Facebook custom audience integrations.
The automation builder offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop format that allows you to create fairly advanced automations. 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.
E-Commerce - Apps and Integrations
Neither ConvertKit nor ActiveCampaign include a built-in e-commerce solution. However, 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.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign: Pros and Cons
+ Great automation and tagging of people based on their actions
+ User-friendly interface that's easy to learn
+ A visual automation builder that's straightforward and includes advanced features like webhooks and the ability to add users to Facebook audiences.
- Not an all-in-one solution, so you'll have to turn to 3rd-party tools for e-commerce, affiliate programs, etc.
- Pricing structure can get expensive, depending on your needs.
If you are looking for more advanced automations or are interested in using a basic sales CRM in addition to marketing automation, ActiveCampaign is probably your strongest option.
+ Extremely easy to learn and use, with limited options that give you all the fundamentals.
+ Added a visual campaign builder that rivals ActiveCampaign's
+ Offers email automation and tagging
- Creating webhooks isn't a straightforward thing to do
- Relies on a 3rd party integration if you want additional features like e-commerce, affiliates, etc.
If you only need the basics of automation and aren't interested in a bunch of features you might never use, ConvertKit is 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 ConvertKit.