Last Updated on March 2nd, 2020
ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are both great email marketing tools, but they’re designed for COMPLETELY DIFFERENT people.
Take it from someone who’s built a 30k + email list: You need to get the right tool for your budget, goals, and skill-level or you won’t scale no matter how hard you try.
And the honest truth is you might not even need EITHER TOOL.
I’m going to set the record straight with this ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign review. I’ll cover essential features, pricing, UX, customer support, and alternatives. All from someone who’s used BOTH tools for different goals.
Let’s dive right in…
QUICK OVERVIEW: Choose ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign in 30 Seconds
Choose ConvertKit If…
If you’re a blogger or have some sort of lifestyle business. You want to be efficient and create smart autoresponders but not spend a lifetime setting up overly complicated funnels.
Pricing: Starting from $29/mo for ALL FEATURES:
- Your grandmother could build an email sequence with ConvertKit
- Easy landing pages, A/B testing, subscriber tagging
Choose ActiveCampaign If…
If you are an agency, online marketer, or large business or if you have a high-touch sales process and require flexibility.
Pricing (Extremely Complex): Starting from $9/mo (500 subscribers) for limited features:
- Far more powerful than ConvertKit
- Unrivaled automation tools
- All-in-one customer experience tool (From lead to repeat customer)
- Customizable pricing (Pay only for what you use)
If you’re a blogger or have very basic email needs, ConvertKit is the clear option. Everyone else, get ActiveCampaign.
Of course, life isn’t an internet discussion forum – there’s nuance. So let’s get into more detail about each.
ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit: Basic Features Breakdown
Based on my experience, ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit are roughly similar at their core.
Both are powerful email marketing tools that help you build an email list, send messages based on triggers, and automate the highest-impact responsibilities.
Did You Know?: Marketing automation improves conversion rates by up to 50%. If you aren’t using it, you’re throwing money away.
Here’s what they share in common:
- Drag-and-drop editing
- Triggers (#Triggered!)
- Sequence and landing page capabilities
OK, cool. So what exactly makes them different? Why choose one over the other?
I’ve used both tools to grow email lists and the biggest difference is ConvertKit is all about simplicity (READ: For beginners) while ActiveCampaign is about features and being an all-in-one solution.
I’m going to break it down feature-by-feature, right after I cover pricing.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign: Pricing
ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are surprisingly affordable, especially considering the HUGE value you get from investing in email marketing. By the way, the median ROI on email marketing is 122%, beating social media and paid ads.
I’ll start with the easier of the two first, ConvertKit.
ConvertKit Pricing – Easy Like Sunday Morning
ConvertKit’s pricing is VERY simple. And I LOVE how you get ALL FEATURES regardless of pricing plan.
You don’t get that with almost any other email marketing tool. That means your experience with the tool doesn’t change regardless of how much you pay.
You only pay based on how many subscribers you have, NOT for which features you want.
If you’re still a relatively small blogger/content marketer, you’ll most likely pay either $29/mo for up to 1k subs or $49/mo for up to 3k.
TIP: If you pay annually, you get 12 months for the price of 10! Do it!
ActiveCampaign Pricing – Complex But Flexible
ActiveCampaign’s pricing is the exact opposite of ConvertKit’s
Instead of easy like Sunday morning, it’s like waking up on Monday morning at 7:30 AM when work starts at 8: HECTIC AND SCARY.
First, you choose between 4 different plans, each with different features.
Then, you obey that little drag box and adjust the slider to the number of contacts you want to manage.
So, for 1,000 contacts, here’s what you’ll pay:
This is why I recommend smaller bloggers stay away. It’s not worth it.
However, ActiveCampaign is actually CHEAP when you consider that it’s an email, sales, and customer relationship management tool (CRM) all-in-one.
Winner – ConvertKit
If you have a small subscriber list and only need emails, ConvertKit is the clear winner. If you’ve got thousands of subscribers and need everything from SMS marketing to marketing consultations, ActiveCampaign is a steal.
And if you only need simple emails for 1,000 subscribers or less, you don’t need EITHER of these tools. Check my alternatives section at the end to see which one is 100% FREE.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign: Automation
75% of email revenue is generated from automated emails. So I want to cover the details of email sequence automation in both tools. This is the feature that will propel your business to the next level.
Let me illustrate my point…
Imagine building a sequence that sends subscribers unique, top-of-the-funnel content and pulling them back into your site. Now you’ve got more opportunities to make sales. Then, if they buy something, that triggers a thank you email with an upsell to even more products.
You could realistically sell a product, send a thank you email, and upsell to ANOTHER product to every new customer with next to 0 work. That’s the power of automation.
Both ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit offer plenty to trigger highly targeted/valuable email campaigns. But ActiveCampaign offers WAY MORE, especially when you factor in CRM integration. Then, the possibilities are endless.
Of course, that comes at a price and with a huge learning curve.
I love ConvertKit. It can’t get any easier.
It offers done-for-you templates of the most popular email marketing strategies: webinars, newsletters, product launches, and follow ups with evil cart-abandoners.
Once you pick a template, the visual editor is so easy that anyone can use it. And you can design triggers using simple “if this, then that logic”.
Doesn’t get much easier than this.
I’m 100% confident that ANYONE can use this visual interface to make an automation map even with 0 experience. Yes, even granny.
But if it still happens to stump you, ConvertKit offers awesome DIY guides to help you build a high-ROI funnel.
Right off the bat, ActiveCampaign’s automation menu smacks you in the face.
You aren’t in Kansas anymore.
One thing I do like is how they offer different blueprints according to goal, unlike the more basic options in ConvertKit.
Everything is based off a visual editor, just like ConvertKit.
Not going to lie, this is a lot more complex but there’s so much more you can do with it. And it looks way cooler.
Check out all of the different triggers you can use to start an automation.
ActiveCampaign has more triggers than an 18-year old liberal arts student.
Don’t worry too much, the builder can be as complex or simple as you like. It’s up to you (or, hopefully, your marketing team).
My absolute favorite feature is how easy ActiveCampaign makes it to segment audiences based off on-site behavior.
This means you can send laser-focused emails based on which pages a user visits within your site. For example, if someone visits a product page then clicks away or abandons their cart, you can retarget with a discount offer to entice them to come back.
Boom! You just saved a sale!
When you add the CRM capabilities, ActiveCampaign can become one of your business’ most valuable assets. It definitely has for me.
Some of the best bonus features included in ActiveCampaigns’ automation that you won’t get with ConvertKit are:
- Deals: Tracking qualified leads through pipelines
- Lead scoring: Assigning points to different leads so your sales team can spend more time where it matters most. This is crucial to segmentation (Much more on that next).
- Gmail extension (YES!): Quickly add contacts to ActiveCampaign directly from your inbox without having to switch tabs. Thank god, finally.
- Machine learning: Every time you make a sale, get a phone call, or win an email from a visitor, that’s a data point you can learn from so you can make better decisions in the future. But why not just let a machine do it for you?
Winner – ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign is clearly the more comprehensive tool, but that actually comes with a major drawback: The learning curve is STEEP.
Beginners won’t be able to get max value out of it.
Yes, it’s far better to grow and scale your business, but ConvertKit is better for beginners who only need easy sequences.
If you have simple email needs, get ConvertKit. If you have complex sales funnels and want to scale to the moon, you need ActiveCampaign.
Segmentation: Which Tool is Better for Building Audiences?
Segmentation is a game changer.
Hear me out…
Personalized emails convert 6x more often than non-personalized ones, but the benefits are so much deeper than that.
With segmentation, you can organize subscribers into neat groups and gently massage them through different sales funnels depending on their level. Complete beginner? Cool, here’s your free eBook with an upsell to your course. Already an expert? Hit em’ with an email selling your coaching!
You can segment with both ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit, but one is clearly better than the other. Here’s what you need to know.
Sticking with its MO, ConvertKit’s segmentation and tagging system is both basic and simple. It gets the job done and is super easy even for beginners. Importing contacts is easy, and from there you just create tags (EX: Facebook, Purchased, Beginner, etc.) then create segments for tags.
Before we move on, TAGS organize your subscribers into buckets based on actions/traits, and SEGMENTS organize TAGS. This allows you to create audiences based on how they found you, which products they’ve bought, or how knowledgeable on your topic they are.
ActiveCampaign’s segmentation uses lists, tags, and custom fields (so you can group contacts based on how they contacted you).
The data is just so much more granular, allowing you to collect every shred of data you could possibly imagine on a contact. Your contact list will make the NSA jealous.
You can see everything you need to know right from your contacts list, including lists and tags.
One huge advantage is you only need ONE account to handle lists from multiple websites. ActiveCampaign lets you isolate users based on which list they belong to. ConvertKit doesn’t, so you’d need multiple accounts.
Combine that with lead scoring, deals, and the rest of the sales and CRM of ActiveCampaign, and it’s not even close.
Winner – ActiveCampaign
ConvertKit’s segmentation is fine, but it’s nothing compared to ActiveCampaign. The segmentation is so much more granular. And when combined with CRM capabilities like lead scoring, it’s not even close.
Forms and Landing Pages
Segmenting contacts into lists and automating sequences to sell them things is cool and all.
But how the hell are you even going to get those emails in the first place?
ENTER: Forms and landing pages.
ConvertKit Forms and Landing Pages Builder
ConvertKit’s form and landing page builder is intuitive and easy.
I actually have a TON of fun playing around the landing page builder, and making a professional, high-converting landing page is as easy as choosing a template and following directions so detailed they show you where to place content.
And if that weren’t easy enough, you can browse categories like “ebook” or “event”.
ConvertKit Bonus: ConvertKit has a WordPress plugin, so your landing pages will work automatically on your WordPress blog!
Forms are even easier. You’ve got Inline, Modal, Slide in, and Sticky Bar (my favorite).
Just choose which one you want and pick a template. Voila!
I love the templates on ConvertKit. They aren’t revolutionizing the industry or anything, but they’re simple, effective, and very professional. 100% fine for any blog or business.
Creating forms is just as easy in ActiveCampaign.
It even has a “floating bar” option which is really cool!
From there, adding it anywhere on your site or in an email is easy.
But here’s where it gets even better.
ActiveCampaign lets you create custom forms.
Also, you can add actions like “Subscribes to Deal” or add in cool SMS features, two things you can’t do with ConvertKit.
Wait, what about landing pages?
ActiveCampaign DOES NOT have its own landing page builder, you have to integrate a 3rd-party extension.
That’s totally fine, but it’s a lot of extra work and research to find the best landing page builder.
Winner – ConvertKit
Again, it’s hard to call this one.
I guess I would give the slight advantage to ConvertKit, since it’s so easy and also comes with a simple landing page builder. And since targeting a landing page correctly can lead to up to 300% conversions, that’s a big deal.
ActiveCampaign gives you way more control over forms, and lets you integrate super-powerful landing page tools, but that requires a lot more set up and knowledge.
ConvertKit Analytics vs ActiveCampaign Analytics (A/B Testing)
I’m not one for theories or guessing games. The only thing that gets me going is cold hard data.
That’s why analytics and reporting are so important. Both tools offer analytics like A/B testing as well as reporting options.
This might come as a surprise, but ConvertKit’s is rather basic while ActiveCampaign offers WAY more power and flexibility. Shocking, I know.
Definition – A/B Testing: A/B testing is essentially a comparison of two variants of the same element to see which performs better in an experiment. In this case, you’ll be testing emails and landing pages.
ConvertKit A/B Testing Capabilities
As soon as you open sequences, you see how well each one is performing, including open rate and click-through rate.
That’s about it…
If you’re only running basic email campaigns to 3,000 subscribers, that’s fine. If you’re trying to conquer the world, it won’t cut it.
One thing I like is how easy ConvertKit makes running A/B tests. You can launch a test right from the subject line!
ActiveCampaign A/B Testing Capabilities
Comparing ActiveCampaign’s analytics and reporting to ConvertKit’s is like comparing a Maserati to a Model T: ConvertKit is a century behind.
Just look at how many different reporting options there are:
Instead of just seeing the performance of each email sequence, you can dig deep into the performance of tags, forms, contacts, deals, goals, or entire automation sequences. All that PLUS overall campaign performance.
A/B testing is also more comprehensive, allowing you to test the subject line, from information, and content to see exactly the kind of email that converts your subs best.
Once you select the type of test, just choose from a template and you’re good to go.
And if you want to test the entire sequence, just split your contacts evenly via the “Conditions and Workflow” tab.
ActiveCampaign gives you everything you need to take the guesswork out of your emails. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about, right?
You can even track granular details like read tracking, link tracking, and reply tracking. When you combine this with the sales and CRM data, you can paint a 4k picture of your target audience.
BONUS: ActiveCampaign is GDPR compliant, so the EU won’t fine you a billion Euros for tracking too much data!
Winner – ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign in a landslide.
However, for basic email sequences, it’s not necessary. ConvertKit gives you enough in the beginning.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign Deliverability
Both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign have high deliverability, so I wouldn’t get hung up on this factor. While there are a lot of issues with certain providers like GetResponse, neither of these guys has much of a problem. Your emails will get there.
ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit: UX and Customer Support
Before you spend money on either tool, I want to cover my overall experience with both, including customer service/support.
Keeping with the theme so far, ConvertKit is infinitely easier to use and will result in fewer white hairs over the course of building your business.
Everything from the drag-n-drop builder to the simplicity of the dashboard is designed for non-techy users (like me).
Pretty much everything you can do with the tool is right there in the header.
This is great for setting up email sequences as a newbie, but in my opinion a bit too limiting.
For example, the email builder is bit too basic if you ask me.
ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, well, just look at the dash:
And the sidebar:
There’s A LOT going on.
My advice is to click on the “Getting Started” tab to familiarize yourself with this beast.
One thing though is I’ve had a few issues with the visual builder being clunky. It’s never been that bad, just a few things not popping into place when I wanted them to.
And what about customer support? Will they make your life a living hell?
I’ve never had any issues with either customer support service, but one is definitely “better” in terms of contacting someone at the company.
ConvertKit has tons of helpful guides and workshops, which walk complete beginners from “what on Earth is going on?” to “I just built a killer email sequence!”.
But the only way to contact support is via a ticket. I don’t like that. When I did open a ticket, they were responsive, but it’s still nerve wracking not being able to contact someone directly.
Of course, it’s worth noting that ConvertKit is so easy you’ll rarely need to speak to anyone directly.
ActiveCampaign, with its borderline quantum computational abilities, requires a diligent staff to prevent its users from mental breakdowns. I’m kidding… kind of.
I love their live chat – they’re always helpful. I think we’re on a first name basis by now.
Ben got back to me in less than 1 minute!
Their hours are a bit tough for international users though. Central Standard Time :/.
Aside from customer support, ActiveCampaign is also a learning resource. Check out their podcasts and webinars to learn about growing your business.
Winner – ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampaign’s support is far more comprehensive, but that’s because it has to be.
Since it has a learning resource, I give it the nod here.
An alternative to ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign
I get asked a lot about whether or not ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are worth the money.
They 100% are for the right people. But there are some people who don’t need either.
If you’re just starting out and only have 1 website, MailChimp is plenty. The FREE plan is good for up to 2,000 subscribers, and it even comes with segmentation and integration options.
MailChimp also lets you have single-step automations like welcome emails for FREE.
There’s nothing wrong with MailChimp for a small email list on a tight budget. Migrating to ConvertKit is free and easy once you outgrow your list.
Verdict: ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign aren’t for everyone. MailChimp’s FREE plan might be good enough.
ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign Verdict
In the end, it’s not really about which one is better, it’s about which one is better FOR YOU.
Choose ConvertKit if…
You are a blogger or content marketer with a small (3,000 or below) list and relatively simple needs. ConvertKit is simple, powerful, and perfect for someone who needs ONLY email sequences.
Choose ActiveCampaign if…
ActiveCampaign is the “superior” tool on every front: Templates, automation, features, analytics, sales, CRM. This is a full-on growth tool for your company in every respect. If you need an all-in-one sales, growth, and customer relations tool, ActiveCampaign is the obvious choice.
In the end, it comes down to one question: Simplicity or superpowers.
Which do you prefer?