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Active Campaign Review

SEP 30, 2016

A few weeks back, after talking to Hernan Vasquez about it, I decided to give Active Campaign a go and see if it can perform better than standard autoresponders such as Aweber, MailChimp, and GetResponse.

At first, I asked myself “Do I need yet another tool?”, “Is it going to take me months to learn it?”.

Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try and see what it can do.

I found an excellent course on Udemy about it. The author is Barry Moore from theactivemarketer.com and the course itself can be found Here.

In this post I will go over the basics of Active campaign, their features and you can watch couple videos that I made

(Disclaimer: I am not native English speaker and my video editing skill sucks, so please excuse my accent and if there is some background noise, ill try to fix that soon.)

Lets start…

Nemanja Mirkovic

Hey, I’m Nemanja, co-founder of Leads Fox and PBN Fox services and 29 year old entrepreneur from Serbia. I spent last 5 years in SEO and Marketing. I enjoy traveling the world, meeting new people, writing about content marketing, SEO and conversion optimization. If you need help or if you have questions regarding our services or blog posts feel free to contact me.

A few weeks back, after talking to Hernan Vasquez about it, I decided to give Active Campaign a go and see if it can perform better than standard autoresponders such as Aweber, MailChimp, and GetResponse.

At first, I asked myself “Do I need yet another tool?”, “Is it going to take me months to learn it?”.

Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try and see what it can do.

I found an excellent course on Udemy about it. The author is Barry Moore from theactivemarketer.com and the course itself can be found Here.

In this post I will go over the basics of Active campaign, their features and you can watch couple videos that I made

(Disclaimer: I am not native English speaker and my video editing skill sucks, so please excuse my accent and if there is some background noise, ill try to fix that soon.)

Lets start…

Choosing your plan

Pricing in AC is based on the number of contacts you have.

ac pricing

So, your subscribers can be in 10 lists and with 10 tags but you are only charged for 1 contact.

The main difference between Basic and Plus account is how many people can log in to your account. Up to 25 people can log in to your account with Small business plan. On top of that you do get some cool CRM functions.

Do you need CRM w/ Sales automation


  • Pipelines and Deals are CRM functions that are handy for any small business to keep track of your leads, who to follow up with next week etc.
  • Even the basic plan comes with the feature that lets you choose to send an email to your visitors based on actions they take on your site. You can use IF/Else function. For example: “If they visit page 1, send them a welcome message.”

Contact and Lead Scoring


  • For example, if they open an email that’s one point, if they click on a link that’s 2 points. If they look at the sales page that would be like 5 or 10 points. The people that have high scores are usually the most engaged. You can setup an automation to notify you if someone scores enough points and you can talk to them directly. Very handy CRM function.

Advanced Subscription Forms


  • If you use 3rd party tools like thrive leads you don’t need this. There are many solutions for this that are better. I personally do not use native AC forms. Instead, I use thrive leads.

Site Tracking:

As soon as you register, install the tracking code on your site. It’s like Google analytics and tracks what people are doing and where they click. It’s anonymous until they subscribe. You certainly should not use this to stalk people and send them an email 30 seconds after they add an item to your shopping cart.

For example, your subscriber comes to your sales page three times but doesn’t buy. It’s a clear indication that they are not finding the right answers they need.

I don’t like automated sequences that come flooding to my inbox as soon as I signup and that look like a robot wrote them. But, with this, you can reach out to your visitors and offer help if they need it. Give it a bit of human touch. It’s not all about the sales.

Tags

This is the most important feature. And it is important that you nail this step before moving to automations. It’s something completely different than managing multiple lists like on Aweber or Mailchimp. Make sure that you setup your tags properly to avoid turning your account into a mess. We will get to that soon.

  • Segmenting the audience with multiple lists is now replaced by tags in Active campaign.

There is an old way of keeping track of your lists and segmenting the audience, and it involves having dozens of lists of every product.

You can have a:

  • Newsletter list
  • Webinar A
  • Webinar B
  • Clients
  • Lead magnet 1
  • Lead magnet 2

It’s much better to segment your audience with Tags

Tags can be used to to mark and track your users and their behavior on your site or through the sales funnel. You can trigger automations and send email notification if the users are struggling so you can contact them and provide assistance.

Tags are used to:

  • Segment your audience
  • Trigger actions and automations
  • Label your contacts
  • Control the flow of your email sequence

Tag example: Someone downloaded a lead magnet (he gets a tag with that lead magnet name) and he is a lead for the core product.

2nd example: A visitor attends the webinar but doesn’t buy, send him a free trial offer or ask if you can help out or what might be holding him back. If he buys, you can remove the lead tag, and tag him as “buyer”.

The beauty of this is that you can tag a contact with 10 tags and it only costs you one contact point.

How to tag properly and not let it turn into a mess

You can tag a contact when he signs up for particular lead magnet, or when he signs up for a newsletter. They are all going to same master list but have different tags.

You could tag manually or in bulk, so that’s an option too if you didn’t set it up correctly before or if you import contacts.

The problem is since you have the freedom to tag however you want it can quickly turn into a mess if you don’t have a system in place. The best way is to have a taxonomy or naming convention.

Here is a video overview of Plans, Tags and Contacts

List Strategy – Several or Many?

There is no definitive answer here.

Having a Master list and clients list is a good way to manage it via tags, but you can go with the “old” way and setup multiple lists. You don’t want to end up with 20 lists for sure.

Try to imagine that your tags are separate lists that you can choose from. It’s as simple as that. Ultimately, do what you think is best for you, you cant go wrong if you do it like on Aweber or Mailchimp.

You want to have a separate clients list because if they unsubscribe from your main list, you can still communicate with them, send them invoices and product updates.

Another instance where you should have a different list is if you have for example affiliates that are promoting your program. You don’t want to talk in the same language to them as with your potential clients.

Forms

Forms, as the name suggests are used to allow visitors to opt-in to your list. It’s much better using 3rd party tool like Thrive Leads for this. Lite plan only offers inline forms but Small Business, and Enterprise plans have popups, modals and all that. I use Thrive leads since it has much more customization options and integrates well with Active Campaign.

Campaigns

Active Campaign Templates

Campaigns are standard one-time broadcasts to your list or list segment. Much like with other autoresponders you can select a template and a simple wizard will guide you through setting up your campaign.

There are 20+ Templates that you can choose from, but most importantly you can build yours using HTML.

Here is a short video overview of Campaigns in AC

Automations

Automation allows you to program your email sequence based on actions your visitors take or based on the tags they have.

Automations are started, stopped and actions executed by triggers, and there are many at your disposal.

active campaign contact enters automation

When starting a new automation, you will need to define how the contact enters your sequence.
In most cases, you will trigger automation when someone subscribes, when they open an email or when they get tagged with a certain tag.

Conditions and workflow:

add-new-action-conditions
  • Wait: Here, you can choose to wait a certain amount of time before sending another email, or until they open an email for example.
  • If/Else: Example- IF the subscriber opens and email and clicks on the link, send a follow-up email, ELSE wait one day and send a reminder.
  • Go to: Using the example above, if they click on a link in your reminder email, send them back to the automation as if they clicked on Yes in the previous mail.
  • Start an Automation: With this, you can start another automation. For example, if they buy half way through your sequence you can start an onboarding automation and stop the sales.
  • Stop this automation: You can choose to stop this automation if criteria is met.
  • End Other automation: Same as the one above, except you can stop other automation.
  • Webhooks: With this, you can integrate and communicate with other software, but this is an advanced feature and most people will never need it.

Actions related to your contacts:

Add-new-action-contacts

With these actions you can:

  • Subscribe people to another list (for example Clients list)
  • Unsubscribe from a list (if they purchase)
  • Update contact details (You can add stuff like purchase date)
  • Add a tag (very useful feature. Allows you to Add a tag for “cart abandonment” for example if they visited checkout page but not the “thank you” page
  • Remove a tag (Remove a tag LEAD if they purchase and add CLIENT tag instead)
  • Add a note (this is only for administrators and subscribers can not see this)

And here is an overview of Automations on Youtube

Pipelines :

Pipelines and deals are a bit more advanced feature, and you only get it in Small Business and Enterprise plans. These are the CRM functions of Active campaign. It’s designed to track a sales or communication process and can be manual or automated. For example, you can track an outcome of a higher ticket sales process (2-3k+), and at the end, you win or lose that business.

active campaign pipeline panel

You can also use it for internal work flow and management, to keep your life easier and process smooth. It’s similar to Trello, but allows you to automate your communication with clients and staff members.

Deals:

Deals are small pieces of business or work that you attach to your contact and place inside your pipeline. You can have as many as you like. You can also add monetary value to deals to get a picture what’s out there to be won or lost.

Deals-AC

Example: If you have a 2 inquiries for a service at $1000 each, that’s $2000 waiting to be won. After that you can schedule a call > create a proposal and follow up call.

The process can be automated so that if you get an inquiry over your contact form, the automation assigns a deal in your pipeline and sends a notification to you or your team to call or follow up with the prospect.

You should note that similar products from this category and with these features cost $200+ (take Infusionsoft for example) and in my opinion Active campaign does a way better job.

Conclusion

Active Campaign is an affordable and reliable email service, autoresponder, marketing automation tool and CRM software. All that in a single tool. Their support is awesome, something that’s very important to me. I know one thing, I am going back to the “old way” of managing lists and subscribers.

Pros:

  • Can do everything other autoresponders do, if not better
  • Easy segmentation with tags
  • Intuitive and easy to use automation interface
  • Integrates with pretty much everything
  • Cheap compared to other email and CRM software

Cons:

  • A slightly steeper learning curve compared to Mail Chimp and Aweber
  • Email templates could be better

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