The panorama of email marketing services is rich in proposals and often finding your way around is not easy, especially for those approaching this world for the first time.
After trying many services over the years, ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are the email marketing and marketing automation solutions that I use and recommend most often.
ConvertKit is a solution designed especially for the needs of bloggers and authors of content, courses and infoproducts. It is perfect for conveying sequences via email such as courses.
ActiveCampaign, while also excellent for bloggers, is a platform that offers functions also suitable for companies and e-commerce sites.
Marketing automation with ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign:
The marketing automation functionalities provided by the various e-mail marketing services have the ultimate goal of showing the right message, to the right person, at the right time . To do this, they use different systems, such as the segmentation of subscribers made at the time of registration, based on how they react to messages that are sent back and, in some cases, even to their behavior on the site.
The ability to apply tags to segment the different subscribers, a feature present in ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign (and also in MailChimp), is of extreme help to personalize the communication towards its own subscribers.
Customizing communication does not simply mean entering the recipient’s name at the beginning of the email or in the subject of the message. That is a trivial operation of inserting variables in a template and, by itself, is not enough to make a message personalized.
Thanks to marketing automation, it is possible to plan a series of actions, rules and messages that allow the e-mail marketing platform to work without the need to intervene manually. Once the system is planned and configured, it is possible to leave everything in the hands of the autopilot, or almost.
If you are looking for a marketing automation solution, some of the most important features to evaluate are:
Ability to profile and segment subscribers. This allows you to improve the knowledge of your audience so that you can create more and more personalized messages. Possible examples of segmentation are those based on the interests and behavior of members, based on their geographical location or demographic characteristics.
Lead scoring. It is a feature that allows you to assign a score to the writings based on their interests to their actions, thus allowing you to more easily identify which are the best leads (to be passed, for example, the sales department).
Integration with a CRM . Some solutions like ActiveCampaign have a CRM integrated with the e-mail marketing platform, others allow instead to connect to external CRMs.
Lead nurturing . A marketing automation solution must allow you to guide the subscribers within your, or your, sales funnel.
ConvertKit: marketing automation for bloggers
ConvertKit is a service created by blogger Nathan Barry for bloggers and this feature heavily influences both the advantages and the limitations of this service.
Despite having an administrative interface available only in English, ConvertKit is one of the easiest email marketing services to use.
The structure of a ConverKit account essentially involves 5 areas:
- one for the management of members;
- one for the creation and management of automations;
- one for the management of the forms, that is the forms for the collection of the subscribers;
- one for the management of email sequences (I’ll talk about it soon);
- one for broadcast management, which are single and non-automated mailings.
On ConvertKit, you can create automations to send certain messages when particular rules occur, such as when a person registers through a form, or when he updates a field or clicks on a link contained in a message.
The purpose of these automations is to create funnels that allow accompanying people along certain routes. For example, you can send an email to people who sign up on your site. Then you can send them a welcome email asking them what they are interested in. Depending on what they click, you can tag them with distinct tags and start new email sequences specific to that segment.
In fact, thanks to the extensive use of the Tags, with ConvertKit it is possible to tag the subscribers for example based on the clicks made within the emails sent. Every time you insert a link in the text of an email, ConvertKit offers you the possibility to assign or create a tag to label the subscribers who will click on that link.
It is easy to imagine how this tool, if used correctly, can allow you to easily segment the entire list of your subscribers, based on their interests . This allows you to send more and more targeted messages based on the contents that have attracted their attention previously.
With ConvertKit you can use the Broadcast function to send individual emails, completely disconnected from any automation.
On the various emails sent, ConvertKit allows you to perform A / B tests. However, these are limited only to the subject of the messages.
ConvertKit also allows you to link an RSS feed of your site (like the one available on all WordPress blogs) so as to automatically send an email to your subscribers whenever a new article is published on the blog.
One of the defining aspects of ConvertKit is the absence of graphically processed templates for sending newsletters. Here you will not find dozens of templates that are ready and rich in images. ConvertKit is designed for sending textual emails, designed to allow bloggers and authors to communicate with their audience in a personal way. It is not a service designed to send DEM or newsletters that recall a promotional flyer.
onvertKit also has a fantastic feature, which is not often found in other email marketing services, ie one that allows you to send an email again to all the people who have not opened it the first time. This without having to create particular segments of the public, as it is necessary to do with other services.
Just click on the Resend to unopens button and you can duplicate and eventually modify the message and send it again to those who hadn’t opened it the first time.
In addition to creating emails, forms, automations and sequences, ConvertKit also allows you to create simple landing pages to host forms for collecting subscribers to your lists.
ConvertKit, in addition to integrating without problems with plugins like GravityForms and Thrive Leads , provides its own WordPress plugin that also allows you to customize or hide the registration form on your site to people who are already registered on your list.
Why choose ConvertKit?
I recommend ConvertKit if:
- you have a blog and take care of content creation, coaching, courses;
- you are not interested in graphically processed templates;
- you want a system with a high rate of deliverability, that is to be sure that the emails sent arrive in the mailboxes of the recipients;
- you want a system that is easy to use and easily integrated with WordPress and other external services.
I do not recommend ConvertKit if:
- you do not want to use a tool that does not have an Italian management interface;
- you need to have a large gallery of templates for your emails / newsletters;
- you need a service that allows you to manage multiple sites or different companies *.
* ConvertKit indeed, unlike other services, is a system organized around contacts and not lists. Therefore it does not provide the possibility to create more lists, for example to manage subscribers that belong to different companies. To do this, with ConvertKit you need to create separate accounts.
ActiveCampaign: marketing automation and CRM together:
It is a tool that allows you to do much more than send simple e-mails. Used correctly, ActiveCampaign is able to become an irreplaceable ally in business marketing. It is suitable for both individual professionals and small and medium businesses.
Compared to ConvertKit, here we are faced with a tool more oriented to companies than to the single blogger. But ActiveCampaign is also perfect for freelancers and individual professionals.
A feature in some ways marginal, but much appreciated by a large number of users, is the possibility of using ActiveCampaign in Italian. Each user can in fact choose the preferred language from those available:
The Split testing that you can do with ActiveCampaign allow you to make comparisons with different email content to see which work best. The tests are therefore not limited to the object, but are much more complex and flexible than those offered by ConvertKit.
ActiveCampaign also has a feature that allows you to easily resend a campaign to contacts that haven’t opened it the first time. To be precise, three different possibilities are offered:
With ActiveCampaign it is possible to install a code to perform site tracking , ie the monitoring of site visits by subscribers. So, if a subscriber to your list visits certain pages on your site, this may be reason enough to trigger an automation. This is undoubtedly a very useful feature, as it allows you to keep track of your audience’s interests even more accurately.
The site tracking feature can be activated either by manually entering the tracking code on the site or by using the ActiveCampaign plugin for WordPress, for example .
Take this example:
Send an e-mail to notify your subscribers of an article from your blog in which it highlights the advantages of the X service;
some of the subscribers, after opening the email, clicked on the link and read the article, also go to the page that shows the prices of the X service;
You can start an automatic email with a discount voucher addressed only to people who have visited the price page.
Another great feature of ActiveCampaign is the ability to insert dynamic content into emails . Thanks to this function you can create emails with content that varies based on the segmentation made on your contacts. You can for example send the same email, but insert a paragraph of text or an image that will be displayed only by some of them . For example those tagged in a certain way.
Another example of the potential offered by the platform is related to tracking the tracking of social actions related to emails sent. In fact, it is possible to trigger automatisms even when a recipient shares a newsletter on the social media or sends it to his contacts. For example, you can send a discount code to people who send a message to their friends.
On ActiveCampaign you will find a gallery of ready-made templates that you can easily duplicate and customize, based on your needs:
The ActiveCampaign Lite plan allows you to do email marketing and take advantage of all the features of marketing automation, but if you also need a CRM the solution is to move to the upper floors.
By activating the Plus plan, available starting at $ 49 a month, you can also access features such as CRM, Lead Scoring, SMS sending and Deep Data Integration .
CRM allows you to create offers within ActiveCampaign and to manage them by creating Pipelines composed of different stages of negotiation progress.
By associating this functionality with Lead Scoring you can use ActiveCampaign in the various phases of marketing and sales:
you can collect the contact and get it into your funnel;
through personalized messages, evaluate his interest and stimulate him towards the purchasing process;
assign him a score as his interest grows (thanks to Lead Scoring);
enter it (manually or automatically) in a pipeline to have it managed by your company’s sales department.
ActiveCampaign allows you to take care of all the steps in the ideal path of a contact from Prospect to Marketing Qualified Lead and to Sales Qualified Lead.
Furthermore, you can also use ActiveCampaign to send personalized messages to every single contact, as well as keeping track of all the emails exchanged with a contact that has an active offer, connecting ActiveCampaign to your email account.
Why choose ActiveCampaign?
I recommend ActiveCampaign if:
- you want a service that allows you to create automation and funnel even of a certain complexity;
- you are interested in a complete marketing automation solution that is ready to grow according to your needs;
- you want a platform that can be easily integrated either with other services or with your site or your e-commerce;
Things to consider before buying ActiveCampaign:
some time is required to learn all the potential of this tool;
ActiveCampaign does not provide tools for creating landing pages.
ConvertKit provides diversified plans based on the number of subscribers in the list, while ActiveCampaign offers different types of plans based on both the features included and the number of subscribers. Both services do not count the same email addresses twice, even if they are present in more than one list (as happens for example with MailChimp).
Both ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit are both excellent solutions. Defining them as email marketing services is an understatement. Having to choose one of the two, I definitely recommend ActiveCampaign , since it is more flexible and adapts more easily to multiple solutions. ConvertKit , with its simplicity, is not very suitable for companies, but is perfect for bloggers or individual professionals.