If you end up with the right email marketing software, it can take your business to new heights by helping you build an audience and sell to what would otherwise be lost traffic. But, when you end up with the wrong email marketing platform, it can hold you back and waste your time, money, and energy in the process.
That’s why it is so important to do your research and choose the one that will work for you. I want to save you time by telling you that in my opinion, ActiveCampaign & ConvertKit are the two best email marketing platforms out there. But how do you choose between the two?
In this article, we are going to look at the differences and similarities of ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit. I’ll tell you which one stands apart in my opinion, as well as which ones suit certain needs.
ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit: At-A-Glance
When we look at these two email marketing platforms, there is a definite “winner” overall, but that’s not to say that that winner is for everyone. My all-time favorite platform is ActiveCampaign, and you’ll see why below. BUT, I often suggest ConvertKit to people who are looking for a much simpler piece of software.
Both platforms cater to small to medium size businesses. ConvertKit is known as the blogger’s email marketing platform, while ActiveCampaign is often used for more complex businesses. Read my full ActiveCampaign Review here.
Who is ActiveCampaign For?
Ultimately, if you want your email marketing software to grow with you and offer a complete marketing system that goes far beyond simple email marketing, go with ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign is the best out of all the ConvertKit comparisons. It wins in the following categories: Email Builder, Automation Features, Tags & Segmentation, Forms, Reporting, WordPress Integration, Deliverability, and Pricing.
I personally prefer ActiveCampaign because it can be as simple or complex as you want. Plus, I’ve experienced incredible deliverability and support from them.
Who is ConvertKit For?
ConvertKit is the best out of all the ActiveCampaign alternatives if you just want to be able to do email marketing with some automation and you don’t need any other bells and whistles. ConvertKit wins in the following categories: Ease of Use and Landing Pages.
Now, let’s dig in and discuss these email marketing platforms in more detail. I’ve broken it down into the following categories, and you can jump to the category you want by clicking these links:
Ease of Use>>
Tags & Segmentation>>
ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit: The Details
Ease of Use
Ease of use when looking at ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit is a difficult choice, which I’ll explain further below. I chose ConvertKit as the winner with a question mark because at first glance, it’s the clear winner, but when you dig deeper, it’s not as straightforward as that.
How Easy is ConvertKit to Use?
ConvertKit is much simpler than ActiveCampaign, therefore it is probably easier to use. This is simply because they offer a lot less. With ActiveCampaign, there is so much more you can do, so it can certainly be more difficult to use.
Setting up ConvertKit is pretty simple. They offer a checklist that walks you through the steps you need to take to get it up and running, and they do have training videos to guide you along. However, the interface isn’t always as intuitive as you would think it would be based on how simple it is. For example, sometimes, you have to really dig around and open up lots of windows to find what you are looking for.
How Easy is ActiveCampaign to Use?
The thing that is so great about ActiveCampaign is that it can be as simple or complex as you want depending on how many features you want to take advantage of. In my book, that is amazing because you can start out using only the features you initially need, and then as you grow, you can turn on additional features instead of having to switch to a whole new email marketing platform.
Their Getting Started widget walks you through the set up process. What’s really awesome about ActiveCampaign, however, is that if are switching to ActiveCampaign from another email marketing platform, they will do the migration for you for free no matter how many contacts you have. I don’t know of any other email marketing company that does that and it will save you hours and hours of time and frustration. ConvertKit does offer that service, but only when you purchase their most expensive plan and are moving over 5000 contacts.
What is ConvertKit’s Email Builder Like?
Like everything else related to ConvertKit, their email builder is made to be simple. While simplicity is nice, it doesn’t always lend itself to the best emails. If you tend to send mostly plain text emails maybe with some photos and links, you are good to go with ConvertKit because that’s about all you can do.
Well, maybe a little bit more. Here’s what you can add:
- HTML blocks
- Numbered lists
- Unordered lists
- Block quotes
ConvertKit uses a block-based editor for their email builder. It’s very similar to the new block editors in WordPress.
What is ActiveCampaign’s Email Builder Like?
ActiveCampaign’s email builder uses drag and drop functionality and gives you more flexibility and customization features than ConvertKit. You can add the following:
- Text blocks
- Line breaks
- RSS feeds
- Social links
- HTML blocks
It also lets you adjust line height, borders, margins, padding, and add columns and background colors. Of course, you can always just keep it simple if you want as well.
What Are ConvertKit’s Automation Features?
ConvertKit is one of the best ActiveCampaign alternatives because, like ActiveCampaign, it handles automation really well, especially because they make it so easy. Their visual builder allows you to set up all of the following very simply, and it’s so easy to see what is going on as you do:
- Events – Jumps to here when a tag is added or removed, a product is purchased, a date occurs, or a custom field is triggered
- Actions – Add the subscriber to an email sequence, add or remove a tag, add a delay, move the subscriber, or set a custom field
- Condition – If the subscriber has a tag or custom field, add yes and no conditions
They also offer several different automation templates that you can use to set up your automations so that you aren’t staring at a blank screen not knowing where to begin. The templates include:
- Evergreen newsletter
- Evergreen product pitch
- Host a webinar
- Product launch
- Follow up with customers who don’t purchase
- Personalize content based on survey results
What Are ActiveCampaign’s Automation Features?
Although ConvertKit is pretty sleek in terms of automation, when we look at ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit, we have to award ActiveCampaign as the winner here. Not only do they also use a visual interface that is easy to use, but they just kill it in the automation category. The only contender that can go up against them is Infusionsoft (Keap), but their’s is nowhere near as easy to use. ActiveCampaign’s automation features may not be quite as easy to use as ConvertKit, but that’s just because they have more to offer. But, again, you can make it as complicated or as simple as you’d like.
They offer a very comprehensive solution that allows you to use triggers and actions in conjunction with site tracking for incredible automation power. You can add the following triggers:
- Subscribes to a list
- Unsubscribes from a list
- Submits a form
- Opens/reads an email
- Clicks a link in an email
- Web page is visited
- Event is recorded
- Shares an email
- Forwards an email
- Replies to an email
- Tag is added
- Tag is removed
- Field changes
- Goal is achieved
- Date based
- RSS based
- Makes a purchase
- Abandons cart
- And more
Additionally, you can combine automation tools with their built in CRM to improve sales. For example, they offer lead scoring, a gmail extension, and AI machine learning tools that determine which campaigns perform best.
ActiveCampaign also has automation templates, but they have TONS of them. They have an entire marketplace where you can choose from hundreds of automation templates. You’d be hard pressed to not find something you can use to base your automations off of in there.
Tags & Segmentation
What Are Tags & Segmentation Like in ConvertKit?
The way ConvertKit breaks up contacts is through the use of tags and segments. Tags can be automatically applied based on actions contacts take. Segments are a way of organizing your tags to create audiences. This is an effective system but the drawback is that they don’t have a way to make clear contact lists. That can make removing contacts frustrating, and it makes it harder to use ConvertKit for several different businesses.
What Are Tags & Segmentation Like in ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign handles this one beautifully because they use not only tags and segments, but also lists. Plus, you can combine their segmentation features with the built in CRM and tracking features to create a powerful sales tool.
What Are Forms Like in ConvertKit?
The forms in ConvertKit are very simple. Again, they strive to keep everything simple and easy, but that can also lead to frustration when you want to customize the forms. In ConvertKit, you really can’t. They do offer inline boxes, dialog boxes, slide-ins, and sticky bars, which equates to a good amount of form options.
When you go to customize the forms, however, you’re likely to run into difficulties because all you can really change are text and colors. They do offer some different layout options, but in many cases, I had to just use the plain inline form because I couldn’t get my image to size properly or I couldn’t alter the size of the form overall. It can be very frustrating to have such great options available to you yet still be so limited with them.
What Are Forms Like in ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign has similar options available for forms, however only the inline form is available in the Lite plan. In many cases, though, you aren’t going to need more than the inline form.
You can add more field options to your forms in ActiveCampaign than you can in ConvertKit. For example, you can add a list selector field so that contacts can choose the lists they want to be subscribed to. You can also add a CAPTCHA field to cut down on spam. In addition, you can also easily change the width of the form, add an image where you see fit, and other options that aren’t there on ConvertKit.
This is the one area where ActiveCampaign is lacking because they don’t have any landing page options. ConvertKit does, therefore, they are they winner in this section. On ConvertKit, there are 27 landing page templates to choose from in the following categories: eBook, Event, Newsletter, Podcast, Profile, Video, Waitlist, and Webinar.
At first glance, all of these options and pre-created templates seem like a goldmine, but it becomes less so when you realize you can’t change anything except the text, colors, and images. It’s so frustrating that I’ve often started out with these landing pages thinking it was going to save me so much time. But then I had to abandon them and create my own landing pages from scratch on my website because I simply couldn’t get these templates to do what I wanted (and I wasn’t asking for much).
For example, on the following screenshot, you can see that there is a place to add the time and date of your webinar. But what if you are running your webinars on evergreen and you don’t want to be limited to a specific date and time? Well, that sucks for you because you cannot remove this section.
How Does ConvertKit Handle A/B Testing?
A/B testing, otherwise known as split testing is available in ConvertKit, but it is extremely limited. You can only test the subject lines of your emails, and you are limited to testing only two at a time.
How Does ActiveCampaign Handle A/B Testing?
Out of all the ConvertKit comparisons, ActiveCampaign is the best, especially when we look at A/B testing. They offer what is probably the most flexible A/B testing in the email marketing industry. You can test not only the subject lines but also any element of the email, as well as the performance of entire automation sequences. And you can test up to 5 different versions, which is pretty awesome.
What is ConvertKit’s Reporting Feature Like?
In a nutshell, ConvertKit leaves much to be desired when it comes to their reporting feature. Sure, you can see open rates, click through rates, unsubscribes, and subscribers, but is that really it? They don’t even have a Reports tab on the dashboard. It’s just those stats listed on the screen that you’re on without any real way of running a report.
What is ActiveCampaign’s Reporting Feature Like?
ActiveCampaign has a separate tab on the dashboard for Reports, and it’s broken down into five categories. Those categories are then each broken down into many more reports that you can view.
- Campaign Reports – Here, you can see an overview, opens/reads, clicks, a geographic breakdown, a social breakdown, unsubscribes, and the email platforms your contacts use.
- Automation Reports – This one shows you an overview, how your contacts are going through your automations, and how your goals panned out.
- Goal Reports – See how your goals are progressing with this report.
- Contact Reports – Here, you can see contract trends, top contacts, open/read trends, email client trends, and nearby trends.
- Chat Conversation Reports – See how your chats are converting with this one.
You can literally look at your email marketing campaigns from every different angle. Plus, their advanced reporting options allow you to track the engagement of site visitors and create actions based on those engagements.
Both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign offer plugins for WordPress. They are pretty comparable, but you get a little more flexibility with ActiveCampaign’s plugin. With the ConvertKit plugin, you can easily embed opt in forms on posts and pages. With ActiveCampaign’s, you can easily embed opt in forms on posts, pages, and widgets.
Obviously, if you go to the trouble of creating emails and spending money on email marketing software, you want to make sure your contacts are actually seeing your emails. That’s why deliverability is so important.
So, let’s look at ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit in terms of deliverability. Based on my own experiences with these providers, both have great deliverability, although Active Campaign has consistently been a little bit higher than ConvertKit for me. According to this email deliverability comparison of the top email marketing platforms, ActiveCampaign comes in at the top with 96% of their emails being delivered to the inbox. ConvertKit comes in at 88%, which is still pretty good.
ConvertKit pricing is completely based on the number of subscribers you have. That’s the good news because it means you get access to all of their features no matter how many subscribers you have. The problem, though, is that the lowest price you can pay is $29/month, which is for 1000 subscribers or less. They do offer an annual billing plan, which allows you to pay a little less, and they have a free 30-day trial.
1/30/20 UPDATE: ConvertKit has now released a forever free version! With it, you can create unlimited landing pages and forms so that you can start building a list. When you are ready to create automated sequences, visual automations, and RSS fed management, you’ll need to upgrade.
One strange thing about the free plan is that it is specifically aimed at helping you build a list, not actually email your list. You won’t be able to manage your subscribers or send broadcast emails until you’ve unlocked that feature by referring a friend to the free plan.
If you know someone who is a ConvertKit affiliate, however, they can gift you the ability to manage and send broadcasts to 100 subscribers immediately. It’s kind of a convoluted system, but at least they offer a free version.
ActiveCampaign pricing is very different. They offer 4 basic plans that determine which features you get. Then you can customize each plan according to how many contacts you have as well. This is great because you never have to pay for features you won’t use, and it also makes their lowest price only $9/month, which is pretty amazing.
Most of the features you will need and that we discussed in this article are offered in the Lite plan. So, let’s look at the Lite plan pricing based on the number of subscribers:
- 0-500 subscribers – $9/month
- 501-1000 subscribers – $17/month
- 1001-2500 subscribers – $39/month
- 2501-5000 subscribers – $69/month
As you can see, ActiveCampaign’s pricing is less than ConvertKit’s across the board, and you get so much more with ActiveCampaign.
They also offer an annual pricing discount and they have a 15-day free trial.
ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit: Which is Better?
As you can see, even though ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit are comparable, ActiveCampaign is clearly the better pick. In many cases, it will end up costing less but it provides so much more. It will grow with you so that you never have to worry about outgrowing and switching email marketing providers, which is such a headache.
I really can’t say enough about how much I love ActiveCampaign compared to all the other email marketing platforms I’ve tried. But if you’re going for simplicity and don’t need all the bells and whistles, then ConvertKit could be a better solution for you. Although, I’d say based on ConvertKit pricing vs ActiveCampaign pricing, why?