Today I will be reviewing ActiveCampaign vs HubSpot and help you decide which is the best email marketing solution for your needs.
Email marketing software has become a priority for businesses to succeed. With a ton of platforms in the market, how would you know which one serves the best for your business needs?
Technology has made it possible for dozens of tools to offer robust email marketing and CRM capabilities. It’s a daunting task to choose one that gives you the optimal bang for your buck.
|Starting price||$9/mo for 500 contacts||$50/mo for 1000 contacts|
|Free plan available?||No||Available|
|Trial||14-day free trial.||14-day free trial.|
|Split testing||You can test emails, SM, subject line, content, format, images, and call to action, any campaign you created.|
Also, ActiveCampaign allows you to test your drip emails as well as your one-off broadcasts. It lacks landing page split testing.
|HubSpot allows you to split test your landing pages, email workflows, landing pages, and one-off email broadcasts only in its higher plans.|
|Forms and landing pages||Its form feature is limited to just inline forms. To have more options you need to shell out money on external integrations.||It has a landing page builder with 20+ free landing page templates.|
|Explore more||Explore ActiveCampaign||Explore HubSpot|
Today, we’ll talk about ActiveCampaign against this inbound marketing champ HubSpot.
ActiveCampaign gives you everything you need in the email marketing pool from a robust autoresponder to powerful automation, CRM, and detailed reporting.
Back in 2014, ActiveCampaign was an underdog. Fast forward to 2020, they are among the fastest-growing email marketing platforms.
HubSpot is an equally powerful player in the field. It’s your one-stop-shop for email campaigns, social media, ad campaigns, lead generation, powerful automation, and report analytics. You do it all under one roof.
So, what’s better for your business? What best suits your needs?
Well, let us dive deep and make an informed decision.
- Has advanced automation capabilities with an A1 visual workflow builder.
- Contact management is powerful due to lists and tags creating hyper-targeted emails.
- Reliable customer support.
- High deliverability rate so is assured of your emails getting to your audience inboxes.
- Wide range of integrations and autoresponder options.
- Fully functional CRM platform.
- They have a flexible drag and drop email builder creating highly customized emails.
- Good value of money for all the features you get in that pricing.
- Intuitive making it easy-to-use
- Forever free version is available for those on budget
- Mobile app for taking care of your business on-the-go
- Robust analytical tools including custom reports helping you get the most out of your analytics.
- Customizable landing page templates that are mobile responsive taking your lead generation efforts a notch higher.
- Provides social media management features
- Pretty robust eCommerce features allowing you to boost your online store conversion rate.
- All-in-one inbound marketing platform
At a first glance, ActiveCampaign’s dashboard may appear so complicated and busy. It has a lot of features. But some people find all the features displayed on the interface a bit overwhelming.
The good thing is that they have a ‘get started’ slider to help new users find their way around. Plus they have a demo to give you an idea of how to use every feature and function on the display.
Yes, there’s a bit of a learning curve but you get a hang of it. Good thing the interface loads fast and it’s so easy to navigate.
The dashboard has 7 main sections including contacts, campaigns, automation, deals, lists, reports, and forms. If you hover over one of these, it flaps out the sub-level navigation bars for you.
Moving on to HubSpot, it has a decent interface that is very easy to use. You get to view everything at a glance but they all have different subsections underneath. Basically, you can easily navigate through all you need in a jiffy.
Also, I love that they meet everything I look for on a user interface. Intuitive? Check. Loading speed? Check. Clean? Double-check.
What’s not to love?
Winner: HubSpot. Although both tools spam you with a ton of features, HubSpot has a step-by-step campaign builder. Therefore, does not involve a steep learning curve.
ActiveCampiagn has a central dashboard that lets you handle your contacts. You can either add them manually or import them from Excel, CSV, or Outlook files.
Then you can use both lists and tags to segment your audience. I found this to be exactly what you need if you want to be in the driver seat of your list management.
The tagging system is A1. You can apply various filters this is easily done using the automation workflow. Or opt to hover over each contact and manually assign tags to them.
It allows you to create advanced lists based on your customers and prospects taking your email customization and personalization game a notch higher.
While sending emails, there is no need to create a separate list like in traditional email marketing platforms. Even if contacts are on different lists, you can still send the same messages to them if they share the same tag/condition.
However, all this flexibility may bring confusion if you don’t keep track of every single activity you do. So be careful not to get overwhelmed by all available options.
Hubspot has two kinds of lists: Smart lists and Static lists. With a Smart list, you can set criteria and contacts will add automatically to that list.
In the case of Static lists, you need to manually add contacts to it.
You can create segmented lists using filters like name, city, company, lead date, and revenue. Moreover, you can categorize contacts as ‘active’, ‘unqualified’, and ‘open deal’ depending upon their status.
In addition, they have advanced segmentation features that automatically add contacts to workflows so all the customers receive the attention they deserve scoring you more leads.
However, you cannot associate two emails with one contact. Everyone has to have one single email address. This is a limitation of Hubspot’s CRM. Surprisingly, I know!
Winner: ActiveCampaign. When it comes to the flexibility options, they give you everything you need on a golden platter.
Attractive templates are the base of your campaigns. That is the first thing to grab the attention of your readers.
ActiveCampaign has a limited library of templates. Though the designs are modern and responsive, they need to widen their collection to fit everyone’s needs. Honestly, cheaper options like Mailerlite and Mailchimp win hands down.
However, their drag and drop editor lets you create your templates from scratch and is pretty easy to use. If you are from the coder’s gang, you can write your code to design your templates.
ActiveCampaign also allows you to save folders of your emails and newsletter designs for later use. It is a nice way to keep things organized and save time when you want to re-use the same template.
Now onto HubSpot. Click on the Marketing tab and there you will find a variety of templates for your websites and email campaigns.
Got to register my disappointment because you won’t get tons of sleek templates. Again, if you are from Mailchimp, the difference is like heaven and earth.
You can preview each template to see if it would be the right fit for your audience. Their classic editor lets you change the pre-designed templates according to your needs.
Call-to-action buttons, text, and images can be added easily to match your style.
Winner: Tie. Both platforms should increase the size of the pre-designed templates. But Hubspot’s editor requires minimal effort to design your themes and broadcast them.
Effective automation is necessary if you want to keep up with the demands of your customers.
ActiveCampaign is one of the best tools for marketing automation. I mean, it doesn’t get any better.
It has 22 triggers to automate your workflows like opening an email, birthday, welcome, cart abandonment, visiting a website, etc.
One of the cool features is that you don’t need to hop back and forth to automate your email workflows. It’s all done inline. Most email tools do not have this feature and make the process messy. So, thumbs up!
The flowchart style options make it easy to set up your campaigns. All triggers come up with explanations of what they are intended for. You can either use pre-defined recipes or build your workflows from scratch.
Another cool thing is its ‘goal’ feature, which lets you send different messages to your customer upon purchase or any goal that you set.
The only drawback is that the visual builder can be clunky at times. It’s the only reason ConvertKit beats them.
ActiveCampaign provides basic marketing automation features in their $9 tier plan. Yeah, I knew your smile would get bigger!
HubSpot also does a smart job in setting up advanced automation workflows based on specific triggers. It has a nice workflow builder to add conditions, goals, time delays, actions, etc.
They have a visual editor that allows you to see real-time workflows. You can create quite complicated workflows that lead your audience down the sales funnel.
I liked that you can use workflows to create webhooks. Also, the HubSpot CRM feature that allows you to send alerts to your sales team for them to contact the qualified leads.
However, automation features are available only in Hubspot’s Professional and Enterprise plan. Well, don’t roll your eyes at me.
Winner: ActiveCampaign.They get the winning prize for its top-class automation features. The visual builder gives them a home run.
A/B testing is the feature that can help you gain extra opens, clicks, and sales if used properly. Now, ActiveCampaign has this split action feature for A/B testing. You can test everything from emails, SMS to any campaign you created.
Just go to the ‘split action’ feature and design your campaigns across 5 variables including subject line, content, format, images, and call to actions.
Moreover, it lets you compare five emails at once. You can see the results of your campaigns based on ‘clicks’ and ‘opens’. Productivity at its maximum!
And I love that you can test your drip emails as well as your one-off broadcasts.
You can also choose a template to work with on the design screen.
Coming to HubSpot, you can compare different subject lines, images, and even different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer). Simply, navigate to Marketing < Email and you’ll find the ‘Create A/B test’ option.
After selecting the criteria and sample distribution, you can set the winning metric and time period to see which enhances user engagement. HubSpot also allows you to schedule your emails at a later time for A/B testing.
You get to test your landing pages, email workflows, and one-off email broadcasts.
The kicker, HubSpot does not provide A/B testing features in their basic plan.
Winner: Tie. Both tools let you perform A/B testing well and give detailed reporting afterward. So, I would say, it’s a tie!
ActiveCampaign takes pride in its CRM feature. After all, that’s where their journey began before they converted it into an email marketing tool.
First thing’s first, most of the CRM tools are jam-packed with unnecessary features which makes them difficult to use. ActiveCampaign’s CRM is simple to use.
They create and edit their campaigns in the form of ‘deals’. The drag and drop builder makes it easy to move deals from one stage to another.
As a result, you get to see exactly where your subscribers are on your sales funnel.
Furthermore, integrations with Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, Stripe, Paypal, etc.
Take their eCommerce reporting to a whole new level. But don’t expect Klaviyo’s level of eCommerce reporting but it’s something.
If we talk about Hubspot’s CRM, their free version has enough capabilities to manage your leads and customers, if you have a small to medium-sized business.
You can see all the stages of your buyer’s journey and keep track of your visitors. I totally loved the HubSpot eComm Bridge feature. It provided an API that helps you connect any online store to HubSpot.
I like that you can track your customers from the very first visit to their most recent activity or purchase.
Also, they have an in-depth integration with Shopify. You get to analyze all your Shopify data on HubSpot. You can even segment your contacts based on their activities in your store. Very similar to Klaviyo in this regard.
You get to collect Shopify data and generate out-of-the-box reports on sales, abandoned carts, re-engagement data, etc.
You can store over a million contacts and the integrations with third-party apps help streamline all your activities. HubSpot even has a mobile app that makes tracking your business easier. Plus you can also integrate HubSpot with BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, etc.
And you can get all this even on their Starter package.
Got to say I have nothing to report on ActiveCampaign and landing pages. But they are coming soon and I’ll be sure to update you on how soon it will be.
But they redeemed themselves with a form builder. The kicker is you can only create an inline form with their basic plan.
As if that’s not enough, it comes with the ActiveCampaign branding. You have to dish out more money to create pop-ups or floating bars.
The form builder has only bare-bones. Nothing outstanding. Okay. They have a CSS editor for anyone who wants to get more creative.
With Hubspot, you can create professional-looking forms and landing pages. You get 20+ free landing page templates that are easy-to-use and mobile responsive.
I know they aren’t in the same league as GetResponse but coming from ActiveCampaign, let’s count our blessings.
It also lets you create dynamic forms that collect user information in real-time and present fields in the form accordingly. You can create popup forms and embedded forms.
You can analyze the performance of your landing pages later in the analytics dashboard. Another cool feature is that you can optimize your landing pages using A/B testing.
This feature is not available in ActiveCampaign.
Reporting is an essential feature for the success of your marketing campaigns. After all, how would you optimize your campaigns if you can’t see how they are working?
With ActiveCampaign, you can click on the Campaign Report tab and have a quick overview of all your campaigns.
For a deeper analysis, you need to click on one of your campaigns and see additional information like click rate, bounce rate, subscribers, heatmaps, social media shares, and the revenue generated from each campaign.
A Geo-tracking feature is available as well, which segments your audience according to their location.
By keeping track of the highest open-rate at specific times, you can add delays in your automated emails. This simple tweak can increase your engagement up to 4x higher!
Another cool thing is the ‘Reply Tracking’ feature that lets you run workflows based on contact replies. And the ‘site tracking’ feature for collecting customer behavior online.
Besides, Google Analytics integration ensures no stone is left unturned. Very similar to Drip.
However, their reporting functionality is available in their higher pricing tiers: Professional and Enterprise.
Moving to Hubspot, it has an exciting reporting feature. It lets you create custom reports where you can add information necessary for the first glance. You can then send this overview to your team.
You can create over 300 reporting dashboards. Why is this useful? Glad you asked.
This is because your team has different skill sets and so have different abilities to analyze the reports.
For executives, you can utilize the deeper statistics and include them in your custom reports.
You get details on the open rate, CTR, subscribes, unsubscribes, conversions rate, sales, heat map, you name it. You have it all. Literally.
The only kicker, the reporting functionality is not included in their Starter plan.
So, I did an email deliverability test to make sure we are actually planting seeds in fertile soil. My test used the top five email clients i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, and iCloud.
I also activated SPF and DKIM records on the email marketing tools. In this case on ActiveCampaign.
The results? 92.31% of ActiveCampaign’s emails landed in people’s inboxes.
Hubspot’s deliverability protection detects any fraudulent activity, hard bounces, unsubscribes, and complaints.
Winner: ActiveCampaign is a clear winner here.
ActiveCampaign has over 310+ integrations, allowing you to connect with major platforms like Paypal, Shopify, Facebook Leads, Google, Zapier, and WordPress.
It is pretty easy to integrate with third-party systems and they are enough to satisfy your needs.
They also provide you with APIs if you want to build custom connections with third-party platforms.
Hubspot also has an extensive library of integrations including Salesforce, Slack, Zapier, Eventbrite, LinkedIn, Facebook Leads, etc.
Its integration with Google Calendar also saves much of your time from tedious data entry tasks. Also, Zapier gives you access to hundreds of other integrations.
Winner: Tie. They both have extensive third-party integrations. And Zapier opens a world of possibilities.
ActiveCampaign has excellent customer support service. At every step of your campaign, you’ll find links to tutorials and live chat to clear your doubts.
They have help articles and videos in their knowledge base on using their features. When designing emails, it offers a walkthrough if you click on the blinking dot.
ActiveCampaign also schedules a webinar every week. You can also discuss your issues in the community forums. However, phone support is not available in their packages.
Hubspot also has dedicated customer support with lots of resources and helpful links available on the website. It provides support in 6 languages (English, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish).
They have a huge knowledge base with free training and certifications on everything related to email marketing. You’ll get live-chat support and email on all plans. But phone support in their Professional and Enterprise plan.
The tech support team is knowledgeable.
Winner: Tie. They both have a wealth of knowledge and support channels to sort you out.
Time to weigh the beasts! Here’s where we’ll decide which software serves the good value of money.
ActiveCampaign has 4 pricing tiers: Lite, Plus, Professional, and Enterprise. Their prices increase as the number of contacts rise.
They offer a 14-day free trial.
Hubspot, on the other hand, comes with a free forever version that includes all the functionalities as an email marketing platform. For advanced features, you can use one of three packages: starter, professional, and enterprise.
They are pretty pricey when compared to ActiveCampaign.
They have a variety of other pricing bundles to choose from according to your needs. But even after buying a single package, costs can increase as your contact list grows. This is a big turn off for most of the users.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. They have a more straightforward pricing plan and there is no fear of money creep.
Both of these tools aim to stand among the best email marketing automation tools.
ActiveCampaign is recommended if you need robust marketing automation with an in-built CRM system for your business. I like that they are pocket friendly and sort out every email marketing need. It is perfect for high-level marketers who run medium to large enterprises.
HubSpot is an all-in-one platform with custom reporting, landing page creation, and a robust eCommerce tool. If you need all these features under one roof and your check is blank, it’s the perfect tool for you.
Small businesses can take advantage of their free platform. It has everything you need to start and excel in email marketing. The starter plan also works well with small businesses as it helps you grow and scale your business.
Now, the ball is in your court to decide which one is the champ for your business!