These two bigshots have redefined how small businesses reach their audience, grow, and scale. I always wanted to take them head to head and I finally decided to take the plunge.
There are so many email marketing platforms in the market today with tiny differences. As they say, the devil is in the details so it’s completely essential to go for a tool that works for you. Because, believe me, changing email marketing software sucks.
My aim is to save you the pain of doing that by giving you detailed reviews by using the platforms myself. This isn’t another fluffy generic review.
In a nutshell, Constant Contact is easy to use an email marketing platform. You can use it even if you’re not super tech-savvy. The ease in usability makes some of its features quite limited for the savvy marketer.
ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, is a full-blown sales CRM and intelligence-driven email software that revolves around automation. It’s an automation powerhouse that ensures users are in control of their campaigns but with less work.
Ready to know what’s best for your business? Well, let’s jump right in.
- It is an easy-to-use platform. No learning curve required even for the non-tech savvy people. It’s Mailerlite easy. And the interface doesn’t experience any glitches like the ActiveCampaign one.
- They have an intuitive and highly responsive drag-and-drop email builder that’s very easy to use. As a result, you can easily add images, fonts, CTA buttons, dividers, videos, spacers, social buttons, etc. And the best thing, you can easily achieve brand consistency by pulling your brand colors from your website to your emails.
- They have an extensive number of email templates and ready-to-use landing page templates. The number can be easily compared to what you have on GetResponse. If you fancy numerous template options, they got you covered.
- They have an extensive list of integrations. We are talking over 400 tools available natively and Zapier gives you access to thousands more.
- Their knowledge base and educational resources are pretty much extensive. You have 90K articles, a YouTube channel, and an active community that contributes to any question you throw at them.
- It has in-depth integration with Shopify taking your eCommerce store conversions a notch higher. You’re able to drag and drop products, send abandoned cart emails, reminders, and create segment lists at ease. It’s generally a gold mine for e-store owners.
- They have a robust intelligence tagging system that helps you create highly targeted and personalized emails. It’s a powerhouse especially with the site-tracking feature that will help your tag your contacts based on their actions on your site.
- They have a visual workflow builder that makes it easy to create automation workflows. It even allows you to do inline edits without having the tedious back and forth. Similar to what you have on Convertkit or Drip.
- They have a powerful automation feature making it possible to create even complex workflows. Whether you want to use the pre-built templates, conditional logic (if/then/else), or the 20+ triggers, they have you covered.
- They have detailed tracking and reporting features that help you optimize your marketing efforts. You get all the basic metrics and they get deeper by giving you Google analytics and the Reply Tracking features. It’s very much like Drip.
- Their A/B testing feature is off the hook and can be used to make hundreds and thousands of dollars in revenue. It’s not the simple split testing but A/B/C/D/E testing. And you even get to test things like geography, custom fields, date & time, actions, in addition to the normal subject line, content, and sender criteria..
- Their lead scoring capability helps you make a data-driven decision when moving your audience down the sales funnel.
Regardless of how robust an email marketing platform is, you can’t reap its benefits if you can’t use it. You can only benefit from a tool if you can access every nook and corner of it and leverage its features.
So how easy is Constant Contact?
It is one of the easiest email marketing platforms in the market today. I am talking about being easier than ConvertKit and Mailchimp. I can say it’s as easy as Mailerlite.
The interface is very easy to use and it’s got fewer features at a glance., which can be positive or negative. Depending on what you’re looking for. I spend hours looking for some subscriber opt-ins all the while making many unnecessary clicks.
Other than that, the setup is a breeze and they even have videos to guide you through. But honestly, I was amazed at how super easy it is.
How easy is ActiveCampaign?
Okay. Maybe we shouldn’t have used the word easy. You’re definitely not going to be wrestling with a tiger but you need to learn the ropes for it to be a breeze.
What I liked about it is that it can be as easy or as complex as you make it. It all depends on the number of features you are using and how deep you want to get with the features.
This way ActiveCampaign saves you from starting with a simpler email platform and moving to a more complex one as your business morphs. It grows with your business.
The numerous features are a bit overwhelming for the noobs. But they have guides to help you through so you’ll learn in no time. I love that they have found a balance between the UX and functionality.
Once you’re good to go, you’ll appreciate the user-friendliness, intuitiveness, and easy navigation.
And while Constant Contact’s interface might appear a bit old school, ActiveCampaign is very modern and sleek.
Winner: Constant Contact. You don’t get it any easier. The interface is intuitive, fast-loading, and highly-responsive. Any beginner will be at home on either platform.
Like everything else on Constant Contact, creating an email list is a breeze. You can upload your contacts from Google contacts, Microsoft Outlook contacts, and other popular CRMs. Also, you can use Excel, CSV, XLS, or TXT file.
Now let’s get to the heart of the matter.
You can use custom form fields to collect as much information as you need from your contacts.
Just like you do it with the Ontraport records. You can add personal notes, phone numbers, addresses, contact fields, salesperson, or any other important detail.
But the editing can be a headache as you have to load each record and manually update the field.
You can add segments and tags to your contacts but the process is almost manual. To generate a segment or add a tag you have to do it manually. It’s impossible to move your contacts to different tags and segments based on the actions they take.
Email marketing shouldn’t be this tedious.
However, you can integrate your online store with Constant Contact to make this process seamless.
With Shopify integration, you can use the data from your store to segment and tag your contacts. You can track how they came in, their location, interests, activities, etc.
You automatically keep track of every activity a customer undertakes to enable you to send them hyper-targeted emails at the right time. The process is super impressive.
When it comes to segmentation, ActiveCampaign is a powerhouse.
Uploading your contact list is pretty much the same as in Constant Contact but that’s where the similarities end.
Managing your subscribers is art here. You can do it with multiple or single lists, or with multiple tags. Better yet, you get to choose if you want to edit your contact details manually or automatically in bulk. Basically, the world is your oyster.
And it gets juicier.
The behavioral or automated tagging system is off the roof.
You can leverage their automation workflows to set up conditions to tag your contacts based on the actions they take.
If you don’t want to get to complexities, you can use the email editor to add tags to your contacts who click on a specific link in an email.
But that’s not where the real magic happens. It’s in their site-tracking feature that adds tags to your contacts based on their activity on our website. The better you know their interests the more personalized your marketing gets.
However, if you don’t keep a close tab of things they can spiral out of control. There is so much flexibility and functionality that you can easily be overwhelmed.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. If you need advanced tagging, this is where you need to be. With it, you get to understand your customer’s interests helping you run specific marketing campaigns.
This is the one area where email marketing platforms differ most. And there is always something not quite on. Either the templates are too few, outdated, or a limited email editor.
If there is a place where Constant Contact shines, this is it.
They have a pretty awesome and intuitive drag and drop builder. You can choose to use their ready-made templates (500+) or create one using HTML. It’s almost like GetResponse. Almost.
The drag-and-drop email editor is highly customizable and you can add images, fonts, CTA buttons, dividers, videos, spacers, social buttons, you name it.
Anyone running an e-store would love that you can add Shopify or Woo Commerce buttons, coupons, polls, RSVPs, Eventbrite, and even donations.
Oh! I loved that it can pull your brand colors and social links from your website once you enter the URL. Cool, right?
ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, has a bulk of around 30 pre-made templates. I know it’s a far cry from Mailchimp, GetResponse, and Aweber but that’s what you’ve got to workaround if you can’t create yours from scratch.
I prefer this option as the designs they have are pretty average.
Or you can use HTML.
Well, it’s not all dark and gloom. The email editor has some customizable blocks so you can add your images, videos, CTAs, social links, etc.
What I loved most about them is the conditional block feature. This magic pill enables you to customize email content to the specific contact interests or behavior based on the tag associated with their actions. The more intelligent your tagging is, the more powerful your email is.
To make the long story short, if you’re looking for a large palate of modern templates, look elsewhere.
What are Constant Contact automation features?
Barebones. That’s it.
It has very simple automation sufficient for someone who’s not looking for email automation as the main dish. But if automation is a big deal, then you’ll be disappointed.
They only have 4 trigger actions. Subscriber joining a list, open the email, click any link, and click a specific link.
Compared to competitors like Mailchimp or cheaper tools like Moosend, they need to pull up their socks.
However, you can send your welcome, birthday, and anniversary emails. You can also have an autoresponder series and resend to unopen.
The coolest thing is action blocks! These are blocks that encourage your contacts to buy or donate.
And they have this automated feature called Event Marketing. Even Drip doesn’t have this. You get to create events, invite subscribers, track responses, create landing pages, and take donations. This comes in handy for NGOs and churches.
Let’s get to ActiveCampaign.
The difference between the two is like taking a Toyota Corolla and a Bugatti Veyron for a test drive.
They have a powerful visual workflow builder just like ConvertKit, Drip, and GetResponse. You can create really meaty automation workflows with this. If you need the conditional logic (if/then/else) complex automations, ActiveCampaign has your back.
They have 20+ triggers and tons of ready-to-use automation templates. There is actually a marketplace dedicated to automation templates. So if starting from scratch is overwhelming, they’ve got you.
Also, the visual builder makes creating workflows less of a pain in your butt. Well, it’s not as smooth as ConvertKit’s as it can get slow or clunky especially when you want to add a new email to your workflow.
But they’re working towards making it faster and leaner or so they’ve promised their customers.
Combining the triggers and actions, intelligence tagging, and site tracking features you have automation on steroids.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. When it comes to raw power and flexibility in automation, very few tools do better. There is absolutely no competition with Constant Contact here. ActiveCampaign takes all the way to the home run.
I will go straight to the point here.
With Constant Contact, the A/B testing sucks. You’re only able to test the subject line on one-off emails and that’s it. No landing page testing, email content, delivery times, or workflow testing.
With ActiveCampaign, I have to say I am yet to come across a tool with such robust and powerful A/B testing capabilities.
You can test every aspect of your email. I am not talking about the obvious things like subject lines, sending time, sender, CTAs, or content.
They go all the way to the nitty-gritty email details like Geography, custom fields, date & time, actions, and dozens of different criteria.
They get to divide your list to run the test or you might opt to choose how to divide your list. The winner is determined during or after the campaign. Your choice.
And the cherry on top, you can split test your workflows and up to 5 emails at a go. It’s basically A/B/C/D/E testing.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. If used properly, this feature will take your business all the way to a 6-figure revenue venture. I can’t find any fault with them.
These two platforms are made for small businesses so they have to be able to handle businesses like a pro.
With Constant Contact, you have eCommerce features and integrations to do just that. It has in-depth integration with Shopify taking your eCommerce game some notches higher.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about the Klaviyo-Shopify love life. That’s some levels up.
However, the integration allows you to drag and drop products, send abandoned cart emails, reminders, and create segment lists with just one click. Any retailer or e-store owner can leverage this tool for conversion rate optimization.
And we talked of the ‘Action blocks’ under automation. They can be added to your emails to showcase products, discount codes, coupons, surveys, and polls, encouraging your contacts to buy or engage with your products.
Other than that, they natively integrate with Woocommerce, Bigcommerce, Volusion, and 3D cart.
Let’s look at ActiveCampaign.
They have an in-built CRM that takes your lead scoring capabilities to the stars. They help you give propriety to the contacts that are most likely to convert and move them along your funnel based on their actions. It’s dynamic and customized.
As a CRM, you get to have the interests, interactions, and social profiles of your contacts so you know them so much better. As a result, you get to tailor-make your marketing campaigns to suit your audience.
And they can integrate with Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, Stripe, Paypal, etc.
But it is still not as powerful as Klaviyo eCommerce though.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. The lead scoring is off the hook and the sales CRM takes everything levels up. They help you make data-driven decisions to increase your sales.
This is another place that Constant Contact has put their best foot forward.
They have hundreds of customizable ready-to-use landing page templates. They can easily go head to head with GetResponse.
The amount of freedom as far as the layout, colors, and branding caught me by surprise. It’s amazing! The drag and drop landing page editor is pretty straight forward and very responsive.
If you’ve used Wix or GetResponse you can relate. However, the customizability available with the two landing page builders cannot be achieved with Constant Contact. Even Mailchimp does a better job in terms of the raw power and flexibility of their page editor.
Constant Contact thrives in simplicity so creating forms is straightforward, you have tens of form elements at your disposal. You can create popups and embedded forms if you’re okay with zero customization.
Say what? I am serious, without a coder, you can only create a simple form for one target audience.
Another thing that broke my heart is they only allow a maximum of 200 signups a day for embedded forms. Bummer.
Now onto ActiveCampaign.
One thing that has boggled my mind for years is their lack of landing page options. For such a powerhouse, this caught me by surprise.
Honestly, even Mailerlite and Mailchimp have improved their landing page capabilities in the past few years. But from their page, it’s coming soon.
Well, at least they have forms. The functionality is very basic making it straightforward to use. They redeem themselves using their CSS editor but you need to get a developer or have CSS knowledge.
You can create embedded forms or popups. However, there is a branding ‘Marketing by ActiveCampaign’ at the bottom of your forms. The heck? And unless you upgrade from the lite plan, you’ll have that on your forms.
But I have to say they are pretty shallow here so if you need awesome landing pages and forms, go for Thrive Leads or LeadPages.
Winner: Constant Contact. Their wide range of landing page templates can actually rival GetResponse. However, they should work on customization, functionality, and flexibility.
Without reports, you won’t know how you’re performing. Or what to drop and what to keep doing.
Like we said, Constant Contact was developed with simplicity in mind. Even their reports will give you all the basic performance metrics you’d need. You’ll see the open rates, click-through rates, bounce stats, and unsubscribes. But that’s about it.
But when you pay up, you get to see the user interaction heat maps that let you know which parts get attention from the readers. This comes in handy if you want to improve future campaigns and increase engagements.
Plus they let you have a campaign comparison report that allows you to compare the performance of up to 5 campaigns and see which worked best.
There is a drastic difference between ActiveCampaign and Constant Contact.
To start you off, you can configure what you want to track before sending a campaign out. In addition to the basic metrics, they have Reply Tracking and Google Analytics.
Reply Tracking will let you run your automation workflows based on the replies you get while Google Analytics allows you to dive deep into the insights honey pot.
This goes hand in hand with their Site Tracking feature that lets you do really dope stuff with your marketing automation based on users’ interaction with your website.
They go all out on their reports with every single campaign and email you send. I loved that you get to drill down to the important contacts. And they can run a new campaign for those specific contacts.
It’s very similar to Drip reporting the only difference is the infamous clunky ActiveCampaign interface. Also, Drip has a way of making the reports more digestible while they appear overwhelming on ActiveCampaign.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. It has one of the most detailed reporting and tracking features among email marketing tools. However, they need to deal with their slow and clunky interface. Only then will they be on par with competitors like Drip.
One thing you can’t ignore is the deliverability of your email series. The truth is that this is quite a difficult thing to test but I did an email deliverability test in 2019. So some things might have changed.
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 both Constant Contact and ActiveCampaign.
92% of ActiveCampaign’s emails landed in people’s inboxes while 75% of Constant Contact emails landed in the inbox.
But deliverability is a hard thing to accurately test and you have to do hundreds of seed tests to get a solid average. The speed test isn’t bulletproof.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. You’re sure your contacts will receive their email straight in their inbox. However, Constant Contact is pretty good.
Both platforms have established themselves in the market and they have a strong integrations library.
Constant Contact natively integrates with 400+ tools. From Google Analytics for advanced insights to eCommerce platforms, and Facebook Lead Ads. Also, Zapier opens the door to a thousand other applications.
ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, has 150+ integrations. The usual suspects like WordPress, Shopify, Facebook Lead Ads, Stripe, and Zapier feature.
They have done quite an amazing job as their main competitor Drip, only has a fraction of those. But you can’t compare it with the likes of Mailchimp which has hundreds of native integrations. The good thing is that there is Zapier when everything else doesn’t come through.
Winner: Constant Contact. They give you access to every tool you’ll need to run a successful email campaign.
In this day and age, support is extremely important. Every company is trying its best to have an extensive knowledge base and improve its response time.
Constant Contact has not been left behind. Their YouTube Channel is extensive and they cover all you need to know about email marketing and their platform.
Constant Contact has 24/7 live chat support, email, a rich library of support articles (over 90,000), a vibrant community, and an active social media presence. Besides, they have also listed their phone number on their website.
The only problem is that their live chat option is buried so deep in the platform that it takes a while to get it. But once you do, they’re pretty responsive.
ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, hasn’t been left behind in terms of an extensive knowledge base library. From how-to-videos to webinars, and webinars.
If you want a personalized answer you can give them a call, email them, or use the live chat option. Well, the live chat and phone options aren’t available 24/7 but they are pretty responsive.
Plus they have two Facebook Groups that are super active with many posts and comments daily.
Winner: Tie. They both have personalized support via live chat, phone, and email. And they’ve got a rich knowledge base with video walkthroughs, active communities, and social media presence.
Now we’re at the final evaluation of this head to head match. Pricing.
Constant Contact has two plans, Email ($20) and Email Plus ($45) per month. The prices go up from here based on the number of subscribers you’re bringing on board.
The basic Email plan is meant to help you gain subscribers and send emails. The Email Plus comes with all the cool features including automation. Well, you have a 30-day free trial period.
But hey, paying $45 for a simple automation tool is somehow insane in my opinion. But that’s just me.
ActiveCampaign pricing is more reasonable. Their basic plan starts at $9/month. And with the plan, you get so much more than on Constant Contact as you have automation features, unlimited forms, and autoresponders.
They have a 15-days free trial period. And the pricing increases based on the features you want and subscribers you have.
Winner: ActiveCampaign. You definitely get value for your buck and they have a more straightforward pricing plan hence no fear of money creep.
Generally, ActiveCampaign gives you more value for less. They are both developed for small businesses and bloggers. However, it’s not always what your business needs.
Choose Constant Contact if:
- You want an email platform that thrives on simplicity and ease of use.
- You need a library of email templates and landing pages.
- Integration is a big deal to you.
Choose ActiveCampaign if:
- You’re interested in advanced CRM capabilities especially lead scoring and funnel building.
- You need an in-depth understanding of your contacts using intelligence tagging.
- Automation is a big deal for your business.
- You need an all-in-one marketing automation platform.
Let me know what you’ll choose.