A short time ago, I would’ve proudly shouted it from the rooftops: “ConvertKit is amazing! You need to use ConvertKit!” But just a few short months later, and I’m unembarrassed to say that I’ve completely changed my tune. Now I’m saying: “You should really consider making the switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign!”
While I still sometimes recommend ConvertKit to certain people (depending on their businesses), for me, ActiveCampaign is hands down the best choice for a growing online business — and here’s my story:
Back when I first started my business in 2015, I began with MailChimp. At the time, it was the only free email service provider (that I knew about), and it seemed like everyone was using it. It was such a no-brainer that I actually don’t even remember making the decision. It just happened — I was a MailChimp user.
Often in my world, I hear this same exact story with others. Almost always, MailChimp and Aweber are what my clients have started out using as well. But, trust me guys, there are so many other (and better) options out there.
In fact, I recently made a list of all the popular email service providers who market to entrepreneurs, and here’s what I came up with:
- Constant Contact
- Mad Mimi
That’s actually, like, a lot of different choices.
Some of these are actually really similar, though. MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, and GetResponse are all virtually the same software, each set up slightly differently. I’ve used all of them, and they’re pretty much the exact same thing.
They’re all very list-based, fairly basic functionality-wise, and often way more complicated than they need to be.
Email Service Providers for the Beginner Business Owner
If you’re just getting started out, I recommend bypassing those popular options. Instead, MailerLite (while still a relatively new email service provider) stands out to me as being the best choice if you’re just wanting to dip your toes into email marketing.
It’s easy to use, quick to learn, and best of all — free! (up to 1,000 subscribers)
But, let’s be real — at some point during your journey as an online business owner, you’ll probably want to upgrade. This is where it gets tricky.
Personally, I still think that ConvertKit is the best choice if you are upgrading from something like MailChimp or MailerLite. It’s super easy to use and lets you do the basics of targeted email marketing without getting too confusing or complex.
Especially if you are not tech-savvy, ConvertKit is a great choice for most business owners out there.
Why I Made the Switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign (and you should too)
While I still actively and strongly recommend both MailerLite and ConvertKit to friends, students, and clients, I still ended up making the decision to switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign.
It may not be the perfect email service provider for every business, but it was 100% the best choice for me.
After I’d been using ConvertKit for around 10 months, I started to notice that something strange was happening. I was outgrowing it! When planning out my email sequences, the ideas that I had in my head for how I wanted to target and retarget my subscribers were getting too complex to implement in ConvertKit.
I tried to hack together a solution that I thought might work, but ConvertKit couldn’t handle it and subscribers consistently were getting duplicate emails from me, or no emails at all.
Over and over again, I attempted to rig cool things up in the backend of ConvertKit, but when my ideas kept failing, I just assumed that I wasn’t tech-savvy enough to understand how to create for myself what I had mapped out on paper.
I saw other digital marketers in my niche pulling off advanced email marketing techniques that made me drool.
Email marketing is something that I love doing (for myself and my clients), so it was really discouraging when I couldn’t figure out how to create my own dream campaigns and automations in ConvertKit.
I kept trying to make things work with ConvertKit because I still thought it was a great piece of software — I loved the company and their product so much (I still do!).
But, to be honest, the only reason I wasn’t switching to something else was because I didn’t know that I had other options!
Discovering Alternatives to ConvertKit
After a few months of struggling along with ConvertKit, I was chatting with a few friends of mine in a mastermind group we have together. One of the women casually mentioned that she didn’t use ConvertKit — and I was shocked.
Doesn’t everyone use ConvertKit? (Or at least everyone who can afford it?)
To my utter surprise: no.
In fact, there are multiple other options out there for people who want to do more advanced email marketing than you can do in ConvertKit. The three that are most popular for this are:
I’d heard of Infusionsoft and Ontraport before and knew that they were really cool, but I never even looked into them because I knew that I couldn’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars each month on an email service provider.
What I learned, though, is that ActiveCampaign and Drip are amazing options for people who want the functionality of a software like Infusionsoft without the crazy price.
I’d tried Drip out briefly when it first made its appearance on the email service provider scene, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. It wasn’t for me.
ActiveCampaign on the other hand was….amazing. (Get a 14-day free trial!)
The Switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign: Pros
Making the switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign was like discovering a brand-new color I’d never seen before. You may think I’m exaggerating, but guys — ActiveCampaign IS THE SHIT.
Even Kimberley Ann Jiminez, a die-hard fan of ConvertKit, admits that it doesn’t have “fancy automations like the ones ActiveCampaign had, there was no visual funnel builder and the switch seemed like a step down from the tool I already had.”
All of a sudden, I’d gone from what I thought was a strong email marketing setup in ConvertKit, to logging into ActiveCampaign and just blowing the doors off the joint.
ActiveCampaign has literally every single option you can think of for detailed targeting and retargeting (and maybe even a few more). When I use ActiveCampaign, I feel like I’m holding the world in my hands and I can do anything I want.
Stopping just short of me bursting into evil laughter, let me share some of the behind-the-scenes action of what ActiveCampaign is all about.
Pricing & Features
First of all, let’s talk price. ConvertKit, on the very cheapest plan, costs $29 per month. And that only gives you 1,000 subscribers. At that same level, ActiveCampaign is only $17 per month (and their cheapest plan is $9/month!).
When you think about all the extra features you get with ActiveCampaign, that low price blows my mind!
Now let’s talk features. It’s not even a contest — here’s just a short overview of what the targeting features look like when you use ActiveCampaign (and their split-testing features are similarly insane).
One big plus of ActiveCampaign is that, back when I used ConvertKit, it was so annoying to create a link trigger. (And it took me about 5 times of trying it out and 2 conversations with customer service before I figured out how to actually do it correctly in the first place.)
With ActiveCampaign, link triggers are a snap. Every time you input a URL into your email, it asks if you want to segment the people who click on that link. What?? Genius.
Besides the actual features themselves, of which there are endless, I love how ActiveCampaign allows you to create the automations you send out.
Look at this gloriousness:
Finally those email marketing maps I was constantly drawing out for myself made sense! And I can literally draw them out right in my email service provider.
Can you hear the angels singing yet??
I sure can! And I’m not the only one who gives ActiveCampaign hella love — SmartBusinessTrends recently wrote an article about email service providers and found that “for the best overall email service provider in 2017, I have to go with ActiveCampaign. It is the best overall in terms of ease of use, features, advanced capabilities and pricing.”
Seriously. What are you waiting for? You need to sign up for that 14-day free trial.
The Switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign: Cons
Alright — it’s time for some real talk. While I’m definitely pro-ActiveCampaign, I have to admit that there are a few things I dislike about it. And I want to be honest with you about that!
The Actual Switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign
First of all, the literal transition from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign was pretty rough.
It was easy for me to switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit, because I had, like, three content upgrades at that point. But once I was up to 20+ content upgrades and 10+ individual sequences in ConvertKit, switching all of those forms, tags, and emails over to ActiveCampaign was a huge ordeal.
It’s not a simple matter of exporting and importing your subscribers from one program to the other — there’s quite a few different steps.
It took about a full 6 weeks before I was completely transitioned over. And I still occasionally get emails from people who aren’t receiving what they opted-in for because I messed up somewhere.
The only thing that I can recommend to you when it comes to doing this is hire someone to help.
Want to tackle the process yourself? You’ll be lost without my migration checklist.
Lack of Automatic Content Upgrade Delivery
While the switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign process was annoying, it was necessary, so I put up with it. Unlike that, their lack of automatic content upgrade delivery annoys the heck out of me. Hopefully they will add this feature soon!
What I mean by this is that, in ConvertKit, when someone signs up to your list, they sign up through a form. When you create that form, you have the option to re-route them to a PDF download immediately after they confirm their subscription.
Because ActiveCampaign doesn’t have this option, you have to sign them up through a form or tag, and then create a new automation to deliver the content upgrade.
Here’s how that same type of delivery happens in ActiveCampaign:
It’s not that frustrating, but it is an extra 10-minute step you have to go through (creating the automation, uploading your PDF to Dropbox instead of just attaching it, etc.), and it also really starts to crowd up your list of automations, which defaults to showing only 10 on each page.
So, every time I want to look at a certain automation, I have to click back and forth between multiple pages, since I currently have 25 set up right now.
Difficult to Learn
The last con about making the switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign is that I do find it’s a bit difficult to learn. Especially compared to the insane ease of use ConvertKit has.
I was able to pick it up after a few weeks, but tech comes pretty easily to me. If you aren’t a super tech-savvy person, I’d recommend sticking with an easy-to-use program like MailerLite or ConvertKit, or hiring someone like me to run your email marketing for you.
If you want to tough it out yourself, though, there are some great courses out there that can help you learn it quickly. I recommend checking out The Active Marketer site, this free ActiveCampaign Basics course, or the ActiveCampaign Power Start course.
Using Landing Pages and Form Builders with ActiveCampaign
This is kind of an extra step, so I won’t talk about it for too long, but it’s important if you’re considering using ActiveCampaign.
The last piece of the puzzle when it comes to making the switch from ConvertKit to ActiveCampaign is figuring out what you’re going to do about your landing pages and form builders.
While ConvertKit comes with some (pretty ugly) forms and pages that you can (sort of) customize and use, ActiveCampaign doesn’t. You’ll need to use a different program to build those things and then connect the two together.
Honestly, ConvertKit’s stuff is really not that cute, though, so I highly recommend doing this no matter what email service provider you’re using.
A super popular one is LeadPages, which I’m sure you’ve heard of.
LeadPages starts at $25 per month and is basically a drag-and-drop builder that you can use to create landing pages, pop-up boxes, lightboxes, and embeddable forms to use all over your site to promote content upgrades, lead magnets, etc.
Personally, I use a combination of Visual Composer (a page builder plugin for WordPress) and ThriveLeads (a plugin for lightboxes and pop-ups). I like these options because they both have a one-time purchase fee instead of a month-to-month plan like LeadPages, which can really start to add up after a while.
Other popular options for these types of softwares include:
- Thrive Page Builder
- Beaver Builder
Whatever you decide to use, you’ll simply need to integrate it with either ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign so that people who sign up on those pages or through those forms will be automatically added to your email list.