The competitive landscape in marketing automation changes with the wind and often leaves business owners wondering if they’re currently using the best tool for the job.
Not long ago, there were only a handful of “giants” in the marketing automation platform space, and now there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of tools and platforms to choose from.
A couple of big names you’ll often hear are Keap and ActiveCampaign. Both these tools flex impressive feature lists that promise to help you bring in more leads and close more deals. But which one is right for your business?
In this article, we’ll explore each platform’s pros and cons and help you decide which one suits your needs best.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this review:
- The quest to find the best email marketing automation tool
- Unboxing ActiveCampaign
- Unboxing Keap (formerly Infusionsoft)
- Who’s the clear winner?
- Growing your business on autopilot
The quest to find the best email marketing automation tool
With a saturated market, overwhelming in both size and complexity, it’s challenging to pick the perfect tool for the job. It’s especially difficult considering how rapidly new companies enter the fray and market leaders add new features to try and maintain their competitive advantage.
For starters, you’ll need an email automation tool with built-in customer relationship management capabilities (or at least integrates with one). Email marketing functionality is a no-brainer, as is the ability to manage your sales pipeline.
But what about the advanced features? The ‘nice to have’ stuff.
Machine learning and AI sound cool, but it’s hard to say if you need it (or if it’s a substantial value add yet). Before comparing feature lists, it’d be wise to reflect on what you’re trying to achieve with your email marketing platform.
A recent study showed that 43% of companies deploying a marketing automation strategy mainly focused on improving customer experience. In contrast, that same study showed 38% were enabling better use of staff time with marketing automation.
Both goals are at least part of why you’re here, but it’s wise to write down specific features and questions that need answering before making a final decision.
Let’s take a look at two of the major names in the email marketing automation space, and see how their impressive features compare, and which one might be best for your business.
It’s challenging to define the ‘elevator pitch’ for a robust system like ActiveCampaign, but let’s try.
ActiveCampaign is a cloud-based email marketing and automation software platform that helps companies connect with and engage customers. Founded in 2003 as a consulting firm, they later transitioned to software as a service (SaaS) that, at a relatively low price, offers a lot of features from lead scoring and web analytics to live chat messaging and email marketing.
While their feature list is seemingly neverending, they’re especially known for building eye-catching and engaging email marketing campaigns.
Who uses ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign isn’t exactly for the novice user. Yet, they do cater as much as possible to all experience levels with features like drag-and-drop email builder. Small and medium-sized businesses track their customer lifecycles with ActiveCampaign and send targeted email campaigns that help reengage current or past customers and build relationships with prospects.
ActiveCampaign is for companies looking to invest in having the best affordable marketing automation in their industry. What sets it apart is it’s also set at an affordable price compared to the market (it’s about 1/5th the price of HubSpot). It’s used by accounting and legal firms, nonprofit companies, SaaS providers, and many more.
ActiveCampaign key features and integrations
The landing page builder helps provide a dynamic introductory experience that funnels your audience to the subscription forms.
ActiveCampaign knows and understands the need for a marketing sales funnel, so each feature provides a way to enhance and optimize the customer journey. Subscription forms make it easy to welcome prospects. The automation behind them helps segment customers and potential customers so you can better tailor your marketing efforts to their demographics or interests.
All of this happens via a visual campaign builder that streamlines the entire process and makes it simple to understand and explain to others.
From there, you have event tracking, split testing, lead scoring, and more to truly optimize every inch of your email automation efforts. They also have an impressive integration list that includes big names like Salesforce, Shopify, WordPress, Zapier, Google Analytics, and more.
How much does ActiveCampaign cost per month?
When you’re in the market for an all-in-one solution like ActiveCampaign, you’ll typically pay a pretty penny for it. However, when you consider the immense value you’re getting from ActiveCampaign, you’re kind of getting a great deal.
The best part about their pricing structure is they break it down, so you’re really paying for only what you need. They have an email & marketing automation feature suite ranging from Lite to Enterprise or CRM & Sales Engagement feature suite ranging from Plus to Enterprise. If you need the whole package, they have bundles of both, and they even break down their Postmark transactional email service by how many emails you send.
The marketing automation features alone are worth the cost compared to other high-dollar email marketing platforms, but the sales and CRM features are also competitively priced.
Unboxing Keap (formerly Infusionsoft)
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that Infusionsoft rebranded a few years back and now goes by Keap.
They say it was less about rebranding and more about relaunching their product line and offering “the industry’s first smart client management software” built precisely for small business service providers specializing in the personal, professional, and home service industries.
Like ActiveCampaign, they started in the early 2000s and were laser-focused on automating sales lead generation.
Keap offers a wide array of services now that focus on optimizing the experience, from creating a lead all the way to making a satisfied client.
Who uses Keap?
Keap’s bread and butter client is in the professional services industry. We’re talking real estate agents, health coaches, photographers, marketing agencies, salon owners, pest control companies, law firms, and many more.
Small and medium-sized businesses are their focus, and their core customers live in the United States. Still, they have customers in Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa, and Europe.
Keap key features and integrations
Keap also touts itself as an all-in-one system with features similar to ActiveCampaign, like lead capture forms, email templates, A/B testing, and lead scoring.
Their landing page builder is particularly good and user-friendly. Their entire operation revolves around minimizing the need to create things from scratch. That’s why you’ll see huge libraries of templates for email campaigns and landing pages. You should be able to pick a template, customize it to your preferences, and go.
Beyond features, they also have a decent integrations list with big names like Zapier, Bigcommerce, Quickbooks, and WordPress, but their integrations list isn’t quite as comprehensive as ActiveCampaign.
How much does Keap cost per month?
Like ActiveCampaign, Keap offers a 14-day free trial, so you can get in and check things out for yourself. You also get a discount for paying annually and the option for paying monthly (which is something missing from the ActiveCampaign pricing page).
While ActiveCampaign has more affordable flexible pricing plans for different feature sets, it has a greater upfront cost. Keap keeps its pricing plans straightforward in that they have a Keap Pro and a Keap Max option, and that’s it. You get arguably the same range of features with both, but Max gives you promo codes, upsells, and marketing analytics.
Dive deeper into their pricing and see their FAQ section by checking out Keap’s pricing page.
Who’s the clear winner?
43% of marketers say the greatest benefit to embracing marketing automation is improving the customer experience and enabling better use of their staff’s time. I genuinely believe that both of these platforms perform both of those duties well.
Keap is right for you if you use customer service often and want a dedicated account manager. ActiveCampaign is more affordable long-term and has a slightly larger suite of features, while Keap is more affordable upfront since it offers a monthly subscription.
If you live in the United States or most English-speaking countries, Keap is an excellent choice for usability and customer service. While ActiveCampaign has customers in 170+ countries and more than 15 languages.
Keap feels a bit more tailored to the novice user, while ActiveCampaign has advanced features like automation mapping, if/else triggers, and start/stop automations. In the end, you’ll be able to leverage growth marketing tactics with both systems and likely see great results.
The choice is yours, and you can’t really go wrong with either marketing automation solution. Thankfully both have a free trial, and you can decide for yourself at no cost.
Growing your business on autopilot
Now that we’ve conquered these two giants, it’s time for you to ask yourself what’s next.
Do you go back to doing things the manual way? Do you settle for a third-rate marketing automation tool?
Or perhaps you’ve already decided to give one of these tools a shot. Either way, you now have the information needed to make an informed decision that’ll improve your bottom line and increase your team’s effectiveness.