ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit: Features, User-Experience and Pricing Compared

By: Puranjay Singh   Last updated: 20 Sep 2017

An in-depth comparison between ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit. Which of these is the right marketing automation tool for you?

  ActiveCampaign


Features

User-Experience

Pricing & Support

Overall

Best for: Small businesses, SaaS startups, small agencies, bloggers

Plans from: $9/month

  ConvertKit


Features

User-Experience

Pricing & Support

Overall

Best for: Bloggers, authors infopreneurs, very small businesses

Plans from: $29/month

ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit Overview

ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit are marginally similar, mostly because of their email focus and low initial price. Beyond this, both these tools vary widely in their feature list and target market.

ActiveCampaign is very clearly a marketing automation software with aspirations of being a full-fledged business automation tool. To this effect, it has a growing list of sales automation features along with a rapidly improving CRM. It also has strong marketing automation capabilities.

A small business can very well use ActiveCampaign as its primary marketing software.

ConvertKit, on the other hand, is almost exclusively focused on email automation. It has some marketing automation features, but these are largely there to help people segment lists and send emails faster.

Consequently, ConvertKit's target market is very different as well - bloggers, authors and solopreneurs. If you have a large team, you will find ConvertKit largely underwhelming. For solo marketers, however, its ease of use and low cost make ConvertKit a great choice.

These differences will become more apparent as we dive deeper into ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit's features, user-experience, pricing and support.

About ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit

Before we look at their features and user-experience, let's take a quick glance at ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit.

  ActiveCampaign Overview

Headquarters: Chicago, IL (USA)
Year Founded: 2003
Total Employees: 60+
Company Status: Privately Owned
Funding Raised: $20M
Key People: Jason Vandeboom (Founder & CEO)
Website: ActiveCampaign.com
Social:     

ActiveCampaign homepage screenshot

ActiveCampaign has been around for nearly 1.5 decades. It has grown slowly, at odds with the "grow or nothing" mentality you find in Silicon Valley.

This is either a positive or a negative, depending on how you view business. Regardless, ActiveCampaign is profitable, well-liked, stable and likely to be here for many years to come.

  ConvertKit Overview

Headquarters: Remote
Year Founded: 2013
Total Employees: 20+
Company Status: Privately Owned
Funding Raised: None
Key People: Nathan Barry (Founder & CEO)
Website: ConvertKit.com
Social:     

ConvertKit homepage screenshot

ConvertKit is exactly like the audience it serves: small, nimble and bootstrapped. The company was founded by influential designer and author Nathan Barry to serve his own needs. Although it has grown to over 20 people, the company is entirely remote and has no central office.

ConvertKit is run like a startup. This means lower stability but more personal attention.

I will look at ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit's features, user-experience, pricing, support and community below before giving my final verdict.

ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit: Feature Comparison

ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit differ greatly in the range, depth and user-friendliness of their features. While ActiveCampaign offers customers a marketing solution, ConvertKit focuses almost entirely on email automation.

Thus, ActiveCampaign has a number of non-marketing related features such as a CRM, pipeline management, and sales automation.

ConvertKit, on the other hand, has limited features beyond email. What it does have is stellar user-experience and low price.

Let's compare ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit's features in more detail below:

  ActiveCampaign

  ConvertKit

  ActiveCampaign

1. Marketing automation

Feature-rich marketing automation with a visual campaign builder and in-depth segmentation.

  • Visual campaign builder
  • Drag-and-drop automation
  • Behavior-based triggered messages
  • Pre-made automation campaign templates
  • CRM integration
  • Content personalization
  • Built-in split testing
  • 1:1 customer automation

2. CRM

ActiveCampaign's CRM is a relatively recent addition. Although user-friendly, it has limited capabilities.

  • Website activity tracking
  • Orders, appointments and interactions history
  • In-depth segmentation
  • Task management
  • Full-featured mobile CRM
  • Social CRM
  • Built-in calling & call recording
  • Role management & permissions

3. Sales Features

ActiveCampaign offers a pipeline management tool and automation-assisted sales capabilities. It's not a sales software replacement, but can work for smaller businesses.

  • Pipeline/deal management
  • Custom quote creation
  • Lead scoring
  • Custom sales reporting
  • Forecasting
  • Data import/export
  • Sales gamification & leaderboards

4. Online Sales/E-Commerce

ActiveCampaign does not have any built-in e-commerce capabilities. You will have to choose from one of many different integrations to sell products and accept payments..

  • Order forms
  • Online storefront
  • Shopping cart
  • One-time & recurring payments
  • Order fulfillment
  • Smart card reader
  • Point of sale (POS)
  • Inventory management

5. Integrations

ActiveCampaign has over 150 apps and integrations in its library. Most integrations are limited to small business software even as enterprise software remains ignored.

  • WordPress plug-in
  • API access
  • Salesforce
  • Quickbooks
  • Gmail
  • Outlook
  • SAP
  • Netsuite
  • Zapier

6. Other Features

  • Affiliate management
  • Custom marketing & sales reports
  • Income reports
  • Mobile-optimized templates
  • Landing page builder
  • Mobile app
  • Content predictions/recommendations
  • Membership sites
  • Content/document management
  • Data visualizations

Overall

ActiveCampaign does marketing automation really well, but other features are lacking when compared against some other category leaders. Use it for marketing automation and you'll be happy. But if usability and speed are important, look elsewhere.

  ConvertKit

1. Marketing automation

Limited event-based marketing automation with if-then triggers to create automation rules.

  • Visual campaign builder
  • Drag-and-drop automation
  • Behavior-based triggered messages
  • Pre-made automation campaign templates
  • No CRM integration
  • No content personalization
  • No split testing
  • 1:1 customer automation

2. CRM

ConvertKit does not have a built-in CRM. You will have to look at Zapier for a third-party integration.

  • Website activity tracking
  • Orders, appointments and interactions history
  • In-depth segmentation
  • Task management
  • Full-featured mobile CRM
  • Social CRM
  • Built-in calling & call recording
  • Role management & permissions

3. Sales Features

ConvertKit does not offer any sales-focused features. You will need to buy another tool to manage your pipeline, score leads or send quotes.

  • Pipeline/deal management
  • Custom quote creation
  • Lead scoring
  • Custom sales reporting
  • Forecasting
  • Data import/export
  • Sales gamification & leaderboards

4. Online Sales/E-Commerce

ConvertKit does not have any built-in e-commerce capabilities, though it does plug into a number of e-commerce solutions such as Gumroad, Samcart, Shopify, etc..

  • Order forms
  • Online storefront
  • Shopping cart
  • One-time & recurring payments
  • Order fulfillment
  • Smart card reader
  • Point of sale (POS)
  • Inventory management

5. Other Features

  • Affiliate management
  • Custom marketing & sales reports
  • Income reports
  • Mobile-optimized templates
  • Landing page builder
  • Mobile app
  • Content predictions/recommendations
  • Membership sites
  • Content/document management
  • Data visualizations

6. Integrations

Most integrations are limited to blogger-friendly tools such as membership sites, webinar tools, course sites, etc. There are no integrations for enterprise software.

  • WordPress plug-in
  • API access
  • Salesforce
  • Quickbooks
  • Gmail
  • Outlook
  • SAP
  • Netsuite
  • Zapier

Overall

As you can see, ConvertKit's features are limited to basic marketing and email automation. That's because it serves a very different need than ActiveCampaign. On the whole, if you want an all-in-one marketing software, go with ActiveCampaign. For simple email automation, pick ConvertKit.

ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit: User-Experience Comparison

How user-friendly a software is often determines how likely you (or your team) is to use it. For complex softare like marketing automation, the UI/UX become even more important.

ActiveCampaign looks good and is easy to understand, but has some annoying speed and UI issues. ConvertKit, on the other hand, is one of the easiest email marketing tools you will ever use.

Let's look at how ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit compare in their user-experience below.

  ActiveCampaign

  ConvertKit

  ActiveCampaign

Navigation & Search

The ActiveCampaign home screen

The navigation is clean and well-categorized. You can access most features with a couple of clicks. The search functionality is limited which affects usability.

User-Interface

CRM in ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign's user-interface looks good. The features are well-labeled. Good design choices in key tools (like automation builder) improve usability.

Dashboard

The ActiveCampaign dashboard

The dashboard or overview is well laid out and makes good use of charts/graphs to give information at a glance. You can also customize it to show data you care about.

Marketing Automation Builder

The AC automation builder

The visual automation builder gives you lots of options to create complex automations. A few nagging issues (such as automated notifications) stop me from giving it 5 stars.

Email Editor

The ActiveCampaign email editor

The email editor is clunky with limited customization features. It makes sending simple text emails unnecessary complex. Also suffers from some speed issues.

Ease of Learning

ActiveCampaign is easy to learn. You won't have to consult the documentation much. A dedicated marketer can master it within a few days.

Finding Help

You can find help through support tickets and live chat easily, though phone support is missed.

Overall

ActiveCampaign's modern UI and simple visual campaign builder make the software easy to use. Speed and a clunky email editor remain major concerns. A better search tool would also be helpful.

  ConvertKit

1. Navigation & Search

ConvertKit form builder

Since ConvertKit's features are limited, finding the right tool is quite easy. Search functionality is limited, but you won't usually have trouble finding what you want.

2. User-Interface

The homescreen focuses on subscriber count

ConvertKit's UI is clean and easy on the eyes. Functions are well-labeled and the design is self-explanatory. The software is built for people who like to "figure things out" themselves.

3. Dashboard

ConvertKit dashboard

ConvertKit's dashboard shows very limited, but meaningful data (such as open rates). It is heavily text-focused with few visualizations. A stronger visual flair would have helped.

Marketing Automation Builder

ConvertKit marketing automation builder

Although the campaign builder isn't visual, its two-pane layout is self-explanatory. You can stack several "rules" on top of each other to create complex automations.

Email Editor

ConvertKit sequence builder

There is no better email editor as far as sending text emails is concerned. It looks and feels like writing a blog post. Creating visual emails, however, can be a challenge.

Ease of Learning

Every aspect of ConvertKit is easy to learn. Most users won't even need to consult the documentation to get started.

Finding Help

You can find help through support tickets easily, though phone and live chat support are missed.

Overall

ConvertKit's standout feature is its ultra-easy to use email scheduler and automation builder. It takes all the pain out of creating an email series and automating simple marketing tasks.

ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit: Pricing Comparison

ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit have very different feature profiles and target audiences. The former is aimed at businesses, agencies and startups. The latter targets solopreneurs, bloggers, authors and "one-man" marketing operations.

Although ActiveCampaign is cheaper on paper, to access most features, you can expect to pay over $100/month. ConvertKit, on the other hand, gives you all the features you need out of the box; you only pay for extra subscribers.

Let's look at ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit pricing in more detail below:

ActiveCampaigns ConvertKit
Starting Plan $9/month $29/month
Recommended Plan $99/month $29/month
Starting Contacts 500 1,000
Starting No. of Users 3 N/A
Onboarding Fee None None
Contract Term 1 Month 1 Month
Minimum Billing
  • For 5k Contacts
  • For 10k Contacts
  • For 20k Contacts
$1,013/year
$1,568/year
$2,428/year
$4,689/year
$348/year
$948/year
$1,428/year
$2,148/year
Refund Policy None 30-day
Demo Only for Enterprise Plan On Request
Overall Rating

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Neither ActiveCampaign nor ConvertKit charge any onboarding fee, though AC does offer optional paid onboarding.
  • Neither ActiveCampaign nor ConvertKit require an upfront commitment. You pay for each month and can cancel anytime.
  • ActiveCampaign has different plans with different features. Pricing changes for each plan as you add more subscribers.
  • ConvertKit's pricing changes as you add more subscribers. You get all features from the start, regardless of subscriber count.

Summary

ActiveCampaign is affordable, at least when you're starting out. The low initial investment makes it an attractive option for those getting started with marketing automation. However, for a large number of contacts, you can expect to pay over $100/month.

ConvertKit has a much more transparent pricing. You get all the features (and unlimited sending) regardless of how many contacts you have. The pricing also scales up nicely - for the same number of contacts, you can expect to pay half of ActiveCampaign.

On the whole, both ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign rank among the chapest marketing automation solutions on the market.

Support & Community Comparison

Support and community are often overlooked, but are critical for a smooth user-experience. Marketing automation software is often complex; good support will make using the software far easier and enjoyable.

Similarly, a strong community means you will have other business owners to work with and learn from. It also makes finding freelancers and consultants easier.

Let's compare ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit in terms of their support and community quality below.

ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit: Support

When evaluating ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit, I've considered the range and responsiveness of available support. I expect every software tool to at least offer email support, if not phone support (free or paid).

I've also considered the quality of documentation and whether there is any kind of training (video, recorded webinars, live training, etc.).

Support Feature ActiveCampaign ConvertKit
Phone Support
Email Support
Live Chat Support
Training Videos
In-Person Training
Migration Services
Support Responsiveness Fast Very Fast
Documentation Quality Average Average
Overall Rating

ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit: Community

For me, community covers everything from private Facebook groups to conferences. If the software has a vibrant community, it will have a large following among bloggers (who, consequently, can be a great source of advice and expertise). It will also have plenty of freelancers and consultants helping you get the most out of the software.

Let's see how ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit compare on these two counts below:

Community Feature ActiveCampaign ConvertKit
Blog AC Blog ConvertKit Blog
Podcast AC Podcast Reach Podcast
Conference None Craft + Commerce
Agency Partner Program Available Not Available
Live Events Limited Poor
Freelancer Availability Limited Poor
Overall Rating

In terms of search interest, ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are neck and neck. However, when you consider that ConvertKit has been around for just over four years, its search growth is quite remarkable.

Search trends for ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit

You can chalk this up to ConvertKit's popularity among bloggers and authors. These bloggers have helped create informal "communities" that are often more vibrant than ConvertKit itself creates.

These communities are ConvertKit's biggest strength as far as finding help and like-minded people is concerned.

ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, doesn't have a similar buzz in the blogosphere. This limits the kind of expertise you can access. Its blog and self-learning content is sparse as well.

Summary

In terms of community and support, ConvertKit is very clearly the better choice. It has a growing content library and widespread support among bloggers. ActiveCampaign suffers from a dull community and a few missing support features such as phone support and better learning material.

ActiveCampaign vs. ConvertKit: Final Verdict

ActiveCampaign is clearly the better software if you want a marketing automation solution. The visual editor is fantastic, the segmentation capabilities top-notch, and the CRM gradually improving in quality.

While this might be perfect for a small business, a startup or an agency, ActiveCampaign's pricing and features will overwhelm solopreneurs, bloggers and anyone who wants a fast and easy email marketing tool. For this audience, ease of use and low cost are more important. Hence, ConvertKit is a better choice for them.

Ultimately, choosing between ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit is simple: if you have a low budget and need email marketing, get ConvertKit.

However, if you have a small business with at least 1-2 people on your marketing team, you will appreciate ActiveCampaign more.

Choose ActiveCampaign if you:

  • Want an easy way to send complex automated emails
  • Want a super simple (but limited) CRM solution
  • Have a lot contacts and need solid segmentation
  • Have a limited budget and/or team size

Choose ConvertKit if you:

  • Send a lot of text-heavy emails
  • Want an easy way to send scheduled emails
  • Have an existing CRM/sales solution (or don't need one)
  • Run a small (under 3 people) marketing team

Not sure if either ConvertKit or ActiveCampaign is right for you? Then check out our other comparisons such as Infusionsoft vs. Ontraport and Infusionsoft vs. ConvertKit.