You might be wondering, “Why didn’t you choose MailChimp?”
If I’m being perfectly honest, I never even considered MailChimp when I thought about moving away from my own email plugin. MailChimp just wasn’t what I wanted. It didn’t have enough to lure me in.
But when I saw what ActiveCampaign had to offer, I switched over almost right away.
Add tags to learn more about your subscribers’ behaviour.
When I started re-coding my own newsletter plugin, I knew I wanted to add tag functionality to subscribers. These tags would tell me about who this subscriber is and what they’ve done. Examples might be:
- Purchased Ultimate Book Blogger
- Uses WordPress
- Interested in Email Marketing
- Interested in Moving to WordPress
- Likes Reading
- Is a Book Blogger
These tags would get added to the subscriber based on actions they’ve taken on my site, such as purchased products, downloaded freebies, or clicked links in my emails.
Then, let’s say I’m releasing a new plugin for book bloggers. I don’t need to email my ENTIRE mailing list. Instead, I could only email the people who I think might be interested (has tags: Is a Book Blogger and uses WordPress).
As far as I know, MailChimp doesn’t have tags like this. But tags alone weren’t enough to make me move to ActiveCampaign. Adding tags to my own newsletter plugin was very easy, so I already had those.
So let’s talk about what REALLY made me move.
ActiveCampaign is king of segmentation and automated email marketing.
Paid MailChimp does indeed have automation features but ActiveCampaign is like that on steroids.
With ActiveCampaign, it’s not just about sending emails at certain times. That’s only one small aspect of their automations. You can also use them to:
- Subscribe/unsubscribe someone from a list.
- Add/remove tags.
- Add notes.
- Adjust their “score”.
- Create complex if/else branches.
To help put it in perspective, let me show you an example.
Create an automation to identify subscribers who aren’t engaged.
With email marketing, it’s important to maintain a healthy, quality list. You don’t want it to be full of people who NEVER read your emails. That costs you money.
So I’ve created an automation that flags subscribers who never read my emails and sets them up to be removed from my list. There are two different automations.
#1: Identify people who aren’t engaged.
- Whenever a new person subscribes, the timer on this automation starts.
- After 60 days, the following question is asked: has the subscriber not opened any of the emails I’ve sent?
- If they HAVE opened emails, then they go back to the beginning and the 60 day timer starts again. This way they’re ALWAYS being checked—not just once.
- If they HAVEN’T opened any emails, then they receive a new tag on their profile: “Disengaged”.
- Then the automation ends.
#2: Contact disengaged contacts.
This next automation gets triggered whenever the “Disengaged” tag is added to a contact’s profile. So it would begin right after step #4 from the above automation list.
- An email is sent to the subscriber, asking them if they’re still interested in receiving my emails. If so, they’re invited to click a certain link within two weeks.
- Then the automation waits for two weeks.
- After those two weeks, it checks to see if the person did in fact click the link.
- If so, the “Disengaged” tag is removed and a new tag is added: “Removed Disengagement Tag”. This new tag lets me know that the subscriber was disengaged at one point but asked to remain a subscriber. I don’t do anything with this tag, it’s just for my reference.
- If the person DID NOT click the link, then they’re automatically unsubscribed from all lists.
This is just the tip of the automation iceberg.
This example is honestly quite simple.
I haven’t yet dug super deep into automations but I know they’re something I want to explore more in the future as I get more serious about email marketing.
Powerfully target specific groups of contacts.
Okay to be totally honest, I’m not sure how good MailChimp is at this. I know you can create “groups” in MailChimp, but I’m not sure how awesome they are.
Well, in ActiveCampaign, they’re insanely awesome.
Look at this one way I was able to target a small segment of my mailing list to advertise a flash sale for Ultimate Book Blogger:
As I expand my email marketing, I’m starting to really focus on sending people content that’s RELEVANT to them and their interests. So in this case, I only wanted to contact people who:
- Were on my main mailing list.
- AND had NOT purchased Ultimate Book Blogger.
- AND were interested in books.
- AND had at least one of the following tags:
My automation plans for the future.
Once I finish some of the projects I’m working on now and free up more time, I’m going to really focus on my email marketing.
Right now my #1 goal is to create a variety of automations targeted at specific interests.
So if someone downloads a content upgrade related to book blogging, they’ll then get a series of emails that offer exclusive book blogging tips.
If someone downloads an upgrade related to business, they’ll get a series of emails where I share my business insights, goals, and lessons.
MailChimp is a great option if you have one main list or want to deliver simple email-based automations.
I’m not bashing MailChimp; I think it’s a great platform. It just wasn’t going to work for me and the direction of my business.
I recently complained about my lack of niche and multiple audiences. I felt like I didn’t know how to handle catering to book bloggers, freelancers, and WordPress-ers.
But through advanced tagging, segmentation, and automations, I feel like ActiveCampaign has helped push me in the right direction. I don’t have to send everyone everything. I can send people only the content that they’re genuinely interested in.
I recommend MailChimp if:
- You’re only just starting out with your blog/business.
- You want to send the same emails to everyone on your list.
- You only want a simple RSS-to-email campaign.
- If you do want automations, you only need to be able to send automated, scheduled emails.
I recommend ActiveCampaign if:
- You’ve used MailChimp and feel like you’ve outgrown it.
- You’re looking to expand your business.
- You want to create/expand/optimise your sales funnel.
- You want more advanced list segmentation to target groups of subscribers.
- You want to collect more data about your subscribers using tags.
- You’re a developer who wants an incredibly simple and useful API to work with.