It almost seems unfair to pit ActiveCampaign vs AWeber in this manner. After all, AC is one of the best CRM tools in the market today.
On the other hand, AWeber’s more of a so-so platform. Nevertheless, we’re comparing both services today. Who knows?
You just might end up preferring one over the other.
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ActiveCampaign vs AWeber: a little background on both platforms
Before we start, let’s take a quick refresher on both platforms. I’m sure you’ve heard of Active Campaign one way or another - unless you’re very new to the digital marketing space.
However, I can’t say the same for AWeber. Despite not being all too new in the game, the platform hasn’t exactly made a name for itself and rarely makes the top ten of any email marketing software list you’ll find.
Nonetheless, let’s give it a fair chance.
What is ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign self-categorizes itself as a customer experience automation platform. The tool currently has over 100,000 registered active users across more than 161 countries.
Basically what the platform does is it automates most of your marketing, retargeting, and customer experience services in the background so you don’t have to keep an eye on it 24/7.
What is AWeber?
AWeber is best compared to MailChimp - an email marketing automation platform that offers a free service. Like ActiveCampaign, it caters to over 100,000 users from all over the globe.
One of its best features is that it offers a free plan without a time limit. Of course, you’ll have to pay for certain features. Nonetheless, it’s a good platform for startups who are looking for a service you don’t have to pay for.
Comparing the editors
The first thing I like to look at with any platform is the builder feature. And why not?
Of course, pricing is important but often it’s the last thing on my mind. It’s important to see if the features are right for me and my business in particular. I’d imagine you value the same aspects before subscribing to any tool for your business.
The builder is one of the main aspects of email automation apps like these. Since you’ll be spending most of your time there, I suggest you look into three things:
Let’s take a closer look at each of their editors.
You may think that ActiveCampaigns' more advanced set of features makes it a tad more complicated to navigate. In some ways, that may be true. After all, there is a small learning curve you’ll have to get over when you’re just starting to get to know the platform.
However, I found that it was so incredibly well-designed and streamlined that it actually made it easier for me to determine what I needed to do next.
There were no “hidden” features that needed to be discovered once you clicked on certain widgets, and everything flowed seamlessly so I had no trouble creating my campaigns and automations.
On the other hand, while this tool might have less features, the way its editor is designed made it a bit more confusing compared to the former. Their editor isn’t as visually-oriented as ActiveCampaigns, and some of its features are unnecessarily hidden under different sections which makes it difficult to navigate what you need to do.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re already well-versed in creating automations, you might already know exactly what you need to do so you’re not at risk of forgetting things you need done.
However, it’s still a big inconvenience to have to figure out where everything is and you might end up thinking specific features are unavailable.
Features for email marketing
Other important things to consider are the features both tools have to offer you and your business. Since these kinds of applications are designed to help you automate your advertising process, it only makes sense to invest in the one that makes most sense for your business.
The good thing about comparing qualities is that it depends entirely on your needs. One may offer more compared to the other, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’d have a use for all of the extra attributes. Some businesses will need a simpler solution and that’s okay.
Let’s take a quick look at the qualities that each of these two email automation platforms offers.
ActiveCampaign’s emailing automations are generally more streamlined and more sophisticated. There are options that allow you to send automated emails depending on customer activity in-site with auto-tagging involved. This means you don’t have to worry about manually reviewing your customer’s experience and progress on your website to determine which tags would work best for them.
The editor also allows for an easier and more intuitive experience in creating these auto-email prompts.
On the other hand, AWeber focuses on a more “rustic” approach to tagging. You’ll have to do it yourself and there aren’t many automatic prompts to choose from. Not to mention, the builder isn’t as sleek compared to its competition.
But if you’re looking for a simpler program then you’ll probably enjoy what it has to offer you and your business. Just take note that it will take more time and effort compared to the former.
Customizing registration forms
Registration forms on both apps are pretty much as straightforward as it gets. The overall feel and experience depend heavily on the builder of course, but other than that, there are just a few distinct differences between the two.
It’s also important to note that AWeber is significantly “better” in terms of flexibility in this aspect compared to its competition. For example, AWeber’s form builder contains more than just field options. You’re also able to add files, redirect pages, and videos among other widgets and features.
You’re also able to customize the thank you page once a lead completes the form and proceeds with a subscription.
However, one significant drawback you have to take note of is that the designs and forms on AWeber can be considered dated and the builder is significantly lacking the streamlined process we’re familiar with on ActiveCampaign.
On the other hand, AC’s forms editor has enough flexibility to let you do the job. However, you are limited to a few fields on the basic plan plus you have to deal with the branding staying on your pages. You do have the option to upgrade which gives you access to floating bars and more.
Spam and design tests
One of ActiveCampaign’s best selling points is their spam testing tool. This feature lets you run your emails through and then it tells you whether or not it’s likely to end up in a spam folder. This way, you can guarantee or at least check the likelihood of deliverability for your campaigns.
Having said that, you should be aware that while AW doesn’t offer this feature, AC isn’t the best in terms of functionality either. So while ActiveCampaign may have a clear edge in today’s competition, it doesn’t measure up compared to other platforms that offer similar tools.
Analytics and reports
Active Campaign has one of the best analytics tools in the industry. Yes, you’re missing out on eCommerce reporting but aside from that, you get a clear and precise view of your email opens, button clicks, bounced emails, and unsubscribe activity. There are also more advanced features like geocentric and social media analytic information.
That’s not to say that these features are missing from AWeber. However, we did note that some of the more advanced features are harder to find and would take you more than just a single click to navigate your way through their messy dashboard.
It was an inconvenience I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. But still, to each their own. If you don’t mind the design flaw, the analytics tool is good and is comparable to AC.
It’s important to make sure you’re choosing a platform that won’t land your efforts in the spam folder - or worse, undelivered. Both Active Campaign and AWeber performed admirably with nearly the same results in each test we’d done.
As far as delivering your emails to the primary inbox goes, ActiveCampaign was a clear winner. But not by much, we saw a 76% deliverability rate for AC while AW saw nearly 74% of our campaigns delivered.
On that note, the likelihood of it ending up in spam is also higher with AWeber compared to the former. With a 15% chance of it ending up in the SPAM folder versus AC’s 6.2%.
But AWeber overtakes ActiveCampaign when it comes to messages marked as undelivered. Having only gotten a 2.2% rating versus 8.3% on the AC platform.
If you look at it primarily on a deliverability basis, Active Campaign wins against AWeber. However, like I mentioned before, it isn’t by a huge percentage.
Third party integrations
Integration-wise, both tools are pretty much the same. They both have a good list of third party apps you can integrate and it all really depends on exactly what you need for your business. If you don’t plan on integrating any applications, then you really won’t have a problem with either service.
One thing I like about the two autoresponder apps is the fact that their customer support teams are proactive and easy to reach. I didn’t have a problem reaching either department and was always met with helpful answers and faced eager to help representatives who fixed any issues I brought up in a timely manner.
An attractive aspect you need to be aware of is that AWeber offers a free plan that covers 0-500 subscribers. On the other hand, ActiveCampaign does not have any free plans.
That said, you should take a closer look at how each of these services compares when it comes to pricing.
ActiveCampaign offers monthly and annual payment methods for each of their four plans. The great thing about their pricing is that they have a negotiable rate for a certain number of subscribers depending on the plan you’re on. There’s even room to grow to over 100,000 on your mailing list.
The Lite Plan starts at $15 each month for a monthly subscription. It can get as expensive as over $300 each month. But if you’re ready to commit, I suggest you take a look at the annual billing option.
On the other hand, the Plus Plan will cost at least $70 and can reach up to nearly $400 or more depending on your subscriber count. Developing a list of over 50,000 followers will allow you to negotiate your rate with the platform.
The Professional Plan - which is their most popular plan will run you around $159 to over $599 on a monthly basis. Like the previous plan, you’re able to negotiate the pricing upwards of 50,000 subs.
And finally, their Enterprise Plan is their most advanced option and costs $279 a month on a basic level of up to 1,000 subscribers. Reaching 10k will cost you $499 and any more than that, you’ll have to haggle for.
On the other hand, Aweber offers a free plan for up to 500 subscribers which is always a good offer for startups. They also have monthly, quarterly, and annual payment options.
Unlike ActiveCampaign, AWeber only has plans set aside for up to 25,000 subscribers on your mailing list. There are five price tiers according to the number of subs you have, and it would cost you as little as $19 each month or up to $149 a month.
Of course, you could also opt for annual billing which would save you 14.9% off the monthly fee.
AWeber pros and cons
ActiveCampaign pros and cons
Which should I choose? Final words
Ultimately, it depends on exactly what you need. AWeber is by no means my favorite platform. But that’s not to say it won’t work well for your business in particular. I suggest taking a second to review every pro and con to each service and making a decision based on how it would directly affect your venture.
After all, no two businesses will succeed using the same formula and tactics. You have to make a few alterations here and there. I have to say that while AWeber does put up a valiant effort, I can’t say I’m swayed to change favorites anytime soon.
I do however, like the fact that AWeber has a free plan in place for anyone who wants something similar to MailChimp’s free services. And I’ve grown to have a little more respect for the platform this time around. But it’s still not my cup of tea.
On the other hand, ActiveCampaign’s intuitive interface wins front and center. I value the user intuitiveness of a platform above anything else and the way AC is streamlined to make your tasks more easily visible make it a clear winner in my book.