The goal of this Aweber versus ActiveCampaign review post is to help you understand the core differences between these two platforms…
Because they are inherently quite different and serve different purposes.
Now, this post will not simply regurgitate the information that's found on their websites.
But, you will want to open each of their websites to compare features...
So, real quick... Before we dive into the deep end:
Now, we are going to go deeper into the "WHY" behind each of these two services I use in order to answer this specific question:
Why is Aweber the best option for some businesses and why is ActiveCampaign better suited for other businesses?
Because they have very different purposes when used correctly.
One technical piece this post will cover is the Aweber pricing and ActiveCampaign pricing because there is quite a large difference in pricing…
And one of these two platforms does a few tricky things with their billing that you need to know about...
Because it can cause you to spend much more in the course of a year...
To help you figure out which software tool is most in alignment with your current situation and business model.
"But Miles? Aren't they both just email marketing autoresponders…?"
No, they're not! And this is what most people get wrong…
The easiest differentiation is that Aweber is indeed a classic style autoresponder with all the modern tagging and segmenting tools.
At this job, they are is still one of the best in the world.
ActiveCampaign, however, is an entire marketing automation solution more closely aligned to Infusionsoft or Ontraport due to their extremely powerful automation capabilities.
Autoresponder vs. Marketing Automation
Now, as we get into the weeds a little bit deeper…
You have to realize that the phrase "marketing automation" has become an absolute buzzword in our industry that people are tacking on to software solutions that don't necessarily warrant the phrase.
Or maybe a better way of saying this is…
Not all marketing automation tools are equal in their strength, power and difficulty to set up!
What do I mean by this?
Well, technically and autoresponder is a form of marketing automation.
When you opt into a list and an autoresponder sends you a follow-up series of emails… That technically is marketing automation.
But, in our current age of behavioral dynamic response marketing advanced list segmentation and sales funnel automations...
Most companies using the 'marketing automation' buzzword aren't what I'd call true marketing automation services.
The best way for you to understand the difference is this:
An autoresponder is great for managing your subscribers and the emails they receive. That's it!
Every autoresponder today has the ability to create different email segments and trigger specific responses on certain actions…
We will talk by this more, below...
A marketing automation system is actually where you run your entire business…
So for example, ActiveCampaign actually controls my customers access to the various products or memberships they purchase.
ActiveCampaign also manages my email subscribers and their emails, but it is really my business management system that controls customer access to my various products..
This means it is much more complex, it is a bit more fragile and requires more technical prowess to manage… More on this later, too.
For right now, the big distinction is that Aweber is an absolute bulletproof autoresponder.
ActiveCampaign is one of the most flexible and cost-effective marketing automation solutions available today.
Do you need an autoresponder or marketing automation?
Now that you know the difference between the two, which one do you need?
This is probably the most important question in the entire post…
There are a lot of fake gurus out there selling you that "marketing automation is required"
I disagree completely.
In fact, many businesses try to 'automate everything' too soon and cause more problems and end up wasting a ton of time and energy.
For most business owners who are not yet earning $20,000 per month, who are not selling several thousands of products per year, marketing automation is not going to create a positive cashflow return on the time, energy and money invested.
Melanie and I ran on a simple autoresponder sequence of 10 emails for over seven years and generated well over $1 million with zero marketing automation.
I now realize that our focus on the more important work like content marketing, audience growth, conversion rate optimization is why we were able to create such a successful business.
We did not get bogged down in fancy "on click segmentation" or dealing with the tech integrations of cart abandonment sequences until AFTER we had a lead flow and customer flow volume high enough to make those activities worthwhile.
When we made the shift to ActiveCampaign for a full on marketing automation solution, we were already making well over $40,000 per month.
This allowed me to hire a marketing automation expert who I not only paid to set everything up, but I still pay him a $500 monthly retainer just in case I need help.
This is because ActiveCampaign as a full on marketing automation solution is 10x - 25x more confusing.
And this is where most entrepreneurs kill their growth and momentum…
They hear about success stories with fancy marketing automation systems like ActiveCampaign, they sign-up…
And like a punch in the back of the head, they realize that you have to have a PhD in engineering to understand their platform.
Then they never end up making any progress...
And ultimately they end up paying a lot more for a simple autoresponder system.
It's like buying a race car and only driving in residential streets at under 25 mph… It simply does not make sense.
One other note... When you do make the migration, moving from one email marketing system to another is actually very simple.
Compared to moving a website from one host to another it is as simple as exporting spreadsheet, importing a spreadsheet and adding in a few emails.
It took us less than an afternoon to migrate when the time was right.
This further reinforces my philosophy that is best for new marketers to start with a simple autoresponder sequence until they gain massive growth.
Then, when cashflow and customer volume permit, migrate to a more advanced system under the supervision and with the help of a professional.
Next, let's talk about the different pricing for Aweber vs. Activecampaign.
Aweber Pricing Vs. ActiveCampaign Pricing
The numbers prove clearly that Aweber's pricing is a better model for you, long term…
Let's break the pricing down a bit more, tho... To substantiate that claim.
First off, Aweber's pricing starts with a 30 day free trial when you click here
After your first month free, Aweber's price goes to $19 per month until you reach the 500 contacts level.
ActiveCampaign's pricing does not offer a free trial and is $15 per month until you reach the 500 contact level.
It may appear as if ActiveCampaign is less expensive at the start, but that is not necessarily the reality.
With Aweber giving a free month trial, if you grow your list to more than 500 subscribers within four months, Aweber is actually less-expensive.
The next level for both Aweber and ActiveCampaign costs $29 per month but Aweber keeps you on this price until 2500 contacts whereas ActiveCampaign increases their price again at 1000 contacts.
By the time you hit 1001 contacts, you are still only paying $29 per month with Aweber but you are now paying $49 per month with ActiveCampaign.
Seems like ActiveCampaign is trying to be tricky with their pricing to make it seem like they are less expensive when they clearly are not.
The gap gets wider as your contact list grows because you're paying for a full marketing automation solution and not just an autoresponder.
Up to 5000 contacts, Aweber is $49 per month ActiveCampaign is $89 per month.
Up to 10,000 contacts, Aweber is $69 per month and ActiveCampaign is $139 per month.
Up to 25,000 contacts, Aweber is $149 per month and ActiveCampaign is $225 per month.
One other note about pricing.
Aweber automatically upgrades your account when you hit the next threshold and begins charging you more at that point, seamlessly.
ActiveCampaign uses some tricky notifications within the dashboard when you reach 80% of your capacity saying "it's time for you to upgrade!"
This is borderline unethical marketing because they are tricking you into paying for the next service level when you have 20% of the current service level available. SMH.
I fell for this trick once and ended up paying for additional quota before we grew to actually utilize the new space we were paying for.
Complete waste... They should seamlessly upgrade as you grow and not trick their customers into paying more, earlier.
When I migrated my list from Aweber to ActiveCampaign we had over 100,000 subscribers…
And the list at that size is less expensive to manage at Aweber than it is on ActiveCampaign.
Now, growth in your business is rarely about saving money…
You will need to invest money where it will generate a return on investment.
But in the early days, all you need is a simple autoresponder that allows you to segment audiences based on actions, which both autoresponder's can do.
This means you have the full capability on Aweber to add a user to a new segment when they click on a specific link
Which is all you need until you're bringing in thousands of new customers each quarter.
What is the benefit of ActiveCampaign marketing automation?
You may be reading this and thinking:
"Miles you seem pretty set on Aweber as the best solution… Why did you migrate to ActiveCampaign?"
And this is a great question…
First of all, the migration happened after ClickFunnels lost tens of thousands of dollars of my money due to some bugs in their system.
I built out a full click funnels alternative and needed a new "engine" to run the membership program that I was replacing.
I reached out to a friend, Dave Wooding with IntegratePro.com who specializes in building out membership programs and advanced marketing automation.
With the sheer volume of subscribers we had, over 100,000 at the time, and the fact that we run tens of thousands of transactions per year...
Dave was able to identify several opportunities for growth in our business with better marketing automation technology.
Plus, the shopping cart he recommended, Thrive cart, directly integrates into ActiveCampaign with the ability to run specific automations on customer actions…
For example, when a customer misses a payment on a monthly membership… They enter a specific automation in ActiveCampaign.
For my WordPress sites, subscribers and customers can gain access to specific pages or courses with ActiveCampaign's Active Member 360 plugin.
When a customer refunds or cancels their account, they would go into a separate specific automation that notifies my support and follows up with them automatically…
Each of these automations can have very specific follow-up sequences either offering different products as downsells or sending follow-up emails to prompt the customer to add a new credit card number.
Additionally, we have set up advanced email marketing tracking on our website...
Combined with the goals within ActiveCampaign based on page views, we are able to run cart abandonment sequences and send email based retargeting messages.
But here's the thing…
Even with my 15+ years Internet marketing experience, I have a very difficult time navigating within ActiveCampaign...
And I have accidentally deleted entire follow up sequences because of clicking one erroneous button trying to end a split test.
Personal opinion... A marketing automation system like this should not be so 'delicate'
It takes an engineering based mind (Dave Wooding was an electrical engineer before he got into web development software coding in the late 90s) in order to understand how to make ActiveCampaign work.
I spent thousands on getting Dave's help to build out my membership program and now I currently pay him $500 per month, every month…
Whether I need his services are not…
To just keep him on retainer to help me debug ActiveCampaign's finicky nature and add more advanced marketing automations.
Email Marketing Support
As I mentioned above, I pay Dave $500 a month to act as my support for ActiveCampaign.
This is not to say I have not reached out to ActiveCampaign's support before, but they were not helpful in solving problems as they came up.
Reaching out to ActiveCampaign support proved to be a very frustrating process for me so I invested in a teammate who now communicates with their support when he doesn't know how to resolve something.
In contrast, Aweber's support is friendly and additionally they work 24 hours a day and seven days per week.
If you have a question on how to get a specific autoresponder segment to work.
Or how to set up a basic automation within Aweber to get a user added to a new follow up sequence when they click a link within the email, you simply reach out to Aweber support.
They have literally taken the time to cut videos to show me exactly step-by-step how to accomplish that which I'm trying to do.
I've been impressed with Aweber's support time and time again and highly recommend you leverage them as you are growing your email list and business online.
Who has the best email deliverability?
In the email marketing game, if your emails are not hitting the subscribers' primary inbox, you are not getting the attention you desire.
As your list grows to 50,000 subscribers, 100,000 subscribers, 150,000 subscribers and beyond…
Deliverability to your subscribers' inbox gets more and more difficult.
But even when your list is 2200 subscribers, deliverability is still the key to maximize your return on email marketing investment.
We run many different "email list scrubbing" automations to make sure we are pulling off email addresses that have not been opening or clicking on our emails for three months or more.
With these segments often being tens of thousands of subscribers, I decided to run a test between ActiveCampaign and Aweber to see who has the best deliverability.
With a list of 30,000 subscribers who had not opened a single email in 180 days, I uploaded that list to Aweber and sent three broadcast emails.
Over 6% of the list opened an email from Aweber!
Now, can it be coincidence that someone does not open a single email for 180 days and happens to open that one next email I've sent?
Statistically speaking this is many standard deviations away from what one would expect.
And it proves with data that Aweber definitely has better deliverability than ActiveCampaign.
Their company histories speak a lot in this realm to. Aweber is the originator of the email marketing autoresponder and they have the longest standing relationships with the white listing departments at the different email service providers out of any company.
And this is why I recommend Aweber as the autoresponder for most new marketers.
You get a 30 day free trial…
As your list grows you save money, about $500 per year at just 2501 subscribers.
24 hour support, 7 days per week.
Ease of setup and use…
This last one is key…
If you're not familiar with the idea of "opportunity cost" let me sum that up for you here in closing.
Whenever you decide to add on a new software or process that requires a learning curve, the time you spend is taken away from other activities.
For new marketers, the more time and energy you focus on content marketing, growing your list, creating great product for your people, the better.
The more time you spend fiddling around with integrations inside of software solutions, the less time you have to spend on the important things mentioned above.
This is the opportunity cost problem.
Even when I made the move over to ActiveCampaign I knew the opportunity cost was so great for me to learn this system...
This is why it was more valuable for me to continue to make my videos and publish my content while hiring Dave to do the work for me.
If you're not in a position to hire someone to do the advanced marketing automation work for you and to be on retainer…
Stick with the simple solution that helped me make my first million online... Aweber!
Continue to focus on growing your audience, growing your list and growing your cash flow…
It took me seven years to grow my business to a point where it made sense to get onto a "fancy email automation" system…
And honestly, this was a very smart business decision…
I highly recommend you stay focused on the simple approach first and be sure you are spending your time publishing more great content and value for your audience!