There’s a common saying in the marketing world: “The money is in the list.”
It means that the way you split, engage, and communicate with your list is crucial to success.
Get this one simple thing right, and your revenue may just go through the roof.
So, how do you monetize your email list?
Simple! All you need to do is choose the right email marketing tool.
ActiveCampaign and Drip are two of the best-known “ECRM” and email solutions on the market. They do so much more than simply help you connect with your audience through fancy-looking messages.
They also give you everything you need to build genuine relationships with your customers.
So, how do you choose between them?
We’re here to help.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Pricing
Money might not be able to buy happiness, but it’s great for purchasing convenience.
Often, the bigger your budget for email marketing, the easier it’ll be to get a wide range of useful tools for your campaigns.
Since ActiveCampaign and Drip aren’t just “basic” email marketing services, they do charge a little extra for their services.
So, which option gives you better value?
Well, ActiveCampaign and Drip both charge based on the number of contacts you have, so that’s a good start. It means you can easily upgrade your strategy as your email marketing list grows.
ActiveCampaign has four plans to choose from:
The first prices you see on the ActiveCampaign site are for 500 subscribers. Unfortunately, that won’t satisfy your appetite for very long. At least, not if you’re making the most of your email marketing.
The more contacts you need to connect with, the more the pricing goes up.
Additionally, you may also want to upgrade to more “premium” packages if you’re looking for handy features like deep data integrations, custom branding, and of course, that all-important CRM.
ActiveCampaign advertises its “Plus” plan starting at $49 per month as its most popular choice. However, it’s the lowest-priced option you can go for if you don’t want ActiveCampaign branding scattered over your emails.
It’s also the first package that lets you really play with your contact management options.
At least you get unlimited sending in all of the pricing options, and free migration too. You can also “request” a demo for a brief free trial.
So, let’s take a look at Drip, shall we?
Drip is another ECRM tool that lets companies send personalized emails to carefully segmented lists.
The solution comes with access to full-service email automation, as well as integrations with hundreds of services and apps, email personalization, tracking, and more.
Like ActiveCampaign, Drip used to come with four pricing packages, including a free tier for up to 100 subscribers. However, I couldn’t find that option anymore on the site. It seems to have been replaced with a free demo instead.
The absence of the “Starter” package means that we’re left with Basic, Pro, and Enterprise.
Basic covers up to 2,500 subscribers at $49 per month and Pro supports up to 5,000 subscribers at $122 per month. That means that even with the loss of the free package, Drip is instantly cheaper than ActiveCampaign.
But is it better value?
Well, you do get access to all of the features with all of the plans – which is a good start. I generally prefer this pricing option to ActiveCampaign’s approach. It means that you’re only increasing your budget the more subscribers you need to connect with.
Additionally, if you’re super satisfied with Drip, then it’s worth switching to annual billing, as the company offers small discounts when you pay in advance.
One thing to be aware of? If you exceed the limit of subscribers for your specific plan, Drip will automatically upgrade you to a higher-cost account.
That also means that you’ll automatically drop to a lower-priced account when you clean up your list and remove subscribers too.
Drip also offers free migration services – just like ActiveCampaign.
Drip comes out on top with the simplest pricing structure, lower costs, and better value all around.
It’s also good to know that if you’re paying more than you need to for your package, Drip will automatically drop you to a lower-priced tier.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Automation
The right price is important, but it’s crucial to have functionality too.
Both ActiveCampaign and Drip give you an intuitive environment for building and sending automated email campaigns. More importantly, those campaigns are designed to be customized to the needs of your target audience.
ActiveCampaign ultimately offers one of the best automation pipelines I’ve ever seen. It’s perhaps the most in-depth offering I’ve ever played with that still happens to be easy to use, thanks to drag-and-drop workflow builder.
Using the ActiveCampaign automation tools, you can even automatically set your contacts to move into new segments when they complete a certain action, like clicking on a link or making a purchase.
The whole experience with ActiveCampaign is as clean and immersive as they come.
I felt like an email ninja, throwing in integrations left and right and watching my workflow grow naturally.
You can even use templates to establish pipelines designed to accomplish your specific goals – that’s great for beginners.
Thanks to the integrated CRM, it’s also possible to automate a lot of your sales processes too. For instance, you can set it up so that the leads generated by your marketing campaigns join your pipeline as a deal to follow up on.
Now, to be fair, there were a couple of moments where the experience seemed to lag a little for me on ActiveCampaign.
For instance, adding a new email to your workflow means stepping out of the builder and moving into the email template tool instead.
Once you’re done, you don’t even go back to the email pipeline automatically; you have to go and find it again by clicking through the UI.
Clearly, there are places where ActiveCampaign could be more streamlined, but those issues weren’t deal-breakers – not for me at least.
So let’s take a look at Drip.
I was pleasantly surprised by the automation editor in Drip. It’s really easy to use, well-designed, flexible, and brimming with features.
The colorful design even makes the whole experience feel fun like you’re creating a digital masterpiece.
You have plenty of automation triggers to choose from, including page views, tags, link clicks, and even actions in integrated tools. For instance, you can use a purchase in your Shopify store as a trigger.
As you go, you can add additional workflow steps, including moving contacts into other campaigns, splitting lists down multiple paths and more.
I honestly didn’t expect Drip to compare to ActiveCampaign at all.
However, the workflow editor allows businesses to build out virtually any kind of automation that they choose, in a highly immersive and intuitive way.
There’s even the option to set up your own unique automation rules- actions that apply whenever a contact on your list performs a specific action.
For instance, if someone views a specific page on your site, you can set up a rule that automatically sends them an email, without having to establish a full campaign for that action.
I liked the Drip automation tools – more than I expected to.
Both Drip and ActiveCampaign are pretty spectacular when it comes to email automation.
ActiveCampaign is still the go-to choice if you have a complex sales process and want to connect your sales and marketing teams. However, if you’re looking for something simple and effective, Drip is a great option too.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Segmentation and CRM
Now we come to the feature that really sets ActiveCampaign and Drip apart.
These tools are specially designed not just to help you send the right messages to your leads, but also to segment those leads so you can build stronger relationships with your audience.
With ActiveCampaign, you’ll be able to import your contact list using just one click of a button. There’s also the option to upload a CSV file.
Once you’ve got all your contacts on your account, ActiveCampaign offers tags and lists to help you organize those connections.
Basically, lists are how you create specific groups that you want to send individual campaigns to, and tags are the tools that you use to identify your VIP customers, people who aren’t engaging with your emails, and so on.
ActiveCampaign ensures that you can combine the segmentation aspects of the tool with tracking and sales features too, thanks to the functionality of the built-in CRM.
Creating specific lists for your marketing campaigns feels as smooth and streamlined as possible, which is great when you don’t want to spend hours managing your segmentation strategy.
Additionally, ActiveCampaign also comes with its own lead-scoring system built-in, which means that you can track the leads in your list that are most likely to convert into customers.
There’s even an option to track precisely where your customers are in the sales cycle, all the way from “contact” when you first need to reach out to your audience member, to “follow up.
Notably, there are a few things missing in the segmentation options.
For instance, you’re not going to get the in-depth customer-by-customer reports that you get from options like Salesforce and Klaviyo.
However, ActiveCampaign does offer one of the most comprehensive segmentation features I’ve seen in an email marketing tool.
If you’re looking for a way to combine your sales and marketing teams for better lead nurturing and conversion rates, then ActiveCampaign could be the answer.
There are even machine learning features built-in for people who are willing to pay for the higher-tier plans.
These determine which leads are most worth pursuing, and which you need to give a little more time before you take the plunge and deliver an offer.
So, how does Drip measure up?
Fairly well, actually.
Like with ActiveCampaign, you get to create specific segments by combining a bunch of different data.
For instance, you can create a list of people who have clicked an email in an automation sequence, or people who haven’t touched the last couple of emails they received.
With tags, events, and custom fields, it’s easy enough to keep track of how people are interacting with your business and products.
Additionally, Drip keeps track of every open, click, and purchase, so you can understand what each individual customer is looking for from you.
Adding tags to your contacts will help with categorizing them.
You can use these tags to evaluate things like source (where the customer came to your list from), whether they’ve made a purchase in the past, or if they’ve visited specific pages on your site.
Tags are available to apply to the Drip universal “Rules” function and in automated workflows.
Like with ActiveCampaign, there’s an option to set up lead scoring for those super-hot prospects that are just waiting for a chance to buy.
Drip’s entire workflow is designed to help you automatically engage with people at the most critical stages in their buying cycle
This is a really tough one for me. I’d have to say that both Drip and ActiveCampaign are really powerful in terms of list management.
However, Drip is just slightly ahead of the curve for ease of use. The simple interface is really immersive and fantastic for people who aren’t used to segmenting their email campaigns.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Email Marketing and Ecommerce
Okay, we know how automation works, and we’ve got a contact list sorted.
Now it’s time to put those seductive email templates to the test.
ActiveCampaign helps you to build stunning campaigns with a simple drag-and-drop tool.
You can design follow-up messages, campaigns, individual emails, and more. There are also options to create content for split-testing, data-based campaigns, and RSS-triggered emails.
In other words, just about anything you might need to do for an email campaign, ActiveCampaign will help you to do it.
Not only is ActiveCampaign’s email builder super easy to use, but the templates available are really attractive too. They’re beautifully modern (For the most part), and they’re all highly mobile responsive.
One issue? You don’t get many options to choose from. You’re not going to be able to access the hundreds of templates you’d get from MailChimp for instance.
Still, as well all know, it’s not the size of the template database that counts, it’s how you use it.
If you’re feeling creative, you’ve got plenty of options to customize your templates according to your specific needs.
For instance, you can change where your text blocks are, add images and buttons, or even embed a video if you want to.
Keep in mind that if you’re on the lowest pricing tier, you won’t be able to change the branding and colors of your email campaigns. That’s one of the reasons that it’s pretty much impossible to create a professional-looking campaign on the “Lite” package for ActiveCampaign.
Drip’s pretty impressive with its email marketing options too.
One downside? There are only 7 templates to choose from, and they’re just basic format structures. There’s nothing really inspiring here:
Still, if you’re the kind of person who likes to build email campaigns from scratch, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. Drip is more suited to people who want to apply their own styles, backgrounds, and colors.
The tool is designed to help companies and businesses send meaningful messages across multiple touchpoints so that you can create everything from custom emails to unique SMS messages, social media campaigns, and more.
There are even snail mail templates!
The visual email builder makes it super straightforward for anyone to create stunning emails. What’s more, there are liquid and personalized content blocks available so you can ensure that each email is just as special as your target customer.
You’ll even be able to show clients dynamic recommendations, the goods they’ve left in their carts and more, without hiring a coding specialist.
With Drip, you can also keep the customer journey moving along smoothly with social media and on other channels using third-party integrations.
There are plenty of options to take a standard email marketing campaign and turn it into an omnichannel strategy for engaging your target audience.
If you’re looking for ready-to-go email marketing templates that just need a few basic features adding to them, then ActiveCampaign is the clear choice.
On the other hand, if you need something that’s more intelligent, with dynamic emails, code-free cleverness, and omnichannel marketing, then Drip seems to be the best option here.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: A/B Testing and Analytics
There’s only one way to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your marketing investments.
That’s right; you’ve gotta test them.
Reporting and analytics are common features of email marketing tools, but some offer more insights than others.
ActiveCampaign is quite impressive when it comes to A/B testing and analytics.
You’ll be able to implement everything from link tracking, to reply tracking, unsubscribe tracking, and even Google Analytics to give you the insights you need.
There’s spam monitoring built into the ActiveCampaign system, which means that you’re less likely to bounce out of your consumer’s inbox because ActiveCampaign can tell you if you’re going to be classified as spam.
Additionally, if you open the “Reports” tab on your toolbar, you can look more in-depth at what’s happening with your campaigns.
The Reports section is really useful for figuring out where certain things are going wrong in your campaigns. For instance, you can see if people are continually opening your emails, or whether you’re losing the interest of your subscribers.
The built-in CRM with ActiveCampaign also makes it easy to track marketing revenue. You’ll be able to look at the outcomes of the interactions in your eCommerce store and determine how many conversions your emails are realistically sending your way.
Even A/B testing on ActiveCampaign is super immersive. You can either test basic things like form information and subject lines, or you can split test your entire drip campaign in one go.
All you need to do to split test an entire campaign is drag and drop the “Split” option into your workflow; then you can start tracking the results of each option immediately.
If your ActiveCampaign plan gives you access to the CRM functionality, then you’ll also get to see your deal reports too, which looks at everything from your funnel performance, to how you’re acquiring marketing and sales leads.
Drip offers a range of different reporting types to choose from too.
You can find a handful of basic reports in the Analytics section, with unsubscribes, subscriber growth reports, and even bounces to look at.
However, if you need something more in-depth, then Drip can offer event-based analytics too, which shows you whenever contacts have evolved into prospects, automatically earned a specific tag, or completed a campaign.
There are lots of available “events” to choose from.
To make everything as easy as possible to understand, you’ll get a graph, alongside a list of contacts that performed specific actions.
You can also set up custom conversion tracking for demo requests and eBook downloads.
If you choose to integrate your Drip tool with your online store through Shopify, Magneto, or the Drip API, then there are eCommerce dashboards available to access too.
You’ll be able to track precisely how much revenue you’ve earned through each marketing campaign. What’s more, there’s also an option to see revenue per subscriber too.
For the individual emails you send, either in a campaign, broadcast, or automation pipeline, you’ll also see things like unsubscribes, clicks, and opens.
Drip recently upgraded their split testing functionality to include A/B testing for workflows. Workflow split testing allow you to examine the performance of your custom audience, email copy and discounts when it comes to converting leads.
To create a split test, you’ll need to add an action to your worlfow, and choose the “Split Test” node. This will bring up a dro-down menu where you can choose the paths that you want to test against each other.
There are a few analytics options missing. For instance, you won’t get any geolocation reports or heat maps.
ActiveCampaign does pull ahead of the race here, as you can find out things like geolocation, social mentions and shares, and which email clients your customers were using.
ActiveCampaign has to come out on top here. I loved Drip‘s event-based reporting features, but ActiveCampaign does offer a stronger variety of reports, with more in-depth data. For some seriously in-depth reporting and analytics, make sure you check out Klaviyo too.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Usability
It’s easy to get carried away by all the awesome features of an email marketing tool and forget that if you want to make the most of these capabilities, you’re going to need an easy-to-use UI.
The good news? Both ActiveCampaign and Drip are relatively simple to use.
When you log into ActiveCampaign, you’ll notice that there is quite a lot of clutter to get through at first.
There are a lot of tabs to work through – but you can always customize your dashboard by removing the widgets you don’t want to see.
Another great feature of ActiveCampaign is that it’s ready to guide you through your experience from start to finish too.
If you click on the Getting Started button at the top of the page, you’ll be able to access a complete guide to take you through the software.
Drip also makes it super easy to start using your new email automation tool.
There’s a vibrant and clean-looking interface, which is actually a lot prettier than what you’d get from ActiveCampaign.
Additionally, the whole experience is very easy to navigate through thanks to the straightforward menu at the top of the screen.
One thing that’s worth noting about Drip, however, is that the way that the company names certain tabs might be a little difficult to follow. You might have a hard time understanding how “Campaigns” and “Broadcasts” differ from each other, for instance.
Additionally, the process of building your “broadcasts” isn’t the same as what you’d get with other software solutions. It’s not a full drag-and-drop builder like with ActiveCampaign.
Instead, you have to choose the section you want to edit one at a time, then pick the content you want to insert.
Fortunately, the editor is very simple and straightforward. However, it’s not the most intuitive or efficient option on the market.
At first, you’d assume that Drip is one of the easier tools to understand, thanks to it’s clean and simplified interface.
However, ActiveCampaign is a lot more intuitive when you get down to it. With that in mind, I’d have to give this point to ActiveCampaign.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Integrations
ActiveCampaign and Drip both offer integrations to help you build out your eCommerce and marketing strategies.
With ActiveCampaign, you can expect to get direct integrations with more than 250 applications, including analytical tools, CRMs, website builders, and even social media networks.
On the other hand, Drip has fewer integrations to choose from, at about 100 in total.
However, the integrations that are available are very impressive. You can connect your email marketing strategy with PayPal, Shopify, Facebook, Lead pages, and more.
ActiveCampaign gives you more integrations to choose from in total, so it has to come out as the winner in this category.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Customer Support
Last but not least, it helps to know that you’re going to get plenty of support if anything goes wrong with your email marketing or CRM strategy.
ActiveCampaign is ready to help you out with live chat support, email, and even the option for regular training sessions if you want to expand your education in the marketing realm.
If you’re feeling particularly confused, then you can also book a one-on-one training session with one of the professionals in the ActiveCampaign team.
Even the education section of ActiveCampaign is great if you’re looking for a DIY approach to solving your own problems.
What’s more, since the software is very straightforward and simple to use, there’s very little chance that you’re going to have trouble anyway.
One issue is that ActiveCampaign isn’t quite as fast as you might like.
It took me around 10 to 15 minutes to get a response using a pseudonym.
On the plus side, you do get to see where you are in the queue.
On the other hand, Drip offers 24/7 support from live representatives according to their “Help” page on the website. From what I’ve found so far, the agents are fast, friendly, and responsive, which is a welcome surprise.
However, take the term 24/7 with a pinch of salt. There are times when I’ve logged onto the instant chat to get this message:
If, for some reason, you can’t connect with the Drip team, you can always try to serve yourself with he Drip knowledge base.
There are guides for just about every feature of the software, as well as plenty of insights to walk you through how to get the most out of your campaigns.
Both Drip and ActiveCampaign offer excellent support and self-help services.
I’d like to give Drip the win here for its commitment for 24/7 support – but as I saw for myself, that round-the-clock help isn’t always available.
I’d recommend using AWeber if you’re looking for truly next-level customer service.
ActiveCampaign vs Drip: Which One Should You Choose?
If you’re looking for email marketing automation combined with a built-in CRM, then it’s hard to go wrong with either Drip or ActiveCampaign. Both of these tools offer powerful workflow editors, excellent segmentation, and more.
While Drip is super-strong in eCommerce functionality, ActiveCampaign goes just a little bit further in making sure that you can connect your sales and marketing efforts.
Use ActiveCampaign if:
- You need plenty of integrations
- You’re looking for a fantastic automation workflow builder
- You’re keen to have a lot of analytics and A/B testing options
- You want rich pre-build templates
Read our ActiveCampaign review.
Use Drip if:
- You want something a little bit more affordable
- You need in-depth segmentation
- You’re looking for immersive templates you can build from scratch
- You want amazing event reporting
Read our Drip review.
Still looking for more guidance? Check out our guide to the best email marketing software in 2020.