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Thinking of leaving Active Campaign? Here's what you need to know.

A lot of people are thinking about leaving Active Campaign and for valid reasons. 

Do those reasons mean you should leave Active Campaign in favor of a different email service provider? 

That's what I want to help you explore, hopefully through some angles you may not have thought about. Let's dig in. 

The Problems with Active Campaign in 2023

Active Campaign Customer Service Has Gone Downhill

Until a couple of years ago, I've always referenced Active Campaign customer service as a selling point. It's been a while since I've needed customer service, but back in the day, when I reached out, via chat or email, I got fast responses that solved my issues.

These days I've heard many horror stories about long waits and responses that acknowledge the problems while not actually solving them. 

I always recommend that if you really want to learn Active Campaign or need help implementing their more complex features, it's better to join the Active Campaign Academy membership. Founder Kay Peacey is the smartest person about using Active Campaign to achieve real marketing results and with her background in teaching, she makes the tech jargon understandable for regular non-techie people. 

Active Campaign Pricing Went Up in 2023.

When people asked in the past why I recommended Active Campaign, one of the big reasons was the amazing amount and quality of features comparable to larger players like Keap (formerly InfusionSoft) or Ontraport for a fraction of the price. 

In January of 2023, Active Campaign pricing went up by a lot. Their pricing is now on par with those other brands and I actually think the prices are a fair exchange for the features they provide.

But the way they went about it basically gave the middle finger to the loyal users who helped them get where they are today. There was no advanced notice for referral partners and resellers and no offer to keep pricing for legacy users - once you upgrade or change your plan, you're on the new pricing plan.

They really burned a lot of goodwill in the marketplace with the way they handled the price increase.  

Some users are struggling to pay increasing fees as their list grows and wondering if it's worth it.

Active Campaign Technical Issues

A lot of of people have reported that the platform is glitchy and some integrations flat out don’t work. 

Screenshot of a 404 not loading error on the Active Campaign tags page

Tags page temporarily not loading.

I subscribe to text notifications about platform issues, and I get a text about some kind of issue at least once every other day. 

Things to Consider if You're Thinking of Migrating Away from Active Campaign

With all these issues, you might wonder if it's time for you to search for greener software pastures. I'll share my personal thoughts below, but first, here are some things you should consider before you make a decision in the heat of frustration. 

What Features Do You Need?

If you have a mature business with a well established marketing system that includes automations, integrations, a CRM and other advance marketing structures, you'll need to carefully audit what features are must-haves for a new system.

I see many people talk about moving from Active Campaign to Convertkit but these two tools are not in the same category when it comes to email marketing.

ConvertKit is email marketing software. Active Campaign is advanced marketing automation software. If you just need to send emails and do a bit of light segmenting. ConvertKit is perfectly fine for that. 

But if you need a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), Convertkit is not a full fledged CRM and you'll need to find a separate tool for this job. Likewise if you need advanced automations and lead scoring, you're out of luck with ConvertKit. 

The Real Cost of Leaving Active Campaign

Pricing is one of the big reasons I see people thinking about leaving Active Campaign. Before you click buy on that new software, make sure you analyze the true cost of switching. 

If you truly need advanced features, you're going to need one of the major marketing automation ESPs– Keap, Hubspot or Ontraport. The pricing for these tools is going to be on par with Active Campaign and probably higher. 

If you gamble on sacrificing functionality for a simpler email tool and find out you actually do need advanced features, you'll end up doing a second migration soon after the first, or adding extra tools on to make up for the lack of functionality. More tools = more integrations and management of those integrations. 

You may find that your new tool lacks integrations and the money you thought you would save goes toward a higher Zapier bill.

Tip: How to Avoid Platform Imprisonment

The key to avoiding feeling trapped on a particular software platform is to backup your data! Getting information out of a system that has been running for years and isn't documented can feel overwhelming. 

We set up automated backup of new leads for our clients, as well as create an Automation Hub database that stores all emails, segments, automations and more. In addition we visually map out automations so they can more easily be rebuilt in a new system if you decide to migrate.

You may also need to pay someone to do the actual migration and recreate your email templates, segments, and automations as well as reconnect any integrations that were running in the background. 

How Easy is it to Migrate Away from Active Campaign? 

The complexity of migrating away from Active Campaign will depend on the complexity of your marketing automation system. In addition to migrating your contacts, you also need to account for the following: 

  • Email lists
  • Tags
  • Segments
  • Automations
  • Recreating your email templates

If you're using variables in your emails that are specific to Active Campaign, you'll need to update these for the new platform. For example, %FIRSTNAME% might change to [FIRST NAME]. 

It's Normal for Deliverability to Suffer When Moving to a New Email Service

Deliverability is the measure of how many of the emails you send actually make it to your subscriber's inboxes. There are many factors that contribute to deliverability. Some of these are controlled by the email service provider but there are many things you can do to improve deliverability, such as validating your email domain with your hosting company. 

Example of a marketing email from a verified address vs an unverified one.

Validating your email domain proves your emails come from you.

If you've been relying on your email service provider to validate on your behalf, you'll have to start over and build a new sender reputation on a new platform, which will negatively impact deliverability for a while. 

Make Sure Your New Email Service Provider Has the Integrations You Need

In order to have effective automated marketing, you need to be able to move data from one system to another. You should be able to send data about the actions your subscribers are taking back to your CRM as well as connect with your website, payment platform, course platform, scheduling software and more. 

If these integrations are lacking, it could mean paying for your team to do more manual tasks to manage the data which increases payroll as well as the opportunity for errors. 

Consider Your Team's Technical Capabilities

Learning different software is going to take time and resources away from other tasks your team are doing. Be sure to account for this in your consideration of whether to migrate. 

Get Customized Advice from a Certified Automation Service Provider™

If your head is spinning from all these considerations, you can book a Power Hour and we'll talk through your current systems and your future goals to help design a tech stack that will work for your business now and in the future.You’ll meet with one of our Certified Automation Service Providers™ and then we’ll deliver a custom strategy based on where you are in your business as well as full list of recommended software to best execute your strategy now and in the future.

Does It Scale? Begin as You Mean to Go On

One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make with software decisions is taking a short-term view. As I've shown here, changing software can be incredibly expensive, overwhelming, and stressful. 

If you make a short-term decision, you face the risk of having to migrate again in a few years, usually in the middle of a high growth phase when your outdated systems break inside your growing business. 

We've used the same foundation tech stack for the past 8 years, which is 103 in software years. When I check in with clients from as long as 7 or 8 years ago, I hear that the software and systems we've built are still going strong. 

wayne Scott Therapist

Website launched in 2016 still going strong:

I have to tell you I consistently get positive feedback on the website you designed for my therapy practice. It has been INDISPENSABLE to my success.

Why I'm Not Leaving Active Campaign (For Now)

Given all this, let me tell you why I’m not planning on ditching Active Campaign anytime soon. 

Choosing software is a lot like getting married. 

In every marriage, you have the honeymoon phase, the fit like a comfortable shoe phase, and the ‘why the hell did I ever get together with you’ phase. 

I think some people think that choosing to use certain software in your business means you love the software. But sometimes it just means that’s the most effective tool for the job, or the cost of switching is too high.

In episode 4 of his private podcast, Chris Davis gives a thorough overview of Learndash and how much he dislikes the software any why he continues to use it anyway.

New software companies that are trying to get traction in the marketplace are listening closely to their users and reacting quickly to feature requests because they have to in order to survive. 

As these companies get bigger and go from dozens to hundreds or thousands of employees, take on investors etc, their focus changes. 

If you’re committed to a platform and using it to create real results in your business, it’s expensive to switch to something new and not a decision to be made lightly. 

This isn’t my first rodeo. I remember my mentor Chris Davis sharing exciting new Elementor WordPress page builder features in our weekly mastermind and feeling left behind because Thrive Themes couldn't do the same things.

I’ve waited as long as 18 months for them to catch up but when they did they didn’t just catch up— they blew past the competition and created industry leading features that blew the competition out of the water. 

Active Campaign seem to have realized that they’re rapidly losing goodwill in the marketplace and I’m seeing evidence of a shift. 

  • They posted a public apology to the Active Campaign community. 
  • They created a Customer Advisory Board and gave them access to the people who make decisions about new features and improvements
  • They’ve announce a plan to finally fix the most powerful yet most maddening to use feature - segmentation
  • They're continuing to actively solicit feedback through customer surveys. 

If you’re an Active Campaign user or thinking about switching, listen to this episode of the All Systems Go podcast where Kay Peacey and Chris Davis talk about the updates for Q3 2023. Kay is a member of the new AC advisory board and talks openly about her experience and the changes they've made as a result of customer feedback.

Ultimately, it’s everyone’s individual decision whether to ride out a rough patch with a software company, or seek greener pastures. Sometimes it might make sense to move to one of the up and comers who are in the listening and reacting quickly phase. 

I've chosen to stay because none of the issues outlines above keep me from using the considerable power of AC to make money from email marketing automation and help our clients do the same.

Consider the actions arising from these two thoughts: 

  1. My ESP is too expensive so I need to scale back
  2. I need to make sure I earn enough money per subscriber to more than cover my email software costs.

In the first scenario, you may find yourself embarking on a months long journey to migrate which takes your time and focus away from revenue generating activities. 

The second thought takes you down a path of getting creative to make sure that you're optimizing your revenue per subscriber so that when you get more subscribers and your email service costs go up, your earnings per subscriber go up as well.

Just know that every software is going to let you down at some point, and make your technology decisions based on your needs as a business and not heated emotions of the moment. 

If you need help building, optimizing, and measuring your marketing funnel, check out CRM to Sales and apply to work with us

About the author 

Kronda Adair

Kronda is the CEO of Karvel Digital, a digital marketing agency that helps mission-driven service-based business owners how to use content to sell so they can automate their marketing and scale without burnout. She loves empowering small business owners to not be intimidated by all this tech stuff. She's often covered in cats.

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