Email marketing is one of those topics that is usually frustrating and less life-giving for us as creative entrepreneurs. We know we need to have it, but it’s overwhelming trying to find the best app and get it set up—on top of everything else we’re doing in our business.
Most people I know end up ignoring email marketing altogether, or they send a few emails to a small list each year.
I’m writing this article for you if you’re looking to get serious about your email marketing: sending regular newsletters, creating automated email sequences, customizing those sequences for users, building lead magnets and marketing funnels, etc.
This is also for you if you want to grow your business in the future. Even if you’re not deep into email marketing now, you may want to know the differences between these platforms as you envision your marketing strategy one, three, or even five years from now.
My Past Experience with Email Marketing
I've worked in email marketing for the last 7 years, doing anything from managing a simple, monthly newsletter to running extensive automations through a CRM integration. I've used more email marketing platforms than most people ever want to, and I've sat through hours of sales demos, support calls, and tech setups.
If there's one thing you should know, it's this—there are plenty of options for you to choose from to fit your needs and preferences.
Don't feel pressured to use one platform over another just because other people rave about it. I'm a big believer in using your strengths to create the best strategy, and that includes choosing tools that work with you, not against you.
What I Love (and Hate) About MailChimp
With that said, I used to use MailChimp when I started my business. It's clean, simple, and aesthetically beautiful. The graphic designer in me can't help but love the interface and easy templates. I also love the branding, personality, and humor that’s integrated throughout your use of the product. As I write this article, the pro version is only $9.99/mo and includes your custom branding, automation sequences, etc. That's not bad depending on your goals and how you're using it.
In fact I didn't have any issues with MailChimp until I started to create automations and integrate it with ClickFunnels.
When I tried to set up my first lead magnet, using the premium automation features with MailChimp was an absolute nightmare. Aesthetically, MailChimp is beautiful. But when it came to customizing the automation, removing double-opt-ins, and connecting the right lists with my landing page, I could NOT get it to work. And neither could their own support teams. I spent hours with MailChimp’s support, only to get the answer I hate to hear as a designer, “We’ll let our developers know you want this feature.”
It felt so restricting to be unable to do a simple integration so my followers could download a free guide. Setting it up was frustrating and clumsy (especially given my previous background doing this daily), and testing it was even clumsier. After hours of determining that ClickFunnels was working properly and that MailChimp was not, I looked into other options.
For me, a cool drag-and-drop template is not worth the headaches and hours I lost trying to set up a simple funnel.
My mentor suggested ActiveCampaign, so I checked it out. It seemed to be able to do everything I needed and came with a free two-week trial, so I signed up. What happened? I literally created, tested, and published my funnel successfully within an hour.
And I’ve never looked back.
What I Love About ActiveCampaign
Yes, I was able to set up that simple funnel quickly. But what I found inside the ActiveCampaign platform was more than convenience.
ActiveCampaign is a platform that can be as simple and clean as I want, or as customized and complex as I want.
I love this as a marketer. It means ActiveCampaign has the ease of use I need as a solopreneur with the capabilities usually reserved for enterprises. It can serve me at every stage of my business and support my future growth for an affordable investment ($29.99/mo).
I was happy to find AC also has drag and drop templates, as well as a visual automation builder that makes my heart sing as an email marketer.
MailChimp uses a different type of visual layout for their automations, but I personally found it to be less flexible and less intuitive from a functional perspective. It also seemed to be buggy as I tried connecting steps, lists, triggers, etc.
I’m also a fan of the dashboard in AC, which gives a snapshot of all the important metrics I want, like recent activity from my contacts. In my opinion it gets down to the basics of what I want to see, and I can get more details by using my side dashboard navigation.
Even though AC doesn’t have the sleek, minimalist look that I love in MailChimp, it’s simple enough for me, and the power behind the platform far outweighs that one aspect.
There are many more reasons I love ActiveCampaign, but these are the highlights that I are distinctive from MailChimp. If you want to start creating more complex email funnels based on user interactions (or you think you will in the future), I highly recommend it.