last Updated 29 July 2020

ActiveCampaign Review – Email Marketing Automation for Financial Advisers

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In a 21st Century digital ecosystem, consumers are demanding personalised experiences with brands. In fact, 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with a business which can present them with relevant offers and recommendations. Companies like Netflix show how putting customer preferences first is a major part of success. 

The problem for financial advisers and mortgage brokers is that, like most small businesses, they don’t have a big budget or resource pool to build technical solutions. And they don't have enough time to manually nurture every lead and carry out the work required to optimise conversion rates or revenue. ActiveCampaign is designed to solve these issues.

As more customers opt for online channels following the Covid-19 pandemic at the start of 2020, it makes sense for businesses to put renewed focus into improving the digital journeys that they offer to their clients and prospects.

This article looks at why financial advisers need to invest in marketing automation and explains how ActiveCampaign can provide the solution.

What is an Email Marketing Automation Platform?

Before discussing ActiveCampaign in more detail, it is important to explain why a marketing automation platform is such a valuable business tool.

Firstly, whilst there are several newer marketing channels which have sprung up in the 21st Century, email marketing still has a role to play. At the start of 2020, the number of active social media users hit 3.8 billion and, because of this, it's common for small businesses to put a lot of focus into social channels when trying to acquire leads.

However, email marketing is up to 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined when it comes to acquiring customers. Using both email and social media together can help extend your brand reach whilst maximising the potential revenue from your campaigns.

An automated email marketing platform is the right solution for businesses that want to be able to communicate with prospects more professionally and credibly than they can on social media, paid advertising or messenger apps.

There are many different email marketing systems for financial advisers to choose from, starting from lower-level packages geared towards the smaller business, all the way through to enterprise solutions. You should carefully evaluate whether the system you choose can meet your needs.  

When looking to invest in a marketing automation platform, as a small business you need a tool that is easy to use and setup, can scale as your business grows, is compliant (with GDPR and spam rules for example) and offers personalisation and insights to optimise your marketing strategy. Make sure the platform you choose has facilities to integrate with your existing systems and data.

The key things to look for in an automated email marketing platform are:

  • Personalisation – you must be able to add variable and personalised content to your emails to ensure your leads get relevant information
  • Email designer – some systems will offer HTML code editors for you to design your emails, but these require more advanced technical skills and so it's best to look for a platform that includes a drag and drop style email editor
  • Template library – some ready-made email layouts and designs to get you started.
  • Automation – a good email marketing system will let you create automated workflows and triggers for automatically sending emails without your intervention when certain conditions are met
  • Deliverability – the system you choose needs to have a spam checker which will scan your emails before sending them and alert you as to whether or not they are likely to end up in people's spam folders 
  • Analytics – reports and dashboards to see what is working with your campaigns.
  • Segmentation – the ability to tag and segment customer lists to create an array of different target audiences

Additional features over and above these are useful but those listed above are the essentials.

The Main Features of ActiveCampaign

The ActiveCampaign marketing automation platform helps businesses send communications that make the most sense to their customers. The advanced email tools allow businesses to segment their customer data, putting relevant content in front of the right target audience.

ActiveCampaign's user-friendly platform is geared towards small to midsize business looking to add marketing automation to their strategy. If you are on a budget then you'll be pleased to hear that ActiveCampaign comes in as one of the most affordable solutions on the market for a mid-level type product.

However, whilst it may be inexpensive, the features available in ActiveCampaign (which we’ll come on to shorty) are advanced enough for any level of marketeer.

ActiveCampaign Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Advanced automation of email campaigns
  • Customer segmentation lets you send more relevant content to the right people
  • Creation of custom workflows (see the Key Features section below)
  • Integrations with other apps and services such as accounting and analytics systems
  • Affordable for SMEs and automation beginners

Cons

  • The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) offering is not as good as other standalone products like Salesforce, but this doesn’t impact the marketing automation part of the system
  • Email campaigns need to be built from scratch each time which can slow down businesses with more complex or larger datasets
  • Occasionally the server performance is slow, but not so much that it impacts platform use

Whilst there are a few negatives, generally speaking, the ActiveCampaign platform has several features that make it the perfect automation platform for SMEs.

Key Features of ActiveCampaign

Here is an overview of the key features that ActiveCampaign has to offer. Whilst this list is not exhaustive, these are the most useful and relevant features for small to medium businesses.

Email Marketing

ActiveCampaign users can create various types of email campaigns easily using the interactive drag and drop style editor. Here are some of the most common types of email campaigns you might want to create:

Email Broadcasts

An email communication can be sent to everybody at the same time. Whilst we promote personalisation and targeting, important service messages may need to go to all of your customers.

Triggered emails

Campaigns can be synced with other platforms such as your e-commerce store or an online booking system. Emails can then be triggered to send when, for example, someone completes a purchase or books a consultation with you.

Email targeting

Communications can be geared towards different segments of your customers and you can present them with the messages they are most likely to respond to. Segments can be based on any aspect of your data held within ActiveCampaign.

Email funnels

Your emails can be used in pre-programmed workflows - known as automations in ActiveCampaign. For example, you could create an automation where each subscriber receives a welcome pack on day one, then on day five they receive a follow-up, on day 14 they receive some useful information and so on. Funnels are a great way of nurturing a contact and turning them into a paying customer.

Scheduled email

Your email campaigns can be set up to go out at specific times. This feature could be used at holiday periods or to send a customer a birthday message, for example.

Email spam checking

ActiveCampaign runs a spam check on each campaign to check that it will reach people's inboxes rather than going into spam folders. It will grade each email as a “Pass” or a “Fail” and suggest what needs to be amended for better deliverability.

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Dynamic Content in ActiveCampaign

A single email can have dynamic messaging, sometimes known as conditional content, to help you send each person exactly what they need to see. For example, if you own a pet store and want to promote your services, somebody who owns a cat might see an image of a cat whilst a dog owner will see an image of a dog in their email.

This means you don’t have to spend time generating lots of different creatives. One email with dynamic content can work across your whole customer base.

ActiveCampaign for Marketing Automation

ActiveCampaign has many pre-built automations that you can customise to suit your business needs. These automations can be built with a drag-and-drop editor which is very easy to use.

An automation can be programmed to start in response to up to 22 different triggers such as a website visit, an email being opened or a purchase being made. The image below shows how an automation workflow might work in practice.

email marketing automation for ifas - ActiveCampaign Review – Email Marketing Automation for Financial Advisers

And here is an extract from a more complex automation that uses conditional logic to route subscribers down different paths depending on whether they have had a certain tag applied to their contact record:

email marketing automation for ifas - ActiveCampaign Review – Email Marketing Automation for Financial Advisers

Lead Tracking

ActiveCampaign can see what a contact is doing on your website and respond with the appropriate actions. As a visitor navigates your website, their entire page history can be appended to their contact record meaning that you know exactly what they have or haven’t done.

This information is useful to see but also actionable within your automations. For example, you might segment customers based on whether they visit a certain page on your website. And then you could trigger an email to be sent to someone once they have visited that page - perhaps to offer them more information on that particular product or service.

API Integrations in ActiveCampaign

This is a slightly more complex feature, but a very useful one. ActiveCampaign has 150 integrations with other systems that you are using. If you own a Shopify store, have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed, they can all be integrated into  ActiveCampaign and used within automations.

The API also makes it easy to link ActiveCampaign to tools such as Thrive Leads if you decide you don't want to use ActiveCampaign's own form builder to create email opt-in forms.

Email Split Testing

Split testing, or A/B testing, allows you to try different email subject lines or body content for different groups of email subscribers. For example, Group A can be sent an email with a subject line of "Buy from us now" whereas Group B receive "Please visit us to find out more." Each email can then be tracked for open and conversion rates to find out which subject line is the most effective. 

ActiveCampaign's Form Builder

ActiveCampaign users can create sign-up forms which collect data such as names and email addresses and then add people to your list of contacts within ActiveCampaign so as you can send emails to them. The forms can be fully customised to suit the target audience. Upon completion of a form, you can deliver a lead magnet and nurture customers through your automation.

Tagging

Within the ActiveCampaign platform, you can add tags to specific subscribers.. For example, if there is a group of people interested in income protection, they can all be tagged as being interested in that type of product. Once tags are in place, they can be used as triggers within the marketing automation workflows.

ActiveCampaign CRM

ActiveCampaign has a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) solution which stores all your customer details. Every interaction can be added to the customer view, giving insight into every individual. The CRM links with automation workflows to nurture leads and manage contacts within a central platform. The whole sales process is available to view at a glance so nothing gets missed.

Reporting

All campaigns and activity can be tracked within the platform to  provide you with valuable insights. For example, you can see which leads are opening or clicking through on emails to perform an action. Using the suite of reports, you can get insights that will help you further refine or create new segments for marketing automation.

Email Marketing Templates

ActiveCampaign provides a free template library to help you get started with responsive emails. The templates range from standard email designs through to newsletters and forms.

email marketing automation for ifas - ActiveCampaign Review – Email Marketing Automation for Financial Advisers

ActiveCampaign Pricing

As at June 2020, ActiveCampaign offers five pricing plans.

  • Free Trial – a free 14 days, no-obligation trial
  • Lite Plan - $15/month
  • Plus Plan - $70/month
  • Professional Plan - $159 per month
  • Enterprise Plan - $279 per month

The main difference between the plans is the number of users that can be set up, the amount of customisation available and the availability of more advanced features. For most financial advisers and other small businesses, the Lite Plan will be sufficient to begin with.

With all the plans, the price is reduced if you pay annually instead of monthly, which means that ActiveCampaign can cost as little as $9 per month.

User Reviews of ActiveCampaign

Online testimonials for ActiveCampaign are mainly positive with top reviews sites posting high overall scores for the platform.

FinancesOnline scored ActiveCampaign at 9.2 out of 10 as well as 5 out of 5 stars from 25 user reviews.

TrustRadius scored ActiveCampaign at 8.9 out of 10 from 131 reviews, of which 103 scored either a 9 or 10.

G2 scored ActiveCampaign at 4.5 out of 5 stars from 4,379 reviews.

Below are some of the most recent reviews from G2.

A review of ActiveCampaign by Christine d on G2
A review of ActiveCampaign by Terran G on G2
A review of ActiveCampaign by Fiona M on G2

Alternatives to ActiveCampaign

There are many marketing automation and email marketing platforms on the market. Three of the main competitors to ActiveCampaign are ConvertKit, AWeber and GetResponse.

ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit

The ActiveCampaign Plus Plan and the Complete Plan from ConvertKit are the most like for like products from the two providers.

Whilst they both offer all the standard features you’d expect, ActiveCampaign comes out on top when it comes to dynamic and conditional content which isn’t available with ConvertKit. As well as that, businesses looking for a CRM can have an all-encompassing platform with ActiveCampaign, which can’t be done with ConvetKit.

Although both platforms offer good entry-level features, ActiveCampaign is the more scalable solution. However, ConvertKit is a good alternative if you want a relatively simple email marketing platform. 

ActiveCampaign vs AWeber

ActiveCampaign again stands out over the competitor with its automation features. The workflows and triggers available in ActiveCampaign as compared to AWeber are more advanced and extensive.

Whilst AWeber matches many of the features of ActiveCampaign, the layouts are more confusing for users. For example, the email builder is a bit tricky to navigate and the workflows don’t offer as much visualisation as ActiveCampaign.

The reporting options in AWeber are also  quite basic in comparison to ActiveCampaign.

Although AWeber has a good selection of templates and tools, the design and automation can’t quite meet the level of ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign vs GetResponse

ActiveCampaign and GetResponse are both powerful marketing automation platforms, but they offer different key features over and above the standard components of an email automation system.

GetResponse allows users to publish designer landing pages in a matter of seconds. The other feature GetResponse offers is webinars to allow users to speak to their audiences directly.

ActiveCampaign has a built-in CRM solution that GetResponse does not offer. This means that if you choose GetResponse and need a CRM, then you'll need to look for a third-party system, which may end up being costly.

Other than those differences, much of the decision comes down to user choice. The easy to use drag and drop email builder and automations of ActiveCampaign put it slightly ahead of GetResponse. However, if landing page creation is important and you don't want to use a separate landing page builder, then GetResponse will be the preferred solution.

The Best Email Marketing System for Financial Advisers

Marketing automation is key to business success in 2020 and beyond. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers are moving more into digital channels and businesses need to ensure they can cater to their demands.

ActiveCampaign helps businesses target and serve their customers. With advanced automation, triggered campaigns, a built-in CRM, several email marketing techniques, segmentation and dynamic content, there is plenty to help solve the common problems faced by financial advisers, mortgage brokers, and other small businesses that want to harness the power of email marketing to generate more leads and get more clients.

With ActiveCampaign, automations can be used to ensure you don’t have to spend lots of money and time creating and sending emails or designing content. Meanwhile, the targeting and personalisation features will help you achieve a better return on investment and higher conversion rates, both of which are key to growing a business in financial services.

To see all the features of ActiveCampaign for yourself, you can click here to claim your free trial offer and set up an account in just a few minutes.

About the author 

David Miles

As a digital marketing consultant, author and trainer, I specialise in helping businesses in the financial services sector use the internet to get more enquiries and increase profits.

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