List Building

How To Choose The Best Email Marketing Service – MailChimp vs. ActiveCampaign vs. GetResponse

Email-Marketing-Providers-MailChimp-ActiveCampaign-GetResponse

(This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

At the moment I am using MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and GetResponse as my email marketing providers.

Wait, what? Why would I use 3 different email autoresponders at once? I must be crazy. Well, I probably am, but that’s a whole another story.

The reason why I am using 3 different email marketing providers is my own mistake actually, my own ignorance and laziness while I was researching and making decisions.

That’s exactly the reason why I decided to share my story. This article is written for you, so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

I am going to look at these tools from a bit different perspective, not just stating the obvious stuff and listing all their features.

By the end of this blog post you should (hopefully) have a better understanding on which tool to use for your business, even if it’s not one of the three mentioned in this article.

MailChimp – “Free” and simple

MailChimp

You have all heard for MailChimp, right?

That’s not a surprise, since MailChimp offers a forever free plan for up to 2000 subscribers it’s really popular around bloggers, especially the ones who are just starting out.

And that’s awesome, because who doesn’t want to save some money if they have the opportunity. Or, is it?

Yes, MailChimp is free, but with the free plan, you can’t use their automation feature (autoresponder) which is the whole purpose of these kind of services.

You can send emails manually (campaigns) and that’s it.

Now, like I said, MailChimp is free and it’s tempting to use it because of that. But, you really shouldn’t look at it that way.

5 Reasons why I signed up for MailChimp:

  • It was free
  • It was free
  • It was simple to use
  • Great deliverability
  • Supported by many external tools

I started using MailChimp mainly because it was free. But guess what, if you are running a business you want to automate some things and make it easier for you. And with MailChimp the automation is paid, which puts it in the same bucket with other paid email marketing providers like Aweber, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign and similar.

MailChimp-automations

Why didn’t I just pay for MailChimp’s automation feature, continue using it and save myself all this trouble?

Well, I thought I need something better, more advanced, with better features. Also, I couldn’t test MailChimp’s automation and autoresponder option without paying, which is just wrong if you ask me.

Before I started writing this article I looked at MailChimp’s automation features and was not that impressed. It looks ok, but nothing too special.

MailChimp-Workflow

Another thing which I didn’t like about MailChimp is that I couldn’t reach all those subscribers who didn’t confirm their subscription. In my case that’s maybe around 50 people, but as your list grows that number could easy become 500 which is a lot.

What I don’t like about MailChimp:

  • Can’t see nor contact my subscribers who didn’t confirm subscription
  • Automation not included in the free plan, can’t even try it out
  • No live chat support

I used MailChimp for over a year and it worked just fine, it was fast and easy to use, and I could send emails very quickly.

*If you are an affiliate marketer be careful with MailChimp, although I didn’t have any issues, their TOS is still banning some affiliate programs.

But, after I redesigned my website I wanted to try something new, more advanced, and bring my whole email marketing to another level.

That’s how I decided to go with ActiveCampaign.

ActiveCampaign – Super advanced email marketing automation

Active-Campaign

When I first looked at ActiveCampaign I was blown away by its automation features.

Here are some examples so that you can understand better why:

  • You could create unlimited number of automations based on user’s action
  • For example you could send automated emails to people who subscribed but didn’t confirmed they subscriptions
  • You can tag people based on their actions (if they open email, click on a certain link, watch a video, buy something etc.) and later send emails to people with specific tags
  • You can export and import automations and share them across different ActiveCampaign accounts or even sell them
  • You can add a user to automation process depending on which page he/she visits on your website and send them more targeted emails
  • You can send delayed emails by X hours or days, or send emails on specific dates
  • You can create automation sequence for unsubscribed users and try to win them back
  • And so on…

I was really impressed and thrilled about all that and couldn’t wait to start working with it.

And than, when I started working with ActiveCampaign I realized some things:

  • Creating automations is cool, but it takes time to plan it properly + it takes time to write all those emails which are being sent in the automation process
  • Autoresponder feature is not the best one, it doesn’t show you nicely when is your previous email being sent and the overview of autoresponder campaigns is not quickly understandable (I can’t see quickly after how many days is each email sent)
  • I couldn’t duplicate campaigns – meaning, I had to create a draft campaign just so that I could duplicate it (its template design) and use it for future emails
  • Their template builder is making it hard to add text block with image next to it
  • Not supported by some WordPress plugins I use, although that could be solved through some third-party apps like Zapier

And that’s how I ended up using both MailChimp and ActiveCampaign in the same time, I couldn’t connect ActiveCampaign with some of my plugins so I am still using MailChimp with them.

You can just imagine what a mess is that. Of course, that’s my mistake, I should have checked before I started using ActiveCampaign and transferring my whole list to MailChimp.

Don’t get me wrong, ActiveCampaign is an awesome tool if you need to automate things, but be prepared that it’s not that perfect with some other things and that it takes time to understand all of it features.

ActiveCampaign

I decided to ditch ActiveCampaign because it would take too much of my time to set everything up. Time which I don’t have. I’ll rather work on my business, than in my business.

ActiveCampaign does have great support, I actually spoke with them for 30 minutes where one of their consultant answered me all the questions I had about AC, and even (later on) helped me through Skype when I had few more questions.

I would even say it may be a good alternative for someone using InfusionSoft or Ontraport because it really has a lot to offer.

One thing though, if you are planning to do affiliate marketing with ActiveCampaign thing again.

In their TOS they don’t allow it, but there’s a loophole.

They don’t allow it because they don’t want to attract spammer and they really want to provide the best possible quality for their users, and keep the complaints away as much as possible.

In other words, yes, you can promote things in your emails and make money through affiliate marketing, but, you should do it in a non-spammy way as much as possible.

Adding relevant affiliate links to an email with high quality content where affiliate links should not be the primary focus of the email, that’s the way to do it with ActiveCampaign.

So, give some value to subscribers before you ask them to click on your affiliate link, don’t just throw them few sentences in the email pushing them to click.

That’s actually not a bad thing, because it will make you write better emails and make your subscribers even happier.

However, if you don’t want to live in fear or thinking about whether or not will you be warned or lose your account when you send affiliate links in your emails, than, you may choose another option, mentioned below.

GetResponse – Perfect for bloggers and affiliate marketers

GetResponse

At the beginning of this post I said I am using GetResponse together with MailChimp and ActiveCampaign.

That’s not entirely true. Yes, I registered with GetResponse (30 days free) and have been testing it, but I am not actually using it (yet) to send emails for my subscribers.

I heard for GetResponse a long time ago, but never looked at it closely.

Since I wasn’t happy with MailChimp nor ActiveCampaign, I started looking for a better alternative.

I didn’t look far, because a lot of respected marketers which I follow (subscribed on their list) are using GetResponse, JVzoo also recommends it, and I said what the hell, I’ll try it.

So far I have learned what I want from my email marketing tool so I knew straight away where to look.

This is what GetResponse does extremely well:

  • Great overview of autoresponder campaigns
  • Ability to put subscribers in the middle (or anywhere else) of autoresponder cycle as a starting point
  • Can send confirmation emails to unconfirmed subscribers (although manually)
  • Affiliate marketing is fully allowed
  • Supported by most third-party tools (almost as much as MailChimp and Aweber)
  • Live chat support
  • Some automation abilities
  • Great A/B testing options
  • Ability to save templates
  • iPhone and Android app

And that’s why I’ll be switching to GetResponse.

GetResponse-Autoresponders

From what I have seen and tried so far it’s the best email marketing solution for my business at the moment.

Is it the best email marketing provider in the universe? Probably not, but it’s everything I need at this moment.

If GetResponse sounds like it’s a good fit for your business too, go ahead and take it for a 30 day test drive here.

How can you know which email marketing provider is right for your business

To avoid all these mistakes I did, before choosing any email marketing service you need to ask yourself some questions:

  • How will I use this tool – to send one-time campaigns, run everything through an autoresponder and drip campaigns, or do I need high level automations?
  • How much time do I have to invest for preparation, including writing emails, setting up lists and how much time does it take to get to know and use the selected service
  • Is this service compatible with all my plugins, themes or other tools?
  • Does this service provide top-notch support and how and who can I ask for help?
  • How many email subscribers do I have and how much will it cost me?
  • Does this service allows affiliate marketing?
  • How many email templates does this service has and how do they look like, are they visually appealing and professional looking?
  • How easy is to create an email from scratch?
  • What kind of A/B testing options are included with this service provider?
  • Is there any automation ability and what kind?
  • Can I use this tool for single opt-in usage or double opt-in is the only option?
  • Can I contact subscribers who didn’t confirm their email address?

Just think about what do you need for your business, in terms of email marketing and then start looking and testing different tools.

Each of these three tools are good, the question here is, are they good for you?

Conclusion

I hope you learned something from my experience and that you won’t repeat the same mistakes I did.

It’s hard to choose something for your business when there are so many options available. Don’t just go for lowest price products, or the ones with the best tech specs, try it out personally, use it for a week and you’ll understand it much better.

In this case, if you don’t need any advanced automation features or you don’t have time to implement them, go with GetResponse.

You have 30 day free to use (no credit card required) and see for yourself if that’s the right tool for your email marketing.

What email marketing service do you use? Share it in the comments below.

Drazen Prastalo
Blogger, internet marketer, SEO specialist, web designer, entrepreneur, freelancer, Mac user, shopaholic, workaholic and a really nice and funny guy :) Read more about me or follow me on Twitter.
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4 Comments
  • Nicholas Scalice Jan 26,2016 at 2:05 PM

    I am in the process of switching to GetResponse too. Best of the best for the value. Great review! Awesome blog by the way. I’ll be following. Is this built on Thrive?

  • Justin Nov 20,2015 at 1:50 PM

    Thanks a lot for sharing! Probably I will try GetResponse soon 🙂

  • […] *It turned out that Active Campaign has been to much for me at the moment. I decided to switch to something else which suits my business needs a bit better – GetResponse. You can read about it in more details in my article on how to choose the best email marketing provider for your business. […]

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