9 ActiveCampaign Alternatives for 2023: Choose a CRM Tool Your Sales Team Will Love
While ActiveCampaign is often called a leading marketing automation software, what about the CRM features? Today, we’ll take a closer look at them—read on, especially if you’re working for sales and looking for a more robust alternative.
ActiveCampaign started out as a marketing consulting business but after 20 years went all the way to the SaaS industry, becoming a marketing automation tool. It’s a popular choice among marketers but it’s not the best fit for everyone.
The sales side of the tool seems to be rather a pro addition, not the core functionality. On their website, ActiveCampaign doesn’t give a direct answer to “Is ActiveCampaign a CRM?” It feels like the company wants to keep its positioning as a one-stop-shop for marketing, plus sales activities.
The problem we saw with all those “all-in-ones” is that those tools give you a wide variety of features that either lack advancement or are buggy because they weren’t a top priority for a product team. Is it the case with ActiveCampaign? Let’s find out. All in all, for some reason, you’re here—this signals that ActiveCampaign might not be the best option for you right now.
In this comparison, we analyzed six tools that have CRM features and three tools that are purely marketing-focused. Let’s dive right in.
What Is ActiveCampaign, and What do They Offer?
ActiveCampaign calls itself a Customer Experience Automation Platform. Marketers can benefit from email marketing features, automated workflows, social media targeting tools, live chat, and so on.
At some point, ActiveCampaign also added a CRM tool with basic options to keep track of leads and manage the pipeline. Here’s a more detailed overview of their features.
At its core, ActiveCampaign is a pretty powerful email marketing platform that allows marketers to create and send targeted email campaigns to both prospects and customers. Marketers can choose a standard email, automated sequence, date-based emails, and more. The split testing feature works only for subject lines which is pretty limited.
To design emails, marketers can choose between a basic template, predefined templates, layouts, or past campaigns they did. The templates are responsive and mobile-friendly which is definitely a plus here!
The drag-and-drop editor in the email builder gives marketers control over how the final email will look. The platform also offers advanced automation options like triggered emails, abandoned cart emails, and other autoresponders. As email marketing is a key feature in ActiveCampaign, it looks rather robust.
The one drawback we saw is that if you want to collaborate with a marketing team and upload contact lists to ActiveCampaign in other than CSV format, you’ll have trouble because CSV is the only format that’s accepted.
Marketing automation is also powerful in ActiveCampaign (hey, overall this tool was designed primarily for marketing folks!). They can put a lot of processes on autopilot, from capturing leads, sending welcome emails, sending emails that were captured from gated content, and more.
To design a flow, marketers need to set a trigger and add conditions and workflow rules. Or they can choose automated templates grouped by industries. This can save a lot of hours on sending manually prepared emails but it’s also a typical feature most email marketing tools have. We’d say it’s an industry standard.
As for marketing features, ActiveCampaign is indeed a robust email marketing solution. But it also has limitations. The lack of feature flexibility may hinder the customization of marketing campaigns. See the highlighted part below:
Pricing for the marketing part of the tool starts with a Plus plan for $49 per month (limited to three users) and a Pro plan for $149 (limited to five users). If you want to get CRM features or combine marketing and sales features, the price gets steeper.
And here comes the most interesting part for you—a CRM inside ActiveCampaign. From what we saw, the tool offers pretty basic CRM options that let you manage customer data, track interactions with your prospects, and manage deals and pipelines. This “basicness” of their CRM is also pointed out in G2’s reviews by their users.
Their CRM doesn’t offer built-in SMS marketing features if you got or upgraded your account after January 3, 2023. You can get it only as an add-on in both marketing and sales plans. On the other hand, they offer a chatbot that can automate lead generation.
If we talk about call automation features like power dialer, your sales team won’t find it in ActiveCampaign. If you’re looking to make your outreach smoother, you’ll have to deal with an external tool.
Also, ActiveCampaign CRM doesn’t always have two-way sync. As one G2 user points out “Like some other CRM systems it would be useful that with the Microsoft Outlook plug in, emails to and from the client are automatically uploaded to the customer record which AC doesn't have.”
On the other hand, the tool’s CRM has a lead-scoring feature based on machine learning, which sounds pretty cool.
Dive into the essential CRM benefits that drive exceptional sales results.
Reporting and Analytics
ActiveCampaign will give marketers basic reports so they can track key metrics like open rates, click-through rates, or conversions. Although they can customize reports, it’s mostly focused on marketing data and it’s not too intuitive. As a result, a better option is to export any data to another tool and analyze stuff there.
ActiveCampaign has a lot of integrations with third-party apps like Shopify, Close, WordPress, DocuSign, and more. If your marketing team would like to stick to ActiveCampaign, it’s still possible to cooperate with your or other departments on the same datasets integrated between tools.
Best For: Small and mid-sized businesses that want complex email marketing software
Price: The Marketing plan is between $49 and $149 per month (hidden cost for enterprise), Sales plan is between $19 and $49 per month (hidden cost for enterprise). You can also get the Marketing + Sales plan (bundle) for $93 and $386, or talk to sales in terms of an enterprise plan. All plans have monthly pricing paid annually
Free trial: Yes, ActiveCampaign offers a 14-day free trial to new users
- Powerful marketing automation and good email deliverability
- Advanced segmentation option that ties well with automation
- Good customer support
- Analytics and reporting aren’t suited for the sales team
- Users complain about it being very slow to load
- If you have a lot of contacts, the price might get wild
- CRM features are very basic and still need development
6 Best ActiveCampaign Alternatives for Sales Teams
Wondering whether there’s a better option for your sales team? Let’s discuss six different sales software tools and how they compare to ActiveCampaign for sales teams.
1. Close: The ActiveCampaign CRM Alternative for SMB + SaaS
We’ll be straight up with you—Close is the only CRM we know inside out (all in all, we’ve built it!). And what we know for sure is that Close is the only CRM built by sales for sales—you have our word that it’s robust and advanced.
It has everything a modern sales team needs to develop relationships with prospects, track progress (this means reporting crafted for sales folks only), and close more deals.
The tool logs in all the interactions with leads—that includes emails, SMS messages, and phone calls. Automation will help your team minimize time-consuming tasks and focus on, yeah, selling. And Smart Views are here to prioritize leads in real-time.
If you’re looking for an ActiveCampaign alternative mostly because their CRM lacks advancement (and your marketing team is still fond of the marketing part of the tool), you have the option to sync both worlds via Zapier integration.
This is super cool as it’s a bidirectional integration that updates data between both products so each team can keep up with their work as usual. And if you’d like to migrate your CRM data from ActiveCampaign to Close, you can easily do it with Import2 data migration.
Best For: SMB & SaaS sales teams who want to smash their targets
Price: You can choose between Startup ($99), Professional ($299), and Enterprise ($699) plans
Free trial: Yes, Close offers a 14-day free trial to new users
- Works fast even with big volumes of contacts
- Has tons of integrations including Calendly, Drip, Zapier, ActiveCampaign, Asana, SavvyCal, Zoom, and many more via API
- Has customer service ranked in the top one percent of all SaaS companies
- Includes a mobile app
- Not the best choice for organizations that want to have an all-in-one tool that includes marketing, customer journey, document storage, and more
Outreach positions itself as a Sales Execution Platform, so it’s clearly a salespeople tool. Their feature set includes sales engagement, deal management, and pipeline management. There is a feature overlap between Outreach and ActiveCampaign—both have email marketing, email templates, lead qualification, reporting, and lead segmentation.
While it’s an overlap, ActiveCampaign is more of a marketing tool that lets marketers customize marketing communication and templates while Outreach has built-in templates only for sales folks.
Compared to ActiveCampaign that’s targeting small and mid-market players, Outreach targets enterprise customers and doesn’t share its pricing plans.
If you ask about ease of use, we already said that ActiveCampaign has a learning curve. But Outreach is way more complex than that, and technical knowledge is necessary to get the most out of it. This may annoy sales folks that want to focus on selling.
Best For: Enterprise businesses
Price: Sales call required (Complex pricing with hidden costs)
Free trial: No
- Wide set of features
- Machine learning and AI as part of the tool
- Dedicated customer success team
- Not a stand-alone product—Outreach must be paired with a CRM system to work well
- The steep learning curve requires technical knowledge
- Hidden pricing and potentially additional costs for add-ons
- No integration with Zapier (which would be expected from this type of software)
Want to understand the key differences between MQL and SQL? Our article on MQL vs. SQL is here.
Pipedrive is a pretty popular CRM that can help your sales team organize customer data, manage deals and close them. It’s considered an intuitive and customizable tool, especially because of the highly-visual parts. For example, you can see the status of each deal and better prioritize sales efforts.
ActiveCampaign is more focused on marketing features, while Pipedrive is mostly sales-focused. This means sales pipeline management, activity tracking, or sales reporting is more advanced than in ActiveCampaign. But what’s interesting, you can also run marketing campaigns in Pipedrive.
According to the G2 comparison, users find Pipedrive easier to use and set up but talking about product support, ActiveCampaign is a preferred option.
Best For: Sales teams who want a visual representation of their sales pipeline (but rather for smaller players)
Price: You can choose between Essential ($14.90), Advanced ($24.90), Professional ($49.90), and Enterprise ($99) plans. All the prices are per user, per month, billed annually
Free trial: Yes, Pipedrive offers a 14-day free trial to new users
- Low initial cost for a very simplistic pipeline system
- Intuitive, visual interface
- Customizable (filters and search criteria for customers and leads)
- Poor customer service (slow service or charging per deactivated users. Lower tiers have access to chat support only)
- Many add-ons (sometimes glitchy) are required when scaling—even for basic features like calling, email, and SMS
- Issues with email synchronization data—in case your sales agent leaves the company, all Pipedrive history of their email is gone (and there is no way to make a backup!)
HubSpot is this type of software everyone heard about at least once. It's an all-in-one marketing automation platform that offers tons of features: email editor, lead management, social media management, analytics, customer service, and so on.
In the CRM part, you can use email templates, email tracking, call tracking, or sales automation that lets you send personalized emails in sequences.
But remember the curse of all-in-ones? Here, it goes even further. Hubspot isn’t for any particular business—it’s for any business out there. Although there’s a myriad of features, it lacks the flexibility you find in other tools.
When compared to ActiveCampaign, both tools are more marketing-focused while Hubspot Marketing Hub has more advanced options (but they come at a cost as pricing gets steep quicker than in ActiveCampaign).
HubSpot seems more user-friendly and comes with more robust reporting (you can create your own reports). If you’d want to compare managing pipelines in both tools, they’re pretty intuitive, although HubSpot limits your pipeline number based on your current plan. In this and many other aspects, the free CRM that HubSpot offers is extremely limited.
Best For: Mid-sized businesses and enterprises that want to invest in all-in-one software
Price: For sales tools, free tools ($0), Starter ($20), Professional ($500), Enterprise ($1,200) per month, billed annually. Or, for HubSpot’s complete CRM Suite, Professional ($1,600) or Enterprise ($5,000) per month, billed annually
Free trial: No, it has a free plan but it’s pretty limited (one deal pipeline per account, one inbox, five active lists, live chat includes HubSpot branding)
- Advanced reporting and analytics module
- Tons of integrations (including native integration with Close so you can get the most out of both tools)
- Large active user community so you can get support and advice fast
- Includes mobile app
- Pricing is high compared to similar solutions on the market
- Unfriendly UI leads many users to be frustrated
- Hidden costs for feature add-ons and increasing the number of contacts in your system
- Offers only annual contracts which is not cool if you’d like to switch to another tool
- Lack of industry-specific features and limitations in the custom fields
5. Constant Contact
Constant Contact is a slightly less-known option for marketing and sales. They offer two products: Email & Digital Marketing and Lead Gen & CRM.
ActiveCampaign seems to be a more flexible and complex tool, especially if we talk about automation and workflows. But if you’d like to enjoy a bigger library of email templates, for example, Constant Contact gives you over 400 while ActiveCampaign has 250 ready-made options.
Speaking of automation, Constant Contact offers you just a couple of them. Triggers are also limited and feel like a better match for smaller campaigns targeted at a less diverse audience.
A nice advantage that Constant Contact has over ActiveCampaign is that you can upload contact lists in various formats like CSV, XLS and XLSX, VCF, and comma-separated text files.
But, let’s jump to a CRM comparison. It has basic CRM functionality including contacts that are customizable and you can build filtered lists for targeting. Your sales team can also manage deals and pipelines in Constant Contact with a drag-and-drop interface.
While the CRM lacks advanced features, there is a justification for that—they all complement the Email & Digital Marketing product so marketers know which campaigns drive leads and how to make the most of account-based marketing.
Best For: Small businesses and nonprofit organizations (but the sales module is pretty pricey)
Price: Based on the number of contacts—Lite ($12), Standard ($35), Premium ($80) per month. Lead gen & CRM price starts at $449 per month
Free trial: Yes, a 60-day free trial for new users
Constant Contact Pros
- Offers basic functionality for marketers at an affordable price
- Intuitive and user-friendly interface
- Good customer support
Constant Contact Cons
- The sales product comes at a very steep price while offering basic functionality
- Reporting is limited only to marketing campaigns so sales won’t find it useful
- Limited automation and customization features so it’s only for basic marketing campaigns
Although MailChimp is mostly on marketers’ radars because of its marketing-focused features, they offer a CRM option.
The issue is that this “CRM” seems to be a contact management feature that helps marketers understand customer data that can be segmented by location, source of growth, common labels, or customer lifetime value. Forget about building pipelines, creating deals, or assigning deal owners. Not to mention automation, power dialer, or call tracking.
Here, ActiveCampaign CRM seems more robust and more suited for sales teams.
When comparing marketing features, ActiveCampaign offers more advanced options, with more complex automation and workflows.
Less customization could also be an advantage—MailChimp doesn’t have that steep of a learning curve while still offering a solid option for email marketing campaigns. Both tools offer integrations with other platforms while ActiveCampaign has more of them.
Best For: Small businesses that are just starting out with email marketing
Price: Free, Essentials ($13), Standard ($20), Premium ($350) per month
Free trial: 30-day free trial (Standard or Essential)
- User-friendly and intuitive even for beginners
- Customizable templates and over 300 integrations
- Offers a free plan which is pretty good for the start (1,000 emails and 500 contacts)
- The CRM isn’t really a CRM but a contact list
- Limited reporting options
- Limited customer support and no support in the free plan
Bonus: 3 Best ActiveCampaign Competitors for Marketing Features
While we know that the sales game is your realm, we thought you could give you an idea of what ActiveCampaign alternatives are in terms of marketing stuff too.
GetResponse, like ActiveCampaign, is all-in-one marketing software. It has email marketing that includes email creators, templates, or send-time optimization. Its advanced marketing automation gives marketers the option to build visual workflows, set triggers, and use prebuilt templates for marketing and transactional emails.
It has a landing page builder, so it’s fairly easy to set up a customizable template, embed forms, optimize it for search, or do A/B testing. You can even set up web push notifications from your site!
While GetResponse allows marketers to host webinars inside their software, they don’t offer any type of CRM. An option is to connect GetResponse with Close via Zapier integration.
Speaking about pricing plans, they are more affordable in GetResponse—the company primarily targets small to mid-sized businesses.
Best For: Small and medium size businesses that need basic email marketing and automation
Price: Free plan, Email Marketing ($19), Marketing Automation ($59), and eCommerce Marketing ($119). Max and Max^2 have custom pricing (for larger companies)
Free trial: A 30-day free trial that gives users access to all premium features
- The free version of the tool and the affordability of paid plans
- Webinar functionality that’s pretty unique compared to other tools
- Customer support is available 24/7 and in multiple languages
- No phone support unless you have the most pricey Max^2 plan
- Limited customization option for templates
- A limited number of integrations compared to ActiveCampaign
While Drip is a pretty well-known marketing automation tool, they talk mostly to eCommerce stores. If you don’t have an online store, this might be an issue as Drip requires you to connect it straight away.
ActiveCampaign has a wider variety of templates over Drip, offering over 250 to choose from. Drip doesn’t have a CRM option but it offers pretty advanced list management. You can create customer segments based on various criteria, including events. Like in ActiveCampaign, you can apply tags to your contacts.
Both tools have marketing automation that’s very flexible and lets marketers do a lot—Drip lets marketers set triggers related to the purchase in Shopify for example.
Best For: All types of business with a focus on eCommerce
Price: Pricing is based on the number of contacts on your list. It costs $39 for a 2,500 list while the pricing goes up to $1,899 for 170,000. Beyond that, you have custom pricing
Free trial: Yes, 14-day trial (no credit card required)
- Advanced email marketing automation tools
- Perfect fit for ecommerce business and B2C lead nurturing campaigns
- Good customer support is available through email, phone, and chat
- Pricing is based only on the number of contacts (price can get steep, especially since B2C businesses might have a lot of contacts)
- Less detailed campaign reports than in ActiveCampaign
- Very narrow focus and is not the best fit for B2B businesses
ConvertKit positions the tool as a creator marketing platform that helps grow and monetize audiences. It offers a wide range of features like email lists for marketing campaigns, list organization with tags and categories, customizable sign-up forms, or reports about subscribers and conversions.
ConvertKit’s interface seems to be simpler to use compared to the pretty complex one that ActiveCampaign offers. But it comes at the cost of less advanced workflow options, no split automation, sales automation, and CRM.
It seems that both tools are designed for slightly different audiences—ConvertKit should work well for bloggers and B2C businesses, while ActiveCampaign would be a better choice for marketers and larger businesses that need more complexity.
Best For: Smaller businesses and bloggers
Price: Depends heavily on the number of subscribers. Starts from free, $9 up to $1,916 for 400,000 subscriber lists (per month)
Free trial: No free trial but a free plan of up to 1,000 subscribers (no credit card required)
- Shallow learning curve and easy-to-use interface
- Affordable pricing for small businesses and various creators that don't have huge audiences
- Advanced tagging option for managing funnels and targeting users with optimized emails
- Basic campaign reporting and dashboard capabilities when compared to ActiveCampaign
- Not many templates to choose from
- Customer support offers mostly basic help
Streamline Your Sales Team Performance with ActiveCampaign CRM Alternative
Phew, comparing ActiveCampaign with other market options was quite a ride. At this point, you may already have an idea what type of CRM your team needs to connect with more prospects, automate some of the workflows, and yeah, close more deals.
While basic ActiveCampaign CRM might be great for the start, now you may need a more advanced option to stay competitive in your sales game. And here comes Close, which offers strong sales automation capabilities and robust reporting while still giving you solid lead management and outreach features.
So, why not give Close a try? The first 14 days of using this sales powerhouse are on us!