Finding the best customer relationship management solution (CRM) for your online business is extremely important, especially when your customer base starts to expand to the level at which some simple processes you used before aren’t enough to track all the data any longer.
This is a perfect moment to take a turn to automation and introduce a CRM that will collect and process the data, giving you valuable insights into current marketing processes’ analytics and activity, and help you with enhancing customer relationships by:
- Tracking all customer interactions
- Sales and marketing process coordination
- Maintenance of customer information
- Identifying and qualifying new leads,
- Systematically converting leads
Since CRM can be very impactful on your business, we decided to present you with and compare of the two most popular CRM systems. We hope to help you discover which would be the most suitable one for your needs.
Active Campaign vs HubSpot
Although they are quite disparate and offer quite a different set of features to their customers, we can still find many touchpoints that enable us to make a neutral comparison. So, let’s see what both CRM systems offer and the benefits you will reap by using the specific one.
Active Campaign is predominantly focused on email marketing, while the CRM stays in the background. All CRM features come at an extra cost, but advanced automated email features provide a potential for enhanced marketing results and improved tracking of your customers-to-be while they trickle through your sales funnel.
Built on the underpinnings of email marketing, providing affordable services and an easy-to-use and user-friendly interface, Active Campaign claims that its software is perfect for all kinds of eCommerce businesses, digital businesses, and B2B companies.
HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing software platform that covers marketing, sales, CRM, and CMS features as well, striving to provide all pertinent digital marketing functions:
- CRM features – enable access to their marketing cloud and tracking of the contacts of companies and individuals.
- Marketing features – enable the creation of email campaigns and general marketing campaigns such as landing page builder or blog post creation.
- HubSpot Sales features – enable keeping track of deals, calls, lead generation scoring, and automation processes.
- HubSpot CMS features – enables creating and editing webpages easily with drag-and-drop editor, SEO recommendations and flexible website themes.
Compared to Active Campaign, HubSpot is, on the other hand, built strictly around CRM, offering free CRM as a tripwire for upsells, robust and detailed reports, and a little bit more complexity in regards to the platform’s interface and more expensive plans.
Using email marketing is one of the best options for enabling the conversion of leads into customers. This is easily achievable when optimizing your emails and content in the right way, meaning that you write and create tailor-made emails based on the specific target group of your customers and the tone of voice that is applicable to their gender, age, location, or any other specificity. This is why we will start our story about email marketing by explaining the term segmentation and why it is important.
With the hyperproduction of content apparent in today’s world, generic messages are something that no longer yields results. You want your email to be opened and you want to engage your customers, while those customers simply want to see what they are searching for with a pinch of personalization where possible. In this intersection, you can utilize segmentation to resolve any customer experience issues while also boost your email conversion rates.
The Segmentation Possibilities in Active Campaign
The segmentation features in Active Campaign cover a vast range of audience insights, providing you the possibility to channel the collected data into efficient email campaigns.
The segmentation options are based on website visitor data and are aided by the structure of the URL. These are the bits of data on which actions can be based:
- Visits to your website
- Has referred from
- Visiting device
- Total page visits
- Total site visits
- Contact with sales team
- Information in custom fields
- Job function
- Personal interests
- People who open your emails
- People who click on your emails
- Date subscribed
- Geographic location
- Customer lifetime value
- Products purchased
- Time since last purchase
Based on the data you collect from these segmentation insights, you can make specific email lists, and easily change your email content to make it more personal to your customer.
At Active Campaign, you can connect your Gmail, Outlook or any other email provider, and manage contacts easily, making deals directly from your Gmail.
The Segmentation Possibilities at Hubspot
HubSpot Sales also allows for optional integration to Gmail, Outlook and GSuite. There is also an option to send tracking emails through HubSpot’s CRM system, which will notify you the second when the customer opens an email and clicks on the link within.
This will provide you a chance to go with a more personalized approach to communicating with your customers and give you signals as to where you should put more effort and where you can save yourself the hassle.
Furthermore, HubSpot’s CRM system provides an incredible range of information on your leads’ history. At just one glance, it can show you which emails, links, and documents were opened and when.
Still, compared to segmentation possibilities at Active Campaign, Hubspot segmentation lists are much more complicated to use, and sometimes can be confusing. You should also bear in mind that all those segmentation options are available within the paid version of Hubspot’s CRM system only.
Email templates are another option for more personalized content for your customers. Using the templates prepared in advance enables you to change the content easily. These options are provided both by Active Campaign and Hubspot.
The templates are fully customizable, which means that you can change literally every element you need – from colors and text, to the arrangement of elements on-page.
Focused on Contacts and Deals, the Active Campaign CRM provides the possibility of tracking your customer – contact through the deal stage – sales funnel. The most distinguishing characteristic of the Active Campaign CRM compared to others is the enabled option to add extensive contact details over one email address. You can see any contacts activity and comment on it with your team.
Deals enable an option to create a custom-made sales funnel with an easy drag-and-drop system that follows the Kanban project management system. Through the Deals tool, you can also create an individual deal for each contact and assign a team member to work on it and follow the stage progress. Another benefit of automated processes is that you can easily trigger a follow-up event and set the autoresponder, notification, or schedule a meeting.
HubSpot free CRM system is divided into “contacts” and “deals”, just like at Active Campaign, but with an additional category named “Companies”.
Within contacts, you can add numerous details to one email address and filter the information regarding the data you want to see, such as Contact ID, email confirmed, gender, annual revenue, received an email within the last 30 days, etc.
Information on Companies will be based on the domain associated with email contact. For example, if an email address is email@example.com, HubSpot will automatically make a company record within its CRM system.
With the help of Deals, you will be able to organize sales easier and track the progress of deal and sale stages. Within a deal feature, you can make calls, send emails, or schedule meetings, adding notes on your lead contact.
Deals are there to enhance your sales and generate new leads. Hubspot’s Deal feature is also very similar to Active Campaign, following a similar way of functioning and Kanban-like design.
Automation and Workflows
Automation can shorten your working processes in many ways and deliberate your time for other tasks, directing your focus towards valuable data. Here is how automation processes and workflows are presented at Active Campaign and Hubspot.
Active Campaign provides the following:
- Sales reporting – a report which covers the performance of the individual team members and the team as a whole. This report also gives insights into the sales funnel.
- Win probability – shows the probability of closing the deal, showing you the point on which you should focus.
- Marketing automation – enables more precise nurturing of the leads that still aren’t ready to close a sale.
- Lead Scoring – reveals the most engaged leads for your business and content, and once again gives you insight into where you should aim your efforts.
- Automated Deal Updates – reports on won and lost leads, deal stage, and value as well.
- Note Creation – provide the option to jot down notes directly on each deal and contact record so that the whole team is properly informed.
- Task Assignments – gives you an option to assign the tasks to team members manually or via automation. Here is an example of how the automation function for an eCommerce store.Advanced automation features are available only on professional marketing plans, and here is what HubSpot provides with the price of $800 per month:
- Email sequences – The Autoresponder feature is not available in Hubspot, but on some Sales plans, the option to create sequences is enabled. Email sequences are an easy way for engaging with customers as well as for personalizing emails without the need to re-create the content manually.
- Data entry automation – knowing the fact that salespeople spend 17% of their working time on data entry, implementing data automation is not only a huge time-saver but a great helper for the team members in charge of sales.
- Automated reports on customer interactions – this feature enables the recording of automatic notes on the phone calls and email interactions with your leads, providing you up-to-date information regarding a lead status during the sales process.
- Customer service automation can boost the number of inquires connected to your products or services. if your company uses chatbot software to engage with leads and customers, then you already know that customer service automation is incredibly effective at building trust and encouraging sales. Here is how marketing automation works at HubSpot:
The automation of processes within both Active Campaign and Hubspot function in a fairly similar way. On both CRMs, when creating workflows, you need two elements, the trigger – such as opening the email, and the action.
Active Campaign, for example, follows a vast number of events such as:
- Subscriptions to a list
- Cancelations of subscriptions from a list
- Submission of forms
- Opening and reading of an email
- Clicks of a link in an email
- Shares of an email
- Forwards of an email
- Replies to an email
There are triggers for all the events mentioned above, and the automation process simply requires you to choose what action they elicit when the events occur – In other words, what happens when the trigger is met.
As we have already stated, Hubspot works almost exactly like Active Campaign, but the feature is only available in the paid version and with a pretty complex approach to segment lists.
Since working with many different systems and programs requires a substantial amount of time, integrations to all necessary apps can tremendously increase productivity within the company. Integration with other apps is more than a useful feature that both Active Campaign and HubSpot provide to their customers in the automation process.
Active Campaign enable the integrations with 350 other apps, among which are Zapier, Leadpages, Stripe, OptIn Ninja, WPForms, or Airtable.
On the other hand, HubSpot integrates more than 628 apps, including Mailchimp, Google Ads, Salesforce, WhatsUp, Microsoft teams, and Hotjar.
Of course, both services support integration with Google Analytics, which is still an indispensable data cruncher for any business. It extracts data out of – Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, social media channels, Zoom, Slack, WordPress, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and more.
Active Campaign offer four different pricing plans: Lite, Plus, Professional and Enterprise. They are offered for three different types of businesses: Digital Business, B2B and eCommerce.
A fourteen-day free trial enables you to try all the features after which you will have to switch to a paid version. The pricing is not strictly defined and the cost depends on the number of contacts you have. The pricing listed below is based on a selection of 500 contacts. All features are divided into marketing, sales, service features, and platform & support. Depending on a chosen plan, the list of features differs in some areas.
Lite package will be a perfect fit for users that require email marketing automation. With a cost of $9 per month, the Lite version will be available for up to three users, enabling:
If you want the advanced CRM features, you will have to skip to the Plus plan, with a cost of $49 per month; the Plus version will be available for up to twenty-five users, enabling all the mentioned features above, plus:
The Professional plan is an ideal solution if you need serious sales automation and an advanced option for tracking every email or website interaction a contact has made. With a cost of $129 per month; the Professional version will give access to up to fifty users, enabling all the mentioned features above, plus:
Last but not least, the most feature-rich plan is provided for enterprises. With a cost of $229 per month, the Enterprise plan is available for an unlimited number of users, enabling all the mentioned features above, plus:
HubSpot has four different packages: Marketing Hub, CRM & Sales, Customer Service and CMS. Within each, there are three individual payment plans: Starter, Professional and Enterprise.
HubSpot has a fourteen-day free trial for the Professional and Enterprise packages, after which you will have to switch to a paid version. The pricing is not strictly defined, and the cost depends on the number of contacts you have and the package you choose. Compared to the Active Campaign, HubSpot has a more complicated payment scheme. In this case, we will focus only on the basic offer:
- $50 per month, the Starter Package covers 1.000 contacts.
- $890 per month, the Professional Package covers 2.000 contacts.
- $3,200 per month, the Enterprise Package covers 10.000 contacts.
CRM & Sales:
- $50 per month, the Starter Package starts at 2 paid users.
- $500 per month, the Professional Package starts at 5 paid users.
- $1,200 per month, the Enterprise Package starts at 10 paid users.
- $50 per month, the Starter Package starts at 2 paid users.
- $400 per month, the Professional Package starts at 5 paid users.
- $1,200 per month, the Enterprise Package starts at 10 paid users.
The Content Management System Hub is a brand new package offered at HubSpot. Since there are a lot of options targeted at SEO and creation of blog posts, the introduction of this package was a logical step.
The Professional Package is available at a price of $300 per month, while Enterprise Package starts at $900 per month.
Support and Training
The support and training options are almost the same on both platforms, with a slight advantage to HubSpot because of its free online academy, which we will discuss in more detail later.
Both platforms have chat support, help centers, and a user knowledge base where you can find detailed information not only on how the particular platform works, but on many pertinent marketing principles, too.
Active Campaign has organized its support through the Help Centre, where the resources are presented in the form of blog posts, videos and FAQs pages. There is also a Developers Centre with API and APP documentation, as well as access to the developers’ community.
There is also a resourceful forum, divided into subjects, where all users can ask a question or share their issue with a certain explanation and contact other users or the Active Campaign Support team. This forum can be found in their Slack Chat and Facebook Group, too.
Active Campaign has also started its Education Centre, which focuses on strengthening its users’ knowledge. Those courses are organized through blog series, webinars or video lessons, and you can choose between different topics, such as Contact Management, Email Marketing, General Business, Integrations, Marketing Automation, Partner Resources, Privacy & Compliance and Sales Automation. All these resources are completely free to use.
As we have already mentioned, both platforms and their Help Centers are very similarly organized. Here is the HubSpot Help Centre map that shows all the resources available for its users.
Comparing the knowledge base of both platforms, HubSpot Academy takes slight precedence. The lessons are provided in the form of official courses, lessons, and ebooks, and there are six different categories of courses you can choose: Marketing, Service, Sales, Web Design, Web Development, Data Privacy.
All Courses are adapted for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of knowledge and the best part of HubSpot Academy is that all of those courses are certificated and free!
Which is better: Active Campaign or HubSpot?
Since we have passed through all features that both Active Campaign and HubSpot offer to the users, we will have a short recap now and discuss each feature again.
- Email Marketing – Although both platforms offer similar features, Active Campaign has a slight dominance compared to HubSpot. Don’t forget that Active Campaign is primarily focused on email marketing. Because of its rich segmentation and a simple, user-friendly interface, if you are at the beginning of your email marketing endeavors, this will be quite a good option for you. Compared to segmentation possibilities at Active Campaign, Hubspot segmentation lists are much more complicated to use and can sometimes be confusing.
Still, HubSpot provides you with a vast amount of information about your leads’ history, showing you emails, links, and documents that were opened and when. You should also bear in mind that all these segmentation options are available within the paid version of Hubspot’s CRM system only.
- CRM – Both Active Campaign and HubSpot have an almost identical CRM system, with a difference that within HubSpot’s CRM system, you can create companies (as in populate the category “companies”) as well. Another fact standing on the HubSpot side is that their CRM system is free, while Active Campaign provides it only with paid versions.
- Automation and Workflows – Literally, both platforms offer the same major features, with some points docked due to the fact that advanced automation features are available at HubSpot only via the paid professional marketing plans.
- Integrations – Although both platforms offer integration with some indispensable apps, such as Google Analytics, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, social media channels, WordPress, Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce, in this case, HubSpot has an advantage because it offers the possibility of integration with over 628 apps, while Active Campaign offers integration to 350 apps.
- Pricing – Usually pricing plans are the decisive point where users make their final choice, taking into account the correlations between features and budget. Despite the obvious HubSpot vs Active Campaign price difference (it’s quite substantial), don’t forget that HubSpot offers a wider range of features, as well as free CRM and Marketing tools. Paid plans at HubSpot. however, are still more expensive compared to those offered by Active Campaign, and we advise you to check all the features offered by both platforms and compare them thoroughly to your needs. The right choice is one based on the needs of your business, so there is no universal winner here.
- Support and Training – Another very indistinguishable point of comparison, since both platforms offer almost the same features. Nevertheless, there are a few distinctions that may influence your final choice. While Active Campaign provides live chat support to its customers, HubSpot provides phone support. We would say that HubSpot has only one slight advantage over Active Campaign, and that is a knowledge base that could be especially useful for beginners.
How to decide whether to choose the Active Campaign or HubSpot?
Even though this question is quite complicated, your decision should be made on the basis of your business’ needs, as we have already recommended, there are still a few insights that can help you resolve this dilemma.
Take into consideration using the Active Campaign if your budget is limited, but you need advanced marketing automation features. Active Campaign can be quite an acceptable solution for all businesses whose most important marketing channel is email marketing, and whose list segmentation is an important part of the business processes. Furthermore, if you need to provide a CRM system and marketing tools for your team within a limited budget, Active Campaign is again a good solution.
If you’re in need of a free or paid CRM that can cover many of the various needs of your brand, then HubSpot can prove a satisfying option.
Our digital marketing agency suggests that HubSpot is a perfect fit for all businesses based on expensive or luxurious products and services. When selling such goods and services, it’s valuable to utilize a maximum amount of personalization, so your customers feel more connected to your brand. HubSpot is also a good option for all businesses that require a tie-in from inbound marketing to CRM.
So, after an in-detail comparison of both platforms and the features they provide, we can conclude that the better platform is the one whose features you need for your business. Both Active Campaign and HubSpot are recognized as reputable companies that are truly dedicated to the development of their system, expansion of their features, and matching those features to customer needs. We hope that this comparison has helped you to distinguish all the benefits of each platform and that you are ready to implement one of them into your business processes.