When it comes to email service providers (ESPs), ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign are two of the most popular ones.

In this ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign post, I’ll compare them head-to-head.

However, there are other good but less well-known email tools that have been staying under the radar… simply because they started later.

An example of this is BirdSend email marketing tool that my small team and I run.

Which is why I’m adding BirdSend to this comparison post.

In a hurry? To save 80% in email tool expenses every month while still enjoying high email opens, try BirdSend free here.

Table of Contents

Main differences between ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign vs BirdSend

BirdSend

BirdSend is for budget conscious content creators who want to enjoy high email deliverability.

I know what you’re thinking: “How can high deliverability and budget friendly co-exist?”

It’s because we don’t do any kind of paid advertising. Our primary way of getting customers is via word-of-mouth. Existing customers tell their network and peers about BirdSend because they like us.

Hence, we’re able to save a lot of money and pass these savings to our customers in the form of affordable prices.

BirdSend is for those who focus on writing good email CONTENT instead of being obsessed with email DESIGN. They understand it’s their content that subscribers want, not how “good looking” the email design is.

After all, these are email messages we’re talking about. If people want fancy design, by all means they can do that on their website and landing pages.

BirdSend doesn’t have dedicated landing page features, although the “Welcome Screen” forms (which takes over your whole screen) can be used as a simplistic landing page.

Finally, BirdSend is for solopreneurs or folks with a small team of less than 10.

Focus: simplicity, speed, and affordability (to help as many budget-conscious content creators as possible).

ConvertKit

ConvertKit is also for creators who want to send simple, non-media rich emails. They understand their email content (not design) is what’s important.

Unlike BirdSend, however, ConvertKit users typically have deeper pockets (since ConvertKit is much more expensive).

With regards to arguably the most important aspect for an email marketing tool — deliverability — ConvertKit outsources its deliverability to an external vendor.

This could pose a problem because when deliverability issues arise, an in-house team responds faster than an outsourced team. And deliverability issues will happen — it’s not a matter of ifs, it’s a matter of when.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is for those who want complex email automation + CRM + SMS + support / chat messaging — all inside an all-in-one tool.

It’s for sales oriented big companies with a team of salespeople who need a high-touch sales process to close deals.

It’s also for solopreneurs and small businesses.

Basically, ActiveCampaign targets everyone and anyone.

How content creators save 80% every month while still getting high email opens

Content creators affordably use BirdSend to send around 30 million emails / month and get high email deliverability.

great email opens
(click for full image)

birdsend grows my email list
(click for full image)

Content creators = bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, course creators, info product creators, consultants, coaches, agencies, authors, and speakers. Basically, if others benefit from your knowledge / content, you’re a content creator.

Content creators also use BirdSend to quickly set up automated email sequences / drips, all made possible with The 1-Page Sequence Builder.

simple and lightweight ESP - BirdSend
(click for full image)

If you can find an email tool that builds sequences faster than BirdSend, let me know (contact icon on bottom right of page) and I’ll give you a paid BirdSend account for free.

Now let’s use a set of 20 questions for this ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign vs BirdSend comparison to see how each tool fares.

ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign vs BirdSend comparison

BirdSend

Can subscribers easily choose which emails they want to unsubscribe from (and which ones to remain subscribed to)?

Yes. With The Subscriber Preferences Page (completely customizable), they can easily do that.

The subscriber preferences page by BirdSend

Does it move you over for free (i.e. free migration)?

Yes, we’ll move your subscribers, forms, automations, sequences, integrations — basically everything — for free, with our concierge migration service.

free migration for new customers
(click for full image)

Does the same subscriber get charged multiple times if he is in different sequences / lists?

You only get charged for unique subscribers. So if Peter Parker is in 5 different sequences, it only counts as 1 contact.

What about unsubscribed and unconfirmed contacts? Do they get charged?

We don’t count them towards your billing. We only bill you for subscribed contacts that you can send emails to.

What is the setup process like?

BirdSend’s focus is simplicity and speed.

Setting up sequences, automations, and broadcasts is easy and quick. We’re especially proud of our 1-Page Sequence Builder — and I’ve mentioned this above… if you can find a tool that’s faster in creating sequences, let me know and I’ll give you a paid BirdSend account, on the house.

Who is the target audience?

Content creators with a tight budget, who runs the business as a one-man band or runs a small team of less than 10.

Is there a way to quickly resend emails to people who haven’t opened?

Yes, you can do so easily for every email, regardless if it’s a a sequence or broadcast email. It only takes 1 click to activate this feature. And you can set it up beforehand (set it and forget it).

quickly resend to unopens

Does it support A/B testing?

You can split test or A/B test subject lines for broadcast emails easily, and you can customize these settings:

  • the percentage of emails that go out as the original, variation, and winner
  • the test duration
  • the winner criteria (not only based on open rates, but can also be based on click rates or earnings)

Even in an A/B test, you also have the option of resending the email to non-openers.

A/B test inside this email service provider

Does it have email sequences / drips feature?

Yes, of course. I consider this the price of entry for any email marketing tool. With BirdSend, you can rearrange the order of the emails in the sequence simply by dragging and dropping.

Does it support automation based on contacts’ behavior?

Yes. For example, you can tag or subscribe contacts who opened a specific email or clicked a particular email link. You can also move contacts from one sequence to another, or unsubscribe them from certain sequences… based on their behavior.

What about one-off broadcast emails?

Yes, you can easily send broadcast emails — also faster than anything you’ve tried.

Does it have forms and landing pages capabilities?

You can create opt-in forms easily. We also have a WordPress plugin to make form display easy for you. From pop-ups, exit-intent forms, sidebar and bottom widgets, welcome screens, to in-content forms… you can quickly create and insert them to your site.

We don’t have dedicated landing page features, though many users have used our “welcome screens” (which takes over the entire screen of the visitor) as a simplistic landing page.

We believe in focusing our core competency — email marketing — and let dedicated landing page tools do their job.

How is the email editor?

We use a minimalistic approach (”plain-text” like design) when it comes to email design. So there is no fancy “drag and drop” email editor.

You can still insert images / logos / banners though.

There are 3 reasons why we believe in a minimalistic email editor:

1/ Helps with deliverability since the backend code is clean and lightweight, which mailbox providers like

2/ Looks like an email from a personal friend (instead of a media-rich email like it’s sent from a company)

3/ Fast to create emails — no need to use precious brain power for unimportant decisions like which design template to use, how many columns it should have, how the layout is going to be, etc. Focus on delivering value via great content instead.

Can it segment contacts?

Definitely. Any email tool that doesn’t have this functionality shouldn’t be called an email marketing tool in the first place 🙂

You can segment contacts easily via tags, and these tags can be automatically applied when new contacts joined your list via a specific form, or when they do certain actions like clicking a link or opening an email, or by manually tagging someone.

What type of stats reporting does it provide?

You can see your earnings, earnings/contact, open rates, click rates, bounce rates, spam-complaint rates, etc. You can also know which email contributed to the sale of your offers.

Plus, we also report the lifetime value and average lifetime value of a contact based on a specific campaign / tag. This number is shown front and center when you login to your account.

Does it support abandoned cart emails?

Yes, at this time we integrate natively with tools like: WooCommerce, Teachable, SendOwl, Thinkific, Shopify, aMember, ThriveCart, SamCart, and MemberPress. We’ll be adding more cart integrations down the line.

When folks abandoned their purchase, you can have BirdSend sent follow up emails to remind them in order to close sales.

For other cart tools not mentioned in the list above, you can integrate via Zapier.

Does it offer spam score checking?

Yes, you can click a button and the tool will tell you the “spamminess” of your email content. If it’s too high, you can improve it to lower the score.

spam checking tool

Is customer service satisfactory?

I leave you with this…

what this customer said about her customer service experience
(click for full image)

birdsend’s customer support

Is there a free plan?

There is no free plan, but we do offer a 7+7 = 14 days free trial.

Why 7+7?

On the sign up page, it says 7.

Right before you complete the sign up process, on the last screen, you’ll be asked to enter your payment details. When you do, you’ll get an additional 7 days.

The reason we ask for payment details is to keep spammers out of our tool — so that we can continue to serve legit, paying users and enjoy high email deliverability.

How is the value for money?

Here are some reviews in this department:

is this email marketing tool worth it?

value for money rating for this email automation platform

customer review about BirdSend email marketing tool

Also, make sure whichever email tool you sign up, check not only its base / lowest tier price… but also see how much the pricing increases as you grow the number of subscribers. Choose one that increases in price linearly instead of one that has a huge jump.

Pros

  • Know the reason why someone unsubscribed

     know why someone unsubscribed
  • Super affordable prices (save 3 – 5X every month)
  • Good email deliverability
    • BirdSend is also Suretymail certified — the company that coined the word “deliverability”
  • Easy and quick UI (user interface)
  • Super fast email sequence setup via The 1-Page Sequence Builder
  • All features unlocked, regardless of which plan you’re in
    • The only difference in our plans is the number of contacts you can store

Cons

  • Simple email design, no fancy “drag and drop” templates
  • No dedicated landing page creator (although our “Welcome Screen” form type can be used as a simplistic landing page)
  • New player in the email marketing space (since 2018 only)
  • Small team of 7 team members

ConvertKit

Can subscribers easily choose which emails they want to unsubscribe from (and which ones to remain subscribed to)?

No, subscribers can only opt to unsubscribe completely from all emails or subscribe to all emails. They can’t choose the types of emails they wish to receive because there isn’t a “subscriber preferences page” in ConvertKit.

Does it move you over for free (i.e. free migration)?

Yes, ConvertKit will move over your data from your previous email tool for free.

Does the same subscriber get charged multiple times if he is in different sequences / lists?

No, you’re only responsible for paying for unique subscribers, even if the same person is subscribed to different sequences / lists.

What about unsubscribed and unconfirmed contacts? Do they get charged?

No.

What is the setup process like?

Like BirdSend, it’s easy and quick to set up automated email sequences / drip campaigns as it’s also set up within a single page. The UI is also pretty intuitive and fast.

Who is the target audience?

More affluent online creators who want a simple landing page tool + shopping cart tool within an email marketing tool.

Is there a way to quickly resend emails to people who haven’t opened?

You can set up “resend to non-openers” beforehand for broadcast emails. You can’t do so with sequence emails though.

Does it support A/B testing?

A/B testing is available for broadcast emails, but is limited in the following ways:

  • Can’t determine the winning criteria (only based on open rates)
  • Not able to specify the email ratios for the original email, variation email, and winner email
  • You cannot customize the duration of the test (it’s set at 4 hours)

Does it have email sequences / drips feature?

Yes, of course. I consider this the price of entry for any email marketing tool.

Does it support automation based on contacts’ behavior?

Yes. E.g. When contacts click a link, you can tag or subscribe them to another sequence.

What about one-off broadcast emails?

Yes, it’s easy to send broadcast emails.

Does it have opt-in forms and landing pages capabilities?

Yes, it supports the creation of opt-in forms and simple landing pages.

How is the email editor?

Like BirdSend, ConvertKit embraces simple email design over fancy designed emails. The email editor doesn’t have drag and drop elements. It’s meant for users to focus on writing the content rather than “designing”. It’s pretty intuitive and quick to use.

Can it segment contacts?

Yes, via tags.

What type of stats reporting does it provide?

It provides open rates, click rates, and unsubscribes. That’s it.

Important stats that indicate the healthiness of your email list like bounce rates and spam-compliant rates are not provided, let alone sales revenue and sales attribution tracking.

For the little stats that are provided — however — they’re randomly sorted, which makes it harder to review and make sense of:

ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign - the former stats reporting is inferior

Does it support abandoned cart emails?

Not natively, but you can do so with Zapier.

Does it offer spam score checking?

No.

Is customer service satisfactory?

It has a help center filled with text and video tutorials. If that’s not enough, you can always click the bottom right icon to get in touch with a human. Human support is helpful and responds quickly, even though it’s not 24/7 live chat.

If you fork out more money, the “Creator Pro” higher plan gets you faster support.

ActiveCampaign’s competitor ConvertKit - their customer support

Is there a free plan?

Yes, there’s a free plan with the following limitations:

  • no migration provided
  • their clickable logo on every email you send
  • no sequences and automation
  • max 1k contacts

How is the value for money?

A lot of creators have gotten value out of ConvertKit. When it comes to value for money, there are email tools that score higher in this area.

Pros

  • Easy segmentation via tags
  • Easy and quick UI
  • Fast to set up sequence emails

Cons

  • No auto resend to non-openers for sequence emails
  • Email deliverability, arguably the most important aspect of an email marketing tool, is outsourced to a 3rd-party instead of handled by an in-house team (takes longer to resolve when there are issues)
  • Sales and revenue tracking could be improved — no attribution tracking showing which email converted the sale; no lifetime value and average lifetime value reporting
  • Can’t filter contacts based on when they joined your list
    • This is useful, for example, when you want new contacts not to receive promotional emails
  • When you have a lot of forms, broadcasts, sequences, automations, it’s hard to find what you’re looking for
    • Because ConvertKit doesn’t provide a search filter on these pages — i.e. you’d have to use your eyes (and brain) to find → slower and waste of mental processing power which could be used more effectively
  • It doesn’t provide you with data on why someone unsubscribed

ActiveCampaign

Can subscribers easily choose which emails they want to unsubscribe from (and which ones to remain subscribed to)?

Yes. ActiveCampaign is a “list-centric” tool — meaning contacts are put into “lists”.

Typically with a list centric tool, subscribers can select the types of emails they still want to receive (and which ones they no longer want).

Does it move you over for free (i.e. free migration)?

Yes.

Does the same subscriber get charged multiple times if he is in different sequences / lists?

No. You only get charged for each unique email address even though he is on different lists.

What about unsubscribed and unconfirmed contacts? Do they get charged?

No.

What is the setup process like?

Since ActiveCampaign is an all-in-one tool that can do A LOT of things — like CRM, support / chat messaging, email marketing, complex automations, SMS — it has a steep learning curve with all the different menus and options inside the UI.

Which is probably why the UI is clunky and slow. So you can’t really fault it.

Who is the target audience?

It doesn’t have a defined target market.

For business size — everyone and anyone from solopreneurs to big companies can use it.

For business type — e-commerce online shops, coaches, course creators, internet marketers, local business stores — all are welcome to use ActiveCampaign.

Is there a way to quickly resend emails to people who haven’t opened?

Resending to non-openers is inconvenient.

First, you can’t set the resend beforehand while you’re creating / setting up the email. You need to login to your account and do it manually.

Second, while in the account, you must do the resend at that time. It can’t be scheduled to be sent at a later time.

Does it support A/B testing?

Yes. You can A/B test subject lines, from names, as well as the email body.

Does it have email sequences / drips feature?

Yes.

Does it support automation based on contacts’ behavior?

Definitely. Its automation is one of the most advanced and complex out there. If you can think of an automation in your head, you probably can build it inside ActiveCampaign.

What about one-off broadcast emails?

Yes.

Does it have forms and landing pages capabilities?

Yes, you can create forms and landing pages (Plus plan).

How is the email editor?

The email editor is drag and drop like most ESPs. ActiveCampaign’s editor is clunky and buggy, even though it has gotten better over the years.

Can it segment contacts?

Yes, via lists and tags — though it could be confusing to know when to use lists vs tags.

What type of stats reporting does it provide?

You’ll be able to find the usual stats like open rates, click rates, bounce rates, spam-complaint rates.

If you sign up for the Professional plan (very expensive — 1k contacts @ $159/month), sales and attribution reporting is also available.

Does it support abandoned cart emails?

Yes, but only in Plus plan and above.

Does it offer spam score checking?

Yes.

Is customer service satisfactory?

ActiveCampaign has extensive help docs and tutorials in their knowledge base. It doesn’t have a phone number for customer support, but it does have a phone number for sales enquiries.

Is there a free plan?

No, but it offers a free 14-day trial.

How is the value for money?

It depends on your needs and the plan you sign up for.

But even with its lowest plan (Lite) — you can do a lot of email marketing automation… though CRM, site messaging / chat, e-commerce integrations, or revenue reporting are not available.

However, if you don’t need a lot of the features even in the lowest Lite plan, there are email tools that score higher in this area.

Pros

  • Advanced and complex marketing automation — if you can think of an automation, most likely you can build it in ActiveCampaign
  • Deep and detailed reporting (though you need to fork out more money for the higher plans)?
  • Its automation map tool allows you to zoom out and see at a high level how your automations are connected to one another — giving you a better picture of how efficient your automations / funnels are and how you can improve them (Plus plan)

Cons

  • Its price lock is only for 2 years
    • This means when they increase their prices, your current price rate is only locked for 2 years. After that, you’d need to pay at the then, more expensive price.

      convertkit vs activecampaign: the latter’s price lock is only for 2 years
  • Slow and clunky UI
    • If you login to your account often to check or set things up, it could be a frustrating experience
  • No form-specific incentives
    • Form-specific incentive = automatically delivering the lead magnet you promised. You set up the lead magnet right in each form without having to create a separate automation to deliver each lead magnet. If you have a lot of lead magnets — this feature saves you a lot of time
  • If you’re not tech-savvy, you’ll need the help of a tech assistant to help set things up because the interface has a lot going on with many options and menus

ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign vs BirdSend Price Comparison

(price per month)

Brand1k Contacts2.5k Contacts5k Contacts10k Contacts25k Contacts50k Contacts100k Contacts
ConvertKit (Creator)$29$49$79$119$199$379$679
ActiveCampaign (Lite)$30$61$99$174$286$424$687
BirdSend$9$14$19$29$69$109$209

Conclusion — ConvertKit vs ActiveCampaign vs BirdSend – which is better?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer / solution.

It always depends on your needs.

If you want a simple email marketing tool specifically for content creators — one that is super affordable (saves 80% every month) yet has high deliverability, give BirdSend a try.

Go for ConvertKit if you have deeper pockets and don’t mind an email marketing tool that outsources its deliverability to outside vendors,

ActiveCampaign is for you if you want super advanced marketing automations or if you have a team of salespeople trying to close high-ticket deals.

Welly Mulia

👋 My customers (Content Creators) send 30M emails/month via BirdSend. They save 80% in email tool expenses every month while still enjoying high email opens.

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Try BirdSend Free Now!

Save 80% every month. High email opens. Super fast email sequence setup.

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