However, continue reading to learn about these platforms to ensure you make the best decision for yourself — based on factors like budget, integrations, and business priorities.
Let’s get going!
What Is Emext Marketing?
Emext marketing combines the power of email marketing and text message marketing, plus voice communication, when appropriate. (Emext marketing logo shown right.)
Our unique approach is designed to explode your sales and supercharge business growth.
We created emext marketing after realizing that local businesses were experiencing more difficulty adapting to an ever-evolving digital-first world.
There had to be a better way to keep them in the game.
Local Businesses and Online Retailers Rejoice
The goal of emext marketing is to help local brick-and-mortar businesses attract more repeat customers and build loyal communities faster. But online retailers can benefit greatly as well.
That’s why this is not a standard email marketing software review. We also securitized these platforms to determine how well they can satisfy our approach, which is the future.
You’ll find a link to our emext marketing methodology at the end of this article if you’re interested in learning more. Check the FAQ section.
But for now, let’s kick some tires.
Who Are These Companies?
ActiveCampaign (AC) was founded by Jason VandeBoom in 2003. The company offers marketing automation and CRM software for small to medium-sized businesses. Their customer base has grown to over 150,000 businesses.
Drip was founded by Rob Walling in 2012 and sold to LeadPages Incorporated in 2016. It is email marketing automation software that serves over 30,000 small to medium-sized businesses.
Who Would Benefit Most from These Platforms?
- Local businesses
- E-commerce brands
- Entrepreneurs who want to automate their businesses as much as possible
- Marketers who want an emailing marketing provider that also understands the importance of text messaging
What Emext Marketing Channels Do the Providers Natively Support?
- Active Campaign (AC) supports email and SMS (Short Message Service)
- Drip supports email, SMS, and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service)
ActiveCampaign vs Drip – Dashboards, Key Features & Ease of Navigation Compared
I like to start software reviews by examining the product dashboards because they reflect the priorities of the app creator. An organized, intuitive dashboard is key to a positive customer experience.
I observed that both ActiveCampaign and Drip have great dashboards that make it easy to locate the most prominent features.
AC’s dashboard menu includes the following categories: Getting Started, Contacts, Campaigns, Automations, Deals, Conversations, Lists, Site, and Reports.
The only thing that I couldn’t immediately figure out from looking at their dashboard was, “Where do I find the email signup form builder and templates?”
Look at the snapshot below and take a guess.
I guessed they were located near the top of the menu under “Contacts” or “Campaigns,” but I was wrong. Instead, they are under the “Site” category, near the bottom (see green arrow).
But other than that minor issue, I like their dashboard very much.
Their dashboard is easy on the eyes and brain too. As you see in the image below, the menu is clearly labeled and straightforward. The main nav menu sections include People, Forms, Campaigns, Workflows, and Analytics.
You will find the key features located exactly where you expect them to be.
You can’t go wrong with either dashboard. But since this is the first feature that I evaluated, I wanted to break the tie. So, I checked to see which platform would make it easiest to import contacts from other lists to get your email marketing efforts off to a fast start.
Neither platform allows importation by text or Excel (.xls). Instead, the file must be CSV.
However, ActiveCampaign allows you to import contacts directly from nearly 90 sources, including PayPal, GoToWebinar, Google Sheets, Shopify, Basecamp, and tons more. That was enough to break the tie.
Winner: Active Campaign (AC), but otherwise a tie if you’re not concerned about importing existing contacts.
ActiveCampaign vs. Drip Email Signup Forms and Builders
Nothing good happens in email marketing until you create a form to get prospects to join your community. These two platforms make that task much easier.
Drip’s Email Form Builder and Templates
This platform offers 9 basic customizable pop-up and embeddable lead capture templates. Nothing special. But they are good enough to get you started.
You can use the forms to collect contact information, trigger automated actions, and more.
The signup form builder or designer is laid out well and it’s very intuitive. As shown below, it is organized into four sections: Fields, Design, Behavior, and Submission.
Start your design by clicking on the “Fields” section on the top left and working your way down. For example, you can configure how you want the field labels, such as name and email address, to appear.
You can also add custom fields and preview your changes in real-time. Easy-Peasy.
Active Campaign’s Email Form Designer and Templates
AC allows you to create four types of signup or registration forms: Inline, Floating Box, Modal Pop-Up, and Floating Bar.
But surprisingly, they don’t offer a selection of pre-built designer signup templates, just a basic pre-formatted design for each form type.
The drag-and-drop form builder/designer is different from Drip’s but equally intuitive. It organizes the design elements under three tabs: Fields, Style, and Options. You can also preview each change as you move along.
Winner: Drip because they at least give you a handful of pre-built forms.
Email Content Builders and Templates (Newsletters, Messages, Offers, etc.)
Email content can include your newsletters, promotions, offers, and other messages that you want to convey to your subscribers. You should format and structure your content to look good and be easy for your audience to consume.
Both platforms use inline drag-and-drop block builders to design email messages. You can move blocks up and down or add and delete them. When you click on a block, the appropriate design options will appear.
I would rate both content builders as excellent.
ActiveCampaign’s Email Builder (w/ 250+ Templates)
Their builder allows you to start from scratch. But to save time, there are over 20 basic content and newsletter templates and more than 250 pre-built designer templates to get things moving.
Their preview tool shows how emails will look on different devices and platforms, including desktop and mobile browsers. And you can track changes made to templates and revert to previous versions.
As you can see in the image below, AC laid out the builder well. And you can even quickly create multiple versions of an email for split testing.
In addition, they provide a built-in spam checker and scoring tool. The lower the score, the more likely your emails will make it to a recipient’s inbox rather than their spam folder.
Drip Provides Two Separate Email Builders
One of them is the visual block builder that I mentioned at the beginning of this section.
But they also have a plain text/HTML builder for users who want total control. So, if that’s how you roll, Drip has you covered.
You can also preview how your emails will look on different devices – desktop, tablet, and smartphone.
Finally, Drip includes 24 pre-built designer content and newsletter templates and 3 basic pre-formatted templates.
Winner: AC because the handy spam checker is a nice-to-have tool that matters.
Drip vs. ActiveCampaign – A/B & Multivariate Split Testing for Email Marketing Campaigns
Email service providers might offer two types of split testing tools – A/B and Multivariate.
Split testing allows you to compare the performance of two or more versions of an email or landing page.
How A/B Split Testing Works
The most basic split test is the A/B. Under this method, you would change one element at a time. For example, Email A would have a different subject line than Email B. Otherwise, everything else about the emails is the same.
You would then choose a small percentage of your list for testing. For example, half of the test group would receive Email A, and the other half would get Email B.
If the results show that recipients open one version more than the other, you will send the winning email to your entire designated audience.
Multivariate Testing Explained
The second type of split testing is the multivariate method. In this instance, you can test more than one element simultaneously. That could include colors, font sizes, images, and more.
Both platforms allow you to A/B split test subject lines and multiple content elements. I couldn’t find fault with either one.
Without a doubt, email deliverability is essential to your business. And nearly all email marketing software providers will tell you that their deliverability rate Is 98% or 99%.
But it’s also helpful if you can find independent test results.
Email Delivery Report Is a Reputable Resource
In scouring the Internet, we found that ActiveCampaign and Drip have excellent reputations for email delivery. But we uncovered one source that performs such testing for 19 email marketing companies.
The organization is called Email Delivery Report. ActiveCampaign Is one of the voluntary participants. Drip is not, but you shouldn’t read anything into that.
In any event, ActiveCampaign is their highest scoring email service provider. Check out the image below that shows the top five providers.
Explanation of Scores and Columns
Provider: Name of the email marketing brand.
Score: This is NOT the raw email deliverability percentage.
The score is based on a proprietary formula that considers multiple factors including delivery rate, sender’s IP reputation, set-up of the email provider’s servers, etc. The higher the score, the better.
90+ – this means that the email service provider uses top-notch email processing technology, plus they have an excellent reputation.
But the types of users that would reap the most benefits from these providers are those that send hundreds of thousands of emails per month. If your business isn’t doing that kind of volume, then any provider scoring in the 70-89 range will do the job just fine.
70-89 – this means that the email marketing provider performed well in delivery testing with only mild to moderate issues. Their technology and server set-up are very good, and they have a solid reputation in the marketplace.
Most of the popular email marketing software providers fall into this category.
Also, remember that Email Deliverability Report performs a new test every month. So, the Provider Score can and will go up and down.
Important: Don’t overanalyze the scores and base your selection decision primarily on them. They are all acceptable.
Total Emails: The provider’s number of emails for the current month’s deliverability test.
Emails Inbox: Of the total emails, this is the number that reached the recipient’s inbox.
Emails Spam: The number of sent emails that ended up in a spam folder.
Emails Lost: These are emails that disappeared on their way to the recipient.
(Note: If you want to calculate just the raw email delivery rate for ActiveCampaign, perform the following steps. First, take the Emails Inbox number (155,314) and divide it by Total Emails (202,628).
That translates into an inbox delivery rate of 76.65%. So, when companies say their rate is 99%, they are including Emails Spam which technically represents delivered messages.)
Winner: AC because we found actual test data about their delivery rate. However, through our other anecdotal research and given Drip’s solid reputation, we believe they would also occupy a prominent position on this list.
Email List Segmentation and Tagging
Segmentation is a best practice to increase the personalization and relevancy of your emails and save cost by reducing send volume.
Tagging allows you to assign labels to subscribers so that you can group or segment them in any way that suits your business. For example, if a customer purchases a particular product, you can have the system add a tag to their profile.
Later, you can create a custom segment containing only customers with that specific tag and send them a personalized message.
Both platforms offer a set of pre-configured segmentation lists. And they also have tools that allow you to create tags and organize your contacts in ways that let you craft more personalized messages.
ActiveCampaign Segments & Tags
Their platform allows you to segment your subscribers by contact details, location, pages visited, links clicked, and more. You can also create segments from automations.
And within the same menu navigation area, you can even create segments to clean your list. So, you can cull out contacts flagged as hard bounces, unsubscribes, inactive, and more.
Drip Segments & Tags
Their tagging and segmentation options are just as good as ActiveCampaign’s. As the image below shows, you can segment your list by actions and events outlined in the following 8 broad categories:
- Email Activity – includes automation emails, opened emails, etc.
- Orders & Products – purchase history
- Reviews – total reviews left, average product rating, etc. (requires Yotpo app integration)
- Loyalty Programs – points total, points spent, etc. (requires Loyalty Lion app integration)
- Segments and workflows
- Forms – form submission
- Events – bounces, confirmed a submission, etc.
- Person tags & fields – country, email address, zip code, etc.
As I mentioned earlier, both platforms are quite good in this area. But if I had to pick one, it would be Drip’s tagging and segmentation set-up. I found it slightly more intuitive to navigate.
Winner: Drip by a hair.
Email Marketing Automation and E-commerce (Automated Workflows)
Marketing automation is a feature that helps marketers conduct marketing campaigns on autopilot within a single channel or across multiple channels. That could include email, text messaging, social media, and the web to drive customer engagement.
Creating an automation or workflow is like designing an end-to-end process flowchart. For each step of the flow, you can set triggers for the actions you want the platform to automatically perform based on what each subscriber does.
Both platforms offer robust automation tools and support for eCommerce. They also integrate directly with the four major eCommerce platforms: Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Commerce, and Magento.
Drip’s Software Automation Module (Includes 50 Templates)
Their automations are heavily focused on eCommerce. For example, out of 50 pre-built automated workflows, nearly half are tailored to the major ecom platforms, and the rest are tied to general eCommerce activities.
The pre-built workflows cover welcome series, abandoned cart, post-purchase, product review, first purchase, win-back, and more.
Of course, you can edit the existing workflows or create them from scratch.
The workflow builder is easy to use. For each step of the flow, the builder will present a pop-up box containing available options.
Then, when you click the action you want, the builder will update the flow diagram as you see here.
I especially like that each action you want the automation to perform is explicit (see image below) such as “Delete a person and all their data” or “Apply a tag to a person’s profile.”
I like the ease of using their builder better than some of the drag-and-drop versions offered by competitors.
You can also include split testing in your automation.
Active Campaign’s Software Automation Module (Over 600 Workflows)
Their automation module is a beast – in a good way, of course. And it’s clear they want to own this space.
Even under their cheapest subscription plan, you get access to a growing library of over 600+ pre-built automation or recipes. In addition, more than 150 have been translated to Portuguese, French, Spanish, German, and Italian.
The workflows also span 13 different business categories: eCommerce/retail, financial, blogger, entertainment, fitness, media/publishing, travel, and more.
For example, if your business is in the fitness niche, there is an automation associated with “targeted weight achieved.” The automation builder is a combination of point-and-click and drag-and-drop.
When creating a workflow from scratch, you’re first presented with a pop-up window where you should select a starting behavior or action from four trigger categories.
The trigger categories include E-Commerce, Email & Messages, Sales & CRM, and Web Properties. For example, if you choose E-Commerce, you can start the flow with an action such as “web page is visited” or “abandons cart.”
Then, as you continue building the flow, you’ll get more pop-up boxes where you can select the next “if/then” action you want to happen. And you can drag-and-drop elements into the workflow.
AC’s builder is a little more complex than Drip’s, but I could get around without any serious impediments.
Some of the complexity is due to having deep integrations with several apps, such as the Salesforce CRM. So, there are more features and options to sort through.
If your goal is to automate your business processes as much as possible, AC is the way to go.
Winner: AC because of the breadth of what they provide. But if you’re focused on eCommerce and don’t need a CRM or heavy automation, then Drip has you covered.
ActiveCampaign Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Drip doesn’t have a built-in CRM, but ActiveCampaign offers one that is robust, Their CRM helps you automate the sales process and move leads further along your pipeline.
AC’s CRM has a similar layout to Trello, making it easy to manage contacts.
What’s really nice is that it has features to manage leads automatically and lets you score them based on various criteria. It also integrates with the email marketing module and offers contact filtering and social profiling.
There is also a mobile app for the CRM, if you’re a person who is always on the go.
If you sell products and services with long sales cycles or that come with ongoing maintenance, you will benefit from a CRM that is also integrated with their automation module.
Winner: AC because Drip does not offer a built-in CRM.
SMS and MMS Messaging Tools for Emext Marketing
To perform effective emext marketing, you must simultaneously utilize email and text messaging to amplify your messages and increase audience reach. The combination will lead to higher engagement and more conversions.
Imagine having the added flexibility to also reach people on their smartphones for exclusive offers, abandoned carts, product reviews, and more,
Then, consider that SMS/MMS messages have a 98% open rate. Compare that to email open rates that hover somewhere in the mid-20% range.
SMS (Short Message Service) and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) are two of the most popular types of text messaging.
SMS messages consist of only text, and MMS messages include media such as images, video, gifs, and audio.
Why You Should Use SMS and MMS
At a minimum, you should use a marketing automation platform that has SMS. But ideally, it should also have MMS because promotions that include images usually convert better. So, it would be great to have both options for testing.
Some marketing platforms like Drip and AC have built-in texting features, while others have SMS/MMS integration partners. Either way is acceptable.
Just know that it’s not a bad thing to use an integration partner. That’s because going the integration route usually means getting a provider with more features and the ability to purchase credits in bulk at discounted prices.
Drip’s SMS and MMS Capabilities
Their platform includes SMS/MMS in its top paid plan. But you only get 200 SMS sends per month. In addition, MMS sends will eat up your credits faster.
So, starting with 200 sends is fine for doing some initial testing. But it won’t be nearly enough as your text messaging list grows.
ActiveCampaign Has SMS, But Not MMS
They give you a paltry 25 free SMS sends per month with the Plus and Professional plans. And you get 1,000 free sends per month with the Enterprise plan.
The free SMS credits in their lower plans are not even enough for testing.
Winner: Tie. Although we like that both platforms are beginning to understand the importance of text messaging, neither offers enough credits to build an SMS/MMS community. But we’ve listed a few of their integration partners later in this article. See the Integration Partners section.
Landing Page Builders (ActiveCampaign Has One, Drip Doesn’t)
Landing pages are single stand-alone web pages that your prospects visit to complete signup forms to get your deals, messages, and offers. So, for emext marketing, the pages must be attractive.
Most email marketing platforms have built-in landing page builders that include a selection of pre-built templates.
However, Drip’s platform does not include a landing page module. I suspect the reason is that LeadPages, a market leader in that category, owns them.
Of course, you can integrate LeadPages into Drip. But you can use any service or website builder to create the pages.
ActiveCampaign’s Landing Page Builder
They offer a built-in drag-and-drop block landing page builder and over 50 pre-built templates (see image below). Neither the builder nor the templates are anything special. But they are OK to get you started.
You’ll need to get the Plus plan or higher to access this feature.
Winner: AC, but the builder is nothing special.
Reporting and Analytics
In deciding which platform offers the best reporting and analytics module, you should make the choice based on the needs of your business. It’s more important to have the right reports and metrics rather than simply access to hundreds of them.
Their reporting is nicely housed under the Analytics section (see image below). There you’ll find standard reports for actions like email opens, clicks, and new subscribers.
But they also have great reports that you can generate for events. You can also view trends and results in a user-friendly graph format for any timeframe you want.
There is a wide range of customer and subscriber events to generate reports. Here are five of them:
- Canceled an order
- Replied to an email
- Entered a split test
- Completed a worflow
They offer much more detailed reporting than Drip. For example, there are specific reports for Campaigns, Automations, Goals, Contacts, and CRM Deals. You can even create custom reports with the Enterprise plan.
For example, you can view a summary report for all campaigns that show total opens & clicks. And it would also display additional metrics such as:
- Click to open rate
- Forward rate
- Unsubscribes and more
ActiveCampaign vs Drip Pricing
Both companies offer fair and competitive pricing for the features they provide. Their plans also allow you to start low and grow at your own pace.
ActiveCampaign’s Email Marketing Service Plans & Pricing
They offer a 14-day free trial and four paid plans. The plans described below are based on having up to 500 contacts and paying for an annual subscription in advance.
14-day free trial (no credit card required)– you get to experience and preview some of the key features in the Lite and Plus plans, but not all.
Lite – the price of this plan starts at $9 per month if paid in advance annually (or $15 month-to-month). You get access to the email module with unlimited sends, automations, and segmentation.
Plus – this plan’s price starts at $49 per month if paid in advance annually. You get everything in the Lite plan plus the landing page builder and templates, CRM, SMS, advanced integrations with Shopify and BigCommerce, and additional reporting.
Professional – the price of this plan starts at $149 per month. You get everything in the Plus plan and the ability to split test automations, website personalization, strategy consultation, and advanced reporting.
Enterprise – the price of this plan starts at $259 per month. You get everything in the Pro plan plus custom reporting, custom mail server domain, free design services, phone support, and unlimited users.
Drip’s Email Marketing Service Plans & Pricing
Drip offers a 14-day trial and two paid plans. They charge you on a month-to-month basis.
14-day free trial (no credit card required) – you get to experience most of the core features.
Email-only – this plan starts at $19 per month for up to 500 contacts. You get access to all modules except for SMS. But you get unlimited email sends and email support.
Email + SMS – this plan starts at $22 per month for up to 500 contacts. That includes access to all the modules, unlimited email sends, 200 SMS sends, and email support.
Winner: Drip because it offers excellent value.
Integration partners are other third-party services that you can plug into the ActiveCamapaign and Drip platforms. This allows you to create your own end-to-end custom marketing ecosystem.
Drip Integrations (100+)
They have well over 100 integration partners that span categories such as analytics, webinars, scheduling, and more.
And while there are a couple of direct SMS integration partners, there are none for MMS.
But all is not lost because you can use third-party integration software like Zapier to integrate tons more apps. That means SMS/MMS platforms, any advanced shopping carts, payment processing systems, form creators, landing page software, etc.
The only downside to using Zapier and tools like it is that you may have to subscribe to one of their paid plans.
ActiveCampaign Integrations (870+)
They claim to have over 870 integration partners. The partnership categories include accounting, forms, lead generation, payments, and more.
They also have direct integrations with several SMS/MMS providers like ClickSend and SimpleTexting.
And like Drip, you can use Zapier to synchronize even more apps to this platform.
Winner: AC because they offer the most flexibility to integrate SMS/MMS.
ActiveCampaign or Drip | Overall Assessment and Winner
I really enjoyed tinkering with both platforms, and you can’t go wrong with either.
ActiveCampaign has a more refined look and feel to it. But the question we set out to answer goes beyond cosmetics.
It’s all about emext marketing. And to that end, we give the nod to ActiveCampaign.
They offer the most flexibility to integrate an SMS/MMS marketing partner. Plus, their marketing automations are second to none.
But if you’re solely focused on online eCommerce and don’t need a CRM, then seriously consider using Drip. Speak with the Drip team to see if they are willing to integrate your desired text messaging provider directly.
Where Can I Learn More About Emext Marketing?
Emext marketing was founded by Michael Holland of e-mps.org. It’s an innovative approach that combines the power of email, text messaging, and voice to grow your business. It’s designed for local businesses and online retailers. You can learn more about it by visiting this link,
Why Should I Use ActiveCampaign?
ActiveCampaign is a great tool for managing your email marketing campaigns. It’s easy to use and has many features that allow you to create targeted emails. I also love ActiveCampaign’s ability to create automation sequences. So, you could run a huge chunk of your marketing efforts on autopilot.
Can ActiveCampaign Be Used as a CRM?
Yes. ActiveCampaign has a built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) module to store, score, segment leads, and track their activities. You can send notifications to your sales team, assign tasks, and track deals. And for added convenience, you can do it all from a mobile app.
Is ActiveCampaign Safe?
Yes. ActiveCampaign is a trusted marketing platform and CRM that supports over 150,000 companies. It’s compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR. It offers detailed reporting to ensure your emails are sent legally. Additionally, ActiveCampaign offers a secure signup form and unsubscribe links.