Active Campaign vs GetResponse vs MailChimp vs HubSpot – How to decide?

Active Campaign vs GetResponse vs MailChimp vs HubSpot – How to decide? (enhance email marketing) - ColorWhistle

Email is a powerful channel with unmatched reach for marketers that know how to use it. Moreover, it’s a channel with an unheard of ROI! In this section, we’ll surface through the top email marketing trends for 2024 & beyond.

1. Smaller businesses to increasingly adopt email marketing: The onset of pandemic required brands to communicate to their customers more than ever. This was especially true for small businesses with fewer communication channels.

But naturally, Email Marketing becomes the first step for every business looking to build a connection with its audience.

Emails still happen to be the most effective way to stay in touch with your audience. And rightly so, it continues to be the best-performing marketing channel – Email Marketing can deliver a dazzling estimated ROI of 4400%.

If email marketing was not such a big thing, internet giants such as Facebook and Shopify would not be announcing their own email products to cater to small businesses’ marketing needs.

2. De-crowding the recipients’ inbox: While email marketing is increasingly adopted by small businesses, it is true that inboxes are getting even more crowded. As a corollary, customers may find it hard to tell which email is really important and which is just a desperate marketing attempt.

An email marketing service provider (ESP) here will act as a great resource to fine-tune your marketing efforts. Here are examples of features that services like ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, HubSpot, or MailChimp offer:

  • CRM platform with segmentation capabilities
  • Good standing with Internet Service Providers
  • A positive reputation as an email service provider
  • Easy-to-build forms, landing pages, and CTAs
  • Automation for relevant and scheduled email posts
  • Simple ways to comply with email regulations
  • Ability to split test your emails
  • Built-in analytics
  • Downloadable reports

Essentially, these features limit the efforts needed for companies to successfully target a specific group for a specific campaign. Further, marketers can concentrate on the actual email content by integrating empathy and building human connections to build a consistent user experience. This will result in more human-centric lifecycle emails than mere desperate automated marketing attempts.

3. Rise of social consciousness in email campaigns: Social issues have now come to dominate the conversations involving brands and its consumers. This calls for integration of Branding with email marketing – telling your customers about:

  • What are your brand values?
  • What does your brand really care about?
  • How are you contributing to the greater good?

You may further check out this blog to get a better idea on sharing your brand values via email.

4. Simplistic designs are making a comeback: A simplistic design involves maximization of white space. It aids readability, helping readers immediately identify the most important parts of an email, and working with it.

Consider Neil Patel’s strategy.

Active Campaign vs GetResponse vs MailChimp vs HubSpot – How to decide? (Email SERP) - ColorWhistle
Active Campaign vs GetResponse vs MailChimp vs HubSpot – How to decide? (Email SERP) - ColorWhistle
Active Campaign vs GetResponse vs MailChimp vs HubSpot – How to decide? (Email SERP) - ColorWhistle
Active Campaign vs GetResponse vs MailChimp vs HubSpot – How to decide? (Email SERP) - ColorWhistle

He runs a digital agency and has successfully established a personal brand for himself. This has enabled him to post emails to the intended contact list in a plain, conversational format.

Generally, readers are concerned about flashy marketing banners, complex emails with bright CTAs, etc., all loading within the email. It seems very robotic and depersonalized. (remember, our earlier discussion on the human-centric lifecycle of emails?) While some prefer it, many simply refrain from opening emails from the same sender, the next time.

Read more about the best font to use for your email marketing in this blog.

5. Increased BIMI adoption to counter phishing: It may purely be technical but it should concern new email marketers.

Today, fake emails are more convincing than ever. The entire email ecosystem is in need of strong security features that allow recipients to identify the email sender and prevent them from falling prey to these malicious messages.

With Gmail announcing its pilot to support BIMI, marketers will have better control and options to projects themselves legitimate in front of the recipient. Brands will be able to display a logo next to their messages to confirm that the email was indeed sent by them and not their evil proxy.

To learn about the technicality of using BIMI standards, follow this link.

Further, you may refer to this HubSpot blog for unique email marketing campaign inspirations.

Evaluation Of Email Marketing

Keeping email marketing relevant is a big challenge in itself, as communication between brands and their customers has gradually informalized. This is why we recommend you keep a track of the following metrics as a part of your email marketing efforts.

  • Clickthrough Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Bounce Rate
  • List Growth Rate
  • Forwarding Rate
  • Open Rate

Borrowing from one of HubSpot’s blogs, we have systematically listed the most important metrics and subsequently connected them to achieve your specific goals.

  • Clickthrough rate gives you direct insight into how many people on your list are engaging with your content and interested in learning more about your brand or your offer.
  • If your goal is to generate leads, conversion rates are incredibly important as they show you how successful your newsletters are at actually generating prospects and leads.
  • Tracking bounce rate can help you determine if your company looks like a spammer in the eyes of an ISP. If yes, it is bad business for marketers.
  • Statistics show us that there’s a natural decay of your email marketing list, and it expires by about 22.5% every year. Keeping track of the list growth rate will help you realize your actual subscriber list.
  • There’s no better way of marketing than having your customers speak for your brand on their own. Essentially, through email sharing or forwarding rate, you can discover which types of articles and offers tend to get shared the most. Further, you can use that insight to plan your future email campaigns.
  • Marketers invest a lot of their efforts in optimizing the subject lines & text preview of an email in order to keep the open rate high. In doing so, they fail to realize that the image-blocking enabled on the receiver’s email client will result in an under-reporting/misleading open rate. That is to say, more readers are actually opening your email to only find out an incomplete email body. Therefore, marketers should be focused on optimizing their clickthrough rate, instead, for better engagement.

If the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) were to be made global, companies can no longer send emails without prior permission of the receiver. Not doing so will invite a hefty penalty levied by the state on the company.

And to seek permissions, emails will have to be more relevant to the readers than ever before. This is why sometimes we believe email outreach and targeted guest posting may be overused strategies. Read our previous blog to know more about it.

Nonetheless, as we embrace marketing automation through Machine Learning, the better it would be for companies to target relevant audiences at the right time. This will improve the scope for personalization and thus make emails interesting again!

Turning Measurements Into Action – choosing from the best available marketing tools

Competition among the said ESPs is getting intense. While all offer similar features, they tend to cater to an established audience base for themselves. Their customers are spread across the industry spectrum ranging from individuals, solopreneurs, small and medium businesses, startups to corporates and enterprises.

The tabulated parameters to compare ESPs are self-explanatory.

  • Ease of use & editor
  • Design & flexibility
  • List management
  • Integrations & extras
  • Marketing automation
  • Registration forms
  • CRM
  • Support
  • Spam & design testing
  • Reporting
  • Deliverability
  • Pricing

However, there’s a scope for us to explore the finer nuances and detail out the differences between these ESPs on such parameters.

In today’s day & age, ease of use is equally important to consumers along with the product’s core functionalities. In our case, be it – ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, GetResponse, or HubSpot – all offer easy-to-use drag & drop editors to efficiently create emails.

Designing & flexibility involves how easily the users can access the email templates or create their own templates, content blocks, etc., thereby making the email itself more interactive. It also involves rendering these templates uniformly across the different screen sizes.

Special mention has to go to GetResponse’s adaptive design & MailChimp’s impressive collection of easy-to-use design templates.

Managing contacts efficiently is a dream come true for any email marketer. It not only allows the companies to target a focus group but also puts an end to obsolete emails being sent to customers. There are various ways of organizing contacts including tags, segments, groups, customs fields, or list management.

While any ESP would offer tools to manage contacts, ActiveCampaign goes a step ahead with its lead scoring methodology. It allows you to assign scores based on actions taken by your subscribers, thereby enabling better targeting of upcoming campaigns.

Integrations with third-party tools drastically improve the performance of your marketing efforts. Some of the most prominent integration features to have in any ESP would include the ability to set Facebook/social media custom audience, custom subscription forms, import custom designs & forms, website tracking/analytics to determine customer behavior, dynamic & predictive content, SMS messaging, and more.

Given the bulging user database, Automation is gradually becoming an integral part of today’s marketing & sales campaign. Therefore, any ESP would offer to automate your marketing process in order to create email triggers at appropriate levels in the conversion funnel. However, the difference between various ESPs would lie in the degree of control they will offer in the entire automation process. It is important to avoid spamming & find out your most engaging contact.

In our experience as HubSpot’s solutions partner, we can certainly tell you that HubSpot CRM is purely built for marketing automation. It boasts email marketing and lead generation tools to help businesses grow. It will not only organize your customer database but lets you chat with leads in real-time as well as set up chatbots for automated conversational marketing.

Now comes the best part of our ESP comparison – Pricing.

  • GetResponse is unique in its approach in offering custom pricing in addition to fixed price plans.
  • Thanks to its freemium plans, MailChimp is hugely popular among small businesses and solopreneurs.
  • HubSpot is a giant offering all the possible marketing services under one roof.
  • Users can choose between Starter, Professional, or Enterprise packs which are generally on a higher side than others.
  • ActiveCampaign is confident about its core functionality and rightfully, does not offer any free plans.
  • Businesses can start utilizing the marketing services at as low as $9/month.

MailChimp Unique Case Studies

1. Personalized automation

Frankie & Myrrh is in the multi-billion aromatherapy industry based in San Francisco. They utilize Mailchimp’s automation in combination with abandoned cart postcards that help them convert friendly reminders into new revenue.

It’s was incredible for them to see a conversion rate of 4.4% for the abandoned cart postcards from the first campaign itself.

2. Integrations

Adhoc is a digital company that informs its readers about upcoming concerts and generates traffic to their website.

Using Mailchimp’s Eventbrite integration data and Mailchimp tags, AdHoc organizes audiences by location, then keeps track of fans of specific genres and folks who have purchased tickets to see an artist in the past.

Further, these data are feed into Mailchimp Marketing CRM, saving them a lot of time and making it easy to target segments of their audience.

They experienced a 100% increase in newsletter opens, 93% audience growth, and 26% more opens with tag-based campaigns.

3. Landing Pages

Azalea San Francisco is a boutique that wishes to engage with both brick-and-mortar and digital customers. They are realizing their goals using Mailchimp’s landing pages.

After segmenting their audience based on previous interactions, their strategy is to send an email to local customers, driving them to the landing page to promote a particular event and show a preview of the product.

Much to their expectations, they saw a significant jump in unique visitors to their website from the landing page CTA alone. Additionally, they claim to make direct sales from the event page itself.

ActiveCampaign Unique Case Studies

1. Behavioral Targeting

Soundsnap is one of the world’s leading professional online sound effects libraries, featuring high-end sounds recorded by professional sound designers across the globe.

They are employing behavioral targeting using ActiveCampaign to make it easier for their customers to find the sound effects they need by tracking what sites they visit most. Through site tracking, ActiveCampaign can “see” a visitor’s actions on your website and perform multiple actions (like triggering an email with complimentary sound samples) in response to that behavior.

Employing these tactics, Soundsnap saw a 300% increase in month-to-month email revenue and a 20% higher open rate.

2. Tailored Messaging using Automation

Beefy Marketing is an inbound marketing and web development company based in Houston. They needed a tool that would help them automate a “killer personalized onboarding and customer journey”.

Here’s what happens when a client launches a new project – a new website, logo, etc. – with Beefy Marketing:

  1. The project manager tags the client with “launched” in ActiveCampaign
  2. ActiveCampaign automatically notifies Beefy Marketing’s social media manager
  3. The social media manager reaches out to the client to schedule a pizza party
  4. Once scheduled, the social media manager tags the client with “scheduled”
  5. An automated email encourages the client to share photos of the party on social

Further, with ActiveCampaign, they can get the information they need from clients automatically:

  1. The project manager tags the contact with “waiting for content”
  2. The tag triggers automation reminding the client to send content to the project manager
  3. Once the project manager has everything they need, they remove the tag
  4. If the client doesn’t respond, the automation sends another email with tips on providing content

According to the founder of Beefy Marketing, “ActiveCampaign had the best automation features that I had seen, and it was highly intuitive. A real perfect mix of humans and technology.”

3. Predictive Sending

Desmistificando is a company of two people based in Brazil. The company creates courses for lawyers that focus on professional training and law practice.

As they grew, they wanted a better way to market the business, manage leads, and save time. They saw the following features in ActiveCampaign that would help them grow in marketing, like:

  • Lead scoring
  • Automation
  • Customizable marketing funnels

For instance, with the WebinarJam/ActiveCampaign integration, it was now possible to segment Desmistificando’s audience by:

  1. Who registers but doesn’t watch the webinar?
  2. Who watches all of the lectures?
  3. Who stops watching a webinar in the middle of a lecture?

Further, they were able to use conditional content in their emails with:

  • Images: Use site tracking and tagging to show customers the products they’re interested in.
  • Offers: Insert a different offer based on what stage of the customer lifecycle your contact is in.
  • Copy: Send unique content (like an article or links) to address a problem a contact wants to solve with your product.

The results went beyond what was expected. They saw a significant increase in email opens and sales. Predictive sending nearly doubled their open rate and they saw an 18% sales increase.

GetResponse Unique Case Studies

1. Conversion Funnel

Alex Terrier is a jazz musician and a music teacher offering online music courses. His vision is to grow the contact list and automate the entire process to sell online music courses.

Using the conversion funnel tool on GetResponse, he was able to automate the sales process with ready-made templates.

“Conversion funnel is great for reaching new customers with one-time purchase products. You get revenue and grow your contact list at the same time. If you’re looking for the shortest path to sell your product, the conversion funnel is exactly what you need.”

2. Contact list segmentation and systematic A/B testing

Submission Technology is a lead generation agency with a mission to provide innovative technology and performance marketing solutions.

They regularly make use of A/B testing, Advanced segmentation, Advanced API on GetResponse to increase engagement, maintain the highest deliverability, make data-driven decisions for their clients. Further, they make use of GetResponse click reports to see what content works best and then adapt future content to include or focus on those learnings.

As a result, they are consistently achieving – 31% unique open rate, 7% unique click-through rate, 99.2% deliverability rate.

3. Effective Lead Magnet

InfoShare Academy offers intensive programming courses for beginners who want to start working in IT.

They employed lead generation campaigns using GetResponse tools to build a contact list on Facebook, initiate personalized communication based on user behavior, and ultimately increase sales.

As a result, they gained 1200 new contacts in one month and the acquisition cost per contact going down to as low as $0.26.

HubSpot Marketing Unique Case Studies

HubSpot offers an unmatched inbound marketing methodology and solutions to benefit your business.

For instance, consider this Singapore-based digital agency. They used tools like MailChimp for email, Hootsuite for social media, Moz for SEO, and Google Analytics for web analytics. There was no effective way to tie these tools together to see all of a prospect’s interactions across different channels.

Sooner, they worked with their HubSpot Channel Account Executive Thomas Moin to implement an integrated inbound marketing methodology. They saw how it could enable a consistent, personalized experience for their prospects, and how having all of their marketing tools in one place on HubSpot could support this effort.

We have extensively covered the benefits of using HubSpot Sales & Marketing Automation on an industry-basis:

Do check it out!

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To Wrap Up

Emails are certainly not dead, however, the rise of instant chat platforms and social media has redefined its role. It is also negotiating the rise of personal data regulations that may impede the growth of marketing in the near future. Whatsoever the case is, email marketing still remains one of the surest ways of reaching out to customers.

Email marketing is constantly evolving and top trends for 2024 & beyond go by like:

  • Brands will be expected to show more mindfulness of recipients’ inboxes.
  • Empathy will be key to building more human-centric lifecycle emails.
  • The rise of social consciousness will impact the way we create our campaigns.
  • Emails will be even more accessible for small businesses.
  • Interactive email design is likely to become an even more complex space than it already was.
  • Recipients will demand more authentic messages, which will bring back plain-text emails and simpler designs.
  • The adoption of BIMI will increase as a way to combat phishing attempts and gain trust.

Further, your choice of engagement with a particular ESP can best be concluded by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How often will I send emails to my audience?
  • How many subscribers do I have?
  • Do I need HTML or plain text emails?
  • Does the service I have selected have good analytics tools and integration features?
  • How much can I afford to spend on an email marketing service?

At ColorWhistle, we expertise in marketing technologies – combined with leveraging marketing automation to amplify customer acquisition, CRM, and retention – thereby making us the right marketing automation agency to reach your goals.

If you are a business or a digital agency, we are happy to discuss your unique marketing propositions over a scheduled call. You may reach out to us at +91 (944).278.9110 or fill-in this webform to contact us or comment down below to get started!

Pavithra Samuel
About the Author - Pavithra Samuel

I'm a word-aholic copywriter who always loves to share a close bond with digital marketing. Google, being my father of research, accompanies me shoulder-to-shoulder in every step of writing. I always look up to copywriters who generate educative, persuasive content impeccably seasoned with creativity & innovation. I can deliver content for web service pages, blogs, social media, emails, and so on. I can engage myself in content-related works for B2B, B2C, SMEs, niche-specific businesses. Other than reading & writing, my other two escapes are sweets & songs. My dream desk would be more of creative writing projects, desserts, music, & minions.

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