***Before we begin, I should say that we used Infusionsoft along with their membership platform (CustomerHub) for 18 months and it was a good application to help us grow to where we are today.
However, I felt the need to write this post because so many people don’t realise what they are getting into when they sign up to Infusionsoft – I sure didn’t! I also want to preface that this is all based on our own experience and individual results may vary.***
Warning: We geek out a little in this post. :)
Some background on how I ended up in the Infusionsoft, Kajabi and Active Campaign love triangle…
When I first spoke to Infusionsoft 18 months ago, (before I decided to go ahead and sign on with them) I was SOO excited.
It totally felt like we were levelling up.
I’d been told that to make the transition to Infusionsoft worthwhile you needed to be making over $100,000 and to have a list a 2,000 people.
Having reached that milestone I was so proud to be part of the exclusive Infusionsoft club, where most of the heavy hitters in the industry were hanging out.
If you don’t know, Infusionsoft is much more than an email service provider. It’s a complete small business CRM (customer relationship management) and automation tool, and I was extremely attracted to their “completeness.”
I especially looked forward to having one application for email marketing, marketing automation, and e-commerce. Their customer service is excellent…Plus the fact that many big names were using it must mean something…surely?
I’m sure you’ve read all over the internet that people either love, or hate Infusionsoft. Terri (my VA at the time who ended up running Infusionsoft), loved it and was good at using it which was why we decided to use it to begin with and were able to make it work for so long.
However in March 2016, things started to get rocky…
It started when some of our strong followers emailed in saying they weren’t receiving some of our emails?! We started seeing that our opens and click-throughs just did not seem to improve even though we diligently improved the content of campaign emails and tested different subject lines. If our emails were not getting opened, did that possibly mean that they were not getting delivered?
We contacted Infusionsoft support (who are extremely helpful) and they told us we have above average email stats overall so we shouldn’t worry. They also gave us some insight into why deliverability can sometimes fluctuate based on having a surplus of images and links.
We then decided we had to test out other platforms to see if that was at all a variable…
Because we were sure Infusionsoft (bless their hearts) weren’t going to tell us it was their platform’s fault.
The entire Jessica Nazarali team was asked for input on the new platforms we were looking at. We researched heavily and pulled together a Google doc outlining all of our prior collective experience of various other platforms in the market as part of the evaluation.
We then shortlisted and did much deeper evaluations on our existing stack (Infusionsoft & CustomerHub) and on the two we shortlisted, based on both research and recommendations from people we know and trust… you guessed it… They were ActiveCampaign, and Kajabi.
We had several in-depth discussions about our different options because the last thing we wanted was to make a wrong move and end up in a very stressful situation, or worse on a platform which is sufficient for now but wouldn’t grow with us.
The first thing we decided to do was test identical cold traffic to ActiveCampaign to see if our open rates improved. My husband & business partner Faiz was the catalyst for this experiment as the rest of us were so freaking terrified about even considering such a huge move…
He had heard about ActiveCampaign being a solid platform and a part of him just wanted to geek out & try it out as we heard stories of other people having similar issues.
It was a pretty fair test…
The first emails we tested in ActiveCampaign were on-boarding emails for webinars (to encourage people who had never heard of us to show up live to a webinar).
To make the test accurate – We replicated the same webinar on-boarding emails in both Infusionsoft and in ActiveCampaign.
Right off the bat, we noticed the following differences:
- Automation: Setting up an automation in ActiveCampaign was significantly easier than setting up a campaign in Infusionsoft. Our time to set up a brand new ActiveCampaign automation was less work than cloning an existing Infusionsoft campaign and editing it for the new webinar (or funnel). ActiveCampaign saved us time…at least 50% time savings.
- Deliverability: The open and click-thru rates in ActiveCampaign were higher than those for our Infusionsoft campaign.
- Reporting: Getting open and click-thru rate stats from ActiveCampaign is easier than trying to get the same information from Infusionsoft. This was a surprise…we’d heard that the reporting was easier in ActiveCampaign but we didn’t know just how easy. We were able to update the opens/click-thru report in about 10 minutes. The same task in Infusionsoft involved painfully exporting an email broadcast report as a .csv file, filtering it by subject line, then adding formulas to the spreadsheet to calculate the open and click-thru for each like email sent through the “system.”
- Webinar Attendance: Our very first webinar using ActiveCampaign saw an increase in attendance. Important note: We didn’t change the webinar topic, opt-in page, content of the onboarding campaign sequence, or even the Facebook Ad used to drive registrations. We held the webinar on the same day and same time as the previous week. But the previous week’s registration-to-attendance rate was 26%; the same stat for ActiveCampaign was 42%.
- User Interface: We found the user interface of Active Campaign so much easier to navigate with less clicks and screens to get to the important stuff.
We then asked ourselves…
If our webinar attendance rates could go up so significantly by switching applications, could our sales conversions improve, too?
When we started having these conversations, the first things the team brought up were:
1. The Infusionsoft Ecosystem: There are MANY companies and consultants that survive and thrive off of providing services to people specifically to help them use Infusionsoft…which isn’t a good sign. Software shouldn’t be that complex.
2. Third Party Apps: There are companies that survive and thrive off of developing apps that do what Infusionsoft can not do right now (that’s a good and bad thing). Apps that do things like give better Facebook lead source tracking reports, email marketing conversion reports, campaign effectiveness reports…there’s a theme here. :)
3. The Infusionsoft Membership Platform: Terri (from our team) attended ICON16 (Infusionsoft’s annual conference) and asked (again) when Infusionsoft’s membership app, CustomerHub, was going to be updated. We felt like the design and feel of the CustomerHub was outdated – it’s not mobile friendly, and getting new members access to program materials could sometimes be glitchy. We were hoping that a significant CustomerHub upgrade was coming this year, but we learned that they were “hoping” for late 2016. Terri had been using Infusionsoft for 7 years, and she’d heard that this particular Customerhub update “was coming” for the last 3 years.
We then narrowed down the success criteria. (ie the deciding factors that needed to be met to even consider the move to a new platform):
- Better reporting for campaign effectiveness, lead source tracking and (of course) sales conversions.
- Easier marketing automation (more on this below).
- A learning and membership platform that looked like 2016 (without having to pay for full customization), had a clean user interface, was mobile friendly, and just worked.
Now for the DL on Active Campaign (the in-depth comparison by our team)…
Anecdotal feedback was initially great…
“ActiveCampaign is SO easy!”
That’s the first thing Terri, (the same person who loves Infusionsoft), said about ActiveCampaign.
Let’s take just one example…
Looking at the both worlds to compare we’ll start with Infusionsoft.
I have a sales funnel that requires A, B, and C split testing, and because we monitor opens/clicks and make changes accordingly, the funnel has to be able to be paused so that edits to emails can be made, then started up again without losing where contacts are in the funnel (all of which need to be configured).
To give you an idea of how that looks – here’s a sample screenshot of this campaign in Infusionsoft:
Looks pretty intense, right? While it’s not necessarily “hard” to set up this campaign in Infusionsoft, it’s intricate and each step ties into the next so you have to make sure that each step is properly set up.
Lots of room for minor errors too.
For those who are unfamiliar with Infusionsoft… Funnels in Infusionsoft are called campaigns. Campaign actions are triggered by the filling out an opt-in form, clicking/not clicking a link in an email, and/or the application of a tag or tags in emails.
In the above campaign (moving from left to right), completing an opt-in form starts everything. Then we set up the tags required to do the split testing. From there we add the step required to stop/start or pause the campaign, and then we get to the actual funnel emails.
The delivery of the funnel emails is where it gets time consuming. Since we are doing A, B, and C testing of emails, you set up each group’s emails and make sure that after the email is sent a tag is applied to indicate the receipt of Email 1A, 1B, 1C.
Why? Because if you want to pause this campaign to make edits, you apply the “stop” tag, go in and make your edits, then hit the “start” option again. If a contact has a tag that they’ve received Email 1A, the system will skip email 1A and move to the next email in the funnel. And it goes on that way until the system gets to an email that hasn’t been tagged as sent.
Are you confused yet?
As Terri said, “It’s not hard. It’s tedious. You have to double-check each step, (and often steps within certain steps), to make sure that everything is properly tagged and marked as ready to go before you hit publish.”
The above sales funnel contains 15 emails.
Now, here’s a screenshot of what this same funnel looks like in ActiveCampaign:
Does this look easier to you? It did to me.
This sales funnel has 15 emails also.
If we want to make changes, we just go in and make the changes in the emails. ActiveCampaign’s platform is built differently and is more intuitive when it comes to pausing an automation.
Remember when we said that easy reporting was imperative in our new app? Look at the above screenshot for AC…”view reports” is right there. Just click on that link and you can see right away how each email is tracking. Oh, and lead source tracking is in there, too!
So what made this move so tricky is that we weren’t only moving off Infusionsoft’s email platform. We also needed to move away from CustomerHub (their membership platform).
We then had to look at migrating our entire learning & membership platform…
CustomerHub is an Infusionsoft product for membership sites. CustomerHub integrates with Infusionsoft which is really (from our perspective) the only pro to the platform. It’s not mobile friendly and has no immediate plans for updating platform.
We instantly loved Kajabi – We explored several other options, Access Ally and Teachable being the main ones. However, because Access Ally was only for Infusionsoft and Ontraport customers (and we knew we didn’t want to be on those email providers!) it was automatically out. And Teachable looked great but it had some mixed reviews that scared us off.
This is how easy we found Kajabi to be.
Once set up, delivery of content is much easier, (even via drip), all is mobile friendly, and it just works. We had no customer service emails about trouble logging in to our new membership site…not one.
With CustomerHub, we had to give very detailed instructions on this because members often had issues. (Things like…clear your browser’s cache/history, close the browser, reopen it and try logging in again).
Setting up members in Kajabi is far easier than getting a member into CustomerHub. It’s important to know the difference.
In Kajabi, they purchase and they get access; because your products, order forms, and content are in the same platform, the system just knows to add them to XYZ program when they purchase XYZ product. To get a customer into CustomerHub, you have to tell Infusionsoft to tell CustomerHub to let them in.
Final Thoughts on Infusionsoft, ActiveCampaign and Kajabi
Infusionsoft is very powerful; it can do just about everything you want done as an online marketer today. But to make it “do” what you want, it can be overwhelming. That’s why it has the nickname in the industry “confusionsoft”.
Terri still loves Infusionsoft. Probably because she knows it so well and she created campaigns for us that allowed pausing/restarting and split testing with decision diamonds. But to get Infusionsoft to do this, she felt like she was building a digital great wall of China.
I have friends now who are “stuck” on Infusionsoft because they have 12-month payment plans which had been set up using Infusionsoft’s shopping cart, advanced funnels and numerous other reasons. You can very easily go down the rabbit hole with Infusionsoft and go so deep you can’t get out!
We felt pretty stuck ourselves – but were lucky that the ActiveCampaign & Kajabi learning curves were not too steep which made things much easier.
This is one of the reasons why some of the big names in the industry use multiple email platforms; because it’s just so hard to get off Infusionsoft once you’re in.
If you’re considering signing up to Infusionsoft, look into it and make sure you know what you’re getting into. Don’t just buy it because half the other well-known coaches/marketers are on it. If you ask, many of them will say they probably wish they weren’t.
I love the analogy of driving manual car (clutch) vs. automatic. Many people love driving a manual car but most people feel like it’s completely unnecessary and adds unneeded complexity to the drive.
To me, ActiveCampaign is like driving an automatic. The basic things are taken care of pretty seamlessly and you can drive it with far less complexity.
It’s time to move into the next stage of our business and after all our research, we have banked on ActiveCampaign and Kajabi as the way to go. Hope this helps you on your journey to building your digital empire. :)
Some additional resources:
- For a side-by-side feature & pricing comparison see, Marketing Insider’s overview: http://www.marketingautomationinsider.com/infusionsoft-vs-active-campaign/
- To find out more about Active Campaign go here
- And Kajabi go here