HubSpot V.S. ActiveCampaign – Which Platform is Right for Your Business?
These days, a full-featured marketing automation platform is a necessity for almost any business, no matter the size. Today, HubSpot and ActiveCampaign are two such platforms that offer valuable marketing automation and CRM opportunities, although it is important to recognize the differences between the two.
HubSpot has recently been shifting much of its focus by dedicating more resources to its CRM development. HubSpot is positioning itself to compete with Salesforce and offer more comprehensive options as a CRM platform.
ActiveCampaign, on the other hand, is primarily a marketing automation platform. Their CRM options are good for certain businesses, but cannot be considered a full-featured CRM in the same sense as HubSpot, Salesforce, and others.
So, how do you decide which service is the right option for your business? Part of this depends on your business goals and your preferred approach to marketing. You also need to consider your current business needs and capabilities. Like any other business tool, there are also inherent factors of cost and user-friendliness that can make a huge impact on your decision. In this article, we are going to break down the key differences between HubSpot and ActiveCampaign, and provide some guidelines on how to determine which platform might be right for you.
One top factor to consider when looking at HubSpot and ActiveCampaign is the range of integrations that each platform offers. Both HubSpot and ActiveCampaign offer many third party integrations with other top applications your business might need.
HubSpot Integrations - HubSpot features over 1,000 third party app integrations, including popular platforms like Google Suites, Outlook, Facebook, and more. It also offers a Salesforce integration, which allows you to utilize both CRM software rather than having to decide between the two.
ActiveCampaign Integrations - ActiveCampaign also offers a hefty amount of integration opportunities, with over 850 apps available for integration.
The key difference with the nature of many of ActiveCampaign’s most popular third party integrations is what they do for you. Much of AC’s automation is geared towards lead generation, CRM, and analytics, allowing you to track and nurture the customer journey along the way. In contrast, HubSpot offers more robust integration opportunities for actions on the sales, finance, and customer service side.
You will also want to consider what subscriptions and package options each platform has to offer.
While ActiveCampaign’s package options are fairly simple to follow–four different subscription tiers at increasing prices–HubSpot’s packages can be a bit less straightforward due to the breakdown of different “products” that focus on different specialties.
HubSpot refers to these products as their “Hubs”, which are broken down into Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, Customer Service Hub, CMS Hub, and Operations Hub. Each Hub has three subscription tiers at increasing prices. Additionally, the option to “bundle” certain products allows customers to compile a subscription more uniquely catered to their business. Determining the best combination of products for a custom bundle can require some customer support, which you can find with the help of a HubSpot representative.
Lead Management is another key aspect of a good CRM platform.
HubSpot - Regardless of what packages you choose, HubSpot does a fantastic job of making sure that you always have CRM tools for free, regardless of whatever other products or subscriptions you have purchased.
Secondarily, many lead management functions are available via HubSpot’s Sales Hub. HubSpot’s lead management updates in real time through the CRM contact record. This allows you to see and interact with new leads in real time, which is a huge benefit when you want to reach out to new leads as quickly as possible.
ActiveCampaign - The nature of ActiveCampaign’s lead management focuses on always trying to improve the customer experience for people interacting with your business allows for both lead management and lead nurturing primarily with its function of allowing you to assign contacts to custom fields and segments. Adding contacts to custom fields allows you to personalize your contacts’ information, such as location, background, interests and more. This level of customization allows you to provide more personalized material to leads.
As we noted earlier, both HubSpot and ActiveCampaign provide packages at varying priceranges, and thus, both have certain options to customize and cater the platform to your business needs. But the opportunities for customization certainly differ between HubSpot and ActiveCampaign
HubSpot - HubSpot’s “Bundles” and “Custom Bundles” offer a wide variety of options when it comes to customizing your CRM plan. For example, you might want to opt for a professional level Marketing Hub subscription, but keep your sales ventures a bit more simplistic and opt for a starter subscription in that arena. Bundles allow you to mix and match packages to make sure you are paying for the most important products for your business, without paying for services that you simply won’t end up utilizing.
HubSpot also offers a high level of customization when it comes to data and reporting. In fact, you can configure data reports to your liking, allowing you to customize your dashboard in a wide variety of ways.
ActiveCampaign - ActiveCampaign appears to offer fewer “mix and match” options when it comes to packages. However, they do invite you to talk to a sales representative if you want to personalize a package that works for you.
ActiveCampaign also offers some custom options for your dashboard. However, HubSpot might have ActiveCampaign beat when it comes to the number of filters you can choose from when configuring a deal pipeline.
Nowadays, automation tools are some of the most important ways to engage with customers via your CRM. HubSpot and ActiveCampaign both offer rather advanced options for marketing automation. The difference, however, lies in the accessibility between the two platforms.
While both HubSpot and ActiveCampaign have options for segmentation, lead scoring, split automation, and list management, they come at drastically different costs. Most of these capabilities are available in ActiveCampaign’s “Plus” package. In contrast, if you want to unlock as many limitless possibilities for automation on HubSpot, it will come at a much higher cost.
Another aspect to consider, however, is the ease of configuring these automation. Despite the intricacy of automation opportunities that ActiveCampaign has to offer, the learning curve for becoming comfortable with AC’s automation can pose a high barrier for entry. In comparison to HubSpot’s comprehensive educational resources, mastering AC automation sometimes requires more hands-on practice and trial-and-error.
So, when it comes to marketing automation, deciding between HubSpot and ActiveCampaign will most likely rely upon the work style of your business. Are you looking for a lower-cost package, and willing to put in the extra time and effort that it might require to become fluent in AC automation? Or are you more concerned with ease of workflow, and willing to up your budget if it means less time spent troubleshooting?
This brings us to a larger discussion about user-friendliness. The overall user-friendliness of HubSpot extends far beyond its (sometimes more costly) add-on packages. Even with lower-tiered price packages, HubSpot makes it easy for you to customize your dashboard, compile data reports to your liking, and overall intuitively navigate the platform.
This is one area that ActiveCampaign can fall short. Despite its seemingly unlimited automation capabilities, AC tends to come off as less intuitive for first-time users. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get your bearings with the platform. Active Campaign’s online resources can answer questions that will allow you to maximize your use of the platform.
But these educational materials have competition from HubSpot. HubSpot’s online resources are notoriously vast. This not only includes educational material to help increase users’ fluency on the platform, but also an array of free tools that can help you improve the overall effectiveness of your website, e-commerce, and marketing. Tools like Website Grader and WordPress Training courses offer material to quickly expand your knowledge of how to dial in your online strategies. With paid plans offering additional live support from HubSpot specialists, HubSpot makes sure they never leave you scratching your head for a solution.
Let’s finish our comparison with what many of you have probably been waiting for. Pricing is going to be a big factor in most businesses' consideration between platforms.
Now, let’s break down the pricing of the two by subscription tiers.
Free Trials - Both platforms offer free trial opportunities so you can test them out before you commit.
HubSpot’s free option includes:
- Non-expiring free plan
- Unlimited users
- Up to 1 million contact
- HubSpot branding on all materials you use
- Non-comprehensive features
ActiveCampaign’s free option includes:
- 14 days free (but this is flexible. On their site, a representative says: “If you need a little extra time just let us know!”)
- Up to 100 contacts and 100 emails sent
- No predictive sending
- No sending auto-responder campaigns
- No custom fields in forms
- No using "email results" in forms (ActiveCampaign)
Despite HubSpot’s somewhat more complicated pricing options, we can still break down the general pricing of both platforms. Let’s take a look at the pricing advertised on each website:
HubSpot Pricing -
*A calculate your price tool allows you to explore price ranges depending on your amount of contacts. “Creating a Bundle” allows you to combine various package tiers across products.
ActiveCampaign Pricing -
*As you can see, pricing for each package increases by the number of contacts your business has. With accounts using more than 100,000 contacts, you might need to talk to sales to determine the best package.
ActiveCampaign and HubSpot both communicate that your full pricing packing with their platforms is subject to variation depending on factors unique to your business. But a quick overview suggests that ActiveCampaign might offer smaller businesses a more affordable entry point than HubSpot.
How to Choose, and How We Can Help
Both HubSpot and ActiveCampaign have their own advantages. Many smaller businesses opt for ActiveCampaign to minimize cost while still gaining access to advanced marketing automation tools. Those willing to invest more heavily in a more comprehensive CRM might opt for HubSpot, with its intuitive workflow and vast educational materials.
You might also be wondering, can you use both platforms? While it might become complicated trying to manage contacts and workflows on two CRM platforms at once, you can certainly explore the resources that both platforms offer. With HubSpot’s many free resources, we encourage you to take advantage of this information whether or not you plan to subscribe for any paid HubSpot packages.
Regardless of which platform you choose, InboundAV is here to offer our support. Our agency has both HubSpot and ActiveCampaign specialists ready to answer your questions, connect you with contacts at either company and help you develop a CRM strategy that works for you.
As a HubSpot partner, we love to share the amazing resources that HubSpot has to offer. But we also continue to recognize the value that ActiveCampaign can bring to certain businesses.
If you are currently exploring CRM platforms for your business, feel free to ask us for guidance on which platform to use. We promise you can expect a transparent, earnest breakdown of both.
Contact us today.