ActiveCampaign vs Klaviyo: Which is Better & Which I Use?

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By Ewen Finser

Last Updated on March 31, 2024 by Ewen Finser

If you are an ecommerce operator trying to decide between ActiveCampaign and Klaviyo, welcome to the right spot!

I’ve been operating online for 10+ years and have tried almost every email platform out there for ecommerce. I also happen to run this site which scratches my own itch… reviewing and recommending (or not) tools for other online business owners.

In this comparison I’ll break down some of the key considerations I thought through for when each platform makes sense. This might be a spoiler alert, but I actually really like BOTH of these platforms, BUT for different types of ecom businesses.

Perhaps the easiest way to start this off is by looking at how they are NOT similar…

The Main Differences Between ActiveCampaign and Klaviyo

Here’s how I see the important differences:

  • While both platforms offer advanced automations, Klaviyo’s “flows” are more templatized based on common ecommerce emails, whereas ActiveCampiagn is more customizable and based on deeper end-to-end marketing funnel triggers & behavior.
  • Klaviyo is generally more expensive compared to ActiveCampaign on MOST comprable sized lists.
  • Klaviyo offers a more revenue focused dashboard, whereas ActiveCampaign offers more insights, trends, and “lead scoring” metrics.
  • Klaviyo is a bit easier to use and get started with compared to ActiveCampaign
  • ActiveCampaign offers more robust A/B testing functionality built-in, whereas Klaviyo is fairly limited in this area.

What Stands Out About Klaviyo for Me

These are some of the big differentiators that stood out to me about Klaviyo specifically, relative to other email marketing platforms:

  • Built for eCom: The inescapable logic of Klaviyo is that it’s an “ecommerce first” transactional commerce software suite, closely integrated and broadly aligned with Shopify’s broader ecosystem. This gives it some natural advantages like faster setup time and pre-made templates that are designed for ecommerce. They also tend to adapt more quickly with Shopify changes, being that they are so channel dependent on them.
  • Bespoke Sign Up Process: Rather than ActiveCampaign’s dizzying array of pricing options right out of the gate, Klaviyo starts with a more intuitive and gentle onboarding process based on their intake survey to find the right plans & setup:
  • Not Just for eCom Anymore: Before trying out Klaviyo again recently, my mental model had Klaviyo = eCom in my head. While it’s certainly a STRONG fit for ecom businesses, they have started to widen their appeal to a similarly broader set of businesses and use cases like ActiveCampaign does. This trend will likely continue as they seek to diversify as a public company away from “just Shopify” (and Shopfiy has their own developing email tools now). Something to consider if you’ve previously written them off!
  • Free Plan: While it’s not suitable for most sellers beyond the startup phase, Klaviyo DOES offer a totally free plan for up to 500 sends per month.
  • Strong Pre-Built Automations: Klaviyo gets right to the point with a core array of “flows” built with the ecommerce seller in mind. This means getting started with some powerful automations (and selling!) is fairly easy for the average operator.
  • Easy to Use Interface: Klaviyo doesn’t make you hunt for stuff with a clean interface, focused on the essentials of what most online sellers need (not distractions or hard to find advanced features).

Standout ActiveCampaign Features

This is how I see the main features of ActiveCampaign that standout relative to most email marketing platforms I’ve used:

  • Pricing for Everyone: Whereas Klaviyo kind of locks you in to a specific pricing box (reminds me of ConvertKit in this regard), ActiveCampaign is extremely flexible and customizable for almost any business (large or small).
  • Wide Integrations: More on this further down, but ActiveCampaign has some of the most extensive integration partners I’ve encountered for an email automation suite. Pretty much EVERY major (and many minor) third-party platforms are accounted for. A huge advantage for those patching together a variety of tools into a custom stack.
  • Versatile: One of the primary reasons I’ve stuck with ActiveCampaign in my various brand stacks for SO long is precisely because they have so many discrete use cases, from best in class automations, wide integrations, sales features, CRM functions, and transactional commerce.
  • Leading Deliverability: ActiveCampaign frequently tops the market in terms of email deliverability. This can be a tricky (personalized) thing to measure, but in general AC takes a strict approach to spam and this shows dividends in industry reports.
  • Data Friendly: ActiveCampaign collects a LOT of data from all sorts of reader clicks, interactions and behavior. For data nerds, this is a dream come true. I can learn a lot from just spending time analyzing how my audience behaves and then fine-tune the automations around what’s working. This is one of those powerful incremental value adds that becomes an unfair advantage at scale (and one of the reasons I’ve stuck with AC for many of our brands over the years).

How the Pricing Plans Measure Up

Klaviyo DOES offer a fully free version to try out, which is good for up to 500 monthly email sends. This is a nice intro offer for startups as the paid plans get fairly pricey quickly, even for just 1,001 contacts sending above that rate.

Integrations Compared

One of the big factors in my businesses are how well an email platform integrates with other systems (we typically use a lot). So here’s how Klaviyo and ActiveCampaign measure up in the integration game.

ActiveCampaign has long cultivated an “integration friendly” platform, with easy onboarding for almost any third party software. This means they integrate with pretty much everything!

In this sense, they have a “Shopify-like” ecosystem which is a hard moat to build.

Klaviyo ALSO has a fair number of integrations, but not quite as many as ActiveCampaign.

As you might expect, most of Klaviyo’s integrations are more specifically focused around eCommerce use cases, although they are expanding beyond this.

Both platforms are integration friendly and you probably won’t be disappointed or find a major platform that doesn’t sync up. That said, I’d give ActiveCampaign the slight edge due their developer friendly integration tools that have led to almost every tool (big and small) creating an integration link.

Other Klaviyo and ActiveCampaign Competitors

There are clearly a LOT of other email marketing platforms out there. These are some of my top alternatives that I’d consider in the same conversation;

  • Omnisend: For straight ecom sellers, I actually prefer Omnisend over Klaviyo as a slightly more user friendly and significantly less expensive alternative with a similar feature set. See how Omnisend compares to ActiveCampaign.
  • MailerLite: If you are just getting started, MailerLite effectively has the “Free tier” that ActiveCampaign lacks, up to 1,000 subscribers. This is why I usually START with MailerLite for my new brand launches until I get traction and know my customer value (before then moving to an ActiveCampaign or Klaviyo type advanced suite). See how MailerLite compares to AC.
  • ConvertKit: For “bloggers” or storytellers (true “media”), I’d recommend looking at ConvertKit. Also a good option if you are selling digital products online due to their new commerce features. See how ConvertKit compares to AC.
  • Beehiiv: If you are a true newsletter business and not directly looking to drive transactional commerce (more brand awareness), Beehiiv is an up and coming “newsletter-first” platform that I use for many of our brands.
  • Moosend: A versatile newcomer with very attractive pricing. A good fit if you are on a budget and can’t spring for either AC or Klaviyo just yet.

Who Should Use Klaviyo?

Narrow eCommerce Focus? Klaviyo is very clearly focused on the ecommerce operator so if you are exclusively focused on transactional email flows (abandoned cart, upsells, cross sells, discount offers, etc…), Klaviyo is going to be the better immediate solution.

Klaviyo is starting to branch out beyond eCom, but I prefer ActiveCampaign’s pricing and experience beyond the ecommerce pure plays.

Who Should Use ActiveCampaign?

ActiveCampaign is a much more advanced, full spectrum marketing suite. I see MORE use cases in general here, but also more of a learning curve.

  • Selling higher ticket, multi touch point items? ActiveCampaign’s lead scoring and advanced automations are a great fit for ecommerce sellers with high priced products that require more research and (potentially) more touch points for purchasing decisions. If this is you, go with ActiveCampaign.
  • Integrated marketing stacks? If you have anything more than a basic ecommerce store, ActiveCampaign offers more integrations, data reports, and tracking KPIs to understand your marketing funnel. E.g. if you have a growing blog (content marketing), educational / informational email newsletter, SMS marketing, ActiveCampaign is the more versatile fit.
  • A/B Testing? If you like to obsess over minor optimizations, or have the scale to where this can really pay off, ActiveCampaign has the better frameworks here.
ActiveCampaign SCALES

Take the best email automation and mix it with all the best parts of a CRM. Result: ActiveCampaign. While I call it a "lite CRM", AC is no lightweight. I've been with them for years and LOVE the endless integrations and expandability.

Try ActiveCampaign FIRST
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