How to Use ActiveCampaign for Newsletters

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By Ewen Finser

Last Updated on June 27, 2024 by Ewen Finser

With the newsletter trend back in full swing, thanks in part to Substack, Beehiiv, and ConvertKit… it might feel like ActiveCampaign isn’t quite suited for the moment with all of it’s emphasis on automations and funnels.

But in this guide I’m going to show you some ways I’ve found ActiveCampaign to be quite helpful in creating genuine newsletters WITH exceptional data collection built in.

I’ve found that combining the “best of both worlds” (a great regular newsletter + best in class behavioral automations) is actually the key to making a newsletter growth channel pencil out over the long term.

A few things I’ll cover here are…

  • What types of content make great newsletters (with AC’s tools in mind)
  • What kinds of templates work well with ActiveCampaign for newsletters
  • How to layer on deeper automations to better understand and monetize your newsletter

Sound good? Alright, lets get started.

Easy Newsletter Frameworks

Before getting into the specifics of HOW ActiveCampaign can be leveraged, I wanted to cover some basic archetypes for newsletter templates I’ve found helpful and easy to conceptualize (and implement)!.

  • The Industry News Aggregator: Aggregation is one of the easiest lifts and can even be mostly outsourced or atuomated (news alerts, filters, etc…). Believe it or not, finding industry specific news is still quite difficult. The Wall Street Journal and even Morning Brew still leave a huge long tail gap in the market. A simple framework here is a list of important stories (even bullet points) from around with a short summary and a link to the source for readers to double-click if interested. Side note: these “double clicks” can be tracked for later use with ActiveCampaign!
  • The Industry News Analyzer: This goes beyond just “what happened” and also provides some specialized analysis between the lines. A good example of this is the Freightwaves series of of newsletters.
  • The Story Teller: For more in depth deep dives on special interest coverage, I love the “story teller” framework. Basically each newsletter is a different story that covers a specific angle of the niche you are operating in. A very successful example here are the investigate journalism publications like The Intercept.
  • The Thought Leader: If you have a lot of original things to say or have specialized knowledge in your vertical, the thought leader newsletter format is a great concept to work with. Here, you are typically treading new ground in your industry and moving the conversation forward. A good example here is Seth Godin’s publications.
  • The Company or Community Newsletter: This is one use case where you want to reach a select audience of “internal” people within your organization or group. Honestly, once you have more than even 15 employees, stakeholders, or team members, it can be difficult to share company notes and objectives in an official & streamlined way.

My Top ActiveCampaign Newsletter Templates

There’s actually some really good ActiveCampaign templates that work out of the box to get started. I’d still recommend configuring and customizing as you go, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to start!

The key here is to “save” your template and ideally, just copy and edit each week (or month) when you send the next edition. This way most of the harder to configure formatting and design is carried over and you don’t have to start at the dreaded blank page.

Some newsletters templates I like for AC

Designmodo’s Beltrip: Great for Travel & Location Based Newsletters

Beefree’s Company Newsletter Template: Great for Company Newsletters

Designmodo’s Aegean Roots: Great for Food Bloggers & Recipes

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.

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Useful ActiveCampaign Tools & Automations to Layer On Top of a Newsletter

So here’s where I see ActiveCampaign really standing out from the crowd.

They have some of the most advanced triggers, automations, and data heuristics of any email marketing platform I’ve ever used.

So what are some ways I use these superpowers in a newsletter?

Newsletter Personalization

With ActiveCampaign you can used their advanced tools to not just deliver “a newsletter”, but a personalized newsletter.

A personalization can be as basic as using the proper pronouns for each subscriber or using their name in the email. BUT, there are a whole slew of OTHER personalization tags that you can includes as well.

Overall, personalized direct response communications is whole new evolving field. I suspect this trend to grow with AI tools, to the point where each customer might receive a uniquely personalized email in the same campaign.

Newsletter Conditionals

I see SO many newsletter neglecting the sign up / intake process. Most are content to just get an email sign up. I get it!

But, these initial first contacts can be crucial to figuring out WHO your subscriber is and what content then might prefer.

A simple way to execute this is a welcome email that asks the subscriber what they are interested in, what industry they work in and what are their key pain points.

ActiveCampaign is one of the only platforms that allows for extensive tagging and data collection which feeds the “conditional” rules so you can send the MOST relevant content to the right people.

This is a great overview for how this works:

How could this work? Well, if I’m sending a marketing newsletter, my first email might ask:

“What are your primary pain points:

  • marketing on Facebook
  • marketing on Pinterest
  • marketing on Reddit
  • marketing on TikTok

Then, depending on which answer they click on, ActiveCampaign records that tag in the system. I can then use that data later on to either customize my newsletter distros or send targeted automated series to specific subsets.

Final Thoughts on ActiveCampaign for Newsletters

There’s a lot of hype around “newsletters” as a business with the rise of Substack and the like.

The problem is, Substack and their contemporaries really don’t have much in the way of advanced personalization, marketing, and automation capabilities.

This might be fine if you just want to send a newsletter and hope it makes money eventually, BUT automations, conditionals, and personalization actually increase the VALUE and RETENTION of each of your subscribers.

In other words, if you can embrace the marketing side of your newsletter business, you can make money sooner from your list and arrive at a better destination where sponsors (brands) will pay top dollar for detailed user heuristics!

If this sounds like what you need, give ActiveCampaign a free trial to see how it feels.

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