Mighty Marketing Mojo Switching Email Marketing Services post

What You Can Learn From My Decision to Finally Change Email Marketing Providers and My Migration to ActiveCampaign

After hemming and hawing for months, maybe more like a year+, researching, and wondering if I should switch email marketing systems … I finally made the decision and started the process to migrate from one email marketing service to a new one. I have now officially moved to ActiveCampaign, been up + running, and am loving what it offers me. Learn from my email marketing change!

And it is a PROCESS. With ups and downs.  Good news – you get to learn from all that has happened (I kept updating this post as I migrated, so some things are still changing/still learning – check back for more potential updates) – and maybe if you change you'll be more prepared.

I thought I WAS prepared – after all I've been debating this and researching ahead of making the move for a loooong time. But sometimes you just don't know until you get in the middle. So, I'm going to be really super transparent about the whole process and migration.

Fair point to note – it was much less a process or headache for me and my small email communities – it's a bigger decision and process for many other small business owners and solopreneurs if you have larger or more complex email lists. Plus, there are help files, knowledgebases or manuals, videos, webinars and more from the service I was moving to (and from any legit, reputable service). And I'm in online communities of helpful solopreneurs who offered assistance as they've made many email migrations, including to ActiveCampaign – my new email home.

Why Did I Want to Change Email Marketing Services?

I did tons of research (cuz that's like my middle name. seriously, I have that graduate degree in researching and finding things), and read comparisons and reviews, and asked other solopreneurs. And researched some more.

I want better automations, tagging that works, being able to personalize emails and send you more things you DO want and less of what you're not so interested in, and a nice visual interface, and modern tech and modern designs. AWeber (my provider for 5 years) has made improvements and while it offers tags and tag-based campaigns – they've never worked correctly for me, or many other solopreneurs I know. The interface isn't so intuitive and takes a lot of clicking and toggling to move between lists. The fact that I have to have multiple lists in order to assuredly segment is a huge problem (because then names get counted twice or more and count against my account limits – and pricing – in AWeber). The designs and forms are outdated. What it wasn't doing well or easily for me was beginning to heavily outweigh the things AWeber did do well and simply. I still think Aweber can be a solid choice for some solopreneurs.

But for the automation and customization of messaging I wanted, at a really affordable price, the answer for me was ActiveCampaign.

What does advanced tagging or segmentation mean?

If you find one of my blog posts you love and want more, related information – I want to offer you what's known as a content upgrade – a free goodie, specifically related to that post's topic, in exchange for you joining my email community. Cool, right?! Or if you wanted a checklist on social media management that was connected to a post about social media, but you didn't care about an e-book offered on a post about referral marketing. Why should the social media folks have to read emails about referrals and vice versa?

What if you're already a member of my email community? What if you did opt-in for the referral marketing e-book at first, but later got really interested in social media marketing and wanted that checklist too? Or what if someone was interested in one training I offered, but not another, could I easily send that person only emails about the first training? The point of niched, segmented, or personalized email – via automations – is to make our marketing easier and faster. We don't have IT departments here! The only reliable way to make AWeber send out emails about social media to social media lovers and not also to the referral folks was to use multiple, separate lists and legacy follow-ups. That's clunky and cludgy.

Being able to just give you a new tag in my email system (e.g. “social media checklist”) and have that tag trigger the system to send you your goodie and a few emails on how to best use that goodie – that is the power of tagging and segmentation that not all email marketing systems do, or do well.

What am I leaving and what else did I consider

I was with AWeber for 5+ years, on their basic, paid account. I was paying about $19/month. Some solos I know stay with AWeber because they are ‘grandfathered' in to even lower rates. The rate is competitive with other email marketing services, and honestly, something nearly every biz owner or solo should budget for.

Like many other budget-minded solos starting out, I had started with a free MailChimp account. MailChimp is easy to use and get started. It has one of the cleanest interfaces and simple email editors out there. They've added features. I nearly considered going back there. (note: that was before a lot of MC's changes in spring of 2019)

But the more I learned, or re-learned, about marketing in today's environment, I saw MailChimp's limitations. I went to AWeber years ago so I could use autoresponders (back then, the only way you could access any level of automation on any of the email marketing systems was to move to a paid plan). I liked having my system automatically send out welcoming, friendly, nurturing emails to those who joined my list. It seemed like such a time-saver for a solo! And it was. It is! Autoresponders are wonderful – and a whole other blog post for another time. 🙂

AWeber was easy to understand and use for the most part. It's the only one offering phone support, and I liked that they were based in the same city/region I was. Look, I still think Aweber is a solid choice for lots of solo biz owners out there!

But over time, I saw that AWeber wasn't keeping up with a lot of the changes and trends in marketing and email. The forms were dated looking, the templates didn't fit the style and look that most businesses had moved to (away from multiple column newsletters and to simpler, more text-based emails with few images), and other systems' automations were getting stronger. AWeber added tagging – but their tags just don't seem as robust or useful as the tagging and automation tools in ConvertKit, Drip, or ActiveCampaign. AWeber's tags initially didn't lead to segments, tags weren't playing nicely with third-party tools, like LeadPages or ThriveLeads, and so those nice nurture sequences based on interests or content upgrades, were hard to implement. I hear tagging + automation is getting better with AWeber – but I wasn't willing to wait and wanted clear tagging that worked. I've moved on.

It also isn't cool that AWeber counts an unsubscribe towards your overall email address count (you have to delete them totally), and if an email address or contact appeared on more than 1 list, it counted as more than 1 contact towards your AWeber limits. Meaning you could find yourself paying more (most email services price based on the number of contacts you have) quite quickly if you had a contact who had indicated interest in multiple topics and was on multiple lists. That's not how that's supposed to work!

I wanted to take advantage of those advances in automation. I wanted to make my solo marketing easier again, and also more personalized, nuanced, and fit what my audience wants and needs. And I wanted a tool that would do that without it feeling like I was cobbling or patching things together as work-arounds, as I felt I was doing in AWeber.

The tools I seriously dug into, read reviews, compared features and prices on for making the move NOW, came down to two:

  • ConvertKit
  • ActiveCampaign

Yes, MailChimp has added automations at the free level and has very competitive pricing for paid accounts with more features. But they aren't so friendly if you're going to use affiliate links in any of your emails. I've seen a few solo biz owners in my communities lose their lists when MC decided it didn't like something. MailChimp wasn't highly recommended by other biz owners doing the type of online course-building and product selling I was beginning to think more about for here at MMM.

I once trialed Drip – it has the robust automations, a visual workflow, etc. BUT it's raised its prices and isn't in my budget. Some folks I trust, like my business coach, left Drip as it became overly complex and complicated for what they needed. I've heard others are leaving because of a change in focus and leadership at Drip. Do your homework if this is on your short list for email services – that's all. 😉

I admit that I didn't dig deep into options like MailerLite, GetResponse, SendinBlue (big in Europe), or CampaignMonitor. I had decided against GetResponse years ago when I switched to AWeber so honestly didn't check it for significant changes during this move. Some solo pals in my circles sing the praises of MailerLite. It didn't seem like the right fit for me. But it could be for you! It's pretty budget-friendly.

ConstantContact, Emma, MadMimi seem to be ok for e-commerce, bricks-n-mortar stores, some service providers – but not for many of the online biz owners I was talking to who mostly sell digital products, coaching, courses, etc. I also wasn't looking at transactional, behavior-based email services like SendGrid, SES, SendLane, or Mandrill [that's another post – those services have a place, but they aren't for marketing].


I checked out ConvertKit and asked questions of some solos who are using CK. There were definite fans who encouraged moving there. Some say CK best understands bloggers, internet marketers, and those doing plenty of affiliate promotions. CK pushes its users to focus on text-only emails as it believes those convert better (though they've added to their limited abilities to add images – some say they don't make it easy because they still want users focused on text).

Concerns or questions I had about ConvertKit:

  • My list is too small to qualify for their Concierge service to help with migration.
  • How CK handles unsubscribes (CK will NOT let you manually unsubscribe someone, only delete them – oh dear!) – issue raised by some smart folks I trust.
  • Lack of integrations with third-party tools (you'd need to use Zapier to make the connection – and to do THAT, you need the paid version of Zapier) **Note – I should have seen the Zapier-3rdparty integration as an issue affecting more than just CK!
  • Clunkiness in the email editing and how CK handles images, and slow times to respond to support inquires.
  • Some folks loved the CK workflow, others found it very confusing compared to AC's.
  • Another solo pal lost work while creating emails in CK (uh, is there no autosave??! good that I tend to draft all my emails in Word first so I have a copy).
  • Price was higher per month that what I paid for AWeber and more than ActiveCampaign [CK = $24-29/month at lowest plan; the $24 is what it works out to per month if you agree to pay yearly – I am paying LESS than that even after upgrading my new AC account]

Some of the conversations among my online communities saw CK as somewhat polarizing – folks either loved it or strongly disliked it.

Checking out ActiveCampaign- the pluses I found

  • AC has a really nice visual editor for emails
  • AC visual workflow or map for creating automations
  • Lots of information on the dashboard – wow, maybe too much?!
  • All those advanced tagging, segmentation, automation features I was looking for – but in a package that people said was easy to get started with.
  • Friendly, competitive price – considerably lower than ConvertKit for the same number of contacts. [AC = $9-15/month at lowest plan; $17-29/month at next tier]

For me – ActiveCampaign was the right combination of features and friendly price.

And really, after hearing some of the concerns on CK from someone who thinks a lot like me, plus the cheaper price at AC – it was a pretty quick decision for me (unusual!). I stopped researching!

AC offers free migration services, for all customers. Note– I did NOT use this service because I didn't want to move all my data, as it was, from AWeber. I knew I'd be changing what lists people were on, what tags I might need, and other changes that indicated me doing the move manually would be better.

We'll see if I regret that …


The Switch and Migration to ActiveCampaign – Ups and Downs

I was excited, I had made a decision, I gave over my info and set up and ActiveCampaign quickly after I decided February was going to be the time to move. All of those pros and pluses mentioned,  it was not reassuring that I had to email ActiveCampaign's support desk within the same hour of signing up.

Because something didn't happen correctly at signup – and while it recognized my email to send me the happy welcome email with start up guide – it wouldn't recognize that same email and the password I set when I tried to login the first time. Not a great start.

So, off to find the help-desk and open a support ticket and we'll get an early look at AC's customer service.

It was odd to be receiving emails from AC, to the very email that they said wasn't connected to my account. I got the first welcome email, their start up guide with a list of suggested resources to check out next – all best practices for welcoming a new subscriber or customer.

After sending the first request to the help desk (at 6pm), I continued to receive welcome emails. I headed off to the gym because I didn't want to be late to the return of my favorite class – aqua zumba – and my all-time favorite instructor. Good news, an email from a new person at the support desk was in my inbox (yes, at that same email they had said they couldn't send a password reset to) at 8pm. No one is sure what happened, but the set up process clearly hit a glitch midstream, as the email they had for my login was the completely generic youremail at yourdomain.com Say what? Sure enough, there in the screenshot of a dashboard, was my REAL email as the ‘notification' email, no first name or last name (though I had typed them in), and the bogus generic email as the login.

Credit to the support staff as my reply emails were quickly answered and she acknowledged that I had clearly not signed up with the generic email, and this was not an optimal start for a new customer (as I had pointed out). She reset the login and password and we tried again ….

And finally I was in! About 3 hours after first creating the account and immediately encountering the problems. Not bad really, especially since we were outside of normal US business hours (and I noticed in the signature, my email support person was from Australia).

Time to go back to those welcome, ‘start here' emails, the links to training, and documentations so I can make sense of a dashboard this infinitely both more modern and more complex than what I'm leaving behind at AWeber. Guidance says I create my first (main or master) list, import some contacts, insert the site tracking code on my website (more on that later – but it's a key feature that makes AC well above services like MailChimp, MailerLite, or AWeber), set tags and then create forms and automations.

ActiveCampaign Contact edit screen

Each contact in AC has this area to show info, edit, add tags, send single emails

I think I'll still be sending emails from my AWeber account for a little while as I get this set up. actually – AC advises that I do so as part of migration and teaching the new system about deliverability for my list(s). AC encourages me to set up a form for a new or improved freebie/lead-magnet, and get as many from my current list on old platform to click and grab that new/improved freebie. It proves to the new system that I have active users willing to engage. We'll see what happens ….

[NOTE: I did NOT follow the advice on list migration deliverability as given by AC. I also only sent 1 more email from AWeber after I started the migration process. At the time I write and publish this post I DO still have the AWeber account because I've been slow to get it untangled from first website – the consulting/training biz to libraries and nonprofits. That's top of to-do list so I don't pay for two email systems!]

I had to put the migration on hold for a few days while doing other work. I did send an email to my list with some updates, a bonus goodie, AND the news that the next emails might look different since I was switching email marketing services. Now – that's not something you need to always tell your community or email list – but since I talk marketing to mine, and a lot about marketing tools – it makes sense for me to share and be transparent about what I'm using and why.

I talked withe some smart solopreneurs using ActiveCampaign in one my mastermind groups. Experienced folks there said NOT to follow all of AC's advice, particularly on list hygiene related to deliverability improvements after migration. (AC had advised basically to have people click on a new opt-in form built in AC and after getting their new freebie have a tag added indicating they were active list members) The downside of following all of AC's advice would be that I could see a large drop off or loss in my list if I was basically asking them to resubscribe via a new form. Why make people jump through a new hoop?! Nope, not doing that.

So instead, I'll move the lists, start doing the tagging and segmenting in AC like I want, but mostly just start emailing. Sending good info and more free bonus goodies. Tag the folks who click on those links or take other actions, and roll from there.

The things you wish you knew before starting some projects

While I was testing out AC and uploading contacts, I did hit a few walls. Some (maybe most) were completely my doing.

I didn't realize, or forgot, the limits of the free trial I was still operating under – 100 contacts and 100 emails sent. So chunks of my imports of contacts got cut off since I was over the limit – and I'm not sure who exactly got left off of the import. D'oh!

ActiveCampaign email marketing service dashboard 100 contacts free limit

My ActiveCampaign dashboard as I hit the 100 contact limit at start of my trial

Another snag – I'm breaking my contacts up into 2 lists (not necessary at AC thanks to tags that work) because I basically have 2 separate businesses. While I talk marketing related topics to each half of my work, they are different audiences. I don't want to confuse either my nonprofit community members, nor my business-building solopreneur pals. I offer different services to each as well. So, they need separate lists – it's just simpler and cleaner that way.

BUT … I may have made some mistakes on the initial upload of contacts – with a .csv file from a list in AWeber that was mixed. AND not finding out until that import that while I had applied tags back in AWeber (and even used them in sending emails to segments of my email community), those tags were NOT saved in the master subscriber .csv file that you can export and save.

WTH AWeber?! %&*@  🤬

So I've had to go back and bulk edit contacts in AC, adding or removing tags, subscribing or unsubscribing contacts manually, from that mixed list. Argh! Good thing I hit that wall of 100 contacts! It made the manual work tedious but manageable. Imagine if that happened to a list with hundreds or thousands of names – and tags that didn't transfer.

Also, got to try out AC's chat support when I had a question on billing. Very quick responses. Cool. Good to know. So far their support is getting all pluses in my book.

Ok, another wall of tedium and snag from the import and migration showed up after I created (easy!) my first email in AC and sent it (it was just a broadcast, one-time email). I had used the preview feature and the email looked fine. But rookie mistake in using a new tool – I did NOT send an actual test email to myself too.

D'oh! If I had sent the test, I'd have seen that the image I put of me into my signature area showed up MONSTER HUGE in my own inbox. Oh man, that's a bit embarrassing. I really should've read more of the getting started help guides I guess. So unlike me to just jump right in!

[update: I spoke with the ActiveCampaign team about this in Philly – the huge image thing wasn't my fault. They were stumped why it was doing that or how to fix. Beyond hand coding some CSS for the emails (uh NO!) the solution was to turn the image off for mobile. ]

But the snag and subsequent data tedium came from finding that my whole name appeared in the salutation – like when your parents call you by your full name and you know you're in trouble! Getting an email that said “Hey JenniferEBurke,” was not very welcoming and friendly, eh? And a mismatch with the more personal tone in rest of the email. D'oh!!

First looked back at the original email in the editor … nope, it uses the right tag %FirstName% – so it should have put just “Jennifer” in the greeting.

So I dug into my contacts in AC …. and I couldn't at first see what was wrong.

My contacts in AC that had both first and last names, yep, I could see that clearly for each contact in the list and on their page.
It wasn't until I clicked on the actual name in a few contacts that I saw “firstnamelastname” in the first field block. AHHH! And crap. This is completely NOT something you can see for any contact unless you open each up, AND click their name.

And it hadn't done so for all my contacts. (oh good, some of the email I sent may have looked right)
It seems one of the .csv import files that had a field for “name” and included “firstname lastname” didn't import and match up with the AC fields for “firstname” and “lastname”.

ActiveCampaign email service name fields contact page

So I had to go one-by-one though contacts, from the likely bad import file, and click their names and correct them. TEDIOUS!
I don't know whether to blame this on AWeber, ActiveCampaign, me not reading every getting started file first, or just shrug and say ‘shit happens' and be glad for once that I didn't have a huge email list of thousand or more people I'd have to fix one-by-one.

It' a learning process for sure. And you get to learn from me and what I'm learning and stumbling through as I get this sorted and set up. 😉

Update on the migration – sending an email and seeing what happens next

Good news – that first email is doing ok. Good open rates, decent clicks, no one is running away in droves, no one has emailed to laugh at me for the picture or greetings snafus. And I'm going back to doing what I do best – research. I'm spending time with the AC tutorials and mini ‘getting started' course.

A plus I've seen in the campaign performance reports and different from AWeber:

I can see which emails bounced! I know, seems basic, but AW only shows the number of bounces, not who (you have to dig into the ‘manage subscribers' page – separate from your email performance data. Click contact details, look around, and even then, it's not clear)
Fairly easy to see which links in an email were clicked – and the running total of ‘campaign activity' on the right side of the dashboard shows me when someone clicked. Takes a little more digging to see which link that contact clicked.

A setup lesson learned – despite advice from some wise and very techie solo pals — you DO need to create at least one form inside of the ActiveCampaign account, even if plan to use other tools on your website for gathering opt-ins. Me, I'm using Thrive – I have the full suite of Thrive tools, including ThriveLeads. However – AC won't let you finish the setup for the AC plugin, site tracking, and connection back to your AC account unless you have at least 1 AC form created in your account.
I created a super simple form (took less than 2 minutes I think), activated it, and voila, the missing buttons appeared in the settings on my website and off we go again.

WordPress ActiveCampaign form active on website

I created basic form in ActiveCampaign, as required it's enabled here in WordPress even though I will use ThriveLeads instead.

Still to be learned – how AC integrates and ‘plays' with my 3rd-party opt-in form tools. I'm a Thrive customer and fan – using multiple Thrive tools on my sites, including Thrive Leads. I don't plan to embed any AC form on my site, and instead use the nicer-looking, more customized, more flexible options from ThriveLeads.

Somewhere in the 7th section of the ‘getting started' course, on contact management – I finally saw a link to answer ‘How do I import contacts that have several values in a single field‘. Dang. I could've used that a few days ago, might've saved me from two days of literal, screen-induced headaches. See people, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!

Another setup lesson(it's really clear I should have done the training first – my normal M.O.) You have to edit that required form to turn off double opt-in, which is the default for forms built inside ActiveCampaign. So, in case you had heard otherwise – nope, you need to follow these directions and dig into editing that form. Honestly, without this help page, I would never have found the option or setting to do this on my own.

Sign outside the ActiveCampaign Study Hall in Philadelphia

Good timing – ActiveCampaign had an all day training in Philadelphia – during my switch over!

Another later update – after returning to the AC training

I put aside this blog post, and my trainings in AC, while I was working on a challenge to write more emails. I'm thrilled with the I Dare You to Email Challenge from my coach, Kelly McCausey the progress made and what I learned. But at the end of the challenge I had a lot of new emails written and they were all still in Word because I wasn't sure how to start setting up the various automated nurture sequences in AC, how to trigger the first welcome email after someone opts-in here on my site, how it will trigger and send emails after someone purchases a training course from me or one of my Borrow My Brain sessions. I had written emails for those things, but they'd mean nothing if I couldn't get them in my new system and start testing to see if they all worked.

ok, dive back in to the support guides and training videos …

BIG SNAG! ActiveCampaign Doesn't Play with PayPal for Free

ActiveCampaign does NOT directly integrate with PayPal. *$^% 🤬

Remember when I noted that ConvertKit required Zapier for integration with 3rd-party tools? That same information was missing from the ActiveCampaign sales info available to non-users.

If you use a simple PayPal button on your site for someone to buy something, like a BorrowMyBrain session – because, hello, setting up a PayPal button is simple, easy, and fast – you can NOT simply add that customer to a list in ActiveCampaign. Nope. You have to use Zapier. I know so many other biz owners who sing the praises of Zapier – I've never gotten it to work quite right for me, but that's 90% user error on my part I think. I was willing to look at Zapier again.

But the Zapier automation between PayPal and AC is a PREMIUM, aka PAID, integration only. %&*$@ I don't want to pay a minimum of $20/month to have PayPal and AC talk to each other. That was actually something that AWeber did for FREE. Score a point back for AW.

I've known I need to make a move to a real online shopping cart (the kind that handles multiple items or let you choose an item vs. separate PayPal BUY buttons for each service/course/product) and I've been doing all that research and comparisons too (separate post, don't worry). But dang, I didn't want to have to go do that and learn that while also learning and setting up the new email! But it's clear I have to do something or anyone who purchases something from me isn't going to be getting their emails … or I have to stick with AWeber. Or pay Zapier. Or do … something else. That's not really an option.

You may be wondering why I didn't realize this during my initial research on AC vs. other email systems – well, I kind of did. I saw the list of integrations AC says it has with other apps. PayPal was listed as an integration. But there's no detailed info on any of the 3rd-party integrations unless you are signed in to an AC account. Grrr

There are pages in the support for Zapier talking about AC integrations, but it's easy to miss the Premium tag or icon there indicating you'll need to pay for Zapier. Grrr  I also admit, I naively thought that surely with as fancy and cool a tool as AC, there must be some free integration – after all, AWeber had the PayPal integration for free.

Lesson learned.

And now I have more marketing tech learning to do. Good news for you – I'll write up and share what I learn from THAT too!

Next lesson learned – what happens when someone subscribes before an automation is set or active
Another lesson I learned by accident, but it's proving valuable and forcing me to dig around in the new tool and learn how things work.
So, not thinking through all the steps or ramifications as clearly as I'd like – I connected my main opt-in forms in Thrive Leads to the API connection for ActiveCampaign, away from AWeber.

Why is this an issue?

Because I had not yet created an autoresponder or automation sequence in ActiveCampaign to send out the free gift, the welcome email, and subsequent ‘get to know me', nurturing emails to new list members. I had them written – I had revised them and added to the sequence as part of the Dare You to Email Challenge I was participating in. BUT … I was still learning about automations in the AC training course, and feeling a little confused as to how my automations would be triggered. See, I'm not building any forms in AC (other than that 1 mandatory generic form I had to create to get the API connection to work), instead building all with ThriveLeads. This meant I couldn't use the Submits Form trigger in AC that was in the training videos. That trigger ONLY works with forms built directly inside AC.
I wasn't sure yet that an email series would start automatically just by adding a tag, say for example [LM]SocialTools – the tag I created to indicate someone signed up for my emails via the gift of my Social Tools guide.

Again, why did this cause me a headache?

Because for the first time in weeks, since I had started the process to switch systems, I had 3 new subscribers opt-in and claim my Social Tools free gift. YAY! New people to me community!
YAy! They're in the right list in AC, they got tagged.
Booo, ohcrap. They didn't get any emails, including the links to the free gift, because there were no automations built and turned on yet.

I had gotten my steps out of order. I really needed to have built the automations, added in the revised emails, and THEN turned the integrations from AWeber to ActiveCampaign in all my ThriveLeads forms.

The good news to come from this was that another solopreneur in one of the groups I'm a member of heard my cry for tech help and we jumped on a Zoom call together. I shared my screen and she walked me through building an automation triggered only by a tag being added.
Building out the steps in the automation was easy. Cool.

Editing each email in the series, copying and pasting what I had written weeks ago – not so easy. Time consuming. Formatting headaches. You can't just add a bunch of emails into your custom template in AC and then assign them to either a broadcast email or an automation. $%&* Ok, another half point back to AWeber.

You also can't easily copy emails from one automation to another. I'm not saying it can't be done – I just can't easily or immediately see how to do so. More clicks and more trips to the knowledge base will cost ActiveCampaign a point or so here.

Got my welcome email series built, my first automation in AC done, and turned it to Active (that's an easy step to miss I was warned by my solo pal during our call).

But … nothing happens for those 3 new subscribers who came in to the system before the automation was built. They all had the tag that was triggering the new email series to go out automatically – but they weren't going to be in that series since it was built and started AFTER they joined and got tagged.

How to get them into the new automated email series?

I discovered two ways – both worked.
1) You can trigger an email series if a custom field for a contact has changed or been updated.
So, I created an AdTracking code that would apply to just these subscribers who landed in the no-man's land of my email migration and missing autoresponder series. I copied the automation with all my welcome and nurture emails and changed the trigger from a tag to be that a custom field had changed to the code I created.
I added that code to the 3 contacts' appropriate custom field.

And it worked.

For one of the contacts.

Huh? The automation page in AC showed that one contact immediately entered the automation series and were now getting emails. Cool!

But why only the 1 when I had added the same code to the same field for all 3?  I still have no idea why it worked immediately for only 1 of 3.

I went back to the contact page for one of the new subscribers, deleted the special code I had entered, retyped the same code, hit save … and voila, when I checked the automations page it now showed 2 people in the automation.

While I was poking around in the contact page I saw another little button which led me to method 2.

2) Each individual has a contact page, on page after most form fields, select option for Add to Automation. Clicked the +, chose the automation (I used the copied one just for these special subscribers), told it to ‘force' add the contact to that automation.

Went back to the automation dashboard, and voila! The third contact has now been added to the automation. And she messaged me the next morning to say that she had gotten an email from me. (we're online pals and in the same coaching group so I had reached out personally when we realized she fell in to the email void and she promised she'd let me know if/when any emails showed up)

[NOTE: I learned during the Philly AC Study Hall that method 2 is the preferred way to add someone to an automation if they missed the initial trigger. Since then, for example, I've added my own test email accounts to various automations for testing purposes, to check the email deliverability – without needing to re-subscribe.]
ActiveCampaign email automation workflow goals email course example

A simple automation workflow for my free e-course on SMART goal setting

I now have automations running and people getting specific follow-up emails!

Despite the hiccups – mostly from user error and poor planning – I'm thrilled that I now have automation series built and running. I'm happy that I will be able to send a targeted, on-topic set of emails to anyone who is interested in say, social media, and a DIFFERENT on-topic set of emails to someone who is interested in setting SMART marketing goals, or wants swipe files, or is interested in coaching.

My solo pals joining me won't have to receive or read stuff they're less interested in and should get more of what they are most interested in. It should lead to higher engagement, more emails opened, more happy subscribers and community members, and higher conversions to offers I make. Because it will all be more targeted and personalized. And not take forever to set all that in motion and keep it going. The ENTIRE point of moving to ActiveCampaign.

Latest update: I have multiple automations running – much easier to do because I could copy them, copy the emails if they were using similar ones – it takes little time to get a new automated email series going. I also copy/duplicate my weekly #ThursdayTips emails and change the text inside. I've sent more emails via ActiveCampaign in about 3 months than I had the last 2+ years in AWeber. It does what I want and makes customizing, segmenting, sending the ‘right message to the right people at the right time' a lot easier.


This isn't the end the of the learning and migration process, but I'm finally feeling confident I made the right decision and that ActiveCampaign can work for growing my business more quickly. I'll update this post whenever I learn something new or surprising or hit some kind of obstacle I think you'd all like to know about before you make a similar transition.

About the Author Jennifer Burke

I want all of my solopreneur pals to feel confident and mighty in their marketing - sharing what makes their work special and so vital to their clients. No B.S. or fluff here. I do the digging and research for you, translate "marketing-ese" into simpler terms, and help you avoid marketing headaches.

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