Torn your hair out yet while trying to use the ActiveCampaign email editor?
Or maybe not…
Maybe you’ve only thrown a computer monitor at the wall?
Problems with the email editor are one of the most common complaints about ActiveCampaign. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be that way if you know what you are doing.
In this post, I’m going to cover the most important things you need to know when using the email editor.
Everything from choosing the right email template to the five most common problems people have when using the editor.
Choosing The Right Template
Your choice of email template matters!
If Usain Bolt had turned up to his 100m race back in 2009 (When he broke the world record)…
But he had no shoes on, you’d think, “what an idiot!”
He’s got all the talent in the world, he’s done all the hard stuff, the training, eating right and everything else that goes into breaking a record…
And he undoes all the hard work by turning up with the wrong shoes which should be the easiest part.
When it comes to email marketing…
You could have the best, most expensive software, you could have the best marketing funnel in the world and have your emails written by the best copywriter in the world…
But if you make some poor choices with your email template, you could kill your chances of getting a good result.
Although we’re specifically referring to ActiveCampaign here, the thought process behind choosing an email template really applies to any sales automation software.
So if you were to use ConvertKit, MailChimp, InfusionSoft, Sales Force, Ontraport, HubSpot, Get Response, Constant Contact or any of the other 10,000 choices, this would still apply.
The typical process people go through when they choose an email template is to look at the pre-designed templates included with the autoresponder of their choice, find one they think looks pretty good, change a few things such as logo and colors, and away they go.
Very rarely does anyone stop to consider what they are actually trying to achieve with the email template.
How can you choose “the right template” if you don’t know what the desired outcome is?
A Ferrari or a late 1990 model rusted 4×4?
Depends… Do you want to go fast around a race track or get to the top of a mountain with rough terrain and no road?
What’s better, a small knife or a shotgun?
Sounds like an obvious choice at first but if all you want to do is put some butter on bread then a shotgun might not be Better (Not 100% sure because I haven’t tried it but I doubt it).
Of course, there is a possibility that one of the pre-designed templates is perfect for you but I think it’s a wise decision to think about what you want from your template before you choose.
What Outcome Are You Hoping To Achieve?
Let me share my answer to this question as it applies to my business and see if any of it resonates with you. You may have totally different priorities but I’m confident, at very least it will help you find your answer.
My first consideration, although not the number one priority is that I like consistency with branding.
As far as fonts go there are certain guidelines I like to follow that are considered to be best practices when it comes to sales copywriting so with those guidelines in mind, I looked at the available fonts through both Google Workspace and ActiveCampaign which are the two apps we use to send communications to clients.
Of the font’s available through both, the one that was best suited to our needs is Verdana.
Verdana then became the font we chose for our emails, website and all non-heading text on our marketing.
The next consideration which is my number one priority is to do everything possible to make every communication sent to a client feel as though it was a personal message typed up just for them.
And if all emails sent from my Google Workspace account look like this…
Plain vanilla with plain text and an email signature.
Then they get an email that has a header image, my logo, a two-column layout, pictures, buttons and a different email signature…
Do you think it’s going to feel like a personal message?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not under the illusion that my automated emails are exactly the same and my clients won’t be able to figure it out but I don’t want to make it blatantly obvious at first glance.
ActiveCampaign is absolutely loaded with features that serve no other purpose than to make your automated emails feel more personal. In my opinion, the styled email templates undo all the hard work of features such as personalization tags.
I think it’s as obvious as when people mess up the personalization tags and send out an email to their entire list of contacts starting with something like “Hi first name”…
The only time I consider the pre-designed templates to be appropriate is if you have lots of products and you send emails showcasing new products and promotions.
In any other circumstance I’d rarely add images to my emails and if I did, I would insert it in the same way I would do it in a personally typed up email instead of making it look fancy with different columns and things like that.
Again, this is my choice based on my priorities and you may choose to take a totally different approach. As long as your approach is an intentional one based on how you want your emails to be perceived then that’s great.
I just want you to take the time to think it through before choosing a random template that you think looks good.
Can I Use Custom Fonts In Emails?
From a technical point of view, yes it is possible to use custom fonts in your emails but a better question to ask is…
“Should I use custom fonts in my ActiveCampaign emails?”
It’s Definitely not recommended as a best practice!
Although you may consider the list of fonts in ActiveCampaign’s drag-and-drop email builder to be limited, these fonts are accepted by most email service providers.
This means the vast majority of your contacts will see the email exactly as it is shown in the email editor.
If you choose to use custom fonts, there’s no way to predict how those emails will appear when your contacts open it.
I can sympathize with this request because consistency with branding is very important to me but I was fortunate that my experience with email marketing meant that I saw this coming when I started my company.
I knew I was going to use Google Workspace (which is the premium version of Gmail) and ActiveCampaign, so I chose a brand font that I knew was available on both.
If you haven’t already chosen your brand font and consistency is important to you then I’d recommend taking a similar approach.
If it’s too late for that now, then I’d still recommend choosing from the available fonts rather than going for a custom font.
Do you actually need an email signature?
If I said this politely I’d be understating it…
Email signatures pissed me off for years!
Although the ActiveCampaign email editor isn’t the easiest to work with, if you want to create a stylish email signature, the email editor isn’t the main problem…
The most frustrating part was the fact that I use Google Workspace as my email host and while they have the best, most user-friendly email platform in the world, they also have the shittest email signature settings in the world too.
If you want to get an email signature that perfectly matches ins both apps you need lots of patience and the best you can do is something that looks average at best.
For YEARS I couldn’t find a way to get something that looked good so my frustration led me to do nothing.
(Which ended up being a blessing in disguise!)
So let me reassure you… If you have been frustrated like I was about how hard it is to make a pretty email signature with ActiveCampaign (And or Google Workspace)…
You’re in luck!
Let me explain…
Until recently, I couldn’t get an email signature that I really thought looked good.
So instead of running with an “okay” email signature, I just went with no signature at all. All my emails were signed off with nothing more than…
It turns out, this is the best possible email signature you can have!
I wish I could say I’ve been doing this for years because I’m really smart and just knew all along but that’s not the case.
When I was finally able to figure out how to get a reasonably good email signature that I could copy exactly from ActiveCampaign to Google Workspace…
I learned that I’m better off not having an email signature at all.
If the idea of having no email signature raised a number of concerns like, “But what about my social media links?”
Then I’d strongly suggest you check out what I call my “Email Trial Subscription” because in one of the lessons I explain why it can be advantageous to not have an email signature and an alternative for promoting your social links.
Here's What You Need To Know If You Do Decide To Have An Email Signature
There are at least four different ways you could go about it.
- Start from scratch in ActiveCampaign and just play around with the email editor to see what you can create.
- Pay a designer to design something for you which you can then recreate in the email editor.
- Sign up for one of the countless email template creators (Just do a search for email signature creator and you’ll find loads of them).
- Although I don’t personally use any of those signature creators, I did find one called Gimmio that allows you to export templates for free but if you want to customize the templates you need to pay for it. So you could export an unedited template for free and then customize the styling once it’s in ActiveCampaign. I did a quick test to see if this was possible and it worked.
Regardless of how you go about designing your signature, there’s something you should take into consideration before you waste any time or money on it.
No doubt, ActiveCampaign isn’t where you send your day-to-day emails from. Most likely you use Google Workspace or something similar for those emails.
As I mentioned a moment ago, we use Google Workspace and their email signature options are terrible.
So before you design your email signature, it’s worth checking the options and limitations of your email host.
Once you understand the limitations, you can design an email signature that you can actually use.
If you don’t use Google Workspace then maybe you don’t have many limitations but it’s worth checking.
Top 5 Common Problems Using The ActiveCampaign Email Editor
By far the number one complaint I hear against ActiveCampaign is that their email editor isn’t user-friendly. Particularly from people who have migrated across from a different autoresponder.
So if that’s you and you’re about to throw your computer at the wall because you can’t do something as simple as adding a row of evenly sized images across an email…
First of all, you can put your monitor down, give me a few minutes and I’ll run you through the top five things people struggle with when using the ActiveCampaign email editor.
And if that doesn’t help… Well… Then you can throw your monitor into the wall.
1. Missing The Default Link Color
It’s common for people to overlook the default link color setting when they create or edit an email template.
You can access these by going to Campaigns > Manage templates and when you create a custom template all you need to do is change the link color setting at the top and save it.
When you do this, you won’t need to update the link color setting on every single email that you create.
Even worse still, some people overlook this setting at the top of the email editor as well and use the color selector for every individual link they insert.
If you thought this was the only way to change the link color it’s no wonder you hate ActiveCampaign’s email editor!
2. Customizing The Generic Unsubscribe Message
I actually remember getting really frustrated with this when I was new to ActiveCampaign because at first it seems as though there’s no way to change the default unsubscribe message.
Thankfully there is a way to customize it and it’s a really easy fix!
As part of ActiveCampaign’s Anti-Spam Policy, you’re required to have at least one unsubscribe link on your email and show your physical address as well.
If you want to use ActiveCampaign to promote pornography, gambling, drugs, get rich quick schemes, loans, male enhancement products or escort services…
You’re out of luck because that’s against their policy too. I apologize if I’ve just ruined your business plans.
So if you want to remove the default unsubscribe message, firstly make sure you have added an address under Settings > Addresses.
Then in the email editor, wherever you want to show your custom unsubscribe message:
- Insert a text block
- Click personalize
- Click message
- Select Unsubscribe Link.
But in order to get the default email footer to disappear, you’ll also need to add either the list sender info multiple lines or list sender info single line as well.
My strategy for styling emails is to make them look as close as possible to the regular emails we send.
So I like to add the unsubscribe and address in a way that doesn’t look totally out of place compared to our normal emails. I do this by firstly adding a reasonable-sized spacer below my signature, then I add this text below it.
If you no longer would like to receive email communications from Evergreen Solutions you can unsubscribe here.
If you like the way mine looks you’re welcome to copy it.
3. Inserting Rround Buttons
If your website has buttons with round edges but no border and you want to insert a button into your emails that match your website, there’s a good chance you will miss this.
In ActiveCampaign’s email editor, the only way to add round edges to your buttons is to add a border to the button.
If you don’t want a border around the button just make the border the exact same color as the button background and you’ll end up with the same result.
In the button options change the border from 0px to 1px and the corner radius setting will appear. Adjust the radius to whatever you want and that’s it.
4. Trouble With The "Block" Drag And Drop Feature
A lot of people complain that they have trouble placing contact blocks where they want them to go.
I can understand why new ActiveCampaign users get frustrated when doing this for the first time. Once you understand how it works it becomes really easy.
this video should clear things up for you…
5. Evenly Spaced And Sized Images
I consider myself to be a reasonably patient person when it comes to learning this sort of stuff but this really tested my patience.
From the complaints I’ve heard and read, I’m not alone.
So… normally like to cover tutorial-style content as a quick overview, showing only the critical steps and leaving you to play around with the settings yourself but in this case, I’m going to go through it a little slower because if you try and figure this out by just playing around with the settings…
You’re going to want to hit someone!
Okay, so here we go…
Based on my experience working with others, if you know how to deal with these five issues I’ve covered here, you shouldn’t have any trouble using the email editor.
An Overlooked Feature Of Personalization Tags
Personalization tags are one of the core benefits of sending bulk emails using sales automation software like ActiveCampaign over a regular email host.
The most common use is the ability to add the recipient’s first name to the start of an email using %FIRSTNAME% but there’s definitely a lot more you can do with personalization tags.
You can insert all sorts of personal info into an email but I won’t cover that here because you can easily see what’s available to you on ActiveCampaign’s Personalization Tags help docs.
What you won’t find out on their help docs though is the use cases I’m about to share with you right now!
Add Personalization Tags To Links In Emails
Let’s say you were going to add a link to example.com/page/ in your email.
When you highlight the link text and click the insert link button, you can add personalization tags to the link so it could now look like this…
Why would you want to do that?
Here are three reasons (And there’s probably more too).
1. Pre Fill Contact Forms And Checkout Pages
If you are sending a contact to a web page that has either a form on it or a checkout, why make them manually fill out the information that you already have?
Any information that you already know about them can be passed to the form using personalization tags in the link.
Depending on how you’ve created your form or checkout, it might automatically recognize the info in the URL which are referred to as URL Parameters. Or you may need to configure a few settings to catch the information.
We use Gravity Forms for all our forms which is a WordPress Plugin. It’s incredibly versatile and setting it up to catch this sort of information is easy.
2. Website Personalization
If you’re familiar with ActiveCampaign’s pricing plans, you’ll know that their “web personalization” feature is only available on their top two plans.
But I’m going to show you how you can use website personalization no matter what plan you are on!
There are countless ways to build a website so there are probably many ways you can do this as well.
We build all our websites using WordPress.org (Not to be mistaken for WordPress.com which is very different and I definitely do NOT recommend).
The reason we use WordPress is because it’s versatile enough to do whatever we want.
Some people will argue that there are easier ways to build a website but versatility is more of a priority for us than ease of use and the ability to add web personalization is a good example.
To make this work, we build our website pages with a drag and drop page builder called Elementor.
Elementor adds a user-friendly drag and drop interface for building web pages which overcomes the common complaint that WordPress is hard to use.
It also adds a feature where you can show or hide different sections of content on a web page based on URL parameters you’ve passed in the page link.
I use this to advertise different offers to different contacts.
For example, if I know one of my contacts already has ActiveCampaign, I’d prefer them to see an ad for the ActiveCampaign addon we’ve created rather than an ad promoting our ActiveCampaign affiliate link that looks like this…
Try ActiveCampaign's marketing automation platform free. No credit card required.
(Nice subtly way to throw in a couple of product promotions there 😉)
You can also insert text in the same way so if for example you wanted to have your contact’s first name appear in the headline, you could do that.
Using this feature in the way I’ve described here allows you to use any of the personalization features available in ActiveCampaign emails on your web pages.
I won’t get into specifics here because the possible use cases really are endless.
Using this feature for integration is really an extension of what I mentioned earlier with pre-filling contact forms.
In most cases when I want to pass information from ActiveCampaign to another app I add a webhook to an automation and pass it either directly to the app or via Integromat.
But in some cases, I’m missing a few bits of information that I need to make the integration work.
Let’s say for example you didn’t yet have a contact’s address and the integration required the following information to work:
- First Name
- Last Name
- ActiveCampaign Contact ID
Ideally, you don’t want to ask the contact to provide all the information again if you already have some of it.
Not only does this waste their time it can cause issues if they use an email address that’s different from the one you already have.
Another problem is that the contact won’t even know what ID has been assigned to them because that’s only available inside your ActiveCampaign account.
What I do is create a Gravity Form with fields for all the information I need. I add the settings to catch their information sent via URL Parameters and then I make all of the fields except for the address field hidden.
The end result…
When the contact goes to the web page, all they see a form with an address field and a submit button and that’s it.
The other fields are there and they will pull the information from the URL Parameters, they just won’t be visible to the contact.
When they press submit, all the information is passed on to your integration, similar to the way it would if you had used a webhook inside your ActiveCampaign automation.
I use personalization tags for this purpose far more than using them to create personalized emails.
Here's The Next Thing You Need To Do...
If you’ve spent any reasonable length of time learning about email marketing, it’s likely that you’ve heard someone refer to it as “the holy grail of internet marketing”.
The reason people say this is because unlike Facebook, youTube etc, you’re not at the mercy of complex algorithms that stop most of your followers from seeing your messages.
But that’s not entirely true…
Getting your emails to land in your contact’s inbox is the single most overlooked challenge of email marketing.
If you want to get results with your email marketing, I believe this is one of the most important things you can educate yourself on so I suggest you check out these email marketing tips because you’ll learn all about it.