Amplifire Review


Welcome back to Reviews Boss. Today we have an exciting review of a new web marketing tool called Amplifire. This is going to be a shorter review than I have done in the past, primarily because Amplifire is quite a  “basic” product to get your head around. I will cover what Amplifire is, how it works, and then the pros and cons of the product before concluding my review by answering the age old question of whether or not you should actually buy the product.

What Is Amplifire?

It is a tool to help you create welcome mats for your website. A welcome mat is basically a full screen takeover that can be used for just about any promotional purpose (although the most common is usually to get someone to sign up to your newsletter list).

Here is an example of what I mean by “welcome mat” that is designed to get newsletter signups:


Note that this particular welcome mat was actually made using SumoMe, which is a competitor to Amplifire. SumoMe is by far the more popular product, and is something I will look to review down the track.

You’ve probably encountered these a lot in your day-to-day online activities. They are an effective means of grabbing a visitor’s attention and getting them to take an action like signing up to a newsletter list, clicking through to see a promo, or announcing your latest bit of content.

Basically, Amplifire claims to be a one-stop-shop for creating and optimising welcome mats.

Amplifire Pricing

The pricing structure for Amplifire is pretty simple:

Amplifire's Pricing Structure
Amplifire’s Pricing Structure. NB the $97 unlimited site option is also annual pricing.

I opted for the $97 version as I’ve got lots of different sites I want to try this on, and I also wanted Remote Commander. Just pick the option you can afford, and remember that a refund is available as well.

How Do You Use It?

By now you should have a good idea of what Amplifire is supposed to do. But how do you actually use it to start generating leads and sales?

I’ll walk you through how I have been using it in order to create my own welcome mats.

The first step once you’ve registered your Amplifire account is to log into the dashboard and select to make a new “conversion mat”. NB That Wishloop is the business behind Amplifire, and they offer other products like Captifire and EngagiFire that do popups, landing pages, sales pages etc. These are additional products that must also be purchased.


Once you’ve selected to make a new mat, you’ll get to pick a template. There are 35 base templates that can be used. Some are for lead/email gen, some for promoting products, others offer video embeds and so on. Remember that you can customise any of these templates pretty extensively as well:


So you’ve got a template selected, and you will be greeted with the drag and drop editor. This is where the magic happens:


You can move elements pretty much anywhere on the canvas, and use the “components” to add things like buttons, text, embedded videos, forms and more.

Some of the advanced features (the Marketing and Geo Location tools) are locked for pro subscribers unfortunately. This is a shame, as I bet you could do some seriously powerful promotion with them.

I usually like to keep my welcome mats nice and simple. So for this one I’m going to start first by changing the background to one of the supplied backgrounds. I could also upload a custom image if I wanted:


Now I’ve got a new background, I want to change the text to be relevant to whatever niche. You can edit the text of any existing text element through a WYSIWYG editor like this:


HOWEVER, I have found that you get far better results if you use the HTML editor, as the WYSIWYG is clunky and prone to formatting issues:


Once you’ve made the text and background what you want it to be (and added any other elements you like) you can look at adding additional steps to your welcome mat. Some templates come with additional steps built in, others like the one I chose do not. I like to have the thanks and “please confirm” content added as a second step so that visitors aren’t directed away from the site. They can then close the form and see whatever content they were first going to view.

Adding and editing additional steps is super easy:


Now it’s time to go back to the signup form on the original step and set up an integration with your Email Service Provider so that the leads you sign up actually get added to your list!

In order to do this you first have to have given Amplifire permission to communicate with your ESP of choice. There are really clear instructions for the following providers:


Once you’ve configured the integration you can set up the form to add leads to your list of choice from within the drag and drop editor:


If you don’t yet have an email service provider, then you can still generate leads! It is possible to store the leads in an internal database on Amplifire, and then you can export them all to upload to a provider like Mailchimp or Aweber. The only issue you might run into with this is the lack of double-confirmed opt in … but if you are just starting out then this could still be a viable option.

Once you’re finished and happy with your welcome mat, you just save it and make it active through the campaign options. There are a few different things you can do here, like set the display interval for people who close the form, choose whether it should be seen on mobile devices or not, exclude certain pages, and if you have the pro edition you can create custom rules around who exactly sees the form.


Finally, you have to actually give your website permission to display the Amplifire form. There are a few different ways of doing this. On a WordPress site you just download a Wishloop plugin and then add your Amplifire customer ID to the plugin, and then tell the welcome mat in its settings panel which domain to display on. You can also add to ANY website using a code snippet. This is awesome if you use a platform like Weebly, Wix, or Shopify.


Once all this is done, your welcome mat should be up and running on your site and ready to generate some leads or sales for you. KICKASS!

Remote Commander

There is one feature of Amplifire that I really want to draw attention to. It’s called Remote Commander, and it is something I’ve been having a whole heap of fun with.

With Remote Commander you can make your welcome mats display on anyone else’s website (well that’s not strictly true but it’s basically how the functionality looks to the end user).

The best bit about Remote Commander is that when you drop a “commanded” link on Facebook, it still shows the ultimate destination URL in the excerpt displayed.

Here’s what I mean:

Clicking this link from my Facebook page actually displays my welcome mat on another site. Awesome!
Clicking this link from my Facebook page actually displays my welcome mat on another site. Awesome!

My advice for using Remote Commander effectively would be to ensure that you don’t just spam your links everywhere across the Internet. Instead, link your audience to relevant and interesting content and try to build up leads that you can then follow up with your own content and promotions. I definitely think you are likely to get better results from taking an ethical approach to this, as opposed to spamming.

By default, Remote Commander campaigns run through a URL supplied by Amplifire. But you can actually link up a custom URL that is more relevant to your niche so that during the “redirect” process that takes place visitors don’t get put off by the default domain name. For example, if you were Facebook commenting to drive leads in the dog training niche, then you could have a custom domain like “” that loads your Remote Commanded links.

Setting up Remote Commander is easy and just requires you to have your welcome mat campaign setup and active, as well as a valid URL to send traffic:


Please note that you only get Remote Commander if you opt for the $97 unlimited site edition, otherwise you have to buy it as an upgrade.

NB I will add a brief overview of the statistics tracking and split-testing functionalities of Amplifire soon. I haven’t had it for long enough to really get a good feel for how the optimisation capabilities work yet, so don’t feel qualified enough to talk about them. 

Now you’ve seen the rough basics of how Amplifire works, it’s time to take a look at what is good and what is bad about the product:


  • Easy to use. The drag and drop form builder is straightforward to use; within a few minutes of playing around with it I had already created some nice looking welcome mats in a number of niches. I’m normally a bit wary of drag and drop builders, as they tend to be laggy and buggy. But this one is fast and easy.
  • Mobile customisation. Although a mobile and tablet friendly version of your welcome mat is created by default, you can change it to suit your needs and eliminate unwanted elements from the responsive design. This is a good idea to simplify your mobile welcome mats, and could definitely help to boost conversions.
  • Remote Commander is awesome. It’s like the infamous “Trust Jacker” plugin of old, but only a lot better. You don’t just have to display shitty CPA ads; you can display gorgeous call-to-action welcome mats to drive clicks to your own site or gaining leads. There are so many possibilities for monetising this. I haven’t made my investment back yet, but I have already generated real leads from links I have shared. My guess is that lead gen is going to be easier than selling, so that is the strategy I am likely to take. Heck you could probably hire some virtual assistants to do forum and blog commenting dropping useful links, and then build up a nice list this way.
  • Great price. $97 per year is a good price for this tool PROVIDED it remains updated into the future. But at under $10 per month and in its current state, it is good buying (much better value than SumoMe in my opinion) and represents a lot of value.
  • Can install on any site. You don’t need to be running WordPress. Lots of tools with similar functionality are developed primarily for WordPress, and integration onto other CMS like Weebly can be challenging. All you need with Amplifire is a line of code that you install into your site. It can’t get much easier than that, can it? This is good for me, as I don’t always choose to use WordPress depending on exactly what kind of site I’m using. You could run this on Shopify as well.
  • Single, multi and unlimited-site licence available. I think that having options is a good thing. If you’ve only got one website (and you don’t have any plans to launch another one for a while) then you don’t have to pay the $97 unlimited option. You can pick a cheaper, single site tier and save money to put towards driving traffic.


  • Super annoying upsell process. Oh boy, I had forgotten how much upselling there is for products sold through JVZoo. This product has three (if I recall correctly) upsells. There is one for the premium edition, which actually doesn’t seem like too bad of a deal. One for another product from the same company, and then a sort-of “complete collection”. I should really have taken screenshots of the upsell process, but I just wasn’t thinking late at night when I was doing the purchase process. But anyway, upsells are annoying and I don’t like them. Don’t feel pressured to buy anything during an upsell; it is my professional experience that the “unmissable” offer will almost always be there at a later date.
  • Too many features stripped without the pro/premium version. The base Amplifire tool is good, but there are a number of cool features that are stripped paying for pro/premium upgrade. The most important of these is the feature relating to smart display rules, which allows you to do things like display only to new visitors, or show different mats depending on what part of the site someone has landed on. You also miss out on the more advanced promotional options like the ability to easily add Teespring, Amazon, or eBook products. I know that upselling to a better feature suite is how the developers are making money on this, but I was a tad disappointed when I saw just how much was missing from the base functionality.
  • Occasional bugs with the welcome mat. On some browsers like Microsoft Edge, I have sometimes seen the text formatting break. This seems intermittent, and on more popular browser options (Chrome, Firefox etc) I haven’t noticed any issues. Just something to bear in mind.


Overall, I really like Amplifire. I genuinely think that this is a useful tool, and it has applications no matter what sort of web-based business you’re running. As a platform for growing your list, it has just about every feature you could ever want. And the fact that you can use it to push coupons or product calls-to-action is another added bonus.

My only real complaint is that some of the more powerful options available require an upgrade (even though you’ve already parted with a good chunk of cash to get the base functionality). However, some of the missing options you can get around just with some hard work and a sound understanding of how the drag and drop editor works.I also didn’t like the aggressive upselling, which is something that is a real plague on web marketing products in general.

I still think that Amplifire is one of the better web marketing tools I have seen in a long time. Go here to buy your own membership and grow those lists!


Mailchimp Review 2019

Review currently being updated/completed 100%. Check back soon for finalized review and conclusion.

Welcome back to Reviews Boss; it’s time for another high quality, honest review. Today we are taking a look at a hugely popular email service provider, Mailchimp.

In this Mailchimp review, which is updated and relevant for 2019, we are going to cover just about everything you could want to know about this service, in order to determine if it is the right choice for your needs.

How Have I Experienced Mailchimp?

If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that I spend a lot of time sending email newsletters.

For my own affiliate marketing/drop shipping/other related work, I use Aweber (which I am currently working on a review for that will be up in April 2019).

However, in my day job I use Mailchimp. In fact, I spend at least an hour a day – if not more like 2 or 3 – working with this platform. I’m very familiar with how Mailchimp works and what you can and can’t do with it, so I’ve decided to do a quality review.

NB: Because of the fact that I use MC for my regular employment, I will have to block out any sensitive information on the screen shots for this review. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.

What Is Mailchimp?

As mentioned at the start of this review, Mailchimp is an email service provider.

Have you ever signed up to an email newsletter on a website, and then you receive emails into your inbox from that company on a regular basis?

Those sort of promotional, mass-sent images are sent using an email service provider just like Mailchimp.

Mailchimp Pricing

Here’s what you need to know about pricing for this service:

The exact price you pay for either “Growing Business” or “Pro Marketer” depends on exactly how many leads you have, and the volume of your sending.

There’s a handy calculator to help you work out how much you might be spending:

Note About The Free Tier

Mailchimp is free to a certain number of subscribers and sends per month. This makes it ideal if you’re sending out emails for a small business, budding eCommerce store etc. And what’s even better is that the functionality isn’t reduced either!

Big props to Mailchimp for offering this quality free tier. It gives small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs a great way to get their foot in the door for email marketing.

Is Mailchimp Affiliate Friendly?

Short answer: No. Mailchimp is famously unfriendly towards affiliate marketers. In fact, I wouldn’t bother for a second trying to run affiliate links in your emails when using this particular service.

Here’s what their TOS say:

So it’s pretty clear that affiliate marketers are not welcome. It’s a shame … but at the same time the free tier of Mailchimp would be abused beyond imagination by unscrupulous affiliate marketers if affiliate marketing was allowed.

If you’re looking to run affiliate campaigns, then stick to a service like Aweber that is far friendlier towards affiliates.

Mailchimp Alternatives

Don’t like the sound of MC, or want to make sure that you’re getting the best deal? Here are some alternatives that might be worth investigating:

  • Aweber – this is my ESP of choice for my own work. Not as nice interface for creating emails, but affiliate friendly and good service. However, I think that Mailchimp is probably better for ecommerce or physical businesses due to their platform’s ease of use.
  • Constant Contact
  • Getresponse

Setting Up Your Campaigns

Creating campaigns in Mailchimp is a straightforward process, and once you’ve done it a few times it will feel like second nature.

Here’s how you go about creating and sending campaigns:

[coming soon]

Adding Lists To Mailchimp

What good is an email service provider if it isn’t easy and straightforward to add your subscribers/leads?

[coming soon]

Omnivore Warning

One thing to note when importing your leads into Mailchimp is the system called “Omnivore”. This is some kind of database validity checker that your imported leads will be passed through before being properly added to your list.

If you have lots of email addresses that Mailchimp doesn’t like, e.g:

  • Admin email addresses
  • Dodgy domains
  • Emails flagged as spam

Then you could find yourself on the sharp end of an Omnivore denial. This has happened to me a couple of times in the past, when importing large email databases for my employer. I uploaded the CSV files or whatever, but because there were too many leads that Omnivore had identified as being “high risk” the upload actually froze the account! This meant that we couldn’t send any more emails until such time as we fixed the list … serious “heart attack” stuff when it happens to you!

The good news is that you can just roll back the import and then get your sending privileges back.

A solution to this is to just import in smaller quantities. E.g. if you’ve got 50k leads to import, then break them up into blocks of 10k. This way you are less likely to trigger any Omnivore warning, and you can get on with the business of sending emails faster.

Mailchimp Support

By far the worst thing about Mailchimp is its extremely lacklustre support. Now this isn’t too much of a problem if you don’t run into any major issues – most problems that you will encounter can be fixed by checking FAQ on MC’s site, or by Googling what other people have done.

However, if you do encounter a “mission critical” error it can be very frustrating not to be able contact anyone over the phone to talk through the problem.

Instead, you’re probably going to find yourself referred to the FAQ/knowledge base on the Mailchimp site. This is especially annoying if the issue you are dealing with has anything to do with deliverability and your emails going to spam.

List Warmup

If you’re transferring your list from an existing email service provider, then you might want to pay close attention to this section of my Mailchimp review.

Recently I had to move a sizeable (~45k) email list from a very niche provider on to Mailchimp. Now the actual creation of the account and

It was at this particular juncture that I found Mailchimp’s lack of telephone support to be extremely frustrating. I wasn’t able to call anyone – or even speak on a live chat messenger window – in order to get help with the massive deliverability issue that was literally costing my employer thousands of dollars each time we sent an email.

Things I found that helped:

  • Use (check out my review of Mail Monitor here) in order to measure to a fairly accurate degree your deliverability metrics. Although this isn’t the most accurate tool in the world, it will help to give you some valuable insights into whether or not your emails being sent from Mailchimp are going directly to spam.

Mailchimp Pro

Full disclosure: I haven’t used Mailchimp Pro, but have done some research on what it is and how it can help. Here’s what you need to know:

[coming soon]


Let’s conclude my Mailchimp Review, all updated and relevant for 2019. Is Mailchimp worth joining? And, if you’ve got enough leads, is it worth paying for?

If you’re an affiliate marketer, then no. Mailchimp is simply unfriendly to anyone who wants to make money as an affiliate, and they should be avoided at all costs. I know that some people have tried to get away with it in the past (and occasionally succeeded) but if you’re actually trying to make a serious business with affiliate marketing then you should steer clear of Mailchimp.

Now what about if you’re running a “proper” business? I’m talking something like an eCommerce store, bricks and mortar store, consultancy business … whatever.

In that case, you’re probably going to love Mailchimp. It’s well-priced, easy-to-use, and reliable. There is a reason so many people use it for their business emails.

The only real problem I have with Mailchimp (from the perspective of using it for a business) is the lack of support available. As mentioned previously, only email/ticket support is available. There is no phone line you can call if you have any urgent issues, which is frustrating and may not be acceptable to you depending on what sort of business you operate. I have definitely had exasperating moments in the past when using MC for my “day job”, having to try and get support for what were serious issues affecting us … but which MC probably didn’t view as all that important.

Mail Monitor Review


It’s me again with another quick review (my main reviews are usually much more detailed, but some products simply do not need so much coverage). Today we’re taking a look at a product called Mail Monitor –

Because this is a really simple product to get your head around, I will try to make this review as straightforward as possible.

What Is Mail Monitor?

Imagine you run or work for a business where you send promotional emails to thousands of people on a regular basis. These emails could be the lifeblood of your business; without people seeing your deals in their inboxes, they aren’t going to come to your site and shop or sign up for your services.

Email service providers like Mailchimp or Aweber can provide you with useful reporting about open rates, click rates, abuse  reports etc. However, you don’t get enough insight into how many of your emails are going to spam, how many are going to the inbox as they should be, and how many emails are just plain missing in cyberspace.

Enter Mail Monitor.

It is a service that can help you to monitor and improve your mailbox placement and sender reputation. From the perspective of “what’s in it for me?” this means you are going to be able to get more of your promotional emails into inboxes and out of spam folders, resulting in more sales.

Who wouldn’t want that?

How Much Does It Cost?

There are a few different tiers available for


You can also opt for annual payment, which gives you 2 months’ free access for whatever tier you pick.

If you go for the monthly option, then you can get a 30 day free trial of Mail Monitor. I’m currently on my 30 day trial. These trials are fully featured, meaning that no functionality is restricted.

How Do I Set It Up?

Once you’ve registered your Mail Monitor account, it’s time to look at setting up your first campaign send in order to gain insights into it.

The process for doing this is a breeze once you work out what you need to do.

Firstly, you have to go to the setup tab. From here there are a few steps to follow. You start by checking which regions you want to test against (for example if you’re a Canadian business and you only care about inbox placement to Canadian email addresses, then you could uncheck everything else).

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PRIMARY WEBMAIL SELECTED, HOWEVER. This is going to give you reporting on email providers like Gmail and Yahoo, the likes of which probably constitute the majority of your email list.

Next, you will see a list of random looking email addresses. You need to copy these and upload them into your email service provider (Mailchimp, Aweber, whatever). You are supposed to add them in batches and randomize the order a bit in order to spread things out and increase reporting accuracy. I was lazy and didn’t bother with this.

These email addresses are what Mail Monitor uses to actually see how your emails are getting placed in various inboxes. I don’t know what they are doing inside the inboxes – maybe there is some guy sitting in SE Asia getting paid pennies per hour to log in and check email inboxes and report back, but I’m going to guess everything is automated!

Finally, you have three options for actually ensuring that Mail Monitor can report back properly.

  1. Specify the From address(es) you use for your EDMs
  2. Populate the X-Header of your emails with a campaign ID
  3. Insert a code snippet into your email you’re going to send out

I chose the third option because it is so easy to add custom code in with Mailchimp. Unless you don’t have the option to add code into your EDMs (in which case WTF kind of ESP are you using?) I really think that this code option is the best.

Once you’ve done that, you can take advantage of Mail Monitor’s previewing service and pre-end spam filter check.

But the real magic works when you hit send on your email, and then come back a few hours later to check:

What Will I See In Reporting?

So you’ve sent out your first EDM/email that is going to be reported on through Mail Monitor … neat!

What will you actually see in the reporting? Here’s an example of two of the emails I have sent through Mail Monitor so far (NB I’m not showing subject line info as these emails are sent for my regular work, and I want to keep that separate from this site). The top line is actually an average of the 2 emails I’ve sent so far.


  • Green means email was delivered fine to the inbox
  • Yellow means the email was marked as spam
  • Red means it is missing (either not enough time has lapsed between the send and checking the report, or the email just straight up got lost in cyberspace)

You can also click in on All ISP Report and see a more detailed breakdown of deliverability and inbox placement percentages for specific email providers:


So for example, on this particular campaign I had 100% spam into Hotmail – NOT GOOD! I’m gonna get a spooning for that one.

And that really is the main functionality of Mail Monitor examined. I will probably come back at some stage and take another look at the previewing options, but I think the meat of this product is really in its reporting on send results. Once you start to send regular campaigns and are able to look back on inbox placement, you can look for common themes that might be hindering your deliverability e.g. excessive use of promotional language like “cheap” “save” etc.

You can also check how your emails performed against common spam filters and DKIM/SPF. Green = good here.

mailmonitor-spamfilterreport - Copy


  • Fast setup of tracking. Within 10 minutes of creating my Mail Monitor account, I was ready to send out my first campaign from Mailchimp with the tracking code installed.
    • My advice is to skip the from address or email header setup and just install the code snippet that powers the Mail Monitor insights. This honestly seems like the easiest option.
  • Great deliverability insights. Once the report had enough time to run following the send, I was greeted with some great information about which email providers were giving me good deliverability and which ones were not.
  • Global relevance. I live in New Zealand, and the lists/campaigns I am testing with Mail Monitor are really NZ-focused. Although most people use free email providers like Gmail or Hotmail, it was great to see some NZ specific seed email addresses for testing. There are testing option for the Americas, Europe, UK, Australia, Asia and more – awesome!
  • Pre send spam testing. Mail Monitor isn’t just useful for analyzing your deliverability and inbox placement “after the fact”. You can test your emails before sending through common spam filters in order to maximise the chance of proper delivery.
  • Email previewing. You are probably aware of the annoying fact that different browsers, mobile devices, and OS display images and formatting differently. With Mail Monitor you can preview how your emails are going to display in popular browser and device configurations.
  • Blacklist monitoring. Check to make sure your sender email address and ISP aren’t blacklisted. Mail Monitor checks against the major blacklist services.


  • Too expensive for small-timers. I’m actually using Mail Monitor as part of my day job, which requires me to send mass emails from an ESP to BIG lists. If you’re an affiliate with a list of a few thousand leads, then Mail Monitor is probably too expensive for you. This is really a B2B product aimed at eCommerce businesses or other businesses that have a need to send emails to large databases.
  • Setup instructions not detailed enough. Although setting up your sends is easy with Mail Monitor, I do feel that the instructions for loading in your leads, setting the from addresses/HTML tag etc could all be improved. Just a brief video on each point would help less tech savvy individuals get started. The FAQ/help is not detailed enough for my liking.
  • Hard to be sure of accuracy. I’d imagine that Mail Monitor’s results are a bit like exit polling – useful, but always remember to take with a grain of salt. You can read an overall trend and get some good insights, but because you aren’t privy to what happens to every single email sent out (instead you are seeing results based on extrapolation) you cannot be 100% sure that the reporting you see is an accurate reflection of what is actually happening to your EDMs.
  • Gmail tab placement only for enterprise tier. This is a feature that I believe allows you to see how many of your EDMs are going to the regular inbox tab on Gmail, and how many are going to promotions. Unfortunately, you only get access to this if you have the top priced tier, which is a shame 🙁


Although I’ve only used Mail Monitor a few times, I can definitely see some value in this product. If you are running a business that depends on promoting emails getting into clients’ inboxes in order to make sales, then this product can really help you to get some good clarity as to where your emails are winding up and why your deliverability isn’t as good as it could be.

There are definitely more powerful solutions out there, but for the price (and the fact that you can get a fully-featured 30 day trial) I really don’t see why you wouldn’t want to give Mail Monitor a shot.

It does cost a bit of money. But think about the fact that if you could get even 1% more of your list seeing and clicking on your emails, you could very quickly earn that cost back. If you rely on emailing a list to make money, then you need a tool like this. It really is that simple.

It’s not 100% accurate, but there are some great insights to be gleaned from using it. Go sign up today, set up your next campaign with Mail Monitor, and work hard to determine how you can improve your deliverability.

Can You Use Active Campaign For Affiliate Marketing?

Recently I did a full review of Active Campaign, on which I’m getting good feedback (and hopefully helping people to make their minds up as to whether or not this is the right product for their needs).

One question I see that pops up now and then is whether or not you can use Active Campaign for affiliate marketing.

Active Campaign’s unique approach to automation funnels has MASSIVE potential for affiliates. Imagine being able to give away lead hooks (ebooks, a video course, or whatever) and then put your leads into funnels where you can follow up with targeted messages based on interactions and actions.

I mean it’s pretty much made for affiliate marketing, right?

Well unfortunately, you’d be wrong. That’s because Active Campaign isn’t friendly towards affiliate marketers.

Here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth:

You can read the full TOS here, which is definitely worth studying because there are a few exceptions that might be worth taking a look at.

I must admit that I haven’t yet tried doing any form of affiliate marketing with Active Campaign, but I am looking for a platform that I can use on this very humble website to help keep readers informed about the types of products they are interested in. A “normal” emailing platform like Mailchimp might not be entirely suitable.

My understanding is as follows:

  • If every email you send is a “call-to-action” promotion for an affiliate product, you won’t be welcome on Active Campaign
  • If you’re promoting make money at home/make money online products (and you’re probably building your list through things like solo ads) then you definitely will run into issues.
  • If you are providing high-quality content in your emails and occasionally include an affiliate link as part of that content, then you may be okay – especially if you’re not operating in a niche that isn’t related to the classic “MMO” niche.

I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of some people getting away with affiliate marketing on Active Campaign, and others getting pinged before they’ve even got out of the blocks. My thought is that if you are providing real value to your readers, then you might be able to get away with the occasional posting of affiliate links.

Active Campaign Review 2019

Review under “construction” – check back soon!

What’s up everybody? Sam here with another review for you. Today I’m looking at a product … I’d heard of it quite some time ago actually but I’d never had the chance to use it until I started working with a company here in Christchurch that specializes in doing high performance building technology. I look after the marketing for them. And the guy who runs that company is really clued up and switched on to using various technology solutions to making running his business easier. And he introduced me to this product, that basically he’s using in his business, is like a hybrid CRM and lead generation and mailing platform. I mean, marketing automation as well. I mean it’s called Active Campaign and I’ve been using Active Campaign fairly regularly for about a year, getting on for a year. And to be honest, I’ve been wanting to do a review of it for a while, but just haven’t had the time.

It’s a big product to cover, so I guess I’ve been a bit slack in putting off doing a review of it. Now I’ve changed the way I do my reviews. I just talk about the product, and then have the audio transcribed and do a bit of editing. It’s much easier for me. I sort of felt a bit overwhelmed at actually just sitting in front of a desk for potentially hours and typing up under a bunch of pre-selected headings. So now what I’m doing to do is just basically talk about Active Campaign for probably about 45 minutes to be honest, so this will be a long review. But I’ve put headings in as well in the editing process, so you can jump to what you’re interested in. And there’s even a table of contents at the top of the page. So how helpful is that?

So anyway, what is Active Campaign? Well Active Campaign is a marketing automation platform. So it covers a bunch of different applications actually. So I guess probably the easiest way to think of it, is to compare it to other things and then see how it differs. So there are a whole load of different functionalities within Active Campaign. The first is like a sort of basic CRM for keeping track of leads and customers. There’s a mailing system so a bit like what you’ve got with Mail Chimp for example or A-Weber. You can create a campaign and send it to a list. There’s a lot of options for list segmentation based off actions or data you’ve got about the leads. There’s also another probably key part of it, it really is the automations process. So that’s what you use like, sort of drag and drop flow charts, to create these marketing automation funnels.

So I mean, an example of a marketing automation funnel is like someone comes to your website. They chose to download your free whitepaper that you’ve got or report or video series, or lead, classic sort of lead hook, and then they get added to an automation. And then depending on the actions they take, you might do different things. So if they take enough positive actions, you know, you might get to the point where actually you feel like this lead trusts you enough that you can actually pick up the phone and start talking to them. On the other hand, if they don’t take any action, you might say okay, after three months, just delete them off the list so I don’t even have them on there. Yeah, there’s so many features under the hood, that’s why this review is going to be a long one.

I want to try and cover as much as possible. So I will jump around a little bit. I will sort of talk about things as if you were sitting right here next to me, while I go through it. But hopefully, by the end of it, you’ve got a good understanding of what Active Campaign is, why you’d use it, what are the feature, what are the benefits, and what are the downsides as well. It’s not a perfect product by any stretch of the imagination. So what I’ll do now is talk through the features.

As we know in life, nothing is perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect or flawless product, especially when it comes to stuff for internet marketing. So now we’ve looked at the good parts of Active Campaign, I want to take some time to talk about the things I don’t like as much, and there are a fair few things I’m not particularly fond of. Mostly I think it’s good, but there’s definitely some things that need to be mentioned.

The first and the biggest one for me is that Active Campaign doesn’t allow affiliate marketing using its platform, and look, if you’re an affiliate marketer that automatically disqualifies Active Campaign for being suitable for you. I personally think it’s not really good enough, I think you should be allowed to do affiliate marketing as long as you’re able to prove you’re doing high quality affiliate marketing. I suppose it’s a bit like MailChimp, they don’t really like affiliate marketing either, but the difference there is that MailChimp is offering a free platform that would be pretty ripe for spam, people creating lots of different accounts and spamming everything.

Active Campaign, you’re paying a decent price for it, so it does gall a little bit to know that you can’t use it for affiliate marketing, because it would literally be perfect for high quality affiliate marketing, especially info products, or anything where you want to move people through a funnel from, say, downloading an initial report to buying a higher value product. It would just be so handy to have, but yeah, if you’re an affiliate marketer you can’t use it, unfortunately, which is a massive shame and it takes what is fundamentally a pretty decent product, in my opinion, and ruins it for anyone who wants to get into affiliate marketing.

So if there’s anyone from Active Campaign watching or reading this, I would encourage you just to actually allow affiliate marketing, even if you have to be a bit strict on managing it, maybe have an option in the signup process to say, “Yes, I will be doing affiliate marketing.” And you have to pay a little bit extra, or your account has to be subject to some scrutiny, or you have to go through a little interview or something. But there are a lot of people out there doing really good quality affiliate marketing, it’s not just churn and burn spammy crap. There are some people with some amazing websites who could benefit from the platform, and who would be good paying customers. So it sort of feels like cutting of the face to spite the nose, but I guess Active Campaign have their reasons, and they’re probably worried about spam and all that kind of thing getting their sending platform reputation tarnished.

Another thing I don’t like about it is the campaign editor, it’s clunky, and awkward, and feels quite limited. You compare it to something like MailChimp, which is so fluid now and so easy to work with, the Active Campaign one does feel really quite dated. I can’t put my finger on it exactly why I don’t like it, but basically what I find is that often when I’m working with this company that I work with on a regular basis, I send a good few campaigns a week from Active Campaign, and the one that I hate about using it is when I actually have to type up the email content and drag and drop things around. It just feels slow and a bit poorly designed. It’s not critical, because really I think the sending functionality is secondary to the automation functionality anyway, but if you’re going to be using a platform for doing lots of emails, to be honest something like MailChimp is better. So that’s another thing to bear in mind.

What else? Let’s have a think about what else I don’t like about Active Campaign. There are a few bugs in the platform that I’ve noticed as well. I had a really bad bug a while ago, I was trying to send out a really important email to a customer database, and it was just stuck in processing with send for ages, and ages, and ages, and that was really frustrating because there was no way to cancel it and do it again, I didn’t want to send it twice, so yeah, super frustrating there. That was a bad bug, but apart from that you do see occasional bugs of people not being added correctly, or things not saving. Like, there’s been about four or five times when I’ve thought I’ve saved an automation, and give it a name and everything, and some of them have been fairly detailed automations, and then I’ll navigate away come back in and find that the automation was never saved, and so I have to start again and that pisses me off as well.

So that’s frustrating. So yeah, there are some bugs, I mean it’s probably par for the course with something that’s so complicated in terms of what you can do with it, but do be aware, double check your work definitely. There are a couple of other things as well that are relatively minor I’m not too fond of, there is one feature that I really like but then there’s an annoying aspect to it as well. So when you send an email campaign, you can actually select to resend it to people who didn’t open it the first time, which is really good, that’s something I’ve seen, I think MailChimp does it, and I know AWeber does it, and it’s relay handy because say you send out an email to 1000 people, and you have 250 opens, then in a couple of days time you think, “Right, that’s sunk down everyone else’s inbox, let’s send it to those other 750 people.” And you might get another 50 opens, or something like that.

It really is, I mean some people would argue it’s spamming, but I actually think it’s best practice if you want to get the most you can out of your contacts. There’s always going to be a percentage of them, and a large percentage, who never open everything, or anything, or hardly ever open emails, so as long as you’re providing good content, or good promotions, you do want to try and get the most you can out of your list. So yeah, you send your campaign and then you go into reselect to send, and here’s a really annoying thing; if you’ve used complex list segments, you can’t just resend the email. The little option will pop up, a little notification box saying that due to the lists or segments you’ve selected the only option you’ve got is to actually create another campaign based on that one, so duplicate, and then select, go manually into the segment creation tool under contacts and basically select your contacts, match this region, and then contacts haven’t taken the action of reading your last campaign.

It would be so much easier if there was just a one click, send it to anyone who didn’t open the last campaign, regardless of how complex the original segment was, because that’s quite a time waster, because when you get a decent number of contacts into your list, this is another buggy aspect of the platform, when you’re dealing with a decent number of contacts it can feel a bit slow, like searching segments and things, searching and creating segments can be a little bit slow.

For example, when you create segments, we use region, so we’ve got, like you’ve got states in the United States, we’ve got different regions here in New Zealand, and we’ve got them all set up, but if I wanted to select, say, three different regions, I have to select the first one, wait for it to refresh, so say lead matches, or contact matches Auckland region, wait for that to refresh, that might take 10 seconds. Then select all contact matches, Wellington region, wait for it to refresh, and it’s small time, but it all adds up and it just could be a bit faster if you picked everything and then hit load. Even if you had to wait a little bit longer on the other end I think it would be better and more fluid.

Then, apart from that, probably the other downside I can see of this product is that it is actually quite overwhelming. There’s just so much you can do with it that, unless you’re willing to spend some time learning the ropes and seeing how it can work for your business, it’s probably not going to be worth you using. You’ve really got to decide that you’re going to commit to Active Campaign, and have a good idea of how you want automations to work, and things like that. Don’t just sign up and play around with it. The first thing I recommend actually, is knowing what actions do you want people to take, and then draw out on a whiteboard, or something like that, a flowchart of how that might work as an automation, and make your Active Campaign automations, with the options they’ve got, work around that. I suppose that’s not so much a downside of the product, it’s just you do need to bear this in mind if you want to maximize the value of it.

So, that’s probably something I’ll actually talk about in a future blog post, it might not even be a review, it’s just how to make sure you’re getting the most out of this kind of software, because there’s so much power, but I suspect there’s a lot of users who are paying a decent price a month. It’s not the cheapest software out there. I don’t think the price is a negative, I think it’s very fairly priced, and I’m not going to mention it as a negative, but it is decent money, and the value you extract from it is going to be entirely ties to how well you can use it.

So look, those are the negatives, the biggest one, again, I want to mention I’d you can’t use it if you’re an affiliate marketer. You know I cut my teeth on affiliate marketing, it’s what I still love doing. I do consulting, I do freelancing, I do affiliate marketing, I do all sorts of different stuff to make money online, but my passion will probably always be affiliate marketing. If I could do one thing and live on it full-time, it would be affiliate marketing. So it is a shame, I suppose I just take it a little bit personally, being an affiliate marketer myself, but we’re not all bad people and it would be nice if Active Campaign recognized that. But apart from that, the list of negatives is relatively small.

Now we come to the final bit of this review of ActiveCampaign, that’s the conclusion. We’ve looked at what the product is, we’ve looked at why you might want to use it, we’ve looked at what’s good about it, and we’ve looked at what’s bad about it and all the sort of boring facts, pricing and all that kind of stuff, but here’s really where the sort of rubber hits the road so to speak: Is it actually worth using?

If you’re an affiliate marketer, no, because you can’t use it, but apart from that if there is a way you can use marketing automation to improve your business, which I think just about every business can, especially if you’re trying to sell something with a bit of a sales cycle behind it and you need to be able to grade leads and you want a way to sort of keep all that information about them in one place and you want a very efficient and effective platform, then, yeah, ActiveCampaign is definitely worth using.

I mean, the way it’s been used in this business I’m working with, and I’m deliberately not mentioning the name because I just want to keep that side of what I do private, although if you probably went and checked out my LinkedIn and things you wouldn’t find it too difficult to find out who I’m talking about, but, yeah. We use ActiveCampaign to such an incredible effect. I mean, for what’s a cheap piece of software, it acts as our CRM and it does a really good job. We do really effective automations. It’s so good for doing segments. You know, if we want to select a segment of people living in a certain region whose job title matches this, well, that’s easy to do. Yeah, the campaign sends, you know, we do a lot of those as well and the stats are pretty good.

I mean, I did mention I don’t like the campaign editing tool, and that’s probably one of my biggest criticisms is that it just feels a bit clunky and not smooth as something like MailChimp, but, yeah, that’s probably not major if you’re not doing a huge amount of campaigns or you’re just setting them up for automations and leaving them. If you were doing like e-commerce style emails every day, I probably wouldn’t recommend it. I would say try something like MailChimp. I think MailChimp Pro is the one with the good automation features. I can’t remember off the top of my head, but, yeah.

Look, overall for say like a small business. I mean, let’s say you run like a … What would be a good example of a company that could really benefit from this? Well, let’s say you run a pool cleaning business, okay? I’ve got a pool cleaning client, so this is kind of relevant to me. Say you run a pool cleaning business, so you might do a give away that’s a free ebook or a free little video course or something on how to keep your pool cleaner for longer. That’s just a silly little example of a give away, but you use it as a hook to get people to sign up.

Well, now you’ve got their data in ActiveCampaign. You can add them to automations, so you can see the people who are more frequently opening your emails. You know, you might have weekly newsletters talking about pool cleaning and keeping your pool nice and tidy and making sure it’s in good condition, and you can see the ones who frequently open it. Well, there you could add them to another automation that actually requests, “Hey, do you need your pool cleaned? Put your number in here and I’ll give you a call,” and you move them through those automations. I mean, that’s a pretty poor example really, but it hopefully gets the point across.

Certainly, if you’re selling anything that requires a bit of a sales cycle rather than people just coming straight to your website and buying it on impulse. Well, if there’s any sales cycle at all involved from a week to months, I think ActiveCampaign can really help reinforce that. Your sales team, if you’ve got one, will find it easy to work in with ActiveCampaign, and it helps bring sales and marketing closer together as well.

So, look, overall I don’t think ActiveCampaign is perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think it is really good, as long as you’ve got the ability to think logically about how you’re going to actually extract value from it and make sure you get your money’s worth. So, yeah, have a think. Is there a place for marketing automation in your business? Feel free to send me an email or leave a comment as well if you’d like to sort of run something by me. I’ve got pretty good experience in this now. It’s somewhere I’m looking to consult in more as well, but, look, just say, “Hey, this is what my business does or this is what my client’s business does. Do you think there’s a role for ActiveCampaign?” And I’ll give my hones feedback. Like I said, it’s not perfect for every business, but if you do have a sales cycle or you need to sort of warm leads up to get them ready for a sale, yeah, it would be absolutely perfect for you. Just remember that if you are an affiliate marketer, you can’t use it, which is a big disappointment.

But overall, ActiveCampaign is worth trying. Probably you’ll find it worth buying as well. It is fairly priced in my opinion, and there are a lot of features, and the support is absolutely excellent as well. Really is some very world-class support, and the team of people who provide the support really know their sort of stuff as well, so, yeah. Give it a go and try and build up some automations and see is it working for your business to generate better leads and generate better commercial outcomes. I think you’ll find it will work, but as always, a lot of it comes down to your diligence and using the platform. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a great day.

Mailshake Review – Initial Impressions

Sorry for the brief hiatus in posting – I’ve been focusing a bit of additional energy into my consulting business, which I’m going to be pouring more time into in the near future.

However, the good news is that my immediate plans should also hopefully free up more time for me to hit the ground running with Reviews Boss as well. I’ve got plenty of exciting content planned, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on that!

One product I want to call attention to that I’ve recently started to use is Mailshake.

This isn’t a full review of Mailshake – that will come in due course. But what I would like to do is share my initial impressions of the product.

What Is Mailshake?

It’s a platform for sending highly-personalised emails en masse. I’m not talking Mailchimp-style bulk sends (i.e. EDMs), but instead emails that look like they were sent directly from your Gmail/Google Apps email inbox.

Who’s It For? How Does It Work?

Mailshake is primarily pitched as being a cold email tool. Let’s say you want to generate leads for a business (e.g. you’ve just started a freelance graphic design shop). One way to drum up some potential business is cold emailing. You could contact businesses whose graphic design for advertising, logos, website or whatever needs sprucing up.

Normally, cold emailing is a slow process. You create a target list – names, emails, company details etc – then you have to go through and email each one manually.

Mailshake makes the process much faster by allowing you to combine an email template with your target list. This means that once you’ve collected the lead data and written your template email, it becomes almost effortless to send out the emails.

How Much Does It Cost?

$19 per month per user. Simple, flat-rate pricing (although there’s a bit of a discount available for paying a full year in one go).

Is It Easy To Use?

In my experience so far, very much so. I had my first test campaign up and running in a matter of minutes. The step-by-step “wizard” that talks you through the campaign setup process is simple, effective and easy-to-follow.

My full review of Mailshake will be up in the near future. But for now, suffice it to say I’m enjoying the platform and can see immense potential for using it to generate leads and sales.