Autopilot, ConvertKit, Drip Review

July 24, 2019

Since we first recommended ActiveCampaign, there have been a number of companies that also promise easy-to-use marketing automation tools: Autopilot, ConvertKit and Drip.

We put all three to the test and you can rest assured that ActiveCampaign still bests them all, although they’re getting close.

Autopilot still relies on bolting in SendGrid to be able to send emails. That requires changing DNS settings at your domain registrar. No matter what we did, we could not get Autopilot to get past the “error detected” stage, so we passed on Autopilot.

The Autopilot experience was no better than two years earlier when we struggled with many similar issues. You wonder how that $12 million in funding was spent.

The experience with ConvertKit was similarly flawed. This service insists on adding a “message content starts here” line to any custom HTML email, which produces a blank line at the top of your emails that looks bad with colored backgrounds. ConvertKit is designed from the ground up for using plain-Jane emails without much customization and this experience shows it.

Drip presents both usability and email problems. The control panel relies on a two-tiered menu structure with some much-needed functions buried in non-conventional places. While Drip did a good job with our test HTML template on the desktop, it failed mobile by left aligning the email in our mobile client. Tech support was unresponsive in solving this issue, so we bailed out on our test.

The upshot is that ActiveCampaign has had many years to perfect its marketing automation technology and the others are going to have spend more time honing their end product, which directly impacts your brand image.

Best New Application

Notion

Notion is a remarkable newcomer with a highly pliant interface that like Coda and Quip allows you to blend text and tables to create sophisticated, collaborative documents, such as business or marketing plans. Notion goes one step further by offering a Chrome web clipper that, much like Evernote, quickly captures web pages and lets you save clippings to specific folders. We really like its elegant folder interface that can be customized with emoji, a very cool feature. More importantly, if a table includes dates, you can change views to show Kanban boards or calendars.

Notion comes bundled with pre-made templates, including Movie List, Recipes, Yearly Goals, Travel Plans and “Lightweight To-do’s.” Best of all, Notion offers both an iPhone app and a Mac desktop application, making this a surefire hit in the making. Well worth your time exploring.

Website: Notion.so

Price: Free; Basic (1 user, unlimited uploads): $4.00/member/mo.; Team (unlimited users, unlimited uploads): $8.00/member/mo.

Best Digital Banking Application

T-Mobile MONEY

Traditional banks love to charge fees, while offering miniscule interest rates and terrible customer service. T-Mobile MONEY is a clever way to attract 81 million T-Mobile customers with a 4% interest rate on balances up to $3,000, compared to a 0.06% industry average. More importantly, signing up takes less than 10 minutes, if you’re a T-Mobile customer and your debit card shows up in days, both records for the slow-as-molasses banking industry. Both the website and mobile app experience are unparalleled too. Glad someone is giving the banks a run for their money.

Website: Notion

Features: 4% interest; no account fees; 55,000 no-fee ATMs.

Best File Transfer Application

WeTransfer

WeTransfer is an online file-transfer utility that is gorgeously designed and simple to use. It’s a great application designed in Amsterdam.

Website: WeTransfer

Price: Up to 2GB: Free; We Transfer Plus (featuring your own branding and up to 20GB files): $12/mo. or $120/yr.

Best iOS App

Scanbot

Best mobile scanning app. Just snap a pic of your receipt and Scanbot will automatically recognize the edges of the receipt and puts a nice, shadowed rectangle around it while eliminating any distracting background. Conveniently save your scans to iCloud for superior convenience. It’s an app you won’t be able to live without.

Website: Scanbot

Price: Free; Paid Subscription: $4.49 1st year, $22.49 years after 1st.

Best MacOS Application

Scrivener

Can’t live without Scrivener. Organize your life. Scrivener is perhaps the most amazing writing organizer and thought outliner. Designed for book authors, Scrivener lets you organize your writing and thoughts by folder or sub-folder. It can even attach a document to a document. We have started moving all of our writing — whether for book, site, collateral or anything else — into Scrivener. Highly recommended for anyone who does any writing, from business plans or brochures to novels.

Website: Scrivener

Price: $45.00

Best Database Application

Airtable spreadsheet and database

Airtable

This company has raised $170 million and is worth more than a $1 billion. We can’t all be wrong, now can we? Airtable works like a spreadsheet but gives you the power of a database to organize anything. Features rich fields that can hold checkboxes, dropdown menus. Has traditional grid, calendar or “kanban” (like Trello) views. Realtime collaboration with commenting and change audit trails is a huge plus. But its most powerful feature may well be its ability to add look-up fields that link to other sheets for data consistency, making Airtable a true relational database.

Website: Airtable

Price: Free (Unlimited bases, 1,200 records/base/2GB attachments/base); Plus (5,000 records per base, supports Blocks and 5GB of data): $10/mo.; Pro (50,000 records per base and 20GB of data): $20/mo.

Best Design Applications

Figma

Figma is a relative newcomer that has taken the world of the design by storm. Its ability to keep up with a global development team is detailed in this case study: “Design At Scale: One Year With Figma.”

Website: Figma

Price: Starter: Free (2 members); Pro (1 editor, unlimited members): $15.00/editor/mo.; Organization (unlimited teams, private projects): $45.00/editor/mo.

Canva

This Aussie company has a better idea about how design should work. Investors have signed on, giving the company a $2.5 billion valuation. Wow! Canva lets you easily create beautiful brochures, social media posts and other design documents. Use Canva’s drag-and-drop feature and professional layouts to design consistently stunning graphics.

Website: Canva

Price: Free; Pro: $12.95/mo.

Best WordPress Applications

Elementor

Elementor is our favorite newWordPress page builder, replacing our previous recommendation, Pro Theme, which is growing long in the tooth. Elementor is unquestionably the best-designed and most powerful WordPress site builder platform available today. It features a superbly designed editor, that is consistent even when used with such Elementor add-ons as Ultimate Addons for Elementor. Elementor effortlessly creates site-wide headers, footers, single-post blog templates, etc.; it also features an extensive elements library, all responsive and pre-templated for fast site design. There are simply too many features to list here. A must-buy for any WordPress blogger or designer.

Website: Elementor

Price: Personal: $49.00/yr.; Plus (3 sites): $99.00/yr.; Expert (1,000 sites): $199.00/yr.

Pirate Ship

Any e-commerce store operator knows that finding a viable shipping solution that is easy to use and fairly flexible is a major challenge. Pirate Ship is a cloud-based platform that seamlessly interfaces with the WooCommerce WordPress plugin and provides cost-effective USPS shipping on labels you can print yourself. It even lets you paste in an address in the browser and it will automatically place the information in the right fields. A much-needed solution that is humorously supported by Bjorn the Pirate.

Website: Pirate Ship

Price: Based on package weight and distance.

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