Create and send a campaign


With ActiveCampaign, you can create and send beautiful campaigns to your list(s) of contacts. You can choose from one of the templates we provide or design your campaign using custom HTML code.

In this article, we'll show you the basics of creating and sending a campaign.

Take note

This article walks you through completing the required campaign fields before designing your campaign. You can also design your campaign before completing the required fields on the Campaign Summary page

Create a campaign

Campaigns are created in the Campaigns section of your account. Each campaign you create starts with a template. 

To create a campaign, you must first have a list of opted-in contacts to send. Learn how to create a list and add contacts to it.

To get started:

1. Click Campaigns on the left menu.

2. Click the "Create a campaign" button.

3. The "Campaign Type" screen will open. On this page, you will need to:

  • Type the name of your campaign into the field provided. Note that this name is internal only and will not be seen by your contacts. This is optional but recommended

      ActiveCampaign assigns your campaign a default name. You can change this at any point during the campaign creation process. 

  • Click the campaign type you would like to use. To learn more about the campaign types we offer, see this "Campaign types overview" help article
  • When finished, click the "Next" button

Complete information on the Campaign Summary page 

On the next screen, you can complete the details for your campaign. 

Please note that you don’t need to complete these fields before you create your campaign; you only need to complete them before you send your email. 

  • Subject line
    A subject line is the first text subscribers see when they receive your campaign. The subject line appears after the sender’s name in an inbox. This line of text is essential and should be enticing enough to get your readers to open your email and engage with it. You’ll want to create a subject line that uses personalization, is descriptive, and interests your reader. If you need help creating one, check out our Email Subject Line Generator.

      Add emojis to your subject line with a button click. In addition, you can preview your subject line by clicking the "i" icon next to the "Preheader" field to see how it will look in mobile inboxes. (See image in the Preheader text callout box below.)

  • Preheader text (optional)
    Also known as preview text. This is a text snippet displayed in an inbox after the subject line. It is the first (or part of the first) line of text in your communication. While adding preheader text is optional, it should be considered to help further engage your audience. Learn more about Preheader Text

      Add emojis to your preheader text with a button click. In addition, you can preview your preheader by clicking the "i" icon to see how it will look in mobile inboxes:

  • From Name
    This is part of your sender details and lets your audience know who is sending them a campaign. This appears in the “From” field of your campaign. To change the sender's name, click the appropriate fields and type the updated information into the fields provided.
  • From Email
    This is another part of your sender details. This is the email address associated with the From Name. To update the From Email, click the appropriate fields and type the updated information into the fields provided. We do not recommend using a freemail address for this field.
  • Reply-to
    By default, we will use your "From Email" address as your "Reply-to" address. This is a required field. Any replies you receive from recipients will go to that selected email address. If you wish to use a different email address as your "Reply-to," uncheck "Use this email as my reply-to address," then supply a different email address in the field provided

    reply-to email address.jpg

  • Select a list(s)
    This is the list of contacts who will be sent your email. You can choose one or more lists to send your campaign to. If the same contact appears on multiple lists, they'll only receive the email once.
  • Select or create a segment (optional)
    When you select a list on this screen, a segment option will appear at the bottom of the page. To select a segment, click the “Segment this list” checkbox then click the segment. To create a new segment, click the "Create New Segment" button, then use the segment builder to create the segment. Note that you can only send your campaign to one segment at a time.

  • Scheduling your campaign  (optional)
    Use this option to schedule your campaign to send at a future date and time. Campaign scheduling uses the time format you set up in Advanced Settings. 

  • Select Open/Read Tracking
    This option is enabled by default. Learn how Opens Tracking works. You can also trigger an automation to run based on customers who opened your email by clicking the “Automate” option
  • Select Link Tracking (optional but recommended if you have links in your campaign)
    Link tracking lets you see who clicked links in your campaign. This helps you understand who is engaging with your content and gauge the effectiveness of your emails. By default, link tracking is enabled for all campaigns that include links. Learn more about Link Tracking. You can also set up an automation based on customers who clicked a specific link in your email by clicking the “Customize” option
  • Reply Tracking (optional)
    Select this option to track replies to your campaigns and see those replies in your reports. Learn more about Reply Tracking.
  • Google Analytics (optional)
    If using Google Analytics, select this option to add utm URL parameters to your links. Learn more about using Google Analytics with your email campaigns. 
  • Physical mailing address
    This is the default address listed on the Settings > Addresses page in your ActiveCampaign account. To use a different address, select it from the dropdown. Note that you need to add the new address to the Settings > Addresses page first to do so. Learn how to add a physical address to your ActiveCampaign account. 
  • Campaign Archive
    A campaign archive is a page containing links to your sent direct campaigns. Each list in your account has an archive. With this option, you can decide if the archive should be public or private. Note that people can only view your archive if you share the archive link with them. Learn more about Campaign Archives

Select a campaign builder

Next, select the campaign builder you want to use. By default, “Create with email designer” is selected for you. To use any other options listed below, click the down caret:
Create campaign select designer.jpeg

  • Create with email designer
    This option uses our improved drag-and-drop email designer, which includes an AI Text block
  • Text only
    This is a plain text email. It is not possible to track opens or replies for this email type. Learn how to create and send plain text emails
  • HTML builder
    Use this option to create an email campaign using custom HTML. Learn how to create and send custom HTML campaigns
  • Classic designer
    Use this option to create a campaign using the Classic drag-and-drop email designer. Learn more about content blocks available with the Classic Designer

Once you select your builder, click the “Create with …” button

Select a template

If you select the Email Designer or Classic Designer, you can choose a template for your campaign. You can choose from many templates based on layouts or business goals. You can also use a past campaign as a template or create your template from scratch. 

Note that templates created for the Classic Designer cannot be used with the Email Designer and vice versa, as these are two different builders. 

To learn more about the types of templates ActiveCampaign offers, see this "Email templates overview" help article.

If you selected the Text only or HTML builders, you can choose a template based on past Text only and HTML campaigns, respectively. 

To choose a template, hover your mouse over the template you wish to use, then click the "Select" button

Customize your campaign design

If you selected a template for the Email Designer or Classic Designer, you can customize your campaign layout to fit your needs and add content.

If you’re using the Email Designer, check out these resources:

If you’re using the Classic Designer, check out these resources: 

If you’re using the Text Only option, check out this resource:

If you’re using the HTML option, check out these resources:

Once you’ve finished customizing your design, click “Save and exit” to go to the Campaigns Overview page in your account, or click “Next” to view and add your campaign details.

Review the campaign summary page

As a final step, you'll need to complete and review the Campaign Summary page before you send or schedule your email. On this page, you can:

  • Check your subject line, preheader text, and sender information
  • Check the list you are sending to
  • Schedule the send for a future date (or send immediately)
  • Send a test email
  • Review a Desktop version of your campaign
  • View spam check results

With the Spam check, you will want to see the result of “Passed.” If you see an error instead, you will want to fix the issue in your campaign before sending it. Anything other than “Passed” indicates an issue that may keep your campaign from reaching your subscriber’s inbox.

If you want to make any final edits to your campaign before sending it, click the campaign design on the Summary page. Doing so will open the designer so you can modify the content and design. 

Test your campaign

We recommend testing your campaign to ensure that links work properly, personalization tags are rendering, and that it renders will in different email clients and devices. 

Learn more about testing your campaigns

Send your email

Once everything is reviewed and tested, you're ready to send the email. To do so, click the "Send Now" button. You will then be asked to confirm your send with an option to cancel. In addition, we’ll show you the number of contacts your campaign will be sent to. 

If you wish to schedule the send instead, scroll down to the "Schedule" section of the Campaign Summary page. Click the toggle to set it to the "On" position. Then, use the date and time dropdown fields to schedule your email. When finished, click the "Finish" button.

A new success page will appear for your sent and scheduled campaigns.

Once sent, you can automate the campaign based on customers who have opened your campaign or dive straight into the Campaign Report. Clicking "View Report" will take you to the report for this particular campaign. Clicking “Finish” will return you to the campaign's dashboard. 

Was this article helpful?
42 out of 57 found this helpful

Have more questions? Submit a request

Start free trial