4 min read

My ActiveCampaign Implementation Checklist (And Swipe File)

My ActiveCampaign Implementation Checklist (And Swipe File)

Building out a new ActiveCampaign CRM setup or migrating to ActiveCampaign? These are the major steps I go through in setting up a new AC system.

Here’s the ActiveCampaign implementation process:

  1. Configure site tracking.
  2. Setup your custom fields and tags.
  3. Create and import your contact lists.
  4. Create your segments.
  5. Set up your automations (and road test them).
  6. Create reusable email templates.
  7. Add your integrations.

1. Configure Site Tracking

Take the ActiveCampaign site tracking script and add it to your website. I like to use Google Tag Manager (GTM). This is important for pulling in website use data for contacts.

  • Go to Settings > Tracking.
  • Check the Enable Tracking toggle button.
  • Add your website in the whitelisted URLs box, click the blue Add button.
  • Copy and paste the tracking script into your Google Tag Manager or website below the /body.

You may want to get into event tracking here which is a more advanced task.

2. Setup Custom Fields and Tags

In my opinion, the difference between tags and fields is that fields are elements of contact information that you will need to decide for every contact.

For example, you want custom fields for City, because that information is required for all contacts.

Tags are for everything else, which are temporary or custom in nature.

For example, you might want a tag for key campaigns.

To create fields, go to Settings > Manage Fields.

Be careful when creating fields as you can’t change the TYPE of field it is after you’ve made it.

Tags can be created in a big list under Contacts > Manage Tags.

I used to have a few tags I liked based on categories:

  • Industry tags (e.g. tech, manufacturing, legal, financial, etc)
  • Lead status tags (e.g. prospect, lead, someday, opportunity, client, past client, other)
  • Customer journey (e.g. awareness, consideration, decision)

3. Create & Import Lists

Note: This comes after you have decided tags and custom fields because you want that data labeled properly for when you import your spreadsheets.

ActiveCampaign has some unique preferences when it comes to making lists. I run with their idea of using just a few lists to hold contacts, then segment from there rather than having multiple lists to segment.

Two basic lists you could add are all subscribers and the client database.

To import contacts, go to Contacts > Import (top-right-hand corner).

When you import contacts, ActiveCampaign attaches information to email addresses. So if you want to fix information or add batches of information afterward, delete all the information other than the email and column of info you want to update, and re-import.

4. Create Segments

With the lists created, and the tags in place, you can now create your fancy segments.

Segments are controlled in a strange position in AC, you have to go to Lists > Dropdown > Segments.

5. Setup Automations

Automations are a key differentiator of ActiveCampaign.

Hopefully, you have these mapped out in your previous platform and you can attempt to re-install the logic for each automation on AC.

This would be for both your marketing and sales pipeline automations. AC doesn’t have automation functionality created at the pipeline level.

You will also want to think through the follow up / auto responders you have in place. Do they run off a tag? If so, now’s the time to set that up.

For each automation, run a test to make sure the logic is working correctly.

Personally, I like to label automations with Trigger > Action as the name. For example, “Website Enquiry > Add to X List” so it is easier to see what each automation does in the future.

6. Create Email Templates

Now is a good time to also create the templates and emails you will be using to power both automated auto-responders and your general email campaigns.

Be sure to create them in the email template section so that you can easily reuse them.

Go to Campaigns > Manage Templates > Create a Template.

Hint: The user who created the template will be put as the ‘sender’ by default, so check that you have this modified before you send out campaigns.

7. Connect Existing CTAs, Forms and Lead Magnets

Back on your existing website, there are CTAs and auto responders waiting to be pulled into ActiveCampaign.

You can either integrate with your existing website using the native integrations or by using ActiveCampaign's forms.

  • The native integrations with your website will depend on your CMS or plugins used. You can find guides for Elementor, Ghost and Webflow.
  • For forms, go to Site > Forms > Create a Form.
  • You will be given an embed code that you can use to place your form.
Don't forget to set up and test the tag automations you configured in the previous step.

8. Build Integrations

Building out the integrations is one of the most fun parts of the setup process. Head over to applications and start adding your favorites. Useful integrations will likely include:

  • Calendly
  • Databox
  • Zapier
  • WordPress
  • ConvertFlow
  • Bonjoro
  • etc


Whilst every implementor is likely to have their own approach to setting up a fresh ActiveCampaign system, I have tried to order the steps in the most logical fashion. Hopefully, you can avoid any frustrating backtracking and get going as fast as possible.