As founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign, I’m delighted to share that we recently reached an incredible milestone: 100,000 ActiveCampaign customers. This comes on the heels of our $100 million Series B funding, as well as the achievement of $100 million annual recurring revenue, which will help us continue to bring Customer Experience Automation (CXA) to those 100k customers and beyond.

As we celebrate these milestones, I want to share how we got here, some stories from our incredible customer community, and what’s next for ActiveCampaign.

Where it all started

I founded ActiveCampaign in 2003, when I moved to Chicago to study fine arts and launched ActiveCampaign. I put my offering online, someone bought it, and I spent the next 3 days figuring out how to actually deliver it to them.

Over the next 10 years, ActiveCampaign grew to have 8 people and 8 products, all focused on the challenges that growing businesses face. That experience helped us get close to small businesses and understand their challenges & needs. It helped us realize that the classical approaches to managing a customer experience were not working. This caused us to work to define the category of Customer Experience Automation, and led us to pivot and launch a new platform in 2016 — a platform that 100,000 businesses now use to create meaningful connections with their customers.

It’s incredible to see how ActiveCampaign’s community has grown since 2003, and I’m pleased to celebrate this milestone with the ActiveCampaign team and our 100,000 customers. It’s amazing to look back and see all we’ve built as a team, the community that has grown around the CXA category, and reflect upon the many milestones we hit along the way.

Reaching 100,000 customers is especially important to me because it’s not just about our success, it’s about the success of our community. As we’ve grown, we’ve seen our customers accomplish some incredible things. Businesses like Morrow Audio have been able to recover revenue by creating new touchpoints with their customers. Soundsnap increased email revenue by 300% by using predictive content to recommend the right product at the right time to the right person. Dalton grew car sales 10x by using CRM to more deeply understand and deliver to customer expectations. When they’ve been able to build more authentic and impactful customer relationships, growing businesses have seen the results.

Today, more than half our customers are from outside the US, operating in 170 countries, served by a global team and a product translated into over 20 languages.

We’ve also been supported by an incredibly innovative group of over 6,000 partners, and have integrations with over 300 businesses, including Shopify, WordPress, Salesforce, ZenDesk, and many other best-in-class solutions.

As we’ve grown, we’ve worked with customers and partners to keep our focus on what growing businesses need. We created the new category of Customer Experience Automation (CXA) — and in every decision focused on how we could do more, and add more value, to our customers.

From 1 to 100,000: What “didn’t scale”

ActiveCampaign has been able to grow to 100,000 customers because we believe in doing things that don’t seem like they would scale. Choosing to find our own path and always operating with a customer first mentality. Any time a customer came to us with a new question, we rushed to find a new answer, even if it led to programs that we weren’t sure would scale in the long term.

It turns out that work that “doesn’t scale” sometimes can scale, or evolve into other work that scales better. When we started offering free strategy sessions — 45-minute calls with every customer — it seemed like an idea that would be impossible to implement. The first members of our sales team did hundreds and hundreds of these calls. It was a lot of work, but having those calls taught us so much about our customers and their pain points, and helped us shape our platform in a way that created real value for real businesses.

Today those calls continue to scale. We have thriving customer success and support teams that we built to make sure our customers could always get the help they needed. Earlier this year, we launched the ActiveCampaign Customer Success Commitment, a collection of 14 promises to our customers, with service as one of the 3 key focus areas.

We still do things that others say won’t scale, because that exploration is how we find the next big answer to our customers’ next big question. Which is why I still read each and every customer NPS survey that comes in, from any one of the 100,000 customers who submit it. I want to make sure I’m not relying upon some summary or report — but truly reading and understanding the tone and direction of our customers’ experience with ActiveCampaign.

What lets us scale the unscalable? As we’ve continued to innovate and build our platform, we’ve discovered ways to automate repeatable areas of the customer experience — and ultimately unlock more time for our teams and better connections with our customers, allowing us to find that ideal blend of automation and personal touch.

It was through this work and work with our customers that we realized current email marketing or marketing automation solutions didn’t solve the real challenges that growing businesses face. That’s why we created a new category: Customer Experience Automation (CXA).

How Customer Experience Automation (CXA) helps our customers grow

We created the new category of Customer Experience Automation (CXA), and in every decision focused on how we could do more, and add more value, to our customers. We especially wanted to focus on doing more than simply providing technology or features, to become true partners — whether through our customer teams or through the guidance, suggestions, and recipes that our platform will surface.

What makes CXA different? The martech landscape has steadily grown since 2003, and today there are thousands of potential technology solutions for growing businesses. At the same time, none of these solutions truly help businesses connect information from multiple sources, organize their audience to personalize their communications, and automate across every step of the customer experience.

Customer Experience Automation (CXA) was born out of that gap — the need to scale personal connections that let businesses of all sizes build valuable, personal relationships with their customers.

Instead of creating another “all-in-one” platform that forces businesses into cookie-cutter tools, we wanted to create a platform that helps businesses answer their own unique needs. Over 70 percent of our customers are connecting ActiveCampaign with multiple tools — and that ability to connect tools in a way that feels native and actionable is what lets people automate across the entire customer experience.

The impact of CXA on growing businesses and communities has been incredible, and I am excited to share just a few of the stories from our customers across the globe.

Koia, a health food organization, uses integration with Google Sheets, Facebook, and ActiveCampaign’s CRM to automate “missions,” individual milestones they track for every customer. Automation has let them run their mission-based community program at scale, even creating secret missions targeted at individual stores.

Chicago Music Exchange, a music equipment retailer, connects Zendesk, Netsuite, Buffer, and ActiveCampaign to better understand their customers. Musicians are an extremely diverse audience, and different musicians (even those that play the same instrument) have varying equipment needs based on genre and other factors. Organizing customer info in one place has helped Chicago Music Exchange serve each customer with what they want.

Whole30, a health organization, uses Customer Experience Automation to help bring new people into the Whole30 community. They use automation, segmentation, and an integration with Facebook to connect people across platforms and share information they uniquely care about — at every stage of the customer relationship.

Escape Campervans, a campervan rental company, automates across ActiveCampaign, Facebook, Segment, Typeform, Zapier, and physical postcards — all so that they can stay in touch at every stage of the customer experience. From pre-booking to pre-vacation to booking and after the trip, Escape Campervans uses every touchpoint they can to make sure their customers have a great vacation.

Code Camp, an Australian company that teaches over 90k children how to be creative with technology, uses ActiveCampaign to engage its students while they are on and off platform. CXA enabled Code Camp to engage more personally with students throughout their learning process, leveraging a deeper knowledge of their skills, preferences, and prior classes or camps attended.

Customer Experience Automation is the next step in helping growing businesses build meaningful connections with their customers, and it’s one reason that it’s incredible to reach this milestone — 100,000 businesses using ActiveCampaign, and CXA.

Thank you for growing with us

I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported us on our journey to 100,000 customers.

Our customers, partners, and employees have all played a huge role in our growth. I’m proud to work with a team that is, above all else, passionate about helping our customers grow. That same passion will help us continue to scale and succeed — and help our customers and partners do the same.

When I think about the people we serve, I think about the authenticity, passion, and dedication to customers that make small companies great. That’s what I, and all of us at ActiveCampaign, are building towards. Thank you for everything.