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81. Flodesk for eCommerce: Should You Use it and if Not How Can You Have Pretty Emails too?

Got that pretty email FOMO but not sure whether Flodesk is right for your eCommerce business? You’re not alone. It’s a question I get asked a lot and with Flodesk coming out of beta and raising their prices in a few short weeks, now is the perfect time to figure out whether you should jump on the bandwagon. 

I’m also talking about how you can create your very own pretty emails in whatever email marketing platform you’re using in your business. 

What You’ll Learn

  • Whether I recommend Flodesk for eCommerce businesses and how it compares to other platforms like Klaviyo
  • How you can create pretty emails like the ones in Flodesk in another email marketing platform 
  • The #1 problem with the Flodesk email builder and why it goes against traditional email marketing best practices 

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Read the Full Episode Transcript

Today’s episode is in direct response to your request and the questions I get about whether or not you should use Flodesk in your business. 

If you’re a more advanced eCommerce business already using a more sophisticated tool, you can definitely skip this episode, but if you have the same pretty email FOMO that I have, keep listening because I’m going to talk about how you can create a similar feel in whatever platform you’re using. 

I’ve had this episode on my to-record list for a while, but with the recent announcement that Flodesk is coming out of Beta and that their $38/month price, or $19 with an affiliate link no matter the number of subscribers, is going away… I knew this had to become a priority. 

Now, let’s say you get to the end of this episode and you think yes, I still want to use Flodesk or you think shit I just want to lock in the price so as it grows I can make the switch later, which spoiler alert I might do, you can lock in that rate with my referral link

And yes, you can totes still lock in the rate with a code they offer directly on their website, but I’d so appreciate it if you used my link to help support the eCommerce Badassery podcast. 

Before we get into everything, let me preface this by saying if you’re newer to eCommerce or email marketing, the BEST email platform is the one that you will consistently send emails from. If you’re struggling to stay consistent or are overwhelmed at the idea of using something other than Flodesk and think you won’t send emails, then by all means go with it for now and upgrade later. 

Do you recommend Flodesk for eCommerce?

This is the number one question I get and generally my answer is going to be no. The reason for that is that compared to other platforms available to you, Flodesk just does not have the sophistication or flexibility that other platforms built specifically for eCommerce have. Not only have they not built the features in but the integration with Shopify does little more than bring over your customers as subscribers, so it doesn’t have visibility into anything else in your shop or your customer’s behavior on the site.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick to Klaviyo as the comparison, but in the case of most eCommerce focused email platforms, these discrepancies will be the same. 

Things Klaviyo has that Flodesk does not

Built-in product catalog

When you use a tool like Klaviyo, the integration between Shopify and Klaviyo brings in the entire product catalog so that you can easily feature them in your emails. They even have their own product recommendation engine that will show customers products they are most likely to purchase based on all the data Klaviyo has about them, which includes every purchase they’ve made and the products they’ve viewed.

Automatic abandoned checkout emails (at least not without Zapier)

Because the integration between Shopify and Flodesk doesn’t pull in your customer’s behavior, they can’t see when someone abandons the checkout process. Sure, you can send an email from Shopify itself, but you can only send one, and customizing the content in that email is a pain in the ass. 

This integration limitation also means you can’t run a browse abandonment email either, which my clients will tell you is a pretty good moneymaker! 

Limited first-party data 

Another limitation of Flodesk is the amount of first-party data you can collect on your customers. They did just recently add the ability for you to collect custom fields on your sign-up forms for your subscribers, but you’re limited to 6 fields and can only collect text data. 

Klaviyo, on the other hand, lets you have unlimited custom properties and the data can be formatted as text fields, date fields, list fields, true/false fields, or a number.

When it comes to collecting first-party data on your customers and using it in your email marketing on Klaviyo, you’re truly only limited by imagination. Once you collect these properties, you can use them for segmentation, to split your flows and send different emails, you can show them different content in the same email with dynamic blocks, and you can even display the value of those emails inside your emails.

For instance, you can collect someone’s birthday, and then trigger an automated email based on that date each year. 

You can integrate your loyalty and rewards program with Klaviyo and store their current rewards points that you then dynamically display in your emails to them. 

If you sell beauty or skincare products, you can collect data about their skin struggles, skin tone, or even their hair color if you want to recommend products that would work specifically for them. 

Also, thanks to the deep integration with Shopify and the dynamic content feature of Klaviyo in your post-purchase emails, you can show the user different email content based on what they purchased in that exact event. 

So if they purchased product A, you can give them some education or details about product A specifically and then if they bought product B, in that same exact email, you don’t have to do any fancy splits or anything like that, you can show them content specifically about product B.

The problem with the Flodesk email builder

We all have FOMO over how Flodesk emails look, and I get it! I have FOMO about it too and I’m constantly keeping up with what’s going on with Flodesk and the new features they’re releasing to see if it would work for my business or for you.

Here’s the thing you need to know and understand about their email builder. The reason they can send such pretty emails is that after you create those pretty layouts and use all those pretty custom fonts, when the email gets sent, those sections get converted into an image. 

The problem is that email clients like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. can’t read all those custom fonts. I mean, the Gmail app can’t even read Google fonts that get imported into emails, and they’re their own fonts! The Apple mail app is better at this but despite that, it’s not reliable across email clients, so Flodesk turns those sections into images. In fact, anything other than a text block becomes an image block. 

Traditionally, email best practices say to limit the number of photos you have in your emails, while Flodesk says that is old school thinking and no longer the case in their research. I can’t say what’s true one way or another, but the one thing that is true is that if an image breaks, or a user doesn’t have their images turned on, and you have an email full of photos, they will not see anything. 

The other day, someone posted in their Facebook group about how their emails were coming up blank. It was missing the option to show all images and they didn’t understand what was going on. There were also many people complaining that their emails were going to spam. Landing in spam is likely due to shitty sending practices on their part, not limited to image-heavy emails on their own, but it’s still something to be aware of. 

How can I make my emails as pretty as Flodesk emails on another platform?

The first part of this answer is to be patient. You can create pretty emails on other platforms, even Klaviyo. It just may take a little more time, patience, and finesse to work with their email builder. 

Start with one of their themed templates

I usually start with vision & blues, and then take a little time to get comfortable with all the different styling settings for each individual block. Then when you have a block that you like, save it so you can easily drag it into new emails. 

Add CSS code to your email template 

Adding CSS code will style the entire email. For instance, one thing I noticed that adds to the beauty of Flodesk emails is that their text blocks have a line space of 180% vs. the 150% that you get preset with Klaviyo. So I’ve used a little CSS at the top of the emails to set the spacing at 180%. 

Create your own images with custom text and/or pretty header layouts 

If you’re on my email list, you have likely seen this in action. I often use photos as headings so that I can use the exact font that I want, which is exactly what Flodesk does. 

There are a few ways you can do that. One is within Flodesk itself. Annnd, that’s actually how I do it. I create what I want to create inside Flodesk, and then take a screenshot which I upload to my other email platform. The caveat here though is if it’s animated you’ll lose the animation. If you want to get the gif version of the file, you’ll need to send yourself a test email, but that requires a paid plan. 

Then the question becomes, how important are those specific layouts to you? 

If you really love the ease with which you can add content, then maybe you consider the monthly expense of $19 while still in beta the same as paying for Canva, for example. Or, if you have a few more design chops, you can recreate the layouts with Canva and make your images there. 

Ultimately though, whichever route you go, you’ll want to make sure that you still try to keep a ratio of 80/20 text to images, because old school or not, deliverability hit or not, you don’t want your people getting blank emails. Real text inside the email is going to respond so much better on mobile phones where the majority of your audience is reading your content anyway. 

The importance of email responsiveness 

Email responsiveness is another reason why using actual design blocks inside your email service provider vs. images is better. If you have a horizontal layout block with images on one side and text on the other, for example, when that layout gets turned into an image with Flodesk, it can become pretty small on a mobile device. When you create it with a split box in Klaviyo it may not be as perfectly pretty as the Flodesk version, but the two blocks will stack, making it much easier to see and read on a small mobile screen. 

With all that said… is Flodesk good for eCommerce? 

As I mentioned earlier, typically I will say no. It’s just lacking in flexibility that is needed to provide a great customer journey for eCommerce customers. 

If however, you are newer to business, don’t plan on doing anything fancy, and just need a way to send out a weekly email to your people, if this is a hobby biz, or it’s the difference between sending an email or not sending an email, then yes it might be perfect for you. 

Also, if you’re not an eCommerce business, but a service provider or if you sell info products, then there is a higher chance that Flodesk might be a great fit for you. It’s still lacking in some features that I would like to have which is why I haven’t made the switch even for my service-based business, but I am probably going to lock in the beta price just in case they suddenly come out with a kick-ass set of features that meets all the needs I want. 

If you want to lock in the beta price of $19 a month, no matter how large your subscriber list gets, then sign up here.

You have until November 2nd, 2021 to lock in that price. You can still get that price on their website and bypass my link altogether, but if you’re so inclined, I’d love the support as it helps me continue to put out kick-ass free content each week here on the show!

I hope I helped you get some clarity around whether or not Flodesk is right for you and your eCommerce business. I’d love to know: Where was your head about Flodesk before reading this blog post and where is it now? Please come to the eCommerce Badassery Facebook Group or over to Instagram and let me know. 

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This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase with one of my affiliate links I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you!

Hey, I’m Jessica!

eCommerce + email Marketing Strategist

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. Learning from the top experts in the digital marketing & eCommerce industry she loves working with female entrepreneurs and teaching the secrets of 7-figure eCommerce businesses.

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