Do you run a creative business and have wondered which email marketing platform to use? There are so many different tools that can help you grow, manage and nurture your email list.
In this post, I want to cover two popular email marketing platforms, Flodesk vs Convertkit, as they both have their own unique benefits for creative businesses.
Whether you are new to email marketing or you are an experienced pro. Owning the communication you have with your audience is important for your creative business.
So I want first to discuss what email marketing is.
What Are Email Marketing Service Providers?
Email marketing service providers or ESPs are SaaS companies that allow their customers to control access to their audience by creating a way for people to directly communicate with those who want to hear more from them.
The pro is that we have direct access to our audience’s email addresses, unlike on social media. When can reach more of our audience directly without worry that an algorithm is going to intercept communication. We can feel more confident that we own more of our business.
Both Flodesk and ConvertKit give users more control of their relationships. Here are some insights about each company.
Flodesk, a newer company founded in 2019, is an email marketing and commerce ESP (email service provider) that allows you to create editorial-style emails that you can send to your audience.
ConvertKit, founded in 2013, is a well-established ESP (email service provider) that focuses on helping creatives communicate with their audience and sell their products.
Now that you know a bit about each company, let’s see how they compare when it comes to running a creative business.
When you want to see an overview of your account, dashboards are a great way to see how your list growth or emails are performing. Flodesk and ConvertKit both approach dashboards differently.
Flodesk doesn’t really have a dashboard. When you log into your account, you actually see any previous emails you may have sent to your audience or email drafts you started.
Dashboards in ConvertKit are more informative because they show you useful data about your list growth. Any revenue you made (this is pulled in from integrations with other tools, which I’ll discuss later). Along with information about your subscriber’s engagement rates, etc.
ConvertKit wins in this category because it gives you more useful details about your list that you can see upfront. In flodesk, you can click each email you sent to see their individual performance, which can be time-consuming if you need to collect data.
Organizing people that come onto your email list is important in not only helping you to stay organized but also making sure your audience receives the information they want. Flodesk and ConvertKit approach subscriber management differently. Here are some noticeable differences.
Flodesk Subscriber Management
After you’ve clicked Subscribers at the top of your Flodesk account, you’ll see a list of your subscribers, both active, inactive, and unsubscribes.
You’ll also see a tab for Customers & Segments. I’ll cover each of those later in this post.
In Flodesk, you have a few subscriber types.
Subscribers who have confirmed to be on your list.
Subscribers who you’ve sent emails but whose server isn’t letting their email through on their end.
Subscribers who have decided to leave your list.
Subscribers who have marked your emails spam.
ConvertKit Subscriber Management
In ConvertKit, you’ll click Grow at the top of your account to see more information about your subscribers and then click Subscribers.
Here you’ll see a performance chart of how many new subscribers and unsubscribers you’ve had over a period of time. Below, you’ll see a list of your subscribers called Confirmed Subscribers. You can see other lists that contain information about your subscribers using the drop-down.
What I like about ConvertKit is that your subscribers are easily separated, and if you want to see all your subscribers regardless of their status, you can select All Subscribers.
Here are some more insights about the different types of subscribers in Convertkit.
These are subscribers who confirmed their subscription via the incentive email if double opt-in was enabled or were automatically confirmed upon signup if double opt-in was disabled.
If a subscriber has the status of ‘Unconfirmed’, it means they signed up to a form or landing page that had double opt-in enabled but never confirmed their subscription.
Subscribers that cancel are those who have unsubscribed from your list. But you will still have any historical data about them in your account.
If a subscriber is marked as ‘Complained,’ it means they reported your email as spam. They are then unsubscribed from your email list.
If a subscriber has the ‘Bounced’ status, it means there was a hard bounce on an email we attempted to send to them.
Cold subscribers are those who’ve been on your email list but haven’t been actively engaging with your content.
ConvertKit wins here due to how they organize your subscriber information. In Flodesk, when you see all the subscribers in your account, it’s easy to think your list is larger than it really is. Plus, several Flodesk users have sent emails out thinking they had 6000 subscribers, but it only went to 4000 because all the subscribers they saw on their list weren’t active.
Segmenting your email list is a great way to personalize who gets information. This is especially true if you have an audience on your list that would benefit from different information.
For example, if you are a designer, you’ll want to segment potential clients from fellow creatives if you market to both audiences.
That way, your potential clients aren’t receiving information they can’t relate to.
Segmentation in Flodesk
Under the Audience tab in Flodesk is where you’ll find your Segments.
Here is where you can create new segments that you can use to organize your subscribers.
For example, if you offer a free download on your website in exchange for an email address. You would create a segment for that freebie and then connect this segment to your Flodesk form. So anyone who enters their email address in that form will get added to that specific segment.
Segmentation In ConvertKit
In ConvertKit, you can segment your list by using Tags. Then use Segments to organize your tags into larger groups.
Tags are not only unique identifiers about your audience, but they also play an important role in your automations.
For example, you can use tags to move and add subscribers to different automation based on their behaviors.
Let’s say you have an upcoming webinar or workshop and want to invite those on your list to sign up. Instead of sending them to a landing page where they have to re-enter their name and email address. You can create a special tag (connected to a link) in ConvertKit that they can click on inside an email that will automatically add them to the event.
That is just one example of how you can use tags within ConvertKit.
When it comes to segmentation in Flodesk vs ConvertKit, it depends on your business needs if you have courses, digital products, etc, in your business. Then I think ConvertKit does a better job at segmentation than Flodesk. If you have more simple needs, then Flodesk should give you what you need to manage your list.
With email marketing, forms are going to be important to help get people onto your email list. They are an easy way to invite others to subscribe to your newsletter or download a freebie or guide. So let’s take a look at forms in Flodesk & ConvertKit.
Forms In Flodesk
One of the reasons you may have found yourself eyeing Flodesk is the beautiful designs. Flodesk forms are beautiful and come in a variety of options. The great thing about Flodesk forms is that you can easily edit them to match your brand closely. They offer a variety of typography options, and they allow you to upload your brand photography easily.
You can also add custom fields to get to know your subscribers more, such as their birthdates, etc.
A con with Flodesk forms is that you can’t add your own custom fonts. So you’ll have to look through what is available and closely match the available options to your brand. There are plenty of options so most likely you’ll find something you’ll like.
Forms In ConvertKit
ConvertKit forms are pretty simple and definitely aren’t as beautiful as Flodesk. So you may find yourself not impressed with the available options. But you are able to add custom fonts & customize your forms if you know how to use CSS.
This will help you to break away from the standard look of the forms.
When it comes to forms, I’m going to have to give this one to Flodesk. Even though you can’t add custom fonts to their forms, they are beautiful and easy to create.
Email templates are essential in helping you quickly write an email to your audience. Both platforms allow you to create templates that you can reuse over and over without recreating them.
Email Templates In Flodesk
Flodesk email templates are beautifully designed. They have an editorial aesthetic that many creatives flock to, which can be a nice break from emails that are primarily texted based.
In order for Flodesk to make these beautiful layouts available, their system allows users to edit certain layout features when they create their emails. Then once the email is sent out, those special layouts are converted into images.
The con to this is that some email providers, such as Google, Outlook, etc., may not make those beautiful images available to the recipient. So keep that in mind if you are sending emails that are image-heavy.
Email Templates in ConvertKit
ConvertKit advocates simple emails, as they have studied email deliverability over the years. Deliverability is the percentage of emails that actually make it to your inbox instead of the spam or promotions folders.
Just recently, ConvertKit has introduced more design options for their emails that allow their users to have more than just a text-based email. Which is nice, but they aren’t as beautiful as Flodesk.
You can get around this if again, you know how to code. With code, you can create a custom email template in ConvertKit using HTML, CSS & liquid.
But if you aren’t code-savvy or just don’t want to deal with that, you may find yourself frustrated with ConvertKit’s native email templates.
While ConvertKit is making continuous improvements to its email templates. They still aren’t on par with Flodesk if you want an editorial-styled layout. If you want to custom code your email templates (like I do), then ConvertKit may be fine.
If you want to save more time in your business. Automations are what you need; it’s like having 24/7 employees who know how to do their job consistently. As you know, running a creative business has so many moving parts. Here are what automations look like in each platform.
Workflows In Flodesk
In Flodesk, automations are mainly workflows that start when you let the system know what you want to happen.
For example, you can set up a simple workflow in Flodesk that sends a digital download.
Or you can have a more advanced workflow that sends subscribers a digital download. Then after 1 day, adds them to your welcome series, then to your regular newsletter.
Automations In ConvertKit
ConvertKit automations are definitely way more robust, and they also can be shared with others (a nice bonus). ConvertKit has what is called visual automations that allows you to get into a granular level of how you want your subscribers to engage with your business.
You can have a simple automation where when a subscriber signs up via your form. Then they get added to your welcome series automation. Or you can have a more advanced automation where if a subscriber purchases a digital product, they then get added to a special list.
ConvertKit is the winner here if you need more advanced automations. They have had the time and experience to really build out this feature to serve their customers better. Flodesk isn’t completely out if you have simple automation needs.
There are so many tools in the market that do excellent things, and sometimes we need them to work with our other tools. This is where integrations are important. Not only do they help us save time, but they make running our business easier.
Integrations In Flodesk
Flodesk doesn’t have a lot of integrations at the moment. Currently, Flodesk integrates with Zapier and Shopify, and both have their limitations. There is also no open API currently with Flodesk that will allow you to create your own integrations.
Integrations In ConvertKit
ConvertKit has a ton of integrations not only with Zapier but other tools, such as Teachable (which is great if you sell courses). Plus, hundreds of others so you can easily pull data into your ConvertKit account.
ConvertKit also offers an accessible API that you can use to create more integrations that fit your business needs.
ConvertKit is the clear winner here, as the integrations will save you time and allow you to make business decisions from your account.
If you offer digital products like templates, guides, etc. You may be using other tools to deliver them after someone pays. Both ConvertKit & Flodesk offer a way for you to earn money from your audience through digital product sales.
Digital Products In Flodesk
This is actually a new feature from Flodesk, and it’s called Checkouts. Flodesk Checkouts lets you create a beautiful landing page, accept payments via a Stripe integration and deliver your downloads. The people purchasing from you will then be added to a Customer section under your audience tab. This is perfect if you have just a couple of digital products or even webinars you want to sell but don’t want to invest in something like Thrivecart. The standard process fee is 3% + $0.30 USD per transaction.
Digital Products In ConvertKit
In ConvertKit, you can also sell a digital product via ConvertKit Commerce. You can build a simple page and edit your checkout & confirmation pages. ConvertKit also has an integration with Stripe as well, and the setup is easy. The standard processing fee per transaction
3.5% + $0.30 USD.
When it comes to selling digital products, I think both platforms are pretty similar. They aren’t really meant to be commerce companies, and so they do lack certain capabilities. Flodesk is of course, the prettiest, and ConvertKit seems pretty solid. One con at the moment with Flodesk checkout is that you can’t customize the URL link, and you may end up with some weird URL that is not on brand. For now, I recommend you use a bit.ly link (to mask your URL) until Flodesk allows you to customize the URL in Checkouts.
It’s important to take into consideration your budget and, of course, your stage of business. Each of these platforms approaches pricing differently.
How Much Does Flodesk Cost?
Flodesk is $38/mo for unlimited subscribers, and you can add Checkouts for an additional $38/mo if you plan to sell digital products or want to productize your services. With my code, you can save 50% off your first year and get a 30-day free trial.
How Much Does ConvertKit Cost?
ConvertKit actually offers a limited free account with up to 1000 subscribers. The con is that you don’t get any automations. So if you want automations ConvertKit’s pricing starts at $15/mo for up to 300 subscribers and then increases based on how many subscribers you have. So the larger your list, the more you’ll pay. You can start a free ConvertKit account here with a trial if you want to explore ConvertKit.
When it comes to pricing, I will have to give it to Flodesk. Not being charged extra money for the size of your list can save you thousands. But I don’t think ConvertKit is completely off the table, regardless of pricing. I think you just need to make sure you are able to generate revenue from your email list to offset the cost. If you can, you’ll get access to more data and features in ConvertKit.
Flodesk vs ConvertKit: Which Is Best For Creatives?
Ultimately, I think it depends on your business needs. If you are prioritizing email marketing in your business and find that you need more access to data and integrations. Then you may find that ConvertKit is what you need.
If you aren’t really utilizing email marketing or have very simple needs, then I think Flodesk is a better option, as it will save you money but still allow you to communicate with your audience.
Also, it’s totally fine to start off simple and then move toward something more advanced like ConvertKit as you develop your email marketing strategy.
Are you ready to get your email marketing in place? Then sign up for either one of these platforms to get started.