I recently held a Q+A call with the students of my Square Secrets course and the most popular question this month was:
“Would you recommend ConvertKit or Flodesk for someone just getting started in business?”
Which I totally get!
When you signed up to run your own business, you may have dreamed of being the one calling all the shots, buttt having someone around giving experienced advice and telling you what to do actually also sounds pretty dang good sometimes too, right?
So if you’re currently weighing the pros and cons of the different email marketing softwares, I just want to say I commend you!
It’s a massive hassle to have to migrate all those subscribers, sequences, workflows, and freebies down the road, so you want to make sure you are picking the right tool for yourself the first time!
There are so many softwares to choose from, and if we’re being totally honest (and we are, because we’re friends) sometimes people use these big decisions as an excuse to not ever get started.
But not you!
You’re here to find answers and to make a decision once and for all so you can move on to more important things that actually move the needle in your biz!
ConvertKit has been around these parts since 2013, so you can bet they have the leg up when it comes to market research, as well as a massive team to back them up and help them constantly roll out new features.
Flodesk may still be in its beta stages as of writing this post, but it has caught on pretty darn quick, and many online business owners are falling head over heels, wasting zero time in diving right in with this newish company (and did I mention it’s a female-owned software company? Right on, ladies!)
And now for the disclaimer bit:
I personally use and love ConvertKit (that’s an affiliate link!) but that doesn’t make it “better” or exactly right for everyone’s unique biz.
I’m alllll for trying new software that can get the job done, especially at a lower price-point (spoiler alert: Flodesk is more affordable in the long run).
So with that in mind, I’ll try to be super unbiased as I share the pros and cons of each so that you get a real feel for which will serve you best where you’re at now, as well as in the future when your business starts reaching mega-level success.
Check and check! ✅
Both companies offer free trials of their software, though Flodesk (that’s an affiliate link too, btw!) is a tad more generous in this area, letting you test out their product for a full 30 days before making your decision to either upgrade, or move on.
ConvertKit offers just 14 days to get in there and get your hands dirty before having to make the call.
Yup! Those are affiliate links! If you make a purchase through any of the links in this post, I’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Myself and my margarita fund thank you kindly!
When it comes to growing your business, figuring out ways to run this show on a budget can start to feel like a second full-time job.
It can even be the straw that broke the camel’s back when deciding which tools you will sign up for, and which you will limp along without.
Flodesk makes this a non-issue. (So go ahead, girl. Treat yo self.)
At just $39/month, your cost to use Flodesk does not change based on the number of subscribers you have, so you don’t have to worry about being forced to make the huge jump up to some crazy-expensive “pro” plan the moment you start experiencing the tiniest bit of growth in your biz.
ConvertKit, on the other hand, does have tiers. And while I will happily continue to pay for all of their uber-handy, super robust features, I will admit that watching the cost of my subscription increase as my business grows hurts the inner thrifty gal in me.
BUT, there’s a spot of good news, and that is that one of those ConvertKit tiers or pricing plans is actually free (like, zero gimics or “gotchas” kind of free), and you can continue to use it up to 1,000 subscribers.
You won’t get access to all the paid features like (reporting and email sequences to name a few), but you’ll be well on your way to building your list and nurturing them with helpful content.
Here’s what you can expect price-wise as you move up the ConvertKit email marketing chain:
1,000 subscribers – free
up to 3,000 subscribers – $29/month
up to 5,000 subscribers – $49/month
5,000+ subscribers – $79/ month
So let’s say you just started your email list yesterday with 0 subscribers. Flodesk will be more expensive now, but at the point you hit 5,000 subscribers, ConvertKit will be more expensive.
Flodesk has a superrr minimal design, and they honestly do a much greater amount of hand-holding for users who have just signed up and are new to their platform.
They are constantly asking you questions and including helpful prompts to assist you in making the right decisions about your settings, making it pretty dang ideal for the beginner.
But the pagination-style navigation (having to click “next” or “back”) does make it a tad less efficient for those who are already know the software and just want quick and easy access to all the settings they already know their preference for.
ConvertKit on the other hand does have a bit of a learning curve, but if you’re a bigger biz, sending out more than just a handful of emails a month, managing a bajillion subscribers, there’s really no way to ever outgrow it.
And while they have a lot more going on in their main navigation (read: it’s not as clean and sexy as Flodesk) everything you need is quickly and easily accessed from every page.
Overall rating for ease of getting started
Since we all have a slightly different idea of what tagging and segmenting looks like based on what we do in our biz, for the purpose of this blogpost, let me lay out a quick example to define what I mean by each:
Tagging: The most specific way to narrow down exactly who a subscriber is to your biz, or how they ended up on your list. For example, when a student enrolls in one of my online courses they are automatically tagged with the course name and date of enrollment. (ie. Student: Square Secrets August 2020)
Segmenting: The more general categories that help you identify how a person interacts with your business or the type of content they might be interested in. For example, that same student I just tagged might also be added to my general “All Square Secrets students” segment, so that I know to include them in course update announcement emails in the future!
So with that in mind, here’s what you need to know about how each software stacks up…
In ConvertKit you have the ability to tag AND segment your list, and can be added manually, or automatically through the use of ConvertKit automations and rules to quickly organize and compartmentalize your subscriber list.
Flodesk wanted to simplify things by doing away with that second, broader category capability, encouraging users to use filters to narrow down their audiences by things like date and behaviors instead.
It could 100% be that I’m just not used to the way things are done in Flodesk, but I did feel a little limited by not having two super obvious and infinitely customizable ways to organize and identify subscribers like I’m used to!
If you’re sitting there thinking “well I don’t have a course so I don’t need the tagging/segmenting feature” think again!
Tagging and segmenting lets you organize and understand your subscribers and this information is nothing short of pure gold.
Say you create a freebie that helps people mad-libs style write their about pages.
That person is clearly interested in help with copywriting. You can then tag all subscribers who subscribe to that freebie as ‘Interested: Copywriting’.
When you suddenly have an open spot in your client calendar you can email all the people on your list who are tagged with that ‘Interested: Copywriting’ tag and pitch them on your copywriting services.
Or maybe one day down the line you create a product in your digital shop with copywriting templates, then you’ll want to notify everyone with that tag ‘Interested: Copywriting’ of that new product.
By tagging and sending emails to only those interested in specific topics and offers, you’re not annoying subscribers who signed up to your list for some other reason.
Basically, tagging will help keep your unsubscribe rate low!
Suggested reading: How to correctly tag your subscribers in ConvertKit
Overall rating for tagging & segmenting
Anything that can help you automate the steps it takes to do a thing in your business is in my good books!
No matter how much you love your biz, you cannot be at it’s beck and call 24/7 365 days a year (remember: the reason you started this thing in the first place was to create more freedom, not less!) so the more tasks you can hand off to the tiny email marketing robots, the happier both you and your subscribers will be.
Automations can be used to send out email sequences, deliver thank you emails and freebies, share special offers with new subscribers, and automatically tag and segment your list as they sign up.
Both of these softwares have a visual automation builder where you can go in and drag and drop the steps you want to happen as soon as a person sets off a trigger you’ve told your email marketing software to watch for (ie. a person signs up for your freebie).
From the moment a person subscribes, to the thank you email they get for *hopefully* buying your thing or booking your services later on in their subscriber journey, pretty much everything in between can be automated to your liking.
I really didn’t feel that one software outdid the other in terms of available features here.
What it really came down to for me was navigation. Overall, the settings seemed to be more readily available for tweaking in ConvertKit, even if the automation builder wasn’t all that inspiring to look at.
ConvertKit also has a “rules” tab so you can quickly see all the automations in the form of a super efficient text based list (boring I know, but having it all in one place helps you to visualize your email marketing strategy as a whole, so that you aren’t accidentally sending someone your welcome email for the fifth time.)
Suggested reading: How to use ConvertKit and Squarespace to send opt-in gifts
Overall rating for automations & workflows
This may be one area where ConvertKit wins out simply due to having been around longer, and therefore have more information available to them.
Developing analytics and reporting no doubt takes a lot of time, which is why a baby business like Flodesk mayyy not have it all to offer just yet. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t quietly brewing these up on a back-burner somewhere while they grow their biz and develop their product.
In the meantime, if you’re a small-business yourself, you may not find the need for more than the basic subscriber analytics already available to you in Flodesk.
Overall, ConvertKit’s offerings are still bit more robust when you go to place a subscriber under a microscope. You can see which emails were sent, which automations were triggered by that subscriber, any sequences they are in, purchases made, tags and segments they have been added to, and even when certain offers are set to expire for that subscriber based on how and when they opted in.
All from the same screen, to boot!
I’ve always loved ConvertKit’s easy to read email performance reports and the valuable insights they provide for what seems to be working and what could be causing your emails to flop.
So I was genuinely surprised to see just how in-depth Flodesk’s email performance indicators already are!
number of clicks on each link
But they also also tacked on a few extra interesting stats ConvertKit doesn’t like:
subscribers who marked that email as spam
device data (a.k.a how people are viewing your email)
Pretty useful stuff, right? So, while Flodesk may not be 100% finished adding all their reporting and analytics features into the mix, they seem to have everything a small business would need (and more!)
Speaking of email performance, we probably oughta touch on deliverability, too.
A.K.A. how often your email is actually ending up where it needs to go, and not in someone’s spam or promotions folder.
Some people just don’t want yet another person landing in their inbox each week, and rather than take a second to unsubscribe after grabbing your freebie, they will sadly mark you as spam which can hurt your deliverability.
Thankfully, both ConvertKit and Flodesk have your back, because they will automatically unsubscribe a person from your list if they mark your email as spam.
But ConvertKit takes it a step further and labels them as “complained” allowing you to view when they subscribed, when they complained etc. so you can try to troubleshoot or spot any trends for why this keeps happening to you!
Having a subscriber mark your email as “spam” isn’t the only way to wind up in the inbox dog house though!
The email server bots are looking at quite a few factors, from engagement levels (do people ever hit reply?), to open rates, to click rates, to how many images you have vs. text or seemingly useful content.
For a long time now, it has been considered best practice to make your emails more plain text-based (more on the ‘why’ behind this later in the post) and being so new, there’s not a tonne of info available out there on how Flodesk’s visually focused emails fare in terms of deliverability.
That being said, if it turned out that the old adage remains true and that plain text really is best, there’s really no reason you couldn’t use Flodesk to start sending out more text-based emails too. ♀️
So testing both platforms and comparing your own numbers might make more sense, as those will be the real markers of success, rather than someone else’s numbers!
P.S. Want to stop new subscribers from dropping like flies or constantly marking you as spam?
Cohesive branding and a solid welcome sequence will make it so people don’t forget who the heck you are and why you are suddenly in their inbox if it’s been a few weeks since they signed up for your freebie.
Cold subscribers are the people who at one time opted in to your list, but haven’t so much as glanced at your most content for a while now.
So unless you like the sound of crickets in your inbox, it’s probably best to clean up your list and remove cold subscribers from time to time.
ConvertKit automatically segments out your cold subscribers for you making it super easy to either delete them in bulk with one click, or simply exclude them from all future email broadcasts so they aren’t harming those deliverability ratings we talked about.
At the moment, Flodesk still requires you to create your own segment of cold subscribers, by filtering subscribers based on date last active.
It’s not the end of the world, but Flodesk isn’t quite as conveniently set up as ConvertKit for this feature. Again, Flodesk is new, so I’m assuming it’s likely something they will introduce down the road.
Overall rating for reporting & analytics
Design features: creating on-brand email marketing content
There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Design conscious Flodesk is freaking. beautiful.
So yah…def the clear winner when it comes to delivering gorgeous, on-brand content!
ConvertKit’s email editor recently got a bit of a facelift making for a huge improvement on the way you design your content, but in the end ConvertKit definitely prioritizes deliverability over being drool-worthy.
It really comes down to what’s more important for your business!
If you’re a creative who’s business thrives on the visual (ie. a photographer, designer, or calligrapher) a plain text email probably isn’t going to cut it when it comes to inspiring your audience to take action.
If you provide tutorials, and more in-depth learning type content, you may not need all the visual bells and whistles that Flodesk touts.
Both softwares offer pre-built templates to help you if you get stuck for what to send your list, but much like the software themselves, the vibe and feel of the templates are veryyyyy different, so you’d want to take into account which company offers templates that would actually fit with your biz.
(You can peep a few Flodesk ones below!)
Important side note: There’s been a lot of talk about whether stuffing your emails full of visual content can actually harm your deliverability.
Think of the last email you received from your favorite big box store or well known retail brand. What did their email look like? Not much in the way of text, right?
Email servers tend to equate the amount of text to how useful, informative, and personalized the content will be to the person on the receiving end, which means they could mistake you for a large branded email, and send you packing straight for that spam or promotions folder.
Again, Flodesk is actively working to prove us wrong on this one, and I’ll happily shout out about any ground they gain in this area as those numbers come in!
With ConvertKit, any time you upload an image to their software, it is stored in your image library, so you can use the same photo over and over without having to re-upload each time.
Flodesk doesn’t do this, but they actually have a pretty legit reason why!
Since they prioritize visually appealing email marketing, they encourage their users to be using fresh new content for each email so visitors feel engaged and not always seeing the same tired images.
Not a bad a point, Flodesk!
Overall rating for design features
Whether you are emailing 1 person, or 1,000,0000, both of these tools get the job done, so why would you choose one over the next?
Once again, it’s all about being able to quickly access the things you need and use most.
If you have to carve out more than 15 minutes to send a simple newsletter, you’re probably not going to do it as often as you should.
You want to be consistently providing valuable help to your audience, so that when you do show up with an offer to buy your thing, you’ve already established that trust and authority on your topic.
If it’s not easy, you won’t do it consistently.
And putting it off week after week will pretty much kill your email marketing efforts.
So, which one is “easier?” That depends on your goal.
ConvertKit works perfectly for my needs, because it has all the options for making edits to my content or delivery settings (ie. recipients, email scheduling, preview test settings) all on one big dashboard, so I can quickly and easily jump around and make the changes I need to!
Even though Flodesk’s email builder has that inefficient pagination style navigation I mentioned (think: “next” and “back”) their email builder is going to save you a TONNE of time if visual content is the main priority.
Suggested reading: ConvertKit 101: Beginners guide to sending broadcast newsletter-style emails
There is one really useful feature that I found was missing with Flodesk, and that is the ability to A/B split test your subject lines.
How it works:
You enter in two different options for your email’s subject line
ConvertKit sends out an email to 30% of your recipients, half with subject line A, half with subject line B
a few hours later they send out the remaining 70% of emails using whichever subject had a better open rate
Why would you need this?
Getting your emails opened by even another 1% of people could potentially mean hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of extra dollars earned in your business!
Learning through split testing how to get your emails opened more is nothing short of really. freaking. important!
I consistently use the A/B Split Test feature in ConvertKit.
Then when I see which subject does better, I use that info to improve all future subject lines.
(For example, I’ve found through A/B split tests that subject lines with an emoji in them get opened more than those without.)
This feature can provide some pretty useful insight into which types of subject lines seem to be working with your specific audience and it can help you make some huge improvements to your email marketing strategy (and revenue ) over time!
If you’re running a small show where you really only send out a newsletter-style single broadcast once or twice a month, you’re probably not going to think twice about that email you sent last year.
Why would you need to see past emails? To look at how they performed, to spot email performance trends and use what you learn to create more useful and well-received content!
ConvertKit makes it much easier to view this all at a glance in the form of a list, whereas Flodesk offers up more of a stacked view, where your emails will all appear as separate thumbnails on the page that must be opened individually to see any kind of overview.
In Flodesk, you create any sequence emails you want to send right there in your workflow builder (or by duplicating an existing email already created in your email builder.)
There’s no easy way to view and compare the content of all your sequence’s emails at one time.
Why this matters:
Your business and your offerings change and grow over time, so you’ll want to pop in often to update any series you may be sending out in the background. You don’t want your first impression with a subscriber to be you sending out information about a free training you no longer offer but honestly forgot you had included a link to.
In ConvertKit, you have your entire sequence (and its contents AND delivery settings) all in one place, making updating your welcome series or opt-in funnels a breeze.
Suggested reading: ConvertKit 101: Beginners guide to sending a welcome/evergreen sequence
Overall rating for automation & workflows
pop-up opt-in forms to display site wide
inline forms to stick on individual pages throughout your site or blog
stand-alone landing pages (Flodesk’s equivalent to the landing page is their full-page opt-in forms, btw!)
Pro-tip: I tend to build and host my landing pages on my own Squarespace website instead of using my email marketing software for two reasons:
SEO (more page visits + more time spent on your site = better search rankings)
You have complete control over the look of both your landing page and the link preview image that displays when your landing page link is shared on social media
But if you must use the built in landing page builder, the argument will once again come down to which software’s aesthetic vibe appeals to you most, as their landing templates and options for customization closely mirror their email content builders.
So it’s worth getting a free trial to play around with each!
Overall rating for landing pages & forms
Email marketing software integrations
ConvertKit comes out on top here with 70+ currently supported integrations, meaning if you have another well-known software you’re trying to get ConvertKit to play nicely with, they’re likely already one step ahead of you.
Flodesk on the other hand seems to be targeting a pretty specific audience, not just with their design features and beautiful chic interface, but also with which integrations they natively support. From what I could find, it looks like Shopify is the only natively supported integration at the moment.
But you’re not completely without options, as Zapier can help Flodesk talk to all those other softwares you’re currently using in your biz! (Though it does mean paying for a Zapier subscription, if you don’t already have one.)
Overall rating for support integrations
Since it’s pretty new around the ol’ interwebs, you aren’t going to find the wealth of Google-able tips and tutorials for making that email marketing magic happen.
And while Flodesk does have a Facebook group you can join to find help, tips and tricks, their help center and resource library just can’t compare to that of other email marketing giants who have had teams of people writing support articles for years.
I can’t even tell you how many times a month my team and I reach for that trusty little lifesaver to get answers to our burning Q’s from actual real life humans.
So while I super appreciate that Flodesk is working hard BTS to build out their help center (and by the sounds of it are offering pretty fabulous customer service via email in the meantime) I’m willing to pay a little more to get the 1:1 support I need without having to dig or send an email!
Overall rating for customer support & resources
My overall impression is that ConvertKit seems to be more more robust in its features for the time being, but definitely more techy and text based.
Flodesk is all about the aesthetics, and it mimics some of the most popular visual content apps out there (think Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)
They seem to really be targeting female owned businesses, so a huge kudos to them for working to make themselves the obvious choice for one target market, instead of trying to rule the entire online business world and end up reaching no one.
As you are probably aware, I’m all for picking a niche and doing it crazy well!
So which email marketing software wins? Let’s recap which software got the better rating for each category.
While I was able to get a feel for all Flodesk’s features just by playing around in their software, I felt it wouldn’t be a true experiment without actually pressing send!
So for three weeks, I sent my weekly newsletter using Flodesk rather than ConvertKit and here’s how the numbers shook out for me…
Open rate: 27.30%
Click rate: 2.70%
Open rate: 21.40%
Click rate: 1.30%
Open rate: 30.60%
Click rate: 1.70%
Open rate: 23.80%
Click rate: 1.20%
Open rate: 30.30%
Click rate: 1.50%
Open rate: 21.90%
Click rate: 2.10%
Additional update: As beautiful as they are, it actually takes me way longer to design an email in Flodesk since formatting fonts is a bit of a task (and my emails generally tend to be pretty text-heavy).
So if you have more text than visual happening, you may prefer ConvertKit’s quick text formatting features to be able to quickly check this weekly to-do off your list.
Which one will help you build your list faster and make you an overnight success?
Neither! (Sorry, friends! There’s no app for that. )
Consistency is what will make or break your email marketing efforts!
In the end, you want to pick the one makes it easier for you to quickly and easily implement your email marketing strategy and not spend too much time hemming and hawing over complicated features.
The best tool is the one you know how to use, so for that reason (and for the giant pain in the you know what it would be to migrate to a new email marketing platform) I’ll be sticking with ConvertKit for the foreseeable future.
But I definitely encourage you to try them both.
Build out that workflow, send out that newsletter, and then let your own experience be what helps you pick that forever email marketing system!
(Oh and while you test both, be sure to track which you get a better open rate/click rate with and let me know in the comments!)
Sign up for a Flodesk free trial here (50% off your subscription!)
Yup! Those are affiliate links! If you make a purchase through either of these links, I’ll earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Myself and my margarita fund thank you kindly!