I’ve used everything from Mailchimp to ConvertKit to Mautic to Flodesk, and I have some thoughts. First of all, email marketing has been in my experience one of the most frustrating parts of running an online business. I’ve run into problems left and right, some of them almost impossible to solve. I’m talking about a mailing list of 100,000 subscribers plummeting to a 1% open rate because the emails are going to spam.
There’s also the clunkiness of the software and how hard it is to use most of them as a non-nerd. Creating the email itself is almost always a pain the butt and it requires coding skills, or your emails will look like total garbage. Building an email sequence is almost just as frustrating, and there’s no way of knowing if your sequence is working unless you test it and wait.
Now… I want to preface this post by emphasizing that I’m being 100% unbiased in my review of Flodesk vs. Mailchimp. This review is purely based on my experience, and I’m not swayed by any bells and whistles either company has to offer.
|Flodesk Pricing: $38/month with unlimited subscribers ($19/month after 50% off discount).||Mailchimp Pricing: Starts at $9.99/month for 500 subscribers. 79.99/month for 5,000 subscribers. Depends on features.|
|Flodesk Limit: Unlimited emails you can send||Mailchimp Limit: Starts at 5,000 for 500 subscribers. Limit of 50,000 emails for 5,000 subscribers. Varies by plan.|
|Pros: Simply, easy to use, beautiful design.||Pros: Extensive features.|
|Cons: Lacks features, especially for e-commerce.||Cons: Hard to use, clunky, not-so-aesthetic forms and emails.|
|Female-founded. Founded by Martha Bitar in 2019.||Founded by Ben Chestnut in 2001.|
My Experience Using Mailchimp (The Early Days of Blogging)
Mailchimp was the first email marketing service I ever signed up for and used. Back then, they had a free plan for up to 1,000 email subscribers. Today, you can have up to 2,000 subscribers for free, however you don’t have access to their full features.
Truth be told, I never really liked Mailchimp. It was okay. I used them during my first year of blogging, when my mailing list was small. I was also emailing infrequently, and I didn’t have any autoresponder sequence set up.
As my mailling list started gaining traction and sign-ups, I decided to switch to something cheaper. This is because, as a blogger, I wasn’t yet selling any products of my own. I also didn’t want to “spam” my subscribers with constant promotions that would increase my affiliate revenue. Nope. I just wanted to keep everybody informed and up to date, and remind them that my blog exists every once in a while so they can become fans.
This is why the standard mailing prices don’t speak to me, personally. Spending hundreds of dollars every month to send a few emails might have a positive return for a company that sells products, but in my case, it didn’t make sense. You can tell me it builds brand, which definitely is something valuable, but I wasn’t thinking this way back then, and I wanted a cheaper alternative.
Because I’ve only used Mailchimp during my first year of blogging (which is years ago), I recently created a Mailchimp account so I can go through the process all over again and experience the platform as a new user.
My Experience Using Flodesk (The Modern Alternative?)
I first heard about Flodesk this year. By now you know that I focus on finding low-cost alternatives. So when I saw that Flodesk’s entire premise is a low, flat fee every month, I was intrigued. Claiming they don’t want to “penalize you for growing you list” (this branding 100% speaks to me, so kudos to them) they only charge $38 per month no matter the number of subscribers, forever.
That’s right. Weather you have 2,000 or 200,000 subscribers, you’re paying $38 a month. This is *revolutionary*. Growing my mailing list is something I enjoy, and I’m also not super salesy with my subscribers. So for someone who has grown a list of over 100,000 subscribers, and doesn’t get a financial return on it, this is music to my ears.
For reference, with other email marketing services, you’d have to spend more than $38 as soon as you hit the 1,000 to 3,000 range. And the monthly rate goes up quickly from then. And it gets really expensive if you have 100,000 contacts.
Not only that, but my current plan with Flodesk is set to $19 forever because I’m paying their Beta price. You can still get 50% off your subscription until November 2021, I believe.
Since I started over my list with Flodesk a few months ago, I’m up to 15,000 monthly subscribers and I’m still only paying a flat $19 a month. Pretty good deal.
Other than the pricing structure, there’s something else that drew me in with Flodesk. I had heard that it’s ridiculously easy to create beautiful emails with them. No code required. No clunky interface. If you know me, you know that I’m a sucker for design. This aspect of Flodesk blew me away, because they have actual trendy and modern templates. I can also customize them easily, and basically turn any email into a work of art.
I also found out that Flodesk was created by a woman, and it all made sense. Martha Bitar, founder and CEO of Flodesk, managed to create a game-changing email marketing platform that is, in my opinion, tailored for women. Using Flodesk is a simple and beautiful experience, and I actually enjoy creating my emails now. The simplicity, the aesthetics. It’s just so good.
Unfortunately, Flodesk doesn’t have as many features as Mailchimp or other platforms. For example, I can’t use Flodesk for the beauty brand I’m starting because it doesn’t have Shopify integration. I was so bummed when I found out, because I was so ready to create dope marketing emails for that brand using our color palette and imagery.
An Overview of Mailchimp’s Features
After signing up for a new account, I was promptly invited to share whether I’m selling a product, services, neither, or both. Then, they asked me if I want to integrate Mailchimp with Shopify, WooCommerce, or any other selling platform I might use. They offer a ton of integrations, from Squarespace or WordPress to Adobe Photoshop or Canva. I’m not sure how you use those, but I’m assuming it has something to do with adding graphics to your emails.
Mailchimp’s menu contains following: audience, campaigns, automations, website, content studio, integrations. It’s fairly straight-forward.
Audience: This is where you can see your subscriber segments, and also where you can build forms. You can choose between pop-ups, landing pages, or embedded forms for your website. An interesting feature is the Contact Form builder, so you can create a contact form for your website.
Campaigns: This is where you create emails. You can choose from many templates, however they don’t look great. They definitely have that clunky, “old internet” vibe. The builder isn’t easy to use, and it’s almost identical to the Mautic email building I’ve been struggling with for years. However, their campaign builder is feature-heavy and you’re able to do things like social posts, ads, or surveys.
Automations: Holy crap. This stuff is in-depth. You can have sequences for everything from abandoned carts (if you have a product-based business) to identifying high-value customers based on products they purchase. They make it easy to encourage reviews, remind customers to reorder, and more. And of course, you can create a basic welcome autoresponder.
Website: Mailchimp offers a free website builder. It’s trying to be modern and simple to use, but personally I wouldn’t recommend it. Since most people who are looking for an email marketing platform already have a website, I don’t think this feature is super helpful.
Content Studio: This one piqued my interest. You have to enter you website URL and their AI creates branded graphics, tailor made for you. You can change the size of the graphics it generates, and you can refresh it for more. The results aren’t great, but they’re usable if you’re not the kind of person who wants to make graphics. Once you’re happy with a graphic it generates, you can select it, tweak it, or generate different sizes.
This was my result:
Integrations: As mentioned before, Mailchimp offers many integrations — which is Flodesk’s weak point.
An Overview of Flodesk’s Features: Simplicity, Practicality, and Aesthetics
Flodesk keeps it simple. If you’re into simplicity, it’s made for you. At the top, the straight-forward menu emphasizes 4 things: emails, forms, workflows, and audience.
Forms: You can create forms by using a pre-made template (many to choose from) and changing the fonts, colors, text, and so on, to fit your brand’s aesthetic. They have pop-ups, full page opt-ins, or forms you can insert on any webpage. You either get a link or code to paste on your website.
Emails: You can create emails using beautiful templates made by Rebecca Shostak, Flodesk co-founder. You can choose the segment(s) you wish to email, and you can insert custom images, links, and anything you can think of within your email.
With emails, you have the following extra options:
- Resending an email to unopens
- Saving all emails categorized in folders
- Seeing the opens and clicks at a glance
- Seeing extra statistics such as deliverability, unsubscribes, or opens by device
Workflows: This is to build autoresponder or email sequences. You can create a sequence for any segment, and it’s fairly straight-forward. There’s no missing feature here for me personally, and I like that you can add to an existing sequence.
Audiences: These are your segments, or different clusters of email subscribers.
Flodesk vs. Mailchimp: Comparing The Two
It’s easy to figure out which one’s my favorite between the two. However, I recognize that Flodesk is lacking certain features, at least at this point. All things considered, there are only a handful of features that I’m actually missing from Flodesk.
Pros of using Flodesk for me:
- Beautiful design. I’m obsessed with their templates. Super modern, beautiful design that I can play with to create pretty emails.
- Simple. It’s the easiest, simplest email marketing platform out there, for sure. From the forms to the emails to the sequences, everything is intuitive.
- Low cost. With UNLIMITED subscribers AND unlimited emails. Their beta pricing of $38/month forever is great, and I’m personally paying $19/month with my 50% off discount. I would have to spend hundreds a month on emails otherwise.
Cons of using Flodesk for me personally:
- No A/B testing. The ability to split-test. I enjoy A/B testing my subject titles. With other platforms, I can pick 2 different subject lines, and they automatically choose the best performing one based on the initial open rates. I hope this is coming to Flodesk soon.
- Limited features. I wanted to import my old contacts while pruning them, but sadly it’s not a feature. I’m still trying to find a workaround.
- Not for e-commerce. I can’t use Flodesk for a product-based brand selling on Shopify. Things like abandoned carts and tracking who buys what are essential, and Flodesk doesn’t offer them (though Mailchimp does, and many other services do as well).
Pros of Mailchimp if it’s right for you:
- Extensive features. If you’re looking to keep a close eye on your analytics and be methodical with your marketing, Flodesk might not be for you. I also like the survey feature, although it can be replicated using something as simple as a Google form.
- Great for e-commerce. Similarly to what I stated above, they’re a good choice for any e-commerce website. However, there are other options out there that you might be interested in.
- Extras. From offering a website to social media integrations to creating AI-generated branded graphics, they’re pretty thorough. While this stuff isn’t for me, someone else might find it interesting.
Cons of using Mailchimp for me:
- Too complicated and clunky. I just can’t. I haven’t used their email builder in a long time, but I’ve used an identical one and it’s been a frustrating experience, and the main reason why I switched to Flodesk.
- Poor design. Frankly, I love Mailchimp’s new branding and their illustrations. However, the forms and emails we can build as users suck. They’re ugly, the design is bad, and they don’t make a good impression.
- Pricey. Granted, it’s not common to have over 50,000 subscribers, but isn’t that what we all strive for? If we reach 50,000 with Mailchimp, the monthly payment is $320. Since I don’t use emails to sell, that’s a lot. Especially to the $19/month I pay with Flodesk.
What’s better for you, Flodesk or Mailchimp?
If you’re a small business that doesn’t have a big e-commerce operation, I recommend Flodesk over Mailchimp. If you’re looking for something basic and easy to use… Flodesk. If you want to create beautiful, frustration-free emails… Flodesk. Finally, is you’re going for the cheapest option, again, Flodesk ($19/month forever).
Even though they don’t have as many features or integrations, there’s a reason why Flodesk is receiving such a buzz. It’s been a game-changer for my business. If you end up trying it, please let me know you thoughts!