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The only tool that is more popular than Klaviyo among eCommerce companies is Shopify. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's good, but in Klaviyo's case, its popularity is well deserved. It's our recommended tool for email marketing. It's one of the few tools like Shopify that can scale with your business from your first dollar in revenue to well into 9 figures. There is a learning curve, but its ability to do segmentation and automation is unmatched. Klaviyo has an SMS marketing offering, but we don't recommend it for most merchants.
Klaviyo was founded back in 2012 by Andrew Bialecki and Ed Hallen who worked together at a technology consulting company Applied Predictive Technologies (APT). It didn't start as an email marketing platform. When it was founded, Klaviyo was a database to collect eCommerce data. The founders built a custom database to store and stitch together disparate eCommerce data (website browsing history, purchase data, etc.). Later they realized that in order to sell this product, they had to make the data they were collecting translate into revenue for their customer. They realized email was the best place to action on the data insights and added email capability to their strong database.
Klaviyo has grown into the dominant email marketing platform among eCommerce companies and for good reason. Their templates and visual editor are the best in the business, and the flows and triggers are unmatched. The ability to do segmented sends (send to only purchasers of XYZ product who haven’t opened an email in 60 days) is great. We hope a competitor (maybe Sendlane) begins to match their features to keep their pricing in check but unfortunately that isn’t the case today. With the launch of Klaviyo One, Klaviyo is directly targeting Enterprise solutions. Like Shopify, we love that Klaviyo can scale from your first dollar in revenue to well beyond.
Why we like Klaviyo 👍:
Klaviyo is one of the few eCommerce tools that can scale with your business from its first dollar in revenue to $100M+. The only other tool in this category is Shopify (our recommended eCommerce platform). While there is a slightly higher learning curve than other small business email marketing tools, it’s well worth the effort to learn. Even for teams of one. Klaviyo then offers all of the advanced features that businesses will want as they scale. With the launch of Klaviyo One, Klaviyo is going head to head with larger enterprise tools and winning. Many large companies have switched from legacy platforms like Salesforce and SAP and are benefitting. There is not an insignificant switching cost when it comes to email tools so choosing one that can scale with you is important.
Klaviyo offers a huge amount of pre-built email templates for a new brand to leverage. Their drag-and-drop builder allows marketers to quickly design beautiful emails with flexible HTML templates. The templates offer enough flexibility and customization for emails to feel true to a brand without requiring HTML coding expertise.
Automated Flows & Triggers
Klaviyo has built an automation platform that allows marketers to create effective flows and triggers across many use cases.
Useful flows & triggers include:
-Win-back and cross-sell to inactive contacts
-Order and shipping updates
All of these can be tailored and personalized. The welcome flow can be based on acquisition source. The browse abandon trigger can be based on cart value etc.
We recommend new brands focusing on the welcome flow and browse / cart abandon triggers which are the highest converting. If your typical non promotion campaign send email converts at 1-2%, then flows typically convert at 4-5% and triggers at 7-8%. For most brands flows and triggers will represent over two thirds of orders generated from email. Start by testing and optimizing these flows and triggers for maximum impact.
Klaviyo integrates well with many of our recommended tools including Shopify, Shipstation, Gorgias, and Recharge. Don’t worry if you haven’t taken our advice, it also integrates well with 220+ other tools as well. If you’re using the tool, chances are there’s a Klaviyo integration. Shopify has invested $100M into Klaviyo and announced them as a strategic partner. This partnership solidifies the future of Klaviyo’s integration into Shopify, and we think it makes it less likely that Shopify will add email features to truly challenge Klaviyo.
Klaviyo allows you to create rule-based segments that allow you to target customers based on very specific criteria. Version one of this segmentation can use data within Klaviyo (email interactions) to target non responders. More advanced segmentation is possible with the data piped in from the integrations mentioned above. If statements similar to Microsoft Excel create the backbone of the segment creation. E.g., IF a person is signed up for our newsletter AND has not made a purchase within the last 90 days THEN send 15% personalized promotion email.
A/B testing should be part of any well-run Ecommerce brands’ foundation. The best way to learn about what works for your brand is to AB test it. Klaviyo has built in AB testing tools that allow marketers to easily A/B test email elements. Not sure which subject line has the highest open rate for cart abandoners? A/B test it! Not sure which discount amount drives the highest incremental revenue during promotions? A/B test it! Not sure which CTA color drives the highest clickthroughs on evergreen emails? A/B test it! It’s green BTW. Or red. Or orange. Point is you need to test what works for your brand. Klaviyo’s A/B testing tools are user friendly and don’t require a degree in statistics in order to understand the results.
What we don’t like about Klaviyo 👎:
Klaviyo users complained of inconsistent support. They found the Klaviyo support team to be sometimes slow or not helpful. They also reported that the Klaviyo chat help function doesn’t always work.
Integrations Outside Shopify
Companies using Magento and WooCommerce complained that the Klaviyo integrations were weak for these eCommerce platforms. With the strategic investment from Shopify, Klaviyo has implicitly announced its focus on the platform. Stores on other platforms may want to consider Klaviyo’s competitors.
Some eCommerce companies complained that during the Pandemic, when Klaviyo onboarded a huge number of new accounts, the companies weren’t able to get dedicated IPs from Klaviyo. Without dedicated IPs deliverability rates can be negatively impacted. These companies found other solutions that offered dedicated IPs. If you are sending less than 100-200k emails per month this shouldn’t be a concern, but if you are sending more than that amount this could be a deal breaker.
Reporting in Klaviyo is more time consuming than it should be. Like most email platforms it will over attribute orders and sales to email and most brands only rely on Klaviyo for send, open, and click information although with the Apple privacy update, open information reporting has become more difficult (Apples email client automatically opens all emails). Companies typically use Google Analytics (GA) or GA’s competitors for order and revenue data. Reporting often requires downloading large amounts of data from Klaviyo and manually filtering the data in sheets to answer specific questions e.g., the performance of all emails that mention product X.
Klaviyo has an SMS offering, and it would be nice in theory to manage SMS and email on a single platform, but we don’t recommend it. Klaviyo’s main focus is email and SMS has historically been an afterthought and the SMS product has suffered as a result. Customer profiles are built off email addresses in Klaviyo and merging profiles is difficult with Klaviyo SMS, so if someone has signed up for your email list with multiple emails (e.g., work and personal) then you may end up sending duplicate texts to the same person. Segmenting and AB testing is also more difficult with Klaviyo SMS vs point solutions. For these reasons, we don’t recommend Klaviyo SMS and instead recommend a point solution for SMS which we will review in a future guide.
When building segments in Klaviyo, there is no way to see a waterfall contribution of your segment criteria. Users will build a segment in Klaviyo and get fewer people in the segment than they expect and not be able to easily trace why. Other platforms will show the impact each criteria has on the list size.
It’s also not possible to AB test by time zone. For certain sends (promotions) sending at the local time might be very important and it currently isn’t possible to AB test sends that don't go out at a single time.
While this isn’t unique to Klaviyo, its email previews should not be trusted without sending sample emails and QAing across email clients and devices. Emails might look fine in Klaviyo’s email previewer but appear broken on certain devices or with certain email clients (Outlook is notorious for email rendering issues but thankfully is not very popular). Some companies use Litmus to speed up the manual QA process to check emails across 100+ devices and email clients from their browser.
Klaviyo Pricing 💰:
Klaviyo’s pricing is based on the number of active email contacts that are on your email list.
It has a free tier for brands that are just beginning. The free plan supports up to 250 contacts in your email list and up to 500 email sends per month. The free plan has a couple of important limitations: you will have to use double email opt in (a customer must respond to an email that they want to be part of your list), your emails will have Klaviyo branding in the footer, and if you decide to use the Klaviyo email pop ups, your email collection pop ups will have Klaviyo branding.
The next plan up from the free plan is $20 per month and supports 251 to 500 contacts and up to 5,000 email sends. The plans scale up from here based on the number of contacts in your email list.
Enabling SMS (text message marketing) through Klaviyo will be an additional monthly fee starting at $15 per month and scaling up based on the number of texts you send.
The most expensive plan Klaviyo lists is $2,300 per month and is for up to 250k contacts and 2M+ sends per month. For more contacts or sends, a custom contract is required.
Klaviyo also recently began offering reviews for stores using Shopify. Pricing starts at $25 per month for up to 250 orders per month and scales up from there.
SMB Tools - Small & Medium Size Businesses ($0-$50M+ annual revenue)
Note: Don’t consider these options unless you have reached enterprise level sales ($50M+) and have an in-house email team of 4-5+ people. They will come at a significant price premium to the SMB tools and will likely require enterprise-level agencies to support and implement. It will take a huge amount of implementation effort just for these tools to reach feature parity with the more advanced SMB tools. Many enterprise-size companies use or are considering using the SMB tools given the cost and complexity of the enterprise tools that outweigh any marginal benefits. Frankly, many of the enterprise tools don’t have more advanced features than the SMB tools.
Klaviyo is an email marketing and automation platform optimized for ecommerce companies.
Product: Klaviyo is an email and marketing automation platform tailored to ecommerce businesses that lets you collect email addresses, manage your email list, send emails, and analyze email performance.
Features: Pre-designed email templates, drag and drop customization, targeted segmentation, automated workflows for abandonment and re-engagement campaigns, A/B testing, integrations with platforms like Shopify, and email performance analytics.
Pricing: Free plan up to 250 contacts. Paid plans start at $20/month up to 500 contacts. Price scales based on number of contacts.
Company: Founded in 2012, based in Boston, MA. Raised $778.5M in funding from Shopify, Summit, Accel, and others.
Competitors: Main competitors are Mailchimp, Omnisend, ConvertKit, Drip, Sendlane, HubSpot, Iterable and Braze.
Customers: Klaviyo customers include direct-to-consumer brands like Chubbies, Buck Mason, Thousand Fell, FIGS, Oatly and UNTUCKit. Adopted by over 100,000 companies.
What are the benefits of Klaviyo?
Powerful segmentation - Klaviyo allows you to create highly targeted email segments based on detailed customer data and behaviors. This enables you to send tailored, relevant emails to different groups.
Automated workflows - Klaviyo has robust automation capabilities, allowing you to set up triggered emails and multi-step email flows based on customer actions. This is great for cart abandonment, browse abandonment, welcome series, etc.
Flexible templates - Klaviyo provides many professionally designed email templates that are easy to customize to match your brand. The drag-and-drop editor makes it simple to tweak templates.
A/B testing - Built-in A/B testing allows you to experiment with different email elements like subject lines, content, layouts, etc. to optimize your emails.
Shopify integration - Klaviyo has a deep integration with Shopify, making it easy to connect customer and order data. This powers the segmentation and automation.
Scalability - Klaviyo can scale with your business from early stages to large volumes of contacts and email sends. The pricing tiers accommodate growth.
Reporting - In-depth email analytics provide insights into open rates, clickthroughs, conversions, and more to understand email campaign performance.
Deliverability - Klaviyo has a strong deliverability reputation, meaning your emails are more likely to reach the inbox rather than get blocked as spam.
What are the drawbacks of Klaviyo?
Learning curve - Klaviyo is very robust, so there can be a bit of a learning curve, especially compared to simpler email platforms. It may take some time to master the segmentation and automation.
Customer support - Some users report inconsistent or slow customer support responses from Klaviyo at times. The live chat feature also has limited hours.
Non-Shopify integrations - While Klaviyo works great with Shopify, some users say the integrations with other platforms like Magento and WooCommerce are not as strong.
Email previews - The Klaviyo email previews don't always accurately represent how the email will look across different devices and email clients. Additional QA is recommended.
Reporting - Klaviyo's email analytics reporting capabilities, while extensive, can require some manual manipulation of data to get insights. It's not as intuitively dashboarded.
SMS capabilities - Klaviyo's SMS capabilities feel tacked on and aren't as full-featured as dedicated SMS marketing platforms. Could lead to duplicate messages.
Dedicated IP addresses - During high growth periods, some users reported not getting dedicated IPs, which can impact email deliverability at scale.
Pricing model - Basing pricing on number of contacts vs sends means costs rise as your list grows, even if send volume is steady. Some competitors price on sends.
Why is Klaviyo so popular?
Klaviyo was started at the right time (2012) and was able to ride the wave of growth in eCommerce along with its largest partner Shopify. Klaviyo also benefited from the breakup of Mailchimp and Shopify in 2019. They started with small and medium size eCommerce companies and have increasingly targeted enterprise customers.
Why is Klaviyo better than Mailchimp?
Klaviyo offers more features than Mailchimp. There is a slightly higher learning curve with Klaviyo, but in exchange, you get a more advanced feature set especially with segmentation and automations.
Is Klaviyo worth it?
We think yes. We think Klaviyo is priced competitively for merchants of all sizes from very small to very large. Will that always be the case? Maybe not. We are closely monitoring their prices, especially post IPO.
What are the drawbacks of Klaviyo?
Klaviyo does have a learning curve. There are tons of resources to learn Klaviyo, but it will take time to master the platform. Klaviyo's support can be unhelpful at times especially for smaller brand. Additionally, like most email marketing tools, it will tend to overattribute sales to email. Use Google Analytics or something similar instead for your source of truth for attribution.
Can Klaviyo be used as a CRM?
Yes. Most small eCommerce companies don’t have a traditional CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software and instead use Klaviyo or its competitors as both their CDP (Customer Data Platform) and CRM. Even many large Shopify stores don’t have a traditional CRM.
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