In Klaviyo, a flow is an automated sequence that is set in motion by a specific trigger and then includes one or more steps. Flows can be built to send timely communications to recipients, or they can simply apply certain actions, like updating a specific field on a profile.
Klaviyo Flows are designed to make it easy to initiate and nurture relationships with your subscribers and customers over the course of their lifecycle. With flows, you can automate emails that will help grow your business, without losing any of the personalization and relevancy needed to build strong customer loyalty.
Need some help with strategy? Check out our guide to dominating email automation.
Flows allow you to trigger an email, or series of emails, based on when someone joins a list, is added to a segment or takes any other action -- such as making a purchase or abandoning a cart. Any data syncing to your Klaviyo account can be used to trigger and target automated email flows.
When you integrate an ecommerce store or other third-party tools into Klaviyo, we automatically add popular flows to your account. We also have a Flow Library full of pre-built best practice flows spanning the customer lifecycle. Once you customize these flows, you can start sending them right away. Here are a few examples of popular flows:
- A Welcome Series flow to introduce subscribers to your brand and convert them into first-time customers
- An Abandoned Cart flow to convert would-be customers that is customizable based on items in someone's cart and whether they're already a customer
- A Post-Purchase Thank You flow to show appreciation for customers and let them know about related products they might be interested in
- A Win-Back flow for customers who purchase but then don't come back to buy again customizable based on the products they've purchased and how many purchases they've made
The Klaviyo flow builder offers several key features to help make targeted automation easy:
- An intuitive drag-and-drop interface that lets you quickly add and configure emails and other components
- A visual canvas where you can see each step of the customer journey you're building
- The ability to turn certain emails "live" while keeping others "draft" or "manual" so you can start sending right away while continuing to build and add onto your flow
- Advanced email scheduling options such as sending at a certain time of day in each recipient's local timezone, or restricting sending to certain days of the week
- Two ways to "split" a flow to create parallel paths for recipients based on properties about them or past behavior, allowing for advanced segmentation inside a single flow
- The ability to design emails directly within the flow editor
In this article, you'll learn more about Klaviyo Flows and how triggered emails can fit into your email marketing strategy.
If you're new to email automation, it will help to define a few common terms we use when talking about flows.
An automated email or series of emails that is set in motion by a single trigger and, optionally, filtered based on specific profile or trigger details.
- Flow Email
An individual email in a flow. Each flow email has an email template and settings that can be configured. Unlike campaigns where emails are sent in batch, flows emails are sent to recipients one at a time as individuals enter the flow.
A catalyst event or activity that sets a flow in motion. For example, when someone makes a purchase or when someone subscribes to a list.
- Trigger Split
A Trigger Split creates two distinct paths in your flow, branching based on a defining characteristic of the Flow Trigger. For example, for an Abandoned Cart flow triggered by a Started Checkout event, you can create two paths in your flow split around Cart Value -- where high-value cart abandoners receive a discount, and lower value cart abandoners do not. This component is only available for event-triggered flows.
- Conditional Split
A Conditional Split creates two distinct paths in your flow, branching based on defined recipient properties and/or activity. For example, you can create two paths in your flow split around Gender, where content within each path can be personalized for male or female recipients.
- Event / Metric
When you choose the "Metric" flow trigger type, you will then need to pick the specific type of activity that will trigger your flow. Each metric in Klaviyo represents a specific action (like Placed Order, Started Checkout etc.); when someone takes the action, it's considered a metric event. When a flow is triggered based on a specific metric, whenever an event for that metrics occurs the individual that took the action will qualify to enter the flow.
- Time Delay
The Time Delay component is used to create delays – or wait periods – between emails or other components in a flow series.
- "Waiting" Queue
A list of profiles scheduled and waiting at a given step in a flow. When a person qualifies to enter a flow based on the configured Trigger, this person is scheduled for the first step in your flow. Once someone moves through one step, they will be scheduled for the next. The Waiting queue is where you'll gain visibility into who is waiting at different steps in your flow, next to who has already moved past a given step -- such as received an email, or gotten evaluated Yes or No at a Split. Learn more about how contacts move through a flow series.
What Can Flows Do
Every email you send should be relevant and engaging to the person receiving it. Two of the best ways to increase the relevance of your emails is to time them based on actions your customers take and use information about their activity to personalize each email's content. With flows, you can automate both of these techniques.
Compared to campaigns, flows don't require constantly developing new content and, because they're tied to customer behavior, they have higher greater engagement and ROI. Many businesses use flows to substantially increase their sales and grow faster and, in some cases, entirely automate their customer communication while maximizing the impact of each touch point.
Types of Flow Triggers
Every flow you build will have a set trigger. A flow's trigger is what sets the automated series in motion. There are four types of flows:
- Metric or Action Triggered
People will qualify to enter a metric-triggered flow when they take a specific action (e.g. Placed Order). To see all possible metrics that can trigger a flow, check out your account's Metrics tab.
- List Triggered
People will qualify to enter a list-triggered flow when they are added to a specific list.
- Segment Triggered
People will qualify to enter a segment-triggered flow when they are added to a specific dynamic segment.
- Date Property Triggered
People will qualify to enter a date property-triggered if they have a specific date-based profile property set (e.g. Birthday).
Klaviyo's Out-of-the-Box Flows
When you integrate an eCommerce or nonprofit platform with Klaviyo, we will provide different best practice flows for you out-of-the-box.
After configuring your core integrations in Klaviyo’s Setup Wizard, you can navigate to the Flows tab in your account. Here, you will see any best practice flows we have pre-populated in your account for you. These flows will contain default templates that provide a suggested layout and example text. Most of these templates will also be configured to pull in relevant dynamic personalized content through your integration.
Even if you don't integrate any third-party tools, you will still get a Welcome Series out-of-the-box setup to trigger when new subscribers are added to your account's Newsletter list.
NoteWe highly recommend reviewing, customizing, and previewing all default flow email templates before turning your flows live.
Create a New Flow
To create a new flow, click on the Flows tab in your account's main navigation sidebar and then click the Create Flow button. If you aren't sure where to start, checkout our Flow Library for innovative automation ideas spanning the customer lifecycle.
When creating a brand new flow, giving your flow a name is the first step. Be sure to use a name that will explain the flow's purpose for easy reference. The name of your flow should be easily understood by you and your team -- when you start to segment further in Klaviyo, the number of flows can add up quickly. It's also important to remember each flow's purpose to avoid sending the same email from two separate flows. For example, a flow being sent to people who subscribe to a list could be called a "Welcome Series" flow, or a flow to customers who haven't ordered recently could be called a "Win-Back" flow.
The second step is selecting what will trigger your new flow -- you will be able to choose one of four options: List, Segment, Metric, or Date Property
For each trigger type, the next step will be to narrow down your trigger -- choosing which specific list, segment, metric, or date property will set your flow in motion.
Klaviyo offers advanced filtering for flow triggers so you can get highly targeted with your flows. For example, you can trigger a post-purchase flow off the Placed Order metric but restrict the trigger so only people that ordered Product X will actually qualify to enter.
Learn more about how flow triggers and filters work.
Adding Emails to a New Flow
After you create a new flow, select a trigger, and add any desired trigger and/or flow filters, you are ready to start adding additional components into your flow series.
To add an email into your flow, click on the Email component in the sidebar and drag it onto the visual canvas. Every "droppable" location for an email will light up bright green as you drag it onto the canvas, and a light green drop zone will appear as you get close to a drop point. Once an email is dropped onto the canvas, it can be configured in the lefthand sidebar. Learn more about the Email Component.
Scheduling a Flow Email
Emails and other components are scheduled by Time Delays that are added before them in a flow series. If components are back-to-back, without any Time Delays, they will all occur simultaneously.
Someone will always get queued up for a flow immediately after taking the action that triggers the flow (whether that means getting added to a list, placing an order, visiting your website etc.). By adding and adjusting time delays, you can control whether someone gets an email immediately after taking the trigger action (i.e. a welcome email immediately after subscribing) or after an established period of time (i.e. a win-back email 120 days after placing an order).
Each Time Delay creates a "wait period" between one component and the next. In this way, emails in a flow series will be scheduled relative to one another. This means that if Email #1 in a flow is sent 1 day after the trigger event, and you drag in a Time Delay set to 2 days between the first email and the second, Email #2 will be sent 3 days after the trigger event.
You can set a delay any number of minutes, hours, or days. To send an email immediately after the previous step, you don't need to drag in any Time Delay.
You can also choose if you like to set a delay until a specific time of day or delay until only specific days of the week.
After you set a delay, you can always adjust it by clicking on the Time Delay card. Keep in mind that updating a Time Delay before an email will not impact any already-scheduled emails. The updated timing will only impact newly scheduled emails moving forward.
Configuring Flow Email Content
After you've added emails to your flow, the next key step is to configure your content. Click on the email card, and then click on the blue Configure Content button in the lefthand panel to update your email's sender information, the subject of the email, and add content.
Editing the content of a flow has the same options as editing the content of a campaign.
There are four options based on how you want to create content:
- Rich HTML / Drag & Drop
Klaviyo's template editor will automatically optimize your email for mobile and makes it easy to create complex email layouts that will look great on all email clients.
- Text Based / Simple
If you'd like to send a text-only email, choose this option; this is a good option for sending an email that looks like it came directly from you rather than your organization.
- Use Template from Library
If you've already created a base template, newsletter template, or snack template this is where you should start; you can also choose a template from the Klaviyo Template Library.
- HTML Editor
Only use this option if you have your own HTML email template you're importing, or are interested in designing a custom HTML template from scratch.
The Flow Email Status
There are three possible statuses for a flow email: Draft, Manual, or Live. To change the status of an email, click the email and then change the status in the lefthand panel.
This is the default status for a new email and is the status you should use while you're still configuring your content and adjusting settings. When an email is in Draft, nobody will get queued up or receive the email.
When you are done configuring a new email and are interested in testing it out, you can place it in Manual mode. When an email is in Manual, it is active in your flow but no emails will trigger automatically at send time; you will need to manually review and send all scheduled emails.
To "turn on" an email in a flow series, you will want to change the email's status to Live. A Live email is active in your flow and is sending automatically.
When a flow email is set to Manual, you will see all ready-to-review-and-send emails in a Needs Review section within the Analytics snapshot in the lefthand sidebar. By clicking View all Analytics, you will be taken to a report where you can explore all recipient activity for your flow email.
If you switch the status of an email from Manual to Live, any emails in the Needs Review section will continue to remain there until manually reviewed and handled -- these emails will not automatically send when the email's status switches to Live.
From the Needs Review section within Recipient Activity, you can choose to Send All or Cancel All, or alternatively click Send Now or Cancel for an individual email.
If your flow email has a Time Delay before it, you will also notice individuals queued up in the Waiting section within your email's Recipient Activity. This view shows you who entered your flow and is currently waiting to receive the selected email.
Trigger Filters & Flow Filters
Whenever someone becomes qualified to enter a flow based on the Flow Trigger (i.e. places an order), we will also first check all Trigger Filters and Flow Filters:
- Those that fail the Trigger Filters and/or Flow Filters at this time will be filtered out immediately and will not be scheduled for any components in your series.
- Everyone that passes the flow's Trigger Filters and Flow Filters will officially enter the flow and get scheduled for emails and splits based on the delay period you've set.
- At send time, Flow Filters will be checked once more to ensure that recipients still meet the criteria of the flow. Trigger Filters are not checked again at send time.
When each email is scheduled to send, Klaviyo will apply your Flow Filters again (i.e. has Placed Order zero times since starting this flow) and skip anyone that fails these filters at send time. This is why you may see people queued up for flow emails -- in the Waiting bucket -- that you know shouldn't actually get the email based on the flow's filters. If someone qualifies to get the email initially upon entering the flow, this person will appear as waiting for emails in your series; Flow Filters will always be applied again, however, right before each email sends.
You can explore the complete Recipient Activity for a given flow email by clicking on View all Activity in an email's lefthand sidebar. Here, you will also see who was skipped from receiving an email in the Skipped tab. When you click this dropdown, this will reveal a range of different skipped options. When someone no longer qualifies to receive a flow email at send time, we'll skip over them -- most often, someone will get skipped because they fail the flow's filters, or because they've since unsubscribed and are suppressed in your account.
Back-Populating Flow Recipients
If you create a new flow and want to queue up those that would have been captured by the flow if it had been running previously, you can use our back-populate feature. This feature can be found in the Manage Flow dropdown menu.
Adding New Emails to an Existing Flow
After you create a flow and turn your flow emails live, you may later wish to add more emails to your flow. If you're adding new emails to a live flow it's important to note the following:
If you add a new email to an existing flow series, recipients currently scheduled at any previous step will automatically be scheduled for the new step in the sequence.
For example, let's say you have a Welcome Series with 3 emails spanning 1 week after someone subscribes. You want to make this series longer and add 3 more emails at the end. Now, the flow spans 2 weeks after someone subscribes.
Recipients currently in your sequence will automatically be scheduled for the new emails. You do not need to back-populate your flow or take any other action. This is only true for recipients who are still moving through the flow.
Recipients who already exited the flow prior to these new emails being added will not be scheduled to receive them. In this case, you would need to back-populate the flow in order to ensure that those who already exited the flow, but are still within the proper timeframe for your newly added emails, receive the new emails in the proper sequence.
In order to understand how a flow is performing overall, you will want to view email performance across your whole series. A powerful feature in the Visual Flow Builder is the option to show analytics on the visual canvas itself. To enable this feature, once inside the builder for a given flow, click Show Analytics on the top header menu. When you do, you will see all email cards expand to feature a 30-day analytics snapshot.
To review the complete analytics for a given flow email, click the View all Analytics option in the lefthand panel.
In the Overview tab, you will be able to view all relevant metrics around your email's performance. You can adjust the timeframe of the report, and also adjust the conversion metric reported.
The number of emails that hard bounced (i.e. couldn't be delivered by us)
- Successful Deliveries
The number of emails that were reported back to us as delivered (i.e. the recipient's email provider acknowledged they went through)
- Total Opens
This is the total number of times an email is opened; if someone opened the same email 4 times, they would be counted 4 times here
- Total Clicks
This is the total number of times an email is clicked through; if someone clicked the same email 4 times, they would be counted 4 times here
If you navigate to the Recipient Activity tab, you will be able to view those that have emails scheduled in Waiting, as well as those that have already received, opened, and clicked your email. This is also where you can view those that were skipped or otherwise did not successfully receive your email -- this information is in the Other drop-down menu.
The Link Activity tab here allows you to view click data related to the links you included in your email. You can toggle between a table view of this data and a visual view.
The Advanced Reports tab here includes the following:
- Performance by Email Domain
- Performance by Email Client
- Performance by Country
This gives you insight into your audience by telling you the email domains they use (i.e. Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc.), where they're opening your emails, and how they're opening them (mobile vs. desktop).