“The more data we can get in there, the more we can do with it”: why Klaviyo is one of the best tools for WooCommerce marketing
In ecommerce, data-informed marketing is crucial for creating positive customer journeys that drive online sales.
That means your WordPress website—and your bottom line—are only as good as your marketing platform.
Just ask developer Craig Swanson. When he first teamed up with personal trainer, fitness educator, and social media influencer Kaisa Keranen to launch KaisaFit in 2019, Keranen was already a prominent name in the world of fitness.
A former college athlete with a master’s in exercise science, Keranen had amassed an impressive following on social media and had been featured on the cover of magazines like Strong, American Fitness, and Oxygen. Most notably, former First Lady Michelle Obama had asked Keranen to be one of the go-to trainers for her “Let’s Move” digital campaign.
Source: KaisaFit website
Keranen’s motto: “Health is a feeling, not a look.”
“Kaisa has been a leading voice for fitness, women’s fitness, and particularly healthy fitness—being healthy in the body you have,” Swanson says.
In 2019, Keranen and Swanson launched a prototype of the KaisaFit website using several of Keranen’s existing workout courses. By the time COVID hit less than a year later, the brand was perfectly positioned as a life raft for everyone who was stuck at home and in need of an outlet.
“We were already headed that direction, because what we had basically built out was this online platform for helping people do home-based, follow-along workouts focused on mobility, flexibility, and keeping your body healthy,” Swanson recalls. “And then COVID hit, and everything we built just exploded.”
Swanson, co-founder of KaisaFit, heads up back-end development on the business technical and operations side of the brand. With a background in online business development for content creation companies, he and his team of developers built all the systems behind Keranen’s fitness brands, he says.
Those include KaisaFit, which provides one-time-purchase workout videos in a digital ecommerce store; Just Move, KaisaFit’s membership website, which offers unlimited access to workout videos for every fitness level; and Start Moving, which targets beginners and pre-beginners with “workouts for people who don’t work out.”
With a unique business model that requires distinguishing between paying customers, Just Move members, and more casual web visitors, KaisaFit needs a tech stack that gives their dev team free rein to create a highly customized online customer experience.
The core elements of that tech stack, according to Swanson: WooCommerce and Klaviyo.
Why brands choose a WordPress/WooCommerce tech stack
As of 2023, 810M websites are built on WordPress—nearly half (43%) of the websites on the internet.
On its own, WordPress is not technically an ecommerce solution. “At its core, WordPress is a content management system,” says Neil Harner, founder and CEO of Inverse Paradox, a digital agency that builds, manages, and evolves custom WordPress and WooCommerce solutions, with a focus on ecommerce websites.
“WordPress can be extended to power ecommerce, applications, or even communities filled with user-generated content,” Harner continues. “But what comes out of the box with WordPress is management of pages within a website, or posts within a blog. Everything else requires plug-ins that extend that capability.”
WooCommerce is one of those plug-ins. Now owned by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress, “WooCommerce is open-source software built on WordPress,” whose “familiar framework” makes it “easy for store owners to learn and manage,” says Joe Franger, director of strategic partnerships at Automattic.
The appeal of open-source software, Franger adds, is that it “means merchants own their platforms and can host their sites where and how they choose.”
While “there are other WordPress ecommerce plug-ins out there,” Harner says, WooCommerce is commonly considered “the No. 1 solution for ecommerce inside WordPress” because it “installs directly into WordPress and allows your WordPress site to become an ecommerce website.”
With that in mind, here are 3 common reasons brands build out their ecommerce stores on WordPress and WooCommerce:
1. Optimizing beyond a catalog-first sales philosophy
For brands with sales strategies that are “less about ‘Here’s a catalog and here’s a shopping cart’ and more about brand storytelling around their value proposition,” Harner says, “this is where WordPress really crushes it.”
Because WordPress is a CMS first and foremost, “their page-building system is just so beyond what you get with other ecommerce platforms that are catalog-first,” Harner explains. “So if a brand is really looking for that brand-first approach, I would argue there’s less technical overhead and more flexibility from a content management experience perspective in WordPress.”
Similarly, for brands that didn’t start out in ecommerce, priority No. 1 when building a web presence was probably, simply, “a really robust marketing website to build brand visibility,” Harner says. “WordPress does that exceptionally well.”
2. Personalizing membership and subscription experiences with ease
The typical SaaS ecommerce platform handles subscriptions through a third-party service that charges based on volume. “That’s cumbersome. There’s a lot of overhead with that, and it gets to be expensive if you’re being charged on volume,” Harner points out.
WooCommerce, by contrast, offers a native plug-in that integrates subscription functionality directly into your website. And, like all things WooCommerce, it’s fully customizable, Harner says: “Tons of plug-in developers have built ways of extending it and changing it, so we can accommodate all sorts of different business models. There’s no handcuffing.”
Similarly, “with a lot of other ecommerce platforms, you usually have the sales page, which is something like mydomain.com, and then you have the content delivery site, which is members.mydomain.com,” Swanson explains. “The content for members is separate from the sales tools.”
That doesn’t work so well when a big part of what you’re selling is membership. “For us, there is a very tight correlation between sales and membership,” Swanson explains. “One of the things I am a huge believer in is that the product page and the content delivery page should be the same URL.”
3. Endless customization at your fingertips
In 2016, Swanson and his team of developers, who work with several businesses in addition to KaisaFit, started building out their own underlying WooCommerce-based platform for video content delivery and video-based sales.
By the time he teamed up with Keranen in 2019, Swanson already had a strong foundation on which to build KaisaFit—and because that foundation was WooCommerce-based, “we really were able to build what we wanted to build,” he says. “There’s no out-of-the-box format that would work with our particular style and needs.”
He’s referring, in particular, to what greets someone who isn’t a paying customer when they click on one of the for-purchase workout tutorials on the KaisaFit website: an overlay that allows a glimpse into the video in the background, but blocks full access until the visitor logs in or makes a payment.
Source: KaisaFit website
“That video underneath is playing in real time, and it is showing you what you could have if you purchased it,” Swanson explains. “We’ve played with different variations on this, but the whole interaction between the underlying content and the overlay purchase process—that’s something no out-of-the-box system gives us in the philosophical way that I really love approaching it.”
“We had to do a lot of development and testing to figure out how to make this all work, and we had to do a lot of customization around it,” Swanson adds—customization options made possible by the flexibility and extensibility of WooCommerce.
Franger sums it up this way: “Woo’s ecommerce platform comes with customizable and scalable features that empower stores of all sizes to launch, adapt, and grow their businesses. Open-source extension architecture enables users to add free or paid functionality from Woo’s marketplace or any compatible extension developed by the global Woo/WordPress community.”
3 ways KaisaFit uses WooCommerce + Klaviyo to achieve their ecommerce goals
Most developers who build content-based websites, Swanson says, “do so with off-the-shelf individual parts—sign-up forms, check-out, content delivery, etc.—that are very hard to get to work together in a way where each of those parts understands what the other part did.”
KaisaFit has solved that problem by consolidating its tech stack down to “two central places,” Swanson says: WooCommerce and Klaviyo, a platform that combines marketing automation capabilities with powerful options for collecting, unifying, storing, and activating customer data across your tech stack.
“We have a lot of business knowledge built into our back-end system that we’ve grown out over WooCommerce,” Swanson explains. “Then, we use Klaviyo’s API as essentially a trigger point direction to contain most of the other parts we need. And where we can, we solve problems by either linking via Klaviyo or by building something ourselves.”
As Franger points out, “Klaviyo’s customer data platform (CDP) captures and maintains a consolidated view of customer interactions across multiple channels, including email, SMS, web, mobile, social media, loyalty programs, and in-store transactions, all within the familiar Woo/WordPress dashboard.”
With Klaviyo, Franger says, “Woo merchants can develop unlimited precise customer segments to help maximize revenue and marketing ROI over the long term”—32x ROI on average, according to Klaviyo data.
Based on Swanson’s unique approach to marketing KaisaFit, here are a few ideas on how brands can use WooCommerce and Klaviyo together to achieve their WordPress ecommerce goals:
1. Creative list-building tactics
Your email and SMS lists are the only thing on the internet you truly own. Everything else, you’re temporarily renting. Building strong relationships with loyal customers depends largely on your ability to communicate with them in a way that makes them feel seen, heard, and valued—and your owned marketing lists are where that work begins.
When Swanson first started working with Keranen, she had nearly 1M followers on Instagram and an “almost nothing” email list of only 1K-2K, he says. Email capture, then, became a big part of KaisaFit’s marketing strategy.
First, when someone visits the KaisaFit website for the first time, they’re greeted with a traditional pop-up form offering 25% off a Just Move membership in exchange for their email address:
Source: KaisaFit website
Whether the visitor enters their email address or dismisses the pop-up, all of the videos in the KaisaFit digital product catalog are clickable. But what happens in the next tab depends on whether the visitor is an email subscriber, a paying member of Just Move, or neither.
Source: KaisaFit website
Remember that video overlay that shows up to prevent non-paying visitors from accessing for-purchase workout videos in full? Using Klaviyo sign-up forms, Swanson’s team has developed a similar approach to collect email addresses from new web visitors.
Take a look at what happens when a visitor clicks on a video labeled “free”: Again, the video keeps playing, soundlessly, in the background, but now, a sign-up form blocks the visitor from actually watching the content—until they enter their email address.
Source: KaisaFit website
“That is Klaviyo web tracking at work,” Swanson explains. “When I’m viewing from the outside, I’ll be prompted for my email address. But when I enter my email address, moving forward, the site knows who I am, and it won’t prompt me for my email if I click around to another free video.”
In a nutshell, Swanson says, the strategy is “to use free video offerings as an email capture tool for maximizing list growth.”
2. Tracking customer actions—even “non-standard” ones
Klaviyo synthesizes data into detailed customer profiles and gives you the flexibility to store all the data you need, regardless of volume, with no restrictions on fields or custom properties.
Then, you can use any piece of data you collect to define target audience segments with as many conditions as you want, including:
- Active on site
- Viewed product
- Added product to cart
- Started check-out
- Placed order
- Refunded order
But even beyond those more standard metrics, “all this data is being captured on non-standard actions that are happening in the background,” Swanson points out. “Effectively, we are using Klaviyo as the back-end database for tracking customer engagement on our website.”
It’s a great example of the extensibility Harner says makes Klaviyo and WooCommerce such a strong match (more on this later). “There are almost too many ways you can extend data in Klaviyo, depending on what the user’s needs are,” he says. “You really just have to think about the value of the data you have sitting in WordPress, and how it can be used by the business.”
In other words, as long as you can identify what you want to learn about your customers in order to communicate with them more effectively, Klaviyo can figure out a way to learn it.
“We work with the client to figure out, ‘If we were able to get this, this, this, and this data into Klaviyo, you could build segments and automations around this, this, this, and this,’ based on whatever their needs are,” Harner explains.
Competing marketing platforms, Harner believes, “are not going to be as robust, that’s for sure. I just don’t see the same ways you could extend the data so significantly so that the user has the ability to precisely target their audiences.”
3. Delivering personalized messages that make customers feel seen
Based on all that data, Klaviyo then makes it easy to send and trigger ultra-relevant omnichannel campaigns and automations at scale—building more valuable relationships and boosting customer lifetime value in the process.
“It’s really important that our marketing takes into account what users are doing,” Swanson says. “Our triggers are based on user behavior to do certain follow-ups.”
Klaviyo’s pre-built automations include:
- Browse abandonment
- Abandoned cart
- Abandoned check-out
- Price drop
- Order confirmation
- Review request
- Canceled and refunded orders
But thanks to the customization enabled by the Klaviyo x WooCommerce integration (more on this later), it’s also possible to get a lot more creative with your ecommerce marketing. Here are a few of the less traditional ways KaisaFit engages customers:
Custom automation triggers pull free users down-funnel
Offering so much free video content is a great way to build an email list. But a major priority for KaisaFit is converting those free users into paying customers.
To pull free users down-funnel, KaisaFit sends a “fairly straightforward follow-up email,” Swanson says—but the email is based on an API trigger between Woo and Klaviyo that keeps tabs on whether the user in question both starts and finishes a workout.
“Once we’ve got their email, our API gets two things—that they started the workout and they completed the workout,” Swanson explains. “So we often will have a branching flow where they will get emails based on whether they completed the workout or whether they didn’t.”
It’s a smart way to tailor communication based on the way someone is likely feeling about their KaisaFit experience so far. If they start a workout but don’t complete it, “instead of trying to sell them on membership, our target is to try to get them to just complete a workout,” Swanson explains.
If they complete the workout, “then we try to get them to complete a second workout, and then we start a more aggressive conversation about joining membership,” Swanson says.
Multi-step reviews flow rewards “true believers” for spreading the word
Swanson’s favorite marketing automation, however, is a reviews flow KaisaFit ran early on. “I do a lot with social proof,” Swanson says—and it shows. The KaisaFit reviews page lists over 3K product reviews, and many of them are video reviews:
Source: KaisaFit website
“This is something we wouldn’t be able to do without the tight integration between WooCommerce and Klaviyo,” Swanson points out.
Here’s how it worked: The first trigger of the automation was when someone completed 5 different workouts in the last 30 days. In that event, they received an email asking them to leave a text review.
The second trigger was when someone left a 5-star text review for a particular product within a specific timeframe. “That right there means Klaviyo has to be aware when someone leaves a review,” Swanson points out. “So we had to work it out so that when someone leaves a review, our system sends an API action back to Klaviyo to let them know the review has occurred.”
The third trigger, then, was when someone wrote a 5-star review. About 10 minutes later, they received another email thanking them for leaving a review, and asking if they’d be willing to leave a video review in the form of two separate videos: a testimonial video in which they talk about their experience, and a video of themself doing the workout.
To sweeten the deal, the first 100 or so people to leave a video review earned a massive reward: a lifetime membership to Just Move. “We wanted to incentivize them,” Swanson says. “It’s really hard to get people on camera to do this type of stuff, and we were asking for something fairly significant in return.”
Plus, “we found we were getting better videos when we were offering more of the product as a reward, as opposed to cash or something like that,” Swanson explains. “We were looking for genuine reviews. We wanted true believers.”
That philosophy paid off. Now, if a visitor clicks on one of the videos on KaisaFit’s reviews page, the video cuts smoothly between the testimonial and the reviewer showing the workout in action.
The power of WooCommerce x Klaviyo
As a marketing automation tool powered by customer data, Klaviyo integrates with all kinds of ecommerce platforms. But as KaisaFit’s experience reveals, WooCommerce and Klaviyo are a particularly strong match—both technically and philosophically.
“Klaviyo enables Woo merchants to launch, grow, and scale their marketing operations quickly and efficiently,” observes Franger, who calls Klaviyo “an ideal platform” for everyone from “Woo merchants seeking their first marketing automation platform” to “merchants ready to upgrade their automation.”
The integration is “worth its weight in gold”
The main reason Klaviyo is one of two email marketing platforms Inverse Paradox recommends to clients is that “Klaviyo takes ownership and responsibility over their integration with WooCommerce,” Harner explains.
It’s not just that the integration is “very good” from a technical standpoint, Harner points out. It’s also what he describes as “Klaviyo’s commitment to the WooCommerce platform.”
“I’ve seen other providers outsource their integration development or partner with another agency on it, and then you get into this ambiguity as far as who’s responsible for the plug-in,” Harner explains.
By contrast, “every time we’ve needed support regarding the integration, Klaviyo provides damn good support”—and that “speaks volumes for Klaviyo as a vendor,” Harner says.
“If things start to fail with an integration, that could mean business disruption, which could cost thousands and thousands of dollars,” Harner points out. “Do you really want to put that in the hands of another platform that’s tossing you around? Or do you want a vendor that has a really good support system and a solid relationship with WooCommerce?”
“The confidence that the Klaviyo x WooCommerce integration was built by Klaviyo and is maintained by Klaviyo is worth its weight in gold,” Harner adds.
They’re both 100% customizable
Many merchants are faithful to WooCommerce because it allows them to customize virtually every element of their online store.
Because Klaviyo’s open-source API framework aligns so well with the DIY culture of WordPress and WooCommerce, it makes Klaviyo an ideal choice for WooCommerce merchants that are excited about using a fully customizable marketing and customer data solution.
“Through multiple mechanisms, you can significantly extend what data’s going into Klaviyo to build out a robust view of your customers so you can do advanced segmentation and really, really robust automations,” Harner says. “It’s mind-blowingly good.”
One Inverse Paradox client recently graduated to Klaviyo from what Harner calls a “baby marketing platform” that didn’t let them do much with their data. “When you’ve been using a platform like that that’s highly restrictive, you don’t get to be creative,” Harner points out. “You just kind of paint by numbers and do what the system allows.”
By contrast, “not only can we get more data into Klaviyo, but the more data we can get in there, the more we can do with it,” Harner explains. “And that’s exciting. All of a sudden our clients have this incredible amount of capability, and it’s got their creative and marketing juices flowing.”
“I understand Klaviyo has constraints, like every software. It’s not a magic wand,” Harner adds. But Klaviyo, like WooCommerce, “has a lot more capability and a lot more capability to be extended to do things that most people can’t do with other systems.”
They’re both user-friendly
On a similar note: Whenever a client asks whether they can get a piece of data out of WooCommerce and into Klaviyo, “the answer’s always yes,” Harner says.
“I have not been in a situation where I can’t get a piece of information into Klaviyo to help a client achieve something with automations or segmentation,” Harner explains. “Other platforms may not fully support doing a thing with a piece of data in the way the client imagines, which means we have to get more clever with the solution.”
“We might be able to do something similar, but it’s more difficult,” Harner adds—and “difficulty is time and money.”
Franger agrees, calling Klaviyo “intuitive and easy to manage, with effortless marketing automation and precise targeting capabilities, all easily accessed within the Woo/WordPress dashboard.”
How to add Klaviyo to your WordPress/WooCommerce stack
Install the Klaviyo plug-in in your WooCommerce store.
Enable the WooCommerce integration in Klaviyo using the Klaviyo installation wizard.
Test the integration with a dummy check-out.
Troubleshoot any issues you’re having.
Yes, you read that right. That’s really it. All the historical data from your WooCommerce store integrates with Klaviyo in just a few clicks. “It takes 15 minutes,” Harner says. “No exaggeration.”
The time it takes to get ROI-positive with Klaviyo depends on how much data needs to sync, and whether you’re migrating from another ESP or starting from scratch.
“It could be within hours or a day or two, but you now have the ability to go into Klaviyo and build out whatever you want, from basic automations like cart abandonments to a pop-up that shows up when people first enter the website and everything else in between,” Harner says. “And those activities even are really easy.”
Remember, too, that it’s not just the WooCommerce integration that makes Klaviyo an ideal match for WooCommerce users.
“The Klaviyo x WooCommerce integration checks off 90% of the boxes,” Harner says. But Klaviyo also offers 300+ pre-built data integrations to top tech tools and open, flexible APIs that offer even more freedom to connect with—and extend—any data source you need to incorporate to round out your tech stack.
Because both Klaviyo and WooCommerce have such large, active communities of users and developers, there are all kinds of ways to extend your capabilities with Klaviyo and WooCommerce, depending on the specific tasks you need to accomplish.
WooCommerce + Klaviyo in action: “we’re more aware of what our customers are doing”
The biggest problem Klaviyo has solved for KaisaFit, Swanson says, is bridging the gap “between user behavior information and our outbound email marketing.”
And not just personalized email marketing, either. “‘Personalized’ makes it seem like I’m using their first name or their favorite color. This is more about making sure we’re not chasing somebody to take an action they’ve already taken,” Swanson explains.
The “most wasted marketing effort,” Swanson says, “is to hound somebody to sign up for something they’ve already signed up for, and our email system doesn’t know it because it’s just a dumb system running on internal rules.”
Not so with Klaviyo. “By increasing the amount of interaction between WooCommerce and the API to Klaviyo, we’re able to become more and more aware of what our customers are doing,” Swanson explains.
That knowledge allows KaisaFit to build out a better customer experience—one that’s not just personalized, but also relevant, engaging, and, as Swanson puts it, “in alignment with people’s actions.”
WordPress ecommerce FAQs
Is WordPress or Shopify better for ecommerce websites?
It depends on your business needs. Go with WordPress and WooCommerce if you already have a WordPress website and you’re looking to add ecommerce functionality, you have a subscription- or membership-based business model, or you have unique, custom needs around building and maintaining your online store. A SaaS ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, on the other hand, might make more sense if you’re starting from scratch with a catalog-first sales philosophy, your ecommerce model is more traditional, and you have limited developer resources or expertise.
Is WordPress good for ecommerce?
On its own, WordPress is not technically an ecommerce solution—it’s a content management system. To turn your WordPress website into a true ecommerce store, you need a plug-in like WooCommerce. Now owned by Automattic, the same company behind WordPress, the WooCommerce plug-in installs directly into WordPress and turns your WordPress site into an ecommerce website.
You can also start from WooCommerce with a bundled hosting—WordPress and WooCommerce onboarding that simplifies the set-up without compromising the data ownership or customization.
What are the best tools for WooCommerce email marketing?
Klaviyo, which combines marketing automation capabilities with powerful options for collecting, unifying, storing, and activating customer data across your tech stack, integrates with all kinds of ecommerce platforms. Thanks to an in-house integration with WooCommerce and an open-source API framework, WooCommerce and Klaviyo are a particularly strong match—both technically and philosophically.