Some people will tell you that email marketing isn’t worth the effort these days. Instead, they say you should focus on building a stronger presence on social and continue publishing killer content on your site to increase conversions.
Now, I’m not saying these things aren’t important. But what I am saying is that you shouldn’t write off email marketing – ever.
Think about it. Facebook, the number one social media platform in the world, boasts a whopping 2.38 billion monthly active users. But as of right now, there are nearly 5.6 billion active email accounts.
Those are all people you could reach at any given moment with an email campaign.
Adding to that, a recent survey of online shoppers revealed that 73% of people claim email continues to be their preferred marketing channel, over channels such as text, social media, face-to-face interactions, web banners, and messenger apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Telegram.
So, saying you should continue building a bigger email list is an understatement.
That being said, knowing you should focus on email marketing and actually doing it are two very different things. That’s why today we’re going to look at some of the top list building plugins available for WordPress (the #1 CMS in the world) to help you get started.
So, let’s jump right into the OptinMonster vs Thrive Leads vs Bloom showdown!
OptinMonster is one of the most popular list building applications for WordPress. In addition to this, there is also a free OptinMonster WordPress plugin that allows you to create an OptinMonster account (where you’ll manage most things) and connect it to your WordPress website.
Now let’s get into why OptinMonster is an extremely effective list building plugin…
Fully Customizable Form Design
OptinMonster comes with a user-friendly drag-and-drop builder that allows you to create fully customizable opt-in forms.
Here are all the possible campaign types that you’re able to create to encourage people to sign up for your email list:
- Lightbox Popup
- Fullscreen Welcome Mat
- Slide-in Scroll Box
- Floating Bar
- Countdown Timer
- Sidebar Forms
- Inline Forms
- Content Locker
- Coupon Wheels (fun right?!)
From there, select from dozens of modern, clean, and visually appealing templates. Even better, sort and filter the templates based on things like most recent, your overall goals, industry categories and more so you can find the perfect template for your website.
After choosing a template, the OptinMonster form builder gives you the freedom to change every element from text to images, color schemes to form fields – without having any coding knowledge.
Every change you make to your opt-in form in the editor can be viewed in real-time before adding it to your website, so you can make sure your form looks exactly how you want it to before you publish the changes.
Campaign Triggers and Targeting
Like many list building plugins for WordPress, OptinMonster has plenty of campaign triggers that can be used to target specific visitors based on their on-site behaviour:
- Exit Intent: designed to help you recover abandoning site visitors, this trigger detects the minute someone is about to leave your site and displays a popup encouraging them to subscribe.
- MonsterLinks™ 2-Step Optins: turn any link or image into an optin form, complete with 2-steps (which is perfect for making OptinMonster GDPR complaint and ensuring you have consent from people to collect their contact information).
- Timed Display: show your campaigns at designated times set by you.
- Scroll Trigger: display an opt-in form after users scroll a certain percentage down the page.
- InactivitySensor™: target those that have become inactive on your site.
- Campaign Scheduling: run-time sensitive campaigns during certain dates and times.
In addition to setting campaign triggers, you can also target site visitors in different ways by making use of OptinMonster’s targeting rules – options include the ability to:
- Show a targeted message based on where the user is coming from
This can be great if to create a unique experience for visitors originating from a certain social network.
- Create on-site drip campaigns that trigger based on user behavior
This is extremely useful if you already have a significant number of people engaging with your website and would like to segment your list based on actions that they’ve taken during their visit.
- Personalize campaigns based on a user’s geographic location
This is another great way to customize a subscriber’s experience and tailor it to them – making it easier to evoke a personal connection.
- Create unique campaigns for different device types
- Customize campaigns based on the webpages of your site
This is becoming more and more of a must because showing every visitor the same message is no longer an effective way of ensuring you reach the right people. OptinMonster makes that easy because it is now possible to target people based on the type of content that they’re looking at.
So let’s they’re reading one of your guides about search engine optimization, you wouldn’t be forced to show them the same campaign as if someone were reading an article about WordPress.
- Create special offers for returning visitors
Through the use of browser cookies, OptinMonster is able to keep track of whether it is a visitor’s first time on your website or if they’ve been to your site before. This is another way you can personalize campaigns and create opt-in forms that are more likely to attract attention and get subscribers.
- Enable cookie retargeting
Using OptinMonster’s cookie retargeting feature, you can easily save money by targeting specific segments of your on-site audience. A common way for eCommerce stores to use this is to create targeted promotions or upsells specifically for customers who have already opted in.
- Prevent ad blocking from ruining your campaigns
With the rise of chrome extensions that block advertisements, the chances that your visitors never even see your opt-in form is always becoming more of a reality. Fortunately, OptinMonster ensures this isn’t the case when you create subscription forms using their service.
Actionable Insights and Reporting
Being able to monitor your campaign progress is crucial if you want to continue to build your email list and capture high-quality leads that may lead to future sales.
OptinMonster gives you plenty of opportunities to check the status of all your opt-in campaigns. To start, once you’re in your OptinMonster account and viewing the dashboard, you’ll see each campaign listed with the following associated data:
- Campaign Name
- Number of Visitors
- Leads (aka number of subscribers)
- Conversion rate
- Type of campaign
- Status (availability on website)
If you click on the Analytics icon under the “Actions” section, you’ll get more detailed information about individual campaigns.
You can also connect your OptinMonster campaigns to your existing Google Analytics account, so you can track your campaign success closer and make better, data-driven decisions about which campaigns to display for your site visitors.
Support, Documentation, and OptinMonster Pricing
OptinMonster has an extensive documentation section that’s updated regularly to reflect new plugin features. It categorizes the articles so you can find them easier, and even has a search bar if you have a specific question or topic in mind.
You can also get in contact with their support team very easily right from the OptinMonster website. In fact, they have two lines of communication open: for those with technical questions and those with basic or pre-sale questions.
For those in their OptinMonster accounts needing help, you can access the documentation articles, take a tour of your account, and even submit a help ticket.
Lastly, OptinMonster recently released their newest feature – OptinMonster University – that gives users instant access to expert courses, digital content, and video training for free, so you can learn how to use their list building solution from start to finish without any problems.
When it comes to price, OptinMonster has multiple plans at varying price points:
- Basic Plan ($9/month): limited features to get you started (lightbox popups, custom success messages, and redirects, timed display and scroll triggering, subscriber recognition, and page level targeting), 3 campaigns, 5000 pageviews/month, and simple analytics for 1 site.
- Plus Plan ($19/month): everything in the Basic plan plus features like floating bars, inline forms, and sidebar forms, device targeting and content locking, A/B testing, unlimited campaigns, 15K pageviews/month, and full analytics and reporting for 2 sites.
- Pro Plan ($29/month): everything in the Plus plan plus features such as slide-in scroll boxes, fullscreen overlays and countdown timers, MonsterLinks™ 2-Step Forms, exit intent, and other helpful triggers, unlimited campaigns, 50K pageviews/month, and full analytics and reporting for 3 sites.
- Growth Plan ($49/month): every single available feature OptinMonster has available, including unlimited campaigns, 250K pageviews/month, and full analytics and reporting for 5 sites.
Cons of Using OptinMonster
As with all things, OptinMonster has some downsides:
- To unlock some of the most helpful list building features you have to pay significantly more money each month
- There is no one-time payment, making higher-tiered plans more expensive
- A/B testing doesn’t yield an automatic winner
- Campaign management is done in an off-site account rather than in the backend of your website
2. Thrive Leads
The Thrive Leads plugin is a comprehensive list building plugin for WordPress. It comes an easy to use drag & drop builder, which makes form building easy. You don’t have to have any design or coding skills, and every opt-in form you create is fully customizable.
Now let’s take a look at the features that make Thrive Leads so great.
Tons of Opt-in Form Positions
Thrive Leads gives website owners a lot of options when it comes to collecting emails from their site visitors. In fact, they have every type of opt-in form you might need to grow a bigger email list.
- ThriveBox: a lightbox popup that displays above content and grabs people’s attention right away.
- Sticky Ribbon: an opt-in form in a ribbon that follows people as they scroll through your content.
- In-Line Forms: an automated form that appears at the bottom of every blog post (or anywhere in your content with a shortcode).
- 2-Step Opt-Ins: a 2-step process that reveals a lightbox opt-in form when a user clicks on a button or link.
- Slide-In: a less-intrusive form that slides into view from the corner of the screen.
- Opt-In Widget: an opt-in form that displays in any widget area on your website.
- Screen Filler Overlay: a fullscreen opt-in form that people simply cannot ignore.
- Content Lock: an opt-in form that requires people to subscribe in order to reveal locked content.
- Scroll Mat: a screen-filling form that appears from the top of the page and pushes content down.
- Yes/No Multiple Choice Forms: forms that engage site visitors in order to secure more conversions.
It’s also worth noting that the Thrive Leads GDPR explicit consent checkbox helps ensure you only collect contact information from site visitors that are giving consent for you to store their contact information and send out future marketing materials.
Easy Form Management
Thrive Leads comes with a well-organized dashboard that can be accessed in the backend of your website.
It’s here that you can create and monitor the success of all your opt-in forms:
- Lead Groups: create and edit multiple opt-in forms at once and set them to appear throughout your website. Here you can also A/B test forms against one another.
- Lead Shortcodes: create opt-in forms that you can manually place on your website using shortcodes.
- ThriveBoxes: create 2-step lightbox opt-in forms.
- Signup Segue – One Click Signup Links: create one-click signups for existing subscribers. This is perfect for getting people to sign up for things like webinars without having them subscribe again, or when you want to direct people back to your site to sign up for something new via an email campaign.
The nice thing about the Thrive Leads dashboard is that each section has a quick video tutorial to get you started.
And once you start collecting emails from users, you can easily view the progress of each form you’ve created in the dashboard, complete with impressions, conversions, and conversion rates.
In addition, you can see a daily summary immediately in the dashboard that gives you a bird’s eye view of how your email list building efforts are going.
Forget about having to display the same opt-in forms to everyone that lands on your site every single time.
With Thrive Leads targeting, you can display different forms to users based on the content they’re viewing:
- Show relevant opt-in offers for specific categories or tags
- Display a specific form on one or several blog posts
- Select which pages to show opt-in forms on, such as the homepage
You can also make exclusions so your opt-in forms appear only where you want them to. And the best part is, once you configure these settings, anytime you publish a new post or page, the right opt-in forms will automatically appear where they should.
Advanced Trigger Options
Displaying the right forms for the right people, at the right time, is crucial to boosting conversions.
Luckily, Thrive Leads has 4 advanced trigger options you can use to deliver opt-in forms to users:
- Exit Trigger: show an opt-in form the minute someone is about to leave your site.
- Time Trigger: set your form to display after a set amount of time (seconds).
- Scroll Trigger: configure your opt-in form to show when a user scrolls to a specific part of content, after passing a certain percentage of content, or when they reach the end of your content.
- Click Trigger: show an opt-in when a user clicks an element such as a hyperlink or button.
You can always set up split tests to see which triggers convert the highest for your site visitors.
Support, Documentation, and Thrive Leads Pricing
Thrive Leads has an excellent support and documentation section, which is good because there is a lot to this list building plugin.
There is an extensive knowledge base with step-by-step tutorials and even video demos. Not to mention, throughout the Thrive dashboard there are help videos that can guide you through the step you’re at.
You can also access their Support Forum in the account you create after purchasing the plugin, where you can view previous support questions or start a new support request for yourself. You can also use the public contact form if you aren’t quite a customer yet.
When it comes to price, Thrive Leads is competitive:
- 1 site: $67
- 5 sites: $97
- 15 sites: $147
Or, if you want to access all of the great products Thrive Themes has for customers, including Thrive Leads, you can opt for a $19/month membership. With a purchase, you get 1 year of support and an impressive lifetime of updates.
Cons of Using Thrive Leads
All of this said, there are a few disadvantages to using Thrive Leads, when compared to OptinMonster and Bloom:
- There is a steep learning curve if you want to create opt-in forms without reading the documentation or watching the video tutorials
- There’s no referral source or cookie retargeting
- It can only be used on a self-hosted WordPress site
- Some templates seem a little outdated
The Bloom email plugin for WordPress is brought to you by the talented team at Elegant Themes. It’s feature-packed and is designed to help you convert more site visitors into loyal followers or customers. It also claims to have all the tools you need to build a bigger list and become more successful.
Let’s see what Bloom has to offer site owners.
Display Types and Triggers
It wouldn’t be fair to Bloom if we didn’t highlight the display types and trigger actions this email list building plugin has available.
And since these features are what the most coveted opt-in form solutions need to have to be competitive, here’s what Bloom offers:
There are 6 display types to choose from when creating an email opt-in form for your website:
- Automatic opt-in popup
- Automatic opt-in fly-ins
- In-line opt-informs
- Below content opt-ins
- Widget area opt-in forms
- Content lock
Though these trigger actions only work for automatic popup and fly-ins, they are still helpful in getting more people to convert based on the behavior they exhibit while on your site:
- Timed delay
- After inactivity
- After scrolling
- Bottom of post
- After commenting
- After purchasing
The neat thing about these trigger actions is that after commenting and after purchasing are unique to the list building plugins in this roundup. That said, Bloom doesn’t offer an exit intent trigger like OptinMonster and Thrive Leads.
Easy Form Creation
One of the best things about using Bloom as your list building plugin is how easy it is to create an opt-in form. There’s a natural progression to form creation and truly requires zero design or coding skills.
After choosing your display type, you’re taken to the next screen where you can name your optin and integrate with one of 19 email marketing service providers.
When your email service is configured (for easy addition of all subscriber information), it’s time to choose from one of over 100 pre-designed templates. You can also create your own from scratch if you prefer.
After choosing a template, customize your opt-in form by changing things like:
- Image settings (orientation, image, load animation, and mobile view)
- Background colors
- Font styles
- Form orientation
- Edge style
- Footer text
- Custom fields (such as a Bloom email GDPR checkbox)
- Success message (you can redirect to a thank you page too!)
- And much more
When you customize the trigger actions for your opt-in form, you also have the chance to define where your forms will display on your site.
These advanced targeting options are really great for making sure the right people see your forms at the right time. You can even include or exclude specific posts and pages.
Stunning Dashboard for Opt-in Management
Managing your opt-in forms is one of the most important aspects of building a bigger email list. And Elegant Themes does an amazing job at creating a visually appealing, easy to understand dashboard in the backend of your site.
Here is some of the data you can access right in your WordPress website:
- Active/Inactive Opt-ins: every opt-in you create, whether active on your site or not, is seen in your dashboard. You’ll also notice the opt-in names, impressions, conversions, and conversion rates.
- A/B Tests: want to monitor the split tests you set up to see which opt-in form converts the highest? Check out the dashboard! You’ll see data such as conversion rate that will help you decide which opt-ins to continue using for your target audience.
- Email Accounts: add an unlimited number of email accounts and let Bloom organize them for you. See the different providers, the segmented lists you’ve created, and of course, how many subscribers are associated with each account. This is very different from the other list building plugins that require you to access your email provider separately from the plugin dashboard.
Support, Documentation, and Bloom Email Pricing
Just like OptinMonster and Thrive Leads, Bloom has exceptional support and documentation.
To start, you have access to the team behind Bloom around the clock for those times you need help via the support forum or online contact forms (for sale and account questions and technical support).
Better yet, Elegant Themes recently rolled out live chat support for everyone, and I can speak from personal experience that they are quick to respond, super friendly, and knowledgeable.
When it comes to documentation, accessing the Bloom self-help articles is a cinch. The articles are separated according to product, and there is even a developer section, which is helpful for those that need more advanced technical help.
When it comes to buying Bloom, things work a little differently than you might expect. You cannot buy Bloom as a standalone plugin. Instead, you must buy an Elegant Themes membership that gives you access to all of their themes and plugins, including Bloom.
The cost of a developer license is $89/year and comes with access to the themes Divi and Extra, Bloom, and Monarch (a social sharing plugin). You’ll also receive product updates, premium support, and unlimited site usage.
For the Lifetime Access membership, pay a one-time fee of $249 for access to Divi, Extra, Bloom, and Monarch, as well as 100+ website packs for creating a unique website, lifetime support and updates, and unlimited site usage.
Cons of Using Bloom
As we’ve done with the other two list building plugins, here’s a look at some of the disadvantages to using Bloom:
- No exit intent technology, which equates to a lot of lost opportunities
- No WYSIWYG editor, meaning you have to click back and forth between the editor and a preview of your form to make sure it looks just right
- No drag and drop builder, which can make customization a bit tougher
Conclusion – which opt-in plugin should you use?
So, how do you know which WordPress plugin is best for your email list building needs? Let’s recap the basics of each, and what makes each solution unique, so you can make an informed decision.
Each list building plugins comes with the following standard features:
- Multiple types of opt-in forms
- A dashboard for opt-in form management and stats
- A/B testing and clear winners
- Plenty of pre-designed templates
- Integration with popular email marketing services
However, there are some key differences between the three options that may give you a reason to choose one solution over the others:
- OptinMonster and Thrive Leads have exit intent technology, whereas Bloom doesn’t.
- Various trigger options and control levels – your choice will depend on your individual needs.
- Bloom and Thrive Leads offer affordable one-time payment options; OptinMonster requires you to pay (a lot) more to unlock certain features.
- OptinMonster and Thrive Leads have drag & drop builders, making form creation and real-time previews easier than when using Bloom.
- OptinMonster is the only solution that works with platforms other than WordPress.
- Thrive Leads and Bloom are the least expensive (at $67 and $87 respectively), whereas OptinMonster’s cheapest plan will cost you $108 for the year and come with a lack of core features.
And The Winner Is…
In the end, all of the list building options we looked at – OptinMonster vs Thrive Leads vs Bloom – will help you build a bigger email list and secure more conversions. The solution you choose will ultimately come down to which features are the most important to you and your budget.
That being said, I believe that Thrive Leads is the ultimate winner when it comes to offering the best value for your money.
In this case, Thrive Leads has more features than Bloom does and is priced much more competitively than OptinMonster, making it the best option when it comes to wanting to build a bigger email list. especially for people just getting started.