Today, there are countless list-building plugins that will allow you to build an email list efficiently without having to do any coding or designing any templates yourself. Opt-in forms have come a long way within the past couple years. Back in 2010 when I started internet marketing, we were pretty much limited to a very basic Aweber email form, or an expensive professional service that most newbies could not afford.
These days, you can get the most advanced plugins in the list-building space for $20-$50 per month, or even as cheap as a one time payment of about $30. There are freebies out there, but they tend have very few features, and follow the “freemium” model, so you can expect ads within the back end of WordPress asking you to upgrade. What I meant to say, is that if you have a professional website and are earning money from it (or at least don't mind investing into your business), you really should opt for a premium list-building plugin.
In this article, we'll go through 5 of the top list-building plugins on the market. These plugins are all filled to the brim with various features, and we won't be able to list each and every item under each plugin, so you can read our concise reviews and head over to the individual pages for more details about each one.
Plus, I know that there's a ton more out there, so please let me know what your favorite plugin is (without affiliate links!). I'd like to add to this list as time goes on. List building isn't going anywhere, so “who's the best of the best” will naturally change over time. Let's begin.
- Price: Thrive Membership ($19/month) – Site License ($67)
If you do your research on list building plugins, you'll definitely find Thrive Leads to be the unanimously loved, undisputed champion of this category. You'll rarely find a feature in that area that Thrive Leads lacks. First off, its designs are top notch and come with an impressive variety. Using this plugin, you can welcome your website's visitors with popup light-boxes, nice sticky ribbons, in-line forms, slide-ins, opt-in widgets, or the default 2-step opt-in form, just to name a few. The plugin has over 50 form types with catchy animations. Each of these templates comes with a number of designs to suit your taste. But Thrive Leads deserves the real props when it comes to practicality.
Thrive Leads provides the SmartLinks feature that allows you to not fall in the rookie mistake many websites have by which one of the website's actual subscribers receives the same opt-ins asking him to subscribe that a new visitor would receive. These cases are pretty annoying to a website's users, so you want to avoid having a similar one in yours. The SmartLinks feature lets you tailor-make the opt-ins that every type of visitors (e.g. new visitors, subscribers, people interested in certain categories on your website, etc.) would receive when they visit your website. This makes for better targeting and ultimately more effective lists.
It also has the A/B Testing feature that will absolutely transform your conversion rates. This feature basically lets you try out different opt-in forms, triggers, timings, etc., to reach the formula that works best at getting you new subscribers. It shows you statistics for each scenario, runs comparisons between them and you can even set it on auto-pilot and let it pick out what it finds statistically most successful.
SmartExit+ is also one of the plugin's features that will let you run an intelligent website. Exit intent opt-ins usually end up looking absurd when put into practice. These are opt-ins that your website displays to visitors besides your regular opt-in forms with the intention of catching visitors before they leave the website. A dumb exit intent opt-in form (which is the majority) could show up to a reader who hasn't even considered leaving your website or has already subscribed and browsed for a while. In such cases, you leave them confused with an out-of-context pop-up. SmartExit+ simply sniffs out certain trends whenever someone visits your website, so if it detects that a visitor is leaving before the main opt-in form shows up, it hits them with the exit intent opt-in. By giving your messages proper context you can substantially raise your conversion rates. Visitors to your website would feel like you are finally someone who is actually communicating a reasonable message to them, not just coming at them with ridiculous templates out of nowhere.
Over and above all of this, Thrive Leads is supported by a robust team and you will find it easy to hit up their website for information and tips that are always available and up-to-date. You'll generally find it easy to use anyway. You don't need any technical knowledge to run it on your website.
Thrive is unequivocally, one of the best WordPress plugin development companies out there. I don't use them on One More Cup of Coffee yet, but use them on a few of my other sites. They also have an amazing selection of themes, and A/B testing plugin, clever widgets, something called Thrive Ultimatum, a testimonial builder, a quiz maker, comment moderation, and their most famous landing page/web page builder.
- Price: Elegant Themes membership ($89/year or $249 for a lifetime)
Here's the second in line among the list-building plugins. It might not be as smart as Thrive Leads, but it definitely aces all the features when compared to its contenders. In terms of design, this plugin is just as good as Thrive Leads if not better. It offers 6 display types for the opt-ins, namely automatic pop-up, automatic fly-in, inline form, below content form, widget area form, and content unlock opt-in.
That last type is a major plus that will serve your content well. Your website might be tempting for a subscription, but some might laze off or delay their subscription for whatever reason if you don't spark their curiosity. An “unlock content” opt-in is a perfect way to do that. Using this form, you can give your visitors a good bargain by offering them your premium content upon subscription. Even if they weren't that interested at first, there's a big chance that someone might change their mind if you give them access to your premium content for just one click. Most people are willing to go for that.
Bloom is also ideal when it comes to designing an automatic system for your opt-ins. You can set them up to be activated after a visitor has spent a certain amount of time on a page, when they have reached a certain point on it, or when they have scrolled down through a certain percentage of the page. That might help give your opt-in forms some context since you know what the visitor would have seen at every point on the page and can customize your messages accordingly. You can also set up your triggers according to the visitor's activity, like, for example, if they make a purchase or submit a comment on your website, or even if they sit there for a while without any activity. Making your website as interactive as possible will give your conversion rates a boost, and Bloom is a right tool for that.
Finally, Bloom was developed in order to integrate easily with a fairly big number of email marketing systems. These include some of the most popular names like AWeber, MailChimp, Mad Mimi, HubSpot, Feedblitz, GetResponse, and many others. Every once in a while more platforms are added to the list.
- Price: Free – Pro ($29)
Here's one of the classic yet powerful list building plugins. As obvious from its name, it was made to perfectly fit the WordPress platform. Its use is actually as simple as using WordPress at its core level since you don't need to code at all and can suffice by using shortcodes that are abundantly available online. By using WP Subscribe you can boost your website's revenues and conversion rates and majorly reduce your bounce rates.
It's a fully responsive plugin, won't slow down your website one bit, and comes with fabulous designs and animations for your pop-ups. It is easily customizable in terms of timing your opt-ins, managing their display spots, and choosing from the various forms that the plugin supports. Speaking of customizability, among its settings is the ability to exclude certain posts or pages from showing pop-ups.
Here are some e-mail marketing systems that WP Subscribe supports:
- K-News Service
This is one of the more inexpensive options on this list since there's no recurring subscription to use the plugin. That makes it an excellent choice if your blog isn't earning money yet and you're on a tight budget. However, as you might have guessed, it also means this plugins features are more basic than something like Thrive. “Basic” doesn't always mean bad though! I've owned Thrive for several years and still haven't mastered it. Having a basic, easy-to-implement (but still attractive) plugin to collect emails might be the best route for beginner online marketers.
And don't get scared by my declaring this plugin “basic”. They still have lots of well known and desired features like exit-intent, excluding pages, cooking length customization, and other design customization options.
- Price: Starter ($9/month) – Standard ($19/month) – Plus ($29/month)
There are a lot of reasons that make this plugin as popular as it is today among website operators. First off, it has an awesome template library that lets you display your messages through eye-catching designs that'll immediately attract your website's visitors. You don't need any design or programming background to make use of PopUp Domination's entire template library which is constantly growing.
What really gives this plugin an advantage over its competition is that mobile designs are perhaps the plugin's very top priority. Even my favorite plugin, Thrive, could use some work with their mobile efforts.
With ever-rising rates of mobile web surfing, this feature can be essential to your website's list-building strategy. You don't want your pop-ups to be inaccessible or uncomfortable for mobile users. PopUp Domination lets you reach out to your website's visitors with extreme simplicity, space-efficiency, and an excellent resolution. On their side, your mobile visitors will find it absolutely comfortable to interact with your opt-ins and fill in their information without speed deficiencies or recurrent bugs which most non-mobile friendly plug-ins might result in.
The plugin provides you with the option to include exit intent pop-ups that are somewhat smarter than most of the other plugins (not smarter than the SmartExit+ feature provided by Thrive Leads, though!). The other pop-up themes you get with this plugin include e-mail, redirect themes which allow you to place links to other pages in your pop-ups, and countdown themes which work nicely with limited offers and whatnot. You can easily customize your triggers based on page views, scrolling percentages, time spent on the page, etc.
There are plenty of targeting parameters that PopUp Domination provides that will let you tailor your messages and narrow down the audiences for each in order to reach ultimate effectiveness. These parameters include geographical location, the referral sites from which traffic is coming, the specific pages on your website a visitor is on, along with many others.
Fortunately, PopUp Domination allows you to run A/B tests like the ones we covered earlier with Thrive Leads. These split tests help you choose the options that are more effective in your particular case. With that fat package of features, you get a decent analytics feature that lets you keep track of the performance of your pop-ups and the conversion rates your website has achieved. One of your stat options is Google Analytics, which themselves usually need their own separate plugin. That's a pretty sweet deal!
As for the e-mail marketing platforms that PopUp Domination can integrate with, this plugin is actually one of the most adaptable in this regard. It's designed to integrate with and adapt to as many platforms as possible, among which are the popular names that we already mentioned with earlier plugins.
Plugmatter Opt-in Feature Box
- Price: Professional ($67) – Developer ($87)
This plugin provides a very specific type of opt-in forms, but it does it perfectly: feature boxes. A feature box is a box (obviously!) that appears right underneath your website's header but before any of the content. They work well at capturing the attention of whoever visits your website as soon as they land on a page, and if the message is designed correctly, it's a guaranteed way to spark their interest in browsing through your content. It's an option definitely worth considering.
Because these aren't pop-ups and usually aren't even animated, their whole magic lies in the design. That's why you need truly alluring designs. If you're going to hire a designer to do the job for you, these could end up costing you a lot of money, especially if you aren't going to use one design for all of your visitors. Plugmatter is a more cost-efficient option to manage your feature boxes, and it comes with pretty amazing designs that you can customize to fit your different audiences. That doesn't require any coding or even experience in design on your part. This plugin is basically one of the simplest options you can deal with to build your lists because it was developed with the least tech-savvy users in mind, and it has a particular use to it, so there shouldn't be any confusion whatsoever.
Ninja PopUps for WordPress
This plugin has everything you can expect from a ninja; it's cutting-edge, swift, and totally cool! First of all, the really unique thing about this plugin is that it lets you create your own designs rather than choose from ready-made templates. It's not as difficult as you might expect at first for non-designers, though. The plugin comes with a theme builder that operates on a drag-and-drop visual editor. The interface is downright perfect. Using this editor, you can put together your own images, text, animations, etc., giving you all the freedom you want to play around with your designs even if you're an absolute beginner.
Ninja PopUps is ultimately focused on one thing: conversion rates. Besides helping you gather subscribers and adding them to your e-mail lists, the template builder gives you space to add your social media links which will help you substantially increase your follower count.
The plugin is specifically designed for the WordPress platform, so if you have a WordPress website and want an easy option for your opt-in forms, you should totally consider this one. Also, if you're using WooCommerce applications to run your e-commerce business, you should know that Ninja PopUps is compatible with every WooCommerce version starting WooCommerce 1.3. That made it the most popular and best-selling WordPress pop-up plugin on the Envato Market!
- Price: Basic ($9/month) – Plus ($19/month) – Pro ($29/month) – Agency ($199/month)
There's a special spot in heaven for the team that created this monster. Most of the features that individually brought these other plugins to this list of top list-building plugins are gathered up in OptinMonster. Beginning with the design, OptinMonster has an amazing drag-and-drop opt-in builder that any amateur can easily create alluring opt-ins with. It includes a library of pre-made templates that can set the track for you, as well as an animation and sound effects library to spice up your popup. The attractive templates and unique styles of popups are the main reason I chose them for the website you're looking at now.
After you get past design and into campaign management, this plugin can singlehandedly equip you to transform your website's conversion rates. It supports countless opt-in types that you can choose from and mix together to make killer campaigns. These include everything from lightbox popups to slide-in scroll boxes, floating bars, content locks, and fullscreen welcome mats.
OptinMonster even gives you massive control over your campaign triggers, with scroll, time, and inactivity trigger options included. Exit-intent opt-ins are handled by a smart application that is embedded in this plugin, and which allows you to create exit-intent opt-ins that would look natural and have context. Now, the MonsterLinks application is one thing that is unique to OptinMonster. It lets you turn any link or photo into a nice, interactive 2-step opt-in.
You can do mind-blowing work at targeting using this plugin. You can target opt-in forms to visitors based on a lot of parameters. There's geo-location targeting, so you can target them by country, and there's device-based targeting that lets you target people carrying iPhones, for example, with a message different from that which will appear to Samsung users, etc. You can also target based on where the visitor is on your website, their interactions with a page, or when they return to your website, and that's just to name a few.
There are two final features that make it a truly comprehensive list-building plugin. The first is integration and the second is analytics. OptinMonster integrates very smoothly with a huge list of some of the world's top online marketing platforms. These include other plugins, social networks, and CMS. It helps you in segmentation as well as in list-sharing. As for analytics, it offers you insight into every aspect of a campaign in real-time.
You can also run A/B tests on your campaign options, keep track of your conversion rate, and even create new offers based on the insights gathered. The plugin is a full cycle of effective campaigning.
My only complaint about this plugin is that to get all these features, you have to fork for $30/month, so you'd better make sure the price is worth it. For me, I pay yearly and shut up about it.
What About Traffic & Conversions?
Plugins are great when they solve specific problems in an elegant way. They can make your website work better, engage your audience, and build your brand.
A plugin won't autogenerate traffic or guarantee conversions though. It won't magically turn your website into a thriving, cash-generating online business
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What features are you looking for in a list-building plugin?
What plugin do you use and are you happy with it?