Building an email list is probably the best thing you can do to secure your online business or blog’s future. You get a list of people who know about your brand, trust you, and are more likely to buy the latest products.
Also, unlike paid ads, building an email list gives you a better targeting option and control over the potential clients. But, to build an email list isn’t easy!
You’ve to entice the viewers by offering something useful (ebook, extra discounts, etc.), show the opt-in at the right time, right place, and most importantly keep is user-friendly.
Sounds like a lot of work? This is where email marketing tools like OptinMonster come into the picture to make your job easier. It will help you build opt-in design, target customers at the right time, and manage them with a single easy-to-use dashboard.
In this OptinMonster review, I walk you through the best features it has to offer, how to properly use it to create and embed an opt-in, and the price you’ve to bear. Additionally, I’ll compare it with some other fantastic list building tools and see what’s the right tool for you.
Ready to dive in? Let’s get started with my honest OptinMonster review.
OptinMonster Review: How It Can Help You Build A Bigger List
Although it’s not easy to explain the awesomeness of this tool in a few sentences, here are a few highlights of OptinMonster.
- It was launched back in 2013 by Syed Balkhi (founder of WPBeginner) and Thomas Griffin
- OptinMonster is a cloud SaaS application i.e. you don’t necessarily need to install a plugin and it works with all web platforms
- At present, there are 700+ thousand websites using OptinMonster
- It is a recommended tool by top Internet Marketers including Lilach Bullock, Zac Johnson, Neil Patel, and more
Enough of the nutshells. Let’s get deeper and see what all the features OptinMonster have to offer:
OptinMonster Features: 10 Most-Important Features I Love
I have been using OptinMonster for about six months now (on a side project with great results), and here are 10 best features I like.
1. An easy to use interface
It’s important for a cloud SaaS application to be user-friendly and easy-to-use. Luckily, OptinMonster excels in this area. As soon as you log in to your dashboard, you’ll be greeted with a flat-design layout.
All the options available are self-explanatory, and even a novice user will be able to understand it. You can see all the activated sites in here and manage each of them individually.
Also, the options are placed in tabs making it easier to access without reloading the page again and again. If you don’t understand an option, there’ll be an “i” information icon, clicking on which will launch a pop-up with the detailed description.
When compared with OptinMonster alternatives, the user experience is more straightforward, smooth, and clutter-free.
2. Manage all your websites from a single dashboard (on any platform)
This feature is probably the USP of OptinMonster and #1 reason why many businesses opt for it.
Look, if you buy Thrive Leads (best alternative), you’ll get a plugin which needs to be installed on each website and only works with WordPress-based sites. So, if you own multiple businesses, you’ll have to log in to each of them to create and manage email opt-ins.
Also, if you have websites running on platforms other than WordPress, Thrive Leads is pretty much useless for you.
OptinMonster does have a dedicated WordPress plugin (to make connection easier), but it also seamlessly works with any other web platform (including Shopify, Weebly, Blogger, Drupal, or any HTML website.)
3. Multiple campaign types available
If you don’t want to scare your visitors by throwing market-standard popup opt-ins, OptinMonster offers numerous campaign types to experiment.
The various types of opt-ins available are:
- Lightbox popup
- Fullscreen welcome mat
- Floating bar
- Sidebar forms
- Countdown Timer
- Slide-in scroll box
- Inline forms
- Content locker
With these options available, you can show multiple opt-ins to a single visitor and hope that at least 1 of them entice him/her to subscribe.
If you want to go aggressive, experiment with popups and fullscreen welcome mats (just make sure they aren’t repetitive.) Or to not affect the user experience, pick from sidebar forms, content lockers, and inline forms.
You might also want to read WordPress plugin and how to comply with them using OptinMonster.
4. Design beautiful and conversion-oriented forms
Being a non-designer, I’m a big fan of drag and drop form builders. I can easily drag and drop ready-made blocks, change texts and colors, add some personalization, and boom!
Although not as advanced as Thrive Leads, OptinMonster does offer a drag and drop form builder where you can quickly add blocks and other elements like images, icons, countdown, etc.
Depending on which campaign type you choose, there are several (~15-20) pre-made templates you can visually edit. Or you can start blank and create a form from scratch.
With these templates, it becomes easier to quickly create opt-in forms guaranteed to convert more visitors. Moreover, you’re free to add more elements and blocks, so starting with a template makes more sense.
However, the one thing missing is “preview layouts.” If you’ve used Thrive Leads, you’d know that they show a pre-made template with texts and images, giving you a better idea and suggestions.
OptinMonster just shows a bare structure of how the opt-in will look.
5. Powerful targeting for more conversion
Another advanced feature where OptinMonster excels. It offers some fantastic targeting options to show more targeted opt-ins based on different criteria. For instance, you can show opt-ins based on user’s location, i.e., show different forms to users from the United States and Asia.
Other than Geo-location targeting, various targeting options available are:
- Referrer detection
- Page-level targeting
- Onsite retargeting
- Onsite follow up campaigns
- Cookie retargeting
- Device-based targeting
- AdBlock detection
With these advanced features, you can show more personalized and precision opt-in forms with a better success rate. It is more useful for e-commerce websites to get sales.
6. Multiple ways to trigger opt-ins forms
As discussed, showing the opt-in at the right time and right location play a huge role in conversion. If you start throwing pop-ups as soon as visitor lands on the page, it’ll ruin the user experience and may drive him away (to never look back.)
OptinMonster made it easier to show the opt-ins at a perfect time and based on visitor’s behavior. For instance, you can show a slide-in scroll box once the reader has read 40% of the page. Now that he has a better understanding of your website, there are better chances of conversion.
The tool offers several targeting options, as listed:
- Exit-intent technology
- Scroll trigger
- 2-step options
- Timed display control
- Campaign scheduling
My personal favorite is exit-intent which allows me to target abandoning visitors by offering a helpful e-book or extra discount.
7. Easy A/B testing to find the winning opt-in
A successful marketing campaign must involve A/B testing, i.e., testing different forms for effectiveness and conversion. With proper A/B testing, you can show different forms to visitors and find the best performing opt-in.
OptinMonster offers an easy-to-use and creates A/B testing functionality. You can create A/B tests for your existing opt-ins right from your dashboard by clicking on Actions > A/B Split Tests.
The tool will compare both opt-ins for different factors including conversion, triggers, clicks, views, etc. After a through the test, you can choose the best performing opt-in as the winner and discard the others.
Ability to choose a winner automatically is still missing which allows setting specific criteria and time period of test, after which the winning opt-in is accepted which replaces other low-performing ones.
So, you’ll have to manually analyze the stats and choose the best performing form. A deal breaker? I don’t think so.
8. The highest number of Email Marketing services available
OptinMonster is not an email service provider, so you still have to use an email marketing service for collecting emails and sending newsletters. This tool will only help you with lead generation and adequately segment them.
However, with the highest number of email marketing services supported (and more added frequently), you are sure to not miss your favorite service.
Integrating is super easy too, and you can do it by following the below steps:
Step 1: Click on your Profile > Account > Integrations. Here you can see the list of all the platforms supported by OptinMonster.
Step 2: Choose your favorite email marketing service. Since I use MailerLite (read my review), I’ll find it and click on “Add.”
Now all you have to do is add your MailerLite account name and API key. If you don’t know the steps, OptinMonster offers detailed instructions.
Step 3: Click on “Connect,” and your service will be ready to use. I’ll share the steps to integrate a form with an email service provider in “how to use OptinMonster” section.
9. Seamless performance
OptinMonster is a hosted platform, i.e., you don’t have to add extra load on your server to run it. All features, forms, images are hosted on OptinMonster’s servers and are called using scripts.
This assures that your website never gets slow down and server load is below the limit. Also, you don’t have to worry about security, updating plugins (which sometimes screw everything), or losing data.
All your data is secured and can be accessed at any time from the OptinMonster dashboard. If you’re on a shared web host, this will save you a lot of hassle and speed optimization.
10. Powerful analytics for better insights
And the last OptinMonster feature I love is powerful analytics which makes it easier to see the performance of your campaigns.
Now OptinMonster does not use inbuilt analytics technology but relies on Google Analytics to get the data. So, you need to connect your Google Analytics account by going to Profile > Account > Integrations.
After connecting your Analytics account, you can see insights about each opt-in which include:
- Page URL
- Conversion Rate %
You can also choose the time period for analytics or specify a date range.
How to create an OptinMonster opt-in and embed it on your site
Now that you’re familiar with features let’s see how you can create an opt-in, configure it, and add it on your site. For this walkthrough, I’ll be using dedicated MailerLite account.
Step 1: Create a new campaign
The first thing you do is log in to your OptinMonster account and access the dashboard. From here, you need to click on the big green button titled “Create Campaign.”
Clicking on the button will redirect you to “Create a New Drag & Drop Campaign” page where we can choose the campaign type (already discussed.)
Depending upon the campaign type you choose, there will be several premade templates you can pick. The previews look weird, so it can be difficult to decide, but with the ability to customize it, you don’t have to worry much.
If you want to start blank, choose the “Clean Slate” template.
Clicking on the campaign will pop up a window asking for name and website. You can enter any name and either choose a site now or do it later. Click on “Start Building” button once you’ve filled the information.
Step 2: Design and configure the opt-in
All the designing and customization can be done on this screen. On the left side, you can find the options to edit the opt-in form.
Allows you to change the color, form size, background color, border, shadow padding, and other design elements. You can also change the position, style, size, and padding of the close button.
Not satisfied with the available options, you can also add custom CSS for better designs.
Allows you to add blocks and other elements to your opt-in form. Various column block sizes and necessary components are available.
Here you can change campaign name, choose cookie duration, cookie success duration, and add the campaign container width. You can also want to show or hide “powered by OptinMonster” link which can be an affiliate link.
Useful to keep track of the changes. When changing minor things or A/B testing, you can add the notes here.
On top of the opt-in form, there are there switchable tabs available, Yes/No, Optin, and Success. These are the three states of opt-in.
It’s a simple yet effective technique to increase the conversion rate by adding an extra negative option to readers. When activating this state, there’ll be an additional button which has a negative response.
For example, the first button can say “Yes, make me rich!” which opens a subscribe form and the other says “No Thanks, I’m already rich” which closes the opt-in.
Between the above two options, users are more likely choose the first one generating more leads.
2. Standard Optin
This is the conventional optin design where users can subscribe or close with a “close” button. The optin will have the option to enter email directly, i.e., without clicking on a button first.
This is the optin type launched in case of Yes/No optin and user select the first option.
As the name suggests, this state is initiated when the user has successfully subscribed to the newsletter. You can either show a success message with some instructions or redirect to another page.
Opt-in Configuration Settings
Above these states, there are specific settings available used to correctly configure the opt-in we just designed. The various tabs open are:
Remember I talked about behavior and rules to show the opt-ins? This is the place to define those rules. The first step is to identify conditions for which there are many options available.
If I want to show a popup after the user has been on the page for 40 seconds, I’ll choose the conditions “time on page,” “is at least,” and add 40 seconds. I can add multiples conditions with “AND” and “OR” conditions.
For “AND,” the popup will only appear if all the conditions are satisfied. Whereas for “OR” popup will appear if any of the conditions are right.
After you’ve added the conditions, you can click on “next” and choose the action. Here you can select which campaign view to show for the conditions. Clicking on next button again will display a summary of the rule in plain words.
We have already discussed integration, but if you haven’t previously connected service or want to add a new one, you can do it within this tab. From the left panel, click on “Add new integration” and choose your service provider.
If you’ve connected the service, your account name will appear, else you’ll be asked to enter API the key.
Click on “connect,” and OptinMonster will show all the email lists you’ve created with your email service provider. You can choose which list you want to add the new subscriber.
Another exciting option available is “Resubscribe Lead” which allows people who have unsubscribed from your newsletter to subscribe again.
If you want to track the performance of the opt-in, you need to connect your Google Analytics account here. The connection will allow OptinMonster to monitor the URL, page views, referral traffic, and other essential things.
If everything is as per your requirement, you can finally publish your newly created opt-in form. If you didn’t choose the website earlier, you could do so in this step.
This page also gives a script code which can be added to any platform to show the campaign.
Step 3: Embed the form on your site
To embed this opt-in form on a WordPress site, we don’t need to add any code. We’ll use the dedicated WordPress plugin which you can install by going to Plugins > Add New > Search for OptinMonster > Install and Activate.
Before opening your WordPress dashboard, make sure you’ve changed the form status from pending to live and saved it.
To connect your WordPress website with OptinMonster account, you’ll have to enter an API key. It’ll let you choose and show the active campaigns without embedding any code.
After activating OptinMonster plugin, you’ll be greeted with a welcome screen. Click on the “Connect Your Account” button as shown.
The next screen will ask for the API key which you can get from your OptinMonster dashboard. Go to Profile > Account > API and create a new key.
Copy and paste this API key to your WordPress account which will allow you to access the active campaigns. From here you can click on “Go live” to start showing the campaign based on conditions you defined earlier.
Done! If everything went smooth, your opt-in window should start displaying.
The only thing that can (and would) scare you from choosing OptinMonster is the price. Considering that it’s a hosted solution, the pricing is on a pricey side and not affordable for beginners.
The pricing for OptinMonster starts at $14/month for the Basic plan with only 3 campaigns, 100 leads, 1 site, 1 integration, and 5,000 page views.
The pricing for other plans is as follows:
If you’re a small business owner with only 1 WordPress website, Thrive Leads could be a better solution for you. However, for more seasonal marketers managing multiple brands, OptinMonster is a perfect solution.
Several OptinMonster alternatives offer similar features for competitive pricing. Let’s see how well they stack up against OptinMonster.
1. Thrive Leads vs. OptinMonster
When it comes to an affordable lead generation tool for WordPress sites, Thrive Leads is the #1 choice. Not only it has tons of templates, but it also offers drag and drop and better customization to create eye-catchy opt-in forms.
The features are almost similar to OptinMonster with the availability of advanced targeting, A/B testing, meaningful analytics, and multiple campaign types.
It also integrates with a nearly equal number of email marketing services but supports only WordPress as a web platform.
The pricing starts at $67/year for 1 license copy and goes up to $147 for 15 site license. Alternatively, you can opt for Thrive subscription for $19/month and get access to all Thrive themes and plugins.
2. Bloom vs. OptinMonster
The lead generation tool I currently use on BlogCharge is, Bloom developed by Elegant Themes. It’s a straightforward WordPress plugin with a limited set of templates and no drag and drop editor.
However, the advanced features are still available and multiple campaigns types are supported too. At present, it has 16 email marketing integrations to choose from, and it has a nice dashboard to keep track of conversions.
Pricing is probably the cheapest as for just $89/year, you get access to all the themes and plugins created by Elegant Themes (including Divi theme – one of the most massive WordPress theme.)
There are no restrictions on the number of sites you can use the products, so it makes a perfect solution for small bloggers with multiple websites. Moreover, you can get lifetime access for a one-time fee of $249 with lifetime updates, premium supports, and access to all Elegant Themes products.
However, note that you’re very limited with designs and there are only a handful of customization settings available.
Concluding OptinMonster Review: Is it worth the money?
I’d recommend going for OptinMonster if you want to:
- Manage multiple websites on different platforms under a single dashboard
- Have potent features for a decent price
- Create and manage campaigns for all sites at once without switching accounts
- Keep your server load-free and not worry about backups and losing data
Generally, these needs will hold true for any small and medium size businesses who want to keep things simple and professionals.
On the other hand, if you’re an individual with the limited budget, and run only WordPress website(s), Thrive Leads and Bloom makes more sense.
If you enjoyed this review and found it helpful, do share it with your social network. Also, if you’ve used OptinMonster in the past, share your experience with it and whether or not you’ll recommend it to someone else?
See you in the comments!
OptinMonster Review 2018
- Ease of Use
- Features and Functionality
- Premade Templates
- External Service Integration
OptinMonster is one of the industry-best lead generation tool best known for its performance and compatibility with all web platforms. In my review, I found it to be pretty amazing and full of features that can fuel your email conversion.
Although it has steep pricing, for those who manage multiple websites and want to run powerful campaigns, OptinMonster is the best tool. If you have got a limited budget, Thrive Leads makes more sense.