If you want to build your email list, you need a way to ask the right people to join your list at the right time and place.
Makes sense, right? You’re not going to build a list without asking. And you want to ask when a visitor is most receptive to joining your newsletter.
To accomplish all three things at the same time, you need a tool to help you create and display emails opt-ins. OptinMonster is one of those tools.
In my OptinMonster review, I’ll single out some especially powerful features of this list building tool. Then, I’ll go more in-depth and show you exactly how OptinMonster works to help you create, target, and manage your email opt-ins.
OptinMonster review: How it helps you build your list
OptinMonster is a list building tool that helps you:
- Create multiple types of opt-in forms using a visual editor
- Connect those forms to your favorite email marketing service
- Display those forms with detailed trigger and targeting rules
- View analytics and A/B test your forms to improve them
But that’s oversimplifying a very powerful tool! So, let’s go a little more in-depth with…
7 specific features that I like about OptinMonster
I’m going to show you the entire OptinMonster interface in the next section. But to start, I want to single out some specific areas where I think OptinMonster excels in comparison to other tools.
1. OptinMonster’s interface is streamlined and awesome
The first thing I love about OptinMonster is the interface. It makes creating your opt-ins much easier than many other tools I’ve tried.
Rather than clicking around to a bunch of different screens like many WordPress opt-in plugins force you to do, OptinMonster tucks pretty much all the functionality into a set of tabs – no page reloads required:
Despite being a single interface, it never feels cluttered and you don’t sacrifice any functionality. I don’t think there’s any argument that, contrasted with something like Thrive Leads (a popular comparison), OptinMonster’s interface is more straightforward.
2. You can create a variety of different campaign types
If you want to experiment with opt-ins beyond the industry-standard lightbox popup, OptinMonster gives you tons of options.
You can go super aggressive with popups or fullscreen fillers.
Or, you can go with something a little less intrusive like a:
- Floating bar
- Inline/after post form
- Sidebar form
And one really neat feature is OptinMonster’s dedicated mobile popup campaign (just make sure to use display rules to avoid Google’s mobile popup penalty):
3. OptinMonster’s templates make it easy to get started
Unless you’re already a designer, there’s a good chance that staring at a blank canvas fills you with a deep sense of dread (maybe I’m projecting, but that’s how I feel!).
That’s why I love templates. And when it comes to templates, OptinMonster doesn’t disappoint.
Depending on what type of form you want to create, OptinMonster will usually serve up anywhere from ~12-25 premade templates that you can use as a base:
Then, you just customize the text, colors, and images using the simple visual editor and you’re good to go!
That’s a lot better than trying to build everything from scratch.
4. You have detailed targeting options and can apply multiple rules
One of the areas where OptinMonster especially excels over other opt-in tools is its detailed triggering and targeting rules.
I’ll cover these in more depth when I actually show you how to use OptinMonster. But suffice it to say, you have access to deep features that let you set up everything from exit-intent triggers to targeting based on cookie or geolocation:
And the really neat thing is that you can set up multiple display rules for each campaign and even A/B test different display rules against one another to find the combinations that work best.
5. The dedicated WordPress plugin makes implementation simple
Because OptinMonster is a cloud SaaS tool rather than a WordPress plugin, you might be a little worried that OptinMonster will be hard to integrate with WordPress.
OptinMonster actually started as a WordPress plugin, and the developers certainly haven’t forgotten their WordPress roots.
OptinMonster offers a dedicated WordPress plugin that lets you manage your campaigns right from your WordPress site’s dashboard.
It’s super simple and, apart from the fact that you’ll still need to actually create opt-ins in the cloud interface, you’d never realize that OptinMonster wasn’t a dedicated WordPress plugin.
6. Easy A/B testing makes optimization accessible to anyone
A/B testing is a powerful tool that helps you improve the effectiveness of your opt-ins by allowing you to test two or more variants against one another to see which performs best.
OptinMonster makes it easy to create A/B tests for your opt-ins right your dashboard. It only takes a few clicks and you’ll be able to test all aspects of your opt-ins, including different triggers and targeting.
The only feature missing here is “Automatic Winner” functionality. With such functionality, you’re able to set criteria to automatically declare the higher-performing opt-in the winner.
While it’s not a dealbreaker to skip this functionality, it does make things a bit more hands-off and Thrive Leads, one of OptinMonster’s competitors, does offer this feature.
7. OptinMonster is great for people with multiple websites
This one won’t apply to everybody. But if you run multiple websites, the fact that OptinMonster is a cloud tool rather than a WordPress plugin is going to make your life a lot easier.
See, with a WordPress plugin, you have to log in to each site’s dashboard to manage its opt-ins. That wastes time.
But with OptinMonster, you can manage all of your sites and opt-ins from the same interface:
That’s going to make your life a lot more convenient if you’re already struggling to manage multiple websites.
How to use OptinMonster to create an email opt-in
To show you those features in action, I want to go through a brief tutorial on how you actually create an email opt-in with OptinMonster. I’ll splice in my own thoughts, as well, to keep things interesting.
Step 1: Create a new campaign
To get started, you click Create Campaign. A “campaign” is basically a specific form. It could be:
- A site-wide lightbox popup
- A floating bar on a specific page
You can, and likely will, have multiple campaigns running on a single site, especially if you’re promoting different offers for different pieces of content on your site.
To get started, you Select Your Campaign Type. I already told you about the options, but here they are again:
Then, depending on what campaign type you selected, you can Choose a Campaign Template.
Templates are awesome because they allow you to quickly create a relevant opt-in. My only small gripe is that OptinMonster shows these weird graphics instead of an actual preview, which makes it harder than it needs to be to pick the right template for your needs:
You have a good variety of options. For example, the lightbox popup campaign type generates 25 different templates. And you can, of course, always start from a blank slate.
Once you choose your template, you:
- Give your campaign a name
- Choose which website you want to display it on (you can leave it blank to start and do it later on – I’ll show you how)
Step 2: Configure your form in the editor
Once you finish those steps above, OptinMonster will take you into the editor.
This interface consists of two parts:
- Form configuration options on the left, divided into a set of tabs
- A live preview of your form on the right
If you want to change the text on your form at any point, all you need to do is click on the live preview and edit it:
Beyond that helpful feature, there are seven different tabs where you can configure your opt-in form. I’ll go through each below.
The main thing that you’ll want to do in the Display Settings tab is configure the Cookie Duration.
This determines how long the form will be hidden if a user:
- Closes it (Cookie Duration)
- Submits it (Success Cookie Duration)
This feature is pretty standard for an opt-in tool, but it is essential to use so that you avoid annoying your visitors with repetitive popups.
The Optin tab is where you can configure most of how your opt-in form looks.
In it, you can configure:
- Whether or not to show the name field in addition to the email field
- Form field placeholders
- Colors for all the fields
- Custom CSS, if desired
It’s all intuitive and done via simple color pickers or toggles:
The Yes/No tab is a super simple section that lets you easily enable a negative option opt-out/2-step opt-in.
When you turn it on, visitors will first need to choose from two yes/no options before they see the actual opt-in form:
These forms can harness something called the Zeigarnik effect to boost your conversion rate.
Personally, I find these forms obnoxious when they go too negative with the “no” button (funny examples here). But done right, they can definitely be effective. And OptinMonster has plenty of examples of how to do it right.
The Success tab lets you configure what happens after a visitor submits your form. You can either:
- Display a success message
- Redirect them to another page (like a thank you page)
- Close the campaign and show the current page
The Display Rules tab houses some of OptinMonster’s most powerful features.
In a nutshell, these let you control:
- When your opt-in appears
- On what pages your opt-in appears
- To which types of visitors your opt-in appears
But that simplification is actually doing a bit of a disservice to the level of depth here:
OptinMonster gives you a ton of options. You can trigger your popup by:
- Exit-Intent – this is one of OptinMonster’s most well-known features because they trademarked it.
- Click (for two-step opt-ins)
- Based on user’s local time (e.g. 2:15 PM)- this is a unique trigger that I’ve never seen before. Definitely a niche one, but there are some cool uses for time-sensitive offers.
Then, you have another large list of targeting options. In addition to basics like targeting specific pages, you can also target by:
- Campaign interactions
- Visitors using Adblock
- Specific URL anchor/parameter
And here’s my favorite part:
You can create multiple rulesets for a single campaign, which is something most other tools don’t let you do.
That means you could create one ruleset that tells the campaign to display:
- On page X
- Triggered by exit-intent
And another ruleset that tells the same campaign to display:
- On page Y
- After 2 seconds
- Only for visitors from the USA
The Integrations tab is where you can sync up to your preferred email marketing service, of which OptinMonster has a pretty big list:
Finally, the Analytics tab lets you connect your OptinMonster account to Google Analytics to set up tracking. It’s a bit odd that OptinMonster forces you to connect to Google Analytics to view data when pretty much no other tool does it this way.
But given that most webmasters are probably using Google Analytics nowadays, I don’t see this as a significant drawback.
Step 3: Publish your opt-in form to your site
Once you’ve finished configuring your form, you click the Publish button in the top right corner.
Then, you can choose (or add) which website to publish it to and choose the platform:
While you can embed OptinMonster on any type of website via a code snippet, there’s also a dedicated OptinMonster plugin that makes the process super painless.
To use the OptinMonster plugin, you just enter your API key (which you can easily create in your OptinMonster account).
Then, you’ll be able to manage campaigns right from your WordPress dashboard:
And then your popup will start displaying!
Viewing analytics, creating A/B tests, and managing your campaigns
Once your campaign is live, you can still perform some other useful actions from the campaign management area.
First off, you can always view conversion rate statistics from your OptinMonster account:
Then, if you want to try to improve those rates, you can quickly spin up a new A/B test:
When you create a new split test, you’ll be taken to a page to enter the name and notes for your split test. Then, you’ll get launched back into the normal campaign editor to create your variant:
What’s helpful is that you can test everything. Which means beyond basic text changes, you can also test how different display rules affect your conversion rate.
Then, you’ll be able to see how the two compare in your main dashboard:
How much does OptinMonster cost?
OptinMonster currently offers four different paid plans. Unfortunately, there’s no free version of OptinMonster.
Plans start at $9 per month ($108 billed annually) and range up to $49 per month (billed annually).
Each plan offers a different feature list and not all of the features that I discussed in this post are available in the cheapest tier, so definitely pay attention to the feature list if a specific feature was what piqued your interest.
It’s also worth noting, their is now a page view limit in place that increases with each plan.
OptinMonster pro’s and con’s
- Easy-to-use, streamlined interface
- Lots of different opt-in form types
- A good variety of pre-made templates for those opt-in forms
- Integrations for all of the popular email marketing services
- Detailed triggering options, including exit-intent
- Detailed targeting options with lots of flexibility, including the option to set up multiple rule sets
- Easy A/B testing
- In-dashboard analytics so that you can see how your forms are doing
- Easy to manage opt-ins for multiple websites from a single dashboard
- Because it uses SaaS billing, OptinMonster often comes out to be more expensive than many WordPress lead building plugins
- No automatic winner feature on the A/B testing
- The form editor isn’t drag and drop (though you can interact with it)
- You need to connect Google Analytics to see your stats
Should you use OptinMonster on your site?
OptinMonster isn’t the cheapest way to build your email list with opt-ins, but it is one of the most powerful and flexible.
If you have the budget for it, I think OptinMonster has one of the best feature sets that you’ll find. And the fact that you can manage all of your sites from one place makes it really convenient for busy webmasters running multiple sites.
If, on the other hand, you’re on a tight budget, then you might be better off with something like Thrive Leads.
While Thrive Leads requires you to manage each site separately and lacks some of the more advanced targeting/trigger functionality, it’s also a one-time fee for lifetime updates, which makes it cheaper over the long haul, especially if you’re only running a single website. It’s also pretty dang powerful in its own right!
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