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If you want to grow your blog or your business online, you need to build an email list.
But if you want to build your mailing list quicker, then you’ll need a WordPress list-building plugin. It makes adding opt-in forms to your website easier. And they also look loads better.
One plugin that allows you to do just this is OptinMonster.
What is OptinMonster?
OptinMonster started out as a WordPress-only plugin, but nowadays it’s a premium web-based app that’s available for different platforms, including WordPress. However, it still uses a WordPress plugin to connect your website to your OptinMonster dashboard using a unique API key.
The WordPress plugin integration offers a few advanced tricks, which I’ll show you later. But first, let’s take a look at how you can create an opt-in form.
You set up and manage most things from your OptinMonster dashboard, but the final activation of your opt-in forms take place in your WordPress admin panel.
After you’ve configured a few initial settings in the dashboard, you’ll be ready to create your first opt-in campaign.
When you create a new opt-in, you have to give it a campaign title and select your website.
OptinMonster has seven types of Opt-in Form:
- Lightbox Popup
- Floating Bar
- Sidebar Optin Forms
- After Post Optin Forms
- Slide-in Forms
- Mobile-Specific Forms
- Fullscreen Welcome Gate
(Note: Not all opt-in forms are available on each plan)
Each type of form has a selection of pre-designed templates that you can edit with the drag-and-drop builder. Alternatively, if you don’t like any of the templates, you can start from scratch with the blank Canvas form.
Here is a selection of templates available for the Lightbox Popup:
When you select a template you can make a series of design changes from the left-hand side menu:
- Display Rules
Let’s look at each one in turn.
The Setup menu contains the general settings like Theme Name, Theme Type, Campaign Title, and Campaign Website.
There are also a couple of cookie settings:
- Cookie Duration – The number of days before the opt-in will display again once the user exits your campaign.
- Success Cookie Duration – The number of days before the opt-in will show again once the user successfully opts into your campaign.
The Opt-in menu contains the most settings:
- Name Field – Optional on/off if you want to display a name field on your form
- Email Field – Set the placeholder text, color, and font for the email address:
- Submit Field – Set the placeholder text, color, and font for the submit button:
- Design Fields – Set the background color, modify/remove template images, and add animation effects if you wish:
The Yes/No settings let you convert your template into a 2-Step Opt-in Form where the visitor has to make a Yes/No choice on the first screen. You can control what happens when they select either button; e.g. show an opt-in form or close the popup. You can also edit the colors and text.
The default success page is a standard black text on white background. But if you prefer you can choose from one of the success themes. Some of these themes, like Firm and Gourmet, are also available in the main opt-in form templates so that you can create a themed flow to your complete opt-in process.
Editors note: if you are using success themes with static forms such as after post and sidebar forms, you can now detect whether a user has already subscribed to your list. This means you can display a different CTA instead. It could be a Facebook Like Box or CTA that links to a paid product.
The display rules determine where and how your opt-in form is displayed. In this example, I’ve selected the form to display on exit-intent. (More on this later).
The Integrations panel is where you link to your email service provider. OptinMonster connects with all the major providers including MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse, Active Campaign, and more.
At the bottom of the panel are a couple of optional on/off switches for Lead Options. These will depend on your email provider. The options shown here reflect MailChimp preferences:
- Send Welcome Email – Enables sending the welcome email associated with this list.
- Enable Double Opt-in – Enables double opt-in confirmation for leads.
The final menu option is to connect your Google Analytics account:
After you’ve completed all these settings, your opt-in form is almost ready to deploy on your WordPress site. Here are the final steps:
- Enable the campaign in your OptinMonster dashboard:
- Enable the Opt-in Form in your WordPress admin panel:
Once your form is active, you can track its performance from the OptinMonster dashboard.
3 key features
OptinMonster is bursting with functionality. To keep things simple I’ve picked three of the best features to show you how it can help build your email list.
#1 – Exit-intent
Did you know that over 70% of visitors who abandon your website will never return?
That’s why OptinMonster invented their Exit-Intent technology – to convert abandoning visitors into subscribers and customers.
The Exit-Intent technology works in the background monitoring user behavior on your site. Just as a visitor is about to leave it prompts them with a specific offer.
For example, you could prompt them to:
- Download a free eBook or Case Study
- Sign up for a free product trial
- Book a free consultation call
- Signup for your webinar
Here’s how it works:
Social Media Examiner started using OptinMonster in 2014. Before, they used the standard opt-in forms from their email service provider AWeber.
One of the first types of forms they implemented was an exit-intent popup. They added 95,000 subscribers in 7 months by capturing those visitors about to leave the site and offering them a Free Report.
They still use one today, like this:
#2 – MonsterLinks
MonsterLinks is the name of the 2-Step Opt-in technology from OptinMonster.
The concept behind the 2-Step Opt-in is a psychology principle known as the Zeigarnik Effect. It states that those who start something are more likely to finish the process.
Here are the two steps of the opt-in:
Step 1: A visitor clicks on a link or an image
Step 2: A popup opens up asking them to subscribe
Because the visitor clicked the link in Step 1, they are more likely to complete the opt-in form in Step 2.
MonsterLinks can turn any link or image on your page into a 2-Step Opt-in process. Here’s an example from OptinMonster showing you how it looks in practice:
The example above is from Backlinko, where Brian Dean uses MonsterLinks for his Content Upgrades.
When Syed Balkhi (Co-Founder of OptinMonster) used a combination of Content Upgrade + MonsterLinks he increased his conversions by 845% compared to a Generic Exit-Intent Popup:
#3 – Page level targeting
Page Level Targeting allows you to display unique opt-in forms based on a visitor’s location and interaction on your website.
First, you decide when the campaign should appear:
Next, you choose who will see the campaign:
For example, you might have two different lead magnets:
- Managing Your WordPress Plugins
- WordPress Hosting Tips and Tricks
Because OptinMonster has a deep integration with WordPress you can make advanced settings in the WP dashboard so that each opt-in targets specific categories.
For example, using the advanced setting you might say that:
- “Managing Your WordPress Plugins” is only displayed on posts in the Plugins category as a 2-Step Opt-in with MonsterLinks.
- “WordPress Hosting Tips and Tricks” is only displayed on your posts and pages in the Hosting category as an exit-intent popup.
While generic lead magnets are OK, you’ll have more success by displaying specific offers to different groups of visitors as highlighted above in the MonsterLinks + Content Upgrade study.
Other notable features:
It’s worth mentioning that OptinMonster also includes Split Testing and Analytics.
A/B Split testing
A/B testing helps you eliminate the guesswork and make data-driven decisions on what works best.
You can try different content, headlines, layouts, and styles to see what converts best with the A/B testing tool.
Often, what you think is the best opt-in form proves to be wrong. It’s much better to test one variation at a time and let the software check the best option.
There would be little point having all these fantastic opt-in forms if you had no way of measuring how effective they were. (That’s why I included some proven data above.)
OptinMonster integrates with Google Analytics to give you a quick glance on how your opt-in forms are performing. You can analyze clicks, views, and overall conversion rate for each opt-in form and their variations.
When you analyze your stats, you can take the right action to improve your lead generation strategy.
Personalizing your opt-in forms is a great way to boost your conversions.
You can now target your opt-in forms by location which will be especially helpful for promoting things like offers that are only available in certain regions/countries.
Pricing and support
OptinMonster differs from other WordPress plugins as it’s a subscription-based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) product.
Three subscription plans are available with monthly and annual fees.
The Basic plan is suitable if you’re starting out. It’ll give you a flavor of what OptinMonster has to offer but restricts you to the Lightbox Popup Form. You’ll have to upgrade plans to access the other features.
The OptinMonster support documentation is excellent. It covers every topic in detail so that you can create, install, and optimize your opt-in forms.
If you should come across a problem that you can’t find explained in the online documentation, then you can submit a ticket to the global support team.
OptinMonster may not be the cheapest list building tool on the market. But it’s a well-established product with plans to add more features.
As it’s only available as a subscription-based service, you’ll always have to pay a monthly or annual fee to use it.
But you can start with a small monthly payment of $19 for the Basic plan, which is an affordable way of testing if it works for you without making a long-term investment.
And once you’re happy with it, then you can upgrade to take advantage of even more smart features.
- Easy to use
- Full range of Predesigned Templates
- Drag-and-Drop Form Builder
- Exit Intent Technology
- MonsterLinks for 2-Step Opt-ins
- Page Level Targeting with advanced WordPress integration
- Easy A/B Testing
- User-friendly Reporting
- Integration with all major email service providers
- The Basic Plan has one kind of Opt-in Form
- Only the Pro Plan has the Exit-Intent technology
- There is no built-in Analytics functionality; everything is tracked via Google Analytics
Summary: OptinMonster is a fantastic list building tool that gives you the ability to create high-converting opt-in forms. It supports all the major email service providers, offers a great user experience and is incredibly easy to use.