Wanna know the difference between smart marketers and the ones that just spin their wheels? Email. Email continues to beat out almost every other channel (except sometimes organic SEO) in terms of ROI. It wins for lead nurturing and lead generation. It wins for engagement. It wins for conversion rate.
But there is one really big drawback to email marketing. You gotta have people to mail to. You need a large enough email list to make it work.
For some of you, an email list of even a couple hundred people will be enough to make your marketing work. For others, you’ll need about a thousand subscribers. And for still others, you’ll need 3,000, even 5,000 subscribers. Some of you will require even more. It all depends on what you need to get out of your email marketing and how responsive your subscribers are.
But one thing’s for sure: No matter how many email subscribers you’ve got, you’re going to want more. It’s just the way things go.
If you’ve got a blog, you’re in a great position to be getting lots of email subscribers every day. For you B2Bers, you’ll call those subscribers leads. Whether you call these people leads or subscribers, you need to be converting them from being just website visitors. That’s a critical step in your sales funnel.
So what’s a good conversion rate for turning website visitors into subscribers or leads? I’d say if you aren’t converting at least 3-5% of the people who visit your blog, then there’s room for improvement. And to give you an idea of what’s possible, Derek Halpern converts 10% of the people who visit his site’s homepage.
Turning your blog into a subscriber conversion machine requires several things. You need traffic, of course. And a good lead magnet, or possibly several lead magnets. And you need an email service provider (like GetResponse). But you’ll also need a way to get your opt-in boxes in front of your website visitors. You’ll need a way to make pop-ups, sliders, content upgrades, sidebar opt-ins and all the other types of opt-in boxes marketers use to build their lists.
If you’re a GetResponse user, you can skip a lot of the list-building plugins. When we rolled out the new forms, we added a bunch of list builder apps. They let you do most of what the popular list-building plugins can do. You’ve got your choice of five different pop-ups, including an exit intent pop-up. There’s also a slider opt-in box and a fixed bar opt-in box.
While those are good options to have, maybe not everyone reading this will be a GetResponse customer. So I’ve included plugins that do what those list-builder apps do. If you’re a GetResponse customer, use the apps in your account instead of the plugins. You’ll get a more seamless integration and you’ll have one less plugin to slow your site down with.
1) SumoMe’s Welcome Mat.
This first one is a new trick that’s not included in the list builder apps. SumoMe’s Welcome Mat is a free plugin that will create an opt-in overlay on the home page of your website. Your visitors will see a full-screen opt-in box right when they arrive on your site. To get past the opt-in screen, they just have to click on the “No Thanks” button, or on the little arrow button below. Then they’ll be able to view your site normally.
Here’s what the design interface and a sample home page overlay look like:
You’ve probably seen a Welcome Mat on several different sites. They’re in vogue right now. Good news is they’re really easy to set up. And according to SumoMe, they can double or triple your opt-in rates.
For those of you who aren’t GetResponse customers, but who want to use a pop-up, check out SumoMe’s sister plugin, List Builder. The free version of this list builder works on any site, but they also have a WordPress plugin. If you’re willing to pay $20 a month, you’ll get more features, like click-triggers, A/B testing, and multiple pop-ups.
2) Optin Forms.
This free plugin will let you embed an opt-in form on your blog post pages. You get to choose whether the form will be after the first paragraph of the post, after the second paragraph, or at the end of the post. I’d recommend putting it at the end of the post. Many pro bloggers report that putting an opt-in box at the close of blog posts gets a nice conversion rate.
I found the setup for this plugin to be super-easy. You will need to add a campaign token from your GetResponse account, but the plugin has a couple of screenshots to walk you through how to do that in a snap.
There are five basic designs for forms. You can customize colors, font and other attributes as well. It took me less than five minutes to set this up:
I love this little plugin. It’s free, so easy to use, and the perfect solution for people who refuse to use a popup. I’ve had a number of clients who just could not abide a pop-up on their sites, but they were comfortable with this little slider. So we went with the slider.
You can set it up in 3 minutes or less. Here’s what my three-minute setup looked like:
Sadly, you can’t A/B split test with this… but you can create multiple scroll boxes and specify which pages they appear on. So if you were devoted to testing (and you should be) you could fudge a test by setting up scroll box A on 10 blog posts, and then set up scroll box B on ten different posts. Run the test until you see statistically valid results.
For GetResponse customers, you don’t need a plugin to get a scroll opt-in box. Just use the “Scroll Form” list builder app. It does the same thing as Scroll Triggered Boxes.
OptinMonster and Thrive Leads are probably the two big competitors for a complete solution, paid list-building plugin. They’re both good – no question. And they have similar features.
But OptinMonster has a recurring pricing structure. That’s a bit of a downer for me – I’d rather pay once and be done. But if cash is short, you can have OptInMonster for $9 a month for one site. You just won’t get every opt-in form and format and feature (but you will get a/b split tests). To get more of the cool features, like exit intent and slide-ins, and to be able to use the plugin on an unlimited number of sites, you’ll have to pay $29 a month. If you go with the annual plan, it’s $199 a year.
I guess if your site is doing well, that’s probably a drop in the bucket. But I think it also might be beyond the budget of a lot of us.
Here are how the two plugins compare in terms of high-level features, and how GetResponse’s own list builder apps stack up:
|Pre-designed high converting opt-in boxes||yes||yes||yes|
|Show different opt-in forms on different pages||yes||yes||yes|
|Pop-ups with timing controls||yes||yes||yes|
|Welcome gate||yes||no||No – but could be had with SumoMe’s free Welcome Mat|
|MonsterLinks – 2 step opt-ins||yes||yes – just called “2 step opt-in”||no|
|Mobile-specific pop-ups||yes||yes||Not mobile specific, but all forms are responsive|
|In-line forms||yes||yes||Can be done manually, or use Optin Forms free plugin|
|Shaking and moving popups||yes||“Advanced animations” feature||yes|
|Alternate Content for Subscribers||no||yes||no|
Keep in mind that these are high-level features. One of these plugins may have opt-in templates that you just happen to like best. Or they’ll have reports that make more sense to you. But one thing does come clear here. If you’re a GetResponse customer, you’ve already got most of these features in your account already.
5) Thrive Leads.
We talked about this plugin extensively in the earlier point, but I wanted to give it its own section. Why? Because this is the plugin that gets a lot of applause on pretty much any list of WordPress list building plugins.
I know this plugin from its earlier incarnation as Hybrid Connect. That was (and is) a good solution, but I’d put OptinMonster ahead of Hybrid Connect. However, Thrive Leads is completely rebuilt from the bottom up. Smart bloggers like Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard have really sung its praises. A single site license is $67. A multi-site license is $97. Not cheap, but it’s a one-time payment.
Before I did the feature comparison between this, OptinMonster and GetResponse, I was going to buy Thrive Leads for my own site. But after the feature review, I’ve decided to save my money for the time being. Maybe that’s a bad call, maybe not. If you’ve got an opinion about it, speak up in the comments.
Either of these will let you create a browser-width skinny strip of an opt-in box at either the top or the bottom of a browser window. This type of opt-in box is often called either a “fixed bar opt-in box” or a “floating action bar”. They mean the same thing. And for you GetResponse users – yes – there’s one in your account already. It’s called a “fixed bar”. This is what the setup interface looks like:
If you aren’t a GetResponse customer, either IceGram or the HelloBar plugin can set you up with an opt-in box like this. HelloBar is somewhat of a one-trick pony – it creates the opt-in strip, and that’s it. Icegram goes a bit further and offers a bunch of other opt-in formats. Both plugins work with GetResponse.
This paid plugin from Code Canyon does something none of the other plugins mentioned here can do – it blocks access to a page until the website visitor has subscribed. But that’s not ConvertPlug’s only trick. In fact, this plugin could hold it’s own against Thrive Leads or OptinMonster. It has most of the features those plugins tout – exit intent, split-testing, a welcome mat, a slew of opt-in options and more. And yes – it works with GetResponse.
Another plugin, Opt-In Content Locker for WordPress, also has this content lock feature. But that’s all Opt-in Content Locker does.
Bonus 8) GetResponse.
Yup – GetResponse has its own plugin. It’s free, of course. You’ll need a GetResponse account to make it work. The best reason to use it is if your WordPress theme won’t let you put a code-based widget into the right column. If that’s your setup, just install this and you’ll be able to get your opt-in form into that column.
Here’s a video about the plugin, and how you might want to use it:
Also take a look at this page for information about installing and configuring the plugin.
After combing through GetResponse’s features, and what are considered the best list-building plugins around, I feel like I can probably get by with what’s in my GetResponse account already. There are a couple of other plugins worth trying – like SumoMe’s Welcome mat and ConvertPlug’s content locker. But it looks like I can cover most list building on my blog for free.
What do you think?
Is there a killer list-building plugin I’ve missed? Do you think Thrive Leads or OptInMonster is better or worse than other paid list-building plugins? Share your opinion in the comments.