Today we start with this article our new three-part series “E-Mail-Marketing with WordPress”! It starts logically with the collection of e-mail addresses and leads via so-called lead generation plugins.
Lead generation is the first and most important part of good email marketing, where a potential customer becomes a subscriber to your newsletter or a competition. No matter if blog, start up, agency or large company – if you want to collect the contact information of a lead, you have to offer real added value. You decide which email campaign you want to set up after collecting the leads, depending on your marketing strategy and the products you want to sell.
Preface: Sending the newsletter isn’t a breeze
One important note in advance: Most plugins in this list work with external newsletter services. There are several reasons for this, for example the PHP function mail() is not available with many cheaper hosting packages. Why? Because of hackers and spam! For example, if you want to program your contact form yourself and send mails directly from WordPress, you have to be very accurate. Incomplete PHP contact forms offer spammers a platform to spread their messages. This is neither good for you nor for the server operator. That’s why many webhosters don’t provide this function at all.
You can solve this problem by sending your marketing emails either through an external service such as Amazon’s SES or a newsletter provider – or at least create your own email address with a real mailbox in your hosting package and then send the emails via SMTP or other mail relay services. However, this feature is severely limited in many hosting packages. There is a lot to consider if you want your emails to be delivered successfully (and thus bypass the spam filters). In addition, a new e-mail address very quickly ends up on the filter lists of the major e-mail providers such as web.de, Googlemail and Co. if you start sending thousands of e-mails a day overnight. So always start slowly and work up. Better decide for an external service and a professional lead generation plugin, which is tested cleanly and always kept up-to-date. This way you give hackers hardly a chance to abuse your email address.
Find out more in the second part of the series Email Marketing with WordPress, which deals with newsletter plugins!
But at the beginning there is the collection of addresses. The following best of list gives you a comprehensive overview of which plugin might be the best for generating leads and newsletter subscribers for your email marketing campaign.
Thrive Leads – comprehensive suite for lead generation
Another great plugin with many functions: Thrive Leads is designed to be an all-in-one solution for your email marketing strategy and promises the highest technological standard.
Also with this tool you can use a drag-and-drop generator to change the forms as you like and adapt them to your style. Lightboxes, opt-in forms with a first and second step, pop-up tapes, exit intent, smart links for existing leads, advanced targeting, A/B testing and much more – Thrive Leads delivers the whole range. The company Thrive Themes is behind this and other Thrive plugins. Therefore it is possible to purchase not just one product, but all plugins for $19 per month for the full Thrive Suite.
The developers want to cover all areas of email and online marketing with Architect, Landingpages, Optimize and Leads. But even alone Thrive Leads offers many technical possibilities and is therefore more suitable for advanced users. Getting used to all settings takes some time and can be learned by watching videos. According to Thrive Themes, this tool replaces a developer, so you would no longer need an expert in your company, save a job and can implement your email marketing or even the complete online marketing strategy yourself after a certain training period. Of course, this plugin also works with the most common newsletter software.
Conclusion: The scope of Thrive Themes is enormous. This plugin is more than just a small lead generation tool. It is always kept up to date, constantly developed and works with over 30 other marketing software. Technologically speaking, Thrive Leads is probably the most advanced plugin on the market. The prices are based on the number of websites. However, for beginners it is too extensive and difficult to trade. But if you already know your way around this topic, your marketing heart will beat faster with Thrive Leads.
Bloom – successfully collect email opt-ins and leads *TIP*
Bloom is a really awesome lead generation plugin and part of Divi, which is focused on creating registration forms. It offers more than 100 ready-made and customizable templates with six different ad types. The forms are displayed on the PC, tablet and smartphone.
Bloom currently works with the 19 largest newsletter providers. You have countless possibilities for integration: pop-ups pop up in the middle of the page and can reappear after a time interval or after lead generation – you decide how and when. Additionally, fly-ins are possible in the sidebar or footer and you can integrate the opt-in form into your posts and pages. The plugin of Elegant Themes can appear after a purchase, a comment or longer inactivity. You also decide on which subpage or post a form should pop up or fly in. If you like a once designed style especially well, you can simply copy it and use it again. Bloom is suitable for beginners and professionals. It is straightforward and can be learned intuitively. For even better understanding, explanatory videos provide answers and ways of implementation.
Best of all: If you decide to use Bloom, you can choose between two versions with which you automatically purchase the other plugins of Elegant Themes. For 89 $ a year you get the themes Divi and Extra as well as the lead generation plugin Bloom and the social media sharing plugin Monarch. For a one-time payment of $249, you get lifetime updates, lifetime support, and you can use the package on as many websites as you like.
Conclusion: Bloom wants to deliver a complete carefree package that allows you to build WordPress websites and do additional marketing. It’s not possible to choose just Bloom – you buy all the products at once. The one-time price of $249 is manageable compared to other plugins, which sometimes cost much more per year. So if you like it comfortable and don’t want to buy different products from several suppliers, the Elegant Themes series is the right choice for you. If you ever have a problem or need help, you only have to contact one single support, the products are always up to date at the same time and you can use the tools on as many websites as you like.
Convert Pro – Very comprehensive professional plugin
Convert Pro works seamlessly with all major providers of newsletter systems and email marketing. The one-click integration makes it really easy to start collecting and managing lead data directly in the WordPress backend.
In terms of features, Convert Pro comes with a drag-and-drop editor that allows you to place any element anywhere. So you can create beautiful opt-in forms without a single line of code. Of course there are also very good converting templates included, with which you can start right away.
Timing plays an important role in lead generation. You have to know the right time when a visitor is likely to convert. Displaying a message or form at the right moment increases the chances of building a healthy email list and increasing overall sales. Here Convert Pro offers a great selection of effective triggers:
Conclusion: With 99 USD per year or 399 USD once, Convert Pro is unfortunately not quite cheap, but you get a lead generation plugin for it that is unequalled in terms of quality, functionality and design. Especially the split testing and A/B testing. The detection of referrers, devices and AdBlockers is really worth the extra charge in my opinion!
Convert Plus – Affordable plugin to get started
Convert Plus is an all in one WordPress popup plugin that allows you to quickly and easily integrate lead generation elements into any website. It allows you to create beautiful popups in minutes and turn website visitors into subscribers, social followers and customers. Features like exit popup, opt-in popup, slide in popup, video popup, on click popup, social popup, embedded forms, widget boxes, info bars make it a very powerful popup and lead generation plugin.
Conclusion: For only 24 USD once, Convert Plus gives you a great package of unlimited updates and 6 months support. Included are 10+ popup display positions, 12+ different behavior triggers and filters. as well as a huge library of over 100+ beautifully designed and highly converting pre-built templates.
OptinMonster – The monster of lead generation plugins
If you talk about lead generation, you can’t help but mention OptinMonster in the same sentence. The popular pop-up tool with its own WordPress plugin supports most major US newsletter providers, such as Aweber and MailChimp, and can be easily customized via the editor. It is suitable for bloggers, e-commerce companies and stores that want to sell additional products via their website or efficiently generate newsletter subscribers from their blog. To increase your conversion rate, OptinMonster even allows you to run real A/B tests, analyze them, and change the way they are displayed on each subpage.
But the top dog of email marketing plugins is not free, unfortunately there is no free trial version available. The plugin regularly costs $19 per month for a website in the smallest package. If you want more features for up to five websites, you pay $99 a month.
If you choose OptinMonster, you can expect a wide range of professional templates. This allows you to work with a pre-designed template, make additional changes to it and place it on your website with minimal effort. Or you can decide to design everything yourself and create your template with the drag and drop generator. Pop-ups are possible in the header, footer or in the middle of the page. The integrated exit-intent technology lets the form pop up exactly when the website visitor moves his cursor away from the page. In this way, he or she cannot miss the pop-up and you may avoid losing a reader.
Conclusion: There are actually no disadvantages. OptinMonster is a lead generation plugin that is suitable for beginners and professionals alike. It is easy to use, quick to learn and so versatile to customize that it can be adapted to any marketing strategy. The plugin guarantees that you will collect a lot of leads in no time. If you are willing to invest money, you can’t go wrong with OptinMonster.
Sumo – easy integration and effective list building
Another pop-up plugin for lead generation is Sumo – one of the few plugins of its kind that also works reliably on the smartphone. Formerly called SumoMe, Sumo works together with popular newsletter providers such as Aweber, MailChimp and others. To optimize your conversion rate, the plugin performs heatmap tracking. It shows you subscription statistics and image sharing statistics, has a floating social bar for posting on multiple platforms and can be easily customized to your marketing needs with the drag and drop generator. In addition to the high level of creativity for your newsletters and pop-ups, it ensures fast lead generation.
In contrast to the tool mentioned above, Sumo can be tested for free before switching to the Pro version. In the pro version it costs $39 per month. Especially fair is that there are no multiple price categories. For $39 a month you get everything Sumo can do!
Conclusion: Sumo has a lot of features and is suitable for creative companies and businesses. If you’re into social media, you’ve come to the right place. The high cost of $468 per year (or $120 more, depending on the payment method) becomes almost irrelevant when you look at the extensive features that are even available in the free version. However, A/B testing and e-commerce design templates are unfortunately not among them. But there are e-mail campaigns, visitor targeting, posts on social media platforms, unlimited subscribers and much more.
Optin Forms – free, but limited functions
A completely free opt in plugin for your email marketing is Optin Forms. The tool developed by Fancy Themes is mainly used to create forms and place them on websites to generate leads.
Optin Forms works with eight different newsletter services. The fact that the plugin has just five different form layouts doesn’t seem like much at first, but they are all completely customizable: fonts, text, size, elements and colors – everything can be redesigned. The plugin is widget-friendly and can be placed in the desired area, such as sidebar or footer, with the help of a widget plugin and a shortcut. There’s hardly more to say about Optin Forms – it’s simple and does what it’s supposed to do: Create forms so that visitors leave their data and become leads.
Conclusion: The plugin is easy to use and manageable. It’s perfect for beginners, because you don’t need HTML or CSS knowledge and you won’t be overwhelmed by the functions. If you want to have more templates and more possibilities, you should choose Optin Monster or Sumo. But also with Optin Forms the selected layouts adapt to the look of the website and you can individualize the forms. One point that speaks absolutely for this plugin: It doesn’t cost a cent! This should appeal especially to start-ups and small businesses whose business is still in its infancy and who want to start with the first leads.
Icegram – start free and upgrade later
Did someone say free? That’s right, lead generation plugins don’t have to cost a lot. Icegram is available in a free version and already offers some features. If these are not enough for you, you can upgrade to Pro (97 $ per year) or Max (147 $ per year) and get even more templates.
This inexpensive plugin allows you to create welcome bars, pop-ups, slide-in messengers and opt-in forms. The pop-ups appear on your PC, tablet and smartphone. Icegram even suggests headlines, but in English. The templates can be adapted to the style of your website and you decide in which area of your website they appear: left, right, bottom, top or in the middle. It is even possible to show the ads only to certain users and have them pop up on different subpages according to a certain schedule. With a free add-on you can have an analysis report sent to you. This plugin is suitable – especially in the free version – for all those who don’t want to invest any money at first or want to check the plugin more closely before buying it. Icegram works with the major newsletter software, such as MailChimp and Aweber.
Conclusion: You can start for free and later decide for Icegram Pro or Max. With these versions the costs remain manageable and are low compared to other plugins. The call-to-action buttons can be changed and placed as you like, the templates are versatile and the developers promise the desired success!
Leadboxer – learn much more about your leads
Also very well suited for lead generation, but already a rather extreme special tool is the plugin from Leadboxer. In the B2B sector, it offers large and small companies the opportunity to take a closer look at new and existing customers as well as website visitors and interested parties.
How does it work? The anonymous website visitors are identified, the steps of the prospective customers on your website are tracked and even company name, e-mail addresses and company size are made visible by Leadboxer. Even before the visitor reveals his data to you, you already know a lot about him. So he becomes a lead even before he knows it. The plugin evaluates the contacts according to a scoring and thus determines which criteria the collected data fulfils. You determine which data is important to you. This plugin is particularly suitable for e-mail marketing strategies.
But for this plugin you also have to spend money. Leadboxer does not offer a free version. If you pay annually, the starter package costs $79 per month. If you pay monthly, it costs $99 per month. With the Corporate Package, which includes additional features, you will get $399 or $499 depending on your payment rhythm. One advantage is that Leadboxer will send you a list of all qualified leads. On request even daily. You only have to set once which data of your leads are important to you and the plugin will do the rest. Of course you can change this at any time.
Conclusion: The proud price can be worth it if you want to have a close look at your leads. One visit from your potential customer and you have a whole data set at your disposal – how the lead finds it is not sure. Companies that focus their attention on this kind of email marketing strategy will be satisfied with this plugin.
My conclusion and recommendation
My opinion is: As a beginner you should start with one of the free or cheap plugins and later switch to a pro version. This way you can try out if a plugin will help you to generate leads. Especially in the initial phase of a company, it is often considered what the most necessary money should be invested for. Maybe a lead generation plugin belongs to these considerations. Especially in the beginning it is important to let your business grow, and for this you need prospects and potential new customers. The easiest and fastest way to get them is to use one of the plugins mentioned above.
If you are already a bigger company or have a lot of traffic, then I would go straight to a professional plugin like Convert Pro, Optin Monster or Bloom. Do you want to expand your email marketing list and catapult it to a new level? Then start with the full version of one of these tools. Some of them promise you lots of leads in just a few days. My personal ranking looks like this:
Optin Monster is my personal winner. I was absolutely convinced by this plugin. You cannot test it for free, but it has everything you can expect from a good email marketing plugin: a lot of features and good support. It is also suitable for beginners and professionals (thanks to the simple drag-and-drop generator) and for all industries, because you can completely customize it.
Compared to Bloom it is more manageable, but absolutely sufficient. Bloom is even more extensive, but you will need a training period and may not be able to start immediately. This tool is an all-in-one solution that is perfectly suited for technically experienced WordPress users. However, beginners will feel overwhelmed.
Therefore my conclusion: Everybody should be able to handle OPTIN MONSTER.