We’re already a month and a half into 2018. One of my goals, as mentioned in the 2017 annual report was that I wanted to focus more on list building.
I was converting visitors into subscribers pretty poorly. Some of that had to do with limited content.
It’s hard to promote a blog when you’re not producing content regularly, and that was definitely one of my biggest struggles.
But, that’s only part of the problem.
I was counting on a post footer opt in to drive the majority of opt ins. It wasn’t converting well, in fact, it was converting an abysmal .38% of unique visitors. My site wide conversion rate was around .87% / around 22 subscribers per month. Pretty bad right?
I’ve managed to drastically improve my opt in conversions, and in this post I’ll explain everything I did and the thought process behind it.
- The choices I analyzed
- The tool I decided on and why
- Data from different types of opt ins
- and things I still need to implement in order to improve conversions
- and more (hopefully)
So let’s get started.
Choices I had to Boost Conversions
There’s so many tools out there, it’s hard to decide which one to use. So in order to limit the testing period and focus more on getting something up and running, I decided to look into some of the more popular options.
I wanted the more popular options, because I wanted something that will stay around and continue to be updated. I didn’t want to go through another company’s growing pains, and not knowing whether or not they’ll be around a year from now.
So here’s the criteria I was looking for:
- Established company, popular and used by other bloggers
- Allows for easy opt in building
- Has data tracking, conversions for each type of opt in
- Allows A/B split testing
- Preferably a one time fee, no recurring
Keeping that in mind, I decided to analyze a few options. Optin Monster, Lead Pages, Magic Action Box and Thrive Leads.
I’ll go more in detail about each option, but for those of you with a good memory, Magic Action Box was the opt in plugin I used before. The reason I decided to look into it AGAIN, is maybe I missed something or wasn’t using it properly. I had to consider whether moving to another platform or plugin would be beneficial, or if I should stay with what I had and make improvements.
Opt in Monster – This tool has been around for a while. It’s an established company so it marks off the most important requirement of mine. Seems like opt in building would be easy, check. Has data tracking and allows for A/B split testing but unfortunately it is setup under a recurring business model.
It wasn’t an absolute deal breaker. However, what was a deal breaker for me was that “core technology” wasn’t included except for the most expensive option. For example, exit intent opt ins aren’t included in the small or mid level package. Same with mobile specific forms and page specific targeting.
Lead Pages – My plan behind this was to maybe use image specific CTA’s that go to lead pages landing page with opt in. I didn’t like the idea that I would need to create a new image for different lead magnets or landing pages.
This would have been a more unconventional method, but hey, I’m alright with unconventional.
Unfortunately, it really didn’t meet my requirements. Paying $79/mo for something that I would have to integrate in an unconventional way didn’t seem ideal to me.
It’s an established company and did meet other requirements aside from the monthly fee, so I kept it in mind.
Magic Action Box – I’ve already been using this. It is a one time fee, and if I remember right it was only $47. I like the plugin. In fact, I like it enough to be an affiliate for it… but..
I’ve been using it with bad results. Maybe I shouldn’t say they’ve been bad results, after all, it has allowed me to build up my email list since the creation of this blog. But I looked into it more to see if there’s features I haven’t been using. Or, to see if there’s functionality I just wasn’t utilizing.
About 18 months ago I sent a support email asking about their A/B split testing, because it was something they were working on back then. Also, the analytics for the forms weren’t showing up for me. Turns out these were both future features.
On their website, analytics and A/B testing are listed as “roadmap of upcoming features”. Seems to me, if this wasn’t done in 18 months, it probably isn’t going to be done any time soon.
They didn’t meet my requirement of being an established company, but since I used them all this time, I was willing to overlook it. The opt in building is easy, but not as flexible as I wanted, but still, that would have been acceptable. No A/B split testing and no analytics makes it an easy no.
Thrive Leads – Definitely an established company, offering plugins, themes, membership, etc. On their sales page they allowed me to check off every single requirement I had. It’s a one time fee (unless you go for their membership), you can do a/b testing, you have analytics, etc.
Their sales video shows the process for creating an opt in and they showcase a lot of different templates for each style of opt in.
All requirements met.
Why Thrive Leads?
One of my more important requirements was to be an established company, but the one thing that differentiates them from others is that they offer a membership program for unlimited use of all plugins and themes.
Even though I didn’t go for the membership, I found this to be encouraging. Companies that offer a sort of membership program along with the possibility to buy plugins or different things a la carte, usually means they will keep their stuff updated pretty well.
Easy opt in building, tons of templates to use, detailed documentation, A/B split testing, analytics and a one time fee allowed me to check off each requirement.
They also offered a lot of different opt in formats, perhaps more than opt in monster, all for a one time fee.
It was a relatively easy decision.
After purchasing the license, I was able to immediately create my first opt in. Well, as with anything, there’s a small learning curve but it was pretty simple. I think I made my first one within 10 minutes. Afterwards, I decided to spend more time on it and mess around with the plugin to learn the ins and outs.
Another thing that should have been in my requirements, was the ability to connect with convertkit. Convertkit is what I use for my email marketing and I should have made sure it was compatible before buying, but luckily it was. It literally only took me 3 clicks in order to connect an opt in form with a list inside convertkit.
Overall the results have been pretty impressive.
What I Did, and the Data After 30 Days of Thrive Leads
I hate doing the “hey look at me” type stuff, but since this is more related to blogging and opt ins, I can only share what I’ve done and my results so far. I’m not an expert with blogging or opt in list building, but I can share what I’ve done along with the data.
So here are the steps I had to make this a successful case study:
Step 1: Create a lead magnet
Previously, I had a simple PDF document with a list of niches to target as a marketer, offering digital service or b2b services like web design, SEO, PPC, etc. It was for the top 64 niches to target.
It was a good lead magnet. Was easy to put together, and gave people a good idea of what industries they should target. However, I needed something different.
So I decided to put together an email course, a 7 day entry level program to teach people about building an agency. People opt in, they start the email course which will send a new email every day.
I may have gone overboard with the lead magnet. It might be too long. What I recommend is to keep things easy, don’t go too crazy on the lead magnet, just make it enticing enough for people to give you their emails.
Step 2: Create an Opt in form
The first form I created was a post footer form. It shows up after every blog post. This is what I had before and it worked.
Since this is something that should get the most impressions, I decided to do this first.
Step 3: Create Secondary Opt In Forms
After I created my post footer form, I decided to create the lightbox opt in form. It’s a pop up that will only display for users once every 5 days.
I wanted something that is intrusive enough to get opt ins but not so annoying that people wouldn’t want to spend time on the site going through different blog posts. I absolutely hate it when I get the pop up opt ins on every page of every site, so I wanted to avoid that.
After that, I decided to create in content opt ins, like the one you have seen above.
Step 4: Sticky Widget Opt In
I don’t have a full 30 days of the data, but decided to install a sticky widget plugin. This is the plugin I used in order to have the ability to use fixed widgets, so something will always be in the sidebar, no matter how wordy I get in a blog post. Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin (FREE)
I was debating between making it the Ultimate Agency Blueprint ad and making it an opt in. I decided to go with an opt in since 20% of subscribers end up purchasing the blueprint anyway.
Before and After Data
Prior to using Thrive Leads, I didn’t have a ton of good data. Just some data from Google Analytics and conversion goal tracking, which ended up missing a little bit here and there. However, I think I had enough data to come up to a reasonable figure.
My post footer forms were converting at .38%.
My site wide conversion rate was .87% with an average of 22 new subscribers each month. This would definitely be partially attributed to my periods of inactivity with no new content. I think my site wide conversions would have been at least a little bit higher, but maybe not.
Now with thrive leads, my post footer is converting at 1% based on 1 month of impressions. That alone would be a 163% increase.
My in content forms, are performing roughly the same as they were before.
Here’s a glimpse of my Thrive Leads dashboard (I’m not including the 2 subscribers from an in-content opt in):
The lightbox – This was something I knew I needed to implement at the beginning of the year when I was creating my goals for 2018.
What I did with this, is have it set so it only pops up once every 5 days. It pops up after 20 seconds of a user being on a page. My reasoning behind it, is that I wanted something less intrusive, but at the same time, show up when a visitor is engaged in content and more likely to opt in.
I wasn’t using this before buying Thrive Leads, and as you can see, just adding this type of opt in has improved performance.
Post footer – as mentioned before, my post footer opt in percentage increased by 163%. I feel like this isn’t as statistically significant, since there’s been more activity on the blog than there was for the last half of 2017.
Also, another important point is that I have a new lead magnet. With this being a new lead magnet, many current subscribers have opted in, which inflates the numbers a bit. I would say the post footer is almost the same as before.
Sticky Widget Side Bar Opt in – The performance of this opt in has been lackluster so far. In all fairness though, I just added this side bar opt in a day or two before I collected the stats.
While .65% conversion rate is not ideal, it does make a compelling argument for me to keep it there instead of doing something else in the side bar.
I could make my Ultimate Blueprint sidebar ad a sticky widget but even with .65% conversions I could end up with an additional 20 subscribers per month if I’m basing the impressions of the sidebar off of the post footer.
Maybe this would be something to split test in the future.
Overall the results have been good. 90 subscribers compared to 22 in a 30 day period is a 309% increase. Of course, these aren’t astronomical numbers but it does make it clear that this is much better for the growth of the blog than doing the same things I was doing before.
There’s Still Room for Improvement
Seeing the increases I’ve had already is pretty encouraging. That being said, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
I’m using Thrive Leads very minimally in comparison to how I could. I think there’s still a lot of potential to double my conversions just by better utilizing the plugin.
Here’s what I plan on doing to boost conversions by even more:
A/B split testing – I haven’t used it yet. I expect to see small increases over time that allow for bigger conversion boosts. Usually great conversion rates don’t happen overnight. They happen from A/B testing with sometimes very minimal differences at the end of the test. However, these differences add up over months and months of testing.
Not only can I A/B test different copy, colors, etc. but I can split test triggering option, display groups, and much more.
Additional opt in form testing – I’ve only used a few versions of the opt in forms. There’s still a ton of options available, like the sticky ribbon opt-in, a corner slide-in opt in, welcome mat / full screen filler opt-in, and smart links.
There’s a lot of options available, including options for mobile specific forms and desktop specific. I haven’t had a chance to get into this too much, but will be experimenting in the future to see what works best. So far, the pop up opt in is winning, but maybe something else will surprise me and beat it out.
Switched State Feature – So one thing that really got me interested in Thrive Leads, is the ability to change the opt in or even place an ad, after someone has already opted in.
This is a pretty cool feature that should boost revenue for the blog, and any blog for that matter. I just need to figure out how to do it, since that is a more advanced option and haven’t had time to learn how to do it yet.
Implement Advanced Targeting Options – One of my goals in 2018 is to produce more content. What I want to do is create additional lead magnets and implement some targeting rules.
With Thrive Leads, I’m able to select which opt ins / lead magnets to offer based on the content the visitor is looking at. That way, people reading blog posts on two different topics, will see two different opt-ins.
My conversions would greatly benefit from more advanced targeting, but in order for me to have that, I need more lead magnets. For now, I’ll have to stick to the 7 day boot camp lead magnet until I have enough content ready for additional lead magnets.
Using Thrive Leads has been one of my best decisions. I’ve already seen results after 1 month of implementation.
There’s not a ton of products I believe in enough to push as an affiliate, but this is different. I use it, and recommend it 100%.
Hopefully I can boost my conversions ever more once I have time to do some split tests and learn some of the more advanced features of the platform.
P.S. If you decide to buy Thrive Leads for your own site, or a client site, all links in this post for Thrive are affiliate links. That means, I get a tiny commission for each sale and I will of course, love you forever.