If you don’t already have an email list for your website, you should probably stop everything you’re doing and start building one right now.
Your mailing list – the list of people who have signed up to receive emails from you – is potentially the most valuable asset in your marketing arsenal, and can help you to increase site traffic, build better relationships and trust with your audience, and ultimately make more money.
Email lists are so powerful because they offer an amazing conversion rate compared to other types of online marketing – in fact, email is 40x more effective than social media for acquiring new customers.
Your list is also totally owned by you and under your control. Google changes its algorithms and sends you back to page 10 of the listings? No worries. Facebook decides to start charging for business pages? Who needs Facebook anyway?
Ok so you’re convinced – you need an email list. But how on earth do you get started at building one?
Fear not, as WordPress site owners are spoiled for choice in terms of list building plugins that will do all the hard work for you so you can sit back and let the sign-ups start flying in!
What Do List Building Plugins Do?
All you need to start building an email list is a simple form on your site to capture a visitor’s name and email.
Plugins make it easy to add this form to your site without any coding required and all the data you collect will be added to your WordPress database for easy export or integration with mailing software.
Effective list building plugins also offer extra features to help improve your conversions such as:
- Pop-ups, slide-ins, and other eye-catching ways to display your sign-up form
- Functionality to offer opt-in incentives such as a free e-book
- Reporting so you can see how well your forms are performing
Looking for a plugin that offers all of this and more? Read on for a summary of some of the best list building plugins for WordPress:
1. Thrive Leads
Thrive Leads is considered by many to be the gold standard of list building plugins and it offers pretty much any feature you could possibly want, along with unlimited customization options.
This is a premium plugin but it’s actually great value for money considering all the functionality that you get, and it’s cheaper than several of the other premium options.
One of the great things about this plugin is that it’s designed specifically for WordPress users by the team behind Thrive Themes, so you know it’s a quality plugin that’s not going to slow your site down like some other generic solutions that aren’t built for WordPress in particular.
Some of the features of Thrive Leads include:
- Drag and drop editor to easily create any kind of form
- Created targeted offers based on post, category, tags, and more
- A/B split testing
- Detailed reporting
- SmartLinks displays different content to different types of visitor
- SmartExit triggers the opt-in before users leave your site
- Eye-catching animated form effects
- Fully mobile responsive.
Thrive Leads allows you to create just about any type of opt-in form so you can choose a combination of different styles that work best for your site and audience:
- Pop-up box
- “Sticky” ribbon
- In-line form
- 2-step opt-in form
- Slide-in form
- Opt-in widget
- Full screen overlay
- Content lock for opt-in incentives
- Scroll mat
- Multiple-choice forms.
Every form that’s built with Thrive Leads looks great as they offer an extensive library of templates to customize, so no worries if your design skills are somewhat lacking.
These templates are also optimized for conversion rates so you can just build and activate, without needing to do loads of research and testing on conversion techniques.
Thrive Leads really offers all the tools you need to grow your list without any hassle. The split testing and reporting features are particularly useful as they show you exactly what’s working and allow you to experiment with different types of form and calls to action.
Price: $67 for a single site license, or $19 a month as a member of Thrive Themes for access to all themes and plugins.
OptinMonster is designed to increase the conversion rate of your website – converting visitors into subscribers, growing your email list, increasing page views, and getting more sales.
This plugin comes with over 65 pre-designed mobile-friendly form templates that are ready for you to customize as you wish. An advanced targeting engine also allows you to show personalized messages based on user behavior.
Some of the features included with OptinMonster include:
- Drag and drop form builder
- Automated actions and personalized messages based on user behavior
- A/B split testing
- OnSite retargeting – customizing promotions for returning users
- Integration with major eCommerce platforms
- Convert any link or image into an opt-in form
- Geo-location targeting
- Animations and sound effects.
There are various different campaign types to choose from including:
- Lightbox pop up
- Slide-in scroll box
- Countdown timer
- In-line forms
- Fullscreen welcome mat
- Floating bar
- Sidebar forms
- Content locker
OptinMonster is particularly powerful in its targeting based on location, device, referrer, page, cookie, and more. It’s a good choice for eCommerce sites running segmented marketing campaigns.
One other thing to note is that OptinMonster is cloud-based rather than being a traditional WordPress plugin. This can be useful if you want to use it on several sites as everything can be managed in one central location. You can use it on any website – not just WordPress sites
Price: $9 – $29 a month depending on the features required and the number of sites you want to use it on.
OptimizePress is a landing page builder rather than an opt-in form builder. It provides mobile-ready templates for creating landing pages, sales pages, and product launch funnels.
Sometimes the optimal way of building your list is by using targeted landing pages rather than a form integrated with the rest of your content. Of course you don’t have to choose between the two – often a combined approach is the best option.
Most list building plugins don’t have the option to build whole landing pages so OptimizePress is definitely worth a look if that’s what you’re trying to do. It’s really easy to use with a drag and drop builder and you can choose to either customize one of the pre-built templates or start from scratch with your own design.
As well as the all-important opt-in form, there are over 40 custom elements to choose from when you’re building your page such as testimonial blocks, progress bars, and video players.
Another feature that will come in handy for some users is the plugin’s capability to create secure membership portals – you can create a member’s only area of your site as an incentive to sign up for your mailing list without the need for any extra software.
Price: $97 for use on up to 3 sites.
Bloom is one of the plugins offered with Elegant Themes membership, which means if you’re already an Elegant Themes member, you can use it on any of your sites for no additional charge.
Bloom offers 6 different display types for opt-in forms:
- Below content
- Widget area
- Content lock
The pop-ups and fly-ins can be triggered by various user actions including time spent on page, reaching the bottom of the post, after scrolling, or after purchasing. However it’s notably missing the “exit intent” trigger that’s a feature of some other plugins.
Just like the themes that Elegant Themes is most famous for, Bloom is beautifully designed and comes with over 100 professional templates that you’re free to customize for your own purposes.
Other features include:
- A/B split testing
- Integration with an unlimited number of mailing list accounts
- Conversion and list statistics
- Targeted display settings.
Bloom strikes a nice balance between offering a flexibility and customization without being bloated and providing you with lots of extra features you probably won’t use.
Price: Included with Elegant Themes membership ($89 per year)
Like OptimizePress, Leadpages is a landing page builder that you can use to create launch pages, opt-in campaigns, and more.
It comes with over 160 beautifully designed templates ready for editing, that are optimized for conversion. In fact you can even choose templates based on their conversion rate to give yourself the best chance at getting new sign-ups to your mailing list.
Leadpages also comes with a Facebook ad builder, which will come in handy for those looking to build an audience through social channels.
Everything in Leadpages is tweaked to optimize your conversion rate so you can enjoy useful features including:
- A/B testing
- Campaign ROI management
- Easy-to-understand analytics
- Drag and drop builder for easy design and customization
- LeadBoxes turn any link on your site into a 2-step opt-in with pop-up
- Automatic integration with marketing tools
- Built-in payments.
Leadpages comes with its own plugin for WordPress so you can easily integrate it into your site without any additional software.
Price: Leadpages starts at $25 a month. If you’re not sure if it’s a right fit for you, there’s a 14-day free trial so you can try out the software before committing to it.
Sumo provides a whole suite of tools designed to grow your website’s traffic and encourage people to sign up to your mailing list
There are a few tools that come in the package that you’ll be most interested in if you want to build your list:
- List Builder makes it easy for you to create a lightbox pop-up to capture emails, integrated with all the main email campaign software
- Scroll Box triggers a pop-up email collection box when a user scrolls down the screen
- Smart Bar adds a floating bar to the top or bottom of your website, where you can add an email collection form
- Welcome Mat adds a full-screen call to action on landing.
Other tools included are:
- Share – makes it easy for visitors to share your content on social media
- Heat Map – see where people are clicking on your site
- Highlighter – makes it easy to tweet quotes from your articles
- Image Sharer – makes it easy to share your images on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.
Price: Sumo is available for free for those just starting out who have up to 200 email subscribers. For everyone else, memberships start from $24 a month.
7. Ninja Popups
Ninja Popups integrates with all the popular mailing list software and makes it easy for you to create pop-ups that are specifically designed to convert.
A drag and drop editor simplifies pop-up creation and there is a library of over 70 pre-designed themes to choose from.
The pop-up can be triggered by exit intent, scrolling, or after a set time of inactivity. You can also target different pop-ups for different pages.
Other features include:
- Opt-in locker
- Social locker
- A/B testing
- Anti pop-up-blocker system
- Over 70 animation effects.
Ninja pop-ups is very reasonably priced and a lot cheaper than many of the other list-building plugins. It doesn’t offer as much customization and as many features as some other solutions, but if you just want to create pop-ups, it’s a great value option.
For a small additional fee you can buy add-on packs including the Opt-in Bars pack to turn your pop-up into a bar ($12), the Widget Extra add-on to integrate your designed pop-ups into content as a widget ($8), and an extra theme pack, which includes ten new theme designs ($9).
8. Optin Forms
Optin Forms is a free plugin developed by the team at FancyThemes and is a simple solution for creating opt-in forms on your website without any coding knowledge or fuss.
It comes with five customizable form designs and works with 7 of the most common email marketing solutions including AWeber and Mailchimp.
This plugin doesn’t have the fancy templates and advanced features of many of the other list-building software solutions. However if you’re after something simple and free, and you’re using one of the supported marketing platforms, it does the job.
Hustle is an all-in-one marketing plugin from the team at WPMU DEV that allows you to create email opt-in forms as pop-ups, slide-ins, embedded forms or floating bars with a variety of animation effects.
Smart exit intent technology means you can catch visitors’ attention before they leave your site, and the software also overrides Adblockers.
Statistics including number of views, conversion, and conversion rate are recorded
Hustle is available for free with the ability to create one opt-in and one pop-up or slide-in, or you can upgrade to the pro version, which allows you to create unlimited opt-ins. The pro plugin is included with WPMU Dev membership, which is $49 a month and is a complete WordPress management console including over 100 plugins, themes, security, backups, and support.
Choosing the Best List Building Plugin for Your Site
All of these plugins work well and will make the task of building your list much easier and faster. If you’re still not sure which one to pick, take a moment to think exactly what you want from a plugin.
If you just want to add a simple subscriber form in a pop-up and you’d rather not spend any money, one of the free options such as Hustle or Optin Forms will do the job.
Thrive Leads and OptinMonster are both premium solutions with lots of features. If you’re managing lots of sites, OptinMonster’s cloud-based dashboard will make your job easier, but otherwise Thrive Leads works out better value for money with a one-off payment.
If you want to build landing pages rather than just a couple of pop-ups, you’ll love the advanced functionality of OptimizePress or Leadpages.
For Elegant Themes members, no need to buy an extra plugin as Bloom does the job beautifully. If you’re not already a member you might want to consider it to get access to the themes and other plugins.
Have we missed out your favorite plugin? Tell us about it in the comments.