The Ultimate OptinMonster Review: Is OptinMonster Worth The Money?

OptinMonster is one of the more popular newsletter plugins on the market.

When installed on your site, it can be used in a safe secure and efficient process for gathering email subscriptions from your visitors.

The plugin was developed by renowned developers, Syed Balkhi, and Thomas Griffin, who also developed other highly popular plugins for WordPress such as WPForms and Envira Gallery.

Since the launch of OptinMonster in 2013, the plugin has quickly evolved into becoming an essential tool for site owners for collecting email addresses and growing subscriber lists. OptinMonster is arguably the most popular newsletter plugin for wordpress right now, if not the most sought after.

OptinMonster is versatile enough to be used by small business operators, and is even used by big businesses and Fortune 500’s.

Over the 3 years since it was first launched, OptinMonster has developed into being much more than the basic newsletter plugin that it started out as; the developers have continually updated the core program with powerful new features.

I personally own and use OptinMonster on every website I have, including my site AuthorityIncome. While there are many newsletter plugins out there, I feel OptinMonster still stands tall as the best of the best — if you are willing to part with the cash.

So a heads up here — this is going to be a positive review. I use the program myself and I straight out recommend it, if you can justify the purchase.

So why buy it?

Let’s find out.

Note, as of August 23, 2016, OptinMonster is increasing their prices by 60%, which means if you are thinking about buying it, do it now to lock in the significantly lower price. 

What is OptinMonster (and Why)

OptinMonster is a plugin with a single purpose: to help you collect email signups to build a list. And you want to build an email list — it’s one of the best ways to communicate with your readers, to capture ‘lost’ visitors, and of course, to make money from.

In my own experience (an experience that’s confirmed if you read ANY internet marketing advice about building a successful website), your list is the easiest audience to market product to; you can squeeze out the highest conversions from your list versus other sources like search, social media, and paid advertising.

If you build a website, you need to build a list.

Simple as that.

And OptinMonster is a plugin with the single purpose of helping you build the biggest list you can. It’s not the only plugin that does that, but it’s one of the most popular, and I put forth, the best.

But it’s not cheap.

The Good 

I’ve been upfront that OptinMonster is the newsletter plugin that I personally use. I love the program. Here are what I consider the best about OptinMonster.

Comprehensive Optin Form Stylings

A few of the styles available for designing forms are as a slide-in, as a light-box,  a canvas, as a side or footer bar, and an interesting after post insert.

The list of advanced features included in this plugin, is where OptinMonster really outshines others.

  • OptinMonster integrates easily with Google Analytics, so you can tell almost all you need to know about those who have joined your lists. See at a glance, which forms are generating the most clicks and conversions.
  • Attractively designed, user-friendly interface for optin forms. The styling options are varied, and are indeed attention grabbing.
  • Increase visitor engage with the lightbox feature that dims the rest of the page, while the pop- up appears.
  • If your pages are heavy with content such as blog posts, the after-posts form option can be used to add forms after the posts. Readers are not distracted and still able to subscribe at what can be the right moment. The inline option, can also be used and an encouragement, while they are engaged with content.
  • Design your optin-forms to be used as bar: a floating that is always shown on the page, a sidebar, or a slide-in widget, can always attract attention.
  • Pop-ups were once seen as being annoying. With OptinMonster, they can be effective and engaging without being obtrusive. Configuration with effects such as time delays and the new exit-intent feature that track the user’s mouse movement, only triggers appearance of the form, when the visitor is about to leave, can be much more polite than interruptions.
  • Total control of the display of the form. The form can be set for display based on time spent on the page, the number of clicks on links and images, as well as the referring sources.
  • Never show the same popup to someone who has already subscribed.
  • Build pop-ups specifically for mobile devices.
  • Several pre-built themes are included for a quick-start. All themes are fully customizable, with changes of colors, fonts, backgrounds, or with additional CSS and HTML. You can also edit the fields, or change the appearance and characteristics of the fields in an intuitive user-friendly visual composer builder.
  • You can create an unlimited number of forms for postings on your site. Each form can be individually configured for display. You can set the time the page is displayed before the popup appears, and the duration of the cookie before the form is redisplayed to the visitor.
  • You can customize the message displayed to users who have opted-in. After a successful opt-in, users can be redirected to any page that you choose.
  • The optin form can be set to load, not on the first, but second page, if less distractions are required on the first page.
  • Easy email provider integration. OptinMonster is easily integrated with all of the major email providers, including SendMail, MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, GetResponse and InfusionSoft. The integration does not require code installation, but an automated connect with your email provider account credentials. You can also use your custom HTML form.
  • Select where you wish the form to load: on specific pages or all pages of the site. Loading can also be totally suppressed if and when desired.
  • Popups can be displayed with different effects, instead of a being a static form that is easily ignored.

Detailed Statistics

With the integration of analytics, you get conversions, impressions, clicks and more, for each individual form. This can be an outstanding feature, as you can tell which form is best suited for your site. You use it with some well-designed easy A/B split testing. You can integrate your optin stats with Google Analytics too for even more detailed tracking.

Usable on Non-Wordpress Sites

This one is pretty big. With OptinMonster, you have just about everything that you need to create some attractive high converting forms, and of the biggest advantages, is that it can be used on any site, and not just WordPress platforms. I’ve taken advantage of this feature because I do have a few large non-wordpress sites. It’s great to be able to use OptinMonster to collect emails for those sites, and manage those forms straight from OptinMonster’s universal cloud dashboard, along with all my other sites.

Full Page Optin Screen

You  can design your form as a full screen welcome page and include a memorable two-step optin process which has shown to be effective in increasing conversions. This is my favorite optin and I find it converts the best.

The Form Data Hosted on the Cloud

To use OptinMonster without a hosted WordPress site, you can create your forms in the dashboards when you login to your account at OptinMonster.com. I have tested both self-hosted and hosted service, and there are a few differences.

As such, if something happens to your blog, your forms and your data is safe because it’s not hosted on your site, but OptinMonster’s own cloud servers.

These may not necessarily be due to the software, but perhaps due to different server capability. This can be determined by further extended tests, however I note that end functionality was not affected. All data collected by your forms is still processed by your account at the OptinMonster site.

Either the self-hosted, or cloud-served option is available as service, and switching is as easy as a few mouse clicks.

  • If web-estate is highly valued, you can save space by installing your form as a slide-up footer panel, or even floating in from the top. You can also use the ever-present but still polite feature, that keeps the form visible while the user scrolls the page.
  • Keep visitors attention with animated effects, such as shake and tilt.
  • Multiple form styling, ensures an always fresh look. Forms are no longer boring and mundane, and you have the ability to design a form to suit a particular purpose. You have, at this point, at least eight different styles from which to choose, and all styles can be edited, or customized. There are also, a set of templates that can be applied to each style, giving you advanced versatility.

Mobile Form Building

This can also be a useful feature, as visitor behavior is different on mobile, and you are able to design forms that better complement this behavior.

  • You get an endless bit of styling capability, but, out of the box, you are already given access to tons of ready-to-use templates. By using the point and click editor, you can change the appearance of these templates to suit your own branding.
  • One of the features that I really appreciate is the canvas, which is essentially a blank page where you can custom design your own popup. Put anything that wish, including images, HTML or what you think is required. You can control the dimensions of the canvas, giving you total creative flexibility and control.
  • Before installation, you can preview the forms in test mode to see what they look like and continue editing.
  • Easy installation: After generating your forms, you can install them in any suitable location, by pasting the shortcodes that are associated with each form.

Until now, not much attention was paid to forms, as they were seen as more like a necessity. OptinMonster has taken that notion a bit further, and has turned newsletter form-building into an essential tool, that can add value to your site operation.

The design and function of the newsletter form, can be used to increase conversion, as visitors are required to take an action. Forms are no longer static elements that can be easily be ignored.

It is relatively easy to add animated effects to your form or pop-up, to attract even more attention. At the Display Effect on the Optin tab of the Builder, an extensive list of effect appears in the dropdown menu. Choose from Bounce, Wobble, Rotate, Swing, Shake amongst others.

Powerful Lead Gathering Options

You have the option to store the leads that collected from your forms, which can very useful when the subscribers do not confirm with the double optin process, however, info is still collected.

Inside the admin panel of OptinMonster, an additional slug as added to the individual optins that are displayed as a list. With that link, you can easily tell the style of each optin, and a click will re-direct to the edit page.

Consistent Updates & New Features

OptinMonster is constantly having new features added. I bought OptinMonster over two years ago and there have been a raft of features added since then and some huge upgrades.

The developers are continually making sure OptinMonster stays competitive. Indeed, they do one better and have so far kept it the best. Just the past couple months, there have been some really cool new features added such as the ability to apply conditional logic to forms which really allow you to do some complex things to better target readers.

Another new feature is the ability to ‘lock’ specific content on your site and allow people who sign up to your newsletter access to this locked content.

Easy, Effective Split Testing Options

One of the powerful features is the Split Testing feature. This allows you to set up different designs and automatically test to them to see which is the most effective.

How to Split Test

A click on the settings, will direct to the module, where the optin form can be cloned and edited to be used in split tests. Select the optin’s Split Test Icon on the OptinMonster Dashboard, modify the element you wish to evaluate with split testing, you can test if one color or font is preferred over the other, you also have the ability to  multiple tests with the child option.

Following the tradition of WordPress mode, selected addons can be activated or deactivated as desired. I am undecided as to whether this is a benefit or a deterrent, or is just an event.

Content Lock Feature

This is a new feature released in the middle of 2016.

It basically allows you to lock down specific parts of your wordpress blog content (a blog post right below a newsletter optin, for example) from the public while allowing people who have signed up for the newsletter access to it. This can dramatically increase newsletter signups. This is a powerful feature and, as far as I’m aware, unique to OptinMonster.

Conditional Logic Display Rules

The OptinMonster team recently added in a new set of features which allows you to display a page or launch a specific campaign based on what action the reader has performed on your site. This allows you to create a highly targeted campaign for specific readers. It’s powerful and game changing — and no other newsletter plugin has this.

Universal Dashboard

If you manage multiple sites, you can appreciate the idea of having a a central dashboard where all aspects can be managed on a central location — from the web on the cloud.

This makes organization easy, as it easy to view stats for each form without logging into multiple sites. Much like a central command area, where the site(s) and forms can all be optimized from a captains’ or directors chair.

The only requirement to create form(s) is the URL of the site(s), which is entered in settings Forms can also be identified by titles.

Each form type is associated with a specific set of templates from which you can choose to begins, and added flexibility is included with the customization features. Click on the form element allows you to edit text, images, colors or fonts.

Configuring the form will govern how the form is displayed, and this is where, much of the value added comes in. Set parameters, such as length of wait for display, animation, partial scroll, cookie, messages and the exit intent that detects when visitors move off page to close the window.

Integration of email Marketing is easy, and more providers are being added to the growing list. All that is needed is your account details to make connection automatic. Limited documentation on individual providers is also available.

Save your forms, and use the embed code to add the forms to your site.

Optimized for Speed

OptinMonster is optimized for speed. The developers know how page load times are important, both for customer conversions, user experience, and search engine rankings. OptinMonster forms load very fast and with minimal bloat. Given that you’ll find OptinMonster on large websites (even Fortune 500 companies use OptinMonster) with huge amounts of traffic, it’s a pretty good testiment for how fast OptinMonster loads.

Impressive Documentation

There are various methods available for contacting the OptinMonster support team. A ticketing system and contact form are established on the website, but what is really impressive is the repository of articles and video tutorials that they have assembled that may be able to answer any question that can arise. The articles appear to have been very carefully and painstakingly developed with attention to all details.

The developers have also made what seems like a clever decision to allow the documentation to be shared on the social networks.

The Bad

Despite all the good things I love about OptinMonster, there’s also some pretty big negative points to consider.

  • The default design of some of the pre-built templates have a bit of room for improvement. The choice of layouts, colors text fonts can all be improved to make the form a bit more appealing. This should not be too difficult, and can be an area of interest for those who may be inclined.
  • There are limited template designs. While each templates are very different and allow you to customize the look somewhat, I feel the selection is quite limited. I would like a lot more than the current amount. Keep in mind that each of these designs are tested and are proven to work, but with the popularity of OptinMonster, I feel the designs have saturated the market — and you would be well advised to completely customize any design you choose for better affect.
  • OptinMonster does not work well with custom HTML forms. The format and styling tags are all stripped. There is not yet a viable explanation, but the best option appears to choose one of the providers, where the integration process has already been implemented, and just requires account connection through the source API.
  • The pricing model is pretty bad. $199 per year is pretty steep, especially given that you can get a similar feature set for less money from the competition now (Bloom or Thrive Leads). OptinMonster has cheaper plans, but many of the highly desirable addons cannot be used on the basic license allowed for one site, and the even on the Plus license. The only option is to upgrade to Pro License with unlimited features to get an appreciation of the true value delivered by OptinMonster.

The Pricing

pricing

 

There are three pricing schemes available, a limited one site $49 per year, a 3 site $99 per year plan which gives you access to more features, and the full featured $199 per year plan.

Realistically, you want the $199 plan if you are serious about building a list. If you are looking a the limited $49 or $99 plan, I highly recommend you go with some of the competition which offers you a much better deal for the same (or cheaper price).

Pricing Increase

The price of OptinMonster is being raised soon. As of August 23, 2016, OptinMonster is increasing their prices by a whopping 60%, which means if you are thinking about buying it, do it now to lock in the significantly lower price for lifetime. The developers have been adding significant new features the past year and over the next few months will be adding even more big features  to justify the price increase such as:

– Geolocation Targeting
– Sub-Accounts
– MonsterLeads (lead backup / storage)

So consider getting OptinMonster sooner than later if you don’t want to pay more.

OptinMonster Vs The Competition

While I consider OptinMonster ‘the best’ newsletter plugin on the market — and it’s the plugin that I personally own and use — it’s certainly not the only one available.

There is some stiff competition that offers many of the same features that OptinMonster does, and I put forward, are a better deal if you don’t care about some of the extra features offered by OptinMonster.

Here are 5 best OptinMonster alternatives:

  • Bloom
  • Ninja Forms
  • SumoMe
  • LeadPages
  • Thrive Leads

While all of these will give you the basic ‘collect newsletter optins’ functionality that you expect from a newsletter plugin, not all of them offer the depth of features that OptinMonster does.

My Recommended Alternatives:

Bloom

Bloom is an interesting option because it’s probably the closest newsletter plugin, feature-wise, to OptinMonster. It’s also more affordable than OptinMonster with a price of $89 per year vs OptinMonster’s $199 a year.

I myself have the lifetime OptinMonster version, but this is no longer offered. You can, however, buy a lifetime membership with ElegantThemes, which includes the Bloom plugin, the awesome Divi Theme, a ton of other plugins, and over 90 wordpress themes. Based on this, Bloom is a better ‘deal’ when compared to OptinMonster because you get ‘more’ stuff for the price you pay.

However, for pure newsletter optin functionality, OptinMonster has ‘more’ (and I would say, more useful) features.

Thrive Leads

Another recommended alternative is Thrive Leads, which focuses specifically on maximizing conversions and has the most complex and effective A/B Split Testing system. Thrive Leads also has a 1 time payment (vs OptinMonster and Bloom’s yearly fees), so it’s a better ‘deal’ than OptinMonster when comparing by price.

However, again, OptinMonster still has more overall features, a cloud-powered dashboard (better for managing multiple site optins in a single place), and deeper targeting features.

Final Thoughts: Should You or No?

OptinMonster is seen as one of the disrupters of newsletter formbuilders. Several unique features (and still unique even mid 2016) offered that give OptinMonster an edge over the competition — at least for now.

OptinMonster is also VERY user friendly, allowing the non-tech savvy to easy create newsletters while also offering some complex features for the more sophisticated user. As such, OptinMonster is the most popular newsletter plugin in the world. It is rare to see a combination of powerful features that have been made simple, but OptinMonster accomplishes the feat quite successfully.

The complaint I have with OptinMonster comes down to the price. To be frank, it’s expensive — more expensive than some of the competing products, and more expensive than the average blogger will want to spend. While there are 3 priced packages, most bloggers or marketers will likely need the $199 per year package, which includes all the features and supports unlimited sites.

Whether OptinMonster is worth the high price comes down to what you want for your business. Building a list is probably the single most important thing you can do for your website; marketing to your list can make you more money than your other traffic platforms (search, social media, etc).

And without a doubt, OptinMonster is the Lexus of the newsletter plugins — the most expensive, but also one of the easiest to use with a huge raft of really useful ‘features’. If building your list is your number one priority and you are going to really get down and dirty with trying to optimize and increase conversions, it’s worth the money.

However, if you just want to ‘build’ a list for a new website without trying to really optimize for conversions or you don’t need all the powerful extra features offered by OptinMonster, then using Thrive Leads, Bloom, or one of the other cheaper alternatives will do you just fine.

I say it’s worth it, but only if you have an established website and an plan in place to build a list. If you are a raw beginner, go with one of the cheaper (or even FREE) alternatives.

Buy OptinMonster 

  • Ease of Use
  • Features
  • Functionality
  • Aesthetics
  • Plugin Future
  • Support
  • Price
4.7

Summary

The best newsletter plugin on the market, hands down. OptinMonster (as of April 2016) offers both the most features over any other newsletter plugin. They also have some compelling and unique features such as hosting all your Optin Forms (and associated data) and cloud servers where you can manage all your different website optins from one panel.

OptinMonster takes upgrading and adding new features on a regular basis very seriously. I've had OpintMonster for 2 years now and I've used it to build a number of large lists for some of my top sites. Over the two years I've had OptinMonster, they've made some huge upgrades to the core functionality and added a LOT of useful new features.

The only downside to OptinMonster is the price. It's more expensive than the competitors. You get the best features, but you pay a premium. Indeed, you'll likely need the $199 option to access all the features. If you just want a feature rich plugin but are strapped for cash, you may be better off with Thrive Leads. Or if you want access to a ton of themes and other plugins as well as a feature rich newsletter plugin, look at Bloom by ElegantThemes which only costs $89 per month.

Still, if building your list is important to you and your priority, then OptinMonster is the best tool out there for that job. Because of the cost, I recommend this for people who have an established website with a decent amount of traffic or who intend to use social media marketing to build a list. For new websites with no traffic, you may be best served to 'Optin' for one of the cheaper alternatives because you won't use all the features or necessary use them.

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