- Editor Rating
- Rated 4.5 stars
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- Ease of UseEditor: 100%
- FunctionalityEditor: 95%
- Value for MoneyEditor: 95%
- Documentation and SupportEditor: 90%
The online world moves remarkably quickly. What was once an industry best practice often feels archaic twelve months’ later.
However, one best practice has remained constant: the importance of building an email list.
An email list allows you to tap into an audience of highly engaged individuals, all at the push of a button. In an age of unpredictable search engines and fickle visitors, don't underestimate the importance of this – the money is in the list, remember?
Of course, convincing someone to join your list is easier said than done. Many websites offer a compelling sign-up incentive to lure people in, and this is highly recommended. However, you should always start with the optin form itself — a beautifully-crafted, persuasive, functional optin form will always go a long way.
When it comes to adding an email optin form to a website, WordPress users are spoilt for choice: the optin plugin market is uber competitive. With so many options, developers are forced to up their game to remain competitive.
Competition was taken up a further notch recently, with the launch of the excellent Bloom plugin, the focus of today’s review.
An Overview of Bloom
Bloom was launched in March 2015 by WordPress heavy-hitters Elegant Themes. Elegant Themes have been well known by the WordPress community for years now, having developed a number of high quality WordPress themes and plugins.
In the last year or so, Elegant Themes have really stepped up their game, though. First, they launched the gorgeous Divi 2.0; a beautifully versatile, multi-purpose theme that quickly established itself as one of the best WordPress themes on the market. (For the aTheme's review of Divi, click here.)
Then they switched their attention to plugins, with immediate critical acclaim for the excellent social sharing plugin, Monarch.
But we’re here to talk about Bloom today, of course, and it seems Elegant Themes have continued their trend for producing exceptional products.
To summarize, Bloom is an email optin plugin, developed to help WordPress webmasters grow that all-important email list. I’ll be reviewing Bloom in more detail later on, but for those who are unfamiliar with Bloom, here are the plugin’s main features:
- Six different “types” of optin forms – including pop ups, below content, and widget area
- 12 email marketing service integrations
- Beautifully crafted forms, with over 100 templates to choose from
- Almost endless customizations
- Highly targeted display settings – control when your optin form is triggered and where it appears
- User friendly interface
- Easy-configure A/B testing
- Quick-glance analytics
Pretty impressive, right?
If you want to get your hands on Bloom, you’ll need to sign up for an Elegant Themes membership. This will set you back from $89, which gives you one year’s access to Elegant Themes entire catalogue. To date, that includes 87 themes (including the aforementioned Divi 2.0), and six plugins.
Some of you might baulk at the $89 price tag if you’re only interested in the Bloom plugin. Even excluding all the other benefits of an Elegant Theme membership, a good optin plugin can add a lot of value to your business, so this still feels a fair price.
But does Bloom live up to expectations, or are there better WordPress optin plugins out there? Today I tested the Bloom plugin to find out.
Getting Started with Bloom
After installing the Bloom plugin, I jumped straight in to see what it could do.
Clicking on the new Bloom option in the WordPress dashboard takes you through to the Bloom interface. I was immediately impressed: the interface is slick and stylish, and it didn’t overload you with options. It’s also fully responsive, so it works well on any device.
From here, I clicked New Optin to create my first Bloom optin form.
Bloom supports six different optin “types”.
- Pop up: automatically jumps out at visitors after specified triggers. Pop ups are known to be intrusive and irritating to visitors, but they’re also proven to be effective converters as they command maximum attention.
- Fly in: fly ins are triggered the same way as pop ups, but are far less intrusive to visitors. Instead of popping up in the center of the screen, fly ins slide subtly into view in the bottom corner of the screen.
- Below post: the below post optin box sits at the bottom of the screen, below your content. If a reader reaches the bottom of your article, they're likely to be highly engaged, and this makes them more likely to opt in. For this reason, below post optin forms usually convert well.
- In line: in line optins have a fixed position within your content, placed by pasting a shortcode into the WordPress editor. Because they're fixed, they're far less intrusive than pop ups, plus you have more control over what stage of the article a visitor is at, allowing you to position them more strategically.
- Locked content: you can use Bloom as a content locker, exchanging an email address subscription for access to premium content.
- Widget: place an optin form in your sidebar or footer. These optin forms will be viewed regularly, but are less intrusive as they don’t disrupt a visitor reading your content. Inoffensive, but not the best converters.
In my opinion, that’s a really good range of optin options. You can use optins in a variety of ways to see which converts best, and you also have the option to use more/less aggressive optin forms, depending on your stance on pop ups.
The locked content option immediately stood out to me, as I’m not familiar with any other email optin plugin doubling up as a content locker – it certainly isn’t offered by Bloom’s main competitor, OptinMonster. It’s great to see some real thought went into the Bloom's optin forms, and putting premium content behind a content locker is an innovative way to grow your list.
Building a Bloom Optin Form
For my first optin form, I decided to build a Pop up.
Before you start, you’ll have to give your optin form a name, as well as specifying which email provider to integrate. Bloom supports 12 email provider services in total:
- Constant Contact
- Campaign Monitor
- Mad Mimi
After selecting your provider, you’ll be asked to validate your account with your username and an API code. When you’ve submitted this information, Bloom will automatically authorize this, to confirm your credentials are correct.
Once you’ve been given the all clear, you can start building your form. If you’re unsure which provider you want to use, or you want to do this later, you can skip this first step, too.
Now, before you can build your optin form, you have to pick the template you want to use. The number of templates Bloom supports is truly impressive – I counted 115 templates in total.
In my opinion, this is one of Bloom’s major strengths.
Most people lack the time and (more importantly) the design skills to build beautiful optin forms, and so the huge number of designs to choose from is much appreciated. The templates look really stylish, and a number of color schemes are used, allowing you to pick something that matches your site’s branding.
It’s worth pointing out that a lot of these templates are similar, with just a different color scheme (which you can customize anyway) so this headline figure is a little misleading. That said, there are still 115 different starting points to work with. If you have no idea how to style your form, you’ll find the sheer quantity of options very useful.
I picked a striking red number, which started life like this:
Customizing the Optin Forms
Despite such a large number of designs to pick from, Bloom also supports extensive customization.
You can customize just about anything on your optin form. The customization options include:
- Unlimited background, font, and button colors
- 80+ Google fonts
- Custom image and text
- Ten animations
- Squared/round corners
- Five border styles, and eight border orientations
- Six form edge styles
- Custom CSS for your own customizations
The interface is user friendly and very intuitive to use, with clearly labelled fields and drop-down menus showing me my options. You can view the changes you make to your optin form by clicking the floating preview button at the top right of the screen.
After just a few minutes of playing around with Bloom’s customization capabilities, I had my optin looking like this:
Okay, the design isn't the greatest — that's down to me! — but it just gives you an idea of the changes you can make. In this example, I've changed the image, font, and played around with the edges and the border. It was really easy to do, and the simple interface made it really fun to test out my designs.
It’s worth pointing out that all six optin form types are built this way, using the same user-friendly interface. All optin forms are built from the same 115 templates, too, which is a little disappointing, considering most users would style a widget optin form differently to a pop up optin form. You can't have everything, though, and in reality, some templates are more suitable for a specific type of form than others.
Configuring the Optin Forms
With my pop up optin built and looking good, it was time to configure the display settings.
Again, this was an area Bloom excelled – I really can’t imagine an easier configuration process, with the straightforward interface making this a breeze.
Bloom supports a variety of “triggers” to activate the form. These are:
- After a specified time spent on page
- After a specified period of inactivity
- After reaching a specified point of the article
- After reaching the bottom of the page
- After purchasing
- After commenting
The noticeable exception is exit intent, which is available with Bloom's main competitor, OptinMonster.
However, Bloom allows you to stack your triggers, which more than makes up for the lack of exit intent.
For example, you could display your pop up after 300 seconds on page, or after 60 seconds of inactivity, or when the visitor reaches the bottom of the post. This increases the likelihood of your form showing. To avoid annoying your visitors, you can restrict this to one display per visit, too.
Bloom gives you comprehensive control over where your optin forms are displayed, too. You can choose to display your optin form everywhere on your site, or limit it to certain posts, pages, categories, or tags.
At the bottom of the configuration screen, you can also scan through all your published posts/pages and specify where you’d like your optin form displayed – if your choice conflicts with any earlier settings, this is overwritten. (Remember: you can build multiple optin forms using Bloom, so you can create tailored forms to suit the content on individual pages.)
When you’re done, click Save & Exit.
The entire process was really easy, and didn't take more than a few minutes. I especially liked the conditional logic applied to the configurations screen — fields were only displayed based on some of my earlier settings. This meant the screen was streamlined, and wasn't overloaded with unnecessary, un-used fields, which definitely gets Bloom some more points.
Activating the Optin Form
So, my optin form was saved, and it was time to see it in action on my site.
All optin forms are initially set as “inactive,” so keep this in mind. If you want your optin working on your live site straight away, simple head to Bloom > Optin Forms. Once there, you’ll see your newly created optin form – this page will also give you an overview of each form’s performance.
On the right-hand side, all you need to do is click the tick icon to set your form to active. You can also go back and edit your form by clicking the cog on the far right.
With my optin form active, I headed over to the live version of my site. After a five second delay (as specified on the display settings screen), there was my pop up! It was great to see everything working as expected but, after the impeccable experience so far, I expected nothing less.
With my optin form live, it was time to test out some of Bloom’s more advanced functions.
A/B Testing with Bloom
Bloom comes with built-in A/B testing functionality. If you’re serious about maximizing your optin form’s potential, split (A/B) testing is the way to go.
You might think that you’ve picked the best color scheme straight out the gates, but until you’ve got the data to back this up, you don’t know for sure. Small changes can make a huge difference, so it’s always worth testing a few variations of your optin forms to see which converts best.
Fortunately, Bloom makes configuring an A/B test a breeze, and you can be up-and-running in minutes.
From the Active Optins screen – found by going to Bloom > Optin Forms – simply click on the A/B Testing button.
This will automatically create a duplicate “child” version of your optin form, which you can make small tweaks to. Don’t make wholesale changes; instead focus on one element of the form and test it to see which performs best. In this case, I decided to change my button color.
You make the changes using the same customization interface, which feels really familiar and intuitive. When you’re done making your changes, click the Save & Exit button.
This will take you back to the Active Optin screen. From here, simply click Start Test and your A/B test will begin.
Going forward, Bloom will display both optin forms equally, to see which converts best. On one hand, this is quite a limited split test, and other premium plugins come with more scope to configure the A/B test to your liking. On the other hand, it keeps things incredibly simple, plus it's super easy to configure.
After running the A/B test for long enough to get some conclusive data, click End & Pick Winner and you’ll be ask to choose which optin form you want to continue with.
I found split testing really easy to run with, and I can't imagine an A/B test being more straightforward to configure!
If you want more information about your email list, Bloom also offers a straightforward analytics function.
You can access this by going to Bloom > Statistics from within your WordPress dashboard.
The interface is really simple, giving you the headline figures you need: impressions, conversions, conversion rate, subscribers, and subscriber growth.
Further down the page, you can also find information on when new list members were added.
This analytics function is fairly basic, but it doesn’t need to be anything more. You can see your core metrics in one convenient location, and you can dig a little deeper should you wish to do so.
Overall, I was hugely impressed with the Bloom plugin. The plugin comes packed with features, templates, and (most important) usability.
I’m a huge fan of the Bloom interface, which looks clean and stylish, and was incredibly easy to use. Every option – whether on the customization or configuration screens – felt necessary, and was presented in the simplest manner possible. Nothing was confusing, and this made it really easy to get to grips with Bloom and also make the most of its full capabilities. In fact, I had my first optin form up and running in under 10 minutes, having spent time considering all the settings available to me.
We all know the importance of growing an email list, but many of us disagree on the best way to go about it. Bloom solves this problem beautifully, by being a fantastic all-rounder. If you find pop ups too intrusive, there are more subtle options for you. If you want maximum conversions, though, you can put your optin forms smack in the center of the screen. There are pros and cons to all options, and Bloom lets you draw your own conclusions.
This extends to the optin “triggers,” too, and Bloom boasts a solid range. At first glance, a lack of exit intent technology might push you towards OptinMonster, but Bloom has plenty of triggers itself to make up for it. Bloom allows you to “stack” triggers, meaning there are multiple ways for a visitor to trigger your optin form.
In my opinion, though, it was the variety of templates that made Bloom such a pleasure to work with. Sure, you could argue that most are variations of the same template, but I think this misses the point: I don’t want to have to think about which colors work well together – I’d rather just pick one I like. With 115 templates, Bloom has choice in abundance. If I want to make further customizations, it’s super easy for me to do so, but the main design of my template is already in place, and this just makes things easier.
Bloom does everything you’d expect of an optin plugin, and it does it very well. There’s different optin types to choose from; loads of templates, design elements, and customization opportunities; helpful analytics; and easy A/B testing.
Beyond this, though, some of the smaller, well-considered features make Bloom a really exceptional plugin. In particular, I think the built-in content locker function is cool and innovative, as is the post-purchase-eCommerce trigger.
A plugin like Bloom will ultimately be judged by how it stacks up against its toughest competitor, OptinMonster – both plugins are clearly very good, but which is better?
Both have their merits, but personally I lean towards Bloom. I found it slightly easier to use, and I loved the extensive template range on offer. If you want to grow your email list efficiently, Bloom would be my number one option.
– 115 different templates to choose from gives you a huge range of options
– Six types of optin forms, lets you grow your list in multiple ways
– Beautifully intuitive interface is super easy to use
– Extensive customization, A/B testing, and analytics
– No exit intent technology
– Can't be purchased separately
Summary: From the fantastic developers at Elegant Theme, Bloom is without doubt one of the best optin form plugins for WordPress. Loads of templates, loads of style, and loads of customization, Bloom is the ultimate list building plugin.
Rated 4.5 stars