A professional newsletter signup form is essential if you want to grow your email list. Unfortunately, the form designs offered by most email marketing services look terrible.
Which is why there has been a surge in popularity over the last couple of years for WordPress opt-in plugins. These solutions allow you to easily add beautiful sign up forms to your website in minutes.
In this article, I would like to look at the pros and cons of each WordPress plugin to help you make an informed decision on which solution is best for you.
Email Provider Support: Bloom vs OptinMonster
One of the first things you need to review in an email opt-in WordPress plugin is the email providers they support; since you will be unable to use any of these plugins if the email marketing solution you use is not supported.
Bloom supports twelve email marketing services: Aweber, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, ConstantContact, Mad Mimi, InfusionSoft, iContact, GetResponse, MailPoet, FeedBlitz, SendinBlue, and OntraPort.
Form integration is the first step you will have to complete with Bloom after you have chosen the type of form you want to use.
Custom HTML forms are supported by Bloom too. Most email marketing services and WordPress email capture plugins will provide you with an HTML form. You should therefore be able to use Bloom with the majority of email marketing solutions.
OptinMonster currently supports a total of eighteen email marketing services. Apart from MailPoet and OntraPort, it supports the same services as Bloom.
OptinMonster also supports ActiveCampaign, Customer.io, Emma, HubSpot, MailerLite, Marketo, Pardot, and TotalSend. Just like Bloom, OptinMonster works with custom HTML form scripts.
As you can see, when it comes to integrating Bloom and OptinMonster with your chosen email solution, both plugins have good support for email providers. Bloom currently supports two services that OptinMonster does not and OptinMonster supports eight services that Bloom does not.
Bear in mind, however, that both plugins should be able to support email providers that are not listed above if you enter the HTML code for your newsletter form.
Form Types: Bloom
Email opt-in WordPress plugins have come a long way from simply displaying pop-up lightbox forms. Premium solutions now give you a wide number of ways to encourage visitors to sign up to your newsletter.
Bloom was launched with six different form types.
Automatic Opt-In Pop-Up
Pop-up forms can be displayed automatically to visitors after a set event. You can display the form after a defined number of seconds, when the visitor reaches the bottom of a blog post or page, when the visitor has scrolled to a defined point of a page, or when the visitor has been inactive for a certain period of time.
You can also display the pop-up once an action has been completed, such as publishing a comment or or purchasing a product.
Automatic Opt-In Fly-Ins
Fly-ins are forms that slide into the corner of your page. They work in a similar way to automatic opt-in pop-ups. For example, you can set the form to display after a defined number of seconds or once an action has been completed.
Inline Opt-In Forms
Inline forms can be placed directly inside your content area. All you have to do is copy the shortcode that is provided and insert it into a blog post or page.
Below Content Opt-In Forms
The bottom of blog posts and pages is a great location to display a sign form since it is where a reader will be once they have finished reading your article.
Widget Area Opt-In Forms
Most WordPress themes come with multiple widget zones, such as the sidebar, footer, header etc. Bloom allows you to insert an unlimited number of widget forms into your website.
Require Opt-In To Unlock Content
Bloom allows you to hide content until someone has signed up to your email list. This is a fantastic way of encouraging sign ups.
Think of locking content to email subscribers as an alternative to charging for content. You could use this feature to protect long in-depth articles, detailed video tutorials, digital file downloads, and more.
Form Types: OptinMonster
OptinMonster divides their opt-in form types into three categories: Basic, advanced, and Premium. The form types available to you are dependent on the license you purchased for OptinMonster (more on pricing later).
* OptinMonster also note on their website that a comment subscription checkbox is coming soon, though this has yet to be released.
Lightbox Pop-Up (Basic Form Type)
Pop-up forms can be displayed after a defined number of milliseconds. Alternatively, you can load the pop-up when they visit a second page on your website.
Once a visitor has signed up to your newsletter, you can redirect them to a specific page on your website. This is useful if you want to thank the person for signing up.
Footer Bar (Advanced Form Type)
A footer bar can be displayed at the bottom of your website. It will be displayed at the bottom of the page until the user signs up or closes the bar.
The footer area is an interesting location to display a sign up bar as the form will be viewable at all times.
Sidebar Widget (Advanced Form Type)
OptinMonster comes with four unique widget designs. Text, images, and video, can be integrated into the widget to help increase sign ups.
After Post (Advanced Form Type)
OptinMonster allows you to add a beautiful sign up form underneath your content area. Images can be integrated into the form if you wish.
Slide-In (Premium Form Type)
OptinMonster offers one slide-in form design. Unfortunately, the default design looks small and cramped, though this can be adjusted using custom CSS.
Canvas Pop-Up (Premium Form Type)
Canvas is a type of lightbox pop-up form that allows you to create anything you want. You are presented with a blank canvas to help you create any type of form you wish.
This form type is geared towards developers who know how to create a signup form using custom HTML and custom CSS.
Mobile-Only Pop-Up (Premium Form Type)
The mobile form type lets you add a signup form to your website that is only displayed to mobile visitors. Two form designs are available. The first one can be seen below. The second form design is a canvas form that can be used to create a unique form using custom HTML and CSS.
Form Designs: Bloom vs OptinMonster
They say that design is subjective and is in the eye of the beholder. So when I talk about the quality of the form designs, my position is obviously influenced by what kind of designs I prefer.
For me, Bloom's form designs generally look more colorful and more professional than OptinMonster's designs. The forms available for OptinMonster do not look terrible, however I do feel they look a little dated compared to the forms available for Bloom. However, I believe there is more variation in the style of forms available for OptinMonster.
Once you have chosen your email provider, you need to choose a form template. A total of 115 form templates are available for Bloom in a variety of colors. All template designs are available for each form type.
There is a great selection of form templates, but you quickly realize that the actual number of unique form designs is much smaller (probably close to around a dozen). Most templates are just variations of other templates with different color styling and images in different positions (just to be clear, this is not a criticism of Bloom, but a clarification of the number of form designs on offer).
There is certainly more variation in the forms available from OptinMonster. A number of form designs are available for each form design.
There are 11 form templates for lightbox pop-ups, 3 footer bar templates, one mobile template (two if you count Canvas), 5 after post templates, 4 widget templates, and one slide-in template.
When we talk about design, we cannot just focus on the default look of the forms. We also need to look at how those forms can be customised. Both Bloom and OptinMonster allow you to change the look and feel of your forms; however, they both do so in very different ways. In my opinion, neither way is better than the other. They're just different 🙂
Bloom has a long detailed page with form customization options. At the top of the page there are options to change the title of your form and the content of your message. The editor for these fields let you change font color, make text bold or italic, and align content left, center, or right. It should be sufficient for most tasks, though I would have welcomed the WordPress visual editor as that offers many more formatting options.
Most Bloom form types allow you to upload one image. You can position the image above or below the content area or to the left or right of the content area. If you prefer, you can remove the image altogether. Ten animation effects are available that can be applied to the image you use, such as fade in, bounce, and swing.
It is easy to customize the styling of your forms. The background color, fonts, corners, and borders, can all be modified.
The sign up form can be positioned at the bottom of your newsletter form or on the left or right hand side of your form. Email text, button text, and button color, can be changed too.
The styling options do not stop there. Bloom lets you change the way that fields are displayed in your form. You can also change text and background colors.
Six patterns are available for your form edges too.
At the bottom of the design customization page, you will see options to add text to the footer of your newsletter, display a confirmation message to those who subscribe, and add custom CSS styling.
A preview button is displayed at the top of the design customization settings page of Bloom. This button changes to a smaller preview icon as you scroll down the page. Clicking on the preview icon will show you the current version of your signup form.
The OptinMonster interface lets you preview your form in real-time. Therefore, any changes you make in the settings area on the left hand side of the page will be reflected in the preview immediately.
In a similar fashion to Bloom, the configuration options that are available change slightly for each form type. You can change the background color and foreground color with most forms. You can also style the form further using custom CSS.
One feature I love about OptinMonster is that you can change the form design after you have created a form. With Bloom, you can customise the styling of a form you created, however you cannot change to a different form template. This means that you need to create a new form from scratch if you want to use a different form design.
I prefer the way that OptinMonster handles it as it means I can switch to a different form template at any time.
The name, email, and submit fields, can all be modified. You can change the text and the colors and font used with the button. There is also an option to show or hide the name field.
I am a big fan of how OptinMonster approaches form customizations. If you click on any part of your form in the preview area, you can modify it.
For example, if you click in the content area of your form, an editor will pop up. This editor has more options than the one available in Bloom. There are additional options such as lists, font format, font name, font size, and links. Still, I would love to see the standard WordPress editor used instead as it would give users more control over what is added into the content area.
You can upload media directly into your form in the preview area using the WordPress media interface. Additionally, if you click on one of the fields, your cursor will be taken to the corresponding settings area on the left hand side of the page so that you can modify the field. It is very intuitive and a pleasure to use.
Bloom and OptinMonster both offer many great form customization options and they both offer features that the other does not. And while I do love the style of Bloom's forms, I appreciate the variety of forms on offer from OptinMonster.
Features and Plugin Options: Bloom
After choosing your form template, choosing your email provider, and customized your form design, Bloom lets you configure display settings.
The first section on this page is load-in settings. From here you can add an intro effect to your newsletter when it first loads and define when, or how, the newsletter will be displayed. For example, after a defined number of seconds or once someone has reached the bottom of the page.
Forms can be enabled and disabled for certain areas of your website. You can choose your form to be displayed everywhere, on your home page, archives, categories, tags, posts, or pages.
This could be used, for example, to only display your pop-ups on content pages such as blog posts and pages.
You can also display your forms on a category per category basis. Therefore, if you took the time, you could personalize your forms by creating one signup form for one or two post categories and other forms for other categories.
Lastly, you can choose to display your forms on selected posts and pages. You can exclude your form from selected posts too.
Bloom features an email accounts page that lists all of the email marketing services you have integrated so far. This page displays the newsletter list for each email marketing service, displays the total number of subscribers, and highlights the growth rate of subscribers every week.
The statistics page details impressions, conversions, conversion rate, subscribers, and subscriber growth. A graph is also displayed that highlights new sign ups over the previous 30 days or previous 12 months.
Elegant Themes have also included import and export functionality in Bloom to help you transfer settings to other websites you own.
The Bloom interface looks very professional; sharing the same styling as other Elegant Themes products. Settings pages load quickly and options are self-explanatory.
Features and Plugin Options: OptinMonster
Form settings in OptinMonster are displayed on the left hand side of the form customizer. You can change the title of your form, set the time delay for loading your form, specify the time before an optin will display again if the form is closed (cookie duration), and customize the message that is displayed to people who sign up to your newsletter.
One cool feature of OptinMonster is that you can redirect people to a defined URL instead of displaying a success message. The name and email fields can be passed to this URL, which allows you to personalize a thank you page for new subscribers.
Another interesting feature in this section is Exit Intent. This allows you to load your form when someone navigates away from your page. I have never been a big fan of intrusive marketing techniques such as exit pop-ups, though I realize they are effective.
The output section lets you switch your form on and off. You can display your form on your whole website. Or you can choose to never load your form on certain blog posts or pages or only load your form on certain blog posts and pages.
Forms can also be displayed on a category by category basis. You can also display forms on your home page, archives, and search results, posts, pages, and media pages. This gives you great control over where you promote your signup forms on your website.
25 different effects can be applied to certain types of forms (e.g. lightbox pop-ups). This includes bounce effects, flipping, sliding, and rotation. This may seem a little gimmicky, but it could help you grab someone's attention when your form is loaded.
The overview page lists all of the forms that you have created. The status of each form is displayed, be it live, disabled, or staging. There are columns that display statistics too, such as impressions, conversions, and conversion rates.
At the right hand side of the page is a settings column. Clicking on the gear icon for a particular form gives you the option of modifying the form, creating a split test, duplicating the form, resetting stats, or enabling test mode.
Split tests are a fantastic way of seeing which forms perform best on your website. This will help you increase the sign up rate to your newsletter. All you have to do is name your split test and add a description below to remind yourself of what you were testing.
You can customize your test form in any way you want. For example, you could change the form template that was being used or display the form on different areas of your website.
Both of your forms will then be displayed on your website and over time you will see how each form performed. Once you are clear about which version of the form is better, you can make one form the primary form.
When you first use OptinMonster, only the lightbox pop-up form is available. The addon section allows you to install other form types and activate them; however, which addons are available to you will depend on the license you purchased (more on this later).
The integrations page will list all of the email providers you have connected to OptinMonster so far. This page is kind of pointless as you cannot click on anything or view any information. All the page does is show you a logo of email accounts you have connected.
You can earn money with OptinMonster by signing up to their affiliate program. Once you have signed up, all you need to do is enter your affiliate link in the plugin settings area.
Some other settings are available on this page too. You can enter your license information for automatic plugin updates, define the default cookie duration, and enable an option to store leads locally too.
By default, a “Powered by OptinMonster” will be added to your pop-up forms. Your affiliate link will be added to this link if you enter your tracking code in the settings area. Unfortunately, you cannot remove this link for all forms in the main settings area. You need to disable it on a form by form basis by unchecking the “Show Powered By Link?” option in the form design settings interface.
I don't believe the powered by link makes forms look any less professional and by displaying an affiliate link, you could pay back the cost of buying OptinMonster and perhaps earn a little more.
As I have shown, Bloom and OptinMonster handle settings and customizations in slightly different ways. They are both easy to use so it should not take you more than a few minutes to create beautiful forms with either solution.
Elegant Themes have always prided themselves on offering value for money. Their developer plan retails at $89 per year. This plan grants you access to 87 WordPress themes and 6 WordPress plugins.
The plan offers support for an unlimited number of websites and comes with original layered Photoshop files for all themes. $89 is a great deal for this package as it comes with their flagship WordPress theme Divi and their social media WordPress plugin Monarch.
If you plan on renewing your developer license more than twice, it pays to purchase the lifetime license for a one off fee of $249; since this license does not have a yearly renewal fee.
All Elegant Themes licenses receive a 30 day 100% money back guarantee.
The lowest plan available for OptinMonster is cheaper than Elegant Themes developer license. Unfortunately, their lowest plan is very limited in what it can do. And if you need support for more than one website, OptinMonster is more costly than Bloom.
The basic plan for OptinMonster retails at $49 per year and offers support for one website. It supports analytical reports, A/B split testing, and page level targeting. However, the basic plan only supports the lightbox opt-in type.
The plus plan retails at $99 per year and offers support for up to three websites. It has all the features of the basic plan, but it also supports three additional opt-in types: Footer, sidebar widget, and after blog posts.
The limitations of the basic and plus plans can be seen in the table below.
To gain access to all OptinMonster features, you need to choose either the pro plan or the ultimate plan. These plans are identical apart from the way they are priced. The pro plan costs $199 per year, while the ultimate plan retails at a one-off fee of $499.
The pro and ultimate plans grant access to three additional opt-in types: Slide-In, canvas popup, and mobile only popup. It also gives you access to exit popups, canvas, animated effects, and priority support.
OptinMonster provide a 14 day 100% money back guarantee on all of their plans.
Bloom and OptinMonster are two of the best email opt-in solutions available to WordPress users. If you are deciding between these two plugins, my first recommendation would be to look at what functionality is vital to you. A lot of features are offered by both plugins, so it makes sense to look at what is exclusive to each plugin.
- The ability to add newsletter forms inside your content area using shortcodes
- The ability to hide content unless someone signs up to your newsletter
- The option of displaying a footer bar
- The option of displaying a pop-up form exclusively to mobile visitors
- The ability to create custom newsletter form designs from scratch (great for those with knowledge of HTML and CSS)
- The ability to split test forms to see which version of a form performs best
Each plugin has what I would call a “Killer Feature”. For Bloom, the killer feature is the ability to lock content. This is a fantastic way of increasing signups as it forces people to sign up to your newsletter if they want to view your premium content.
The lock content form type may not be as feature packed as a solution such as Optin Lock, however most people will be happy with what it can do.
For OptinMonster, the killer feature that really stands out for me is split testing. As your website traffic grows, being able to test multiple versions of your signup forms is an essential part of email marketing.
Split testing could be the difference between a form generating 30 signups per day and generating 70 signups per day. By changing form colors and selecting different areas of your website to target your forms, OptinMonster's split testing feature can really help you grow your email list.
Another important thing to consider is design. I really love the look of Bloom's form designs, however there is no denying that most Bloom form designs have a very similar feel. If you are not a fan of Bloom's styling, or if you simply want more variety in your form designs, OptinMonster is the better bet.
Value is an important factor too. And for many WordPress users, value will be the most important factor.
Without doubt, Bloom offers the best value.
The basic plan for OptinMonster is quite restrictive since it only offers a lightbox form. At a cost of $49 per year, you would be better choosing a cheaper alternative such as Ninja Forms. It is also worth noting that certain features of the most expensive OptinMonster license, such as slide-in form types and animated effects, are included in Bloom.
Therefore, if you do not need split testing, exit pop ups, or the ability of creating forms yourself from scratch, Bloom is by far the best option. It is cheaper, there are no restrictions on features or usage, and it has the added bonus of being able to lock content. And when you purchase Bloom you will also get access to 87 WordPress themes and 5 additional WordPress plugins. It's fantastic value for money.
What do you love about these two WordPress plugins? Please let us know in the comment area below.