I know the feeling: You want readers to sign up for your mailing list, but can’t understand the difference between the popular tools that are supposed to make the process easier for you. A breakdown of 5 of the most popular tools to explain the differences, pros & cons of each, and which tools might be the best fit for you.

Here’s a breakdown of 5 of the most popular tools to explain the differences, pros & cons of each, and which tools might be the best fit for you:

(Click here to get this information in a free downloadable cheat sheet)

Opt-In Monster

Overview: The grand daddy of list-building options. It works with almost every e-mail provider seamlessly, has a specific mechanism just for content upgrades, and has almost every kind of opt-in form you can think of (in-line forms, click trigger, slide-in, exit intent, etc). Also has A/B testing capability built-in. Cost: $9-39/mo Good fit if …: You want to try it all & you love data. You want multiple opt-in offerings, different styles for different pages & frequent content upgrades. You love digging into data to A/B test your offerings & discover what’s working and what needs tweaking. Try something else if …: You have a limited budget ($40/mo adds up!) or you don’t like their templates, as most of their forms require technical skills to adjust.


Overview: If you want to build your list through online events, consistent content upgrades and social media advertising, look no further. LeadPages’ primary goal is to create beautiful stand-alone landing pages so that your readers can sign up for webinars & free/low-cost resources. It also has a function, LeadBoxes, that can be used to embed forms into your existing website or blog post. Cost: $25-200/mo Good fit if …: You want an easy way for people to sign up for online events. You don’t want to do any coding, just use a drag & drop interface. You want to set up & track lots of content upgrades. Try something else if …: You want your sign up boxes to look unique. You have a limited budget. You prefer forms on your existing pages to stand-alone landing pages.

Thrive Leads

Overview: I’ll be honest: this option is fairly new, and I hadn’t heard of it until I started doing research for this blog post. But even without a proven track record, this is an impressive & powerful tool. It has every type of opt-in form I can think of (in-line, click, top bar, slide-in widget, exit intent, etc). It has A/B testing capabilities and supports content upgrades. And it’s a plug-in not a SAAS product, meaning that you’ll pay for it once (with option to extend support annually) instead of a monthly subscription fee. Cost: $67 for one site or $97 for multiple sites for this list-building option; or you can become a Thrive Member to gain access to all their themes & plug-ins for $19/mo. Good fit if …: You want a plug-in that can do it all, but don’t want to pay an ongoing fee. Try something else if …: You want an option that your team members (VA, designer, developer) are familiar with, or that has a deep knowledge base due to years of customer service.

Popup Ally (Pro)

Overview: This is the opt-in tool that I’ve been using on my site & for my clients for a few years. (Disclaimer: The link above is an affiliate link.) The paid version is a plug-in, meaning that there’s no ongoing fee, and has robust functionality — you can set up multiple types of forms and easily integrate with content upgrades. Cost: If you only need 1-2 sign up forms on your page, you can use the free version of the plug-in (I used this for the first year in my business). Once you’re ready to upgrade, it’s $99 for one site, or $149 if you bundle with the same developer’s webinar plug-in, WebinarAlly. Good fit if …: You don’t want to pay an ongoing fee. You need forms on a few different places on your site (homepage, blog sidebar, after posts). Try something else if …: the idea of hex codes and adjusting pixels makes you sweat. This particular option is for those who are moderately tech-savvy.

SumoMe Welcome Mat

Overview: If you need to quickly, easily & cheaply get a full-screen sign-up form on your website, this is your tool. It’s easy to sign up for a free account, copy some shortcode, and BOOM, your form is live. When a reader lands on your site, the first & only thing they’ll see will be this “Welcome Mat,” and they have to either sign up or click off to get to the rest of your site — meaning they can’t miss the opportunity to sign up. Cost: The free version of this tool is free forever, but it does include the SumoMe crown logo and the text “powered by SumoMe.” If you want to upgrade to one of SumoMe’s robust packages that include social buttons, heat maps, analytics, and more, that will cost you $15-100/mo. Good fit if …: You need to get something up quickly that converts lots of your readers. Try something else if …: You need a long term solution that can grow with your business.