Thrive Leads Review: The Smart Way To Grow Your List

Have you been building your email list and wondering why it’s been growing so slowly?

There are countless well known optin form building products out there which you may or may not already been using.

Or you might be using the email form builder that comes with your current email service provider.

Thrive Leads Review

First Published on: Feb 18, 2016
Last updated: Feb 18, 2016

tl;dr Summary
Thrive Leads allows you grow your list faster than ever by providing a highly flexible optin form creation tool and excellent split testing features.

Undoubtedly, you have found that they are lacking in some way. Perhaps you are frustrated by their lack of nice looking templates.

Or maybe the form builder lacks the flexibility to build the design you really want.

Creating beautifully designed optin forms is the first step in collecting more emails.

So it’s important that you get this right.

That is why I’ve been so impressed with Thrive Leads. It basically checks off every box of what I want in a list building plugin. And even better, it keeps improving with each and every update.

I’ve referenced Thrive Leads a lot in many of my posts, but I had not gotten around to putting together my own Thrive Leads review post until now.

In this review I’m going to show you everything that Thrive Leads has to offer and why I feel that it has cemented itself as the best list building plugin today.

What is Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is one of the flagship products of the Thrive Themes membership started by Shane Melaugh and Paul McCarthy.

At its core, Thrive Leads is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create beautiful optin forms very quickly. Yet, it’s very flexible, and doesn’t limit your creativity in any way.

Thrive Leads supports all the popular optin form types that are currently in use by marketers right now. And if some new type of optin form becomes popular in the future, you can be sure that Thrive Leads will definitely incorporate it as well.

For example, content upgrades are the hot email list building technique at this moment. To address this need, Thrive Leads added Lead Asset delivery and a bunch of new content upgrade templates to the plugin.

But there’s more to Thrive Leads than the optin form builder. It also includes the best, most robust split testing features I’ve seen. This allows you to test your forms against each other to see which one converts the best.

By making the process simple and continually testing and improving the conversion rates of your optin forms, the number of subscribers on your list will grow faster than ever.

With Thrive Leads, there is no reason anymore to use your email service provider’s built in web form builder. It basically renders them obsolete.

Thrive Leads Optin Forms

As I mentioned, Thrive Leads allows you to create any of the most popular optin forms in use today. These include.

  • Lightbox Popup – An overlay that displays an email optin on top of your site. It’s definitely the most common type of optin form you will see these days.


  • Slide-In popup – A poupup that slides in from the edge of the screen. A bit less intrusive then your standard lightbox popup.
  • Ribbon – Resembles the popular HelloBar that overlays a horizontal optin form at the top of your site.


  • Widget – Embed an optin-form in any widget enabled area of your site. Most commonly used for sidebar or footer optins.
  • Post Footer – An optin form that appears at the bottom of your post content. Popularized by Pat Flynn.
  • In Content Optin – Using short codes, embed an optin anywhere in your content, like say your About Page.
  • Scroll Mat – A full page optin form. User can dismiss by clicking the close button or just scrolling down the page.


  • Multi-Step – An optin form with multiple states. Takes the idea of micro-commitments to improve conversion rates.


Thrive Leads introduces the concept of lead groups which are a way of organizing a group of opt-in forms. This is perfect for those implementing content upgrades, as it allows you to have multiple lead magnets on your site by creating a separate lead group for each.

Inside each lead group, you can edit multiple forms at once, configure where they show up, and setup split testing among all the forms in your group.

Thrive Leads shows you how your lead groups perform compare to other groups, plus you can drill down and see how each particular form is performing as well.


The alternative to using Lead Groups is to use shortcodes. This will allow you to show an optin form (similar to the Post Footer optin) that you can embed inside any of your content.

The main difference between the two is how you integrate them. Shortcode forms require you to edit an individual post or page to add them.

You get a few different options to trigger your shortcode forms.

  • Show on page load
  • Show after certain period of time
  • Show when form enters viewport

So where might you use shortcode forms? A good use case is in your About page. This is usually a high traffic page on your site, and it makes sense to add a form in the middle of your content.

Customizing Your Forms

Where Thrive Leads stands out is the flexibility in the designs that you can create. Compare this to LeadPages for example, which makes you rigidly follow your chosen template.

Thrive on the other hand allows you to move and delete any element you want. Combined with it’s rich library of components and you have true freedom when creating your designs.

The reason it’s so powerful, is that Thrive Leads leverages the Thrive Content Builder editor. The editor allows you to drag and drop components right onto the form preview.

Here are the elements available for you to add.


Once on your form, you can simply tweak any element by clicking on it and seeing it’s properties. So things like font-size, color, alignment, margins and padding can be changes with a couple of clicks. If you need a little more power, you can also add custom CSS code as well.

Optin Forms don’t need to be designed from scratch, although you can if you like. Thrive Leads includes a number of templates for each form type, and more are getting added with every update.

These are all very well designed, and you could easily use them as-is if you like.


Triggers, Display Frequency, Targeting & SmartLinks

I see this fairly often. A site will have a single optin form and have it display every single time on every page of your site.

This is the lazy way of doing email marketing, and you’re not maximizing your list potential if you do this.

With Thrive Leads you have full control of how and when each of your optin forms will show up.

Triggers allow you to control how an optin form displays on the site. The plugin includes basic triggers like showing on page load, after a certain period of time, or when a user clicks on an element (for 2-step optins).

Then there are more advanced triggers like when your reader gets to a certain section of your content, or on exit intent, which is when the user is about to leave the page.


You never want to annoy your readers by showing your forms all the time. So using the frequency slider allows you to control how often any particular form gets displayed. This is something I recommend you to split test, to find the optimal setting for your site.


Thrive Leads also gives you full control of what pages and posts your optins can show up. You can be as general (all posts/pages) or as specific as you want. You can even configure forms to show up for your mobile users.

This is especially useful for content upgrades where you typically only want an optin form to show on a specific set of pages.

Thrive Smart Links

Thrive SmartLinks is one of the newer features added to Thrive Leads and it addresses a problem that is common to any site using these types of optin forms.

See, the people who subscribe to your email list are more often then not, your most loyal fans. They are the ones most likely to buy your products and services and they will often be repeat visitors to your site to consume your new content.

But what typically happens when your subscribers come back to your site? They’ll see the same optin forms, popups and scroll mats that everyone else is seeing.

This is a bad user experience.

There is no need to show an optin form to someone who has already subscribed!

This is where Thrive SmartLinks comes in. It lets you show your same optin forms to new visitors, but show something completely different to your subscribers.

How it works is that Thrive Leads will generate a special link for you that you can send out in your email broadcasts. When your subscribers click through this link in their emails, they will see a different version of your site without the optins.

SmartLinks are flexible as well. You could replace your optins with nothing at all to create a completely clean experience for your subscribers. Or you could replace your optin forms with a more targeted upsell offer that might include a special subscriber discount.


This is a great feature, and there’s a lot that you can do with it.

Multi Step Forms

Multi Step Forms are starting to gain more popularity. Making your visitor interact with your popup is a little psychological prompt that can help your conversions. You may have visited sites like QuickSprout and wondered how they created this type of popup.


Well Thrive Leads has added this capability as well.

Not only can you use it to collect more emails, but you can have the 2nd step show a call-to-action button instead. You might use this to promote some other content on your site or even an affiliate offer.

Split Testing

Where Thrive Leads really stands out is its A/B split testing features. By split testing every optin form you build, you will rapidly see an improvement in your conversion rates, which means a bigger email list for you.

Thrive Leads does a nice job of making split testing easy.

Next to each of your forms, there is a clone button that will make a copy of that form. You can then edit the form as normal to create a new variation to split test against.

Then press the Start A/B test button which will launche a dialog like this.


Here you can specify your split test name and enable whether you want an Automatic Winner chosen.

What this means, is that once your split test meets your specified criteria, one of the forms will be declared the winner. All the other forms in your split test will be paused, and only the winner will remain showing.

This enables you to always show your highest converting form, without you having to remember to check your stats sometime in the future and manually set this.

The whole split testing system is very flexible. You can test both forms of the same type (Lightbox vs Lightbox) or different types (Lightbox vs Slide In).


Thrive Leads reporting and analytics are excellent.

You can easily see your number of signups, your conversion rates for every form and lead group.

You also can pull up lead and conversion rate reports for a specified time period to see how things are improving over time.

The Content Marketing report hows all the pages on your site and how many leads they’ve generated which is very useful.

Thrive Leads vs LeadPages vs SumoMe

You may be reading this Thrive Leads review because you are trying to decide which was the best list building product for your site.

Two of the most popular optin products right now that you will see most often are SumoMe’s List Builder plugin and LeadPages’ LeadBoxes.

SumoMe’s List Builder plugin is used by many sites because it’s free. So it’s a good solution if you’re just trying out this email marketing thing and you are on a budget.

However, with the free version of the plugin, you are limited to a single template. So your optin form will look similar to thousands of other sites using the plugin.

Upgrading to the Pro version of SumoMe gives you access to more templates and split testing features. But at $30 a month, you’re now paying quite a bit more than Thrive Leads. And honestly their pro features are significantly less powerful then what Thrive Leads provides.

LeadPages’ LeadBoxes are just one component of the Leadpages service that is used for collecting emails. It’s quite easy to use and is especially popular for implementing the content upgrade strategy on many sites.

However, it also suffers from the fact that all LeadBoxes look pretty much the same. Thrive Leads gives your much more flexibility in the designs of your optins. And it’s much more affordable than LeadPages is as well.

If you look feature by feature, Thrive Leads pretty much beats both SumoMe and LeadPages in every way.

Final Thoughts

Thrive Leads is quite simply, the most powerful list building plugin available today.

You can use it to create any type of optin form you can think of and make them convert as well as possible using it’s awesome split testing capabilities.

It’s also super configurable. You have full control of where your forms show up, how they are triggered. It also supports all your favorite email service providers.

Compared to other similar products which charge a monthly fee, it’s also refreshing to see that Thrive Leads is just a $97 one time payment for unlimited sites.

And lastly, Thrive Leads is constantly being updated with new features. SmartLinks, the Scroll Mat and MultiStep optin forms were all added after the initial release.

Shane and Paul have shown that they are dedicated to this product for the long haul, so we should see it continue to evolve in the future.

Want to grow your email list faster? Thrive Leads is the best product for doing this and I highly recommend you try it out.

Try ThriveLeads Today

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