OptinMonster Review: Is It One Of The Best Popup Builders?

Email marketing is the most reliable channel to connect with your readers.

Because it’s one of the few traffic sources out there that you actually own.  It can’t be taken away or shut down by an overzealous algorithm change.

So while there are other traffic sources that you should be using, email marketing should always be your foundation.  It’s a dependable way to bring you traffic (and income) with a push of a button.

As a website owner then, you want to take advantage of all the possible ways to start collecting emails from your existing traffic.

OptinMonster Review

Last Updated: Jan 24, 2021
Initially published: June 13, 2017
Product rating: 4.5 / 5.0

tl;dr Summary
OptinMonster makes it easy to create and publish nice-looking opt-in forms on your site to grow your email list.

Visit the website

That’s why you often see lead generation opt-in forms on the sites you visit. It’s because they work.

There are a lot of services out there that can help you add lead capture forms to your site.  ConvertBox and Thrive Leads are two of my favorites.

But in this review, I’m going to look at another popular lead generation software tool called OptinMonster to see how it compares.

OptinMonster logo

Here is what I’m going to cover:

Collect More Leads with OptinMonster Today

What Is OptinMonster?

What Is OptinMonster?

OptinMonster is a lead generation platform founded by Thomas Griffin and Syed Balkhi in 2013.

It started out as a simple WordPress plugin with the single purpose of collecting email addresses.  But it has evolved into a leading cloud-based application that goes well beyond basic email capture.

Today, OptinMonster is used by well over 1 million websites and has been responsible for more than 217 million conversions.

What Are The Best Parts About OptinMonster?

Best thing #1: It’s Cloud-based

OptinMonster login page

OptinMonster started out as a WordPress plugin, which meant that not only did it require a hosted version of WordPress to function, but it ran directly inside that WordPress installation.

While this isn’t inherently a bad thing, it’s no secret that running plugins and other third-party services on your website leads to bloat, and ultimately slows everything down.

In the worst cases, intensive plugins can even start causing server memory issues and conflicts that break your site entirely.

These days, OptinMonster is a separate, cloud-based application that allows you to create, manage and deploy popups without having to rely on WordPress or any other CMS.

That differentiates itself from competing products, like Thrive Leads, Elementor Popups, or Sumo List Builder.

Best thing #2: It supports personalized targeting

When it comes to lead capture tools, advanced personalized targeting is where it’s really at these days.

What does that mean, exactly?

It means, instead of showing the same popup to 100% of your visitors, you create personalized popups that target visitors based on their behavior.

OptinMonster is AWESOME for this.

Personalized targeting

When creating a new campaign, the Targeting and Personalization rules give you full control over who sees your popups, and when.

For example, you could create a popup for visitors that:

  • Have never visited your site
  • Have visited your site a specified number of times
  • Have seen a different campaign or campaign type
  • Have previously closed a campaign
  • Have already converted on a previous campaign
  • And must more…

You can also stack these targeting rules to get really granular targeting with your popups.  Which will greatly increase your conversion rates.

Best thing #3: It integrates with tons of 3rd party apps

If there’s one thing that can make or break a buying decision when it comes to lead capture, it’s integrations.

Very few people are willing to uproot their entire email marketing system to accommodate a popup builder, so either it works with your current setup, or it’s simply not a good fit.

Fortunately, OptinMonster is one of the most widely integrated lead capture platforms on the market, next to LeadPages.

OptinMonster is one of the most widely integrated

This list includes a slew of email marketing tools, website, and ecommerce platforms like:

What Are The Annoying Things About OptinMonster?

Annoying thing #1: Responsive popups are separated out

I noticed this one when trying to preview popups for mobile.

From the popup builder, if you selected any of the original popup templates, you won’t be able to see what your template looks like on a mobile device, let alone tweak them.

It turns out that OptinMonster instead added “mobile optimized” templates that are completely separate from the usual templates.

Responsive popups are separated

It’s only by selecting one of these templates that the popup builder will be geared towards the mobile experience, at the expense of the desktop experience.

What this means is, if you want full control over how your popups are shown on smaller devices, you will need to create multiple versions of your campaigns and adjust accordingly.

Annoying thing #2: Limited to 2-step forms

One thing I love about ConvertBox is the ability to create complex multi-step forms and pathways.

For example, you can have multiple buttons on a form that each leads to a different form.  That form can have multiple buttons that each lead to a different form, and so on.

These pathways can help segment prospects and shape your lead magnet offer, ultimately increasing conversions.

Limited to 2-step forms

While OptinMonster does support a simple 2-step form with dual buttons, you won’t be able to create anything beyond that.

For now, a simple “yes or no” popup is all that’s on offer.

Annoying thing #3: No landing page builder

You might initially think “popups” when you think of lead capture software, but dedicated landing pages have long been used to capture leads as well.

The problem? Depending on which lead capture software you use, you may or may not be able to build landing pages.

Unfortunately, OptinMonster falls into the latter.

A support article shows that they consider full-screen popups as landing page replacements, but it’s not quite the same and I think they know that.

No landing page builder

A Look Inside OptinMonster

Form Types & Templates

When creating a new campaign, OptinMonster will first ask which type of campaign you’re looking to create.

A campaign “type” is basically a style of form.

Campaign templates

OptinMonster has a solid selection of form and popup types.

You’ve got the classic modal popups, floating bars, and full-screen overlays, as well as inline forms, slide-in forms, and even gamified popups for more dynamic lead magnet offers.

Depending on which type you choose, the template library below will change to show only templates related to that type.

OptinMonster has a selection of form and popup types.

I like the ways these template designs are presented in the thumbnails, using a block-style illustration as opposed to tying a design to a specific industry.

If you do want to see a traditional template preview, however, you can click the preview button to see a more realistic implementation of any template in this library.

The OptinMonster Popup Editor

After choosing a template, you’ll have an opportunity to style your popup in the OptinMonster editor.

Popup Editor

OptinMonster doesn’t try to break any fundamental rules here, which is almost always preferred.

The editor works as you would expect. It’s a drag and drop interface with styling and element controls in the sidebar — and the editor allows a fair level of customization if you’re so inclined.

For example, you have “Blocks” (or widgets) to add new design elements and functionality to your popup:

New design elements blocks

Each block can then be styled to your liking, including fonts, colors, borders, backgrounds, shadows, margins and paddings, and more.

The only meaningful interface limitation I found was when editing text, as this needs to be done in the sidebar instead of directly on the canvas (inline).

Aside from that—and the responsive editing issue I talked about earlier, of course—the popup editor itself is pretty flawless.

The popup editor itself is lawless.

You also have the option to turn your popup into a multi-step campaign (for some reason this isn’t listed as its own campaign type).

This effectively places a “yes or no” option on your popup, with “yes” leading to another popup state while “no” acts as a close button. You can only do this once, however, so more than two steps is not currently possible.

To enable it, simply click the green button and OptinMonster will do the rest:

 A multi-step campaign

Once you do this, two things happen:

  1. The form on your popup will be replaced with a multiple-choice widget — the “yes” and “no” buttons.
  2. You will be able to edit the original popup state, along with a new state — the “yes” and “no” state.

The final popup state is the Success state, which is what visitors see after they have opted in. This one can be edited and styled for any popup type.

The final popup state is the Success state

Unfortunately, you can’t create any other states for more complex pathways, though this is an advanced feature only a select few will miss.

Triggers & Conditions

The next part is telling OptinMonster where, when, and how you want your popup to display to your visitors.

This is done through an “If this then that” rule interface.

For example, you set your “if” condition by choosing from a large number of possible triggers and targeted rules.

Triggers & Conditions

Here you’ll find the usual suspects like time delays, exit-intent, and click-based triggers, as well as far more advanced targeting you don’t often find in competing platforms — as mentioned earlier.

These include things like visit-count targeting, geo-location targeting, ad-block targeting, and even cross-campaign targeting. And the more you dig, the more you find.

Again, this is where I believe OptinMonster really shines.


On top of the sheer number of conditions you can choose from, it’s also possible to stack conditions using the AND/OR system.

This allows you to add multiple rules in which, before the popup will show:

  • All conditions need to be met
  • Multiple conditions need to be met
  • One of the conditions need to be met

 The AND/OR system

The next tab is the Actions tab.

This is where you choose which popup state should show first, which will be either the opt-in or yes/no state.

But, more than that, you can add both transition and sound effects to your popup to really grab attention.

The Actions tab

To put this in perspective, most lead capture tools only offer a handful of popup animations, if any. And you can forget about popup sound effects is unique to OptinMonster.

OptinMonster has an effects list as long as your arm, and a few notification-style sound effects to boot.

What’s more, you can stack as many of these Actions as you like using the AND/OR system, just like with the Conditions tab.

The last part is the Summary, which is an overview of the Conditions and Actions you set for the current campaign:

The Summary

I also love the ability to save these settings as “Rulesets” to use across other campaigns — another UX implementation you don’t often see in competing products.

OptinMonster A/B Testing

Split-testing has become standard in marketing tools these days, but it’s no secret that some tech companies pull it off better than others.

And yes, OptinMonster does it better than most.

To create a new test, simply click the campaign from your dashboard and click the Create Split-Test button.

A/B Testing

This will do two things:

  1. Create an exact duplicate of the current template and all the settings
  2. Take you straight into the popup editor to begin making changes

Everything about the editing experience is the same, which means you can change just about anything you want for your test variant, design-wise.

This could be a simple change like tweaking the headline, or a more drastic change like a complete overhaul of the popup layout.

Editing popup layout

Another thing you can do, though unconventional, is to make changes to the success state of your popup.

This could be used for testing different post opt-in call-to-actions, such as joining your Facebook community or even displaying a one-time offer.

Note: Don’t forget to enable conversion tracking in the editor sidebar when adding your buttons, or you won’t know the true conversion rate.

 The success state of the popup

Display rules are also thrown into the mix for A/B testing.

This allows you to test different triggers and targeting rules to see which are most effective, or what type of people are most likely to convert.

You can even test different popup animation and sound effects (which, from my experience, do actually make a difference).

Display rules

Finally, you can make as many variants as you want, and OptinMonster will distribute the traffic evenly between them.

The results of your split-tests are then displayed in your dashboard, not only for each variant but also for each of the different popup states.

Individual variants can be turned off here too if one happens to be clearly underperforming.

The split-tests

Unfortunately, it’s not yet possible to test different popup types against each other, which means you can only create variants of the same type, such as modals, ribbons, or overlays.

Apparently, this is a popular request and something that is being worked on behind the scenes.

OptinMonster Reporting

If you’re the analytical type that likes in-depth reporting, you might find OptinMonster a little underwhelming in this department.

The dashboard gives a brief overview of your campaigns across all sites or individual sites, showing visits, conversions, and the overall conversion rate over a set period of time.

A brief overview report

If you want specific campaign data, you can head into the Campaigns tab and select an individual campaign.

Even then, you’ll only have access to the same metrics as above — visits, conversions, and the overall conversion rate.

An individual campaign report

If you want more data, you’ll need to integrate with Google Analytics and set up things like Event Goals inside your Google Analytics dashboard.

OptinMonster does provide some documentation on how to set this up, but for many, this could be more than just a small inconvenience.

It’s also possible to view any leads you’ve captured from inside OptinMonster. This gives you some basic information about that lead, such as signup date, location, and the campaign they’re associated with.

Monster leads

Note: You can’t use this to send emails directly from the platform. Instead, clicking the email icon will open your default mailing client.

Overall, it’s clear that the reporting aspect of OptinMonster still lags behind compared to the rest of the platform, especially when compared to alternatives like Thrive Leads.

OptinMonster vs Thrive Leads

OptinMonster is often compared to a number of popup and lead capture tools, but none more so than Thrive Leads.

There’s a lot to differentiate these two platforms, but the most significant differences are as follows:

  • OptinMonster is cloud-based with a WordPress plugin for integration, whereas Thrive Leads runs inside your WordPress installation which bloats and ultimately slows down your website.
  • OptinMonster doesn’t officially have a landing page builder (though you can “hack” this with full-screen popups), whereas Thrive Leads utilizes Thrive Architect to build full-fledged landing pages.
  • OptinMonster only allows basic 2-step “yes or no” popups, whereas Thrive Leads allows you to build as many states as you want, and freely link buttons or text links to the different states.
  • OptinMonster still offers fairly basic reporting, whereas Thrive Leads allows you to generate a number of ‘Lead Reports’ that offer a far superior level of data.
  • OptinMonster is able to store your leads in its own CRM database (called Monster Leads), whereas Thrive Leads requires a third-party integration or plugin for this feature.
  • OptinMonster doesn’t currently support A/B testing different popup or form types—like modal vs ribbon—whereas this has always been one of Thrive Leads unique selling points.
  • OptinMonster is a monthly or annual subscription while Thrive Leads can only be purchased as part of the Thrive Suite annual membership.

OptinMonster Pricing

OptinMonster has 4 different pricing plans.

The Basic plan starts at $19 a month.  On this plan, you can use the software on a single site and are limited to 3,500 pageviews.

The Plus plan is $39 a month and it adds features like split testing, Attention Activation, and more integrations. You can also use it on 2 sites and has a 15,000 page view limit.

The Pro plan is $59 a month and you get more features like Exit intent, Monster Links, and Multi-step opt-in forms. This has a 3 site and 50,000 page view limit.

And finally, there’s the growth plan.  It gives you every feature that OptinMonster has to offer and you can use it on 5 sites with up to 250,000 page views.

OptinMonster also offers yearly pricing, for an additional discount.  And it also comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee.

Final Verdict

If you are going to be serious about collecting emails on your website then it’s essential to invest in a solid lead generation tool.

OptinMonster is definitely worth looking at as it has several features that make building your list easier.

For example, I personally like the template designs, which makes creating opt-in forms much faster.  And it has tons of targeting options.

The main negative to me is the pricing.  It’s quite pricey to unlock all the features and I’m not a fan of visitor limits which its competitors don’t do.

Personally, I prefer the simple one-time payment for a solution like ConvertBox.

Still, OptinMonster is a solid choice to add optin-forms to your site.  The optin templates are very nice and the targeting options are quite powerful.  So I’d certainly recommend you giving it a try to see if you like it.

Collect More Leads with OptinMonster Today

OptinMonster Pros

  • Easy to use, cloud-based interface
  • Dozens of modern, well designed templates
  • Supports all popular form types
  • Advanced display rules and triggers
  • Behaviour-based targeting rules
  • Combine multiple display and targeting rules
  • Deeply customizable popup editor
  • Tons of animations and sound effects
  • Easy to use A/B test feature
  • View captured leads directly inside the platform
  • Well support by third-party apps
  • Live chat support

OptinMonster Cons

  • Responsive popup templates are separated
  • Only supports 2-step forms (not multi-step)
  • Provides a basic level of reporting
  • No dedicated landing page builder
  • Monthly subscription (no one-time price)
  • Confusing pricing tiers
Affiliate Disclaimer: I hope you enjoyed this OptinMonster review comparison post. Please note that any links inside this article may be affiliate links for OptinMonster. That means that if you click on one of the links and sign up, I may be compensated for it. If you do happen to click, thanks! Any money we make keeps this site running and allows us to keep producing high-quality reviews.
About Lewis Parrott

Lewis is a writer and SEO nerd based out of Southeast Asia. He spends most of his day churning out internet marketing related content from his laptop. Believe it or not, he also has a girlfriend.