Thrive Leads Review (5 Reasons This Is the Best List Building Plugin for WordPress)

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Last updated: August 27, 2020

If you’re running a blog and you want to build an email list to grow your own audience, using a list building tool to create popups and other opt-in forms is inevitable.

You could use a free tool, but if you want to be serious about email marketing, investing in a premium WordPress list building tool is a no-brainer.

I’ve tried and tested several free and paid list building tools, but the one that stands out for me is Thrive Leads, which is what I am also using on Blog Pioneer.

In this review I am going to walk you through what I believe are the benefits of using Thrive Leads, and I also do a quick comparison with other popular plugins.

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What Is Thrive Leads?

Thrive Leads is a WordPress plugin developed by Thrive Themes, a software development company founded by Shane Melaugh and Paul McCarthy.

The idea behind Thrive Themes was to develop WordPress themes and plugins with a focus on conversion. At the time, the market was flooded with fancy looking themes loaded with features, most of which the average blogger would never use. What the marketplace was lacking was clean, conversion focused products.

Right now, Thrive is not selling their themes anymore, as they are developing a brand new theme builder to replace all their themes. But they are still going strong with their extensive range of quality and value-adding WordPress plugins.

Thrive Leads for email capturing

One of Thrive’s most popular and most successful premium WordPress plugins is Thrive Leads, a powerful conversion-focused lead generation plugin that provides a complete list building and conversion solution.

I have been using Thrive Leads on a couple of my websites for a while now, and I’m very impressed by its capabilities and performance. It’s designed to grown your email list fast with cutting edge conversion tactics.

It includes all the different types of opt-in forms one would expect from a list building plugin. And with the same drag-and-drop editor that Thrive Architect uses, you can design the forms exactly the way you want them to look.

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>> Check out my comprehensive review of Thrive Themes.
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Review: 5 Reasons to Choose Thrive Leads to Grow Your Email List

Here are 5 reasons I believe you should purchase a Thrive Leads license to grow your email list fast.

1. All Types of Opt-In Forms

The first thing anyone would look into is what types of opt-in forms a list building plugin offers.

Thrive Leads literally offers all the opt-in forms one could wish for, and these forms can be configured with some really smart features and triggers. What’s even better is that you can choose from dozens of excellent pre-made templates to create these forms.

Here are some of the most used opt-in forms in Thrive Leads:


The Lightbox opt-in form is what most people, myself included, would refer to as a popup. It’s not really a popup though, rather, it’s an overlay that appears on top of your content.

A Lightbox popup can be triggered in various ways, such as after a certain amount of time, or on exit intent.

Thrive Leads Lightbox settings

In the above screenshot you can see I’ve configured my Lightbox to show after 40 seconds. I am also using SmartExit+ which is a very smart feature.

If someone leaves my site within 40 seconds, they’ll see the Lightbox just before closing the browser. However, if they spend more than 40 seconds on my site, they won’t be presented with this Lightbox when they leave, because they will already have seen it.

This is very different from other list building tools where the exit intent will always show, even if the popup was already triggered before the exit intent.


A ThriveBox is a two-step opt-in form which allows you to create a signup form that gets triggered by your visitor.

This trigger can be a button, a link, or even an image. As soon as your visitor clicks on the trigger, the opt-in form appears and your visitor can then sign up.

Click this button to see how it works:

Click Me Now

Typically, the conversion rates on these types of opt-in forms are higher than usual, because it’s the reader who is essentially asking to sign up, rather than the other way around.

A ThriveBox is useful when you want to offer something very specific. Whoever signs up for that offer can be added to a specific list and be targeted with the right emails.

Other popular opt-in forms worth mentioning are the Ribbon, the In-Content Form (as you can see further above), the Slide-In, and the Content Lock.

2. Unlimited Design Options

As mentioned, Thrive Leads uses the same drag-and-drop editor as the one used in Thrive Architect.

This is good news for those with limited design skills (like so many of us, right?) because it allows you to create awesome looking opt-in forms without too much effort.

It’s an incredibly powerful WYSIWYG editor that essentially gives you unlimited options to design your opt-in forms exactly the way you want them to be. Five minutes is literally all you need to get your first email popup designed and ready to go.

Thrive Leads WYSIWYG editor

What’s also really cool is that you can easily switch between device types, and configure your forms differently per device type. This is particularly useful when you want your popups to look smaller and less invasive on mobile devices.

Design by device type in Thrive Leads

Thrive Architect is Thrive’s flagship product. It’s a proven product that been around for quite some time, and has gone through several upgrades. In other words, you can trust that it’s a very reliable, stable and user friendly editor.

3. Excellent Reporting Capabilities

The reporting module within Thrive Leads offers a lost of useful reports that will help you to further optimize your email marketing campaigns.

With the help of the various reports available in this module, you can work out exactly which opt-in forms are performing best, and which pages and posts your leads are coming from.

Thrive Leads reporting dashboard

Content Marketing Report

My favorite report is the Content Marketing Report, which allows you to see in an instant which posts or pages have the highest – or lowest – conversion rates.

It also tells you the number of impressions (how many times an opt-in form was shown) and the absolute number of conversions.

This information is useful for various reasons. For example, if the conversion rate for certain posts is low, you could decide to create a new opt-in with a more targeted lead magnet, to try and increase that conversion rate for those posts.

Thrive Leads content marketing report

Another interesting report worth mentioning is the Lead Referral Report, which tells you exactly where your leads are coming from. That could be Google, Bing, Facebook, or a referring website where you have a strong backlink.

There have been some complaints about certain reports loading very slow. I personally haven’t experienced these issues at all, not even with long date ranges, but perhaps that’s because I haven’t used Thrive Leads on sites with super high traffic numbers and impressions.

I must say though, that I don’t use the Reporting Module as much as I perhaps should do. The thing is, once you’ve got everything set up, with all the right lead groups and opt-in forms, it’s easy to just let it do its thing and not worry too much about the actual data.

4. Compatible with All Email Marketing Tools

Thrive Leads lets you integrate with pretty much every single email marketing tool out there. There are more than 40 available API connections to choose from, so you can be confident your email marketing provider will be in that list.

Thrive Leads API connections

Creating an API connection is super easy. Simply select your email marketing tool of choice, enter the API key, and you’re good to go. You can even have multiple connections to different email tools at the same time, if that’s what you want to do.

As you can see in that screenshot, I am using ActiveCampaign. I’ve tried several (MailChimp, ConvertKit, AWeber) and ActiveCampaign is by far my favorite.

When designing a form within the Thrive Leads editor, it’s very easy to drop a Lead Generation field onto your form and connect it to the email marketing tool you’ve configured in the API module in your Thrive settings:

Email API connection in Thrive Leads form editor

Here you can choose which list in ActiveCampaign (or whichever email tool you’re using) you’d like signups to be added to. You can also add tags and other segmentation variables.

What Thrive Leads and ActiveCampaing have in common is they both offer a ton of useful features at a very affordable price. The basic ActiveCampaign plan, with up to 500 active subscribers, starts at only $9 per month.

In short, I find Thrive Leads + ActiveCampaign the perfect combination for your blog email marketing efforts.

ActiveCampaign for email marketing

Both are easy to set up, they communicate perfectly with each other, and once it’s up and running there’s hardly any ongoing maintenance work to do.

5. Affordable Pricing

One of the biggest pros of Thrive Leads is its competitive pricing schedule.

One license, which never expires, for one site, will set you back only $69. That’s a once-off payment, and the plugin is yours to keep, forever. With that you get one year support, and lifetime updates.

Thrive Leads pricing schedule

If you do need support after that one year, you’re going to have to pay another $69, which is only fair. I personally have never had to extend my one-year support period for any of the Thrive Themes products I’ve purchased, and I think that says a lot.

Thrive Membership

Alternatively, you can purchase a Thrive Membership, which gives you 25 licenses for ALL their products, including Thrive Leads and their flagship page builder Thrive Architect. You get all that for only $19 per month, which in my opinion is very reasonable.

I have not purchased the Thrive Membership option, but I can see how this can be super valuable for agencies looking after portfolios of websites.

Thrive Membership pricing

Thrive could easily charge more for Leads, but the pricing has been like this for a long time. One would think that, because the pricing is so competitive, the plugin isn’t as good or as feature-rich as its competitors. But that simply isn’t the case.

I can’t see why anyone would willingly pay a ton more for a tool like OptinMonster (which is an absolutely awesome plugin), even though it doesn’t offer much more than Thrive Leads does.

Maybe OptinMonster provides better support? Perhaps their User Interface is a bit more intuitive? I honestly don’t know. But for me, the choice is easy.

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Thrive Leads Alternatives

The market of email marketing and list building tools is huge with so many options to choose from, but here are three popular Thrive Leads alternatives.

1. OptinMonster

When searching for reviews of WordPress list building tools, Thrive Leads and OptinMonster are almost always mentioned. And that’s because they are very similar.

They are similar in the features they offer, but from a technical perspective they are very different tools. Thrive Leads is a WordPress plugin, whereas OptinMonster is a standalone application that can be used on various CMS types, not only WordPress.

OptinMonster lead generation software

There is really not much negative to say about OptinMonster. It’s an incredibly powerful list building tool with all the features needed by those who want to take email marketing and lead capturing to a whole new level.

But the pricing is a roadblock. The basic plan starts at $9 per month, and really is basic. Which means that most users will end up going with a more advanced plan which starts at $19 per month.

With Thrive Leads, you only pay once and that’s it. Using OptinMonster can get very costly in the long term, and this cost isn’t always justified, in my humble opinion.

2. Bloom

Another tool that is very similar to Thrive Leads is Bloom, a WordPress email opt-in plugin developed and sold by Elegant Themes.

You don’t need to run a theme by Elegant Themes in order to use Bloom at all, but interestingly enough, you can’t purchase Bloom separately. In other words, you’d have to purchase a license for all their products, including Divi and Monarch.

Bloom email opt-in plugin for WordPress

A standard license will set you back $89 per year, which is very reasonable. Bloom has great form templates, with signup forms that are quite easy to set up, perhaps a bit easier than with Thrive Leads.

However, Thrive Leads offers more options, including an exit intent trigger, which for some is quite an important feature to have.

3. Sumo

Sumo used to be a popular one-stop shop for social sharing and email popups, but they seem to have gone out of fashion in recent times. In all fairness, I stopped using Sumo a couple of years ago, and perhaps they’ve improved since.

The reasons I stopped using Sumo was because of page speed issues and the not-so-intuitive user interface. Sumo comes with a suite of apps (that you can turn on and off), and all that is managed in a somewhat invasive admin module.

Sumo lead generation tool

I also found creating email signups unnecessarily complicated, and I didn’t think the design options were the best. But again, they may have improved since I stopped using them, and I also know that this is often a matter of personal preference.

The free version of Sumo is pretty basic, and if you want to get serious about email marketing, purchasing the pro version of Sumo is a no-brainer. But the catch is that buying pro means that you’re essentially paying for all their apps.

The cost is $39 per month, which is reasonable for what you get, but it’s too much if all you want is the list building features. However, if your blog is still young and your traffic numbers are low, it’s a good idea to start with the free version of Sumo.

Final Thoughts on Thrive Leads

Is there anything I didn’t like about Thrive Leads?


As much as I like the user interface, design options and other features of Thrive Leads, the learning curve cannot be ignored. You really need to sit down for a few hours, with a large cup of coffee, to just try and work it all out.

It isn’t all that easy, and I do know that for some people this whole setup process can be quite overwhelming, in some instances even leading to refund requests.

But… once you understand how the tool works, it all makes sense. And then it’s just a matter of setting up your desired lead groups and opt-in forms, and watch your email list grow, fast.

Also, once you’ve purchased a Thrive Leads license, they’ll send you a series of emails to help you set up your campaigns. These emails + tutorials are super helpful.

Oh, one more thing. Thrive Leads also includes a powerful A/B testing module. But I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t given this module a good try yet, so I can’t say too much about it. Silly, I know.

Overall, I find that Thrive Leads is by far the best choice when it comes to list building for your WordPress blog, looking at features, stability, user interface, and pricing.

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ReviewThrive Leads
SummaryThrive Leads is a powerful list building tool for WordPress, offering a comprehensive set of different types of opt-in forms with unlimited design options. There is a learning curve involved, but once you get through that it’s an easy to maintain and stable plugin with great reporting features.
AuthorAJ Mens
Rating4.5 (out of 5)
AJ Mens

I am a corporate IT nerd turned digital marketing enthusiast, specializing in SEO and content strategy. I have been blogging since 2015, and my aim with Blog Pioneer is to help you achieve success online. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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