Everyone in the Internet marketing arena is head-over-heels in love with this software, but is it really the right choice for your business — or are they just trying to make an affiliate commission off of you?
I’ll start of by saying I AM a LeadPages customer, but I was a reluctant one, debating over the purchase decision like maybe you are right now.
Sure, it seemed slick and easy-to-use, but I didn’t like the idea of it being a monthly subscription service. I’d much prefer a one-off license fee and own it and be done!
And I didn’t really know how I’d use it and how effective it would be for my site.
This post will share my experience with LeadPages as well as several competitive alternative choices for you to consider.
LeadPages Features and Why You Should Care
LeadPages has dozens of features, including:
- Quick and easy template-driven landing pages.
- Two-step email capture forms via LeadBoxes.
- Easy A/B split testing to optimize conversions.
But the feature I cared most about was the fancy two-step email opt-in forms. To see it in action, just click the “I’m a Hustler” button in the sidebar. It will open a popup asking for your email.
Step 1: Click the button
Step 2: Enter your email.
Hence the name.
(I’m also using the free Max Buttons plugin to create that button.)
Why LeadBoxes are Awesome
Surprisingly enough, this style of email collection system tends to work 30% better than the good old-fashioned one-step form, where you’d just have the input fields right there in the sidebar. (Which is what I was running with previously.)
It doesn’t matter how much traffic you have — a 30% lift is too significant to ignore!
Still, why your email service provider — cough, AWeber, cough cough — couldn’t build in the same functionality was beyond me.
And the quick landing page builder wasn’t a huge deal to me since I figured I already had the website up and could mess around well enough in WordPress to build my own pages.
My LeadPages Results
In late July, after hearing the praises of LeadPages sung from on high for years, I bought a 2-year license for the “Standard” LeadPages software. (The longer the license you buy, the better deal you get.)
At $400 for 2 years, that seemed like a much better option than the base price of $37 per month, which would add up to $888 over those same 2 years.
That, and I had a minimum spend requirement to meet to earn some credit card bonus miles 🙂
Since they have a 30-day money back guarantee, I went to work right away implementing it on my site to see if it was going to have any impact.
And impact it did!
This is what my list growth looks like the first 5 months of using LeadPages:
To be fair, there was another critical factor that went into those results, and that was creating a new “lead magnet” each and every week to correspond with my podcast episode.
(I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I blatantly ripped it off from Meron Bareket.)
Looking back, in seems kind of silly to be debating so much over a $400 purchase, or at minimum, a $37 purchase for the first month. If I land ONE new client in the next 2 years, it will pay for itself and then some. And I believe it already has.
Note: I just upgraded to their “Pro” level account, to have access to their affiliate program as well as some cool-looking beta features this year.
Now would be a good time to disclose that this page is jam-packed with affiliate links. So if you’re looking for a way to support my work, plenty of opportunities here!
Also note: If it seems like LeadPages is expensive, know that other companies like Hubspot and Salesforce are selling similar software to enterprise clients for hundreds or thousands of dollars a month!
To download my exact LeadBoxes process for the podcast that more than doubled my list in 5 months, just whack the button below:
Swipe My Exact Step-by-Step LeadBoxes Process
See, LeadBoxes in action 🙂 I can link that from anywhere; an image, a text link, a button.
You can also set the form to appear after a visitor spends a certain amount of time on your site OR when they’re about to leave. Even anti-popup Pat Flynn is OK with the “Exit box.”
The software works. But like anything, it’s how you apply it.
The question now becomes, is LeadPages the BEST solution for this functionality, or are they simply the best marketers? Is there a way to get the same functionality without the monthly subscription fee? Let’s take a look at the alternatives.
Alternative 2-Step Opt-In Solutions
1. Thrive Leads and Thrive Landing Pages
Thrive Landing Pages is a WordPress plugin to help you build polished and professional landing pages and lightboxes in less than 15 minutes. You can begin with their templates and then customize the colors and fonts to match the look and feel of your site.
How it Works
With this service, you gain access to conversion-optimized landing pages that help you build your email list with awesome marketing pages and content. They have the option of using a single-step opt-in or a two-step conversion process, and you can create Thrive Lightboxes and link to them from anywhere.
The Thrive Lightboxes are assigned a URL in WordPress just like a post, but you build them in the Thrive Content Builder tool.
It’s not as easy to use as LeadBoxes, but it gets the job done. You can save templates and just copy in the AWeber or mailing list provider html code for tracking and where to send visitors next.
The lightboxes you build are responsive for mobile and you can create as many as you want. Thrive Themes won’t deliver your lead magnet for you, but you can send people to a custom thank-you page to download their content.
One drawback I ran into was that the Lightbox doesn’t actually close when you click the x in the corner or in the background — you actually have to hit the “back button” in your browser to get rid of it, which would be crazy frustrating from a user experience point of view.
UPDATE: The new Thrive Leads plugin combines much of the functionality of SumoMe, HelloBar, and LeadPages all in one:
Instead of using the built-in WP editor for new posts and pages, you can use the Thrive Content Builder to add your buttons, images, forms, pricing tables, tabbed content, and more.
If you’re actually using a Thrive Theme for your site, you may be able to access pre-built templates which could help speed up the page-building process. Since I wasn’t, I had to start from scratch and install fonts and everything.
Still, this is the closest non-subscription competitor to LeadPages I’ve found and the only service I didn’t immediately have to contact support for.
Pricing for Thrive Leads
The software is available for purchase for a one-time fee of $39 for one site or $67 for unlimited sites. There is also an agency option at $127 for business users to install the software on client sites.
Thrive Landing pages also has a 30-day money back guarantee.
OptinLinks claims to have been voted as the “best list-building plugin of the decade,” though they don’t say who did the voting 🙂
I’ll admit the super-salesy autoplay video on their homepage was a turnoff for me, plus their use of a scammy false countdown timer isn’t very cool. (Go back tomorrow and marvel at how the clock at the top magically reset with the same pricing.)
But the promised functionality of the OptinLinks plugin is impressive, earning customers and fans around the world (including Side Hustle Show guest, Nick Stephenson).
How it Works
This is a premium WordPress plugin that packs a ton of useful features, like:
- Responsive design.
- Split testing.
- Better double opt-in support.
Let’s talk about that for a minute. With LeadPages, if you want to keep your email list double-opt in on (which is a good idea to maximize deliverability and minimize spam complaints), you have to send people to a confirmation-pending page, and wait for them to find their email, click the link, and then get granted access to whatever you were giving away.
It’s actually a huge pain because in AWeber at least, it would essentially mean creating a new list for each lead magnet you create. Not cool!
The alternative is to have LeadPages automatically deliver the lead magnet file, but when the second “confirmation” email comes, most people don’t click it because they already got what they wanted!
But with OptinLinks the form just transitions to a little pending screen until the person confirms, then they get forwarded to where they need to go.
Another thing I thought was cool was how the form instantly verifies to see if the email address entered is valid. It’s weird, but a bunch of people put in fake emails like firstname.lastname@example.org. What’s the point of that? … you’re not going to get the freebie if I can’t send it to you!
Note: This is NOT the uber-polished marketing video I was talking about a minute ago:
As expected, you have all the standard form-building tools and button customizations, along with across the board email service provider integration.
The purchase and installation of the plugin went smoothly, and I was able to easily integrate with my AWeber account and set-up my first campaign.
But that’s when things got tricky. I wanted to install a button in the sidebar, like the “I’m a Hustler” button in the SideHustleNation blog sidebar, but OptinLinks only gives you WordPress shortcode, not html.
That means it works great on posts or pages, but required I install a separate plugin to make it work in sidebar widgets.
But more frustrating was that was how I actually couldn’t create the button for visitors to click on. You can easily set it up to link from text or images, and they have a button-builder add-on to your post/page editor, but it simply didn’t work. In my interface there was no option to save the button or even view the code for it.
Because of that, I wasn’t able to add the 2-step form to my sidebar like I wanted.
When I submitted that question to their support, I never heard anything back.
(In their defense, they responded immediately to my refund request and acknowledged working on some bug fixes and improvements — I would definitely wait for version 2.0.)
Also, OptinLinks does not include any built-in landing page templates if that’s an important feature for you.
Their dashboard is much more built-out than OptinClick, but still tricky to use and ultimately I couldn’t figure out how to make it work they way I wanted to like LeadPages.
Plans and Pricing
OptinLinks (fake) “today only” pricing is $37 for a single site license, $47 for unlimited sites, and $67 for a professional license with client management tools.
Don’t buy into the urgency tactic. My guess is the prices are the same tomorrow and next week and next month.
3. OptinClick (discontinued)
The next LeadPages alternative I found to replace the two-step conversion process is OptinClick, a premium WordPress plugin by Daniel McClure and the team at TheModernEntrepreneur.com.
How it Works
It integrates with AWeber, Mailchimp, GetResponse, and other email service providers through an html form input.
It has similar user functionality as LeadBoxes, but with a one-time purchase instead of an ongoing subscription. The forms are all mobile responsive so you don’t have to worry about people getting the uncloseable popup of doom on their phone.
When I first installed OptinClick, I was surprised to be greeted with a “fatal error” when I tried to activate the plugin. Where most stuff works seamlessly with WordPress, OptinClick spat out a few lines of scary-looking diagnostic code.
Daniel was quick on the support response with an updated version of the plugin, but it didn’t get much better after that.
I found the interface confusing to use and lacking some important functionality, like the ability to control the font size and button size without html. It also had a hard time syncing with my AWeber account and bringing the proper fields into the form.
I understand some updates and enhancements are coming, but here’s what the interface looked like when I tested it:
There’s also no simple way to create new pop-ups for new opt-ins — not an ideal solution for creating a new one each week like I do with the podcast.
Plans and Pricing
For less than the sticker price of one month of LeadPages, you can own OptinClick for life for one website. (Just $29 for single-site license.)
But for that price, be prepared to deal with a confusing UI with limited functionality.
Like LeadPages, OptinClick comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which I was grateful to take advantage of.
What About SumoMe?
For $100 a year, SumoMe has a Lead Magnet delivery option you can add on to the popular pop-up/scrollbox/notification bar plugin. (Their basic plugin is free and works great!)
It will add a button to your sidebar or your posts (or wherever you want it), and when people click on it and enter their email, it will send them whatever lead magnet you promised.
When I was testing it out though, I couldn’t figure out how to add it to draft posts — only to posts and pages of my site that were already published. So if I wanted to add it to this post for example, and offer a free PDF version of the post, I’d have to add it in after the fact.
It also wouldn’t let me upload a PDF file I’d already created, which seems like it would be a common task. There was no immediately apparent option to change the color of the button on the post, the color of the button or the text in the popup, or the call-to-action text in the popup, though I did eventually figure that out.
There was an option to “upload a logo” but it was not clickable.
(If you want to watch my attempt at using the SumoMe lead delivery software end in frustration, I recorded a cold 3 minute demo video I was going to share here to hopefully show how easy it was to use. Unfortunately it backfired!)
I’m sure they’ll fix these bugs because the other SumoMe tools are super-helpful and I’ve recommended them to dozens of people.
Note: Others have told me this is working great for them … which makes me feel kind of dumb for not being able to figure it out!
Alternative Landing Page Builders
While the 2-step opt-in feature was the one I cared most about, I have found myself using LeadPages Landing Page templates on a weekly basis as well.
They’re super easy to use, with the only downside being they’re not completely customizable. Sure you can change the colors and buttons etc, but if you want to start with one template and make your own “structural” modifications … good luck.
But what if you don’t care about the email collection form pop-ups, and only need help building nice-looking landing pages?
Is a LeadPages subscription necessary for that?
Probably not, as there are several worthy alternatives in this space available as one-time purchases.
1. Velocity Page
With Velocity Page, you’re effectively replacing your WordPress admin dashboard with a slick WYSIWYG editor that makes live, real-time updates to the front end of your website.
Since it’s not just for “landing pages,” but really for any website page, it’s perfect for people who are considering a subscription website builder service like Wix or Weebly. The advantage over those platforms is it’s a one-off purchase and you still get all the other benefits of WordPress. (Free software, huge ecosystem of plugins and support, search optimization, etc.)
Plus, Velocity Page is co-founded by Side Hustle Show guest Jon Nastor.
How it Works
Velocity Page allows you to edit your website in real-time with a visual editor that automatically applies the default fonts from your theme. Take a look at the video to get an idea of how it works:
Plans and Pricing
The software is a one-time purchase of $97 for one site, $167 for up to 3 sites, and $247 for unlimited sites. Each license comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
OptimizePress is an old favorite among online marketing pros, and the newly updated version comes with a ton of mobile-responsive templates.
It’s a powerful option for quickly building good-looking and high-converting landing pages, and even secure content behind a membership wall, all without a recurring subscription.
How it Works
Plans and Pricing
OptimizePress is $97 for up to 3 sites, $197 for up to 10 sites, and $297 for unlimited sites. Each plan comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
3. OptIn Ninja
Based on the tried-and-true 2-step conversion process, all OptIn Ninja opt-in pages are available as standalone responsive landing pages or in pop-up lightboxes. Like the options above, this WordPress plugin can be installed seamlessly into your existing website.
You will easily be able to collect emails and measure growth as everything is tracked and quantified so you can get the maximum results from each option.
How it Works
Once you install the plugin, you will have sample templates ready to use that you will only need to change the text and images on. Additional features include:
- Built-in A/B testing.
- Exit-stop technology displays a message to those leaving the page without subscribing (this feature is an extra $5)
- Customized welcome emails and integration with your AWeber, Mailchimp, Get Response or other email provider accounts.
- Subscribe with Facebook option <– haven’t seen this available on the other tools.
OptIn Ninja Plans and Pricing
OptIn Ninja is a one-time purchase for $28, and is sold through Code Canyon. The drawback? No satisfaction guarantee if it doesn’t end up working out for your needs.
- Instapage – Build your first page for free, then $29 per month.
- Lander – Starts at $9 per month, 30-day free trial.
- Landingi – Starts at $29 per month, 14-day free trial.
- 10 Minute Pages – One-time purchase starting at $95. Skeezy marketing feel included at no extra charge.
3 Reasons Why You Might Still Consider LeadPages
- There’s safety in numbers. If EVERYONE says this is the software they use, there must be a good reason for that.
- It’s a “real company” with 100+ employees and millions in venture funding, not just a couple dudes who wrote a plugin. They’re not going anywhere.
- You have a non-WordPress website.
Although it’s NOT the conclusion I expected to come to when I set out to write this post, at least for the 2-step opt-ins, LeadPages seems to be the winner despite their high price tag.
The ease-of-use and results make it worthwhile for me.
Have you tried LeadPages or any of these alternatives? Are you turned off by the monthly subscription model too?