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Why And How I Switched My Optins From Thrive Leads To ConvertBox

Last Updated on April 29, 2020  

I have been a big fan and user of Thrive Leads for quite awhile. And that's why it is now weird to say that I have stopped using Thrive Leads... and I switched 100% to ConvertBox.

In this post, I want to talk about why I made this switch and how I went about it.

My goal isn't to convince you to do the same. I just want to lay out my reasoning.

I still remain a massive fan of Thrive Themes. In fact, I am using Thrive Architect for this very post. I am in the process of switching this very site to the new Thrive Theme Builder. I also still like Thrive Leads despite the fact that I've decided to go another direction.

Let's get started...

Why I Like ConvertBox Enough To Stop Using My Favorite WordPress Plugin For Optin Forms

I have had an account with ConvertBox for quite some time - even before it was known as such. It was simply ConvertBar at the time and I picked up a lifetime license to it because it seemed like a no-brainer.

The tool has developed substantially since then. While it used to only be capable of HelloBar-type calls to actions at the top, they've done a LOT to it, including:

  • The addition of other types of forms (hence their name change)
  • Much more fine-tuned control over who sees a form and where it displays
  • A massive overhaul to their visual editor so now it is VERY fast and easy to design forms.

And soon they will be releasing yet another massive update to the tool, including the ability to do inline forms (not just floating boxes) and a totally re-worked targeting engine that is going to include far more detailed rule-based targeting that works directly with the data in your CRM.

This is turning into a really mature tool - all while I have nothing else to pay for it (ever) because I have a lifetime license.

And ConvertBox is still available as a lifetime subscription. Pay once... use it forever. For multiple sites. It is a killer deal.

While I am switching this site to it before it has everything I want, I'm willing to wait. I know the stuff is in active development and is likely to come in the next major release. Namely...

  • The ability to control calls to action across this site based on things like tags on their subscriber profile inside of my CRM (Drip). This is not something Thrive Leads will ever be capable of. You'll be able to create groups based on any number of criteria... and target CTAs right at them.
  • The ability to do inline forms. As in, CTAs right on the website instead of a box that pops over top of things. Seems basic, but it isn't there yet. But, it is coming.

I mean, just look at this tease from Dean (founder of ConvertBox)...

I was in limbo... waiting. Licking my chops.

But, I decided not to wait to flip the switch. And here's why...

Here's Why I Decided It Was Worth Switching From Thrive Leads

It starts with a change to my optin strategy - one that is still a work in progress. In short, the LAB Training Portal is now becoming the hub for everything. Including all my free stuff.

And THE LAB now has a free member level. Free members get access to the free stuff while full members get access to everything in there (just like normal).

This opens up new opportunities for my business, of course. But, it also simplifies what turned into a somewhat unwieldy network of old email sequences that had built up over the years, behind different lead magnets and front-end offers. The simplicity of having everything get delivered in THE LAB is just easier.

So, this introduced a small technical matter. Easy to get around... except that Thrive Leads couldn't do it very easily.

I needed to not only pass info into my CRM (Drip, in my case), but I needed to also pass it into MemberMouse in order to create a free membership for them. And I used a script and the Membermouse API to pull that off.

Simply put, Thrive Leads couldn't do both.

Even the ability to pass the lead data into MemberMouse from a Thrive Leads form became problematic. Thrive Leads lacks the ability to pass optin form data to a redirect URL as variables. For me to do it, I would need to switch all Thrive Leads forms away from the API connection to Drip... and instead to raw HTML code. That takes care of MemberMouse, but then I have the issue on how to get the data into Drip.

Too many moving parts. Too geeky. Too many potential things to break.

With ConvertBox, you can run multiple actions at the same time on your form. Not only that, it is super easy to send all the form data to any URL you please. You can do BOTH... at the same time.

On top of that, compared to ConvertBox, Thrive Leads was feeling... bulky.

  • Using Architect to assemble optin forms in Leads gives a lot of power, but it also means it is a more bulky experience to make changes to your optin forms.
  • Over time, using Thrive Leads Shortcodes means you have shortcodes embedded into your content across the blog. Harder to backtrack out of that.
  • I had a lot of forms with multiple states, once again making it more involved to make changes.

I was losing track of all this stuff with Thrive Leads.

I felt like I would be making my life simpler if I simply stepped away from Thrive Leads.

The extra capabilities that Thrive Leads had over ConvertBox were things I either didn't need or were beginning to feel like an impediment.

And with some of the changes coming to ConvertBox (like the two-way data flow with the CRM) meant I was going to be looking at a total switch soon anyway.

There's definitely something nice to having a hosted solution where somebody else is responsible for making an easy tool that just works.

There's a cleanliness. An elegance. A simplicity to ConvertBox that I just didn't feel with Thrive Leads any longer.

How I Now Manage Optins Across This Site With ConvertBox

Right now, there are a few main areas for optin across this site:

  • The top and bottom of every blog post. These are simple text CTAs and they link to dedicated landing pages.
  • Dedicated landing pages for the major lead magnets. Those landing pages are built with Thrive Architect and the popup optin that triggers with the button is ConvertBox.
  • Slide-in optins from the bottom-left or bottom-right, powered by ConvertBox.
  • Exit-intent optins, powered by ConvertBox.

As of this writing, ConvertBox is only capable of boxes that layer over top your content. This means that I had to temporarily give up having any optin forms directly on screen. They either need to slide in or be triggered by a link. Again, this is temporary until ConvertBox releases inline forms. At that point, I will re-evaluate.

ConvertBox comes with a WordPress plugin that does more than just insert the code. It also integrates with your site structure, allowing you to target ConvertBoxes to particular WordPress categories or tags.

So, I have a series of categories on this site specifically used for selecting which lead magnet to display as the call to action for that blog post. Each of those categories get a prefix of "[CTA]" (short for call to action) and the name of the actual lead magnet. For instance...

  • [CTA] 45 Lead Magnet Ideas
  • [CTA] 90 Day Plan
  • [CTA] Membership Worksheet
  • [CTA] Niche Profits Finder

You get the idea.

For any blog post I publish that has a relevant lead magnet, I assign it to that CTA category. So, for instance, if I write a post having to do with membership sites, I will assign it to the [CTA] Membership Worksheet category.

In ConvertBox, I have a Lead Group which contains optin forms specific to each lead magnet. And the display criteria for those boxes is to only display on content assigned to that specific category.

Anywhere you wish using a simple link, you can trigger a ConvertBox. This means you can easily trigger an optin from anywhere in your blog content or any other location on the site. For instance, click this link and it will trigger up my ConvertBox for registering via my 45 Lead Magnet Ideas free PDF. This can be used for content upgrades.

This brought up an interesting little technical issue...

Using ConvertBox And Thrive Leads At The Same Time?

So, I went into this having an idea...

What if I use ConvertBox for my optin forms, but I use the targeting ability of Thrive Leads simply to manage calls to actions across the site?

Instead of building the form with Thrive, I just put a button in there that will trigger the appropriate ConvertBox?

Best of both worlds, right?

But, I ran into a technical issue. What would happen is that, in many cases, I would hit the button to trigger the ConvertBox and nothing would happen. It wouldn't trigger.

The cause was the timing of the scripts. When the ConvertBox script loads up, it expects the trigger links to already be present so that it can load up the correct stuff. Thing is, Thrive Leads often loads up its shortcodes in a delayed manner. So, ConvertBox loads first... then Thrive Leads would inject the call to action.

As soon as I took Thrive Leads out of the equation, the ConvertBox triggers every time without a hiccup.

Unfortunately, Thrive Leads was just getting in the way.

How I Do The Top And Bottom CTAs Without Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads makes it easy to globally manage things. It is child's play to globally control forms at the top and bottom of blog posts.

But, if I decided to stop using Thrive Leads, how am I going to do it? How do I get those highlight boxes with relevant optin offers?

It is a little theme hack. 🙂 

First, I used the category description field in WordPress to type in the call to action text for each of those CTA categories (see above).

Then, I insert a little code into my theme that will pull the category description from the CTA category assigned to the post and display it.

$catlist=get_the_category();
$cta_text = "";
if ( ! empty( $catlist ) ) {
  foreach ( $catlist as $key => $item ) {
  	if (preg_match("/[CTA]/i",$item->slug)) {
    	$cta_text .= $item->description;
    }
  }
}
if ($cta_text!="") echo '
'.$cta_text.'
';

I use some CSS to style it up to make it look the way I want.

As I said, right now, the links simply point to the landing page. I could just as easily trigger a ConvertBox with those links, however. I will test what works better.

The code above works, however it assumes you will only assign one CTA category at a time. Also, it only scans for CTA categories to get the description, so any category assigned to the post that does not have the [CTA] prefix is ignored.

Once ConvertBox releases inline forms, I may re-do this setup depending on how they implement it.

The Process of Switching Away From Thrive Leads

After I decided to move away from Thrive Leads, a couple things came up:

  • All the Thrive Shortcodes throughout the blog content need to be removed/replaced since they will no longer work.
  • I would first want to delete all the forms before de-activation because Thrive Leads logs a lot of data into the database and there's no point in keeping it there.

So, I simply went lead magnet by lead magnet... shortcode by shortcode.

I used the post search to find all instances of Lead Shortcodes in the content. I then edited each of those posts to remove the shortcode or replace it with a trigger link to a ConvertBox.

One by one, I set up each lead magnet with ConvertBox. I would disable the Lead Group in Thrive Leads to keep it from trying to display forms at the same time.

As each shortcode was removed from the site, I deleted it. As each Lead Group was disabled and replaced with ConvertBox, I deleted the Lead Group.

In the end, I was left with an empty version of Thrive Leads without any forms.

For good measure, I purged the logs and cache from Thrive Leads. Then, de-activated the plugin.

That felt a little weird, I admit. 😉

Using ConvertBox Versus Using Thrive Leads

Now that I am fully on ConvertBox, I can more fully talk about the overall experience of using it versus using Thrive Leads for a site with as much content as this one.

First off, ConvertBox is simpler and faster to use. Yes, the editor does not provide as much power as you'll get with Thrive. Using Architect as an optin form editor gives you a lot of flexibility. You can literally do anything. But...

Is that a good thing?

With great flexibility also comes a paradox of choice. So many options (with Thrive) means it can feel overwhelming to figure out what's best. And I've seen my share of ugly, crappy optin forms built with Thrive Leads. It isn't the fault of the tool as much as it is an end user who might not know how to create a professional optin form and therefore doesn't know how best to use the tool.

ConvertBox forms offer the most pertinent options - and no more. The forms look pretty professional right out of the gate. It has templates, too. But, even building a form from scratch with ConvertBox is going to lead to a good result because that's just the way the tool works.

I also like things such as the slide-in form that looks like a personal chat dialog from the owner of the site. It is a nice touch. Technically, you could build that with Thrive Leads, however it is going to be a very manual, tedious process of doing it from scratch.

I also like how visually easy it is to manage a lot of forms with ConvertBox. The fact that you can see visual previews of each form makes it much simpler.

With Thrive Leads, you end up with a big honker list of lead groups and shortcodes. It is all text. And it is very easy to lose track of what's happening across your site.

In fact, not using shortcodes at all is an improvement. Any time you use a shortcode, the moment the code which powers it isn't there, you're left with the shortcode sitting there inside your content. For this reason, it is nice to have your list building layer different from your content layer. 

Any Effect On Conversion Rates?

It is too early to tell. Plus, since I'm changing several things at once, any effect on conversion could never be assigned to a particular tool.

Obviously, the stats look like they're up in ConvertBox. But, that's just because I started routing everything to it instead of only certain, select traffic.

Any optin form tool is just a tool. It is what you DO with it that determines conversion rates. Not the tool.

Right now, my conversion rate is actually a little bit lower than it was using my old strategy on Thrive Leads, but this isn't because of ConvertBox. It is because I am now asking for more information in order to create a free membership in the LAB. I expected a bit of a conversion hit with that... and now I am in the process of running split tests to see about incremental improvements.

The small hit on conversion rates is made up for because I am getting more than just an email address from every subscriber.

Final Thoughts On Switching To ConvertBox

As I said, I was planning to make this switch eventually. But, I was waiting for a couple pending features before I flipped the switch.

But because of this change I was making to my own optin strategy, it put ConvertBox front and center because it simply solved my technical problems.

It was easy to use.

And it costs me nothing more to use it... since I already have the lifetime membership. 🙂

It's funny, too. Because I actually found myself evaluating another tool to solve this issue for me. It was sort of a half-baked tool, although it would have solved the issue for me. But, it would have cost me another $29/month to get that tool. Ugh.

But, then I realized...

Oh crap! Wait a minute! Will ConvertBox handle this for me?

And it did. And very elegantly, I might add!

So, yes, I am now fully onboard with ConvertBox.

I cannot sit here and tell you that you should switch to ConvertBox. Yes, it is a great platform - and it keeps getting better. It has all the power of a web app (because it is one)... without the recurring fees. But...

It is more expensive than something like Thrive Leads.

And, Thrive Leads is quite powerful. As I said, despite the fact that I am no longer using it on this site, it remains my top recommendation when it comes to WordPress plugins for managing opt-in forms. And Thrive Leads is very budget friendly.

ConvertBox is not a plugin. It is a web app. It works very differently. It is geared toward different capabilities. So, you would need to determine if that's something you need.

If you do, then ConvertBox is one hell of a deal. I am now getting multiple times my initial investment back from my purchase of ConvertBox... because I only paid once 2-3 years ago and here I am now using it as my full lead generation solution.

The lifetime deal is still in effect. You can use it on up to 10 sites right now, up to 250,000 visits per month. And all for one flat-rate purchase.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get your copy of our flagship process checklist for building your online business out of thin air: The Online Business Roadmap. Starts from zero. No email list, no traffic, no blog, no product. The process will guide you through all of it. Sign up for your FREE LAB member account here to get instant access!


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