Kartra vs Thrive Leads: Best List Builder for Lazy Bloggers?

John // Uncategorized


November 27  

I’ve been tossing and during at night thinking about my lead generation strategy. We create content day in and day out to drive traffic to our site – but it’s all for nothing if we can’t build a real, lasting relationship with our visitors. And it seems every day gives us new tools and opportunities to test. How are we supposed to avoid fear of missing out (FOMO)?

By reading this article 🙂

Kartra and Thrive Leads are both incredibly powerful lead generation platforms. Karta’s main strength is its tight integration within the entire Kartra platform and its ability to quickly and effortlessly segment your list as you are building out your funnel. Thrive leads excels at advanced display rules for opt in forms so you can ensure your offers are hyper-targeted to your readers on your WordPress site.

But that is only scratching the surface. Let’s pull up both of these platforms and go through the strengths and weaknesses of each!

Kartra vs Thrive Leads Comparison

This in depth comparison video will put you in the driver’s seat of each of these platforms. Together we will build out of a couple of forms in each platform so you can see first hand which one is right for you, and where some of the pitfalls are in each.

This post is part of an on-going comparison between the Thrive Themes and Kartra – be sure to check out the page builder comparison as well!

Let’s go through some of my favorite benefits of each platform below:

Kartra Benefit #1: Powerful Segmentation

Kartra is a leader in behavioral adaptive marketing. In a nut shell, it means that you can custom-tailor the experience on your website for each and every visitor.

There are a ton of use cases for being able to do this:

  1. Route your new subscribers to unique pages based on how they filled out your sign up form
  2. Offer a discount to new subscribers, but remove the discount after they have seen the page for 1 day
  3. Show a “special help” section on your site for users that require… additional hand holding
  4. Send subscribers down a specific email sequence based on what you’ve learned about them during sign up

The list goes on and on. You can even create your own “surveys” manually to get more and more details about your users, and use BAM to take them down a custom path.

Want to see it in action?


Kartra Benefit #2: Automation Rules

Kartra takes marketing automation to a whole new level. I don’t know any other digital marketing tool that can show you landing page, opt in form, video view, and revenue statistics all on the same dashboard (without some crazy, hacky duct taping of data together).

It’s truly an “Ah-hah” moment when you can pull up one of your leads and track literally every action they took on your site from sign up to purchase.

Kartra Opt In Automation

The opt in forms extend this power because you can trigger or respond to automations in just about every aspect of the platform.

User fills out a form? Assign them to a specific list.

User watches a video? Add a new tag.

Now I know this extends beyond the scope of simply opt in forms, but that is really where the magic begins. If you’re not quite sure how exactly to harness the power of automations, I’d recommend you learn from the experts.

Learn from the Experts

Instead of building every funnel from scratch, Kartra lets you import fully-featured funnels with a single click. Then you can reverse engineer each step to see exactly how everything ticks!

Kartra Benefit #3: Simple to design & good-looking forms

If you want 100% control over every aspect of the lead gen form… Kartra may not be for you.

But if you are more concerned with getting a professional looking, quick-to-market opt in funnel published and tested, Kartra may be the fastest tool to get it out the door.

You will definitely have more control over a Thrive Leads form, but that comes at a cost. you may find yourself obsessing over the small “x” in the corner of a pop up form because it just doesn’t look right on tablet, and you need to align it pixel perfect (because you have all that control.)

I personally have little patience for design perfection… but I am quick to spot when something just doesn’t look “right.” I can see the value proposition of having less choices, but the choices that are available are all good.

While Kartra has less templates available than Thrive Leads to use, each one looks pretty unique and functional.

Thrive Leads, on the other hand, has dozens and dozens of templates, but I have found myself struggling to start with one of their templates and make it work for me. You’ll learn more about this in just a minute!

Control vs Speed

A lot of the argument between Thrive and Kartra is going to be that over control vs speed.

With all-in-one solutions, you inevitably give up a level of control. Don’t like the templates? Too bad – that’s what you get. Don’t like the email marketing interface? You can’t really switch it out for another one. Want to move the sign up form a few pixels to the left? Haha, that’s rich.

But what you get tends to work very well, and you just have to decide what’s important to you.

Thrive will be the opposite of the argument. You can pick and choose which pieces you want, but it will likely end up being more expensive in both time and money.

Kartra Quirks

Kartra is certainly not perfect. When building some forms, I would inexplicably lose a few minutes of work… not fun.

And for whatever reason, I’ve found that certain browsers don’t play nice with the page builder… but that could be on my end. After all, I do fancy a lot of nice chrome extensions…

But if you accept the quirks, you can get your idea launched quickly with Kartra, and can start building a list and making sales faster than you could building out the same solution in Thrive.

Thrive Leads Benefit #1: Form Customization with Multiple States

Now let’s talk about Thrive Leads. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out my full-review. I walk through EVERY opt in form type and you’ll be a master by the time you’re done!

One of the features I am very impressed with Thrive is just how customizable (is that a word?) you can be with almost all their products.

Thrive Leads allows you to “choose your own adventure,” with your opt in forms, which is much more than you can do with Kartra or Bloom.

Thrive Leads States
Quickly create a journey for your visitors using multiple states

In the above example, you can dynamically offer 2 different lead magnets based on a customer-selected button. So instead of trying to get your targeting perfectly right, you can let your visitor simply choose what is right for them. Pretty neat right?

It’s all controlled by a little green button at the bottom right of the builder – where you can create and customize as many states as you want – and link each new state to a button or behavior for the user.

While I love the states feature, I have a huge frustration with it. If you start from a template (which I do 99% of the time), it can be a total burden to customize MULTIPLE states. I wish you could copy an element from one state and paste into another, but that’s just not possible (yet)

Instead you either recreate the element (like an ebook cover or something) on each state manually, or you save it to the library, refresh, and add it back in – which doesn’t always work well.

Thrive Leads Benefit #2: Smart Links

This feature is one of Thrive’s answers to behavioral adaptive marketing, and it is really cool. Essentially you can turn any link you want to put in your email marketing into a smart link, and this will hide or show a different type of opt ins for your existing subscribers.

This makes total sense, but I don’t see many other companies doing it. Why show the same freebie offer to someone who is already on your list? You are doing double damage to yourself:

  1. You are annoying your subscriber and risking losing them from your redundant opt ins – or –
  2. You are missing out on a perfect opportunity to make a sale

Number 1 is pretty logical, but let me touch on 2 for a minute.

Thrive Leads Already Subscribed
Imagine the promotional possibilities for your subscribers

When creating a new state, you can create a specific state for your existing subscribers.

Let’s understand this with a simple case study:

Imagine you have a simple widget in the sidebar of your blog posts. In it you offer a free first chapter of your premium ebook if someone signs up for your newsletter.

Now after they sign up and read your welcome email, they click a smart link that takes them to read that chapter.

Now Thrive knows that person has already subscribed to your list (it uses cookies to track all the magic), and the next time that person heads to your blog, the widget could instead offer a 15% coupon to purchase the entire book for a limited time!

Is your brain exploding with possibilities? Thought so.

It’s an elegant way to be hyper relevant while remaining respectful to your readers.

Thrive Leads Benefit #3: Smart Display Rules

Thrive Leads allows you to group form types together into “lead groups” in order to create a family or set of opt in forms that get displayed together:

Thrive Leads Group
Thrive Leads Group Controls

This is useful for a number of reasons:

  • You can organize all your opt in forms based on what offer you want to give
  • You can improve relevance by setting display rules so that that set of forms only show up on specific pages, posts, or category of posts
  • You can test form types and designs against themselves to improve your conversion rate

This is a nice efficiency boost because you will no longer need to place the short code or javascript for the lead gen form on every page or post. This is important when you offer generic list building opt in forms that are relevant across your site.

Thrive Leads Quirks

Thrive Leads is the most powerful lead gen tool I’ve seen on the market. For a WordPress plugin, it gives you incredible control and customization over your opt in forms. But it comes at a cost.

I’ve found myself spending hours trying to get the design of a few forms to look just right…

I’ve found myself adding too many opt in forms to a single post because of all the options that the tool gives me.

Now yes, I admit that these are mostly “me problems,” but they are common ones that I see many entrepreneurs making.

Sometimes having all the options in the world isn’t the best thing.

Which Lead Gen Tool is Right for You?

From this post you can clearly see that these tools are aimed at different audiences. Here are some simple recommendations:

Use Thrive Leads if:

  • Your business is primarily based on WordPress
  • You have a knack for design and like to have complete control
  • You want some of the best statistical testing available for your split testing
  • You want to be able to pick and choose each individual tool in your stack (understanding the complexity required to make it work)

Use Kartra if:

  • You get frustrated trying to tie all your tools together with technical duct tape
  • You prefer having a single payment to run your business instead of buying each tool individually
  • You prefer having ready-to-go templates and are OK giving up a bit of design control

What’s your take?

Now it’s your turn. Which tool are you most excited to try and play with? Am I just wrong with my assessment? Which other tool are you eyeing, but just not sure and want to see them compared?

Let me know in the comments below – and I’ll catch you on the next one!

Video Transcript

everybody John here from income mesh
and in today’s video we’re gonna
continue the dogfight between thrive
themes and Carter for the best marketing
platform for your small business and in
the previous video we talked about the
page builders thrive architect versus
the cartrip page builder and I’ll link
up that video somewhere around here on
the menu here for you but in today’s
video we’re gonna focus in just on the
often form capabilities that is the
thrive leads plug-in from thrive themes
and it’s going to be the opt-ins form
feature for card drive okay so in
today’s video we’re gonna focus we’re
having three different topics that I
like on Carter aside and three areas
that I think that thrive architect does
a much better job okay go ahead dive in
okay so the first thing on the cart
recite we’re going to talk about is how
easy it is to add custom fields as
you’re creating the form itself and some
of these benefits are just because
Carter is that all-in-one platform where
normally if you’re in WordPress you’re
doing certain things in WordPress you’re
doing certain things in convertkit or
mail or light or whatever email provider
you’re using you’re just bouncing
between a bunch of different tabs so
what we’re gonna do here we’re going to
create a new form inside my car track
ount by Clayton Plus form we’ll call it
test for you and create it and so
immediately right here you have the
default first name and email address but
what’s great about cart Road is you can
go through and hit a new field and
create fields as you go so if you’ve
already made some fields they’ll show up
here for example I created something
down here but we’ll go ahead and create
a new field together call it a custom
field we’ll name this one let’s say
we’re gonna make a new one will name
this breed of dog because I’m building a
kennel website right now and we’ll call
this a it drop-down so here you’ve got a
couple of several options that you won’t
find in thrive leads right off the bat
so we’ll make this a drop-down menu will
call this dog type breed we’ll make it a
required field and we’ll say small breed
medium breed and large breeding ad okay
we’ll add the field and now right
automatically you had that field in your
email marketing platform in your page
builder anywhere that you’d reference it
it’s already added in which is great so
we’ll save this and go next the next
thing I really like about cartridge
often form features is the Smart
automations that are built in
to cartwright directly when you’re
creating the opt-in form so here I’m
walking through the wizard and when we
reach the automations tabs you have a
ton of options here that I can only
really scratch the surface in this short
video but based on what they fill in you
can decide assign tags to them
what’s amazing is it because of that
custom field you can even assign
specific tags to the answer that they
selected when they were signing up so
they have a small breed you can give him
a certain tag and a large breed a
different tag this is amazing when it
comes to the next point we’re about to
talk to but just the idea behind tagging
people right of Honda signup is so much
easier and more fluid with Karcher
because it’s that all-in-one platform
then you’ll find pretty much anywhere
else so for example on this advanced
automations here we can go ahead and
change this and say that if the lead
fills in the form and and if the lead
filled in the custom field of breed of
dog to be a certain type of dog let’s
just say small breed we can actually
send them to dynamic content on the
Thank You page that’s relevant to only
owners with small breeds this is
something that is very powerful you can
get into segmenting your audience and I
have another video about behavioural
adaptive marketing using car truck and
also link that one up there in the
corner for you to take a look at as well
so that is an amazing feature and pretty
advanced in the car trip platform the
last feature that I really like about
cartridge often features is how easy it
is to design a pretty good-looking
opt-in form now I’ll go ahead and say
that you can do more with thrive but I
find that thrive is just a little more
difficult to make it look exactly right
in Karcher because it is a little bit
more drag-and-drop is in my opinion
easier to use so you have two options
here when you’re building your forms you
can automatically embed it into the form
the page that you’re using it for like
the opt-in page where there’s zero
styling at all which is obviously the
easiest option but if let’s say you have
a blog on a wordpress as well you want
to be able to embed a form on to that
site you can do that pretty easily here
with their form builder so we’ll launch
that real quick and here the form
builder we can select the form type so
this is a widget that’s just going to
embed somewhere here’s a pop-up where it
is going to link to a button when you
click the button it’s going to pop up on
them a slider it’s going to slide in
from the side of the screen
and a smaller slide is gonna take up a
small portion of the screen so let’s go
and use the button pop up as an example
here we’ll select that and we’ll choose
a template and here’s what I mean so
there are more templates in thrive
thrive leads but they’re all very
similar where a lot of the templates
here are pretty unique they’re all very
different and they give you a good
starting place to go from so let’s go
ahead and take this guy here pretty
simple form and let’s get out and once
you’ve selected it you can still edit
everything you’d like as well as you’d
want to so here for example we can go to
this section here and say instead of 50%
complete say almost complete you can
also customize the button so we click
the purple here on the button you can
change what the button says so sign up
and how large the button is going to be
extra large change the font size and the
font type and you can change the color
obviously doesn’t make that blue and
there you go so it looks pretty good
let’s go ahead and save this and exit it
and when it’s time to embed this on to
your website they give you a little
JavaScript snippet what’s great about
this is you embed it in once and even if
you go back and adjust the design later
on you don’t need to do anything else in
WordPress to make sure that it stays up
to date it always stays Lynde’s up to
this form all right so here I am now in
an example web site in WordPress
that I was flying around with earlier
now let’s say we wanted to add a signup
button right here underneath this
contact header all you have to do is go
into your HTML and every builder is
gonna be a little bit different I’m
using elementary for this tutorial and
I’m just going to take that HTML snippet
or the JavaScript snippet from Cara and
plug it in and I’m gonna hit update and
there you go you can see how it looks
there and if we get out of here and just
go ahead and preview this design as I
scroll down you’ll now find this button
here underneath that text when I click
it boom you’ve got your opt-in form one
thing that kind of irks me a little bit
about about Cara is that you’ll notice
because of the responsiveness when you
first loaded
sometimes the text is like trying to
find how big it wants to be and it’ll
kind of adjust a little bit on the fly
it’s probably just me being a little too
picky but you’ll notice that if you load
up a opt-in form in like the widget area
it might kind of shrink and fit just
right and it’s just kind of a quirky
thing that it doesn’t really bother you
I don’t know if it really hurt trigger
conversions just one thing that I
noticed all right moving on to thrive
leads so the first thing I like about
thrive leads is the fact you have so
much flexibility in how your opt-in
forms operate and that’s called multiple
states with thrive leads let me show you
how that works let’s create a form here
and when we’re still given the option to
select our template you’ll kind of see
what I’m talking about here now a lot of
these look very similar you know a
button that’s gonna open up one form or
just your opt-in forms here but you
notice some like this where there’s
actually two different buttons so when I
go into this template you’ll see there’s
actually two different buttons and those
two different buttons are gonna open
separate offers or separate opt-in forms
one may be a link directly to a product
one may be an opt-in form to sign up and
that’s all managed here with this little
area down here where you can see
different states so for example this one
is going to go to state number one which
will open up a different version of this
form which will give you that lead
generation opt-in but the second button
would actually open a second state which
would be for business ideas instead of
the product launch so a lot of
flexibility here this can even go on and
on you could put an entire survey into
your opt-in form here with the right
leaves the challenge with it is it’s
just a bit more complicated to set up
but if you have a very specific offer or
a reason to kind of segment your list
right there the opt-in form using this
method it can be engaging and kind of
cool for your audience to go through as
well the second feature in thrive leads
I want to talk about is the smart links
feature and this is one that I haven’t
seen done anywhere else which i think is
really really impressive by thrive and
essentially what it is is a special link
that will be generated by thrive right
here is the smart links and you
basically tell thrive where you want to
send your visitors that are coming from
your email list so if you want to send
them to a special blog post you just
published but they’re already only on
your email list thrive allows you to
basically dynamically show different
content to those subscribers then
to visitors who have not yet subscribed
now you might be thinking why would you
want to do that well it’s super powerful
because for one it allows you to hide
all the subscription forms or on your
website for people that have already
subscribed right that’s pretty logical
these are people who already know you
like you they’ve given you their
information why would you pester them
with your pop-ups with your slide ends
with all the other ways you have to
convert them into subscribers if you’ve
already achieved that goal so that’s one
reason you can use it the second reason
you can use it is going back to the
states from the previous point you can
actually create a subscriber state where
if somebody’s already a subscriber you
can show them something in the sidebar
but you can make it totally different
and totally relevant to them so if
they’re in a blog post about a book you
can actually offer them you know maybe
if they’re not a subscriber you could
offer them the first chapter for free
but if they’re if they are a subscriber
you can maybe offer them the entire
ebook for a purchase at a ten percent
discount or whatever the case may be
so that allows you to be very relevant
hyper targeted to your subscribers while
still being respectful pretty good job
thrive the last thing I want to touch on
when it comes to thrive leads is the
power they have in display rules and
what display rules are is when you’re
creating groups of often forms like I
have some in content form some post
footers a whole bunch of different
things here you can decide exactly when
and where those guys show up let me show
you how that works here in my thrive
leads group I can go to my settings and
this can get a little overwhelming I’ll
be honest with you there’s a lot of
settings a lot of categories in thrive
leaves they could be a little bit
overwhelming but here your logic can say
I want to show all these opt-in forms
only for specific blogging categories on
specific posts I can exclude specific
pages and post you see this can get
extremely complicated but if you hone it
in it can be valuable for you to make
sure that you’re showing relevant offers
to the right people a lot of marketing
platforms will allow you to put a pop-up
or a form at the bottom of your posts
but it’s always the same pop-up or it’s
always the same item here with this
display settings you can create
different ones that are relevant for
every category and have them only
display when it makes sense also very
right so that was a lot of different
features within each cartridge and
thrive there’s I could spend hours
talking about each one of them
individually but I wanted to give you
three of the ones three of the features
that I thought really stuck out between
each of the platforms and give you my
honest thoughts about it so what I feel
is if you want to be a very advanced
marketer and use segmentation very
strongly and you’re not big on blogging
I think cartridge integrated approach is
going to give you a better result for
those that do not want to blog on
WordPress so if all you want to do is
maybe run a webinar funnel or run
Facebook Ads to some opt-ins and then
convert people through your follow-up
email sequence
I think Cara’s gonna do a very good job
and it’s gonna do it with a bit less
complexity than thrive would however if
you want to build a long gate a long
term game content marketing business
it’s based on you know Google traffic
and based on organic growth and putting
out a lot of content I really think that
WordPress is the way to go for that and
thrive themes and thrive leads they just
work better with WordPress I’ve seen
other people make Carter a success
integrating with a wordpress blog but
there’s just some things that start to
get lost in translation you know
especially specifically those display
rules you can’t really replicate that
with Carter
because you can’t have that deep
integration with WordPress at least yet
so if you’re a wordpress user strongly
consider using thrive and if you are a
Karcher person or just getting started
and not quite sure if you want to dive
into the blogging game cart road would
be maybe a good first place to dip your
toes in the water because I do find it
more approachable and easy for beginners
the only challenges there’s a steeper
starting price with Karcher a– than
there is with thrive leaves the cheapest
price with Karcher I believe is eighty
nine dollars per month and with thrive
leads it’s around twenty dollars per
month but then you have to stack on your
hosting on top of that if you use a
premium theme etc etc so weigh the pros
and cons I don’t think you can really go
wrong with either options but just know
they were there for different audiences
I hope you found this video helpful and
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take care

About the Author

John Whitford is an entrepreneur who has built over 12 profitable online blogs and businesses. He's also the founder of Unbeatable Tech, a data-driven digital marketing company that specializes in sales funnel implementation for both his own businesses and clients alike. John loves to be a beach bum while brainstorming new ideas for marketing strategies, but he's always excited to take on another project!