Thrive Leads Ultimate Review (With Walkthrough of All Features)

John // Sales Funnels


November 2  

It's time that someone finally shows you all the power hidden within the Thrive Leads WordPress plugin. If you didn't know it's the best, yes, truly the best tool you can have to build your email list fast, easy and the fancy way.

This review will not only tell you about all the cool features Thrive Leads has, I am also going to show you LIVE in this article each and every feature of Thrive Leads.

That means you'll see first hand all the nice opt-in templates, triggers, popups and more.

By the end of this article, you will truly understand why Thrive is the king of conversion rate optimization.


Strap in, this is going to be a meaty review.

But because I'm a nice guy (no, really!), here's a complete Table of Contents to help you zip around to what you want to know.

Let's go!

Thrive Leads warm up FAQ

I first wanted to introduce Thrive Leads for all of you who are wondering if you should even be reading this, or if you should consider buying this plugin.

In just 3 answers, I think you'll know why this tool should not be ignored:

1. Why do you need Thrive Leads in the first place?

There's a common phrase out there:

The money is in the list.

I would add one small tweak to it to make it more true:

The money is in the relationship.?

People do business with people who they know, like, and trust. But it's really difficult to build that relationship if people only find your site once and leave, never to be seen again.

This is why email marketing is huge - everyone reads their email. It's a place for intimate conversation, and it's a great place to build an ongoing relationship with your audience.

So in order to build that relationship, you need their permission to email them, right?

That’s where Thrive Leads comes into the picture.

With Thrive Leads you can effectively grow your email list fast and easy.

I’ll show you all the features live in this article and prove my points, but for starters you just need to know that with Thrive Leads, you have the most advanced lead generation system at your fingertips.

2. Why Thrive Leads and not something else?

True, there are a bunch of other WordPress plugins for list building, some completely free and some paid. So why Thrive Leads among all others?

The short answer is – Thrive Leads has the most features, flexibility, and conversion-focus on the market.

The long answer is – Thrive Leads is the most comprehensive, fastest, easiest to use, with the most features available, regularly updated (approx. every 2 weeks), regularly getting new features (approx. every 4 weeks), compatible with 99% of email marketing services / providers (scroll a bit down to see which ones), has beautiful opt-in templates, has animations, has… well, everything 🙂

It's not perfect though. I'll be the first to say that its depth of features gives it a bit of a learning curve. Luckily there are tutorial videos baked right into the interface to help you learn as you go:

Thrive Leads Tutorial

Thrive was kind enough to put tutorial videos everywhere in their interface for you!

And due to its depth, it may take a few minutes longer to get your lead generation form created, but you definitely get faster with time, and you will appreciate the flexibility later on as you become a better, smarter digital marketer.

3. Is Thrive Leads worth the investment?

When you compare Thrive Leads to the other lead gen tools out there, I think it is the best investment you can make. You will likely outgrow other tools in time.

Thrive Leads will grow with you and continue to serve you for years.

I personally use Thrive Leads on this blog, together with Thrive Architect and a host of other Thrive plugins. 

Honestly, because the Thrive Themes company is so focused on conversion optimization (which is the whole point by the way!), their membership program is one of the only suite of tools you'll need to build a dynamic and effective online business.

Editing Thrive Leads in content post

Fun Facts about Thrive Leads

  • Although Thrive Leads will help you build any kind of opt-in form, you don’t have to use opt-in forms at all. In your popups, or sidebar widgets, or scroll mats you can show anything you like. Send users straight to a sales page, ask them to like you on Facebook - you get the picture.
  • Each Thrive Leads opt-in form template can be used with multi-steps (multiple states) features. That way you can experiment all you want and make your forms into small quizzes, which will help you segment your list even better.
  • You can even show different forms for subscribers vs non-subscribers. It makes no sense to show an opt in form if that person is already on your list! Maybe make a special offer for a discount on your product, or even hide the form altogether out of respect.
  • Almost every feature within Thrive Leads comes with a video explanation on how to use it. If you are not sure how to use certain form or what it does, all you have to do is click on the small blue round play icon.
  • Thrive Themes as a company are very well organized and hard working, releasing updates, improvements and bug fixes constantly + they have a really detailed documentation of each tool. You can check what have they released lately on their blog.
  • You can connect Thrive Leads with more than 20 online apps, including regular email autoresponders like GetResponse, MailChimp, Mailerlite, Aweber or ConvertKit, most popular webinar apps like WebinarJam and GoToWebinar, or even email delivery services like Amazon SES and Madrill. Check full providers list below:
  • Thrive also has their own Thrive University, which has incredible free content about conversion optimization. It also has exclusive premium content for paying members only.

Thrive Leads Integrations:

Just click one of the toggles below to see if Thrive Leads connects to your platform! I bet you it does 😉

Email Marketing / CRM

Email Delivery



Don't see your favorite system listed above? Don't worry: Thrive Leads is compatible with hundreds more services through its HTML form integration method. If you have an email marketing, automation or CRM system that lets you create an HTML signup form, it will work with Thrive Leads. I have even integrated Kartra this way!

Any Questions so far?

We've already covered a ton in this article. Be sure to ask any questions in the comments!


Thrive Leads buying, installation, activation and dashboard explained

Alrighty so it's time to get our hands dirty and actually install and start playing with Thrive Leads. If you already have a copy, just skip ahead to where I walk through each feature in depth.

Let's begin!

1. Get Thrive Leads - Choose your package

After you visit official Thrive Leads page, check the video, scan through all the features and finally fall in love with it, it’s time to get yourself a copy.

Thrive Leads Review Pricing

Of the options here, I definitely recommend the membership if you are serious about growing a business.

  • Single site ($67)
  • 5 Sites ($97)
  • 15 Sites ($147)
  • Each of these plans come with 1 year of support, and lifetime updates

    I recommend the Thrive Membership at $19 per month. While you think you only need to get more subscribers right now...

    A few weeks later you'll realize that you want to start getting more readers to your blog posts, and you'll find Thrive Headline Optimizer...

    After another month, you'll want to offer online courses on your own site, which you'll need Thrive Apprentice for...

    You get where I'm going with this?

    2. Install & Activate Thrive Leads

    Important Update:

    Thrive Themes just released a brand new Product Manager plugin to make life for members much easier! Now members can install a single plugin, and have access to every plugin in their suite.

    Once you log into your members dashboard, you can download and install the Thrive Product Manager plugin:

    Thrive Product Manager Plugin

    Thrive has simplified the installation process with the Product Manager


    Once you have installed the plugin and connected your Thrive Themes account, you'll be able to install any of the plugins that you purchased:

    Thrive Product Manager Plugin

    You can install all Thrive products with 1 click (I bet you wish you got the membership now!)

    3. Get to know your Dashboard

    Thrive Dashboard and Leads Dashboard are actually two different things, as you can see from the image(s) below.

    Thrive Dashboard Sidebar

    Thrive kindly nests all their plugins under one roof.


    The Thrive Dashboard (1) gives you some global settings for all your Thrive Products:

    Thrive Themes Dashboard

    Control your global settings with the Thrive Dashboard

    For Thrive Leads, the most important setting here will be your API Connections. You can manage which email providers you connect to.

    When you're ready to dive in, head over to the Thrive Leads (2) dashboard:

    Thrive Leads Dashboard

    Yes, your Thrive Leads Dashboard can get pretty big! But don't worry, it's simple once you spend a bit of time with it.


    I could spend the next 1,000 words discussing the Thrive Leads dashboard, but I think a quick video would do a better job:

    4. Thrive forms settings

    Each individual form has it's own dashboard, reports, and settings.

    You can always see the form impressions, conversions, and conversion rate.

    Form impressions are the number of times your form has been seen.

    Conversions are the number of times your reader took the action that you wanted (normally opting in to your list).

    And finally Conversion Rate is how well it is performing. How many conversions per visitor?

    If you want to know more about conversion rate optimization, check out my free course!

    5. Useful info for beginners

    • Thrive knowledge base - Here you can find a bunch of useful articles and tutorials on how to use Thrive Leads and other Thrive products
    • Build your first form (tutorial) - Here you will learn how to create your first opt-in form with Thrive Leads
    • Thrive lead groups tutorial - Learn what are lead groups and how to use them
    • Display priority of forms (important) - This is really important because newbies can get confused when they create multiple lead groups and than wonder why some of their forms are not showing - because priority is not set correctly

    Thrive Leads Live Demo

    This is what you really came here for. Are the opt in forms from Thrive Leads worth the purchase price?

    What is all this great you speak of?

    Well, I decided to do something crazy for this post: show you how to build every single type of opt in form that Thrive Leads offers.

    I'll also show you how the sausage is made (I hate that phrase, but just had to use it!) in a video for each opt in form type.

    Let's dive right in.

    Building your first Lead Group

    Thrive Leads Lead Group

    Lead Groups is an incredibly power concept... once you grasp it.

    Before we get into the actual opt in forms, it's important to cover Thrive Theme's overall strategy here.

    Lead Groups are basically a family of opt in forms.

    you can set the display rules at the group level, so that you can show extremely relevant opt ins to each visitor.

    For example, if you have different categories on your blog (let's say 'Cats' and 'Dogs'), you can create a different opt in lead group for each category.

    That way when your readers are browsing, they see cat-focused opt in forms on the blog posts about cats, and dog-focused opt in forms on the blog posts about dogs.

    Novel concept, isn't it?

    Thrive Leads Group

    You can fine tune your opt in form's display settings to keep your offers extremely relevant

    Once you have created your first Lead Group, it's time to start adding opt in forms. And oh, there are so many options!

    Pro Tip

    Over time you will create multiple lead groups with different display settings. Eventually there will be some overlap in the settings, where a single form would apply to 2 or more lead groups.

    Thrive Themes implemented a priority system to combat this issue. Whichever lead group is on top will apply. This is great because it means your reader won't deal with 2 pop ups or widgets in the same post 🙂

    In Content Opt In Forms

    This is a very useful opt in form type, because it is equally useful on mobile as it is on desktop.

    Because of mobile's smaller screen size, some optin form types aren't as effective (like fly ins or sidebar widgets).

    But being directly in the content is a great way of staying relevant without being too distracting.

    Creating one is simple:

    Thrive Leads In Content Form Selection

    Yes, you've got a lot of options with Opt in Forms with Thrive Leads...

    Inside your new lead group, just click "New Form Type" and select the In Content option.

    Once you start editing your form, you're immediately presented by a ton of templates:

    Feast your eyes on tons of templates for each opt in form type...

    I definitely recommend you start with a template that is similar to your style. After all, the point here is to quickly get an effective lead capture system in place, and improve it over time with conversion rate optimization.

    But if you're a design freak, you always have the option to start with a blank canvas and build anything you'd like!

    And if you go that route, you can always save your design as a template so you can reuse it quickly with one click for your next opportunity.

    Editing Thrive Leads in content post

    You have full design freedom with every opt in form type with Thrive Leads

    Once you are happy with your design, just save your work and exit.

    Back in the Thrive Leads dashboard, confirm that your display settings look good:

    Thrive Leads Set up In Content Forms

    You can control if your opt in forms show up on Desktop, Mobile, or Both

    You really start to feel like a scientist, being able to control every aspect of how your forms display.

    Once you are finally happy, it's time to test and see if it shows up correctly:

    In Content Form Finished View

    Always confirm your opt in forms did what you wanted before you move on...

    What's incredible about lead groups is that you can do the work once, and going forward you can have confidence that you will always show a relevant offer to your readers without having to edit every post you've ever written.

    Pretty fantastic.

    Light Boxes - Especially Exit Intent

    Exit intent opt in forms are... a bit desperate. We can be honest here, right?

    But honestly, you are telling your tool to only show it if your subscriber is about to leave your site (probably never to return again).

    So when you employ one of these tools, it's important to recognize that you may not have the absolute best conversion rate here.

    But the whole goal of the exit intent is to give you one last chance to get their attention before you lose them forever.

    So they are still useful to implement on your site.

    Exit Intent Lightbox

    Exit Intent Lightboxes give you one last chance to get your reader's attention before they're gone forever

    As you can see from the screenshot above, Exit intent lightboxes show up as soon as your mouse is about to leave the window.

    So you want to make your message clear and concise here - there's a chance you already lost your reader's attention.

    This is a useful form to use because you know it will ONLY show up when your article has already bored the reader.

    So essentially, any conversion is a huge deal, because you are essentially saving a lost reader.

    Make sure you keep your offer or freebie very high value, because you need to bring them back!

    Post Footers - Great for your engaged readers

    Oh the beloved post footer!

    Why do I love this opt in form so much?

    Because you are sure to target your most engaged readers.?

    By definition, this form will ONLY show to readers who made it to the end of your blog post.?

    This may seem insignificant, but think about it for a second. That's a huge deal. If they read the entire post, they clearly got value from your post, and are looking for more.

    Now is the time to (ethically) strike, and get them onto your list.

    I think a post footer form should be included into every blog post, so make sure your display rules are broad enough to have enough coverage.

    Even if you have a low priority lead group just to get people on your general newsletter, you should always give your readers a way to join your tribe.

    Post Footer Display

    Your Post footer grabs the attention of your most engaged readers

    And as you notice above, there isn't any place to directly input your email address.

    That's one of the beauties of Thrive Leads - you have complete control over the display of your forms.

    In this example, we've set up a 2-step opt in form.

    Click a button, and THEN be presented with the chance to input our info.

    This is important because it forces the visitor to make a micro-commitment.

    Essentially,l they've already said "yes" by clicking the button. If you then ask for their info... they are more likely to say yes, because they have already said yes before.

    It seems like an insignificant psychological trigger, but it works. Once they click the button to get the goods, you then spring the question to get their information:

    Post Footer Thrive Lightbox

    2-step forms increase conversions. It's worth a (split) test!

    The takeaway here is that post footers are highly valuable forms. Don't be silly, use them. Today.

    Thrive Ribbon Opt In Forms

    Ribbon Opt in forms are great because they are approriate on all devices - desktop, tablet, and phone alike.

    They aren't 100% intrusive like light boxes. They don't block all your content, but they are always present.

    Seems like a good formula for conversions, right?

    But everything has a downside. Because ribbon aren't so in your face, you need to make a concise message. You just don't have that many pixels to make your point. So use strong, convincing language to draw your visitor's attention.

    Thrive Leads Review Post Ribbon

    You've only got a few words to convert the Ribbon. Make them count.

    The good news is that you can easily link your ribbon form into a full lightbox.

    That gives you the best of both worlds. A non-intrusive ribbon that is always present, and then a full-blown opt in form to finally get the subscription:

    Thrive Leads Ribbon Light Box

    You've only got a few words to convert the Ribbon. Make them count.

    Ribbons can be powerful, and are worth a good split test to determine if your audience responds well to them. Every audience is different.

    Thrive Leads Screen Filler Form

    The Screen filler has a ton of fans... and haters.

    It's an opt in form that is impossible to avoid, but it is also extremely intrusive.?

    Were you super engaged in that blog post? About to crack the code?

    The screen filler doesn't care. It's going to take your attention. Right. Now.

    It can be like that attention-deprived 4 year old daughter who always wants to play.

    It doesn't care when you want to play. When it's ready... it's coming.

    There are obvious benefits here. Your visitors must interact with it. Subscribe, or click 'X'.

    The problem here is that it can leave a bad taste in their mouth if they weren't ready yet. You can feel like the desperate boyfriend who rushed the first kiss. You can't ignore it... but that increases the chances of her saying, "no."

    So be careful with this opt in form. With great power, comes great responsibility:

    Thrive Leads Screen Filler Lightbox

    Screen Filler - You're not avoiding this one...

    Thrive Leads Scroll Mat Opt In Form

    The Scroll Mat and Screen Filler forms are close cousins.

    They are both hard to avoid, but they have unique differences.

    The screen filler can't be avoided - you need to click the x or subscribe. The Scroll mat, however, is slightly less in your face.

    As the name implies, you can "scroll" past the form. It essentially comes in on top of the post. So if your visitors aren't interested, they can continue to scroll past your form, back to their content.

    I personally don't recommend the scroll mat. While it is a cool idea, there is one fatal flaw.

    Because the visitor can scroll past it... if they are scrolling while the scroll mat is appearing, the mat can display already partially scrolled...

    So your message will be blocked... and it will likely be your headline (the most important part of the form...)

    Not a great idea to me. I'm a bigger fan of the lightbox. But the beauty of Thrive Leads is that you get to choose (and even test them against each other, but that's a bit later in the post).

    Scroll Mat Example Thrive Leads

    The Scroll mat takes over the top of your screen

    You can see how the scroll mat comes down on top of your existing content (notice the Income Mesh header at the bottom of the screenshot.

    Thrive Leads Slide In Form

    I love the slide in opt in form. I think it's a great balance of attention-grabbing without degrading user experience.

    Thrive Leads Slide In Form

    The Slide in effect balances attention-grabbing without impacting user experience

    As you can see fromt he screenshot above, the reader still has 100% access to the content.

    The slide in can be configured to display after a certain time has passed, or (as I prefer it) after a certain % of content has been consumed. That way you can ensure the engagement level of the visitor before you ask them to sign up.

    There are currently 56 different templates for slide in forms, so you will certainly find one that works for your personal style.

    Thrive Leads Widget Opt In Form

    Opt in forms and sidebars go together like peanut butter and jelly.

    But are they effective?

    Widget Opt in form Thrive Leads

    Thrive widgets are the perfect companion to any blog post sidebar

    It's a debatable question. There is a phenomenon known as "sidebar blindness."

    It's essentially the fact that people have learned to ignore the sidebar, because it's full of opt in forms or other info trying to distract them from their desired information.

    not good.

    What are we supposed to do about this?

    You've essentially got 2 options.

    1) Double down

    2) Ignore the sidebar.

    If you want to double down, do yourself a favor and install the plugin Q2W3 fixed widget.

    This free plugin allows you to have your widget follow your visitor all the way down your blog post. It won't leave the window as soon as they pass it...

    Thrive Leads Fixed Widget

    Q2W3 Fixed widget will ethically annoy your readers 😉

    If you decide that you don't want to force the sidebar on your reader, you can always go full-width on your blog posts, and simply ignore the sidebar altogether.

    I personally like the sidebar, because it makes the content of the post more narrow, which makes reading easier... it's hard to track a wide column.

    What's better is to let conversion rates drive your decisions.?

    I'd recommend you split test widgets against slide in forms. They are both extremely similar, and allow you to make your decision based on data... not feelings.

    Thrive Leads - Signup Segue

    Thrive Leads Signup Segue isn’t actually an opt-in form builder, it’s more a special url builder.

    Let me try to explain this quickly…

    You can use Signup Segue when you need your current subscribers to confirm their interest in your new product, a waiting list, attendance at your upcoming webinar or something similar.

    Basically, something where they would need to subscribe again. Signup Segue helps you get their consent without subscribing again, instead they just need to click on your special link.

    So for example, if you are having a webinar next week and want to invite your subscribers to attend, they don’t need to subscribe for the webinar again (which is what is usually done), instead they only need to click on your special Signup Segue generated link and they are automatically subscribed.

    Shane from Thrive Themes explained that in video below:

    P.S. If you are already an Income Mesh subscriber and would like to be notified when I launch my new List Building Unleashed course + if you want to see Signup Segue in action, you'll need to click on my Segue link from within one of the emails I'll send you.

    Other Thrive Leads features

    This article has over 5000 words. Now you see how much is there to show you within Thrive Leads, and that’s not all.

    There are some more cool Thrive Leads features I want to share with you below.

    Keep in mind that Thrive team regularly updates its plugins, so by the time you read this article and decide to buy it there may be some more features available which I didn’t mention in this article.

    Take a look below what else can you expect to find in Thrive Leads plugin…

    Smart Links

    You will absolutely love this one, I do.

    Here’s the deal. When you send emails to your subscribers and they come to your website by clicking the link from your email, most of the time they will again see all your optin forms, popups and everything else. Which makes no sense since they have already subscribed and those opt-in forms are now just annoying them.

    Well, Thrive Leads comes to the rescue.

    With Smart Links feature you can create special links for your subscribers, that way when they click on it and come to your site your forms will be hidden to them (if you decide to make it so), or they can be shown something else on the place where you opt-in forms used to show.

    It's crazy to think that you would show the same opt in forms for people... who have already opted in!

    Instead, you could show a special offer that nudges your new subscribers down the path toward buying...

    Or you could simply clean up their view and remove all distractions for them, leaving them a clean post or page to view and enjoy.

    Check video below for more info and to see it in action:

    Isn’t that sweet and powerful? Not sure if there’s any other tools in the world except Thrive Leads that gives you so much power.

    Asset Delivery

    Quick explanation: Automatically Send Download Links to New Subscribers.Since Thrive's team explained it really well, here’s a quick copy/paste from their website:

    “The asset delivery feature lets you upload files (e.g. PDF reports) to your WordPress site and have those files automatically delivered whenever someone signs up through a Thrive Leads form.
    You can choose whether or not a downloadable file should be sent and which downloadable file should be sent, on a form-by-form basis.
    Most typically, this feature is used for content upgrades.”

    If you want to know more take a look at this article explaining Asset Delivery feature in more details.

    Leads Export

    Wanna have backup of your leads? Here it is.

    Every subscriber that your get through Thrive Leads forms will not only end up in your favorite autoresponder (check GetResponse and ConvertKit), it will also be saved within Thrive Leads.Thrive-Leads-Export

    That way you have a backup of your subscriber’s data, you can see when they subscribed, export them and even manually forward their data to your email address.

    A/B Testing

    Split testing is one of the most effective ways of improving your digital marketing. No wonder Thrive Themes adds split testing into just about everything they do. 

    The video above shows how to set up 2 different types of split tests in Thrive Leads.

    You can split test multiple variations within the same form type. Think testing 2 different widgets against each other.

    More interestingly, you can also split test different types of form types. So you can test scroll mats vs light boxes.... slide ins vs pop ups... let your imagination run wild!

    And if you're not a data scientist, you can still be a successful split tester. Thrive does all the hard statistics work for you:

    Thrive Leads Split Test

    Automatic settings make it easy to run effective split tests

    What's great about split testing is that you don't have to use gut feel to improve your business's performance.

    Just tweak your headlines, your button colors... even your entire offer.

    With automatic settings,  you will continuously make your forms better.

    Advanced Targeting

    We've touched on this before, but it's good to list out this feature one more time.

    It's really that important. Putting a generic opt in form throughout your blog is worthless.

    You are dynamic, your content is dynamic, your opt in forms should be dynamic.

    Thrive Leads makes this easy:

    Advanced targeting thrive leads

    Always target your opt in forms for maximum relevance!

    Now you can be like a sniper with your opt ins.

    Never again will your subscribers see an annoying opt in. Instead, your free offers will seem like you are a mind reader. Giving them exactly what they want, when they want it. They will thank you for your pop ups!

    Advanced Reporting

    You need effective reporting in order to know what steps to take next in your marketing efforts.

    Thrive Leads provides a full suite of reports that make your data accessible and actionable.

    Thrive Leads Reports

    You have beautiful and accessible reports with Thrive Leads

    You have access to the following reports out of the box:

    • Conversion Report
    • Conversion Rate Report
    • Cumulative Conversions Report
    • Comparison Report
    • List Growth
    • Cumulative List Growth
    • Lead Referral Report
    • Lead Tracking Report
    • Content Marketing Report

    Of these reports, my favorite is the Content Marketing Report, because it quickly tells you which of your blog posts are driving the most conversions, so you can tweak your writing style and guide your next direction for your next post.


    Next time when someone asks on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere online, what’s the best WordPress list building plugin, feel free to point them to this article 🙂

    There’s really not much you can’t do with Thrive Leads, as you have seen for yourself in this article.

    If you still haven’t subscribed to Income Mesh, be sure to do so to help you become a better, smarter digital marketer.

    So what about you? Are you a Thrive Leads believer, or do you prefer to generate leads a different way? Leave a comment below and let me know!

    P.S. Article was formatted, stylized and edited with ?Thrive Architect.

    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!