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

Last Updated on November 9, 2020  

David Risley
Founder, Lead Instructor of Blog Marketing Academy

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.
  • Ability to embed ConvertBox forms on the site and manage them from within ConvertBox itself
  • Fine-tuned targeting engine, including the ability to target subscribers with certain tags 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.

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 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.

I make use of both overlay and embedded forms with ConvertBox.

As of this writing, I am now in the process of changing my top/bottom calls to action to embedded ConvertBox forms. Before that was available, I had to use a link to a landing page in those locations. Now, I can make those areas totally dynamic and use ConvertBox to deliver personalized calls to action across this entire site.

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.

How To Easily Integrate ConvertBox Into Your Theme And Have VERY Powerful Control

When I first switched to ConvertBox on this site, it didn't yet support the use of embedded forms. This led to me having to create some interesting (and somewhat nerdy) workarounds. 

Now that we have embedded forms, everything becomes much, MUCH easier. ConvertBox has "embed areas" that you can set up.

These are sections of your site that you want to slip ConvertBox CTAs into. You can use them for one-time locations... or global locations such as your post footer, the top of your sidebar, etc.

Each embed area comes with a couple of options to embed into your site:

The shortcode might be used for inserting a content upgrade right within a blog post. But, it is actually quite simpler than Thrive Leads because a shortcode in Thrive Leads is specific to one particular opt-in form. With ConvertBox, that shortcode is for a LOCATION, not a specific form. You can use one shortcode universally for all content upgrades across all blog posts and then use ConvertBox's own display rules to decide what to show in those spots. MUCH better!

The HTML embed code is just a simple DIV ID code. This is best used when you want to integrate a spot into your site's theme and use ConvertBox to globally control what goes in there.

For instance, I am now switching my theme over so that it uses several embed areas globally, such as:

  • The top of every blog post
  • The post footer
  • The bottom call to action spot, right above the footer

You just drop the HTML embed code where you want them and ConvertBox does the rest. If you're using Thrive Theme Builder like I am to design your site, just use the Custom HTML element to put that embed code where you want it.

From then on, you are using ConvertBox to manage all of your calls to action. And keep in mind, you can do way more than just opt-in forms here:

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. 

That said, ConvertBox does now have a shortcode option to embed forms. But, as covered above, it is more global in nature rather than tied to specific boxes, so that still makes it a much simpler option.

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.

I switched to ConvertBox before those 2 features were added because the platform still solved a pesky technical issue for me. But, now that those 2 features HAVE been added, it makes my transition to ConvertBox totally complete and final.

There's just no looking back to Thrive Leads for me. While it is a powerful WordPress-based option, it is inferior to ConvertBox in terms of power and flexibility in a full marketing tech stack.

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

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

Who Should (And Should Not) Purchase ConvertBox?

ConvertBox is now a powerhouse platform that keeps getting better and can still be purchased with a lifetime membership. From that standpoint, I am recommending ConvertBox to you.

But, let me also be clear...

There is an upfront investment to acquiring ConvertBox. It is a killer deal, but there's still no getting around that it might feel like a tough nut to crack for a newbie on a very limited budget.

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 all you do is basic opt-in forms in your sidebar, ConvertBox is probably not worth the extra money for you.

Where ConvertBox REALLY shines is for a bit more developed business that uses a CRM that supports tags. That CRM integration just makes ConvertBOX much more powerful than Thrive Leads.

If you're just starting out, maybe have just one or 2 lead magnets total, and have a very simple blog, then stick with Thrive Leads.

Otherwise, ConvertBox might become your new, favorite tool.

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.

ConvertBox Essentials (Bonus Training)

You can watch over my shoulder while I personally show you how to get set up with ConvertBox and how to implement it in your business. My goal will be to help radically speed up putting ConvertBox to use without having to figure it all out on your own using just their documentation. Plus, I have a whole section on USING ConvertBox to show you some of the coolest uses for your account.

You can get access to this training FOR FREE as a special bonus for securing your lifetime ConvertBox account via our affiliate link. It obviously costs you nothing extra, but I will earn a commission. But, in exchange for your trust, I will hook you up with a full training course and my personal support as you implement ConvertBox.


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  • Stephen Sawyerr says:

    I’ve read reviews that say that Thrive leads has a negative impact on your site load speed. They claim it’s quite a bulky and heavy plugin. Did you experience this when you used thrive leads? And is it part of the reason you switched?

    • Well, it is a plug-in. So, technically, any plug-in is going to have some kind of impact on load time. But, if you have caching in place, it isn’t any issue. Plus, Thrive loads most of the forms asynchronously, so it won’t slow down the page speed. No, speed had nothing to do with why I switched to ConvertBox. It had to do with the 2-way integration with my CRM… as well as the relative simplicity of using it as compared to Thrive Leads.

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