Case Study: How to Accelerate Your List!

Shane Melaugh   12

Updated on December 23, 2019

After the release of our list building plugin we challenged our users to use Thrive Leads to grow their lists faster and share their results with us. Below you'll see the amazing case study provided by the winner of our challenge. If you've been looking for some ideas you can use to grow your mailing list, read on:


Curiosity Leads the Way

The winning entry comes from our user Julius and the key to his list-building success can be summed up as follows: testing, testing and more testing.

When we created Thrive Leads, our main focus was on the testing and conversion optimizing features because we believe that no matter who you are, you can never fully predict what will work on your website. The only way to optimal results is through empirical testing.

Julius fully embraces this idea and ran a series of test not just on one but on two of his websites.​ Let's take a look at some of the highlights from his experiments.

Designing an Effective Lightbox

Julius started by creating a lightbox design for a free report about superfoods and he used it on both of his health related sites Teebaumoel and Gesund Sein Heute:

Since the form is in German many of our readers will have trouble grasping all the details, but there are some clever things in the form you can appreciate, even if you can't read the text:

  • ​The report is advertised as having a specific value of 14.95 EUR. This addresses the problem of having something free associated with being low value. Instead of getting a free report, you're getting a report that's worth something, you just happen to get it for free.
  • There's a large and eye-catching ebook image in the form, making the report feel more tangible and real.
  • The main piece of copy in the form is a quote from an authority figure (in this case, a doctor as an authority on health and nutrition).

Perhaps my favorite thing about this is Julius' decision to use the same report and lightbox on two sites that aren't all that closely related. He states:

…the superfood ebook is not yet the optimal lead magnet (for the Teebaumoel website). But it’s okay to start with.

This is the rapid implementation concept in action: start with whatever quick win you can get right now and then work on optimizing and getting a "perfect" solution once your list is already growing.

Surprising Test Results

In one of the first rounds of experiments, Julius tested lightbox triggers, asking the question: exit-intent or triggered after 15 seconds - which performs better?

Here's what the initial results looked like:

It appears that triggering the lightbox after 15 seconds improves conversion rates by about 50%. To be clear: these results were gathered from only about 1,000 visitors and 58 conversions, so it's not enough data to draw a clear conclusion, but Julius ran the same test on his other site and got similar results. It's certainly an indication that the time delay trigger might be the superior option.

In a different test, Julius uncovered an even more surprising result:​

Click on the image for a larger version.

For this experiment, he tested a "zoom in" animation against a more flashy "zoom & rotate" animation. It would be easy to assume that the entrance animation of a lightbox will have little to no effect on conversion rates, but as it turns out the "zoom & rotate" version looks like a clear winner!

Again, there isn't enough data in this test yet. And the test is a good example of how careful you have to be with test data: it shows more than 100 conversions and a 99% confidence level, but the issue here is that the conversion rates and difference between them are low. It takes more data to reliably detect small differences than large ones, so this is a test that should be kept running for a while.

​Be that as it may, the test shows that results can come from unexpected places and a test doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming to yield good results.

How to Get Results Like Julius

Julius sent us several more examples and screenshots, detailing his journey with Thrive Leads so far. What's clear is that he hit the ground running and he's been getting ever-increasing results and a rapidly growing mailing list since he started using the plugin.

These are the kinds of results we'd all like to see on our websites. And they're exactly the kinds of results that we built Thrive Leads for. So, how can you make this happen for yourself?

I'll let Julius explain:​

At the moment the lightbox displays after 8 seconds and it converts 33.9% of all visitors of into leads. And that is frankly AMAZING for us!

Yes, it may also be due to the fact that I am getting more targeted visitors, for example by publishing and promoting content that engages the visitors better towards my lead magnet (like this blog post). But it’s also because I’m constantly improving the lead generation process and do a lot of testing with Thrive Leads.

In my opinion, Julius is rather understating the second part of that quote.

Thrive Leads is not some magical solution that will solve all your problems and bring you coffee in the morning. But it is a powerful tool and by making use of the A/B testing features, combining it with effective opt-in offers and smart work (such as publishing good, relevant content), it can have a big impact.

Visiting his site after the contest ended showed that Julius isn't stopping anytime soon either, as he's testing the recently released multiple choice feature in one of his forms already:

And with that, let me say: congratulations, Julius and thank you for the excellent case study! A well deserved first prize in our contest!

Further Winners

In our contest, we also distributed a secondary prize at random among entrants, so that everyone would have an equal chance of winning something. The $100 Amazon gift card goes to each of the following contestants:

  • Chris, who got an extra 149 subscribers on his list during a launch, by adding a ribbon-style form to his site.​
  • Frank, who increased the conversion rate from Facebook ads by using Thrive Leads forms.
  • Fiona, who went all out and created several 2-step forms, an updated homepage and a fully fledged funnel using Thrive Leads features.
  • Danno, who increased the growth rate of his list by 20% in the first month of using Thrive Leads.

A Big Thank You!

We got many interesting submissions with great case studies and we'll be publishing some of them in the near future. In the mean time, let me just send a big thank you to everyone who participated! It's great to see real-life examples of how our products are being used and how they're making a real difference to your businesses.

If you aren't yet a Thrive Leads user and you'd like to learn more about this WordPress plugin, click here.

If you have any questions or thoughts you'd like to share, please leave a comment below!​


by Shane Melaugh  May 1, 2015


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Leave a Comment

  • I’m just glad the Thrive Leads exists. It just makes things so much easier to implement. Thanks again Shane.

  • I’m a little behind the pack here!

    I have re-written my website and it’s my first time using WordPress (and with Thrive Themes (Pressive) and Thrive Leads). So it’s been a steep learning curve… It took a couple of weeks from zero knowledge of WordPress to a working site.

    Having set-up Thrive Leads, and now reading this post, I can see where I should go in designing test options. I have one fixed position sign-up box and one on exit intent…. The exit intent is four times more effective – but I need more data… And I am keen to take this further..

    Thanks, Shane – this is really useful information here – and I can see it will make a significant difference to this holiday cottage business:


    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your comment! Great to see that you’re making good progress with the products and your site. 🙂

  • Hi Shane, I have read or listened or maybe watched some information where you pointed us to a site where we can build beautiful graphics and I do not recall the site name. Please can you say it once more?
    Thanks a million.

  • May have to invest in this thrive leads today!
    I’m always wary as i’ve purchased 2 similar plugins (almost identical tools etc) but both have died since the creator seems to have stopped work on all of them which sucks

    You guys seem to be doing everything right and kick ass and taking names so congrats!


    • Thanks for your comment, Daniel! I know that there are many WordPress vendors who do hit-and-run product launches. As you can hopefully see from this blog, we are not in the business of doing anything of the like. 🙂

  • You opened my mind to innovate on my list, thank you for this article so rich in information, this case study of Julius using Thrive Leads made me wake up some ideas. 🙂

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