2 Lead Generation Strategies That Will Turn Your Opt-In Lightboxes into Revenue Engines

Matt   35

What if you could use an opt-in form plugin like Thrive Leads to do more than just collect emails?

In fact, how awesome would it be if an opt-in form could also double as an upsell opportunity to make you some money too?

“Build my list and sell products for me at the same time?! That's impossible!” you gasp….

But believe it or not, this can be done and in this article I’m going to show you exactly how to generate a little extra revenue through your opt-in forms.


All you need to get started is a lightbox opt-in form with a switch-state feature (like Thrive Leads offers), a free lead magnet and a low-priced digital product you can use as an upsell.

Ready to see how well this works? Alright then, let’s dive into it!

Prerequisite Number 1: Setup a Lead Magnet on Your Site

So in writing this post, I’m assuming you already have a lead magnet deployed on your website.

If not, the strategy I’m about to lay out in this article for you will be somewhat difficult to complete. That’s why, if you’re in this situation, I recommend that you take a step back and get a “free guide” style opt-in offer up and running on your site as soon as possible first.

To get that done and shipped fast, you can take our Thrive University 7 Day List Building Challenge course right now and then come back to complete the strategy shown in this article.

But just one point before you go: make sure that you create a lightbox opt-in form for your lead magnet. That way you’ll be ready to upgrade that into an upsell with minimum effort when you return.

How To Upgrade Your Lead Magnet Into an Upsell Opportunity

So now that you’ve finally got that lead magnet running on your site (in the form of a popup lightbox), let’s talk about two ways you can upgrade it into a potential sales opportunity:

Strategy #1: The Premium Digital Download

The approach here is to offer a simple digital download product like a premium eBook or premium guide for purchase — directly after visitors subscribe to your email list.

A good example of this upsell tactic in action (using a Thrive Leads opt-in form paired with a Thrive Architect Landing Page no less!) is shown by Aja McClanahan on her Principles of Increase debt freedom blog.

After visitors subscribe to Aja’s email list in order to get her free eBook, they are then sent to a “Thank You” page that notifies them that their free eBook is on its way to their email inbox.

However, underneath that thank you message is an upsell offer for a $7.99 Financial Fix Package full of debt-freedom worksheets:

Aja McClanahan's "Principles of Increase" lead generation & upsell funnel. 

Using this strategy, Aja says she makes enough revenue from just this modest upsell to cover her paid Facebook ads used primarily to accelerate the growth of her email list. (An upsell like this is commonly known as a ‘tripwire’; a type of low-priced product that is priced just low enough that people can't say no to it.)

So in this post, let's take a note from Aja’s playbook and deploy the same sort of upsell strategy, but use a Thrive Leads lightbox form instead to streamline the tripwire process.

Step 1: Leave Your Lightbox Opt-in Offer As Is

The first step in setting up your Premium Digital Download upsell is to… leave your opt-in offer initial lightbox state alone.

Assuming that your opt-in offer is a good one that already converts your visitors into subscribers, there’s really no need to modify it. So when it triggers and displays itself to a visitor, it might look something like this Acroyoga free guide example I put together:

The initial lightbox opt-in form state. Here's where you pitch your free lead generation offer in exchange for a visitor's email.

Step 2: Upgrade Your Thank You State

So now when your visitors convert into subscribers, you don’t just want to thank them for their email, but also pitch your low-priced premium product download to them.

You do this by initially thanking your new subscribers for signing up and informing them that their free guide is on its way to their email inbox (obviously you’ll have to automate this delivery of your digital freebie via your email marketing service like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign):

After a visitor signs up to receive the freebie, the lightbox switches state to this "thank you" message and premium guide upsell offer. Some sort of advanced add-on offer to the free guide priced at just a few dollars makes a great upsell product for your tripwire. 

But immediately below your thank you message, you’ll then pitch your upsell offer with some clever copy, an image or perhaps even a sales video.

What sort of digital download upsell can you pitch to follow your free guide? How about something like Aja offers? A “Quick Start Package” that includes worksheets and some done for you materials in exchange for a sub-$10 price point.

If uninterested in the offer, subscribers can just click the X at the top of the lightbox to close the window (or you could even include a “Not Interested” close button next to your purchase button for them as well).

However, since only new subscribers will see this opt-in form state (a.k.a. you already received one conversion from them), there’s a good chance many visitors will say yes to your low-priced upsell product by clicking the buy button.

Step 3: Get Your Payment Processor & Checkout Working

For those new subscribers that want to make a purchase, you’ll need to direct them through a checkout process where they can make their payment and then receive their digital download.

To see how simple that flow can be, I used a third-party payment gateway and digital product delivery service called SendOwl to demonstrate the process for you in this article. By integrating your preferred payment processor service (Stripe, Paypal, etc.) with SendOwl, you’re ready to create products you can actually charge money for.

To do that, you will create a digital download “product” within your SendOwl account to which your digital file is uploaded and a price is assigned:

In the SendOwl dashboard, you can create products with assigned names, prices and digital files so that SendOwl can become your one-stop payment gateway and digital product delivery service.

SendOwl will then provide you a link to which your upsell “buy button” can be linked. When new subscribers click it, they’ll be sent through one of SendOwl’s checkout forms like this:

SendOwl offers a few different checkout form options. One choice is a multi-state checkout form. It begins by asking for a customer's country of residence...

... then has them enter their billing address...

...and finally has the customer enter their payment details to complete the checkout. 

Step 4: Redirect Your New Customers to a Thank You Page

Once your new customer’s payment is complete — exciting! — you can program SendOwl to redirect your new customers to a product purchase “Thank you” page while SendOwl delivers your digital file through an email:

The final post upsell purchase thank you page. Here you can place a button that will redirect your new customers back to a specific page on your website (like your blog reel).

Strategy #2: Upgrade Your Upsell Offer into a “Quick Start” Online Course

So let’s say you were impressed by that little opt-in form upsell example. Is there a way you can take that strategy to the next level by offering something even more valuable (a.k.a. higher priced)?

How about this...

What if your upsell offer was an online course version of your opt-in offer free guide?

That’s a quick and easy online course to make because you’ll be delivering the same basic information, just presented in a higher value format.

The benefit to the customer is that they’ll be shortcutting their way to the outcome your free guide offers by seeing the information demonstrated in video rather than just reading it in PDF form.

Of course, all new subscribers will still get your free PDF guide regardless, but your upsell offer will give them the opportunity to learn the same material by video for a sub $20 price point — directly after signup.

Here’s how you’d go about implementing that upsell strategy on your own website...

Step 1: Leave Your Lightbox Opt-in Offer Alone Again

Once again, you’ll start by showing your free opt-in offer on the first state of your lead generation lightbox:

Step 1 is the same as before — begin with your same free opt-in offer that's already in use.

Step 2: Upgrade Your Thank You State

After that, you’ll again offer your thanks for subscribing and inform your new converts that their freebie is on its way by email. But instead of offering a digital download product, here’s where you’ll offer your “Quick Start Video Course” instead:

For this upsell strategy, instead of offering a premium digital download, I'm actually going to offer a higher value video course using Thrive Apprentice integrated with SendOwl.

Step 3: Direct Your Customers To Your Course Registration Page

Here’s the point where the tech stuff gets – just a little — more complex compared to Strategy #1…

Because I'm using the Thrive Apprentice online course plugin integrated with SendOwl to demo how this "Quick Start Video Course" upsell works, the next step in the flow is to send visitors from the lightbox buy button to your online course account registration page:

You can customize your online course registration page however you'd like if you're using Thrive Apprentice and Thrive Architect to build and facilitate your upsell video course.

Here, new students will simply enter their name, email and account password to create an account for themselves. Once they click the submit button, they'll be automatically sent to the course payment page which I'll discuss next.

Step 4: Payment Processing (alternate checkout page)

How ‘bout that?! Your new subscribers really want your less than $20 “Quick Start Video Course” so let’s send them through the checkout process and “Thank you” page flow to gain access to it.

And just to show you that SendOwl offers a few different checkout page templates apart from the default template shown above, here's a single state checkout page template called the "SendOwl Marketer's Checkout": 

Another SendOwl checkout page template you can use to process your customers's payments called the "SendOwl marketers checkout".

Also, here's another "Thank You" page variation I created for this demonstration that your bonafide customers can be redirected to once their payment goes through:

A variation on the post purchase Thank You page complete with a button linking new customers to your paid course area.

Step 5: Redirect Your Customers to Your Course Overview Page

On your post-purchase thank you page, place a button that will take your new course customers to your online course area (like the pink "Access Your Course" button shown in the image above).

To demonstrate what this course delivery step looks like with a Thrive Apprentice built course integrated with SendOwl for easy payment processing followed by restricted course access for paying customers only, here's what your new customers will see:

If you have multiple courses built within Thrive Apprentice, they''ll appear together on a course overview page that notes which courses are for paying customers only, subscribers and anyone at all (a.k.a. open to the general internet public). 

With post-purchase access granted by the Thrive Apprentice + SendOwl combo, your subscribers-turned-upsell customers can now access your video course and get busy learning:

Once your new course customer enters their specific course content area, they'll see an overview for the entire course and can then begin to access all the lessons, chapters and modules you've created for them.

Now It’s Your Turn to Upsell with Your Opt-in Form

So what do you think about this strategy of transforming your standard lightbox opt-in forms into revenue generating upsell opportunities?

Do you think you could apply some rapid implementation principles and upgrade your current opt-in offers into either a premium digital download or video course product?

With either of these 2 upsell strategies implemented, not only will you have new subscribers being added to your list, but a little revenue accruing in your bank account too.

If you’re encouraged to give this upsell tactic a try, I’d love to hear how you’re going to revamp your current offer to become either a premium download or a video course. Leave your comments below!

by Matt  March 1, 2019


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  • This is a great idea Matt! Never knew Opt in forms can turn into an upsell. I’m planning on creating a course and this information is just perfect for me.

  • Love this idea! I actually already have a short video course that expands on my free optin material, and this would be a great way to market it as a tripwire.

  • Thinking about an 8-year-old idea, the first thing I thought of was that, for every opt-in, the company could donate $1 to a certain charity. That could go viral too quickly and backfire, especially for a small company (that doesn’t have the resources), but that was my first good thought.

    • Hi Jeremy, I like where your thinking is headed here.

      If you use the charity idea for your opt-in offer, it’s almost like paid lead generation of $1 per lead, except that the money will be going to a good cause instead of a big company like Facebook. Depending on your advertising budget and how well the charity offer works to capture leads, this could make sense.

      Another thing you could do is make the charity donation a perk to your upsell offer. That way you can just take the $1 donation out of your profits per sale.

      Thanks for sharing your idea!

  • Great ideas both! It´s true that at least for me, I don´t have my opt-in that much optimized. With the same traffic, I could get much more results. These are great tips, thanks!

    • Hey Alex, for the SendOwl + Thrive Apprentice integration, the checkout page comes second. Currently, you can’t change that order.

  • Hi, great article Matt.
    Question, how do you do to have products for customers and products for subacribers in thrive apprentice.
    It seems that sendowl doesn’t let me edit user roles and thus let only subscribers access a product.
    Thanks in advance

    • Hey Benjamin,

      The idea behind Thrive Apprentice is to allow you to setup 1) paid courses, 2) “lead-magnet” subscriber only courses and 3) publicly available courses.

      If you only have Thrive Apprentice installed on your site without SendOwl integrated, you can setup Public courses and Subscriber Only restricted courses without issue.

      Once you integrate SendOwl, you’re then limited to Paid courses and Public courses at the moment… but this won’t be the case for very long though as we’ll be pushing an update to allow all 3 side-by-side very soon.

      Until that Thrive Apprentice update arrives however, the workaround to get all 3 types of courses working on your site is to setup your lead magnet online course as a $0.00 product in SendOwl.

      • Allright, that is what I thought. Thank’s for the answer, and can’t wait for the update 😉

  • Thanks for the video Matt. Looks sleek. I have a question about FB and Google tracking. I usually bring user to a ‘Thank You’ page because I know how and where to place the tracking code so I know there is a conversion. For these lightbox states, how do I do that?


  • thank you for sharing these ideas. It’s a great way to test between subscriber and potential customers who will actually pay for a product.

    Great, info Matt

    • Cheers Ramesh! And that’s also a good point… those subscribers that actually purchase the upsell are self-segmenting themselves into more valuable leads for your future marketing efforts.

  • Any chance we can get the video course registration page as a template? It’s a nice design!
    Also, you showed the page with the three courses — I’m guessing the middle course with user registration is just a wordpress site user access?
    If so, how do you integrate the registration process with your lead-gen/email signup/autoresponder sequence?

    • Hey Darren,

      It turns out that the video course registration page I showed in the post is already a “Checkout Page” template in Thrive Apprentice. I just made one or two modifications to it for this post (like adding the acroyoga picture).

      And yes, the idea with Thrive Apprentice is that you can setup 1) paid courses, 2) “lead-magnet” subscriber only courses and 3) publicly available courses.

      If you only have Thrive Apprentice installed on your site without SendOwl integrated, you can setup Public courses and Subscriber Only courses.

      Once you integrate SendOwl, you’re then limited to Paid courses and Public courses right now… but this won’t be the case for long though as we’ll be pushing an update to allow all 3 together soon.

      Until that Thrive Apprentice update arrives however, the workaround to get all 3 types of courses working on your site is to setup your lead magnet online course as a $0.00 product in SendOwl.

  • Hi Matt, I see what your getting at, but I don’t see why I’d use a small pop-up box to convey all I want about my offering, when I could use a bigger landing page?

    The only ‘value’ I can see from this technique is to, maybe, change things up a bit. People see full size landing page tripwires/upsells all of the time, maybe this, because of its difference, could make a difference?

    Other than that, I fail to see why I’d use it.

    Am I missing something?


    • One benefit of using this strategy Sunita is that after a subscriber signs up, you can present another call-to-action without having to load a completely new page.

      It might be a cool idea for you to test your landing page upsell page vs. the switch state upsell strategy to see if one brings in better conversion rates for you. (i.e. one lightbox redirects a new subscriber to the upsell landing page [this is what I showed Aja doing on her website in the written post above] where the other lightbox switches state to the “thank you state” upsell.)

      Also, creating opt-in form upsells like this is a lot less work to create so you can launch one in a fraction of the time if you want to apply rapid implementation principles to your upsell launch.

  • Hello,

    This is great advise.

    I have a small funnel behind my e-books. In 4/5 you get send to a page where you can subscribe to a free daytraining I give June 21st. In the 5th you get a few mails over 6 days. In the last I send a mail to offer a €27 7 day e-mail course.

    Now I wonder, would I sell better offering this course on the thank you page? Or is a funnel with multiple mails better in building trust before customers decide to buy?

    Thank you!

    Best wishes,

    • Thanks Peter!

      There’s really no way to know without testing the two strategies against each other. Maybe the next time you offer your free day training course, you could see if your overall conversions increase by switching to the thank you state offer strategy instead.

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