Us vs Them: A big picture comparison of RightMessage vs alternative opt-in / form toolsBy Brennan Dunn
With the release of our call-to-action (CTA) features, we’ve placed ourselves in a new market that has a lot of companies building some really great products.
Chances are, you’re somewhat familiar with RightMessage as a website personalization tool (or if you just showed up from Google or a link from social, 👋 we’re RightMessage!)
But you probably don’t yet think of us as an alternative for the traditional heavyweights in the “lead gen software” space – companies like Sumo, OptinMonster, Thrive, and more.
In this BS-free guide, I’d like to share with you why we’re just not another ‘form tool’, along with why we’re not always going to be the best option for some.
“Forms” or “Campaigns”
Most of the software out there is centered around the concept of a form or campaign. When you login for the first or fiftieth time, you’ll find a page that lists out all the opt-in thingies you’ve created… exit popups, sticky bars, inline widgets, etc.
Here’s how most software has you setting up a new form:
- Design your new form (some software is limited, while others let you go wild and totally customize the look and feel.)
- Write what it should say when shown
- Setup your targeting criteria (e.g. “show only on the pricing page”)
- Setup your display/integration rules (e.g. “show it after 5 seconds” and “when this form is submitted, add them to my email marketing app and tag them with X.”)
So if you wanted a slide-up popup that advertised your newsletter, you’d create a new form (of the “slide-up” type, or whatever your software calls it.)
You’d replace the default headline text with something like “Join our newsletter.”
You probably want it everywhere on your site, so you’ll leave the targeting options alone.
And then you make sure it’s linked up properly so new opt-ins get added to the right thing in your email marketing database.
It does exactly what it’s intended to do: show a popup to someone on your site, and hopefully this popup will turn the visitor into a subscriber. Then you’ll use email marketing to convert them into a customer.
There’s a big drawback, however…
And it all has to do with visitor targeting.
Almost all software gives you pretty standard behavioral targeting:
- Current page / URL path
- Time on site
- Visitor’s device (e.g., an iPhone)
- Visitor’s location
- Referring URL
If I wanted to show a lead magnet to only people in the UK who are on my homepage, that’s easy. Regardless of the software I’m using, there will likely be some way to setup a form to match the “target people in the UK” and ”target people on my homepage” conditions.
Here’s where things get tricky…
What if you want to only target customers?
Or what if you want to exclude anyone who’s already on your email list from seeing your newsletter opt-in?
Or if you want to show a specific form to someone who is both a customer and works for a non-profit? There’s no easy way to do that using just browser behavior.
RightMessage seamlessly synchronizes with your email marketing database, which for most companies is the closest thing they have to a “single source of truth.”
You're probably already storing purchase information in your email database. You're tagging people who become customers. You track who registers for webinars, lead magnets, and more.
And companies are increasingly storing segmentation information, like industry or company size or demographic, within subscriber contact records to send better, more personalized emails.
We think it’s better to think about customer journeys rather than forms
What we all really want to do is pitch the perfect offer to the right person at the right time… right?
So much of our competition in this space says this in the marketing, but – as a quick example – the sites using their software almost always end up showing opt-in forms to returning subscribers.
Showing a email opt-in to a returning subscriber… well, that’s not “the right person.”
And showing this email opt-in immediately after someone clicks a link in an email you just sent them… well, that’s not “the right time.”
We really do want to help you present the right offer to the right person. (After all, we’re called RightMessage for a reason!)
The way to do this is to break away from forms/campaigns, and to instead focus on offers:
- A new visitor should be offered to join your email list.
- A returning subscriber should be offered to check out your entry-level product.
- Someone who’s bought that entry-level product should, on future visits, be offered a spot in your coaching program.
With the way we’ve designed RightMessage, we’ve made it simple and straightforward to route people to a specific offer.
The most basic example could be:
- If someone is anonymous (meaning: they’re not on your email list), route them to the “Newsletter Opt-in” offer.
- Otherwise, route them to no offer.
When a visitor is routed to an offer, then we take that offer and place it into whatever call-to-action widgets or whatnot that you’ve setup.
This really drives home the difference between RightMessage and our competitors:
Us: map out who should be offered what and when, then create whatever “widgets” (exit popups, end-of-article CTAs, sticky bars, …) should serve those offers.
Them: Create each individual “form” (or “campaign”), define what it should look like, what it should say, and so on.
For the customers who’ve migrated to RightMessage, this shift in how you think about pitching who gets what is a big deal. It’s a lot easier to maintain than a list of forms, each having various rules and roles.
And because RightMessage is segmentation and personalization software, we’re able to dynamically alter how someone gets pitched based on who they are.
For example, did they come to you from an ad targeting web designers, and when surveyed answered that they’re an agency?
“Hey design agency owner, join our newsletter to learn how to grow your business faster!”
The offer someone is presented can be personalized based on the data you have about them, and then that offer is cast into whatever widgets (like a sticky bar or popup) that you want to use.
Why RightMessage might not be for you:
It’s easy to tout your own product and disparage everyone else. But that's not the kind of company we want to be.
There are, especially at the time of writing this, reasons why we’re not going to be best for everyone.
1. You use an email marketing database we don’t yet integrate with
We don’t just push new opt-ins to your email list; we have deep, bi-directional synchronization between the email marketing databases we integrate with and your website.
If we just had to capture an email address and add it to something, we could probably get away with having a Zapier integration to do that for us. But since we really need to know “is this person already on your email list?” and, if so, “what data do we have about them?” – Zapier just wouldn’t cut it.
So if you use Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, MailerLite, or something we don’t yet integrate with, you’ll miss out on a lot of the uniqueness of RightMessage. We’re working to close the gap on our supported integrations, so if you haven’t yet written in ([email protected]) with the database you use – do so. We have a list of all the software we plan to work with, and we’re prioritizing based on upvotes from would-be customers.
2. You need total design flexibility
We don’t have a full-blown WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editor where you can configure every little detail about how our calls-to-action look.
Currently, we’d rather have a handful of professionally designed and conversion-optimized widgets that just work – so that our engineering team can focus on what really makes us unique, like being able to visually route different people to different offers.
Some companies need total control over the CTA widgets we put on your site, and “you can tailor anything by overriding our CSS” is a no-go for a lot of people. We get that. So if you’re wanting to change button paddings, tweak how much space there is between this-and-that, and you want to do that all through your web browser… then RightMessage isn’t for you. At least not yet.
3. You want lots and lots of widget types
If you’re coming from a product like Sumo, OptinMonster, or something else, then a big part of what might have drawn you to them was the massive amount widget types that they support: popup widgets, welcome mats, exit modals, landing pages, takeovers, …
Right now, we’re focusing our efforts in catching up here.
Because our CTA widgets are shells that house an offer, it’s really a matter of us creating the shells for each of these different widget types. And that’s exactly what we’re doing now.
If you think about it, the only thing separating a welcome mat from an inline CTA is how it’s displayed (“slide down when the visitor shows up, have it take up pretty much the entire screen, if it gets dismissed have it slide back up.”)
This means filling out our widget catalog (right now, we just support slideup "toasters" and sticky bars – inlines are coming in a few days) is relatively straightforward, and they'll be released pretty quickly from here on out.
4. You get a lot of traffic, but it’s not the highest quality
If you have really high traffic and that traffic, relatively speaking, is “cheap” – meaning, you’re getting a million people a month to your site, you don’t yet have any real products to sell, and you’re not making too much from it yet…
Then it wouldn’t make much sense to invest in something like RightMessage. Your pricing would be a few hundred dollars a month, and there are better things you could probably be focusing on in the near term to help you grow your business.
Why RightMessage might be perfect for you:
1. You care about the experience people have on your website
This is really the crux of why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Our working theory is: if you give people a better experience on your website… if you’re not overwhelming them with competing CTAs… if you’re showing them relevant content and offers that fit them and their needs…
Then they’re going to stay around on your website longer.
And they’re going to be more likely to actually engage with your CTAs, especially if they’re tailored to who they are and what they need.
We want your visitors to get a niche experience on your website, and have your website be savvy enough to satisfy exactly what someone needs from you. This is good for them and great for you.
2. You want to better understand who your audience is (individually and holistically)
We’re able to pitch highly personalized offers in our CTAs because we can behaviorally segment your visitors, and we can also allow your visitors to self-segment themselves.
Prior to pitching an offer, you can ask people who they are and what they’re looking for from you.
You might first use us to ask someone “What brought you here today?”, and then depending on how they answer pitch them on a specific lead magnet that relates to their need.
Then, on a future visit (as a new subscriber), you might ask them what industry they work in. From there, you could then pitch them on your course – and maybe sprinkle in a testimonial from someone else in their industry.
Remember those deep, bi-directional email marketing integrations I mentioned earlier?
RightMessage automatically synchronizes data we collect about people (either through surveying or from their behavior on your site) with their contact record in your email database. This means that you can send better, more personal emails while also pitching better, more personal CTAs on your site.
We also help you get a birds-eye view of your audience and who’s engaging with you and your content. Want to know what percentage of visitors are just starting a business vs. looking to scale? Curious what percentage of your site traffic is returning customers? Need to know how different industries convert to your paid product relative to each other?
This technology sets us apart from other CTA software.
Rather than just pitching whatever, we feel you should better understand who people are and what they want, and then allow each of these individuals to get exactly what they need from you.
3. You want to fully personalize your website
We started out as website personalization software. The CTA features we’ve developed are relatively new.
So far we’ve been talking about pitching people on offers that fit them and their needs.
But there’s more to pitching than the call-to-action (e.g. the opt-in or the “Buy Now” button.)
There’s the sales copy, headlines, testimonials, and even imagery that supports conversions.
By using RightMessage, you’re able to personalize literally any copy or content on your website. All through your web browser, and with no coding required.
4. You’re visual
We’re really proud of the visual builder that we’ve created. It’s a super easy way of wiring up different pitches without needing to create a bunch of forms, each with their own form rules, and mentally trying to piece together what shows up when.
So… is RightMessage for you?
We owe a debt of gratitude to great software like Sumo, OptinMonster, Thrive, and the dozens (if not hundreds) of spin-offs that have emerged over the years.
When we started out as website personalization software, which is still a nascent field, we had to do a lot of teaching (“here’s what personalization is, and here’s why it matters, and here’s why…”) prior to selling anyone on RightMessage.
But now that we’re entering a more mature market, we don’t need to convince people that they should be getting emails from their website, or that they should be using calls-to-action widgets. Great companies like the ones above have been beating that drum for years.
We’re not trying to compete on features or copy-and-paste anyone else’s business model.
Rather, we think that there’s a better – more personal – way of showing people how you can help them, and we’ve taken that to heart in how we’ve intentionally designed the CTA features of RightMessage.