I've been a customer of Elegant Themes for years, using their themes on several of my smaller sites and blogs. I loved their recent social media plugin, Monarch, which I use on my small business blog. And I was rather excited about their launch this week of Bloom, their new email opt-in plugin.

While I was excited to test it out on a few of my live sites with email newsletters, unfortunately that didn't happen. There seems to be an issue with the MailChimp integration (with several other customers reporting the same problem in their forums). I'm sure they'll figure out the issue soon. There are bound to be problems with any new launch. So instead, I set up the plugin with a generic HTML opt-in form on a test site.

So far, I like what I see!

It's not a perfect solution. It probably won't cause me to switch my main sites over from the Icegram plugin right away. But I have to give them credit where credit's due. You can create some gorgeous opt-in forms with this tool.

If you're on the fence about trying Bloom, here are some of the biggest pros and cons I've come across so far. Maybe they'll help you make your decision.

Pros of the Bloom Email Opt-In Plugin

  • You can create some stunning forms with this plugin if the examples are any indication.
  • There are 115 templates to get you started.
  • There are different types of opt-ins available (pop-up, fly-in, inline, widget forms, and locked content -- meaning you can make some or all of your content available only to email subscribers).
  • There are plenty of trigger options available, such as showing your form only after someone's been on your page for a certain amount of time, after they reach the bottom of a post or page, after they comment, after they purchase something, etc.
  • You can display specific forms on specific blog categories. For a site like this where I target different writer groups, that would be awesome. You can promote different freebies for readers with different interests that way.
  • You can set your opt-in forms to only show up once per session, and you can decide how long a session should be on a form-by-form basis. For example, if you visit a post today and see the pop-up, I can set it so that you won't see again for a week, or 30 days, or whatever seems appropriate.
  • You can disable your opt-in forms on specific posts and pages (where you might want a customized inline form instead).
  • Statistics -- Track your email lists, opt-ins, and conversions right from your WordPress dashboard.
  • You can run A-B tests on your opt-in forms to see which forms or placements offer the highest conversion rates.

Cons of the Bloom Email Opt-In Plugin

  • Well, there's that issue with it not accepting the MailChimp api keys (hopefully they'll fix it soon).
  • It lacks a drop-down header bar, similar to the Icegram one I use on this site and my small business blog right now. The issue is that I'd have to run two very similar plugins if I wanted the form design of Bloom but still have my header bar (with or without an opt-in form in it). And that opens the door to plugin conflicts, plus it means I'd have extra bloat installed. I'd rather have one plugin that can handle all of the placements I want and need. If they added this option, it might be a bigger contender for me.
  • There are a few other minor bugs that I've come across. For example, when I preview my form half of it appears below the bottom edge of my monitor and it can't be dragged up or scrolled down to. So I can't actually preview the full form. Perhaps most disappointing, I haven't been able to play with any of the pre-made templates. The option to pick one isn't even showing up for me, though I can tell from their forum that others are able to access this. I'm not sure if it's tied to me using a custom HTML form or something else. But despite that, the tools for designing your own are pretty straightforward.

Overall, this is a great showing from Elegant Themes. And if they keep up the great work on these plugins, I'm sure I'll be a customer for a long time to come. One of the best parts? If you're already a customer using their themes, this is pretty much just a bonus. And if you're not a customer, they sweeten the deal by giving you access to other great plugins and themes for your membership fee.

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to using Bloom once I can get my MailChimp accounts connected. Interested in learning more? Check out the preview over at Elegant Themes.

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