Sumo Review: Free list building & sales tool (cart recovery, emails, upsell)

7th November 2020

TL;DR

Attracting visitors to your website is the easy part. Sumo gives you the best possible chance of converting their interest with good looking pop-up forms, ecommerce tools, sharing buttons and more. Ready to go out-of-the-box and 100% free, Sumo is wildly popular with website owners all across the web. That’s certainly a positive signal, but just how good is it? And what, if any, are the downsides?



Loved

  • Free version
  • Variation of styles
  • New ecommerce tools
  • Easy installation

Loathed

  • Discontinued tools
  • Sumo branding

The Story

What is Sumo?

Sumo is a convenience store of conversion tools, helping you to collect more emails and grow your traffic with:

  • Pop-ups
  • Welcome mats
  • Smart bars
  • Built-in welcome emails
  • Share buttons

Sumo have recently added a suite of ecommerce tools too, including a Buy button to sell on any page on your site and abandoned cart pop-ups.

Sumo’s tools are designed to integrate seamlessly with your site and look good enough that they won’t annoy your visitors – quite the opposite! Each tool is fully customisable and can be triggered by scrolls, exit intent, clicks or show the moment somebody arrives on your site. Your website, your way.


Noah Kagan

Meet the Maker:
Noah Kagan

Noah is a growth machine. The Sumo family (Sumo, AppSumo, SendFox, KingSumo) is a collection of growth tools and daily deals to help website owners build lasting relationships with their visitors. Noah’s personal brand is heavily tied up into everything he does - if it’s for sale on one of his sites, it’s because it’s worked for him or has earned his personal seal of approval.

When not making accessible conversion tools, he’s imparting growth hacking advice via his high-energy, self-titled YouTube channel.

Before founding Sumo, Kagan earned his chops at Intel, Facebook and Mint.

The Product

How we tested Sumo

If you’ve used the web you’ve used Sumo. Its tools are everywhere and for good reason! I’ve equipped my own sites with them over the years to garner shares and experiment with different ways to boost my newsletter subscriber numbers, without the need for additional developer resource. I can testify they work as promised and am excited to share them with you.

As Sumo is a 100% free tool I didn’t even need to put my hand into my pocket for this review.


Getting started with Sumo

Good news: the Sumo free subscription tier includes access to all the main features. Getting started is super simple too, with Sumo working on any website.

First step is to create a Sumo account and add your site. You’ll be provided a line of code to add in the <head> of your website or you can bypass that completely with the Sumo plugin for the likes of WordPress, Squarespace or Shopify. That’s really as technical as the setup gets, so you’ll be creating forms and adding them to your website in a matter of minutes. The step-by-step interface guides you through the entire process, with the style and contents of the form changing as you work your way through the prompts.

Features you’ll love

  • 📧 Timely email capture forms

    Many website owners say their biggest regret is not building their email list sooner. Sumo has a number of tricks up its sleeve to stop visitors from leaving without a trace, with their forms able to promote coupon codes, newsletters, current deals, social accounts and more, in exchange for an email address.

    Sumo popup builder

    Email collection tools can sometimes be a blunt instrument - ugly and interrupting. Sumo’s come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes (e.g. Scroll Boxes, In-line, Smart Bars, Welcome Mats) to match your objective and to make sure they don’t compromise your user experience. They are fully customisable too, including appearance, location on the page and what user action brings them to life – something you can leave up to Sumo’s AI. As you’d expect, they’re also responsive, so they look fantastic and work like a dream on mobile.

    A big shout out goes to the extra control Sumo gives you to control what happens after somebody gives you their email address. Options include an auto-response email, unlocking downloadable content or sending them to a ‘success page’ URL. Marketers forget to welcome a new subscriber and fail to strike when they’re at their most responsive.

    There’s not a lot to hate here bar the fact that templates are hidden behind a paywall, so you’ll need to upgrade to get a headstart on designing your forms.

  • 🎯 Targeting – standard and advanced

    There’s no avoiding the fact that pop-ups can be annoying. Sumo makes sure it’s love at first scroll, with some great targeting options.

    Take Welcome Mats, for example. You can set it to only show to non-subscribers or disappear for those who have already opted out. You can also target by destination URLs, device type, visitor location, date ranges and tine on site, referrers and more!

  • 📣 Share buttons on every page

    Free traffic! Sumo makes it easy to add good looking social media buttons to your website, so your visitors can share your content to over 65 platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Pocket, Buffer, etc) in a single click.

    You’re in charge of the social platform logos you show, their placement, share counts and more. Go Pro and you’ll get UTM tracking so Google Analytics can show you exactly where your social traffic is coming from.

    The Sumo image sharer is a similar tool, making all your images easily shareable on social networks. Hover over the image and the share button reveals itself.

  • 📬 Email new subscribers

    A new addition since my last visit. Could always import them into a platform of your choosing, but now you can email them directly from Sumo. Do so by greeting them with an automated welcome message or send them a one-off broadcast. Free subscription tier is pretty generous at 10,000 emails a month – but databases bigger than this will need to upgrade or go via their third-party provider (Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Aweber, etc).

    Sumo email composer

    It’s worth noting that Sumo currently only has one trigger for automation within its platform: “Joining a group”, which is used to send emails automatically when subscriber enters a group you’ve setup. You can add a delay to autoresponders going out, so not to spam new subscribers, and see key stats such as open rate and click rate at a glance.

  • 🛒 Monetize – conversion tools for e-commerce stores

    Not done with getting you more email subscribers, Sumo has also turned its attention to getting you sales.

    Sumo ecommerce tools

    Connect your Shopify or WooCommerce store to Sumo and convert like the best of them:

    • Reduce cart abandonment
    • Increase Average Order Value
    • Discount Codes and welcome offers
    • Product recommendations

    To get you off the ground even faster, Sumo has created a handful of ‘Shortcuts’ or best-practice templates that are ready to be customised and go live.

    Sumo’s Monetize tools are included in the free plan, up until they’re delivering over $500 in additional sales for you monthly. Very generous!

  • 📈 Analytics & A/B testing

    Sumo’s in-built Google Analytics pulls key stats into the Sumo dashboard. Use it to track pageviews, users, session duration and bounce rate – by page or for your site overall. You can also see real-time user stats, such as where they’ve come from and what actions they’re taken on your site.

    Unfortunately the much loved Heat Map feature has been discontinued, so proper interpretation of the dashboard takes a lot more work. In its place comes a sophisticated A/B testing tool.

Things to consider

  • Sumo’s impact on site speed

    First thing’s first, it’s nearly always better to have to deal with a single application load on your site than that of multiple different tools. But that’s not to say Sumo doesn’t slow down your site. If a page takes too long to load, users will give up and go elsewhere.

    There are more lightweight tools out there, but from experience installing Sumo only has a minor impact on load time. Assuming your site isn’t already bloated with plugins, the increase in collecting emails and converting more sales is worth the risk of losing a couple of % in site visitors.

  • Pop-up blockers apply to Sumo

    Not gonna lie, website pop-ups have got a bad rep. Overused and often too hard to close down, they get in the way of what visitors actually came for. Annoying, right?

    Some might argue that exit intent pop-ups are harmless as the visitor has made up their mind anyway, but my advice is to use them sparingly and stick with a single format that fits your user experience ideals for your site. Thankfully Sumo has lots of formats, some more discrete than others. Even so, Google’s Ad Blocker changes mean it’s going to be cracking down on irritating pop-ups.

    In response, Sumo are planning on adding landing pages and tabs that reveal a form only when clicked on. These features don’t yet exist so watch this space.

  • Farewell highlighter tool

    Sumo has a habit of putting much loved features on the shelf. I’ve already mentioned their sacrifice of heat mapping for ecommerce features, but the one that I miss most is the highlighter tool.

    The Highlighter tool allowed visitors to highlight text from your website to share on social media. Great if you create quote-worthy content and don’t want to rely on Google alone for traffic. RIP :(

Sumo Pricing

from Free

Sumo’s generous free plan makes it a must-have in any digital marketing stack.

Those looking for advanced targeting features or with greater site traffic are asked to stump up a single price per month for Sumo Pro: $39. Doing so also unlocks testing, no Sumo branding, ecommerce templates and unlimited Sumo-driven revenue.


Sumo Alternatives

There’s plenty of Sumo alternatives ready to call time on leaky webpages.

Lead generation tools such as Unbounce, OptinMonster and Hello Bar make it easy to add popups and sticky bars to any page on your website. You can also custom forms and unique targeting and triggers, such as warm welcomes, scroll delays, referrers and frequencies of visits. Sumo’s underlying advantage over them all is its free offering, although it’s a big jump up to the single $39 tier. Unbounce also majors on landing pages, which I can’t recommend enough.

If you’re yearning for Sumo’s discontinued heatmap features, try Crazy Egg and Hotjar have some great features for understaning. visitor behaviour.

Sumo Support   👍  or   👎

Sumo is as straightforward as they come.

Should you need support Sumo has detailed walkthroughs for every feature, FAQ and integration. There’s also an extension digital marketing library, filled with checklists and templates for making Sumo work for pre-launches, flash sales, upsell emails, kickstarter campaigns and a whole lot more.

Sumo took 6 hours (on a weekend and with time difference!) to get back to me on my dummy query with a full answer. No complaints here then!

The Verdict

Surges score

87%

Why is Sumo so widely-used across the web? Because it’s free? Customisable? Looks good? No, because it works.

Sumo has been a game changer since it launched, proving to be a lead generation machine for anyone that uses it. With so many free conversion tools under one roof and with advanced features to grow into, it’s little wonder why.

Sumo’s flexible email capture forms have come a long way since I last used them. There’s Scroll Boxes, In-line, Smart Bars, Welcome Mats, all with precise targeting capabilities and the ability to automatically email new subscribers far quicker than you could do in person. Use it as a conversation starter with web visitors or tap into the new e-commerce features to recover abandoned carts and drive more sales.

On the flip side, some will argue that pop-ups have had their heyday. Annoying and overused, that email collection comes at a cost. However, Sumo offers enough variation in style and precision in targeting that you can be really smart about how you put them to use.

You’ll also need to consider site load time. For me, email collection tools at a necessary part of my marketing armoury and Sumo does the job far better than most, with negligible impact on site speed. A SEMrush site audit will likely uncover far bigger culprits.

In conclusion, if you’re wanting to boost your subscriber numbers with almost no extra effort, you can count on Sumo. Give their free version a go to see the difference it can make for you.

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