The Most In-Depth Sumo Review and Tutorial You’ll Ever See

Marketing tools make our lives easier. Otherwise I wouldn't even dream of writing a Sumo review.

They automate most of the manual work and save us from meddling with confusing code.

From heatmaps to A/B testing tools and email marketing software, there are a ton of tools that can help us gain traction and build an audience.

In fact, we use a number of them too- for email marketing, analytics, content upgrades and even A/B testing.

But there is a huge roadblock to using all these tools: upfront costs.

Most good SaaS solutions out there cost money. And with the number of solutions that we need these days to gain traction, the cumulative price can be steep.

But what if you could get all these and more with a single subscription? And even better- what if they offered a free plan if you were just starting out?

Enter Sumo (formerly SumoMe).

Sumo offers a complete set of tools for helping you build your traffic and boost conversions.

Notice that blue icon on the top right corner of the screen? We use Sumo because we like it 🙂

In this review, I’m going to break down what Sumo has to offer- in epic detail, and then show you which tools should be used and which shouldn’t be- in epic honesty.

What is Sumo?

Sumo is a suite of tools compatible with almost every single CMS out there (including the best ones we’ve reviewed). But for WordPress users, they offer a WordPress plugin that you can simply install on your website.

Sumo offers a number of features. And by number, I mean a lot. Here’s a detailed illustrated list of every single feature in Sumo:

For Social Engagement:

Simple social sharing buttons called Share. You can see this in action on this very page <-

Social sharing buttons overlaid on images, called Image Sharer.

sumo review Image SharerAnother feature I love, called Highlighter, that allows you to highlight text to make it shareable.

For traffic and traction:

A reciprocated content sharing platform for all Sumo users called Discover.

Discover works on a simple points-based system. Related articles on other Sumo blogs (image above) are shown below your posts on your blog, and you earn points if users click on them.

You can then redeem those points to drive visitors to your website from other similar Sumo users that use Discover.

Nifty, huh?

For Analytics:

Google Analytics directly within WordPress.

While the functionality and filters obviously aren’t as robust as Google Analytics, you can get a bird’s eye view of your traffic and performance right from within your WordPress dashboard.

And then- scroll analytics showing user activity maps called Content Analytics.

This is cool- you can see what’s causing users to bounce (more on this later).

Good ol’ Heat Maps (which I love) that shows what users are clicking on your site.


Heat Maps are great tools to identify design glitches or UX issues that cause pain points on your website/ ecommerce store. (again- more on this later)

And lastly, a simple A/B testing tool to test what works:

For List building:

Customizable pop-up or embedded email forms called the List Builder.

You can configure the List Builder with almost any of the email marketing services out there, including MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, InfusionSoft, HubSpot, GetResponse etc.

These can be configured to show up a few seconds after your page loads or as your cursor moves above the address bar (which shows exit intent):

Or embedded within the content:


Or as a popup with a CTA after a certain load period:

The Opt-ins can also be configured to show up with a click trigger:

They also offer Opt-in forms ( and CTA popups like the ones above) that trigger when a visitor scrolls to a certain point on your website, called Scroll boxes.

 

A notification toolbar (similar to the Hello bar) called the Smart Bar. You can set these up at the bottom or top of your page:

Or show clickbait CTA’s than straight up forms:

Next in this category is the full-screen CTA or opt-in page called the Welcome Mat. These can be used to set fullscreen CTAs or opt-in forms to roll in. And Sumo offers different types of Welcome Mat configurations:

The Plain Welcome Mat:


Or the Embedded Welcome Mat:

You can also use a CTA instead of a straight opt-in form:

sumo review welcome mat with CTA

And use a parallax scroll design:

Or even use videos for the background.

For Communication:

Live Chat Integration that allows you to offer a customer service popup like the biggies, with a host of cool integrations.

And for eCommerce (oh yeah):

A cool Discount Codes feature built in right into the List Builder. Now I decided to write about this as a separate feature because, well- I’ve got an eCommerce brain, and because it’s super cool.

Sumo allows you to quickly setup entire discount campaigns with mailers, autoresponders and through their intuitive interface.

Apart from all these, they also provide a cool customizable Contact Form:

 

Now that we’ve covered all the features, I’m going to talk about the apps that you shouldn’t be using.

Yes- that’s right.

I’m going to talk about the apps in Sumo that you should avoid so that you can focus on the ones that work.

 

  1. Pop-up opt-in forms:

Ever since the Interstitial content penalty announcement (that almost every major email marketing service tried to cover up), one thing’s for sure:

Google doesn’t like websites that show pop-ups. I know that sucks.

But, let’s wait for a second and think:

Don’t we all hate intrusive pop-ups that spring up when we’re trying to read something on a website?

Google is just trying to enforce a good user experience for websites that rank.

Although the penalty applies only for mobile search results, I still wouldn’t advice using pop-ups.

In fact:

I wouldn’t even recommend using those Welcome Mats (that I spent 2 hours to illustrate beautifully above)

But then, how can we get subscribers, Adi?

Well- you can use content upgrades, and they work better than any other form of opt-ins.

How to Use Sumo Content Upgrades to Get a Flood of Subscribers

We know this for certain:

Users don't like to be interrupted by your life changing ebooks or discounts.

If you'd like to offer a lead magnet, you have to integrate it into their content journey and reduce friction. This is where content upgrades come in.

Content upgrades, like the name sounds, are simply upgrades or additional information that users can choose to receive if they'd like to.

They choose to receive it, rather than us pushing it to them. This is the reason why this tactic is much more effective than pop-ups at driving subscribers.

And this is how you can drive a ton of subscribers to your list using content upgrades.

  1. Identify all your long-form blog posts that receive a good amount of traffic.
  2. Skim through these posts to see if there are any additional guides, checklists or tools that you can offer them for free. Here are some stellar examples:

Brian Dean is a maestro at content upgrades. Almost all of his content upgrades are attention-grabbing and highly relevant:

And here are some from BlogerrJet (Tim Soulo's blog):

Try-Shopify
  1. Create PDFs, checklists or tools, and simply offer them as a download in return for their email using the Sumo Content Upgrades tool.

In fact, the tool allows you create a variety of content upgrades:

  • Checklists
  • Transcripts
  • Videos
  • Ebooks
  • Worksheets
  • Spreadsheets, and
  • Templates

You can quickly put together good-looking PDFs and checklists using Pages in Mac and Word in MS Office, and for tools, I almost always use Google Sheets (super easy to build stuff + Zapier for any integrations).

Easy peasy.

2. Welcome Mats

I alluded to this one above, so I'll just touch on it briefly. I don't like using Welcome Mats either. I know they look really pretty and smooth, but the fact is, they're annoying just like popup ads. And both Google and users don't like that.

If you'd like to grab user attention and pressure them to sign up to your list or get them to take a look at the lead magnet you're offering, a better way would be to just use Sumo's Smart Bar.

You can set them to show up at both the top and bottom of the screen, and they stay there constantly so that the user looks at it at some point.

I particularly love using a really enticing CTA Smart Bar to get people to sign up.

Ecommerce Tip: Do you think users would give you their email if you offered free shipping in a Smart Bar CTA? (I'll show you an even better way to do this later on)

3. Sumo Discover

While I love the idea, there's one thing none of us can deny:

Showing related articles from other blogs below your own post will drive users away from your website. This might be a good tool to use if you're a publisher that drives a lot of search traffic, but imagine this:

If you're an up and coming business, you're just providing a way for your competitors to gain traction over you by using Discover. Not a very good idea :/

I wouldn't do it.

Now, I'll show you 5 super cool strategies that you can use to drive traffic and customers, and improve conversion and retention rates using the tools in Sumo.

Sumo Review: 5 Super Effective Strategies to Boost Traffic and Convert More With Sumo

#1: Use the Image Sharer on All Your Product Images

We recommend content marketing for all our ecommerce clients.

We create engaging content about the products they sell on their store, and actively promote them. But then, we use a super awesome hack that we use to drive targeted traffic using this content.

Yes, you guessed right- we use the Image Sharer on product images in the content.

But why is this strategy so powerful?

Well, ask yourself:

How many times have you shared, say, a vanilla essence product page on Facebook?

How many times have you tweeted about those new sneakers on Amazon?

But on the other hand, we’ve all shared recipes that use vanilla essence, and news about the release of the new sneakers.

The thing is: helpful content will always have more share trigger than boring product pages.

And on social media where visual content is almost always better for driving engagement, don’t you think it would be a good idea to drive sneaker lovers and foodies to your website using the Image Sharer, especially on those mouthwatering images?

Here is an example:

Use the Image Sharer on All Your Product Images

#2: Get People to Join Your Whatsapp Group Using Display Rules in Sumo

To be frank, this one is a super awesome hack that is still very underutilized:

In case you don’t know, Whatsapp’s user base is larger than Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram combined with 1 billion users. It’s a goldmine for marketers who want to interact and build a following.

And there’s a great way you can use Sumo to market to people on Whatsapp.

Sumo offers you the ability to set targeting and filtering options for who List Builder of Scroll Box pop-ups should be shown to.

You can simply create a CTA Scroll box with the following text:

“Get Uber Actionable Ecommerce Marketing Advice Delivered Right To Your Phone. One super cool hack every week”

And add a field for them to enter their mobile numbers.

The set the display rules for the scroll box this way:

Now mobile users will be shown the above opt-in form where they can give you their phone numbers, and you can add them to groups and start engaging.

#3: Use the Content Analytics tool to identify where You’re Losing Attention

The ability to write engaging copy is one of the most important skills that any marketer can have. You can always learn and tweak your copy to make it more engaging.

But it’s impossible to understand where you lose attention, and where you need to improve.

This is where the Content Analytics tool in Sumo can help us.

It shows us a detailed analysis of how users go through our content:

With this, you can get a clear idea of where you might be losing the attention of your readers.

We regularly use Content Analytics to identify what we call ‘attention-breakpoints’ to improve the copy and make it more engaging.

And how do we do this?

Say HI to bucket brigades.

I use bucket brigades to keep readers glued to my content. They’ll constantly keep wondering about what’s next.

In fact:

I just used on in the previous line. See what I did right there 🙂 ?

Bucket brigades are phrases like “But wait – there’s more”, “Think about this for a moment”, “In fact”, “It gets better” etc that build curiosity about what follows next in the article.

And I use them all the time to retain the attention of readers in my posts. And they work.

Here’s a super long list of bucket brigades that you can use in your content:

Picture thisImagine thisJust imagine
We’ve all been thereI know the feelingI’ve been there
You know the scoreIt begins with a feeling ofYou start to worry that
We’ve all done itWe all do itOK, I know what you’re thinking
But wait – there’s moreAs if that’s not enoughWe’re not through yet
Get this:Listen:Look:
How can you beat that?Yes, you read that rightIt gets better
Big news:News flash:Good news:
Question:Check this out:Fact:
Then it hit meThat’s when it hit meDoes this sound like you?
So what’s the problem?For the first time, it dawns on youAnnoying isn’t it?
To top it offAnd guess what?It hit me like a ton of bricks
What about you?The only problem?So what it’s all about?
How do I know?Now hang onLet’s get things under way
But hang on a minuteWant to know the best part?Astonishing, isn’t it?
To top it offThe simple truth isIsn’t it?
But I’m jumping aheadBut there’s one small catchBut before we go into that
Do you see where we’re going with this?Think about it this wayIn any case
It all boils down to thisLet’s dig a little deeperAnd you know what?
Bottom line:Look at it this wayHere’s the deal
And that’s just sadNow it’s your turnWhat could be more important?
The good news:So what does all this mean?Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.
Can you really afford not to?Let see exactly how this works:Let’s find out:
Don’t get left behindCan you handle it?For instance:
This could be:Let’s look at another example:So it all adds up to this
What could be more important?But the truth?Now make it happen

I could have offered the above list as a content upgrade. I’m so selfless lol 🙂

Bonus Tip:

You can use Content Analytics on Promotional Pages (such as service pages and product pages) to track what users are seeing. You can then use this data to display the most important data above the fold.

For example, if users only scroll down to 50% of your vanilla essence product page on average, you can push up all the info needed for the user to make the purchase above the fold.

#4: Use HeatMaps to Identify What Drives Clicks and Interest

Okay, that was generic advice.

But I’m going to show you to use heatmaps for two different goals:

  1. To understand which ads get the most clicks on your website
  2. To understand what your target audience is most interested in.

Play 1: Using Heatmaps to Understand Ideal Ad Placement for Revenue

We both know this:

User attention differs with website layouts. Your headers or menus may drive attention to your sidebar, social sharing buttons etc or vice versa.

In fact:

There is no way to ascertain what combination of elements could pull user attention effectively, other than through A/B testing.

Heatmaps are just a shortcut to do this.

I’ll explain.

Consider a blog that advertises products in the sidebar:

Source: CrazyEgg

The website layout could be giving a lot of prominence to a particular section of the sidebar.

But it’s difficult to see where using good old Google Analytics. In this scenario, you can use Heatmaps to identify what I like to call attention-hotspots on your website (or sidebar) that tend to receive a lot of clicks.

Once you’ve identified such an attention hotspot, you can try promoting one of your high-paying ads in that area.

Nifty, huh?

Play 2: To Find What Your Target Audience is Looking For

Take a look at the heat map of this landing page:

Source: Picnet

Notice how users are clicking on the banner below the image. Now here’s the fun fact: the page wasn’t linked to a detail/feature page that talked about Mouse Eye Tracking or PicNet table filters. It was just some text and two icons.

Now that’s a UX pain point right there.

Now that we’ve identified such a UX pain point, don’t you think it would be a good idea to link those sections to feature pages on mouse eye tracking and PicNet table filters?

#5: Offer Discount Codes on Your Ecommerce Store

Okay- you knew this one was coming. I’m an eCommerce nerd and love revenue hacks that can be implemented quickly.

Remember what I said about Sumo offering a Discount Codes feature right within List Builder?

I’ll show you step by step how to set up a discount campaign:

First, go over to the List Builder app, and click “Create Discounts”:

Next, name the campaign and choose the number of coupon codes that you’d like to generate:

Then jump over to the Design tab in List Builder where you can customise how your “Subscribed” or “Success” notification looks like, and add a Discount code into the form:

You can then click on “Assign Discount” from the left sidebar to select the correct Discount code from the list of campaigns in your account.

Once you’ve activated the campaign, you can always track stats from the Discounts section:

For our clients, we use this to boost sales in two ways:

  1. Offering discount codes using the Sumo Smart Bar for emails
  2. Offering discount codes at exit intent using the exit intent popup

I hope those strategies gave you a few ideas on how to use Sumo for your business.

And now, the important part:

How much will Sumo cost you?

Well, Sumo recently revamped their pricing structure.

Most bloggers I know have the opinion that this one’s a bit more complex.

I beg to differ. I think the current pricing plan is much more straightforward:

And the best part: they offer a free plan if you’re just starting out, with the following key features:

  • up to 500 subscribers
  • email integrations and autoresponders, and
  • A/B testing

Kind of ok for a free plan don’t you think?

Phew, that sums up my review of Sumo.

Now it’s your turn. Do you use Sumo?

Sumo Rating: 5 - Review by

Adithya Murali

Adi is the Co-Founder and Chief Sapien at GrowthSapiens, a growth-focused content marketing agency. He helps Catalin with the content strategy for the Ecommerce Platforms blog.

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