Thrive Content Builder Review & Tutorial 2015 Edition
Review of: Thrive Content Builder
Use: Wordpress Content editor
Complete editor for WordPress.
One off cost under $100
Ease of use
The most intuitive editor out there
They fixed several issues on my sites
- The real WYSIWYG
- The speed of the plugin
- The landing page module
We Don't Like
- Lack of customisation options for some elements
- Doesn't work with old WordPress content
Summary: Thrive content builder is THE plugin I now add to all my WordPress installs. Proof is; I build every single page on this site with it. It offers extreme customizability of your site without the need to touch a single line of code.
In this review/tutorial, I will take you behind the scenes of how we use this plugin to make our content stand out, build sales pages, create high converting reviews, etc.
I have mentioned Thrive content builder multiple times on this blog, and I have been a user of the plugin since day 1. I think it's been over 9 months since I've used the WordPress text editor at all.
But I realize I didn't make a post explaining how we use the tool in depth so here we are. This post also acts as a Thrive Content Builder review from someone using the plugin for over a year. It's interesting to note that this blog post is built using the plugin as well.
What is Thrive Content Builder
Thrive Content Builder is a real what you see is what you get editor for WordPress. It means that if you use this plugin, instead of using the classic WordPress Interface, you will pre-load the page as your visitors will see it and write on it directly. But see for yourself.
There are several advantages to having a visual editor over using the traditional WordPress editor, notably:
- You can create complex page layouts without HTML or CSS knowledge. If you're a tech rookie like I am, this is amazing.
- Even if you can create complex pages in HTML, the editor allows you to create pages faster as you don't need to code or keep refreshing the same pages to see the output of your work.
Hands on with the plugin
Thrive Content Builder is a fairly complex product and is composed of several modules. Here is a breakdown of each of them and how we use them for our business.
Thrive Content Builder Visual Editor
The #1 thing we use Thrive Content Builder for is to create very well designed free content.
While we also try to offer great information, the way you design your posts REALLY help them to stand out. It creates that WOW factor that encourages people to share them and link to them.
Despite it's low amount of post, this very blog has received a LOT of links and some of those clearly are due to the post design. I talked a lot more about it on this post.
When you use it, the editor renders the posts exactly as the users will see them (watch the video above to see what I'm talking about).
The editor offers the following elements:
Because there are so many elements available, you can create most things you'd want to on a web page without the need for 3rd party tools or plugins. This makes Thrive Content Builder a nice and easy system to use.
The drag & drop feels very natural as well as the editor shows you where you can place the elements on the page, eliminating the guesswork.
Finally, because it's all loaded client side while you edit, there is zero loading time when drag & dropping items. Making it feel like you are using a desktop app to build your pages. It's a very nice feeling.
How we've used this in our business
- We built every single post and page on this site using this plugin.
What elements are available in the builder?
Well apart from the classic text and images, here is just a few of them:
Highly customisable buttons
Content reveal. Excellent for video sales letters.
Collumn layouts (you can drag elements in collumns then)
Click Here To Tweet This Review
Click to tweet (that one is real, you can click it)
Opt in forms (work with all autoresponders)
There are many many other elements, but it would be complicated to go over them all. One important thing to note is that all the elements are 100% responsive. This means your site will look great on all screen sizes, including mobile.
Thrive Landing Pages
Thrive content builder is not just a plugin that allows you to create beautiful blog posts. It also allows you to create full-fledged landing pages that you can use for PPC or email campaigns.
When you work on a page, the editor has a "landing page template" option that allows you to take over your WordPress theme and create navigation free landing pages with their own CSS.
Once you have chosen your base template (and you can choose a completely blank page if you don't like any of the templates offered), the editor remains exactly the same as it was for blog/site pages.
What I like as well is that as opposed to something like lead pages where you can only hide elements you don't want to see on the page, this system allows you to add as much content as you want.
The landing page template library is not as wide as some competitors, but I really like the documented sales pages allowing you to build long form sales pages with a "paint by number" model. It's not the most efficient, but it's a great way for newbies to get it done easily.
This function makes Thrive Content Builder a great alternative to Lead pages, Unbounce or Optimizepress. If you look at the price tag of those competitors, that module alone feels like incredible value.
Events & Lightboxes
I think I am the only one using this function, but Thrive content builder also offers an event manager for many of its element and for the entire page as well.
The event manager allows you to do 2 different things:
- Animate the entrance/mouse over/click of an item.
- Create lightboxes that trigger on click/mouseover/screen entry.
Here is an example of an image with an animated screen entry (reload the page if you missed it):
This function can help you create scrolling effects that attract the attention of the visitor. I particularly like using those on my call to actions to draw the eye to them.
Another VERY interesting function that most users ignore is the lightbox feature.
This feature allows you to build lightboxes triggering on viewport, click, mouseover or exit intent the with the same editor you use to build pages and landing pages.
We don't use it for email collection; we use Thrive Leads for that (excellent as well, by the way).
We use it to bring people back to the offer when they are about to leave the page.
How we've used this in our business
An example for us would be a review like this one. If I have a negotiated discount or a last argument I want to deliver before people leave, I will deliver it in an exit intent pop up.
This tactic pushes people to take action now and through your link if you are trying to make an affiliate sale.
Of course, make sure the discounts are real but here is what it looks like in real life:
And it DOES work as you can see looking at the earning per click:
These are clicks from people that were about to leave the page. Not bad value for lost traffic. I highly recommend you implement this on your high-value pages (hint, there may be one of those hidden on this page).
Do you want to do the same thing for your reviews? Click here to get Thrive Content Builder then ;).
On top of its main modules, the plugin offers some very interesting functions that set it apart from the other drag & drop plugins available for WordPress. Here are some of my favorites.
Templates & Compound elements
One thing I really like with Thrive Content Builder is that as opposed to alternatives like Optimizepress, you can create your own elements by combining some of the elements they offer you to use.
For example, the boxes at the top and bottom of this page are not out of the box elements but they're a combination of content boxes, icons, columns and styled lists
It takes a little bit of getting used to but using this function, you'll be able to really make your site stand out and to copy the most complex layouts out there.
The good news is, once you have created compound elements you want to reuse, you have the ability to save them as a template to effectively create your own drag & drop elements.
The content templates also allow you to save entire pages so if you have recurring types of content, you can create those very quickly without worrying about formatting using templates.
This technique helps us get our podcast posts up very quickly on this very site.
Not all websites look the same, and most content builders forget that. They all build a wide range of elements but only offer one variation of each.
Thrive Content Builder offers to fix the issue with a system of "style families" that allow you to chose a theme for your page and style the elements accordingly. Here is what they look like:
Highly Customisable colors and margins
Another thing that frustrated me with the other editors was the lack of control over margins. You could place elements left and right, but you could not control the white space between them.
Thrive content builder fixes the issue by allowing you to input margins and padding on each element so you not only control the elements on your page, you also control the spacing which is key in design.
Additionally each element color can be completely customized to match the look and feel of your site.
Many drag & drop editor are not compatible with native WordPress shortcodes at all, making it difficult to use other plugins which is bad.
Thrive on the other end lets you embed shortcode in the content using the "Wordpress Content" element and renders them in real time.
This is a new 2015 feature, and I'm very excited about it. WordPress comes out of the box with a very good revision manager allowing you to fix mistakes you may have made even after saving your content.
As far as I know, this is the only visual editor that works with this WordPress function and that gives a huge edge to Thrive Content Builder, especially if you have several people working on your site (mistakes will happen and you'll be happy to be able to roll back).
A/B Testing With Thrive Content Builder
Another usage I've made of Thrive Content Builder as well is I've used it in combination with Google Analytics to run Visual A/B tests. It allows me to run an unlimited amount of A/B tests tied to my goals (sales/opt-in) while having an easy to use visual editor without paying a dime.
Considering the price of A/B testing software, this is a huge saving that scales indefinitely with your traffic.
Here is a short video tutorial of how I do it:
Page level custom CSS & HTML
If you want to customize your page, sometimes WordPress just doesn't cut it, and you need to start dabbling with custom CSS or HTML. Well, the editor lets you both edit the complete source code of the page or inject blocks of HTML anywhere.
This gives you a great deal of flexibility when building pages.
As you can see by the length of this Thrive content builder review, the tool is extremely comprehensive and at this point I am struggling to think of a type it could not create except for complex parallax scrolling type pages.
But let's recap, with Thrive Content Builder you get:
- An incredible drag & drop WordPress post and pages editor.
- Hundreds of great unique elements like content reveal, click to tweet, star ratings etc.
- An editor that works with revision manager if you make a mistake
- A great landing page engine and generator, allowing you to replace costly monthly services.
- A call to action pop up plugin allowing you to boost sales if used smartly.
- A great A/B testing engine combined with Google analytics experiments.
I really hate biased
If you want to see it in action, just click here to go to their site. If you have any question, feel free to ask it in the comments.
Does it work with any WordPress theme?
While I prefer using the building together with Thrive Themes because it unlocks more elements, the content builder does work with any theme.
What happens if I have a problem with the plugin?
One thing Thrive Themes does not advertise very much is how good their support is. When you become a member you get access to their support forum where you can interact with dedicated support staff directly.
Is there a recurring fee?
If you only buy the content builder there is no recurring fee ($59 one time). If you become a Thrive Themes member (you get access to all their plugins and themes) this is a yearly/monthly membership.
Will it slow down my website?
Thrive Content Builder
Summary: As I said at the beginning of the review, if I had to start again online and could only pick one tool, it would be this one. I can't imagine creating a site without this plugin at this point.