Thrive Themes Review – Conversion Focused & Tech-Friendly Plugins

Thrive Themes has come a long way in the past couple of years that we've been using them. With the release of their new Thrive Architect (or Thrive Content Builder/Visual Editor 2.0), we decided it was time to do another review.

As I wrote earlier, using Thrive's Visual Editor back in 2014 resulted in a 300% increase in affiliate commissions for one of my websites, almost over night. I then scaled that even more, to eventually reach an 1800% increase over the course of six months.

So right off the bat, I’m telling you a few things with this post;

1) I’ve used Thrive extensively over the past few years and know what I’m talking about, plus

2) Thrive has made me a lot of money as well.

Those are the two most important things you want to read about in any review right?

Does it work/do what it’s supposed to do, and have you really used it yourself, or are you just hyping it up to get affiliate commissions?

I can tell you right now that we're 100% on the Thrive Themes train just because it's made my life and the HPD teams life significantly easier.

So before we go deeper into what Thrive can handle, let me just say that I emphatically recommend Thrive and that this recommendation is backed up with real usage experience.

Ok. I love Thrive, it loves me. Great.

Now before we take a look at WHY all of this is the case, let me quickly introduce the things we’re going to cover in this post:

  • Thrive Themes Review
  • Thrive Architect (Visual Editor) Review
  • Thrive Leads Review
  • Thrive Clever Widgets & More

They do have a few other great products in their suite as well, but their usage is more niche, and I want to focus on the most popular and widely used of their products.

First Up Thrive Themes

One area where Thrive hasn't really expanded over the past few years is their themes. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though because the ones they do have are great. I just wish there was a wider selection. At the time of this review, they have 10 very different themes.

At a time when the internet was getting full of the same dated looking “blog” style websites, Thrive brought out some very high-quality themes. They look great, they follow modern design trends, they have a lot of functionality, and they make your site look instantly more professional than the average “blog” out there.

FocusBlog, Performag, and Rise are probably the three most popular, though I am a big fan of Squared as well for more “Business” style sites.

When it comes to picking a Theme for your site, you don’t really need to go for something that has a whole whack of unique functions. In fact, it’s generally better to use plugins for certain things instead of having them built into a theme.

Instead, you really just want a theme to meet the following criteria:

  • Easy to use out-of-the-box (otherwise why not just code something yourself?)
  • Look great
  • Ability to customize it so your site doesn’t match the other sites in your niche
  • Not bloated and doesn't take up a lot of space, plus loads fast
  • Well coded

Here's a video we put together that dives deeper into what you should look for in a theme and quick walkthrough of those popular Thrive Themes:

When it comes down it, your theme needs be easy to use, look good, and not be such a mess of code that Google penalizes your site.

That’s all.

A single theme will NOT make or break your site’s success, as there are so many variables to consider with making a successful website.

That said, an ugly theme can definitely make your life harder, in terms of earning your visitors’ trust, getting taken seriously in your niche, and even the technical aspects of SEO.

Thrive Architect (The Content Builder/Visual Editor 2.0)

This is the backbone of Thrive's core business, it's what has helped set them apart. Their WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor is extremely versatile and allows you to create beautiful web pages by dragging and dropping elements.

There are 6 features of Thrive Architect that I like in particular:

They've Got Templates Galore

Thrive has a ton of landing pages to choose from and the best part about them is that they all have some sort of theme. For example, you'll get a landing page for a webinar signup, thank you page, download page, and sales page that all have a continuous theme.

Most of the time, the designs are so simple that you just need to change the main color in order to make a big effect on the current scheme.

You even have the ability to craft a customized template for blog posts and then save that template to apply branded guidelines to your site. This helps everything on your site look consistent.

Copying Has Never Been Easier

Thrive Architect allows you to look at another site and use it as a model for your own very easily.

Often times, the best inspirations come from other sites. You can take other web pages and try to copy them. Not only is this easy to do in Thrive, but if you're a new user – it's good to practice.

Here's a video of Thrive's founder, Shane Melaugh, replicating Neil Patel's site in a few minutes:

Foundation & Building Block Elements

When you open up Thrive, you'll notice the menu is separated into two major parts: the foundation and building block elements.

They've split these two areas of building a webpage and it's quite nice from a user perspective. You get the usual foundational elements like text boxes, image boxes, buttons and everything else. But if you want to kick it up a notch, they've included extra elements like Google Maps, countdown timers, and credit card symbols for added design elements.

Huge Icon Selection

I know that it might not seem important, but one of the easiest ways to differentiate your post's design is to use different icons besides the usual checkmarks, especially for lists.

Thrive Architect contains tons of different icons for you to use. It's easy to adjust the icons size and colors too.

Content Boxes

A content box is simply a container where you can add anything you'd like, but style the container any way you'd like.

Thrive allows your to save entire pages or just small sections like above. You can also create unique decorations as well, such as having a pointed edge, divider or pointer. See the image below.

Mobile & Tablet Views For Optimization

One of the worst problems with Thrive in the past was their incompatibility with mobile browsers. We've spoken to them personally about this and it's very clear that they've taken the opportunity to update this in their new infrastructure.

Thrive Architect is a lot different than their original Thrive Content Builder. The major part difference being the ability to check your pages appearance through a mobile device. This is extremely important because most people at this point are reading content through mobiles. If you're promoting your content via Facebook or any other social network, there's a good chance that people are seeing it on their phones.

You could always check your work in a mobile view anyways, but Thrive just wasn't able to optimize it correctly. So you'd have to make some extra adjustments yourself, but only if you were technically gifted with CSS and HTML. Which is the complete opposite of Thrive's core audience. 

It's a good idea to know and understand both types of code if you're looking to make online business your main income source. But with Thrive, you can start way ahead of others and make your site look cool without knowing a bunch of the technical stuff.

Here's a quick walkthrough for those who want a more visual look inside Thrive Architect:

Thrive Leads

I remember when Thrive first launched their Opt-in plugin, Thrive Leads, that I actually emailed them something along the lines of “You’ve just put OptinMonster (one of the more popular competitors at the time) out of business”.

I guess it’s a less subtle way of saying:

Shut up and take my money!

With that said, since I was a full subscriber to Thrives membership program, I got a copy of Thrive Leads included anyway, so there was no money to be taken.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that I really felt Thrive Leads was a game changer, and I still do.

Here’s what I liked the most about it:

  • The visual editor that allows you to customize your opt-in forms is much more easy to use than others.
  • You’re self-hosting your forms rather than relying on a third-party site, that could go offline.
  • Split testing forms is super easy to do.
  • Almost unlimited customizations for where forms appear and how they show up. When this first came out, it solved a lot of problems I had with other opt-in forms I was using at the time.

In other words, it’s easy to use the forms how you want to, where you want them to appear, and how you want them to look.

It’s also easy to split test forms to get better conversion rates. Which is super important as your site grows.

I’m not saying these functions are exclusive to Thrive, but when it first came out, it definitely was one of the best plugins I’d seen for making forms, and it still is.

The one downside is that using Thrive to deliver lead magnets is still a bit of a pain, and we had trouble doing this vs using something like Leadpages.

We now use ActiveCampaign which has it built in, so that problem isn’t huge for us, and probably won’t be for you either.

Thrive Clever Widgets & More

If you're part of the Thrives quarterly membership, you're given access to 6 other plugins – on top of Thrive Architect and Thrive Leads. These include:

  • Thrive Clever Widget
  • Thrive Headline Optimizer
  • Thrive Quiz Builder
  • Thrive Ovation
  • Thrive Ultimatum
  • Thrive Apprentice

Thrive Clever Widget: This plugin allows you to add customized sidebar widgets to your site. This is super handy when you categorize your sidebar based on the type of content. For example, if your article is on “Why dogs lick so much”. Your sidebar could include an opt-in for “Dog training for hyper dogs.” Something very relevant to the person landing on your page. This should help increase your opt-ins in theory. But it's not always the case, so be sure to test it.

Thrive Headline Optimizer: I absolutely love this plugin. It allows you to see which headline performs the best for you. This is measured by engagement. Which means the more time someone spends on your post, the more points will be given to a particular headline. If you're spending tons of time putting together content – this is low hanging fruit to improve your metrics.

Thrive Quiz Builder: As the name suggests, you can use this to build a quiz that leads to an affiliate offer. For example, once you have people segment themselves based on a certain problem, you can recommend a solution to them. This isn't exactly perfect though. People that take your quiz aren't as likely to purchase something randomly. You're more likely to get a sale from people searching for commercial content (best X, X review, etc.) but depending on how sophisticated your site is, you'll be able to retarget people based on these certain pages they've landed on.

Thrive Ovation: This is a one-of-kind plugin that's considered a “testimonial management” plugin. When you're collecting plugins for your site, you'll be grabbing them from all over the place. Emails, Facebook messenger, your support desk, etc. This is only applicable to sites with products of their own, however, it's not a bad idea to collect testimonials for affiliate sites either. If you're receiving a ton of good comments for your sites content, it might be worth using this plugin to direct people to to a testimonial submission page and ask them how your site has helped them. Again, it's not for every site but it's still cool that they've put together a real system for collecting testimonials. Which most businesses fail at.

Thrive Ultimatum: This is a scarcity plugin where you can create an evergreen funnel. It doesn't have to be evergreen, but they've built it to work 24/7. An evergreen funnel just means that you're adding a scarcity element that is specific to each individual that sees it. One place where the Ultimatum plugin is very useful would be for those that like to include bonuses for their affiliate offers. This is where our eBook creation service comes in very handy.

Thrive Apprentice: This plugin really pulls it all together. It allows you to create your own courses and membership content easily. Apprentice does not accept payments and would not be considered a full membership plugin like Wishlist Member or Member Mouse. It does, however, allow you to organize and create unique membership content that differentiates itself from the rest of your site. It's helping you put together the directory of pages, but it does not create a wall where only members can access it. You'll have to grab a full payment plugin in order to fully maximize the use of Thrive Apprentice.

Another important factor is that it only works with certain themes: Ignition, Pressive, Squared, Minus, and FocusBlog.

At the time of writing this, they've mentioned an update coming very soon for Thrive Apprentice. It was originally built with Thrive Content Builder so it's natural that it would need to be revised in order to fit in with Thrive Apprentice.

What's the Verdict?

The 2 things we don't like about Thrive Themes are the lack of themes available and the fact that it's not 100% mobile ready. Besides those two issues, we love them. It's helped us tremendously in our business and we'll continue using them until given a good reason to move elsewhere. For now, their support is fantastic and the plugins are good quality.

For those interested in pricing, Thrive gives you two options. You can purchase each of the plugins individually or you can purchase their membership. I would suggest the membership simply because it's a really good deal and they're support is extremely helpful. There's a ton of users in Thrive's membership so often times you'll find the answer to your questions in the forum before even creating a ticket.

Thrives Membership Pricing is available here

If you're at a point where you'd like to make your site building a whole lot easier, I would suggest giving Thrive Themes a try and you'll see how intuitive their products really are. For the tech-overwhelmed SEO nerds out there, it's hands down the best option for creating good-looking affiliate sites that even your virtual assistant can help you out with easily.

What are your thoughts with Thrive? Let us know in the comments below.PS. This whole post was made with Thrive 🙂

0 thoughts on “Thrive Themes Review – Conversion Focused & Tech-Friendly Plugins”

  1. Trive has been a great help when it comes to create a review website or a niche website. Yes there are many free themes in the market and tons of other niche-review themes. But what we have found is that thrive theme get us more email optins and leads then any other theme. Before using thrive we had to use several plugins to show review and partition pros and cons of any product. But with thrive we can beautifully design the content, which definitely helps our users to get the jist of a product review in shortest period of time. Thanks HPD for review thrive theme and letting the community know about it’s benefits.

  2. I was disappointed in this review. I have shared my struggles with Thrive Themes in the HPD members forums and on the FB page. I am currently 3/4 done in removing Thrive from my websites. They broke my live sites with the TA update, they took days to respond to my paid support request, and I have now waited 7 weeks for an update to replace a feature that was in TCB that is no longer in Architect,

    You might want to see how they have treated their paying customers on their support forums. It is always the customers fault and they repeatedly tell us that they can’t replicate the issue, yet then the issue gets fixed in the next update.

    I am disappointed that you did not address this. Instead you said, “For now, their support is fantastic and the plugins are good quality.”

    1. Hey @DukeTaber:disqus I understand your disappointment with them but personally I haven’t had those experiences. The support has been great and I’ve been a member for two years now. When Thrive Architect came out it was super buggy but that’s what happens with software, I think they’ve made an exceptional job of fixing things in a timely manner. But the joy of tech is that people can have issues that aren’t common. Not saying yours isn’t common, but from my experience – Thrive’s been good to me.

      Are you replacing Thrive with another builder? Or just the normal WordPress editor?

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