Do you have a landing page on your website?
No? Think again…
Theoretically, any page a visitor lands on when entering your site is a landing page. The most common landing page is your home page.
But there are plenty of other pages that can, and should, be optimized as a landing page.
What do I mean by that?
Well, if you’re serious about boosting conversions; e.g. gaining email subscriptions, selling products or services, then you need to be creating pages that are focused solely on achieving that desired outcome.
And the best way to get your visitors to take action is to leave them with just one thing to focus on by removing all other distractions like sidebars, widgets, and menus.
A landing page, as defined by Unbounce, is “a standalone web page, distinct from your main website, that has been designed for a single focused objective.”
Creating conversion-focused landing pages in WordPress is made a whole lot easier thanks to some terrific landing page plugins.
In this post, I’ll take a deep dive into three of the leading WordPress plugins for creating optimized landing pages.
Ready? Let’s go!
Thrive Architect is a visual page builder that helps you create conversion-focused websites as fast as possible.
Trying to build pages in WordPress using the native WP Editor and shortcodes usually ends up in a mess. That’s why Thrive made sure there was a visual editor at the heart of their page builder plugin. All your designs are immediately visible and customizable via the WYSIWYG editor.
What we love about Thrive Architect
Pre-designed template sets
The Landing Pages are grouped in Template Sets, which means every landing page design has a corresponding thank you page and confirmation page. This is a super way to keep your pages looking professional as they maintain a consistent look and feel throughout the opt-in process.
At the time of writing, there are 26 Landing Page Template Sets in their library, with more to be added soon.
Here’s an example of a Template Set called the Storyteller. It includes two Landing Page options with 1-Step and 2-Step Opt-in styles, plus a Download Page and an Email Confirmation Page:
Easily customizable with the built-in visual editor
Everything is customizable with the landing pages. This means you can take a template, like the Storyteller above, and then alter the elements on the page. For instance, you might wish to change the font size or color, or move some elements around.
Here’s the original template:
And here’s a quick change to the heading color using the color picker in the sidebar menu:
And here’s the changed heading color, paragraph font, and button color:
All this is possible with the drag-and-drop visual editor. Just remember to make similar changes to the other landing pages in your set to keep everything consistent!
When you’re choosing a Landing Page Template, there’s a handy selection panel to filter by tags. For instance, you could filter by 2-Step, webinar, lead generation, product launch, etc.
Create and save your own templates
The Landing Pages are displayed in two tabs:
- Default Templates contains the original set of pages supplied with the plugin.
- Saved Templates contains all your saved templates. If you make changes to a Thrive template or create your own, then you have the option to save it here for the future. This is especially handy if you have taken the time to build in your own brand style.
- Import/Export Landing Pages
If you have more than one website, then you can safely Export and Import your saved templates between each site. This can be a big time-saver if you have crafted a great design and don’t want to have to repeat the whole process again.
Lead generation options
Capturing leads from your landing pages is probably the most important step to get right. The Landing Pages in Thrive Architect are all geared towards this objective and are very easy to configure, no matter which opt-in strategy you decide to use.
- 1-Step or 2-Step Opt-in
When you’re capturing email subscribers, you have the choice of using either 1-Step or 2-Step Opt-in boxes. Everyone has their own preferences, plus certain situations sometimes dictate the wisest choice. Whatever you decide, Thrive Architect has you covered.
- Thrive Lightbox
Taking the StoryTeller 2-Step Opt-in Template from above as an example, you can use the Animation & Action functionality to create a trigger:
When you click the button, it opens the built-in Thrive Lightbox:
Like all pages, the Lightbox design is customizable using the visual editor.
- Email Service Integration
Whichever method you choose to capture email addresses you can connect to your email service provider either through an API Service or by using your provider’s HTML Form Code:
Don’t sweat. Thrive Architect connects to all these email service providers:
Mobile responsive designs
Last, but not least, you can rest assured that all of the Landing Page Templates are fully mobile responsive and will scale to the appropriate display size.
Thrive Architect lets you check your landing page design in three display sizes – Desktop, Tablet, and Mobile.
What’s even better is that you can configure individual design elements to display differently on each size.
For example, you could choose to display a red background question mark icon on the desktop screen:
And a green background pause icon on mobile devices:
What we don’t love about Thrive Architect
It’s really tough to find anything that we don’t love about Thrive Architect. So I’m going to be extremely picky here, and say that some of the templates look a little dated.
Many of the templates have been around since Thrive Content Builder launched in 2014. That’s not to say that Thrive don’t create new landing page templates, because they do. In fact, they’ve just released a new set of landing pages called Atomic.
Thrive Architect is more powerful than the Content Builder and I expect the Thrive designers will release some more landing page templates to demonstrate that.
Thrive continues to add more features and templates to their plugin, so prices will rise from time to time. If you buy now, you get locked in at the current price forever.
- Single License: $67 – Install and activate the plugin on one website
- 5 License Pack: $97 – Install and activate the plugin on up to 5 websites
- 15 License Pack: $147 – Install and activate the plugin on up to 15 websites
Alternatively, try Thrive Membership for the complete Thrive Toolbox:
- Individual Membership: $19/month – For use on all of your own websites
- Agency Licence: $49/month – For use on your sites and clients’ websites
Support and development
Aside from a comprehensive Knowledge Base and responsive Support Team, Thrive Themes is continually adding new landing page templates.
OptimizePress is billed as an ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ marketer’s dream. No need to hire developers – you can create all your high converting landing pages, sales pages and membership portals yourself. And what’s more, they actually look good!
When OptimizePress 1.0 launched back in 2011, it quickly gained market-leader status. Thousands of web pages were created using the powerful software. Building on this success, OptimizePress 2.0 was completely redesigned to make landing page creation even easier.
OptimizePress comes packaged as both a WordPress Theme and Plugin, which means you can use all the design features within in its own theme or use it as a standalone plugin with another theme.
There are currently over 30 templates included with OptimizePress, plus you can get both free and premium templates via their marketplace. Alternatively, you could join their Clubhouse membership scheme and get access to new templates each month.
What we love about OptimizePress
30+ Customizable templates
With over 30 customizable templates included in OptimizePress, you can get off to a flying start creating your landing pages. What’s really ‘cool’ is that you can open a full-screen preview from the array of thumbnails before choosing your template.
OptimizePress groups its page templates into six categories:
Clicking on your chosen option takes you to the relevant landing page section:
The Live Editor lets you see what your landing page creation looks like as you go along, whether you start with a blank template or a pre-designed template. This is a great time-saver as you don’t need to save and load a preview every few minutes. Everything is on screen in front of you. Simply switch off the ‘elements’ to see the finished page.
Similar to Thrive Landing Pages, the WYSIWYG editor lets you edit each element on the fly.
Just click on the pencil icon and up pops the edit choices:
It’s easy to change the text or images, font, and colors:
And end up with this edited version:
OptimizePress has a useful Revision System that autosaves pages every 5 minutes and stores up to 10 page revisions. When you’ve been editing, and perhaps gone a little too far, then you can restore from one of the previous revisions using this system.
40+ Page elements
There are over 40 different page elements to enhance the functionality of your landing pages. You can choose from testimonial blocks, order boxes, buttons, opt-in forms, countdown timers and much more.
OptimizePress integrates well with most email service providers via an API connection or HTML Form. It supports 2-Step Opt-in forms for increased conversions, as well as the more conventional 1-Step Opt-in forms.
The Overlay Optimizer is a smooth way of setting up a 2-Step Opt-in process. It’s very similar to the LeadPages LeadBox and Thrive Lightbox feature where you click a button on the first screen and then another screen overlays the original with the email opt-in box.
Mobile responsive designs
OptimizePress automatically generates fully mobile responsive pages for you. All your landing pages will look stunning on any device.
What we don’t love about OptimizePress
There is one main drawback with OptimizePress, and that’s performance. There are so many impressive features packed into the plugin, and unfortunately this can be a drain on resources.
Lack of themed template sets
There are not many themed template sets as we saw with Thrive Landing Pages. Some templates have matching Thank You and Download Pages, but they are not so easy to find, and they don’t match too closely.
Inside their marketplace, they also have a few themed template bundles. That’s a minor disappointment, but it would help to keep that consistent professional approach that Thrive have accomplished.
OptimizePress offers three levels of pricing for sites that you own and run:
Core Package: $97 – Use on 3 Sites
Publisher Package: $197 – Use on 10 Sites
Pro Package: $297 – Use on 30 Sites
OptimizePress Club Membership is available as an add-on for a further $17/month and includes new templates each month, along with icons/graphics/background images/textures, etc.
If you plan on building sites for clients or customers, you must first purchase an OptimizePress Core license or higher. This will give you access to the Developer packages, which are priced at $249 for 5 API keys.
Support and development
OptimizePress make regular enhancements to their product. All package purchases (Core, Publisher & Pro) include one year of inclusive support and updates. After this time you will have the option to renew your updates license if you wish to continue receiving the latest product updates and be eligible for support.
Beaver Builder launched in April 2014 and grossed $1million in sales inside two years. It’s a powerful and flexible drag and drop page builder that is currently active on over 100,000 WordPress sites.
Beaver Builder comes packaged as both a WordPress Theme (Pro Package) and Plugin, which means you can use all the design features within in its own theme or use it as a standalone plugin with another theme.
Using this plugin you can create landing pages and other content pages; i.e. inner pages such as an About Page. The selection of landing pages includes templates for small business, eBook, law firms, and much more.
What we love about Beaver Builder
The interface is straightforward to use, and there are currently 30 beautiful templates plus a blank template to help you create your landing page.
Just select from Landing Pages in the drop-down box and then scroll through the designs to find the best fit:
Create and save your own template
The Beaver Builder Templates are displayed in three sections via a drop down box:
- Landing Pages contains 30 templates that are all geared towards the home page
- Content Pages contains 13 templates designed for the inner pages of your site
- Your Templates contains all your saved templates. If you make changes to a Beaver Builder template or create your own from a blank template, then you have the option to save it here for the future.
The append feature for combining templates
Beaver Builder has a unique feature where you can append two templates together. This is probably more appropriate for the inner pages of your website, for example, where you might combine an About template and a Contact template.
The Import/Export option is very useful if you have created and saved your perfect design and wish to use it on another of your sites.
Once you’ve chosen your landing page template you can customize it as you wish. The editor screen has a similar look and feel to OptimizePress as it is constructed of rows and elements. Simply click on an element you wish to edit and change the text or image.
Here’s an example of editing a text box element:
As you can see, the text editor is the standard WP Editor. In this example, the highlighted first line of text is changed to orange. The change is immediately visible on the editor screen – no need to publish a page to check how it looks.
You can also add elements such as opt-in forms, calls to action, contact forms, pricing tables and maps to your pages. Simply drag and drop the element you want from the righthand sidebar menu.
Add WordPress widgets directly onto your landing pages
This is an additional smart feature that Beaver Builder have incorporated. Basically, you can add any of your installed widget elements onto a landing page. So, for example, if you wanted to add a Social Follow Me Widget, you could drag it from the right-hand menu onto the page and then configure the social networks.
Advanced editor settings
There are are a couple of smart advanced editing options that Beaver Builder has introduced called Responsive Layout and Visibility. These are two powerful options for customizing your landing pages based on your audience.
- Responsive Layout lets you decide if a particular element is responsive on all devices or only selected sizes:
- Visibility lets you decide if a particular element is visible to everyone, or only selected users, or never visible:
Beaver Builder integrates with email providers via an API service. Here are the current list of providers:
Mobile responsive designs
All of Beaver Builder’s Templates are 100% mobile responsive, plus they have the added Responsive Layout feature mentioned earlier.
What we don’t love about Beaver Builder
No preview template option
There is no preview of the templates like you get in OptimizePress and Thrive Landing Pages. You have to choose a template based on a thumbnail, and then if it’s not what you want, you have to go back and choose again. You can see some of the landing page demos on the main website, but this is an area for improvement.
Landing pages templates not geared towards lead generation
There aren’t many landing page templates that you’d use for a typical lead generation, although they are very easy to create yourself. Most appear to be focused on creating home page layouts.
Lead generation is quite basic
Unlike Thrive and OptimizePress the lead generation aspect of Beaver Builder is quite basic. There doesn’t seem to be a custom HTML Form option, which restricts email service providers to API connections only. There is no 2-Step Opt-in feature, only a standard 1-Step.
The addition of a ‘lightbox’ feature would be a significant boost here.
Landing pages are not distraction free
Remember at the beginning of this review where I said that landing pages should be distraction free: no sidebars, widgets, and menus. Unfortunately, you can’t create a full-page distraction free layout in Beaver Builder – you will still be able to see the header, menu, and sidebar provided by your theme.
The only way to get around this is to purchase the pro or agency license which gives you the Beaver Builder theme. Although it’s quite a basic theme, it adds the option to disable the header/footer area. Alternatively, you may be able to edit the CSS code with the help of Beaver support or a developer.
Beaver Builder can be used on Unlimited Sites and is available in three packages:
Standard: $99 – Standard Beaver Builder Plugin
Pro: $199 – Includes Beaver Builder Theme and MultiSite capability
Agency: $399 – Includes White Labelling and can be used on your client’s sites
Note: There is also a lite version of Beaver Builder available on WordPress.org.
The free version can give you a good taste of what the premium version has to offer and for some, it may be enough to do what you need, but the editing options are quite restricted.
Support and development
Aside from a comprehensive Knowledge Base and responsive Support Team, Beaver Builder are very transparent; e.g. they post updates on their blog to discuss their progress as a company and share what’s in the development pipeline.
What’s also encouraging is that more independent developers are building upon the platform by releasing new templates/themes etc.
Support is included for the first 12 months and is available to purchase for subsequent years.
OK, so there you have it – three versatile landing page plugins for WordPress. But which one is the winner in our showdown?
In summing up, I have to say I was disappointed with Beaver Builder as a landing page builder. It may well be a useful plugin for building other pages on your website, but I think it misses out on two key areas of landing page design:
- It’s not capable of creating distraction free pages, unless you use their theme or tweak some CSS.
- It lacks the lead generation features of the other two plugins.
OptimizePress is well-established in the landing page arena and is more than capable of creating conversion focused pages. The main sticking point is their pricing and the lack of included templates.
The entry price point of $97 for a 3-site License is equivalent to the Unlimited License from Beaver Builder and Thrive, plus you only get 30 templates included. Although there are some free templates available via their marketplace, Thrive are way ahead in this respect with immediate access to over 150 templates and more being added without additional charges.
Our top pick
For all-round versatility and value-for-money, then Thrive Architect is our top pick.
It’s such an easy plugin to use, and customizing the landing pages is a dream. Plus, it’s attractively priced and outshines the opposition.