What Sets Our Products Apart: An Open Letter

In today's post, I want to share my reply to a question sent to us by a reader. I was hesitant about publishing this, but I believe it will help you understand where we're coming from and I hope that it might also spark a useful discussion that can help us further improve our products.

What was the question? Basically, someone took a look at our sales pages for Tο»Ώο»Ώhrive Content Builder and Thrive Landing Pages and then asked: "Okay, but how good is your stuff really?"

More...

Sales Hype?

It’s a fair question. We do our best to present our products in a good light and sell them well. We also do our bestΒ to make our products the best they can be (and we put about 10x more effort into this than into marketing). This, of course, is not true for all companies. Anyone can put together a flashy sales page and promise the world.

Our reader also asked how our products differed from some specific competing products. So, below is my straight-forward answer about what sets Content Builder and Landing Pages apart from other, sometimes similar products.

What Sets TCB & TLP Apart

This really depends who you’re comparing us to. The three most important points that set TCB and our Landing Pages apart from all competitors are:

  1. Speed
  2. No Abstraction
  3. Flexibility

Let me elaborate on these points:

Speed

Our editor is extremely fast to use, because we’ve removed as many intermediary steps as possible. In TCB, if you want to add some text, you click on the “Paragraph” element or drag and drop it and immediately start writing.Β 

By contrast, in Visual Composer and many other editors, you would:

  1. Click on the text element
  2. Then click on “edit”
  3. Then wait for a modal box to open
  4. Then write your actual text in that modal box
  5. Then click on save
  6. Then wait for the page to update
  7. And then finally see the result

The actual time difference between adding a paragraph in our editor vs. a different one might just be 5-20 seconds, but this adds up very quickly when you’re working on a website.

No Abstraction

We’ve removed as much abstraction as possible from the content creation process. Editors like Visual Composer (back end) or the Elegant Themes editor show a representation of the page you are working on, in a layout consisting of boxes and labels. Meaning: the page you see in the editor is not the same as the page your visitor sees.

Some editors do this better. For example, OptimizePress 2 or the front-end version of Visual Composer have a visual editor with a representation of the page as it looks to a visitor. But there are also many UI elements included, such as frames around rows of elements, frames around columns, empty drop zones where new content can be added etc. The result is that once again, the page you see in the editor doesn’t look quite like the page your visitor sees.

In Thrive Content Builder, the page you are editing looks 99%+ like the page your visitor sees. The only exceptions are very thin frames around columns and some layout elements. But importantly: these frames do not distort the page. They don’t change the spacing of elements in relation to each other.

Having no abstraction between the page you’re editing and the page your visitor sees means that you can work faster and can create a perfect layout without ever having to load a preview, and switch between editor and preview tabs. This alone can cut down the time it takes to create a long sales page by an hour or more.

Flexibility

The benefit I mention is flexibility, but it’s really about the combination of a “done for you” factor and flexibility.

LeadPages is great at the done-for-you factor: you can load up a template, make some changes to the text, connect to your mailing list and just a few minutes later, the page is live and ready for traffic.

You can do the exact same thing with our Landing Pages. We have beautiful, pre-designed pages that can be ready for traffic with just a few changes to the text and maybe replacing a product image.

But with LeadPages, you can’t do much more than change the text and color of some elements. The templates are “fixed” if you will.

In our editor, you can change everything about every page template. You can add any element (text, buttons, boxes, testimonials etc.) anywhere on any page. I can’t emphasize this enough: when you’re looking at one of our landing pages there is not a single element that you can’t change, move, remove or edit.

There is no other product on the market that combines speed of implementation with complete flexibility in the way ours does.

Really, the best thing for us would be if everyone was forced to create a sales page with at least 2 or 3 of our competitor’s products, before they start using ours. On the surface, all visual editors seem pretty much the same, but we obsess over the smallest details, because building complex pages and websites involves hundreds of user actions. If an editor is just a few seconds slower or just slightly abstract on any step, that can add minutes and hours (and lots of frustration) to the process.

Finally, I should mention that many of our customers say that our training content and support is some of the best they’ve ever seen. We regularly release blog posts and videos to explain not just what the features in our tools are, but also how to best use them. According to our customers, you can’t get this kind of training anywhere else.

Clarifications

I did not write this to bad-mouth any of our competitors and my intention is not to fish for compliments. What I wanted to do here, primarily, is share our way of looking at things – the way we pay attention to certain small details and why we do so.

Like I mention in the letter, I invite the comparison to competing products because our intention is nothing less than creating tools that beat every competing tool by a large margin. If there are things our competitors do better than us, we want to know about it.

With that in mind, please share your thoughts, whether positive or negative!

Shane

Author: Shane Melaugh

Shane Melaugh is a co-founder of Thrive Themes. When he isn't plotting new ways to create awesome WordPress themes & plugins, he likes to geek out about camera equipment and medieval swords. He also writes about productivity here.

  • Francis says:

    I for one will say I agree 100% with everything you have said Shane. I’ve used several other services and nothing matches what you provide. I recommend your products to anyone who asks.

  • David Delaey says:

    This is why I’m still happy I bought TCB from the very first day it was launched πŸ™‚ It does what it needs to do without the overhead. Later on I decided to go for TLP too, after trying out several others, that too still was a good decission. Looking forward to see TCB and TLP evolve further.

  • Jim Brill says:

    Could you give me a timeline for adding the ability to control what devices content will appear on. I need some different content on mobile. I need to select wether content appears on all devices or just desktop and/or tablet and/or mobile. Ideally even portrait and/or landscape as well. I am ready to send you $199 if that is coming real soon.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Jim,

      We don’t have a timeline for that yet, I’m afraid. It’s on our feature list, but not scheduled yet.

  • David B says:

    5 gold star support, for sure! And 5 gold star quality software. I MAY have my first client to put this software to work with! Very exciting!

  • rob h says:

    I have purchased literally hundreds of programs. I do so to find the 5% of things actually worth implementing -so I like to think I’ve a wide vantage point for comparison. Simply put Thrive is an open system that solves so many real world problems wp users constantly face. Others products are just not as flexible, or simple. Thrives’ simplicity is deceiving at first glance because it packs so much power. I would still use the thrive system at 10x the price. Other products are nice. I have them. I would however have to refer to them as toys. I just see little need to ever access them……anymore.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much for this comment, Rob. It’s very important to us to build products and features that solve real-world problems and lead to real-world results. I’m happy to hear that it’s working. πŸ™‚

  • vincent k says:

    Really, I did use OP2, and Themify Builder, and Elegant Themes Divi builder.
    I honestly can say that TCB is a breeze.
    It’s the first productive builder I’ve seen.
    For landing pages, I also use Instabuilder v2. It’s good, actually. Very good. Very similar WYSIWYG.
    To be honest, I’m a little less productive with it, but it has great and efficient features.
    I prefer TCB, because it can work on regular pages, too. Of course, Instabuilder has many shortcodes (better than TCB, I believe) for regular pages, but I really miss the WYSIWYG.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      What are some features or aspects of IB2 that you like and that aren’t in TCB? Would love to know more about this.

      • vincent k says:

        Well, IB is simpler, but as I said, it’s only for “landing pages”. IB can’t build content for regular pages, although shortcodes are numerous and work great (but hey, they’re shortcodes…)
        Some stuff I like in IB that I didn’t find in TCB (maybe they do exist, but they are less obvious). These are cool, but only “nice to have”.
        There is no way anyone will make a purchase decision because of these:

        The single screen 3 step optin process
        The survey content
        The countdown which triggers a redirection or shows hidden content

        Other than that, IB is much less powerful than TCB. And there is much more to add to TCB than trying to get a “nice to have” feature…

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        Thank you for your reply, Vincent! We’ll take these points into consideration.

      • Mark says:

        Hi Shane, thought I’d chime in a bit more on the IB2.

        A couple of areas:

        – They have a very easy built-in A/B split test feature.
        – Ability to create a sales funnel which you can easily drop in new parts of the sales funnel.
        – And a nice wide variety of landing page templates for various types of needs.

        TCB is awesome in every way … but those areas above would be very nice to see … in addition to what Vincent has suggested.

        Thanks for valuing what your customers suggest.

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        Thanks for the reply! We’ll do our best to beat the pants off of IB2. πŸ™‚

    • Anthony F says:

      Hey Vincent – may I ask, do you use InstaBuilder on a website where you have a Thrive theme installed? I ask because the Thrive Theme is new to me and I’m having trouble building my ideal landing page. I’d like to use Instabuilder, but I have the Thrive Luxe theme installed with the content builder activated. I don’t want to confuse my installation of WordPress. Thanks for any insight you can offer.

  • John Choque says:

    Yes, …of the several other theme packages that I’ve used with a couple hundred blog posts, this Thrive Theme package has been the FIRST time someone said that my blog looks PROFESSIONAL!

  • Dan N says:

    Hi Shane – the proof is in the pudding, you have to actually use a product to fully appreciate it sometimes. Can honestly say that using the TCB is fantastically easy and FAST. Having to jump through 20 hoops to create a single page takes a lot of time when you take into account loading times etc. – so TCB is much faster and easier than the competitors I have used.
    In terms of room for improvement – giving a few more options to make the opt-in widgets and focus areas more attractive would be helpful, as would having some good templates for the home page of membership pages so that all the lessons can be shown in a matrix seperated by category areas!

    But the speed of TCB and really seeing what you get, it completely changes the experience of building a site! πŸ™‚

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your suggestions, Dan! Some of those points we’re already working on, actually.

      I agree about the Focus Areas. It would be great to have a better way to customize them, somehow. Hopefully, we can come up with something.

  • Tom says:

    I admit that it’s hard to sort the good products from the bad when everyone uses the same “sales speak”. However, I think the TCB video speaks for itself when you see just how easy it is to use. Best plugin I’ve ever purchased, I look forward to more from Thrive.

  • Lamont P says:

    Shane,

    A huge key differentiation from other products/product developers is your customer service. In the beginning of the purchase cycle consumers tend to neglect customer service, partly because it can only be evaluated (personally) by the consumer post-purchase.

    How fast does customer service respond? How often are updates or key bug patched? The list goes on but we tend to only think about the key features of the products in the early purchase stage.

    As an example, I purchased another “builder” over five months ago and have yet to see an update, patch, subsequent training videos, nada. I’m not hating but as awareness increases for sub-par product developers it will be increasingly important to have a good reputation as stated by their consumer base and not the collusion of The Testimony Illuminati.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your comment, Lamont!

      I agree that support is extremely important and IMO, the work that the Thrive support team does is amazing. I’m proud of the value they add to everything Thrive produces.

  • rob h says:

    Well re IB 2 bought it. IB 1 too. When you see it does not integrate with anything else on your site…and you see its a closed system unto itself, it becomes a magic trick. A toy. Not really usable in a professional site. Everything thrive has OBVIOUSLY “been there done that experience” so here’s the solution. From the needed plugin ideas simply built into the system to limitations of wp addressed…even though new users may not see the problems yet…well that is just part of my appreciation. In a year of thrive it gets better every few weeks. Other programs die on the vine and don’t often work in 6 months time. Or have compatibility issues. Or they make your site look antiquated without the ability to fix anything. I love thrive.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thanks for your endorsement, Rob! Keeping development up and making our products increasingly better is extremely important to us. Constant progression is what it’s all about. πŸ™‚

  • Debra G says:

    I’ve tried LeadPages (twice) and I’ve used OptimizePress2. I quit using them both. I found the lack of design flexibility very frustrating with LP, and the lack of WYSISYG with OP2, along with the 10 zillion steps you have to take to make every single little change on a page – horrible!

    I now use TCB and Thrive Themes, and I’m thrilled with both. TCB is incredibly easy to use, and offers immense flexibility. It’s so good that I’m rather surprised that even more people aren’t using and raving about it. Admittedly, the average blogger may not feel like they need all the capabilities it offers, but anyone serious about earning money from their site should definitely start using it!

    Right now, I can think of just two frustrations I have with TCB:

    1) There’s a limited number of dividers offered, and they don’t all look very professional. I’d love to see some dividers with a “V” in them, to direct viewers to the next page section below, and/or some kind of a “V” graphic or divider that will extend the background color within the “V” at the bottom of the page section.

    2) The “undo” button doesn’t always properly undo the last step. It often changes colors or font sizes in the process, and I have to then recreate my whole last step.

    But I wouldn’t give up TCB for anything! I use it regularly. And I truly appreciate all of the training videos that you provide us. They are extremely helpful!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Debra!

      Totally agree about the dividers. For the landing pages, we’ve created some custom dividers like that, but it would be nice to have them in the default builder as well. Undo/save is a bit tricky, but it’s something we want to keep optimizing.

  • Adrian says:

    Hello

    Is there a way to have the countdown timer swap out code when it hits 0? Example) The “Add to Cart” button is removed and is replaced with another (which links to same product but $20 more)?

    Or multivariate changes? Basically, once the timer hits 0… product xyz goes from $20 to $30 dollars.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      We don’t have any functionality like this yet. I don’t think we’ll add this to the builder, but a separate plugin that does this (and other countdown related stuff) could be possible at some point.

  • Paul B says:

    I still use LeadPages, mainly for webinar registration pages and I’ve experimented with sales pages. Both have their challenges, as well as bugs that never seem to be fixed. Would much prefer to use TCB and Thrive Landing Pages to do it instead.

    Do you have any plans for creating webinar registration + thank you pages, and more sales page templates?

    Another idea is to allow people to share their templates within the Thrive system, so other users can use them as well. Maybe with some sort of approval process? LP and OptimizePress have their marketplaces, but I’m not a big fan of paying every time I want to test a new page layout (sometimes conversion is much worse).

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      We do want to create pages for webinars, replays etc. We need to build some more features and integrations for those, but it will happen in the near future. πŸ™‚

  • Peter F says:

    Thrive is built at the intersection of programming, marketing, and business building.
    As far as I know there are few, if any, competitors that do the job nearly as well.
    You are helping to build businesses, not only websites, and that is like night and day.
    Great job!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much, Peter! I’ve had the good fortune of being able to team up with highly capable and technically minded people who complement my own marketing and “soft” skills.

  • Imtiaz says:

    Shane, Can we add moving slider in TCB for home page design

  • Charles T. says:

    Hi Shane,

    There are quite a few concerns I’ve:

    1. Does this compromise any On-Page SEO that I’ve always heard for the problem associated with auto generated codes by a Content Builder?

    2. Does it pass the Google recommended site loading speed?

    3. Do we need to have a minimum good design sense to be able to best use your Content Builder?

    4. Is it a one time payment or monthly?

    5. Does the codes generated compliant with the best practices of the CSS?

    6. I would love to know more about the coverage of the technical parts (for the best practices of CSS, HTML structure and On-Page SEO) generated by your TCB.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Charles,

      1) To a search engine, there is no difference between content you create with Thrive Content Builder and content you create in the WordPress editor. In other words: the SEO impact of using our tool is zero. If you use our themes, we make sure to add markup that is recognized by search engines and make everything as SEO optimized as possible.

      2) Yes. Site speed is a big focus point in everything we create.

      3) You can stick to the defaults and create a good page without much design skill. You can use our themes or our landing page templates and create stunning pages and websites with zero design skill. You can also do a lot of customization, but that requires design skills, otherwise the results won’t be very nice.

      4) You can purchase each one of our products separately, at a single price. You can also become a member and get access to everything all at once (as well as getting access to all our future product releases).

      5) Yes.

      6) Please ask more specific questions about this and we’ll be happy to provide answers.

  • Gary Kaminski says:

    I really made a decision this year to jump in with both feet and dedicate my focus on providing services with Thrive Themes and TCB. I have most of the competitors products with the exception of OP2, which I couldn’t bring myself to trying when they fumbled a bit on the release.

    I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant at first to put all my efforts in committing to a single vendor. Then I decided to add up all the wasted time I spent playing with the other options in a never ending succession of new releases with subsequent issues. What finally convinced me was not just the efficiency, quality and class of the Thrive family of products, but the dedication and professionalism of the ownership.

    You see, for me, I was going about it all wrong. I was just looking at the tool and not the people behind it. If you’re in business for the long haul then you want to make sure you hitch your wagon to the right team, because then most all the obstacles in using a tool or technique can be overcome.

    I have to give credit to Sean here, he has taken the , jab, jab, jab and punch way of selling and keeping us informed at the same time to the next level. His email is one of the few I really look forward to. I continue to be tutored around the Thrive products rather then getting sent off to some third party affiliate deal of a questionable nature.

    So, to answer the question, is Thrive Themes that good? Yes, but more importantly I have every reason to believe it will even get better.

    • Dave Bell says:

      I completely agree with Gary. Outstanding products plus outstanding support, along with a good clear vision, owned operated and managed by great people.

      The perfect combination for a software company and as a side benefit it also happens to be the perfect combination for going “all in” with. Thanks Shane!

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        Thank you very much, Dave!

      • Mark says:

        I third both Gary and Dave. Thrive Themes and all the products from this team – simply are the best solution for my teams website building and optimization needs.

        They ROCK! Sites we build with Thrive rank higher faster than other “themes” that are used by customers. We have proven it over and over. While I will say we are darn good at seo so that has a part… without a solid platform some shite will not rank without 10x more effort.

        But more than that -more with so much emphasis that it will seem over the top (like I’m a hired mouthpiece or something – and I’m not)- is how impressive the whole Thrive team is. I bought a membership on the pre-launch. I’ve never regretted it for a moment!

        Thrive products are the best value returned for money spent online by me… Ever. (and I’ve been doing online marketing for 20 years)

        Has it been perfect? Of course not – grow up life, isn’t like that FFS. But the Thrive team have handled bugs, glitches, needed features, feature requests at a pace that is breathtaking. The updates are so rapid that I have to do a round of checking every client site each month to update the theme. And I have confidence it will not stop or even slow down. Wow.

        More than that I admire this company. They are executing at a level that most of us can merely fantasize about. They are honest, real, open and caring. They care about the quality of their product… and this has been my biggest take away. It’s now how I constantly coach, cajole, push, require my staff to look at our work and our business is growing fast because of it. All from modelling Thrives actions and process.

        In my dreams – I want to hangout with Shane – I want to be a thrive teamer… to me this is the small business story analogous to how Apple is executing at a level that is historic in business. Epic.

        Thrive has been an epic addition to my business – how the heck can I say thanks loud and effectively enough for that?

      • Shane Melaugh says:

        Thank you very much, Mark! Wow… what can I say? I will be sharing this with the team and we appreciate it very much.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you very much, Gary! This comment means a lot to me and the team deserves all the credit for the increasing quality of all our products.

  • Russell says:

    Definitely the best website software/plugins and especially its support I’ve seen compared to its competitors. 10 out of 10 from my experience.

  • Jeffery G says:

    Great product. In all honesty there is a learning curve but nothing many web applications or software commonly used (think infusionsoft).

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jeffery! Making that learning curve easier is something we’re also continuously working on. We want to offer products that have all the complexity you need, but without causing any confusion. Hopefully, the longer we’re at this, the better we can be at managing this balance.

  • Don Udell says:

    There are too many great comments… please stop, I don’t want anyone else to find these products. LOL

    Seriously speaking, since building my first commercial website back in 1998 I can say…. without reservation, that the Thrive Content Builder and Themes are not just another package of shiny object… but a dependable set of tools that render great looking and high performing sites with ease and consistency.

    I no longer generate my own themes and have ditched all my other tools for building pages of any kind. No more guessing of how the site will look after being published… no more child sites to work with and so much more to be thankful for. I get as much enjoyment from Thrive Products as I do from cashing my old age security checks.

  • Mark says:

    Hi Shane, thought I’d chime in a bit more on the IB2.

    A couple of areas:

    – They have a very easy built-in A/B split test feature.
    – Ability to create a sales funnel which you can easily drop in new parts of the sales funnel.
    – And a nice wide variety of landing page templates for various types of needs.

    TCB is awesome in every way … but those areas above would be very nice to see … in addition to what Vincent has suggested.

    Thanks for valuing what your customers suggest.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Mark! A funnel feature is quite high on my wish-list for TCB as well. Built-in testing I’m not sure about yet. We have a killer testing feature in our next plugin, but I haven’t had a great idea for how to implement testing for landing pages (or within WP) yet. We’re open to the idea, though.

  • Bill H. says:

    Shane, not only do I think that your products are some of the best on the market, what I would like to comment on is your training. Not only do you do great training so we can get the most out of your products, but you delve into topics that I think many of us have questions about but don’t really know where to get good answers. The latest example is your new post about how to create a good website header. I have been noticing that most of the new websites don’t have those large imposing headers and was feeling like some of my sites are really starting to look old. I now know why and will be making some modernization changes. Thank you for all the valuable info.

  • Leo says:

    Hey Shane! Great job with Thrive Content Builder! πŸ™‚ Just wondering how does it stack up when compared to Beaver Builder? I’ve noticed that Beaver Builder’s changelog shows much more changes in the code throughout the last 3 months.

    Also, someone said that with Beaver, you can append the bottom of your post, while with TCB, you need to start from scratch? πŸ™‚

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Hello Leo,

      I think Beaver Builder is quite a good product, actually. There are some gripes I have with it, though. The biggest one being just how time consuming it is to add content, compared to Thrive Content Builder. In Beaver Builder, there are multiple steps to every time you add or edit content while in TCB, everything happens instantly on your page.

      If you count the addition of Thrive Landing Pages and the new templates we’ve been releasing for it, I doubt the BB team is updating faster than we are. But let’s see who will keep the lead here. πŸ™‚

      With TCB, you can combine it with your regular WP content, but the TCB content will appear at the top.

  • luana says:

    I would agree with all of the above and I speak as someone who was forced to use some of the alternatives you mentioned simply because I didn’t know Thrive Themes existed. I’m now a big fan of Thrive because it’s given me control over my site and marketing capabilities and I really appreciate all the training material you provide. So Thank You to the whole team. You guys are doing an amazing job πŸ™‚

  • Brittany says:

    I know I’m a year-plus late on this post, but your blog posts are selling me more than your sales page. Exhaling and making a choice. Thanks, Shane!

  • I want to be a member and I am interested but I have a several questions that I do not find addressed. I can’t access the forum because I am not a member. Is there someway — someone will contact me or talk to me. Thanks, Angela

  • Anil R says:

    Excellent product and first class service! Please keep up the great work you folks are doing!

  • Karen McCamy says:

    I’m in love with Thrive tools! I bought them in full membership…and was able to replace all of my other conversion tools! Saves me money & gives me what I consider is a far superior product! πŸ™‚ Never was a fan of “Builders” but TCB is totally different for all the reasons you indicated! I’m telling everyone who will listen just how awesome and superior your products are! πŸ™‚ My only question is this: there is soooo much depth to Thrive tools, what’s the “best” place to start, in general? (I’ve been through all your tutorials, which are also awesome and more than extensive!) I know the optimum answer will differ from person to person, but there is so much to learn, I feel distracted! I’m starting from scratch with website content but no list. I have my funnels all planned and Lead Magnets ready to go, if this helps with giving me any recommendations… Thanks for all you continually do to improve our membership experience! I’ve only been with Thrive for a couple of months! Total newbie to Thrive (but 8+ years with WordPress).

  • Ryan says:

    What happens if I add this to a site that has Visual Composer on it?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Initially, nothing bad. But if you try to edit the same page with VC and Architect, it probably won’t end well.

  • >