Update: As of January, 2015 Hybrid Connect has been discontinued and you can no longer purchase the plugin.
In it’s place, a new plugin called Thrive Leads has been developed by Shane and his team. It takes some of the best parts of Hybrid Connect (form templates, real-time editing, split testing) and combines it with the excellent Thrive Content Builder live editor to make an even better list building plugin.
While I have not personally tried out Thrive Leads yet, my friend Josh Kotsay has posted a full detailed review of Thrive Leads over at SlickWP. I would recommend that you take a look.
In the meantime, I’ve left my original Hybrid Connect review below in its entirety.
Every marketer will tell you that building a mailing list is essential. There is really no way around it. Over time it will grow to become your most targeted traffic source which makes it an important asset for you to build up as soon as possible.
I’ve used many different popular wordpress plugins over the years to build my own mailing list. Popup Domination and Optin Skin being two of my favorites. While they are both decent products, I’ve just recently started playing with Hybrid Connect and I’ve been really blown with what you can do with it.
Not only can you place optin forms in your sidebar like I have, but the plugin allows you to create lightbox and slidein popups, insert opt-ins inside your posts, or even as part of squeeze pages. Hybrid Connect was built to support all of these different scenarios. It also seamlessly integrates with all the major autoresponders including AWeber which is the service I use.
Hybrid Connect is the creation of Shane Melaugh and Paul McCarthy. I’ve been following Shane for a long time, and he’s the real deal as a marketer. Shane has a passion for creating really great products and it really shows here.
In the rest of this Hybrid Connect review I’m going to touch on some of the other things I believe makes this plugin stand out.
- Hybrid feature for increased conversions.
- Real-time, easy to use opt-in form editor.
- Automated split testing.
The Hybrid Feature
The “Hybrid” part of Hybrid Connect comes from its Facebook integration which I have yet to see in any other plugin. Here’s how it works. If your blog reader is currently logged into Facebook (and who isn’t, right?), they will see a FB ready version of your opt-in form.
This means that instead of typing in a name and email address, your reader just has to click on the Facebook connect button and the subsequent confirm button to get added to your list. Less work for user = higher conversions.
If your reader isn’t logged into Facebook however, then the plugin will revert back to showing the standard name/email optin form that you are already familiar with. This is all handled transparently and it’s a smart way of maximizing your conversions.
Real-time Form Editor
If you have ever used something like Aweber’s web form editor to create your optin forms then you know how much of a pain it is to create really nice looking forms with it.
Now after using it, it’s easy for me to say that the Hybrid Form Builder is heads and shoulders above any other web form editor I’ve tried in terms of flexibility and ease of use.
The form builder comes with 30 different opt-in templates to start from. Most of the template designs are pretty visually appealing, and you should have no problems finding a template that fits with your own blog.
When you open the form builder you will see the 3 variations of your chosen template on the left side and the form customization options on the right. Pretty much any customization you will need to make can be found here, from fonts, colors, borders, padding, widths, heights and more. You can see a lot of thought was put into the options to include.
While it may be a little overwhelming at first, what makes the whole thing work is that any change you make is immediately reflected on the templates to the left. Drag the slider that controls your form width and you see the form grow and shrink as you play with it. This instant feedback makes customizing your forms super easy and you can easily spend tons of time fiddling with your form to make it perfect. It works really well, and even someone with limited design skills can come up with something that looks nice.
For the most optimal experience, just make sure you give the form builder the max screen real estate possible. On my wide screen monitor it looks great, but I’ve found on lower resolution monitors that things can get a bit “cramped”. You’ll also need to take advantage of the ability to drag and drop the options window around so you can always see how your changes are affecting your form.
Automated Split Testing
It’s not enough to throw up an opt-in form on your site and call it good. A number of different factors can greatly affect the opt-in rate of any given optin-form. To maximize your conversion rates, you need to be split testing your forms. With most other list building plugins, this can be a manual and tedious process. However Hybrid Connect makes this super easy.
Adding a new variation is as simple as clicking a button which will duplicate your existing form. Then you can make whatever changes you like to that variation (headline, background, etc) and then run a split test against your original form. You can actually create as many variations as you want to include in your split test.
What Hybrid Connect will do is rotate between all your variations and collect the stats for which one performs the best. Once it has enough data to have 95% confidence that one form is performing better than the others, it will select that one as the winner and start showing it all the time. Very cool and simple to get started with. Just increasing your subscriber rate by 1-2% can make a big difference in the long run.
Hybrid Connect Negatives
I can’t really find much bad to say about Hybrid Connect. Initially I had some issues getting my forms to work properly with the AWeber API. But after switching to the custom code option and I was good to go. API integration was actually just removed in the most recent update so this should no longer be an issue.
There was also a problem I ran into as I was trying to test out if my form was working or not. Turns out the form stats don’t track unless you’re logged out of your WordPress admin. That wasn’t immediately obvious to me and I had to make a support request to figure that one out.
Speaking of support, it’s excellent. Paul responded to my ticket really fast. Also, the written documentation is quite good, and Shane has put together a lot of quick videos that demonstrate many of the plugin’s features.
If you purchase Hybrid Connect, not only are you getting a plugin that’s already very good now, but you’re going to be buying a product that’s constantly improving in the future. Since the plugin launched in June 2012, it’s been updated 69 times (!) at the time of this review. This is an amazing amount and it shows the dedication that Shane and Paul have put into making this the best list building plugin they can make. Especially in an industry where you’ll be lucky to get 1 or 2 updates after a product release.
Hybrid Connect is one of the few plugins out there that you can’t help to be more impressed with the more and more you play around with it. I only touched on a few of my favorite features in this review, but it can actually do a lot more.
Shane and Paul have really put a lot of thought into building the ultimate list building plugin. Hybrid Connect takes the best of what was out there, mixes in some killer new features, and presents it in an easy to use package. It rocks, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.