It’s a new year, and it’s time to talk about the must-have WordPress plugins for 2016.
Many of my clients plan to revamp their WordPress sites, extend it with some functionality and take it to the next level.
If you’re also planning to enhance your site and to give it this extra feeling of awe, this post is perfectly for you.
On a side-note: most plugins in this list are paid plugins. If you’re seeking for free WordPress extensions that grow your business without you doing the work for it, you’re likely not my target reader. I wrote this post for serious entrepreneurs who are willing to invest a few bucks in scaling their business!
Over the past 12 months, I came across countless plugins, good ones, and terrible ones. And since I get asked so often about what extensions to install on WordPress, this is my ultimate list of must-have WordPress plugins you can’t afford to miss in 2016.
I don’t want to make things overly complicated, so you’ll see that I’ve grouped the WordPress plugins into categories. Just click on the respective category to directly jump to the section in the post.
Here are the categories for my ten must-have WordPress plugins in 2016:
- List building
- Building online courses with WordPress
- WordPress security
- WordPress communities
- Analyzing WordPress metrics
Let’s dive right into it!
1. 2016’s Must-have WordPress plugins for list building
We all know the saying that “the money is in the list”. For me, list building is one of my big focuses in 2016. And if you’re an infopreneur, it should be yours as well.
So, here are my top 3 WordPress plugins that’ll help you get more leads from your website:
Thrive Leads is the list building plugin I use on both this WordPress site and WP Mastery. It is extremely flexible and easy to set up, even if you’re barely able to login to your WordPress post.
I love that it has countless ways to add opt-in forms to your WordPress site.
You can add all types of opt-in forms to your website.
- ribbons on top of the page,
- classical popup forms,
- widgets for your sidebar, header or footer,
- post footer opt-in forms (perfect for content upgrades!),
- slide-in forms,
- forms placed directly in your content,
- popups that take up the whole screen,
- scroll mats,
- and custom PHP codes for your developer.
All types of opt-ins come with pre-designed templates that are conversion-optimized. This full-packed functionality alone is a reason to list Thrive Leads first in my must-have WordPress plugins for 2016.
But there’s even more to it.
Take, for example, a popup opt-in form. When is the right timing to show the popup to your readers? After a few seconds, when they intend to leave your page, when they scrolled through your page, or when they click on a button?
Thrive Leads allows you to test all these triggers against each other and see, how each one is converting.
In fact, its ability to check opt-in forms and see what converts best is an excellent opportunity for you to find out what messaging, call-to-action or lead magnet works best for your audience.
Enough of the talking about Thrive Leads though, let me show you some screenshots. They’ll prove Thrive Leads has a place in this list of must-have WordPress plugins for 2016!
As you can see in the gallery, Thrive Leads also has some very impressive reporting functionalities.
It has been a true game changer for my business, and I highly recommend you check it out! Thrive Leads comes at a reasonable price and gives you all types of opt-in forms with a one-time payment. You can get it for unlimited sites, which is pretty rare for paid plugins these days.
Alongside Thrive Leads comes OptinMonster, which is another must-have WordPress plugin for list building. I think that every blog should run one of these two plugins.
OptinMonster is what I’ve been using for the WP Summit, and it never let me down.
Using OptinMonster, I got incredible conversion rates. At some point during the event, the conversion rate on the landing page peaked at nearly 70%!
Just like Thrive Leads, this WordPress plugin lets you add various types of opt-in forms to your website. However, instead of being managed in your WordPress site, OptinMonster comes as software-as-a-service.
That said, you have to manage your opt-ins on the OptinMonster website – and just integrate them with their plugin.
As you can see from the screenshot, there are also plenty of pre-designed opt-in forms ready for you. And configuring those is as easy as it is with Thrive Leads.
OptinMonster also has its place as must-have WordPress plugin for 2016 because it integrates with many email list services. I’d be very surprised if you use an email list service that won’t work with OptinMonster!
However, their pricing model is highly different compared to Thrive Leads.
OptinMonster offers various plans, and each plan comes with more or fewer options to add opt-in forms to your site. They also don’t charge a one-time fee but a recurring yearly fee. And only their “Pro” plan allows unlimited websites.
2. Must-have WordPress plugins to build online courses
Building an online course has been a huge trend in 2015, and I expect it to be even bigger in 2016.
That’s why I had to include some online course plugins on my list of must-have WordPress extensions for the new year.
In 2015, I’ve been using two different WordPress plugins to build my WP Mastery Club and the WP Summit.
Testing the two plugins gives me the opportunity to share my experiences with you. I want to give you a closer look at the plugins before investing in either. If you came to this post looking for a free plugin that builds your online course, keep on searching. You just have to spend a bit of money here, as the free plugins I know are all limited in functionality.
OptimizePress is an extremely powerful tool for building online courses with WordPress. It’s not just a plugin that lets you protect your content and charge for it; it also helps you make all the landing pages, sales pages, and the entire funnel.
I’ve used OptimizePress to build my WP Mastery Club, my online training about building WordPress websites from scratch. I even teach it in that course, it’s that good.
OptimizePress comes with two main functionalities.
The OptimizePress page builder lets you build your entire marketing and sales funnel. It works as your primary theme, or on the side of your existing WordPress template.
If you’re not a designer or WordPress specialist, you can use pre-designed page designs and just add your contents and graphics to it.
Or if you know what you’re doing, you can build your landing pages and sales pages from scratch. This way you can fully implement your custom branding and individual layouts.
The second function of OptimizePress is called OptimizeMember.
That’s the membership plugin that lets you:
- Protect your contents from unauthorized access (read: non-members)
- Charge for membership access (one-time, recurring, free trial)
- Drip-feed contents into your course
- Manage your members
And lots more.
OptimizePress is a must-have WordPress in 2016, as it’s the full package you need to build a successful online course.
My second recommendation for building online courses with WordPress is a plugin called Wishlist Member.
I used Wishlist to create the membership area of my WP Summit, and it worked like a charm.
Setting up various membership levels is super comfortable with Wishlist, integrating payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, or Clickbank is as well.
Unlike OptimizePress, Wishlist has no function to build a funnel.
Here’s the primary differentiator between Wishlist Member and OptimizePress:
Wishlist integrates with more payment gateways, adding more convenient payment options for your members.
I LOVE the fact that Wishlist integrates with Stripe, which is a super-easy way for your customers to buy from you.
3. Plugins to enhance WordPress security
You might already know that I’m pretty obsessed with WordPress security. And that’s for a good reason, as WordPress is one of the most popular targets amongst hackers.
Since WordPress is now powering around 25% of all websites, I just had to take security into account and include that into the must-have WordPress plugins for 2016.
The two plugins I’m about to share with you will not just protect your website from data-loss. They’ll also give hackers terrible headaches. It’s to be proactive, and to reduce the risk of getting hacked!
Blogvault automates backups of your WordPress site. The only thing you need to do is to install their plugin.
Once their plugin runs on your site, Blogvault automatically stores copies of your website on their servers, making sure nothing can go wrong anymore.
Should your web host break down or your site get hacked, you can easily restore a backup with just a click of a button. You won’t need to touch any codes (compare that to my automated backup tutorial!).
If you want to test new plugins or themes, you can easily restore a copy of your site. This allows you to test all functionalities with the new theme or plugin, before installing it on your live website.
Blogvault also lets you easily migrate your site to a new web host, a process that can get very tricky if you’re not a coder.
I interviewed their founder Akshat on my WP Summit, and his talk has been one of the most popular. This fact just proves that, luckily, WordPress users become more aware of the necessity of professional backups.
Sucuri is one of the globally most respected companies working in the IT security field. They offer various services to protect websites from malware injections, getting hacked, etc.
Their service provides incredibly valuable services just as:
- Malware removal and clean up
- Automatic scans for malware and hacks
- Blacklist scanning and monitoring
- Website firewall to block hackers
Their service is super-comprehensive and extremely easy to manage. It’s designed for website owners without any technical background, as those usually need to most protection from hackers.
I was very lucky to get Tony Perez, co-founder of Sucuri, on the WP Summit. He totally over-delivered – explaining in simple terms how hackers work and what WordPress users specifically can do to protect themselves.
Did I mention Sucuri offers a free malware scanner as well? This service just proves how serious these guys are about protecting their client’s websites.
4. Must-have plugins for WordPress communities
When talking about must-have WordPress plugins for 2016, we need to speak about building communities on WordPress websites. Whether you’re planning to build a forum, a private portal for your mastermind, or a collaboration platform, WordPress might just be the right choice.
The following two plugins allow you to build all sorts of communities, and to expand your marketing strategy with an eye on long-term profitability.
BBPress is WordPress forums made easy. I see many people use this plugin, e.g. on the betting website TipsterHQ.
With BBPress, you can build and customize your forums, specifically to your needs.
You can create forums about any topics and in any depth. It’s possible to make free forums or to paid communities by integrating payment gateways using additional plugins.
One thing to watch out for is the compatibility of your website, especially the theme. To display the forum accordingly, your WordPress design needs to “understand” the BBPress and style them correctly. If in doubt, get in touch with your theme developer.
Gasification is a well-known way to increase the engagement of a forum, social community, or any website.
MyCRED is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to do exactly that.
You can reward users for interacting with your website, for publishing content, engaging in forum threads, or doing anything else on your site.
Those points even can be used as virtual currency in your WooCommerce online shop, if you use the WooCommerce extension for MyCRED.
5. Analyzing WordPress metrics
When it comes to improving the performance of your website and to get more results from your WordPress blog, knowing your metrics is key.
In 2015, there were many new WordPress plugins developed to help you analyze your metrics, way easier than Google Analytics allows you to.
The following two tools are very powerful, so I just had to include them as must-have WordPress plugins for 2016!
You’ve probably heard me talking about Filament already; I’m quite obsessed with it currently.
It’s developed by my friend Jason Amunwa and his incredible team at telepathy.
Filament hooks into your WordPress site and your Google Analytics, bringing all kinds of useful data together.
Its easy-to-use dashboard allows you to see everything you need to know at first glance.
You can immediately see your:
- best performing content,
- top social media supporters,
- average shares of your posts,and lots more.
At just $9 per month, this tool is a true steal!
Knowing where your website visitors click and how far they scroll is crucial if you want to make more money from your site.
CrazyEgg is a WordPress plugin you should leverage if you’re serious about building marketing funnels. It’s a must-have WordPress plugin for 2016, as it quickly shows you where your visitors click and what areas they page most attention to.
The installation is quite straightforward, you set up the WordPress plugin and connect it to your account at the CrazyEgg website.
Then you can specify which pages you want to track, and just have to start the tracking campaigns with a click of a button.
Here’s what CrazyEgg tracked for my WP Summit:
These are my top 10 must-have plugins for 2016, but of course, there are way more amazing WordPress extensions out there.
Every day I’m on the hunt for hidden gems and new stars in the market, and this plugin list is a mere tip of the iceberg.
If you didn’t find what you were searching for, ping me on Twitter or in my Facebook group. Let me know what type of plugins you expected and I’ll make up for that in the next posts!
If you got some friends who could use some of these plugins, don’t be a douchebag. Share this post with them, so they can up their game!