As a knowledge creator, choosing among online course platforms can be challenging. Each platform offers multiple pricing tiers, tied with various features, making it difficult to have a clear overview of the pros and cons.
When talking about top players, 4 platforms come into sight due to relatively higher search volumes, website traffics and mature product offerings: Kajabi, Podia, Thinkific, and Teachable. However, even if we have scaled down the selections and asked ChatGpt to help with the decision, their detailed differences and why the pricings have such a gap in between, remain blurry.
Kajabi and Thinkific, for example, offer marketing automation, which may be useful for those who want to create more advanced marketing campaigns.
Podia offers unlimited courses and digital downloads, which can be helpful for those who want to create and sell multiple courses.
Teachable and Podia have the lowest starting price points, while Kajabi and Thinkific are more expensive but offer more advanced features. Ultimately, the choice between these platforms will depend on the specific needs and budget of the course creator.ChatGpt
In this article, we’ll break down the key differences among the platforms’ major features from 3 perspectives, and make it clearer how much you would need to pay to get a specific offering from each platform:
1. Create amazing products
1.1 Launch digital products
All 4 platforms let you create any type of the following content and turn it into a digital product:
- Individual videos
- Courses which contain several videos
- Downloadable items
- Live sessions
- Scheduled/drip content
- Paid membership programs
- 1 on 1 coaching sessions
However, the main differences lie in the possibility to create interactive experiences for students/followers, and, the pricing. Depending on how mature your business is and how many kinds of content you want to produce, the best choice may vary.
1.2 Create an interactive experience
Interactive experience in an online course is often related to setting homework/assignments for students or organising quizzes/surveys to enhance knowledge absorption.
Here, we identify homework/assignments as ‘creating open-ended questions or requiring to answer by submitting an attached document’, while quizzes as ‘single or multiple answer questions’.
- Kajabi offers an all-in-one approach of $149/mo, where you as the instructor can leave assignments of variable formats, and create graded quizzes for the students.
- Thinkific offers tiered possibilities. You can leave homework for students in the $99/mo plan, or you can also unlock course quizzes by paying $199/mo.
- Teachable’s professional plan ($159/mo) also lets you create graded quizzes, but it doesn’t support leaving assignments in open-ended questions, or questions requiring the students to upload a photo, audio, or PDF.
- Podia allows creators to initiate quizzes, if you opt to pay $39/mo, but doesn’t support assignments in other formats.
Besides, if you want to create an app learning experience for your students/followers, Kajabi and teachable would be your options.
2. Drive marketing and sales
Each platform offers a range of marketing and sales features that can help course creators promote and sell their courses. The choice ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences, including the type of marketing and sales tools you need, the level of customization you require, and the pricing and plans that work best for you.
2.1 Email marketing
All of the 4 platforms support ‘integrated emails’, meaning the creators can send out emails to followers or students WITHIN the platforms. The main differences, however, are how you can edit the emails and whether it’s possible to evaluate their performances.
- Kajabi is special in offering an email visual editor so creators can add designs to their emails with templates, preset sections like countdown timers, images, video previews, and responsive editing capabilities for mobile and desktop. Besides, creators can also check email analytics like open rate, click rate and so on. The only downside is the relatively higher price.
- Teachable, at a lower price, also offers some basic email templates. However, the downside is that, if you want to optimize the email flows and track the email performances, you would need to integrate the platform with third-party tools, which will likely generate an extra cost.
- Podia provides basic templates in their free trial, and provide essential email performance metrics from sent, open, click, sale, and bounce, if you pay $39/mo.
- Thinkific provides possibilities to send bulk emails to all or specific segments in their Grow plan, but they don’t cover the reporting of email metrics. To realize more functionalities, it’s likely that you would need to pay and integrate third-party tools to realize what you want.
2.2 Promotion strategies
When it comes to supporting creators to promote content, most platforms support creators to:
- Sell products in packages/bundles
- Set discounts and coupons
- Host affiliate programs
- Upsell (Promote other products before purchase)
The key difference is the pricing, and that Teachable is the only online course platform where you can host an integrated referral program. The referral programs provide an opportunity for students to refer the products to their friends and community, with a unique referral link—and when they do so, both the friend and the student will receive a reward discount.
Most platforms support the creator to start building branding for their own business by:
- Having a white-labelled website
- Adding custom domains
- Using custom code editors for the website
However, Kajabi is the only online course platform among them that has built-in blog features, which you can utilize to create a content pool, and drive inbound traffic via content marketing.
3. Manage and scale business
When planning to scale, you might need extra help with technical support, admin work, and customer support for business operations; you might need a creator community to get more inspiration; you might also need an agile platform which is possible to connect with various integrations, to create webhooks among applications, and so on.
When talking about technical support, Podia is the most price-friendly one, as you would need to pay more to get attention from others. When talking about integrations in particular, all 4 platforms offer popular email marketing tools, payment gateways, with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and analytics tools like Google Analytics, but Thinkific wins by supporting 90+ kinds of different integrations across different categories, meaning as a creator you would have many more options.
In summary, which platform to choose highly depends on your business needs and how much you would like to invest.
A short guide would be: Podia and Teachable are suitable for course creators who are looking for affordable and straightforward solutions. Thinkific and Kajabi are suitable for more advanced users who require more advanced features and are willing to pay for them.
However, to discover the most suitable course platform for you, it is highly suggested that you start with the actual needs. For example, write down your core use cases in the following format:
- I want to create a drip course which delivers content on a schedule; I want to upload audio, pdfs and other downloadable content to my course; I want my student to pay one-time; My student can have a certificate once they finished my course.
- I want to create a knowledge-sharing membership program; I want to offer videos, 1-1 coaching and live webinars for the members; I want the members to pay by monthly subscription; I want to notify my members via email when new content is available.
Use cases like the above will help you pinpoint prioritized features in need, and thus form your own checklist before looking at more platforms.
Another suggested action is to simply try out their free plans to have a more genuine experience. By playing around with the platforms, you will have an idea that which suits you better.
A final tip: don’t be distracted too quickly by the price! Podia, Thinkific, and Teachable can be much cheaper at the first glance than Kajabi, but you need to also be aware of the potential costs that might come in the future, when you want to use integrations/third-party tools like email marketing and analytics softwares, Zapier, and so on, which requires extra fees. So, think it over on which functionalities you’d really need, evaluate the platform according to your needs, and evaluate the total cost in reality before the final decision!
If you need more tips about selecting an appropriate platform or want to collaborate with VOYD Business as a knowledge creator in the Nordics, start a channel at VOYD or check how to sell lectures and courses on VOYD.