In this post, I am going to review Thinkific in-depth and explain you the features it has got to offer you.
Thinkific is one of the top online course softwares available in the market. If you search online for a course hosting platform, you'll come across Thinkific in no time.
It markets itself as the go-to platform for running an online course business.
Thinkific's course curriculum creation capabilities are its core focus. This means it has a ton of features to make your online courses as engaging as possible. It also then identifies itself as targeting sophisticated course creators.
Anyway, I will take you through each feature of Thinkific in-depth in this review. This will help you know if it's the right choice for you.
|Type||Course selling platform|
Is a free plan available?
Secure cloud hosting & daily backups
Built-in security and SSL
99.9% uptime & 24/7 monitoring
What do I like about Thinkific?
- Thinkific comes with no transaction fees. Additionally, your funds are immediately available for withdrawal whenever someone buys your courses or memberships.
- Thinkific has a free plan with its core features available with it. This includes the ability to upload up to 3 courses, have unlimited students enrolled, and the ability to host core content (audio, video, and pdf). This can be a savior for beginners who want to get started with selling courses with no investment required upfront.
- It is very easy to build an online course in Thinkific with its drag and drop builder. You can also upload a wide array of rich media content apart from only videos such as audio, pdf, txt, quizzes, surveys, Google Docs, and much more.
- Thinkific lets your courses take an engaging form with various capabilities such as organizing cohorts, scheduling course content, drip-feeding content, prerequisite lessons, multiple instructors, course discussions area, evergreen and expiring content, and much more.
- You can send course progressions emails, engage students in discussions, make use of awards, scores, and leaderboards for motivating students. This clearly shows how Thinkific lays special attention to quality course creation.
What I don’t like about Thinkific?
- Thinkific isn’t that user friendly compared to its competitors like Teachable and Podia. This is not only my opinion but something which has been quite pronounced by its community of creators themselves.
- Thinkific lacks robust marketing features such as email marketing automation, sales funnels creation, and checkout. The email marketing capability is quite basic, sales pages are a bit rigid and checkout a little clunky. Compared to marketing veteran platforms like Kajabi and ClickFunnels, Thinkific stands faded.
- The design and customizations in Thinkific is a bit of hassle with its limited theme options, which aren't too flexible as well unless you know a bit around with HTML and CSS.
- Thinkific doesn’t have chat support. It only provides customer support via emails which can take up to 1 day for a response depending on what’s your time zone.
Thinkific in-depth review
When you sign up for your Thinkific account as a course creator, the first thing you see is the admin dashboard.
This admin area serves as the command center for your entire Thinkific site. From here, you can access everything from course builder, site builder, students' progress, order stats, checkout, integrations, and much more.
You can access all the Thinkific features from the sidebar menu (see screenshot). Most features are in a logical arrangement, but there is a possibility of you ending up searching others in the documentation.
For example, I expect integrations to be under settings but it is present under the “Market and Sell” menu.
On this dashboard, you also get a near organization of your stats like revenue, student accounts/sign-ups, and student course enrollments.
Overall, the Thinkific interface is easy to deal with. But, when compared to an alternative platform like Teachable which has a more aesthetically designed interface, Thinkific can feel quite clunky.
Course creation mechanism
Thinkific is quite popular for its course creation mechanism and it is easy to create an engaging course. Even in its free plan, you can upload unlimited course videos, audios and pdf – though the number of courses is capped at 3.
It is quite easy to create a course structure with Thinkific and add different types of rich media content such as videos, pdf, audio, Google Docs, captivates, storylines, and much more.
If you have your curriculum prepared then you will enjoy the process of course creation in Thinkific. For example, you can bulk upload all your course content and then conveniently organize it using drag and drop.
The Thinkific course creation process is quite similar to that of the popular alternative platform – Teachable.
For example, both allow uploading of videos for free via Wistia. But, unlike Teachable there is no bulk editing option in Thinkific – you will need to visit each lesson individually.
And, as I talked about the positives of Thinkific's course creation in “What I like about Thinkific” section, it does allow for a wide array of rich media content, quizzes, surveys, assignments, student discussion area which aid in proper course management.
Additionally, Thinkific's features such as scheduling course content and course content automation such as drip-feeding content allow for better course engagement.
For example, you can send progress emails to your students while they're learning from your course.
Incentivization of course completion with awards, scoring, and leaderboards also make Thinkific stand out from other online course software such as Teachable and Podia.
Memberships can be a great way to earn recurring income from your content. It can also help keep your community engaged over time. And, having a platform to host valuable content and community is essential for you as an expert. This where Thinkific comes handy.
Creating a membership with Thinkific is quite easy. You can set up a bundle of courses for your membership subscribers.
This is where you can keep adding content every now and then to give more value to your students on an ongoing basis. For recurring payments, you can link to Stripe. And, you can set up drip-feeding of content for your students.
For payments, you can set up per month or per week subscription pricing for your students. You can also create different levels of pricing by having different course bundles. You can go as far as showing different pricing for different course bundles on your landing page.
Alternatives like Teachable, don't allow for such flexibility. But with Thinkific, community management tools make it even easier to have a subscription/membership model.
Thinkific's forte being course management, you can manage your students in a lot of ways.
You can manage course discussions, reply to student queries, approve/hide discussions.
You can manage quizzes and surveys and see responses of the same from your students.
In the same vein, you can manage assignments.
There are two levels of access for a Thinkific site on the creator end, which is a site admin and course admin. These mean exactly what their names suggest.
Design and customization
Having a good looking website, landing pages, and sales page is the key to selling more courses. So let's see how Thinkific can help us achieve that.
First, you don't have to buy separate hosting for Thinkific, since it is a self-hosted platform.
Second, you don't need an SSL certificate too since their team takes care of that.
Third, you can host the Thinkific website with a Thinkific subdomain or point it to your custom domain under any of the paid plans.
Now, let's see how Thinkific helps us build a good looking site.
For site design, Thinkific comes with 3 website themes that are neat and modern looking.
Additionally, for each of these 3 themes, you get theme styles. Styles are like presets that give you the desired look and feel for your site.
You can also import your developer coded themes into Thinkific, much like Kajabi. Or, you can customize any default theme at the backend.
Now, you also need to build different pages of the website like sales pages, landing pages, the home page, or other custom ones. This becomes easy with Thinkific's “drag and drop” page builder.
The basic gist of drag and drop page builder is that you select elements that you want on a page and drop them on the page where you want them.
In Thinkific, these elements are “sections”. And, there are 20 section types that you can add to your page with only 1 click.
Examples of such sections are the hero section, testimonials, FAQS, pricing details, and much more.
Sales and analytics
Creating a course isn't enough, getting sales is important for an education business. Thinkific offers some sales features but it is not as good as its close competitor Teachable. For example, Thinkific cannot create sales funnels for your courses.
Another drawback is Thinkific's 2 Step checkout process which is quite outdated. This checkout requires a user to first sign up and then buy the course product. This has proven to lead to a significant % of drop-in users without making the payment.
Thinkific checkout looks a bit clumsy even though it does allow for customizations. The checkout allows for 1-click upsell which comes with tools like Kajabi and Podia too.
Thinkific also has something called post-purchase flows. This allows you to create custom offers for users depending upon which pricing plan they buy.
Selling courses isn't enough too especially If you're building a long term business. This is where course analytics comes handy. It tells you how your students are engaging with your online courses.
It is only when students are enjoying the courses that they can vouch for it. You get word of mouth publicity for your courses as well as build a loyal audience.
One way is to find this is through course video engagement. That is, how many people are watching your videos and up to what point they watch them.
With Thinkific you can get metrics for your course videos such as follows:
- Average engagement – on average how much the students have viewed the video.
- Total plays – total number of times a video is played.
- Play rate – the number of students who press play on the video after it has been loaded.
- Last watched and more such crucial metrics.
For site Analytics, you can also integrate Thinkfic with analytics tools such as Mixpanel, and Google Analytics.
Further, You can also integrate marketing pixels such as Google Tag Manager and Facebook pixel.
Thinkific doesn’t exactly offer great marketing features. But there are some essential marketing capabilities with the platform especially if you buy a Growth plan.
It allows you to create course bundles that can be sold at different pricing points.
These course bundles can further be used for creating a membership site.
As we discussed in the Sales section about checkout – Thinkific allows 1 click upsell capability too at the checkout. But, since Thinkfic doesn’t have a sales funnel builder like Kajabi, it is not as efficient. In fact, the checkout is a bit clunky and can’t be customized much.
Thinkific also offers email marketing features but it is quite basic. You can only send emails to your existing students enrolled in your courses. Hence, at max, you can notify them about your new courses or products, and send course progress and updates emails.
You might want to integrate your course hosting platform with your existing marketing stack of apps and tools. This is where integration with 3rd party apps plays a crucial role.
For web analytics, you can integrate Thinkific with apps like Google Analytics and Segment. For marketing pixels, you can integrate it with Facebook pixels.
Not only this but Thinkfic has native integration with Zapier. This means you can integrate it with 1000s of 3rd party apps like ClickFunnels for sales funnels and MailChimp for email marketing.
Thinkific allows you to add affiliates to promote your online courses.
You can select a % commission for each course you want your affiliates to promote for you.
This will give each of your affiliates a private dashboard too. This is where they can track their unique affiliate links and performance.
Though, the affiliate tracking pixel in Thinkific is set to 30 days which can't be changed.
Thinkific’s competitor Teachable has a better affiliate program management system where even the tracking period of affiliate pixel can be modified.
Thinkific doesn't support real-time support currently such as chat support. Competitors such as Kajabi do offer 24*7 chat support.
So the only channel to reach out for support in Thinkfic's case is email. Though they promise 5 hours of turnaround time for 90% of support cases on their website, the reality is a bit different.
You will need to wait for at least 1 day to get a response to your support email, depending upon which time zone you are in.
But there is a good knowledge base of help articles and tutorials on the Thinkific site. These can be helpful for you to resolve the usual issues with ease.
Thinkific also offers training through its Online Business masterclass which is available to paid plan subscribers for free.
Thinkific offers 3 tiers of plans at different pricing apart from the free plan, which is as follows:
- Basic: $39(annual) and $49(monthly) per month
- Pro: $79(annual) and $99(monthly) per month
- Premier: $399(annual) and $499(monthly) per month
There is also a larger account available for enterprise clients called “Thinkific Plus”.
It also offers a 30 days money-back guarantee if you don’t want to continue using it within the first 30 days of the purchase.
The following are the plans in comparison, including the free plan.
This plan allows core Thinkific functionality for up to 3 courses with unlimited students. This core functionality includes the ability to host audio, video, and pdf for courses and quizzes and surveys as well.
This plan has a transaction fee of 10% on your sales. This is suitable for true beginners.
This is the first tier of the paid plan which has no transaction fee. With this, you can upload unlimited courses with unlimited students.
Along with the core functionality of course hosting and surveys/quizzes, it also allows marketing features like email marketing to exist students and coupons.
This plan also allows integrations with popular email marketing tools like MailChimp, affiliate marketing, drip scheduled content, and more. This plan is suitable for beginners who want to invest a little because they do have some existing audience to sell courses to.
Along with the features of the basic plan, you get up to 5-course admin accounts, 2 site admin accounts, and priority customer support.
This plan also enables you to give certifications, create memberships, have student assignments, and advanced customizations and pricing options. This plan is suitable for online course businesses in their growth stage.
This plan is suitable for accredited institutions such as universities or colleges, hence it offers up to 50-course admin accounts and 5 admin accounts.
Thinkific also offers onboarding preparation and training for this plan buyer.
How does Thinkific compare to its competitors?
Thinkific vs Teachable
Thinkific and Teachable are similar platforms with roughly the same pricing. But, Teachable doesn’t offer many landing page design and customization options.
If you’re a true beginner then go with Teachable over Thinkific any day. Teachable will solve your basic course creation and marketing requirements to start with.
Teachable is better suited for content creators than Thinkific which is a much more sophisticated platform for teaching.
Thinkific vs Kajabi
Thinkific’s core forte is course creation while Kajabi handles everything from course creation to marketing and selling the same.
Kajabi is much more expensive than Thinkific. But given that Kajabi has advanced marketing features than Thinkific, then it certainly deserves the higher price tag.
If you’re only starting out and need a free plan then Thinkific is the way to go but as you progress, you might need Kajabi. Kajabi’s advanced email marketing, automation, and sales funnels builder called Pipelines make it a much more comprehensive business system.
Thinkific vs Podia
Thinkific is suitable for higher education institutions especially the accredited ones. But Podia is more suitable for DIY content creators which you probably are if you are reading this post.
Podia (review) has only 2 price tiers and Thinkific has 3 price tiers – Podia’s starter pricing is lower than Thinkific if you pay for a year in advance. Podia has a much better customer support team and knowledge resources with training.
While Thinkific offers good course creation features, Podia’s video presentation far exceeds Thinkific. Also, if you’re looking to run a membership too then Podia is a better choice.
Podia is beginner-friendly as well when you’re only starting out, Thinkific does require some technical chops to take full advantage of the platform.
In this post, we saw how Thinkific’s core forte is course creation and management. It is hence suitable for education institutions especially accredited ones.
Even DIY creators can use it but they will have to make a sacrifice on the marketing features which are limited. But, the good thing is that Thinkific offers a free plan too albeit with a 10% commission cut from sales.
Choose Thinkific if you want to lay extra emphasis on course management and if you are a beginner. You can any day integrate Thinkific with 3rd party tools like ClickFunnels for sales funnels and email marketing tools like ConvertKit for marketing.