The Thinkific online course platform states that it has the features to help you create, market, and sell online courses from your own website. It seems like a reputable company with thousands of course creators and students using it. For instance, some of the clients include Hootsuite, York University, and Intuit.
As with most online course creators, Thinkific can be used for internal training at companies, as a for-profit course module online, or as a way for actual universities and schools to create online course solutions.
According to some users, and the Thinkific company itself, this platform caters to those who want full control over their online course design. It also looks like Thinkific has some seamless automation tools to remove all the tedious work on your end.
Well, my job is to test the product and see if these claims are true, so keep reading this in-depth Thinkific review to see if it's the right online course platform for you.
Thinkific Review: The Best Features and How They Benefit You
An excellent online course building platform typically offers you the features you need from start to finish. This includes the course building, the marketing, the selling, and the teacher/student management.
Systems like Thinkific don't host courses on your own website. Your content is actually hosted with Thinkific (so you don't have to go out and find your own hosting,) but it still gives you complete control over what your website looks like.
A Mostly Drag and Drop Editor for Quick Course Design
Part of the reason Thinkific looks so great compared to the competition is that of its course designer. You don't have to mess with any code if you don't want to.
In fact, all of your content is organized using a simple drag and drop editor, where you stack the course content and move it around vertically.
Speaking of content, Thinkific supports uploads of almost all media types. From PDFs to audio files, and surveys to quizzes, the platform is great for offering up a wide range of learning resources for your students.
As we mentioned before, all of these files are hosted on the Thinkific servers. Therefore, you shouldn't have to worry much about a file being too large or running slowly on your own shared servers.
When you customize your course site it offers some handy editing tools for the beginners out there. For instance, you can adjust items like banners, color schemes, and logos, all without touching any code.
However, the more advanced developers have complete control over the HTML and CSS. So, if you want to make your site unique, the option is there for you.
Excellent Student Management and Communication Modules
During my Thinkific review, I noticed the smoothness of the student communication tools. It's a visual student management area, with pictures of your students, names, contact information, and details for how far they are in your course.
You have the option to send customized emails to each of the students or create a conversation with the entire community.
Incentives are also a part of this learning environment since Thinkific offers completion certificates, report cards, and of course, the emails for sending out just about anything you want during courses.
Along with unlimited replays of course material, language controls, and mobile optimization, students working with the Thinkific platform should feel right at home.
Promotions on Autopilot
Some online course platforms fail in the promotions arena. This is unfortunate since there's no way to start making money unless people know that your course exists.
Thinkific does it the right way, with marketing and promotional tools built into the program. Much of this is automated as well. So, if you'd like to drip content to your students–where certain courses would be released over time–Thinkific has this functionality.
Furthermore, you have the ability to target the right people and send out automated emails based on a schedule. Pricing is also done through Thinkific, along with the option to get paid immediately when someone signs up for your course.
As for getting people outside of your website to come try it out, Thinkific includes an affiliate marketing program to reward bloggers and other people who recommend your course. Coupons are also provided through Thinkific, giving you a chance to create ads with specials and convince newcomers that your course is worth investing in.
Everything from coupons to affiliates is tracked right in the dashboard, and you can also link your Adwords, Facebook, and other social accounts to see where students are coming from.
Thinkific Review: How's the Pricing?
Although I've yet to find an online course platform that has many hidden fees, Thinkific advertises that it too has no hidden fees or contracts including no transaction fees on any plans. That's good to know, but nothing special.
However, Thinkific does offer a free plan for those who want to test out the platform but not get bogged down by limitations. In theory, it helps you launch your store and start building a student base without having to pay a dime. There's also a free trial if you'd rather give one of the more advanced plans a whirl.
The pricing is broken up into four simple plans:
- Free: Thinkific’s free plan would be a good choice for those who only want very basic features. There’s no access to things like content dripping or certificates for your students. You also can’t pass student data through to your email service provider, or link in an affiliate program unless you go pro. This plan is limited to 3 courses, but otherwise everything you need to validate your course business: create, market, and sell your courses, content hosting, basic integrations, Stripe/PayPal support, and instant access to all funds.
- Basic: The basic plan costs $49 per month. This includes everything from the free plan but with unlimited courses, plus extra features like the ability to drip your content and create an unlimited number of courses. You also get access to some sales and marketing tools too. One big bonus of the Basic plan is that it integrates with various email marketing solutions too. For $49 per month you receive all core features, coupons and promotions, monthly subscriptions, course bundles, intermediate integrations, basic Zapier, drip content, affiliate reporting, a bulk student emailer, custom domain, and additional course prices.
- The Pro Plan: The Pro plan is the next step up from Basic, and it comes with everything you need to run a successful course, including CSS/HTML editing, support for 2 site administrator accounts and 5 course admins. For $99 per month you get the features from all previous plans, completion certificates, private and hidden courses, site white labeling, a host storyline, intermediate Zapier, webhooks, three-course admin accounts, advanced HTML/CSS editing, priority support, instructor payout reporting, an onboarding call, payment plans, and a direct Infusionsoft integration.
- Premier: Costing $499 per month, the Premier plan is the most expensive option from Thinkific, and it comes with access to a range of crucial features, including bulk emailing, white labelled courses and so much more. Users can send emails to multiple students at once, integrate with advanced marketing and sales tools, and even create an exam for their course. You get up to 50 course admins and 5 site admins with this package. Plus, there’s another useful feature in the form of Groups, which allows you to organize your students into segments. Some features, like public API and single-sign-on are geared towards small businesses and larger companies, bulk emailing and white labelling are great for anyone.
Thinkific has some great advantages to its pricing layout. Not only can you start your course for free (something that's not offered with competitors like Teachable,) but the additional three plans are broken down in a logical fashion.
After all, you most likely don't need API access until you really start getting advanced with your course selling.
I wouldn't mind seeing the completion certificates and the HTML editing in the Basic plan, but $99 per month still isn't that bad.
Finally, you can also save money by paying on an annual basis. So, the Basic plan goes down to $39 per month if you pay it all upfront.
Thinkific Customer Support
The pre-sale support looks decent since the website is informative and you can browse through some case studies and real-world customers who have made their online courses with Thinkific.
The Resource page includes product demos for you to get started with Thinkific without signing up for a plan. You'll also find a full blog with several tutorials to guide you along the way. A free video training is also available on the Thinkific site, along with some links to the company's social media platforms.
For direct support, Thinkific provides a Help Center, complete with a getting started guide, training and community section. The community forums are filled with conversations from real users, and the support docs are your best bet for finding detailed technical solutions.
Finally, Thinkific has a contact form that places you in the ticketing queue. You don't have an option to call a direct support line or talk with someone through a chatbox. However, some of the plans have onboarding guidance, and the Business plan gets you priority support.
Overall, the online resources are impressive, but it would be nice to at least have some sort of phone line support for those who like speaking with actual people.
Thinkific Payment Options
It’s not just Thinkific pricing packages that you need to think about when you’re deciding whether or not to use this service. You also need to consider how you’re going to manage payments too. Integrating with a payment processor is essential so you can begin to take payments for your courses. Once you begin accepting payments, you’ll receive funds from the payment processor you choose.
The first step in getting paid with Thinkific, is setting up your payment processor. Thinkific automatically supports direct integrations with leading tools like Stripe and PayPal. You can also choose if you want to integrate with one or both options for your course builder.
The Thinkific system supports the core features of PayPal and Stripe, and you can set your own course pricing before you publish the lessons online.
If you choose Stripe as your payment method, you’ll see the payment option listed as a credit card as part of your order details. You’ll also automatically get payouts to your bank account. You can change how frequently the payouts come to your Stripe account too and set up a distinct schedule.
If you pick PayPal for your payment solution, then you’ll see PayPal’s name listed in the order details. The payments accessed through PayPal need to manually transfer into your bank account. You can also check the instructions on how to get PayPal on the PayPal website.
Reviewing your payments and where they came from is as simple as clicking on the Orders Report in your Thinkific dashboard.
Thinkific supports a wide selection of integrations to help you take your course experience to the next level. There are plenty of great options to choose from. Head to your Admin dashboard, in the Market & Sell sections, and you’ll see an Integrations tab. Here you can find:
- Ecommerce integrations: Like PayPal and Stripe
- Email marketing integrations: For ConvertKit, MailChimp, AWeber, ActiveCampaign and Constant Contact.
- Analytics integrations: For Mixpanel, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Site Verification, Conversion Tracking (AdWords), etc.
- Communication integrations: For Intercom, Highways.io, etc
Thinkific also offers a series of integrations with Infusionsoft by Keap, and payment solutions supported by Infusionsoft by Keap. If you want to go beyond the basics with Thinkific integrations, you can explore Zapier. There’s also the option to create courses and sell them through Shopify with Thinkific.
Remember that the add-on options for course creation on Thinkific are constantly changing. Make the most of your business growth package by checking for new plugins all the time. You’ll find support for everything from Brillium to Convertkit.
Thinkific Reporting and Analytics
Reporting is an important part of any business strategy. Your user report is a particularly helpful feature on Thinkific, because it helps to manage a larger, and more engaged user base.
You can use the user report function to easily view information about your students and select which data you most want to see when you’re visiting your reports dashboard, such as number of enrollments or creation date. You can segment and export different lists of users by using the filter section in the user report too. Filter options include:
- Course admin
- Amount spent
- Enrolled in
- Group analyst
- Enrollment status
- External source
- Group name
- Has purchased
- Last sign in
- Filter course progress
- Used coupon
In terms of progress reports, Thinkific offers three options:
- Progress reports: An insight into the progress of students and their activity in your course. You can see which students started which course when they completed it and more.
- Cohort reports: Compare student completion rates by group of students with a common start date. All of the students who signed up in March, for instance, would be part of your March Cohort, making it easier to compare by month.
- Group reports: Similar to progress reports, these show you information related to a specific group. You need to see details for all students in the group, including email, name, and completion rates for courses they’re enrolled in.
What are the Best Thinkific Alternatives?
If you know you need an excellent online learning platform for your new business, but Thinkific doesn’t check all the right boxes, then you can always look at some of the available alternatives instead. For instance:
Udemy is a popular way to sell online courses if you want to avoid working with code. The platform is very user-friendly, with lots of tools to help you grow, such as custom pricing options, a handy support team, and plenty of marketing solutions.
Udemy stands out in the online learning platform because you don’t need to design an environment for education from scratch. You instantly publish your course on an environment that has plenty of interest from various customers already.
Unfortunately, you don’t have quite as much control over certain elements with Udemy as you do with Thinkific pricing plans. You don’t create your own sub domain or website with this learning platform, but instead join a membership site.
- Very easy to get started and find new students
- SEO friendly so you can rank better
- No need to know about any coding information.
- Decent support for online learning, including phone support
- Mobile access to courses is available on paid plans
- Only really suitable for your first course, hard to get a great income
- No website or sub domain
- No branding flexibility
Another top choice for those in search of a course creation platform for their eCommerce strategy, is Podia. This handy learning management system makes it easy to share your work with the masses. You can easily sell a range of online memberships according to different pricing options. There’s also support for digital downloads and customization elements.
If you’re searching for a site that has everything you need for a brilliant online education, Podia has you covered. This user-friendly product comes with access to secure payment processing, social media access, and more. Podia also comes with a lot of pricing choices for your course business.
One possible downside is that although Podia makes it easy to sell courses, it’s lacking some advanced features like reporting which you can get with Thinkific.com and Thinkific plus.
- Good customer support
- Easy use and set-up
- New features constantly added
- No content restrictions
- Invoicing and VAT support
- Make your own URL
- Live webinars help you get started
- Own your data and customer list
- Access earnings immediately
- Limited payment choices
- Not easy to personalize email marketing
- No support built-in for analytics
3. Academy of Mine
A fantastic solution for online education, Academy of Mine makes it easy to connect with unlimited students online. If you want a powerful LMS that comes with convenient back-end management tools, Academy of Mine has got you covered. This powerful tool simplifies your life by providing everything you need to create and promote successful courses.
With Academy of Mine, you manage all of your educational tools with ease and you get a powerful marketing strategy too. There’s support for quizzes and assignments so you can ensure that your students are making the right progress. There’s also an option to access payments from a range of different platform solutions too.
With Academy of Mine, you can use eCommerce tools, accept credit cards, or just take PayPal, there’s also plenty of support for SEO too.
- Brilliant range of prices for paid subscriptions
- Plenty of support
- Access to student reward options
- Lots of coupons for encouraging sales
- Packaging options for course bundling
- Easy options to navigate your student community
- Lots of custom components for your courses
- Great for back-end management
- Not the best knowledgebase.
- Takes a while to understand the interface completely
- Limited marketing options.
Why should I choose Thinkific for my online course?
Thinkific is an easy-to-access tool for courses that allows you to make your own lessons online without any prior coding experience. You’ll receive out-of-the-box integrations, as well as full ownership for your site, so you can customize it according to your needs. Thinkific also supports better experiences for customers at every step, from the point someone arrives on your website, to the time when they complete their goals. You also get an entire support team to back you through this journey, with plenty of extensive knowledge to give.
Can you switch to Thinkific from another platform?
Thinkific supports a seamless transition process for people migrating from a custom-built website, or a learning management system. The support team is on-hand to answer any question you have around content migration and similar concerns. The support team is also committed to ensuring that items like enrollment dates, student progress, and login information remain in-tact when transitioning to the Thinkific platform.
Can you create a full website with Thinkific?
While some course creation platforms only give you a space on an existing membership platform, Thinkific allows you to build an entire online site from scratch. You get everything you need in one state-of-the-art platform, and you don’t need any existing experience with web design to get started either. Even if you do have technical expertise, you can find ways to leverage it with things like website personalization elements and marketing.
Can you put any kind of content in a Thinkific course?
Thinkific is very flexible in the kind of content it can support. You can access everything from video and audio, to images and PDFs within your courses. There’s room for presentations too. Thinkific makes it very easy to add things like custom lesson types, quizzes and assignments into the mix, so you can build a course that works for you. There’s also support for a wide range of lesson and media types to help you maintain a great interactive experience.
Who Should Consider the Thinkific Online Course Platform?
I like Thinkific for anyone interested in making a completely new online store. The interface is clean and powerful, and you get all the tools needed to build your store without the requirements of your own hosting or website.
I also like it for organizations that want to test the waters and build a following. The free Thinkific plan should work fine for some smaller courses, and it's the ideal package for getting your course setup with no upfront costs. Oh yeah, and most competitors, like Teachable, don't have this free option.
- Get started for free!
- Read Thinkific's full Guide to learn more about how to create and sell Online Courses.
If you have any questions about this Thinkific review, share your thoughts in the comments!