Updated September 24, 2019 – Tip: if you’d like free training on creating and selling online courses, be sure to check out this free Thinkific Webinar on the 5-step blueprint to launching your next online course.
How to decide between Teachable vs Thinkific? If you are a solo edupreneur or small business that’s looking for a platform to sell online courses, there is a good chance this is a question on your mind.
With all the online course platforms on the market, there’s bound to be a lot of overlap in features – along with a lot of frustration in making a choice! You know you want to create a course, you have an idea for a course, but sifting through all the options can be downright tedious.
And, since they are currently the clear leaders in the standalone online course platform market, deciding between Teachable vs Thinkific can be a real challenge.
But don’t worry! I’m here to help by offering a compare and contrast of the two that will highlight the key similarities and differences.
What are Teachable and Thinkific?
First things first, Teachable and Thinkific are both cloud-based learning management systems (LMSes). This means that, rather than having to host your courses on your own website, they take care of the hosting for you. There’s no need to install any software, upload any plugins, or tinker with pesky HTML or CSS coding. You can simply bypass the major learning hurdles of web design.
And, critical for education and training businesses, both LMSes also function as e-commerce platforms that allow you to market and sell your courses.All you have to do is sign up (you can start for free with each) and sign into your account for smooth-sailing course creation.
Teachable and Thinkific allow you to create and upload content, manage and moderate your students, and customize the design of your course and website. One of the best aspects of both these top-tier choices is that they can function as all-in-one solutions. They take care of the intimidating techie aspects of course creation, website building, and sales! You won’t need much more than your account and (optionally) a domain name to point it to!
Now let’s pit the two against each other to see what makes each of them unique. This review will provide some clarity about which platform is best suited to your individual needs!
Teachable vs Thinkific: Key Differences
As you can see in the chart above, many features between the two platforms overlap. As a matter of fact, the two platforms have been in intense competition from the beginning, and as such, are constantly upgrading their pricing plans and features. Therefore, some of comparisons above may no longer hold true by the time you read this review. Nevertheless, there are a few consistent and noteworthy differences between the two.
Course development and interactivity
At the end of the day, both platforms allow you to go beyond the basics in course development. The basics include features such as uploading a wide variety of multimedia content (e.g., unlimited video hosting), creating lessons, organizing them into modules, as well as creating quizzes and assessments that can determine whether or not students can receive certificates of completion.
That being said, unlike Teachable, Thinkific enables you to create surveys and polls to conduct assessments and collect feedback about your course. While both platforms offer detailed course tracking and analytics, the ability to receive real-time feedback provides valuable information for course upgrades and improvements.
Then, there’s the important issue of interactivity and learner engagement. The value of your course isn’t just dependent on the content, but the delivery. Students best absorb information when they’re actively learning versus passively receiving information. That’s why I find that Teachable has a slight advantage from an instructional design perspective. For example, you can create lessons expressly for the purpose of receiving (or rejecting!) assignments and projects.
Finally, when it comes to actually building courses, ease of navigation is an important consideration – you want the course creation process to be as user friendly as possible. Fortunately, both platforms allow you to upload and arrange your content via drag and drop. However, certain navigational features make Teachable more user-friendly. For example, if you’d like to change a setting for multiple courses – a course expiration date, for example – you can do it all on a single page in Teachable. With Thinkific, on the other hand, you’ll need to go into the backend of each course individually.
Overall, when it comes to ease of operability, flexibility, and interactivity, Teachable wins out.
However, Thinkific offers way more comprehensive solutions in the area of quizzes, surveys, and assessments, such as randomized questions and native exam solutions. And, Thinkific also gets a point for allowing you to import content from widely-used course authoring platforms such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate.
Website design and customizability
When evaluating e-learning platforms, it’s important to factor in your course /school Web site design, which depends on the templates available and the extent to which you can modify them.
While not as comprehensive as full-fledged all-in one platforms like Kajabi, both Teachable and Thinkific allow to host your courses on a professional-looking Web site using a free subdomain or, with paid plans, your own custom domain name. With the higher priced plans for each you can also add your custom logo and branding via white-labelling. Either way, these platforms take care of the technicalities like security and maintenance!
Still, with Web site design, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best course-creation platforms afford you the most flexibility. Unfortunately, Teachable just doesn’t show up on this front. Teachable only has one site theme. However, it does allow you to customize your logo, background, colors, and font. On the other hand, Thinkific comes with a site builder that offers multiple themes with multiple styles to suit your specific needs! So in this area, Thinkific clearly has an edge.
This distinction in Web site customization can also be seen in Teachable vs. Thinkific’s page-building capabilities. For example, while both platforms’ drag-and-drop page-builders are extremely easy to use, Thinkific’s page editor also offers more native customization options. With Teachable, this flexibility is relatively limited. But contrary to Thinkific, Teachable allows you to modify your webpages with HTML/CSS coding.
The bottom line is that if you’re prioritizing custom branding and design flexibility, then Thinkific is the clear winner.
Marketing and sales
No matter how great your course is, marketing and sales will inevitably determine its ultimate success. So marketing and sales capabilities should definitely not be taken lightly when evaluating which platform is right for you. Fortunately, both platforms deliver sophisticated solutions in this regard. For example, they both offer the ability to:
- Sell lifetime courses
- Create subscriptions
- Generate coupon codes
- Bundle courses
- Conduct email marketing campaigns
- Launch affiliate marketing programs
- Use Google analytics and course tracking
Clearly, both offer comprehensive e-commerce tools. But there are some key differences.
First, Teachable offers the ability to create blogs to generate website traffic and build your audience, while Thinkific doesn’t.
Second, and probably most importantly, Teachable has a more easy and efficient check-out process. Any prospective customer can navigate your website and purchase your product all on one page by simply filling in their details and payment information. But for some reason, Thinkific requires your buyers to create an account first before accessing the payment page. As you can imagine, to maximize customer conversion rates, you need to simplify and streamline this process. So, from a sales standpoint, Teachable has a significant advantage.
Moreover, unlike Thinkific, Teachable offers a variety of conversion elements such as testimonial pages and upsells! So if marketing and sales is at the forefront of your decision-making process, then Teachable is the no-brainer choice.
Within the e-learning industry, it’s a well-known fact that the overwhelming majority of LMS systems offer support only through online tutorials and support tickets that have response times of up to 24 hours or longer. But those who aren’t tech-savvy rely on the security of exceptional customer support, especially when experiencing technical issues that impact revenue.
Fortunately, both Teachable and Thinkific have good track records for customer support – a feature only found in the upper tiers of LMSes. Still, when I hear of an LMS system with live support, my ears perk up because the most valuable assistance is both personalized and in real-time! So, when it comes to customer/technical support, Teachable wins yet again with its live chat support system! Big caveat: to gain access to this feature, you need to purchase their professional or business plan (the basic plan only offers email support).
Teachable vs Thinkific pricing
Speaking of Teachable’s professional and plus plans, you’re probably keen to know what the pricing boils down to As close competitors, these two platforms are always tinkering with their features and upgrading their pricing accordingly. The prices cited in this article might not be the same at the time you’re reading this, but in general, the companies tend to be very similarly priced.
Keep in mind that both platforms offer a free plan, making it easy to try them out. Teachable makes this option much less clear – you have to scroll to the bottom of the pricing page, or you can just click here and proceed with setting up a free account.
Thinkific’s free plan gives you access to their core feature set which includes 3 courses, but all the paid plans include unlimited courses and students. The basic plan for Thinkific is $49/month, whereas Thinkific’s most popular professional plan costs $99/month. The most expensive and exhaustive plan is the business plan which is priced at $499/month. But in every plan, including the free plan, there are no transaction fees!
On the other hand, withTeachable’s free plan, there is a transaction fee of 10% of your selling price plus $1 per enrollment. When you jump up to a paid plan, Teachable’s basic plan is a bit cheaper than Thinkific’s at $39/month, but does charge a 5% transaction fees – so, it could end up costing you more than Thinkific’s plan, depending on your pricing and volume of sales. The professional plan costs $99/month while the business plan costs $399/month – and transaction fees disappear with each.
Note that all of the pricing quoted here is based on paying monthly. Both companies offer discounts – at a similar level – for paying for plans on a yearly basis. For the most up-to-date pricing, be sure to check out the pricing pages on each company;s Web site:
Teachable vs Thinkific: Final thoughts
The bottom line is that both of these are very solid platforms. Each has a relatively long track record in the market at this point and can claim a number of “star” users – like Pat Flynn on Teachable or Dorie Clark on Thinkific.
So, the choice really comes down to your business and instructional goals.
If you prioritize freedom and functionality with the look and feel of your course website, ease with managing bulk content and sales, as well as the ability to create sophisticated quizzes, surveys, and assessments, then I’d recommend Thinkific.
On the other hand, if your priorities are centered more on the teaching elements such as student engagement and interactivity, ease of navigation on the front and back-end of your site, as well as efficient customer conversion processes, then Teachable may be the better option for you.
Bottom line: Thinkific wins for overall course website capabilities, managing bulks sales and content, and quiz/testing capabilities. Teachable wins for student engagement and interactivity, ease of navigation, selling/conversion tools, and customer support.
If you still need time to think, then why don’t you take advantage of Thinkific’s free plan and play around with its core features? If you fall in love with it, then you can always upgrade!
And, you can also sign up for a free Teachable account, giving you the chance to do your own comparison of the two platforms.
Finally, to help you get really clear about your decision, definitely sign up for Learning Revolution’s free online course platform selection guide. You’ll get valuable guidance on how to choose a platform as well as selection worksheet – built from more than a decade of helping people choose online course platforms – to guide your successful selection process.
By Sydney Mansaray for Learning Revolution
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