There are many course building platforms available today, but only a handful are worth even considering. In this article, we look at 2 of those by comparing them side-by-side in the ultimate Thinkific vs Kajabi standoff.
With the world of online courses is booming. In fact, recent research indicates that the industry is set to grow at a rate of 14% between now and 2025 (Cision).
Whether you’re an entrepreneur looking to share your skills online or a blogger looking to generate leads through valuable content, the benefits of e-courses are extensive.
However, with over 10 major online course builders available, how do you decide which to use?
In this article, we’re going to break down everything you need to consider and everything that I looked at in detail before ultimately deciding between the two…
Key Factors To Consider When Building An Online Course
If you’re reading this article, you certainly know the benefits of using an online course builder. From marketing to payment integrations, course builders make it easy for you to set up your course and sell in an automated way.
Simplifying as much of the process as possible allows you to maximize your revenue and save time and money. It’s also important, for most people, that they retain rights over their content.
In comparison to some course building software (like Udemy), Thinkific and Kajabi are great because they enable users to manage all their own data. They’re both incredibly secure, cloud-based platforms.
With that in mind, these are the key categories through which we will compare Thinkific and Kajabi:
- Ease of Design and Design Options
- Pricing Plans
- Marketing and Sales
- Payment Integration
- Student Communication Tools
- Software Performance and Customer Service
It’s important to read through this guide in full so that you get a comprehensive understanding of which software will work best for you, but if you’re pushed for time, check the conclusion paragraph for an overview.
- Certification included
- Highly effective payment integration
- Increased security
- No live customer support available
- Fewer marketing tools incorporated
Thinkific, an all in one-course building platform, is particularly renowned for really simplifying the process of building a course with complex features. It is the unique features- such as the ability to incorporate quizzes- that really make Thinkific stand out to its 51,000-course users (Thinkific.)
Before going into detail on Thinkific’s features, here is a quick summary of its pro’s and con’s.
- Advanced support features
- Automated evergreen webinar
- Advanced marketing tools
- Ease of use and software integration
- More expensive
- Limited numbers of courses and students on the basic plan
Kajabi also describes itself as an “all in one business platform,” stating that users have generated over 1.5 billion dollars to date through the use of their software (Kajabi). Kajabi is not just an online course builder but provides email marketing software, blog software, and more all in one place. Of course, this comes at a higher price and whether or not you decide to go for Kajabi over Thinkific will depend on whether you think it’s “all in one” features are worthwhile…
Let’s look a little deeper into it.
Thinkific vs Kajabi – Side-By-Side Comparison
1. Ease Of Design & Design Options
Both Thinkific and Kajabi incorporate the intuitive drag and drop builder that makes designing a course quick and easy. You don’t need any technical experience to use either software and, since both come with inbuilt templates and themes, it’s easy to design a course that looks good and functions well.
The templates that Kajabi offers are more extensive than those included in Thinkific and more targeted at specific stages of the buyer’s journey. Whilst Thinkific is perfect for businesses providing online education, Kajabi is arguably more suited to new entrepreneurs for this reason.
Thinkific offers the mini-course, flagship course, pre-sell, membership resource, and webinar replay templates where Kajabi offers a range of creative templates that could be suited for different offers.
For example, Kajabi allows you to create evergreen training that you drip feed to current and new users through time. Further than this, it’s really easy to set up automated evergreen webinars which you can use as a pre-sell to your course.
The fact that Kajabi offers so many other functions is great, especially if you want to build your course into a lead generating funnel or sales funnel. It’s also great if you’re just starting out with selling online and want a piece of software that hosts everything you need.
However, because Kajabi’s course builder is just one feature of many- meaning you can have your website, your blog, and more in one place- designing your course can be a little bit more overwhelming.
Unlike with Thinkific, where you can incorporate your course into an existing website, using Kajabi effectively requires that you get your website, funnels, and course optimized at the same time. I personally prefer the range of themes in Thinkific, which are more simple but do the job of separating your course’s landing page out from the competition.
When comparing the specific design features that Thinkific and Kajabi offer, the differences may at first seem subtle. Both of them allow you to incorporate live interactive elements and to include multimedia content with ease.
Both Thinkific and Kajabi and the ability to stream videos seamlessly through Wistia. However, setting up a quiz is far easier to do in Thinkific and, unlike Kajabi, Thinkific also offers the additional interactive element of certification.
Including certifications in your online course incentivizes users to stick it out until the end and also acts as additional marketing for your offer since students are likely to share their certificates on social media.
2. Pricing Plans
Whilst Thinkific is not itself the most affordable course builder on the market, it does offer a free trial and monthly plans ranging from $49 to $499 with a 20% discount if you pay annually. Kajabi, on the other hand, has monthly costs ranging from $119 to $319.
It’s unlikely that you would require the most expensive Thinkific plan unless you had a very large team since its main benefit is the fact that it allows 50-course admins.
So, leaving the Premier package out of the equation, the most expensive Thnkific plan is priced at $79 a month and the least expensive Kajabi plan is priced at $199. This is clearly quite a difference…
However, it is important to bear in mind that, though Kajabi is significantly more expensive than Thinkific, Kajabi includes a lot of other tools for that price.
Not only do you get a great email marketing and customer management integration, but you can use Kajabi to build your entire website and blog. Using this blog to drive traffic to your online course is a massive benefit.
Whether or not you choose to go for the more expensive choice here depends on how much other software your business already has access to.
Each of the packages on both platforms is of good value to money. However, while I will note throughout the article where certain features are not included in certain packages, it’s important to note that Kajabi’s Basic Plan does not offer the highest value for money.
Whilst you get access to a whole host of features, including unlimited landing pages and email marketing, you still have Kajabi branding across all of your assets and you don’t get access to the 24/7 live chat.
3. Marketing and Sales
Both Thinkific and Kajabi have some great marketing and sales tools integrated, which saves you the time and know-how needed to market your course alone. Because of Kajabi’s truly “all in one” nature, the marketing and sales functions that it offers are very extensive.
As well as the ability to visually create full funnels- or what Kajabi refers to as “pipelines” which are designed for lead capture- there are a number of marketing tools that you can use purely to promote your courses.
Kajabi’s email marketing function is particularly useful. Not only are you able to send automated sequences and tag particular users, as in any other email marketing software, but you can send drip campaign emails to announce new course content. This is especially effective if you want to market your course using webinars, which adds an extra interactive element.
Whilst both Thinkific and Kajabi have affiliate marketing functions integrated, Kajabi allows affiliates to sign up to your pages via a separate link. This makes the process way more seamless, especially because you can manage your affiliates from within Kajabi.
Thinkific, on the other hand, offers basic affiliate marketing as well as the option to give a part of your course away in a “free preview.” Whilst these features are sure to boost your course conversion rates, you’d most likely need to invest in some additional marketing software if choosing Thinkific to host your course.
4. Payment Integration
Both Thinkific and Kajabi offer all major payment methods and are linked to both Stripe and PayPal. However, whilst Thinkific only allows your customers to use PayPal on one-time-only sales- rather than subscriptions and so on- Kagabi’s PayPal integration is more flexible.
One important thing to bear in mind is that Thinkific’s payment process is split into two steps, which can put users off from purchasing.
5. Student Communication Tools
Being able to talk to your students is key to resolving issues and improving customer satisfaction rates on your courses.
Whilst Thinkific offers the essentials- the ability to split up courses into private groups and an easy display of data for customer communication- Kajabi’s student communication tools are more extensive.
Their “community” feature allows you to create a standalone forum on your site for your students to communicate on. You can respond to messages yourself or allow other students to collaborate. You can even organize information into topics that can serve as frequently asked questions.
6. Software Performance and Customer Support
Both Kajabi and Thinkific offer high-quality customer service through email, Kajabi really excels in customer support through its 24/7 live chat and Kajabi University feature.
Kajabi University is an incredibly valuable resource, providing full support and training on running and succeeding with online courses.
Not only does the Kajabi University include a great depth of information about course building, but it also includes topics such as funnel building and overall business strategy. Whether you are just starting out in your business with online courses or are looking for a skill refresh, this is invaluable.
Despite this, it’s important to remember that Kajabi doesn’t offer live chat in its basic package and, if you are going to be using Kajabi for a number of functions, this is potentially very risky. Though it is rare, if the system goes down, you lose access not only to your course content and site but to your email lists and more.
If you’ve reached the end of this article and thinking that neither Thinkific nor Kajabi are right for you, I’ve got your back…
A couple of alternative course builders include:
If you are looking for an all-in-one course builder but Kajabi doesn’t seem quite right for you, it is worth taking a look at Katra. Along with great email automation and other marketing functions, Kartra also allows you to host videos without any third-party software. With packages starting from $99, Kartra offers great value for money.
Teachable is a very affordable alternative to Thinkific and Kajabi and yet it still offers a great range of marketing functions including certification and email marketing tools. Check back on our page for a comparison of Teachable and Kajabi.
Whilst Kajabi inarguably has better features- better marketing functions, student communications tools, and more- it is significantly more expensive. In fact, since the basic plan doesn’t include many of Kajabi’s best features, you’re looking at spending upwards of $199 a month.
Whether or not you choose to spend this largely depends on your budget as a company or entrepreneur and how much other software you already have in place.
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