LearnDash vs Kajabi: An Online
Course Platform Comparison
When you're ready to sell your online courses, finding the right online course platform can be overwhelming.
You might find it difficult to make a decision with all of the options on the marketplace.
The right software will have all the features you need, with as few integrations as possible, and ideally works with your existing tech stack.
We're the creators of AccessAlly, an all-in-one membership, and LMS WordPress plugin.
We do ongoing research on other online course platforms and plugins like Kajabi vs LearnDash.
We do this research to help you make the best decision for your business, even if that's not AccessAlly.
In this comparison of Kajabi vs LearnDash, we'll take a look at how they work and how they'll fit with your business.
We'll dive deep into pricing, features, support, and more.
How do LearnDash And Kajabi differ?
LearnDash and Kajabi both offer the ability to build online courses.
This is where the similarities end, and where the differences begin.
If you're already using Kajabi, and have found it limiting, you may be looking for Kajabi alternatives.
If you're already using LearnDash, and found that you need too many integrations, check out LearnDash alternatives.
All-in-One Platform vs WordPress LMS plugin
Kajabi and LearnDash have different software philosophies.
LearnDash’s focus is purely on online course creation, whereas Kajabi has the admirable goal of handling your entire business.
Kajabi: All-In-One Platform
Kajabi is an all-in-one platform. It has a plug-and-play nature that makes it easy to get your business up and running quickly. Kajabi is one of the more popular online course platforms.
Kajabi tries to do everything: host your main website, sell online courses, deliver courses, handle marketing automation pipelines, offer marketing tools, send marketing emails, and design landing pages.
With Kajabi, you sign up for one tool that seamlessly handles everything from payments, course creation with a drag and drop builder, marketing tools, and member management.
LearnDash: WordPress Plugin
LearnDash is a WordPress plugin and focuses on the Learning management system (LMS) functionality. Learning management systems focus on online course features to help students with learning retention. LMS features are essential if you want to run a robust course or membership of any kind.
LearnDash has a robust marketplace with integrations and add-ons available. Using these add-ons is how you'll build out your setup. These add-ons usually come at an additional cost. Some will integrate seamlessly with LearnDash while others will require a third-party tool.
That means you may need to purchase and integrate additional plugins to handle:
- payments and payment administration
- membership levels to run cohesive membership sites
- integration with your CRM for marketing automations
With Kajabi, you sign up for one tool that seamlessly handles everything from payments, course creation, LMS functionality, deep integrations, and member management.
The Platform vs Plugin Dilemma
Platforms, like Kajabi, are known for ease of use.
You don't need a WordPress website to use Kajabi.
You set up on Kajabi's platform, and you run your online course business there. They have marketing tools, page builders, and templates for you.
Your Kajabi site will look like most other Kajabi sites.
Essentially, you're renting business space on Kajabi.
- You won't have much flexibility.
- Your design will look like Kajabi's design.
- Your member's area will look like every other member's area on Kajabi.
Platforms like Kajabi are best for folks that want to get up and running as quickly as possible.
If you want a custom design, Kajabi is not for you. If you want a unique membership flow, Kajabi is not for you. If you want flexibility in your offerings, Kajabi is not for you.
If you have a simple offering, simple design, and don't mind looking like everyone else, Kajabi is for you!
WordPress plugins are different.
You need a WordPress.org site to use WordPress plugins.
They can still be easy to get up and running, but you'll be making unique decisions for your member area.
It won't look like everyone else's.
You'll have flexibility and design options.
Some folks are afraid of the technology required to run a WordPress membership site.
Like anything though, it's worth learning because of what you'll get in the end.
Having your site setup on WordPress is a long-term business decision.
It will save you from painful migrations in the future.
It will let you change and pivot as the market does without reaching limitations or roadblocks on platforms.
Limits on Members, Courses, and Products
Kajabi’s different pricing tiers limit the number of products, courses, and active members you can have, in turn limiting your business’ growth.
If you want to offer a free course to someone when they opt-in to your email list as your lead magnet (what AccessAlly calls a Login Optin™), you’d be limited to 1000 sign ups on the $129/month plan, or 10,000 sign ups on the $389/month plan.
The signup limit is not effective for list building, or turning free members into paid participants.
With LearnDash there are no such limits. You can have as many members as you want, and as many courses or products as you want. There are 3 pricing tiers for LearnDash based on the number of site licenses you need, or desired reporting options.
Keep in mind that you might need to add-on some additional paid plugins to make LearnDash do everything you need, but these tend to be one-time or yearly costs and not tied to your sales.
Extensibility & Ownership Between Kajabi and WordPress
With Kajabi, you’re hosting your website and courses on their closed platform, with no easy way to take your content with you when you cancel or decide to move on.
Because the Kajabi system is closed, you can’t easily extend it by installing add-ons and plugins. That means you can’t add an integrated forum, gamification, or other features that could improve your courses. Kajabi has recently released community features to create forums so they are continuing to develop and introduce new features over time.
LearnDash took a different approach: it’s a WordPress plugin so you’re not building your site on rented land. However, when it comes to creating courses, LearnDash uses a proprietary Custom Post Type that allows you to designate modules and lessons. If you cancel your LearnDash license, your content isn't usable anymore. Fortunately, some plugins, like AccessAlly, can help you retrieve your content and migrate it if you decide to move away from this plugin.
Unlike Kajabi, LearnDash does provide integrations to extend on its core functionality. It's not unheard of for LearnDash users to have 6 or more different plugins to make sure everything works together to create a functional learning experience. Be conscious about your tech stack though, because the more plugins you add, the more risk you assume for things to go wrong.
LearnDash is a great plugin if you only sell one course and don’t require a lot of additional functionality.
Move away from restrictive platforms.
Have full control of your content, members, and their experience on your site.
Spend your time doing what you do best, not struggling with frustrating platform restrictions.
Onboarding & Customer Support
It’s imperative for SaaS and tech companies to have a strong customer support system in place to ensure the success of their users with their product.
Kajabi’s customer support is available 24/7 via email and live chat. If you sign up for an annual plan you also receive two 1:1 sessions with their team to work through your setup. They also have an extensive knowledge base and in-app training to help you with the setup, step-by-step.
In comparison, LearnDash doesn’t have 24/7 support. Their hours are Monday-Friday from 7am-4pm EST.
Don’t let this deter you though. We have found that email support is very effective, especially when you have a more complex question to troubleshoot. It allows the support team time to sort through the issue and confidently provide you with a resolution.
What matters most to LMS users in 2021?
We’ve all felt the physical, social, mental, and emotional toll that 2020 left on us as individuals, business owners, and the impacts it’s had on our businesses.
Now, in 2021, when we can adapt not only as individuals but as business owners, we can thrive, even in the face of unprecedented times.
What’s most important to you right now?
If you’re exploring online products, courses, programs, or memberships online for the first time, you’re going to have questions. With the right software and support, you can get up and running quickly and give your clients exactly what they’re wanting.
So, now, in 2021, keep adaptability in mind. Think about how to best support your clients. Create engaging products to not only enhance their knowledge but make it a fun environment they look forward to logging into every day.
Integration With Your Marketing Automation Platform
With Kajabi, the extent of its integration with your CRM or marketing automation system is that it allows you to activate or deactivate members, however additional integrations can happen with a 3rd party tool such as Zapier.
If you’re using Kajabi’s built-in marketing automation functionality, you have a lot more control over the communications you send and when from within the platform based on user’s actions.
With LearnDash, you’ll need a 3rd party tool such as Zapier or WPFusion to connect your online courses built on your WordPress site to pass information back to your CRM.
Say goodbye to duct taped solutions.
Take full control of your membership site and online courses with AccessAlly and your CRM.
Stand out from everyone else with this powerful integration.
Your members will keep coming back for more!
Membership Site & Course Design Flexibility
Kajabi’s downfall for brand-conscious entrepreneurs is their limited theme customization, although it has come a long way since its early days and is evolving to keep up with the rise in popularity of WordPress page builders. One thing to keep in mind, is the fact that you cannot remove the Kajabi branding if you sign up for the lowest pricing tier.
It’s a great tool for beginners who aren’t very specific about the look and feel of their sites, but not ideal for those who want full design flexibility.
With Kajabi, you can pick from a handful of legacy themes and make edits, or use the Premier framework to adapt various layout presets. You’re limited to 8 fonts and fixed design options, unless you want to dig into the Liquid programming language to edit templates by hand.
On the other hand, LearnDash is a plugin for WordPress, so it integrates with any WordPress theme or builder plugin. Their built-in course layouts and focus mode are compatible with most page builders.
The built-in course builder has a drag-and-drop editor that makes it easy to add your content and re-use lessons or topics from existing courses. However, when it comes to the look and feel of your course pages, it’s lacking in flexibility. Aside from specifying a few colors, you won’t have full customization over the course layout and design.
You get the AccessAlly theme for free with your AccessAlly license.
That means you can get up and running quicker than ever, all with a beautiful, custom, branded design.
Learning Reinforcements: Quizzes, Progress-Tracking, Homework, And Certificates
This is where LearnDash really shines.
LearnDash allows you to add a quiz or assessment at any level throughout a course, whether it’s at the end of a course, a specific lesson, or topic. With 8 question types to choose from, timed assessments, and the ability to submit any type of media as an input field, your options are endless.
You can also require homework submissions after lessons or topics, and issue report cards and track homework and assessments with gradebooks.
LearnDash has even taken their progress-tracking to a new level in their most recent release, tracking course progress across all levels of the course, baked right into the layout.
You can also use LearnDash’s built-in certificates to reward your members as soon as they complete a course. This is a great way to motivate students to complete the material.
While Kajabi does allow you to create assessments to reinforce the material and test student retention, your options for quiz and question types aren’t as robust. Their questions are limited to multiple choice and multiple selection options, only.
Up until recently, progress tracking for courses was not possible for Kajabi users. However, at the time of this review, progress tracking is currently in beta for a small group of Kajabi users so you can expect to see this rolled out to all users in the near future.
Bulk Course Enrollment & Umbrella Accounts
If you want to offer "bulk licenses" or the ability to have umbrella parent/child accounts, where a group leader can assign sub-accounts, say for a corporate training team or family accounts.
Unfortunately, Kajabi does not offer bulk course enrollment functionality.
With LearnDash you'll need to purchase an additional plugin that is developed by another company.
Take control of how you sell your offers.
Sell to groups, teams, communities, or schools of any size ...on your terms.
Team leaders can manage their team, add members, see progress, and more from their unique dashboard.
Challenge yourself to rethink your offer.
How can you sell to more people?
E-Commerce & Affiliate Functionality
Kajabi has built-in Stripe and PayPal integration with coupons using a multi-step order form. However, you cannot take recurring subscription payments or run payment plans with PayPal on Kajabi.
Kajabi also offers affiliate tracking functionality in their mid and high-level plans. However, it does not allow you to add swipe copy and advertising banners for your affiliates to access in your members' area. If you’re looking for a streamlined affiliate center and PayPal recurring payments, I recommend looking at AccessAlly as an alternative to Kajabi.
LearnDash has limited built-in e-commerce functionality, however, if you have a simple setup and only offer one-time payments for courses, no additional plugins are needed and it natively integrates with PayPal, Stripe and 2checkout.
However, if you’re selling subscriptions or offering payment plans, an add-on or additional plugin is needed to achieve this functionality. The same holds true for affiliate features.
This is where the costs and complexity start to add up for LearnDash.
Your workflow on LearnDash vs Kajabi:
- Install the plugin on your WordPress membership site
- Install a payment plugin or purchase an additional shopping cart tool (and possibly an additional affiliate plugin)
- Install a membership plugin, and configure it
- Install or set-up CRM integration plugin, team licensing add-ons, member directory add-ons, etc.
- Dig into your site's CSS and hack the LearnDash design to match your branding
- Use the LearnDash course builder to design your course structure
- Set up your quizzes, link them to lessons
- Create your account, choose your Kajabi theme and make minor edits
- Set up a custom domain with a CloudFlare account for SSL
- Sign up for a Zapier account to get data out of Kajabi into your CRM
- Set up your marketing automation system
- Run through the sales Pipelines, or Course setup wizards
- Upload your videos and content directly into Kajabi
- Set up payments and the terms of purchase
- Set up more Zapier zaps to integrate with other systems for added functionality
- Or, wait for Kajabi to release the features you want to add to your courses
LearnDash and Kajabi Features Comparison
We’re a digital marketing software company built by marketers and software engineers.
With our particular background and expertise, we’ve designed our membership and LMS plugin AccessAlly, to give you everything you need in an easy-to-use, powerful package.
Here you’ll see where LearnDash and Kajabi fall short or shine in comparison:
|Protected course content|
|Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments||No recurring with PayPal|
|Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics|
|Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus||No tags||No tags|
|Deep 2-Way Integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip|
|Multiple currencies, automated expiring coupons, and order bumps|
|Cart abandonment automation|
|Progress tracking, and progress-based unlocking content|
|Multiple types of quizzes, and auto generated certificates of completion|
|Course Licensing with Teams or Umbrella Accounts|
|Searchable member directories and editable custom fields through profiles|
|Gamification where members can earn points, and activity-based automation, login tracking|
|Media player, video bookmarks, tagging automation on quizzes|
|Cross-selling dashboards, with 1-click upsells|
|Built-in affiliate tracking with multiple tiers, links, and reporting||Limited features|
The True Cost of Kajabi vs LearnDash
These pricing models will give you an idea of what you can expect, when comparing the cost of Kajabi vs. LearnDash but it's not the whole picture.
If you plan to use Kajabi to handle your email marketing automation and website, then it may be more advantageous to go with this option.
However, if you've already got an email marketing automation platform and a website, it doesn't make sense to pay more for Kajabi - especially because your monthly costs will increase steeply as you add more free or paid members, and courses.
On the other hand, with LearnDash, which only handles your Learning Management System (LMS), you'll also need to add a payment processor, order forms, membership plugin, website hosting, video hosting, and other add-ons - like groups for forums.
Keep this in mind as you’re comparing pricing so you’re being mindful of your true investment.
Make Your Choice...
Kajabi might be right for you if…
- You need a bare-bones course website, with no plans for added functionality down the line
- You want to have your site up and running quickly, so you can test your ideas without worrying about design
- You don’t use a CRM like Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, or Drip to do your email marketing automation
- You don’t mind giving up full control to have a website, email marketing, and course platform that handles everything in one place
LearnDash might be right for you if…
- You are open to a larger tech stack, and using a lot of different plugins to achieve your goals
- You absolutely need SCORM or Tin-Can LMS integration
- You're not picky about the look-and-feel of your course
- You don't need deep CRM integration to create more personalized customer experiences, but you do need a lot of quizzing options
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