LifterLMS vs. Podia: An In-Depth Software Comparison
Are you starting an online course? A brand new membership? Or maybe you're already up and running, but looking to uplevel your member's area.
You may be considering LifterLMS or Podia. We'll take a close look at LifterLMS vs. Podia and how each of these will support your online courses and memberships.
We’re the creators of AccessAlly, a learning management system (LMS) WordPress plugin. We research and write these pages because the marketplace can be downright overwhelming.
We want to help you make the best decision for your business, even if that’s not AccessAlly.
We’ll compare LifterLMS vs. Podia in detail by taking a close look at their differences in overall structure, pricing, features, e-commerce functionality, integrations, and more.
By the end of this page, you’ll have a clear understanding of which is better for your business, Podia or LifterLMS.
We’ll also compare features of LifterLMS vs. Podia in a side-by-side comparison chart with AccessAlly.
How Do Podia and LifterLMS Differ?
The biggest differences come in their overall structure, Podia is a platform, and LifterLMS is a WordPress plugin. This is one of the biggest membership site software debates!
Podia is more out-of-the-box, and they strive to have everything you need to run a business, from website building, email marketing, accepting payments, to your courses, memberships, digital downloads, or webinars.
LifterLMS is solely focused on a learning management system (LMS) for your courses and memberships. LifterLMS has core functionality, and from there you use add-ons and integrations to build your setup.
The pricing structures are different: with Podia you pay a flat rate, while with LifterLMS you pay for your specific setup through bundles or add-ons.
We’ll dive into these differences and more throughout the page.
LifterLMS vs. Podia, Compared To AccessAlly
LifterLMS vs. Podia: Side-by-Side Feature Comparison
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty feature comparisons with examples and use cases, let's get a visual of how these features compare.
|Protected course content|
|Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments|
|Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics|
|Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus|
|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|
Platform vs. Plugin
Apples or Oranges?
As we mentioned, Podia is a platform, meaning that you sign up for your account, then build your business from the Podia platform. It’s an all-in-one platform that strives to be everything you need to run your business, from website building, accepting payments, managing your lists, and of course, an online learning area.
LifterLMS is a WordPress plugin that works on your WordPress website. So rather than logging into a platform, you’ll be working from your WordPress dashboard. LifterLMS focuses solely on your courses and memberships. It has integrations that allow you to accept payments and integrate with your CRM to manage your lists. Its primary focus is online learning environments.
The core plugin for LifterLMS is free, and provides very basic online course functionality. From there, you’ll be purchasing add-ons and integrations for the plugin to build the full system. If you’re just starting out, you may only need a few integrations, but as you grow, you’ll want more and more functionality added.
Give Access To The Right People
Protecting content is the core functionality of an online course, membership, program, or digital download.
With Podia, you can protect your content behind specific products. You can drip content on a specific interval, for example, 7 days after purchase release this lesson. You cannot release content within the same product on a specific date unless you upload the content manually on that date. You can set release dates for an entire course.
The memberships you build on Podia are created from existing products. The Membership Plan options on Podia are limited though.
They offer a very bare-bones, out-of-the-box structure to sell online courses and memberships that can be great for businesses just starting out, or never planning to run an online course website and membership with a unique experience and LMS features.
LifterLMS has more content protection features than Podia. You can drip content, or release it on a certain date. You can also require prerequisites, meaning they have to successfully complete a specific lesson before another one unlocks.
The membership building on LifterLMS is similar to the course builder and offers more flexibility than Podia.
So although they both allow you to protect content, LifterLMS offers more options, flexibility, and an overall better user experience. Podia offers the bare minimum required to protect your content.
Is it Easy To Setup?
Podia has a small learning curve. It’s very plug-and-play when it comes to getting your website, products, and courses set up.
With the ease of setup and plug-and-play nature of Podia, you lose features like custom design, laying out your dashboard, and making your courses and memberships site really feel like your brand.
The learning experience your students have is dictated by Podia. If they’ve signed up for another course through another business that uses Podia, it’s going to look and feel very similar to yours.
On the contrary, LifterLMS may take a little bit longer to get setup, because you’re deciding more design and layout elements than with Podia. The courses and membership that you create will feel like your own brand.
And if your students are part of other courses built on LifterLMS, that won’t necessarily be obvious to them. Although LifterLMS has a bigger learning curve than Podia, it’s going to be more of a valuable learning experience for your users, and a better long-term fit because of it’s available add-ons, custom design, and the fact that it’s a plugin on your WordPress site.
A Difference Of One Latte Per Month
Podia charges a flat-rate monthly fee. If you choose to use any integrations with Podia, then you’ll need to budget for a third-party connector tool, like Zapier, and any costs associated with the integrated system.
LifterLMS fees are annual and can vary greatly. The core plugin is free, but add-ons start at $39/year and go up from there.
They also offer bundles, which bundles add-ons for an annual fee, from there you can add on additional integrations if needed. So your costs with LifterLMS are directly determined by your features and setup.
The actual costs compared side-by-side are quite similar, but note that this doesn't include any add-ons or integrations for either software.
Mover: $39/month ($468/year)
Shaker: $79/month ($948/year)
Individial Add-on: $99+/year ($8.25+/month)
Universal Bundle: $299+/year ($25+/month)
Infinity Bundle: $999+/year ($83.25+/month)
Podia has tier restrictions, so on the Mover plan, at $39 per month, you won’t be able to offer memberships, integrate with Zoom, run an affiliate marketing program, or have access to third-party code.
With LifterLMS, the Universal bundle includes add-ons for design, marketing, e-commerce, and forms. You won’t have access to add-ons for advanced quizzes and assignments, private coaching features, advanced video features, or the groups feature unless you're on the Infinity Bundle.
LifterLMS doesn’t offer a monthly payment option, but Podia does. Both offer great ways to get started: Podia with a 14-day free trial, and with LifterLMS, the core plugin is free.
Although the pricing structures are quite different, the price of the Shaker at $79 per month, and the Infinity Bundle at $999 per year are quite similar.
The one caution we’ll state with LifterLMS is to be sure and map out your entire setup so you’re not surprised by the rising cost as you add features. Map it out now, and also 6 months, and a year from now.
We Want Pretty Websites
Design can make or break your website, and that goes for your course and membership area too. When customers invest in your course, they want to see that it's worth it right away.
You’ll have far more design flexibility with LifterLMS than you will with Podia.
Since LifterLMS is a WordPress plugin, it works with your WordPress theme. LifterLMS has its own theme, LaunchPad, but it also works with a variety of others. They have add-ons for some of the most popular page builders, like Beaver Builder and Divi to make the design even easier.
Podia, with its plug-and-play design, is less customizable unless you’re on the upper tier and pay for a developer to work with custom code. This can end up being quite pricey to get set up and maintain, and you’d be relying on your developer to act quickly if something wasn’t working all of the sudden.
If a custom design is important to you, LifterLMS is a better choice than Podia.
Connect Your Favorite Systems ... Or Not
The two most important integrations for most businesses are with their CRM and payment gateway. We'll dive into payment gateways in the e-commerce functionality comparison.
We'll primarily focus on the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) integrations here. It's important to note that both Podia and LifterLMS integrate with other systems as well.
LifterLMS integrates directly with MailChimp and ConvertKit. This is closer to a two-way integration than Podia offers because you can apply tags in your CRM from LifterLMS. The integration doesn't support updating a record in your CRM though.
They also offer integrations through WP Fusion, which is a third-party connector tool. From there you can connect to ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, AgileCRM, and many more. The integrations through WP Fusion are one-way integrations.
Neither Podia nor LifterLMS offers two-way integration. A two-way integration is seamless communication between the two systems.
They can pass information back and forth, and sync with your CRM when information is updated on your membership site, and vise-versa.
This allows you to create a unique, personalized experience for your users and saves a lot of manual back and forth work for you and your team.
A one-way integration, like Podia offers, can trigger events in one of the systems.
For example, when someone purchases on your Podia checkout page, that could trigger a contact creation in MailChimp. Podia doesn't have the ability for users to update their profiles on the platform, then also update their records in a CRM.
The integration that LifterLMS offers with MailChimp and ConvertKit is a step above one-way, but it's not quite two-way. This integration allows you to apply tags in those CRMs so you can trigger an automation or grant access to a program.
If someone updates their profile page on LifterLMS though, it won't be synced with your CRM.
Integrates with ConvertKit and MailChimp using add-ons
No two-way integrations
Other one-way integrations available through a third-party connector tool
One-way integrations with ConvertKit, MailChimp, Drip, and more
No two-way integrations
A third-party connector tool may be required
Two-way integrations with ConvertKit, Ontraport, Drip, Keap, ActiveCampaign, and Infusionsoft (Now Keap Max Classic)
No third party connector tool required
Assignments, Quizzes, Progress Tracking, and More
Learning reinforcements are any feature that enhances the learning experience for your students. Although some people think of them as an afterthought that’s not exactly true.
When you can use these learning reinforcement features to enhance retention, test knowledge, and make it truly feel like a course, you’re succeeding in spreading your work in the world.
With Podia, you can add multiple choice quizzes to your online courses or memberships. The quizzes are pretty basic, and you don’t have options when it comes to what kinds of questions, such as long-answer or fill-in-the-blank.
You don’t have the option to make them pass or fail, give grades or feedback, or lock / unlock content based on quiz performance.
Podia doesn’t offer other valuable learning reinforcements that you’ll find in other LMS platforms and plugins, such as progress tracking, gamification, video, and audio bookmarking and tracking, objective lists, assignments submissions, private notes, or auto-generate certificates.
With LifterLMS you'll be able to create graded quizzes with a variety of question types from multiple-choice, true or false, picture choices, fill-in-the-blank, long and short answers, and more.
Any type of quiz you can imagine can be built on LifterLMS. They offer reports on quiz results as well, be it individual per user, or a group of students. You can use these reports to see how your students are absorbing the materials.
They offer assignments, which can be a task or task list, upload requirement, or a long-answer requirement. These features are available with the Advanced Assignments add-on. LifterLMS has an add-on for certificates as well, where you can add details and merge fields to personalize them. It comes with a provided background, or you can upload your own.
They don’t have advanced progress tracking built into their plugin, but you can find add-ons that provide basic progress tracking.
Collect Money On Your Terms
LifterLMS offers more e-commerce features than Podia. With LifterLMS, you’ll be working with add-ons and integrations to accept payments through Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, or WooCommerce. Podia works with Stripe and PayPal.
With both Podia and LifterLMS you’ll be able to accept one-time payments and multiple payments (either a payment plan or subscription). If you choose Podia though, you can only accept subscriptions through Stripe, not through PayPal.
Both allow you to change your default currency, create coupons, and offer trial periods.
Neither has the ability for advanced promotions that would allow you to swap out order forms automatically after a specified limit has been reached. Or add count-down timers to your order forms to show when a special offer will be expiring.
Affiliate Program Management Features
Expand Your Reach
Podia offers a limited affiliate management program. You can set a standard commission with a percentage or dollar amount. You’ll also have the option to set product-specific commissions.
The affiliate program can have open enrollment, where anyone can sign up as an affiliate, or you can set it to invite-only.
As the admin, you’ll have a summary screen of your affiliates on your Podia dashboard that shows affiliate sales, revenue, commission paid, commission owed, clicks, and conversion rates.
The biggest element that’s missing here is that your affiliates won’t have a dashboard where they can login and see, not only their own stats, but also marketing materials, important dates, and/or personal messages from you about promotion.
LifterLMS doesn’t offer affiliate management features but will integrate with AffiliateWP or iDevAffiliate.
If you’re already on the Infinity Bundle at $999 per year, and now you’re looking for another system to manage your affiliates, you’re adding cost, complexity, and ultimately duct-taping systems together to create a solution.
While this does indeed work, you’re paying for multiple solutions to do what one plugin could do on its own, and at a lower price point. AccessAlly has all this affiliate functionality and more built-in.
Bulk Course Enrollment
You Could Enroll Teams Without A Hiccup
Podia doesn't have bulk course enrollment features.
LifterLMS has something called the Groups Add-On. They recently released Phase 1 which includes some, but not all of the full add-on functionality.
Phase 1 contains group management and leadership features but doesn't include automated e-commerce features. That means that you'll need to negotiate prices and accept payments from another system or invoice.
This add-on is included in the Infinity Bundle or can be purchased individually.
AccessAlly offers thorough, fully-released bulk course enrollment features.
Your Workflow on LifterLMS vs. Podia
- Download, install and activate the LifterLMS plugin on your WordPress website
- Download the LifterLMS helper, install and activate
- Set up the design of your website using a WordPress theme
- Create your course catalog to show visitors your available courses
- Create your membership catalog where visitors can see your available memberships
- Connect your payment processor
- Set up your student dashboard
- Integrate with your payment processor
- Design your order forms
- Add additional learning reinforcements like quizzes, assignments, create certificates, and more
- Setup your storefront
- Add any connecting applications you might want to use, such as Zapier for integrations
- Choose your URL
- Migrate existing content or add new content to your website pages
- Add integrations such as Google Analytics or Facebook tracking pixel
- Customize the look and feel of your site by using the out-of-the-box editor or building something from scratch
- Build your online courses, digital downloads, memberships, and free or paid webinars.
- Setup your payments and terms of purchase
- Add your emails and marketing automations or integrate with a CRM
The Real Question: Should I Use LifterLMS or Podia?
You Could Choose LifterLMS If...
- You’re looking for a membership and LMS plugin all-in-one
- You're already using a WordPress website and looking for a WordPress plugin
- You don’t mind using a third-party tool to connect your course with your CRM
- You have a need for more advanced quiz functionality
You Could Choose Podia If...
- You’re a creator looking for a simple course website
- You have offerings like free and paid webinar, digital downloads, or simple courses with no plans to expand to a fully functional and integrated membership site
- You don’t have a CRM and plan to keep automation and interaction with your customers simple
- You’re willing to migrate off the system when your business grows
NOT THE SOLUTION YOU REALLY NEED?
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