Thinkific vs. Teachable: an LMS-As-A-Platform comparison

If you’re just getting started with your research, or have found yourself comparing and contrasting all of the options for your online course platform without making much headway, you’re in the right place.

In this comparison, we’re focusing on Thinkific and Teachable.

Why we're creating this online course platform comparison

We’ve tested so many course software solutions for our business over the years.

We’re putting our 10+ years of digital marketing and software development experience to work so we can bring you the most comprehensive comparisons of the industry’s most popular LMS solutions available today.

When we couldn’t find a solution that would do what we needed, we dusted off our Software Engineering chops and developed AccessAlly.

And to this day, we continue to test and review the options on the market so we can share that knowledge.

In this Thinkific vs. Teachable comparison, we’re highlighting the pros and cons of each tool to help you decide which is the right fit for your business.  

We’ll compare pricing, features, as well as their development philosophies and customer

support so you know what to expect from each platform-as-a-service tool.

How do Thinkific and Teachable Differ?

Thinkific and Teachable are both hosted, platform-as-a-service solutions developed to give you the ability to build and sell your own online courses.

There are hundreds of LMS and membership plugins and platforms on the market. While they all have their strengths and weaknesses, you’ll find they may be better suited for some businesses over others.

Let’s dive deeper into this in-depth comparison to see if Thinkific or Teachable fits the bill when it comes to your requirements.

All-in-one vs. Dedicated course builder

Thinkific and Teachable have similar development philosophies and provide a solid platform for online course builders.

They both include an e-mail feature similar to your all-in-one platform-as-a-service options like Kajabi or Podia, so you will have the ability to send out course-related email communications, as well as process payments and handle the delivery of your membership and course content to each participant.

Both of these platforms also include built-in video hosting powered by Wistia, without the additional price tag of a video hosting solution.

If you’re looking to keep your tech stack to a minimum these two platforms are viable options.

However, these all-in-one solutions usually aren’t what you’re led to believe. While they do a lot, as your business grows and your marketing funnels become more advanced, you’re almost always going to need a marketing automation system or CRM to manage your email contact lists and sales funnels.

Screenshots of Thinkific and Teachable websites displayed on 2 tablets

Pricing limits on members, courses, and products

Thinkific offers 4 paid pricing plans. The difference in each tier lays mostly in their feature sets. Every pricing plan includes unlimited members and courses, with the exception of the free version.

Free Thinkific users can have unlimited members but are limited to a single course. The free plan also lacks some of the most common features most online courses creators desire such as advanced quiz functionality, certificates of completion, progress-based content releases, advanced e-commerce setup, CRM or marketing automation system integrations, affiliate functionality, and design flexibility.

On the basic plan at $49/month users unlock coupon functionality, affiliate functionality and reporting, dripped content course releases, email integrations, more advanced quizzing options, email integrations, and Zapier triggers.

You will need the Thinkific pro plan at $99/month to have the ability to include private and hidden courses, advanced course pricing options, memberships, and course bundles, certificates of completion, advanced design customization, priority support, assignments for homework, and their newest feature: communities.

The growth add-on will charge you an additional $.10 per active customer over 100 members and will unlock additional features including webhooks, groups for bulk course enrollment, bulk email functionality so you might be able to say goodbye to your CRM, and advanced student segmentation.

Thinkific’s premier plan at $499/month unlocks all features and more advanced customization and functionality for even more advanced use cases and development needs.

In comparison, Teachable offers 3 pricing tiers, but all include unlimited members and access to the most common course features (like course building, collecting payments, etc.).

You will need to upgrade to a more expensive tier if you want to access features such as graded quizzes, course completion certificates, and an unbranded Teachable website.

The downside to Teachable’s most affordable plan is that they assess a transaction fee on top of the $39/month price tag.

So, while that pricing sounds good in theory, if you have 100 customers purchase your course priced at $100, Teachable will withhold $500 in transaction fees on top of your payment processing fees. Your cost will jump from $39/month to over $500/month.

Teachable’s mid-level and top tier plans, do not assess this additional transaction fee and also give you the opportunity to drop the Teachable branding on your course design. You’ll also have access to affiliate marketing features and advanced reports and graded quizzes.

Teachable’s top tier makes it possible for you to sell your courses in bulk and you have access to group strategy calls and more advanced design customization options. The investment for this plan is $299/month.

Extensibility and Ownership

Both Thinkific and Teachable are hosted, platform-as-a-service solutions. This means that you essentially “rent” space on their platforms for your courses and memberships.

With a WordPress solution you have more ownership over your course content, and freedom to migrate to another LMS or membership management plugin if you encounter limitations with your existing setup.

On the upside, with hosted, platform-as-a-service solutions you won’t have to invest in website hosting, a premium theme or page builder, video hosting, security, or platform maintenance because these are included in your investment.

Unfortunately, this means that you play by their rules: if you want more features or flexibility, you’re left with no easy way to take your content with you when you cancel or decide to move on.

Some of these platform-as-a-service tools have opened their system a little more for more advanced pricing plans to allow you to export your content and members if you do decide to move, but it’s not always in the most usable format.

Granted, both platforms are well-designed and easy to use both Teachable and Thinkific have closed systems that are not easily extended by installing add-ons and plugins.

So if you want to add things like advanced gamification, or more customized setups and features, you’re stuck waiting for their developers to create the feature or using a third-party tool like Zapier to power the integration.

Looking for an Option with less restrictions?

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.

With AccessAlly, you’ve got all of the power and flexibility of WordPress, and there are no limits on your business’ growth potential either.

Get a Free AccessAlly Demo

Onboarding and Customer Support

One of the biggest factors that can make or break your online course or membership site build is the level of tech support provided by your platform or plugin developer. 

Whether this is your first time using a piece of software or your hundredth course build, you’re bound to have setup questions and it’s comforting to know they won’t go unanswered. 

Here’s what you can come to expect from Teachable and Thinkific. 

Teachable has built out a robust knowledge base and supplies users with access to the Teachable U online course library. They also provide email support for all customers.

In addition to these support channels, they also offer 24/7 live chat support for their professional and business-level account holders. When you create your Teachable account you’ll also be invited to a webinar for new users designed to get you up and running fast.

Thinkific now offers live chat support from 9 am to 5 pm Pacific Time for all paying customers, on plans Basic and above. They also provide dedicated free courses to help onboard users and get them up and running quickly, in addition to their extensive knowledge base and email support channels. 

Pro level users and above receive priority support at Thinkific, and their premier level users will also receive an onboarding call and launch preparedness review to ensure everything is set up correctly from start to finish giving you a sense of security for a smooth launch. 

Integration with your Email marketing automation platform

Teachable and Thinkific offer basic built-in email automation functionality, which allows you to send triggered emails from within the platform based on your students’ actions.

However, if your business uses advanced sales and fulfillment funnels for your online courses you’ll want to ensure the platform you choose integrates with your marketing automation system or CRM of choice.

Teachable and Thinkific have been expanding their integrations and at the time of this review, you can integrate Teachable directly with ConvertKit or MailChimp. Thinkific integrates directly with MailChimp, ConvertKit, Aweber, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, and Infusionsoft.

Other marketing automation systems can be connected using a third-party tool such as Zapier.

Looking for something that integrates both ways?

Marketing automation tools are here to stay.

Use your marketing automation tool to power your course and membership program by taking advantage of AccessAlly’s deep 2-way street integration.

It’s built to help you sell more, teach better, and engage with your students longer.

Get a Free AccessAlly Demo
Email marketing envelope

Learning reinforcements: quizzes, progress tracking, homework, and certificates

Thinkific and Teachable have been actively developing and expanding their learning management system features since their first inception. Here are a few highlights. 

One advantage of Thinkific’s quiz features is that you will have access to more advanced quizzing options such as randomized question banks and explanatory response options.  You can also include videos and images in the question and answer options for your quizzes.

Thinkific has an assignment feature as well, so you can collect homework and create a more engaging learning experience to check and reinforce comprehension of your course material. 

Certificates of completion can be distributed as course participants complete their courses and you’ll have a library of templates to choose from, however, this feature is only available on Pro plans and above.

In comparison, Teachable also boasts a certificate of completion feature and you can also build quizzes into your courses, but your options are more limited and all of your quizzes will be in plain text. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t a homework or assignment feature available to Teachable users, but you could use a third-party tool like Google forms and link out to them.

If student progress and overall course participation metrics are important to your business model, both Teachable and Thinkific include reporting features, but you’ll find more advanced and comprehensive reports using Teachable.

laptop displaying Thinkific certificate customization settings

Membership site and course design flexibility

Although pre-built designs can certainly speed up your membership site and online course build, there tends to be a trade-off when it comes to customization. You will likely be limited to the pre-designed course and page layouts and be required to use plug and play templates for your content.

Teachable’s basic plan is the most limited in terms of course layout and design customization, but while it is more bare-bones in terms of design, it is a professionally designed layout that will present your content in an organized format.

You won’t have multiple layouts or designs to choose from and will be forced to build within their framework. However, if you invest in a tier that supports the power editor you can modify the code if you’re a skilled developer.

The downside on these tiers is that while you can make larger-scale modifications, you can only change design elements on a global level. For example, your buttons will be styled the same sitewide.

Even though you’re a bit restricted in terms of design freedom, Teachable’s course builder is one of the most flexible you’ll find from a drag and drop builder. You can add multiple media types for each lesson and reorder the content at your discretion.

On the other hand, Thinkific’s course builder isn’t as flexible and limits you to 1 type of media per lesson, but you can change elements, like buttons on a per-page level.

Thinkific also provides you with multiple themes to choose from and even allows you to import a custom theme if you desire so you have a lot more overall design flexibility within this platform compared to Teachable.

If you want full design flexibility, AccessAlly is for you

Because AccessAlly is a WordPress plugin, you can use any WordPress theme or builder you like.

Or start with AccessAlly’s theme, which comes with all of the progress tracking and navigation menus integrated out of the box.

Power, flexibility, and beauty all in one course platform.

Take a Tour of AccessAlly
Examples of AccessAlly websites

bulk course enrollment

Bulk course enrollment is a powerful opportunity for you to sell your courses to larger groups like corporate team training and family accounts. With this setup, a single person purchases a group of licenses at once, then, they can add their team members immediately, or over a period of time as needed.

Recently, this feature has been in high demand, and new use cases for this are becoming more and more popular from online course owners.

Thinkific has recently released their “groups”  feature to their growth and premier users so it’s now possible to offer group or bulk course enrollment on their platform. 

Unfortunately, with Teachable, the process isn’t fully automated or idea for most people, but it is possible. You can sell courses in bulk by creating an offer for the number of people the buyer is purchasing for, then providing each person with an individual coupon code to redeem for access to the course.

E-commerce and affiliate functionality

Both Thinkific and Teachable integrate with Stripe and PayPal, but Teachable offers additional payment gateway integrations that could be advantageous for your business. 

In addition to Teachable’s internal payment gateway, Stripe, and PayPal, you have the option to set up both Apple Pay and Google Pay as well. These additional gateways create potential for increased conversion rates on mobile devices for Teachable users.  

Unlike most other platforms, Teachable collects and remits VAT for your business when appropriate when you use their back-office feature. Some shopping cart integrations and tools will handle this for you, but most learning management platforms don’t.

You can also create coupons and 1-click upsells with Teachable. This functionality also exists within Thinkific, but the major difference between the two systems is their order forms. 

You’ll likely find conflicting evidence regarding one-step or multi-step order forms and their impact on conversion rates but know with Teachable you’ll be creating one-step order forms. 

Thinkific users use a two-step checkout process, but also give you the option to opt-in to take part in testing a one-step setup. 

The two-step checkout process can be advantageous, especially when it comes to conversions since you’ll be capturing potential customer’s email addresses on the first step, making it easy to follow up and recapture those abandoned carts. 

Another advantage to Thinkific is your ability to create free or paid trials for your potential customers, which is also known to help increase conversions. 

If you’re planning to offer recurring subscriptions or payment plans for your courses and memberships you won’t be able to do so with your PayPal integration but will be able to with Stripe. 

When you make a sale your earnings are immediately available within your payment gateway, but unfortunately, Thinkific doesn’t automatically collect VAT or remit payments on your behalf so be sure to consult an accountant to best determine how to handle this for your business. 

If VAT is an essential component of your business, you can use third-party integration tools to make it easier to collect and remit these payments.

Thinkific and Teachable both have a built-in affiliate management feature, but they do things a little differently.

If you’re a Thinkific user, you can only set an affiliate commission to be the same percentage for all of your courses and programs and you’re not able to create a custom cookie window for tracking. You’ll only be able to track affiliate activity on your Thinkific hosted pages and order forms unless you have a developer that is able to create custom Javascript to enable this functionality.

Affiliate payouts will need to be processed manually, but with tools like PayPal mass payout, this can be done quickly and easily.

In comparison, Teachable’s affiliate management features tend to be a bit more advanced than Thinkific’s.

With the use of Teachable’s back office, you can automatically pay affiliates, collect W-8 and W-9 forms, and issue their 1099s, but you do have to pay a 2% fee for this functionality.

You can also create custom cookie windows and create unique tracking links for URLs hosted outside of Teachable making it a little more flexible than Thinkific.

tablet displaying an affiliate dashboard

your workflow on Teachable vs. Thinkific:

Teachable logo
  1. Name your Teachable school
  2. Create your first course structure
  3. Directly upload your videos, text, and course information to Teachable
  4. Edit the look and feel (change colors and fonts)
  5. Figure out how to use your own domain (to brand your school)
  6. Set up payments and the terms of purchase
  7. Set up Zapier zaps to integrate with the other systems you’ll need to achieve the functionality
  8. Or, wait for Teachable to release the features you want to add to your courses
Thinkific Logo
  1. Sign up for your Thinkific account
  2. Create your online course
  3. Add lessons to your course
  4. Customize your course player
  5. Setup and customize your site
  6. Customize your course landing pages
  7. Create and customize your website’s home page
  8. Setup and customize your site name and URL
  9. Price your course
  10. Customize your course image and description 
  11. Publish your course
  12. Share your course

See How Thinkific and Teachable Features Compare

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, you’ll see where Thinkific and Teachable fall short or shine in comparison:

Protected course content Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments Included checkmark No recurring with PayPal Included checkmark
Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus Included checkmark
Deep 2-Way Integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip Included checkmark
Multiple currencies, automated expiring coupons, and order bumps Included checkmark
Cart abandonment automation Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Progress tracking, and progress-based unlocking content Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Multiple types of quizzes, and auto generated certificates of completion Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Course Licensing with Teams or Umbrella Accounts Included checkmark Included checkmark
Searchable member directories and editable custom fields through profiles Included checkmark
Gamification where members can earn points, and activity-based automation, login tracking Included checkmark
Media player, video bookmarks, tagging automation on quizzes Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Cross-selling dashboards, with 1-click upsells Included checkmark Included checkmark Included checkmark
Built-in affiliate tracking with multiple tiers, links, and reporting Included checkmark Limited features Limited features

The true cost of Thinkific vs Teachable

Screenshots of Thinkific and Teachable pricing pages

Thinkific has a free plan, but it’s rather limiting. Depending on your required features your investment can range from $0 to $499/month. If you’re integrating your online course site with an email marketing system or CRM, be sure to budget the cost of that system into your monthly investment, as well as any costs associated with building and hosting your main website on a CMS such as WordPress.

When you factor in these additional costs, it doesn’t always make sense to invest in a platform-as-a-service course builder if the cost is a factor in your decision-making process.

The same holds true with Teachable, you’ll likely incur additional monthly expenses for the tech tools you will need, such as your marketing automation system and a company website. If you’re on Teachable’s basic plan, those 5% transaction fees can really start to add up, so make sure to factor in the whole cost of your tech stack and associated expenses when deciding which option fits your budget.

In Summary

Thinkific might be right for you if...

  • Budget isn’t a major concern for advanced features
    You’re a brand conscious business owner and want as much design flexibility as possible
  • You’re in need of more advanced LMS features such as quizzes and homework submissions
  • Community engagement is important to your online course
    You want direct integration with your CRM or email marketing system
  • You don’t mind giving up full control to have your courses hosted for you on a 3rd party platform that you can’t easily export or leave

Teachable might be right for you if...

  • You want to build a storefront or simple website quickly and get your courses for sale right away 
  • You’re willing to adapt and compromise your branding to fit within the ‘out-of-the-box’ design offerings and don’t mind the Teachable branding reflected within your course
  • Multi-currency offerings are necessary for your course sales and you don’t mind paying additional fees for tax and e-commerce features for ease of the user.
  • You won’t mind setting up your business on ‘rented land’ and manually migrating when your business grows
  • In-depth progress reporting for your courses as a whole and on an individual level is an asset to your business
  • You want to have the ability to A/B test your sales pages to optimize for conversions

Researching course platforms on your own is great, but if you want to talk to someone, we're here to help!

If you’re wondering whether you’re on the right track or not, we can help you sort out all of the different options. We’ll let you know if AccessAlly is a good fit or not, too.

We’ll start by asking you a few questions and guide you in the right direction.

Book a free discovery call

Continue your search for the right solution

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