Thinkific Membership Site Alternatives:
Compare Thinkific to Competitors
Are you looking for a Thinkific alternative for your online course or Thinkific membership site?
Read our in-depth overview, comparisons of popular competitors, native software features, and pricing.
Before We Dive into Our Thinkific Comparison
We’re always curious about who writes reviews for products online, so we want to give you the full disclosure as you dive into this review.
We are the creators of the AccessAlly LMS plugin for WordPress, and we are affiliates for some of the tools that we evaluate in these reviews, which means that we may earn a commission if you click a link in this review to the tool’s website and make a purchase.
However, we never let an affiliate incentive sway us in our reviews, but the commission earned on these referrals makes it possible for us to invest time into researching and writing about our personal experience and knowledge acquired for a lot of the course and membership tools you might be comparing.
Now let’s dive in to see how Thinkific compares to its competitors, and why current users might start looking for a Thinkific alternative in the first place.
Why People Choose Thinkific
Before we get into our list of Thinkific alternatives, let’s look at why you might consider implementing Thinkific for your online course or membership site.
- You’re not tech-savvy: Thinkific’s course builder is easy to use. Their drag-and-drop builder makes it easy for you to create the course structure, complete with modules and lessons so you can add content quickly.
- You can get started for free: Another reason online course creators choose Thinkific is that you can get started at no cost. You have access to Thinkific’s core features on their free plan and can enroll an unlimited number of students without paying a dime.
If you don’t need a lot of added functionality like advanced sales and checkout features, advanced LMS functionality such as certificates and advanced quizzing, or affiliate functionality then Thinkific can help you get your course online fairly quickly without a big investment upfront.
- All-in-one platform: With Thinkific all of the features and functionality you need, aside from integration with your email marketing system, are built into the platform. You won’t find yourself adding another plugin or integration each time you want to expand on your existing functionality. You'll just invest more money into Thinkific to unlock these features.
Why People Recommend Thinkific
You might have posted in a Facebook group asking members what they use for their membership site or to sell their online courses, and received a lot of “Thinkific” answers. Why is that?
- Thinkific has a great affiliate program: If you see people recommending that you choose Thinkific or reach out to them directly to find out more about their personal experience with the platform, it might be because they want to earn a commission from their recommendation.
If someone is strongly advocating for a specific tool, without listening to you and your specific needs, take a step back and consider what’s in it for them. Thinkfic affiliates can earn up to $1100/year per referral so be sure to make sure the tool you're being recommended checks all of the boxes for your specific needs before you make an investment.
- You need to launch quickly with a simple course layout: If you’re just getting started online and don’t want a custom design or layout for your courses, Thinkific is a good choice. You can choose from Thinkific's library of themes, input your color selections, upload your content to your lessons, and your course is created within a preformatted layout. There’s no coding necessary, it looks good out of the box.
Why People Look for Thinkific Alternatives
If you’ve tried Thinkific and found it limited your growth or potential, or you’ve outgrown the Thinkific platform, you might already know why you want to move. Here are some of the other common reasons why people look for Thinkific substitutes.
- Lack of Design Flexibility: Thinkific’s design options are limited to the themes they provide, and your course layout is restricted to what the Thinkific framework permits so you’re forced to conform your design to work within their system. This tends to be a drawback for brand-conscious entrepreneurs and those who value custom design and want to put their unique stamp on their courses and membership area.
- Limited E-commerce Functionality: A few drawbacks of Thinkific’s e-commerce features are the inability to offer multi-currency payment options for your international students, payment plans, and recurring subscriptions are limited to your Stripe integration - it’s not possible with PayPal. Lastly, you’re not able to assess and collect VAT when appropriate. It will need to be calculated and paid manually.
- Ownership: Thinkific is a platform-as-a-service tool. In short, you’re building your courses on rented land. If you cancel your Thinkific license, your content isn't usable anymore. If you were hosting your courses or membership site on a platform like WordPress, where you own your content and can also look at all of the source code that runs your business… it’s a lot safer and you retain full control over everything. Fortunately, some plugins, like AccessAlly, can help you migrate your members and students if you decide to move away from this platform.
- Lacks Marketing Automation and CRM integration: With Thinkific, you’ll need a 3rd party tool such as Zapier to sync your signups with your CRM to create a more personalized and engaging experience. This just adds one more piece of complexity to your setup. Alternatively, you can limit your communication to Thinkific’s built-in email functionality but Thinkific doesn’t include functionality to build sales and marketing funnels.
- No Gamification: If you want to create a very engaging course experience, Thinkific isn’t for you. You can issue a certificate of completion for completed courses, but there are not any gamification features beyond that, such as awarding badges or a points/credit system.
- Community Forum Doesn't Live up to the Hype: While Thinkific has a native forum feature called Communities, it’s lacking in its functionality. Using this feature to enhance course engagement can be difficult as there’s no way to notify students or members of new posts, and there’s no way to like posts to show recognition on a post to show agreement like you can with most forums and Facebook groups.
One Client's Story About Finding a Thinkific Alternative...
ACCESSALLY IS GOING TO GROW AND SCALE WITH ME OVER TIME, AND THAT’S UNBEATABLE
"Honestly, Teachable or Thinkific would have been the *easier* option, but AccessAlly with my WordPress theme is hands down the *better* option. It’s going to grow and scale with me over time, and that’s unbeatable.
AccessAlly allows me to provide a dashboard for all members, and it also allows me to create a member-directory (great for forming that community), an editable profile, plus lots of gamification features that can help members track their progress and reward them for their achievements.
I also love that my students can take notes right within the site. How cool is that?
The fact that AccessAlly integrates directly with my ESP also gives me incredible functionality to track my students’ progress, send them reminder emails, and keep them coming back to the membership."
The capacity to do just that ensures that I can retain members long-term by engaging with them and providing them with an experience unique to them. That’s priceless."
- Eden Fried, edenfried.com
Compare Thinkific's Pricing
Thinkific’s paid pricing plans range from $49/month to $499/month based on the LMS features you need to create the course experience you envision for your members.
Although cost is not the only thing to look at when you’re considering what membership software or LMS to choose, it does factor into the equation.
Here is the cost breakdown for some of the most commonly compared Thinkific substitutes:
Unlimited courses and students
Additional features and groups
Includes only 3 products, and limit of 10,000 contacts
100 Products, 100,000 contacts, limited email sending
Plus 5% transaction fee
No transaction fees, includes bulk student enrollment
No memberships or affiliate functionality
Includes 3rd party code and embedded checkout forms
Community forums only, no online courses, plus 3% transaction fee
Includes online courses, plus 2% transaction fee
|MemberPress + LearnDash||
No course or student limits, basic functionality
Includes group licensing, affiliate functionality
Ecommerce and CRM addons included
Quizzes, groups, and social learning
Unlimited courses and students, affiliate, and bulk courses
All LMS functionality
In-Depth Thinkific Replacement Comparisons
Now that we’ve looked at all of the reasons why someone might choose Thinkific, or switch from Thinkific to another LMS solution, it’s time to compare Thinkific alternatives!
In these in-depth comparison pages, you'll see where each tool shines and where it falls short so you can make the best decision for your particular business and online teaching needs.
Your Thinkific Substitute Might Include Several Tools, Software, and Plugins
Now because Thinkific handles a few different aspects of an online business or course delivery operation, you might find that some Thinkific replacements require you to use more than one tool.
How you decide to construct your tech stack depends on your requirements, and what goals you’re trying to achieve. For instance, you might need:
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
What matters most to LMS users in 2020?
We’ve all felt the physical, social, mental, and emotional toll the events of 2020 have taken on us as individuals, business owners, and the impacts it’s had on our businesses.
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 2020, 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.
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