Thinkific was founded in 2012 by a group of entrepreneurs. In time, it has become one of the most widely known names in the online education business niche.
With its increased popularity, it’s only natural to start wondering if Thinkific would be a good choice for you and your online education business endeavor. This Thinkific review is here to help you learn more about the platform and, eventually, help you make a better-informed decision on whether Thinkific is the right choice for you.
Here, I’ll explore these 5 key aspects of the platform:
Now, buckle up so we can get to it.
Thinkific has 4 regular plans, 1 plan add-on (you’ll see what that is shortly), and 1 enterprise-level plan in its offer. The beauty of Thinkific’s pricing system is that it offers a free plan and doesn’t charge any transaction fees. In addition to this, the plans are easily switchable and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent features of the Thinkific plans and how much they cost.
The Free plan includes:
- Course content of any type (video, audio, PDF)
- Ability to import existing content
- Content creation tools
- Embed 3rd party tools and sites
- Course reviews and discussions
- Quizzes and surveys
- Unlimited students
- Course content that can be downloaded
- Free trials
- Free, paid, and time-limited courses
- Order tracking
- SEO tools
- Various payment methods and multiple currencies
- Customizable pages
- Multiple language support
- Student progress tracking
- Welcome and course completion emails
- Reports and analytics
- SSL certificate
- Reliable and secure hosting
- 1 site admin account
The full list of features is much longer, here I enumerated only a fraction of the more important and interesting ones.
One thing you should keep in mind about the Free plan is that it doesn’t allow you to have unlimited courses. Currently, the number of courses you can create for free is three. But according to some more experienced reviewers, this is just about the right number for someone who’s starting in the online learning niche.
As Thinkific itself points out, this plan is for those who want to test-drive Thinkific’s basic features. However, I’d add that it’s also for those who’d like to dip their toes into the world of the online education business, and have no prior experience with any existing course-hosting platforms whatsoever.
The next plan is called Basic. The price of this plan is $49/month if you sign up for a monthly subscription or $39/month for an annual subscription.
The Basic plan includes everything from the Free plan plus some extra features, like:
- Unlimited courses
- Coupons and promotions
- Drip content
- Affiliate reporting
- Custom domain
- Email integrations
- Manual student enrollment
- Marketing analytics integrations
- Scheduled group classes
Today, affiliate programs are a very important part of the success of any online business, including the education business. The really good thing about the Basic plan is that it provides you with a tool to create your own community of affiliates.
This plan is suited for people who are already set on building an online learning business and/or already have some experience in this niche.
According to Thinkific, the Pro plan is the most popular. It costs $99/month (monthly) or $79/month (annually).
Some of the extra features the Pro plan offers are:
- 2 site admin accounts
- 5 course authors
- Multiple pricing options (monthly payment, membership/subscription, a one-time payment, and more)
- Certificates of completion
- Live lessons with Zoom
- Prerequisite lessons and student assignments
- Bundles and memberships
- Advanced customization
- Community (in essence, a page where you can communicate with a group of students and encourage the exchange of ideas, discussions, and conversations)
- Private and hidden courses
- Priority support
- Removal of Thinkific branding from all parts of your site
The Pro plan is for course creators who already have experience and numerous students, and intend to take their business to the next level.
The next paid plan is called Premier. Thinkific charges $499/month (monthly) or $399/month (annually) for this set of tools.
Some of the extra features with Premier are:
- 5 site admins
- 50 authors
- Brillium exams integration
- Direct ActiveCampaign and Infusionsoft integration
- Email white labeling
- Unlimited communities
- Onboarding call
- Launch preparedness review
- Standard API
Premier is best suited for very successful course creators with advanced feature requirements.
The Growth package is a Pro plan add-on, which means it’s not exactly a typical plan. It’s a collection of some more advanced features that course creators can add to the Pro plan. As their business grows, they may feel the desire for additional tools, without necessarily needing to upgrade to the Premier plan. The Growth package gives more flexibility and allows users to bridge the gap between the Pro and Premier plans with a seamless scaling add-on.
These are some features clients get access to with the Growth package:
- Brillium exams integration (same as with the Premier plan)
- ActiveCampaign and Infusionsoft integration
- Removal of the Thinkific branding
- Standard API
- Bulk student emailer
- Bulk import and student enrollment
- Priority support
- Groups (a possibility to sell your courses to groups of clients, cohorts, or companies)
However, this flexibility comes with a tradeoff. With the Growth package added, you have to pay $0.10 for every active student after the first 100 students, which can significantly increase your costs over time.
As an enterprise-level package, the Plus plan gives course creators access to every single feature that Thinkific offers. Let’s see what are some of the unique features of this plan:
- Course duplication
- Advanced password complexity
- Ongoing support
- Dedicated sandbox site
- Service level agreement and master service agreement
- Plus API
It’s marketed as the plan “for companies and high volume customers”. For all the specifics, including price, customers have to contact the Thinkific sales team.
Thinkific is simple and you don’t have to be tech-savvy to be able to use it. It’s user-friendly both for course creators and students alike.
The interface is elegant and intuitive. It’s clean and tidy, and everything feels like it’s in the right place. You don’t have to search for things to figure out where they are and what they do. But, just in case, for those days when nothing goes your way, there’s a lot of available training and education material that can help you figure out how to solve anything yourself.
Everything in the navigation section is pretty much self-explanatory. You just click on an element and you get to choose what you want to do next by selecting one of the items from the drop-down list. And the process of customization is a breeze. Speaking of…
As we already saw, Thinkific is quite feature-packed. In that sense, you have more than enough options to create great courses and tons of tools to manage, maintain, and grow your online education business.
For starters, there are templates for course creation, a theme library where you can pick a design for your site, and templates for creating certificates. The good thing is that they’re all customizable.
Generally speaking, customers are happy with how their courses look and the sales and marketing tools that Thinkific has to offer: free courses as a possibility to upsell people into paid courses, tons of notifications for everything (sign-up, finish a course, reminder, etc.), coupons, sales widgets, email marketing, automation, analytics, the possibility to connect with an existing domain, and so on.
One potential drawback when it comes to creating pages and the overall design possibilities is that the available customization options are pretty limited. For example, in the site builder, you have the option to change the styles, colors, typography, and favicon. However, if you really need more customization, but you either don’t have access to the more advanced coding options (they come with the higher-tier plans) or you just can’t code, this won’t come even close to meeting your needs.
That’s the reason why more than a few reviewers complain that the site builder is too basic and the resulting pages, especially the landing and checkout pages, are fairly clunky.
However, Thinkific is much more than a page builder. Its main focus is on course creation, so if you’d like to have better looking, say, landing pages alongside your courses, it’s better to create a website with one of the popular site builders - WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix - and then connect it with your courses, which would be hosted on Thinkific.
Like any other platform, Thinkific is more than open for software integrations.
The current number of available integrations is not very big, but those that are at the customers’ disposal are categorized into six groups: eCommerce, automation, analytics, email marketing, student success, and growth tools. Some of the most popular among them are Stripe, PayPal, Shopify, Zapier, Google Analytics, MailChimp, and Zoom.
You’ve probably already noticed that Thinkific doesn’t provide blogging functionality as a built-in tool or in the form of a recommended app. That’s a shame because blogging, that is, content marketing, is one of the most important segments of running an online business today. However, considering that even if there was a blogging option, it would hardly match the quality of a blogging platform like DropInBlog, for example. The good news is that DropInBlog is fully compatible with Thinkific. If you want to learn how to use it for blogging with this platform, see “How to create a blog on Thinkific”.
Thinkific has a contact page where you can find helpful links and useful content. There’s a demo video introducing the platform to (potential) clients, social media links, and an FAQ section. Then, there’s a link to the Thinkific help center, another one that takes you to the Facebook page of the Thinkific community, and one more that leads to the training center.
Thinkific is literally all about learning, so one of its top priorities is to educate its customers. Consequently, there are tons of great self-service resources: good educational content, training material, and guides whose sole purpose is to make the whole Thinkific experience as smooth and convenient as possible.
For more direct help, there are 3 things you can do:
- Book a sales call to chat with a member of the solutions expert team
- Send an email
- Give the Thinkific support team a phone call. They’re available from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 PST.
There’s a general consensus that the Thinkific support team is friendly, responsive, and truly helpful. Nevertheless, some reviewers find the customer support service to be a bit slow, mainly due to the fact that there’s not a live chat option. This is the only drawback to the Thinkific customer care system.
What can be inferred from this Thinkific review?
Here’s a breakdown:
- Thinkific is a course hosting platform that also provides lots of sales and marketing tools whose sole purpose is to further your online education business.
- Thinkific is very affordable.
- Thinkific is easy to use.
- Thinkific offers customization options, but page design is not one of its stronger sides, especially when it comes to landing and checkout pages.
- There aren’t many integrations, but those that are available are some of the best in their respective fields, like payment processing, email marketing, analytics, and more.
- Thinkific has a great help center staff and it shows a lot of care for its customers with the offered training material, phone support, and email support. Unfortunately, there’s no live chat, which sometimes makes things a bit slow.
So, we’ve come to the end of the road. Thank you for your company and may the Force be with you on your quest for the perfect course hosting platform. :)