A Thinkific Review: Does This Course Creation Tool Deliver?

Thinkific’s logo

Thinkific’s logo

The eLearning industry is growing at a rapid pace — since the year 2000, it has grown by 900% with a projected market worth $1 trillion by 2027!


With more and more people choosing online learning, this is the perfect opportunity to jump in and sell your online courses.


In this in-depth review of Thinkific, we’ll help you decide if this is the tool you need — and if it isn’t, we’ve got you covered with a great alternative.


Let’s get started.

1. What is Thinkific?

Thinkific is an online course platform and web-based Learning Management System(LMS) that allows you to create, market, and sell online courses and membership sites.


With a Capterra rating of 4.6/5 and more than 50,000 course creators, it’s no surprise that they’re popular with brands like Samsung, Hootsuite, and HBO.


Tools like Thinkific allow you to provide training courses and educational content in PDF presentations (with text or voice-overs) and video formats.


Thinkific’s software is easy enough to use for users with no coding experience or those who aren’t very tech-savvy.

2. Thinkific’s features

Thinkific’s student experience features

Thinkific’s student experience features

Not only do Thinkific’s features let you create and publish great courses, but you can also price and promote your educational business.


Let’s discuss the features in more detail.

2.1. Build your courses

Thinkific’s website and course features

Thinkific’s website and course features

Thinkific uses multiple tools and features to help you create and customize your online courses and content, such as:

  • Custom quizzes
  • Surveys
  • Student discussions
  • Required progression lessons
  • Completion certificates
  • Custom course pricing — you can pick between subscription or monthly payments (on paid plans)

Their multimedia content supports all formats, including video, text, and audio formats, plus:

Thinkific knows that you can’t have a product without a brand behind it, which is why they’ve also turned their attention to web design.

2.2. Design your website

Thinkific’s web design features

Thinkific’s web design features

Thinkific gives you full customization functionality with its drag-and-drop website editor.


They offer built-in customizable templates, but you can only choose from 6 template styles — so your website might look similar to others out there.


The website tools include:

  • Pre-built instructor assistance to help you create courses
  • Curriculum templates to make course design easier
  • Key learning resources and how-to’s for creators that are struggling to upload content
  • Course preview so you can do final checks before you publish your course

Thinkific has 7 main components in their course creation software to help users create a well-structured landing page, these include:

  • Banner creation
  • Course description
  • Test display of the curriculum
  • Instructor biography section
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  • Testimonials and social proof
  • A call-to-action button

The customization features are very easy to understand, and if you’re more tech-savvy, you can modify the HTML and CSS code.


This means you can change the URL and cover image of your courses for added personalization.


Thinkific also lets you use a personal domain name. This means that you can create a new Thinkific website or link your existing website without hassle!

2.3. Market and sell your courses

Thinkific allows you to set custom pricing options per course.


Courses can either be free, or you can offer once-off or subscription-based payment models.


Thinkific also helps you attract a wider audience through:

  • Free trials to add value to the contents of your courses
  • Upsells that could help you sell more expensive courses easier
  • Coupons that add more value to your students through limited discount offers
  • Customizable first-month payments for students on a budget

Additionally, you can:

  • Reward affiliates for sharing your courses — Incentivize your associates with customized commission rates and direct tracking
  • Connect your email provider — Create highly targeted campaigns that send emails to your email list
  • Improve campaigns with advanced data tracking— Comprehensive support, analytics, and ad tracking (including Google Adwords, Facebook, and retargeting campaigns)

For any features that aren’t built-in, you can take advantage of the many integrations that Thinkific offers — with platforms like MailChimp, Shopify, Stripe, and Keap (to name a few).


If a 3rd party isn’t already integrated, Thinkific has also teamed up with Zapier for any additional tools that you may need.


Unfortunately, Thinkific doesn’t have a marketplace to help you market and sell more of your courses. 


This can make marketing more difficult if you don’t have the experience.

2.4. Support your students

Thinkific’s support structure

Thinkific’s support structure

According to Thinkific, they've collected data from over 36 million students to help their users create effective courses that students enjoy and benefit from.


This is key to creating a long-lasting eLearning business. 


Thinkific gives you the following features to help you support your students:

  • Goal setting
  • Data tracking and exporting
  • Automated progress indicators and reminder emails
  • Customizable learning environments and completion pages
  • Language controls
  • Student segmentation

They also feature different completion certificate templates to add more value to your courses by giving your students a sense of accomplishment.

2.5.  Website security

Thinkific’s security features

Thinkific’s security features

Thinkific optimizes secure cloud hosting for websites and courses through SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificates.


This means that you can keep your internet connection secure and prevent your data from being intercepted when it’s sent between two systems.


Thinkific allows you to disable copying and pasting text from your courses, and downloading PDF content is allowed but is disabled by default.


This prevents users from sharing your courses without permission.


Lastly, Thinkific guarantees 99.9% uptime and offers 24/7 website monitoring.


This means that they ensure your website works optimally and is always available to you and your students.


Let’s see how their pricing system works.

3. Thinkific’s pricing

Thinkific’s pricing options

Thinkific’s pricing options

Thinkific offers 5 pricing packages:

  • Free — $0/month
  • Basic — $49/month
  • Pro — $99/month
  • Premier — $499/month
  • Enterprise/Thinkific Plus — Custom quote

Thinkific offers you a free trial that allows you to create up to 3 courses without integration options.


The free trial is only valid for 30 days, it requires no credit card information, and it has no hidden transaction fees.


The paid packages are billed annually (save 20%) or monthly (except the Enterprise plan) and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.


Each plan (including the free trial) comes with these core features:

  • Full website-building tools
  • Drag-and-drop course builder
  • Quizzes and surveys
  • Site language options for translations
  • Discussion forums
  • Unlimited students and student notifications
  • Multiple instructor profiles
  • Built-in SSL certificates for secure content hosting (video, audio, and PDF)
  • Email and phone support
  • Full ecommerce features including upsells, sales on additional marketplaces, and instant access to your funds

Let’s take a closer look at what each plan has to offer.

3.1. Thinkific’s Basic plan

Thinkific’s Basic plan is billed at $49/month or $39/month annually and includes all the core features, as well as:

  • Dripped content
  • Affiliate reporting
  • A custom domain
  • Manual student enrollment
  • Exporting of student data
  • Coupons

The Basic plan also gives you access to the Thinkific App Store that’s integrated through Zapier.


With this feature, you can send your Thinkific data to other tools to improve your business’ automation.


Unfortunately, Thinkific’s email marketing features are like a double-edged sword:

  • On the one side, you get nifty features to include coupons with your emails and to integrate your chosen email provider (like AWeber, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp)
  • On the flip side, you’re limited to manually sending emails one by one, which wastes time — especially if you have a large email list

3.2. Thinkific’s Pro plan

The Pro plan is Thinkific’s most popular option, and it costs $99/month or $79/month annually.


This plan is aimed at course creators who want to build a successful online course business, with a complete suite of tools.


The Pro plan offers everything from the Basic plan, plus:

  • 2 Website administration accounts
  • 5 Course admins/authors
  • Private and hidden courses
  • Advanced course pricing options — subscriptions, free courses, one-time purchases, and payment plans
  • Memberships and bundles — courses can be bundled together for an upsell value
  • Assignments and course completion certificates
  • Advanced customization — custom themes, edit your HTML/CSS, create custom members-only pages, customize student experience, etc.
  • Priority support
  • Communities — build a single community around your content to improve customer loyalty
  • Live lessons with your students on Zoom (separate Zoom account required)

3.2.1. Pro plan add-on: Growth package

Thinkific’s Growth package calculator

Thinkific’s Growth package calculator

The Growth package is an effective add-on to the Pro plan that allows you to grow the number of active students you have.


It’s free for up to 100 students — you’ll be billed $0.10/month per active student for up to a maximum of $400 (giving you 4,100 active students).


With the Growth package, you won’t be charged for any extra active students (up to 1 million).


The Growth package includes all the Pro plan features plus the option to remove Thinkific’s branding.


Its advanced segmentation and Group features also work hand-in-hand.


The segmentation allows you to organize student communications, reporting, and progress tracking.


This complements Groups where you can sell your courses to cohorts or organizations and assign analysts for reporting.


The Growth package works with public API software, allowing software developers to access and manage your Thinkific school and website.


You can make use of webhooks that allow developers to send Thinkific course data to any external tools — with your permission, of course.


You can also import students from other platforms or databases using XLSX (Microsoft Excel) or CSV files.


Alternatively, you can enroll students in your Thinkific courses based on actions in your other tools (Zapier subscription required).


The Growth package also allows for bulk emailing and student enrolment (so that you can add or remove students in bulk).


This is quite handy at the start, but it can become expensive in the long run.


The Growth package comes with some additional integrations that allow you to use these tools with Thinkific if you’ve got the subscriptions:

  • Infusionsoft — Boost course sales with automated end-to-end sales and marketing
  • ActiveCampaign — Email marketing and CRM tool to help manage contacts for sales and marketing
  • Brillium — Build customized exams with features like time limits and attempt caps

Lastly, you can also build unlimited communities which help to improve communication with your students.


You can build a Community around your content to add more value to your online courses or create a Community as a higher-tiered offering.


This allows you to drive engagement, build trust, connect globally, and keep your students around longer!

3.3. Thinkific’s Premier plan

Thinkific offers a Premier plan with no limitations.


This plan is priced at $499/month or $399/month annually and includes all the Pro plan features plus:

  • 5 Website administration accounts
  • 15 Group Analysts
  • 50 Course admins/authors
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • An onboarding package that includes a 30-minute onboarding call, an online training package, and a 30-minute launch preparedness review

To get more admins or group analysts for your website and courses, you’ll need to contact Thinkific’s sales team.

3.4. Enterprise plan/Thinkific Plus

Thinkific’s recently added Plus plan focuses on providing the necessary infrastructure to manage more students.


Because this plan is aimed at larger enterprises, you’ll need to contact Thinkific’s sales team on their website for a custom quote.


The Plus plan aims to cover your business from every angle, using features like 24/7 monitoring and a Launch Preparedness Review (LPR).


The LPR is a review of your Thinkific website and course settings, followed by a 30-minute call to recap the results of the review.


The Plus plan includes all of the Premier plan features, as well as:

  • 3+ Separate Thinkific websites and a sandbox website
  • Course duplication
  • A Customer Success Manager
  • Custom migration planning
  • Unlimited course admins, group analysts, and revenue partners
  • Advanced CSS customization and Enterprise API access
  • Salesforce integration

Thinkific isn’t afraid to raise the stakes when it comes to their security, and your website’s safety is a top priority with their Plus plan.


The Plus plan also lets you secure your online course and traffic with Google’s reCAPTCHA to get more advanced and secure passwords.


Thinkific has a lot to offer course creators, but it comes with a hefty price tag — let's weigh up its pros and cons to see if it’s worth it.

4. Thinkific’s pros and cons

Pros

  • Unlimited students (even with the free trial)
  • No coding experience required
  • Offers multiple course payment options to students
  • Offers multiple integration tools to grow your business
  • Instant access to your funds with no transaction fees

Cons

  • No course marketplace to promote and sell your courses
  • Only offers 6 customizable templates for website design
  • Bulk emailing is only available with the Growth package
  • No integrated email marketing or sales funnel builder
  • Only offers phone (available 9-5 PST, Mon-Fri) and email support
  • Requires external Zoom subscription for live lessons
  • Limited free trial and expensive top-tier plans

4.1. Recommended if . . .

We recommend Thinkific if you’re:

  • Looking for a course creation tool that allows unlimited students
  • Planning to sell your courses in multiple countries, as Thinkific allows for different currencies, credit cards, and payment options
  • A course creator with no experience writing code or building websites from scratch and you want to use customizable templates

4.2. Not recommended if . . .

We don’t recommend Thinkific if you:

  • Are looking for an all-in-one platform and you’re not willing to pay for all the extra necessary integrations
  • Want unique designs for your website and courses that aren’t made from a set of limited templates
  • Have a large email list — it can be tedious to have to send out individual emails since bulk emailing is only available with the Growth add-on
  • Have little marketing experience and would benefit from using a tool with a marketplace to promote your courses
  • Are on a tight budget — Thinkific has some expensive plans

5. The best Thinkific alternative: systeme.io

systeme.io’s logo

systeme.io’s logo

Thinkific is a good platform to get you started, but if you want to be miles ahead of your competitors, you should consider using systeme.io.


Systeme.io is an all-in-one Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that provides users with all the tools they need to launch, scale, and grow their online business with ease.


We help our customers focus on what’s important — growing their business and making money.


Let’s see how systeme.io’s features can help you create and sell your courses, and much more!

5.1. Systeme.io’s features

systeme.io’s features

systeme.io’s features

Systeme.io is the perfect all-in-one tool, meaning that there’s no need for any 3rd party integrations.


Right off the bat, this puts systeme.io way ahead of Thinkific.


We offer built-in email marketing and automation features to promote your offers and get your emails and course notifications to your students in bulk.


Systeme.io has some course features that allow you to:

  • Create a website, landing page, or online course with our simple drag-and-drop editor
  • Create membership sites to help you generate a steady income
  • Create a commission-based affiliate program to market your courses and make a passive income with the help of your students and patrons
  • Run evergreen webinars to create timeless, on-demand content for your students quickly and effectively
  • Sell your courses and products on our marketplace

Systeme.io also offers some additional features that include:

  • Build sales funnels to guide students to purchase your courses
  • Create blogs to increase traffic to your website and tell your students about yourself
  • Automate your entire online business
  • Integrated with Paypal and Stripe for easy and effective pricing usage

Because our interface is so simple to use, you can do all of this with little to no tech knowledge!


We also offer 24/7 online support that has a turnaround time of under 2 hours — if you’d like to read about our features in detail, click here.

5.2. Systeme.io’s pricing

systeme.io’s pricing plans

systeme.io’s pricing plans

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  • Freemium plan — $0/month
  • Startup plan — $27/month
  • Webinar plan — $47/month
  • Enterprise plan — $97/month

Each paid plan can be billed monthly or yearly, with the latter saving you 30% a month.


All of systeme.io’s plans come with unlimited emailing, file storage space, membership site members, and blog posts.


Our Freemium plan supports up to 1,000 contacts or students, and it includes:

Our Freemium plan doesn’t require any card information when you subscribe, and it’s also free forever!


It’ll provide you with everything you need to launch your online business.


But if you’re looking for more to power and scale your business, we’ve got you covered — click here for a detailed look at our pricing plans.

6. Conclusion

online courses

Thinkific is a good tool to use to build and sell your online courses.


But if you’re looking for an all-in-one platform that’ll take care of all your business needs (including selling courses), then systeme.io is the tool for you.


Not only is systeme.io more affordable (even free with our Freemium plan), but we also offer far more features and greater customization capabilities.


Our superior built-in email marketing and automation features let us do most of the work so that you can focus on growing your business.


What are you waiting for? Sign up today! It’ll literally cost you nothing.

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