Teachable vs Thinkific: The Ultimate (No Fluff) Review
Teachable vs Thinkific Review Summary
Site Design & Customization
Sales & Marketing
Course Delivery & Engagement
Site Design & Customization
Sales & Marketing
Course Delivery & Engagement
What I like about Teachable vs Thinkific?
What I like about Thinkific vs Teachable?
There are a number of online course platforms that allow you to create, sell and market online courses under your own brand name. Some notable ones include Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, Zippy Courses etc.
However, Teachable and Thinkific are the two most popular course platforms that allow you to have unlimited courses, users, bandwidth and video storage on all their plans, both are robust solutions, are reasonably priced, are very similar in what they have to offer and are direct competitors.
And since the two platforms are so similar, a number of course creators find it really difficult to find an answer to the Thinkific vs Teachable question and they end up spending a lot of time doing research online without getting a definitive answer to why they should sell online courses on one platform rather than the other.
Teachable vs Thinkific is one comparison which almost every course creator has to do.
I tried searching google for existing articles on the topic and didn't find a single comprehensive review of the two platforms.
Thinkific's blog has an article on Teachable vs Thinkific. However, the article was last updated in January 2016 and I must mention that it's not well researched and is by no means comprehensive.
So, I decided to leverage my experience of working with 100s of instructors on both Thinkific and Teachable and create a comprehensive comparison guide.
Before we get into the specifics, I want to list the broad criteria on which the two platforms will be compared and rated:
Now, let's look deeper to find whether Teachable or Thinkific is a better online course platform.
#1: You can't choose one platform over the other based on the pricing plans offered by them
Free Plan: $0/month + ($1 + 10% Transaction Fees)
Starter Plan: $0/month + 10% Transaction Fees
Basic Plan: $39/month + 5% Transaction Fees
Essentials Plan: $49/month + 5% Transaction Fees
Professional Plan: $99/month + 0% Transaction Fees
Business Plan: $99/month + 0% Transaction Fees
High Volume Plan: $299/month + 0% Transaction Fees
Advanced Plan: $279/month + 0% Transaction Fees
Both Teachable and Thinkific offer 4 pricing tiers to its users and the tiers are very similar in terms of monthly cost and transaction fees and also the features offered.
The first tier is the Free Plan which costs $0/month + 10% transaction fees on both platforms. In addition to the 10% transaction fees, Teachable charges $1 for each course sales.
The second tier is called Basic Plan on Teachable and Essentials Plan on Thinkific. Teachable charges $39/month + 5% transaction fees while Thinkific charges $49/month + 5% transaction fees.
The third tier is Professional/Business Plan and users who choose this pricing pay $99/month. However they don't need to pay any transaction fees to the platforms.
The highest tier is called High Volume Plan in Teachable (costs $299/month) and Advanced Plan (costs $279/month) in Thinkific.
We will get into the specifics of what feature is available on which plan. However, at an overall level, the pricing options offered by Teachable and Thinkific to their users are very similar and pricing can't be the reason to choose one platform over the other.
#2: As far as site building is concerned, Thinkific has an edge over Teachable
Site Design & Customization
There are no Themes as such in Teachable and you can only change font style and color in the theme settings.
Thinkific has a theme library from where you can select one of the standard themes and the theme style is applied to your site instantly.
Has a visual drag & drop page builder which you can use to design & build sales pages, homepage and other pages on your website.
Thinkific too has a drag & drop page builder and you can use it on all the pages including bundle sales pages on your site.
Teachable's page builder has more number of inbuilt elements and you can even create custom elements using coding in the front end itself.
Thinkific's page builder is relatively new and less powerful and to create any custom elements, you will have to dig into the themes in the backend.
Teachable has an advanced Power Editor which you can use to customize your website even further. This requires advanced knowledge of HTML/CSS. Available on $99/mo & above plans.
Thinkific's Custom Themes feature allows you to customize the appearance of your Thinkific site, by giving you access to the HTML/CSS. These themes can be exported and imported and this makes Thinkific better suited for advanced customization. Available on all plans.
Teachable has inbuilt blogging capability which will work for you if you are just getting started.
Thinkific doesn't have any blogging capability.
Customizing Site Text
You can customize as well as change language for entire site text very easily.
You can customize as well as change language for entire site text very easily.
SSL is enabled by default on all the pages of your site (doesn't matter whether you use Teachable's domain or your own domain).
SSL is enabled by default on all the pages of your site (doesn't matter whether you use Thinkific's domain or your own domain).
Having a good looking website is an essential aspect of selling courses online and both Teachable and Thinkific allow users to create a good looking website on their platforms even if you don't know coding.
Note: If you know how to code or have a developer by your side, you can go with either of the platforms as both of them allow you to create completely custom websites. Also, if you wish to use a solution like ClickFunnels for building sales funnels/landing pages, site building capabilities of the two platforms won't be as important.
There are two important aspects of site building: 1) site level themes and 2) page builder.
What I like about Thinkific's site design capabilities is their 'Themes' feature. Thinkific has a theme library from where you can select one of the standard themes and the theme style is applied to your site instantly.
With Teachable, it works a little differently. The so called 'Theme' capability in Teachable is limited and you can only change font style and color in the theme settings. Other elements like button style can't be changed from the theme settings.
Fortunately, Teachable has a drag & drop, page builder which can be used to create homepage, sales pages for your courses & bundles and even other custom pages.
You can add different types of elements to your pages and then you can drag and drop the elements where you want to place them.
Thinkific has recently upgraded its page builder and now it can be used not just on the course sales pages but also on your homepage and your bundle sales pages.
Plus Thinkific's page builder is now more powerful compared to that of Teachable. It has more custom elements and it lets you customize them completely from the frontend.
Both Thinkific and Teachable allows you to create completely custom websites as well. While Thinkific offers this custom 'Themes' feature, Teachable has Power Editor which can be used to create custom websites.
Teachable allows you to create a blog on your website. Honestly, the blog is not as powerful as a WordPress blog.
However, if you are just getting started and want to have everything on the same platform, you will be more than good using Teachable's blog.
Thinkific doesn't offer a blog capability and you will need to use a specialized blogging platform like WordPress.
Both Teachable and Thinkific offer free SSL certificate on all pages of your website including signup/login pages, checkout pages etc., even if you're using your own domain.
With search engines and browsers rolling out updates, SSL certificate is going to become much more important in the near future!
Site building is one of those areas where none of the platform emerge as a winner over the other. While Thinkific offers a more advanced Themes feature, Teachable has a more powerful page builder and it also allows you to create a basic blog.
If you have any questions about the site building capabilities of the two platforms, leave a comment at the end of this post and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
#3: When it comes to sales & marketing capabilities, Teachable beats Thinkific hands down
Sales & Marketing Tools
Teachable recently optimized it's checkout process flow and it now has a one-step checkout flow. Basically a user first makes a payment and is then prompted to create an account. Much better from a conversion point of view
Thinkific has a 2-step checkout flow and users first need to create an account before they can make a payment. With 2-step checkout process, a significant % of users drop off before making a payment.
You can easily add custom elements like testimonials, money back guarantee etc. on your checkout pages.
No easy way to customize your checkout pages.
Course Pricing Options
You can have multiple pricing options for courses & bundles. e.g. You can have $99/mo and a $999/year pricing for your courses.
You can have multiple pricing options only for courses and not for bundles.
You can have a pricing in multiple currencies for a course. So you can have $99 USD/mo as well as $125 AUD/mo.
You can charge in only 1 currency.
Teachable offers powerful/flexible affiliate marketing features. Teachable allows you to: define custom cookie period for your affiliates, use Teachable's affiliate system even if you're using an external landing page and select which courses an affiliate can promote on your school.
Thinkific doesn't let you set a custom cookie length, set course permissions for affiliates or use the affiliate features on an external landing page.
On Free & Basic Plan, Teachable collects payments on your behalf and payout happens after a delay of 30-60 days. You can use your own Stripe and Paypal account to collect payments on Professional & above plan.
Instant payouts on all plans.
EU VAT Handling
EU VAT Tax gets automatically added on top of price depending on student location. If you use Teachable's gateways, Teachable will even pay taxes to the authorities.
There is no way to add VAT on top of course price. You need to pay tax from your revenue which can be significant revenue loss if your student base is primarily in Europe.
Allows to create 1-click upsells where you can add a promo video as well as apply a specific coupon on the thank you page.
Allows 1-click upsell but doesn't allow to add videos or even coupons.
Coupons are available only on $39/mo & above. You can create individual as well as sitewide coupons.
Coupons are available only on $49/mo & above. You can create individual as well as sitewide coupons.
Integration with Payment Processors
Allows to collect payments via Stripe/Paypal on all plans.
Allows to collect payments via Stripe on all plans and via PayPal only on $49/mo & above plans.
You can sell Monthly/Annual subscriptions on all plans.
You can offer subscriptions of varied length. However you can offer them only on $49/mo & above plans.
Available on all plans.
.Available only on $99/mo & above plans.
Powerful Zapier integration which has multiple triggers and actions.
Thinkific has an equally powerful Zapier integration except that it doesn't allow to unenrol students automatically.
Teachable allows you to create webhooks to send information to other apps when a user takes an action on your Teachable school.
Thinkific also allows you to create webhooks to integrate third party apps with your Thinkific site.
Has no inbuilt support for collecting and displaying student reviews.
Has inbuilt support for course reviews.
Teachable allows you to offer free course previews. However, there is no native support for collecting emails before preview.
Thinkific has a Free Trial feature which lets you collect email ids in exchange for free preview.
Send Broadcast Emails
You can segment your students based on multiple conditions and send them email broadcasts on all plans.
You can segment your students based on multiple conditions and send them email broadcasts on $49/mo & above plans.
The battle of superiority between Teachable and Thinkific has been an interesting one to follow. Both have been upgrading their platforms and adding new features on a consistent basis (and I intend to keep this post updated for every major update from the two platforms).
However, Teachable has gradually built a massive lead over Thinkific when it comes to offering sales & marketing capabilities within the platform and the biggest differentiator between the two platforms is their checkout process.
Teachable has a highly optimized 1-step checkout process (which it implemented recently) where a user enters his or her personal information and makes the payment on the same page. There is minimal friction in the process and is much better from a conversion point of view.
Moreover, Teachable allows you to add custom elements like Testimonials, Money Back Guarantee etc. on your checkout page and it helps further boost conversions.
At the same time, Thinkific has a 2-step checkout process where a user first needs to create an account and then make the payment on the next page. A 2-step checkout process like this is outdated and 25-30% users drop in the process without making a payment.
Plus you can't customise your checkout page or add custom conversion elements to it easily.
Another important component of the checkout process is 1-click upsells. 1-Click Upsells is one of the most effective ways to maximise average transaction per customer.
Both Teachable & Thinkific allow you to add 1-click upsells to your Thank You page. However Teachable does it much more effectively.
On Teachable, you can customise the Thank You Page and add various conversions elements like a Video, text and coupons etc. and the result is a high converting up-sell page.
With Thinkific, it's pretty basic. They allow you to just add a call to action to enrol in the course. You can't customise the upsell page easily plus you can't apply a coupon to the upsell offer automatically.
I don't have hard data to support it but Teachable's checkout conversion rate will be significantly higher compared to that of Thinkific.
Course Pricing Options
Another area where Teachable scores over Thinkific significantly is: pricing options. On Teachable, you can have multiple pricing options for your courses & course bundles.
You can have a one-time pricing, a subscription and even a payment plan for the same course. Moreover, you can have your course pricing in multiple currencies.
For example, one of my Teachable clients offers 4 pricing options for her courses. So, her students can either pay in USD or NZD and they can either make a one-time payment or pay in installments.
With Thinkific as well, you can create multiple pricing options for your courses. However, you can't create multiple pricing options for course bundles.
Moreover, you can price your course in 1 currency only. So, if you have a lot of international students in your online school, you will struggle to accept payments in multiple currencies.
Affiliate Marketing Capabilities
While both platforms allow you to setup affiliates on your school so that they can promote your courses, Teachable's affiliate marketing features are more powerful and customizable.
Unlike Thinkific, you can set custom cookie periods for your affiliates on Teachable.
On Teachable, you can decide which courses your affiliates will get a commission on. However, on Thinkific, the affiliates will get a commission for all courses on your school.
EU VAT Handling
If you use Teachable, it allows you to charge EU VAT on top of your course price. And if you use Teachable's gateway instead of your own Stripe/Paypal accounts, they will even pay the tax to the respective authorities on your behalf.
However, with Thinkific, there is no mechanism to collect EU VAT from your students. It does integrate with Quaderno which reports your tax liability but you need to pay the tax from your revenue.
This can become a deciding factor between Teachable and Thinkific if you're from Europe or if a significant % of your students live in Europe.
Another important feature that needs to be discussed is instructor payouts. With Thinkific, you get instant payouts on all their plans. When a student buys your course, the money goes straight into your Stripe/Paypal account.
Teachable's approach is slightly different in this case. There are two ways in which you can collect payments from your students: Teachable's payment gateway and custom payment gateway.
When you use Teachable's gateway, the money goes into their account first and they then make a payout to the instructors on the first business day in a month for transactions that happened at least 30 days prior to the first day. Basically you get payouts after a delay of 30-60 days.
On the custom gateway, you can use your own Stripe/Paypal account to collect payment from students. The money goes directly into your account and there is no delay. Teachable allows you to use custom gateway only on Professional & High Volume Plans.
The advantage of using Teachable's gateway is that it handles EU VAT payout, affiliate payout etc. on your behalf and makes your life easier (obviously at the cost of a delay in payout).
To summarize, you get instant payouts on all plans in Thinkific while you get instant payouts only on $99/month & above plans on Teachable.
Obviously there are other features under sales & marketing bucket but these are the most important ones and based on these, Teachable is a much better platform compared to Thinkific when it comes to sales & marketing capabilities.
#4: While Thinkific has better survey & quiz capabilities, overall Teachable does a better job at course delivery & engagement
Course Delivery & Student Engagement
Teachable offers unlimited courses, students and bandwidth on any of their plans.
Thinkific too offers unlimited courses, students and bandwidth on any of their plans.
Supported Content Types
You can add Video, Audio, Text, PDF, Multimedia, Quizzes etc.
You can add Video, Audio, Text, PDF, Multimedia, Quizzes etc.
No inbuilt support for surveys. You can use a free solution like Google Forms to gather feedback.
Thinkific has an inbuilt survey element to collect feedback.
Has native capability to create basic quizzes. Plus you can use a specialized quizzing solution like ProProfs or Quiz-Maker to create advanced quizzes/exams and integrate it with your Teachable courses.
Thinkific allows you to create basic quizzes and advanced question banks. It also offers integration with Brillium (starts from $49/mo) on Advanced Plan ($299/mo). And you can always use solutions like ProProfs and Quiz-Maker.
Allows bulk upload and to import the files from Google Drive/Dropbox.
Allows bulk upload but doesn't allow bulk upload via Google Drive/Dropbox.
Course Player/Course Area
Teachable's course area looks more professional, provides better student experience and can be further customized with some basic coding.
Thinkific's course area isn't as good from student experience perspective and it's not easy to customize it as well.
Teachable has an inbuilt commenting system that can be embedded in individual lectures.
Thinkific has an inbuilt discussion system plus it also integrates with Disqus. The major drawback is that there is no way to embed discussions in individual lectures.
Teachable doesn't have a direct way to group students and manage them. However, you can use their coupons feature to enroll multiple users in a course and manage them.
Thinkific has this feature called 'Groups' that allows you to easily bulk sell your courses and manage the students and track their progress.
Certificate of Completion
Teachable doesn't have inbuilt capability to issue certificates. In order to do that, you will need to use a solution like Google Slides, Webmerge or Accredible.
On Business Plan & above, Thinkific allows you to issue certificates of completion using Accredible(cost of Accredible is part of the Thinkific plan)
You can drip content on $39/mo & above plans and drip will start either relative to student enrolment or on a fixed date.
You can drip content on $49/mo & above plans and you can start dripping it either relative to student enrollment or on a specific date.
You can send automated drip emails to students based on drip schedule.
You can't send drip notifications via Thinkific. You will need to do it using your email service provider.
Teachable has an iOS App (no Android App) where you can make your courses available.
Thinkific doesn't have a mobile App at this point.
Basic course analytics on all plans. Advanced analytics available on $99/mo plan & above.
Detailed course analytics on all plans.
One of the reasons why both Teachable and Thinkific have become so popular is because of how easy they have made it to create courses online. These platforms allow you to upload multiple content types like videos, pdfs etc. and organise them into lessons and sections/modules easily.
If you were using WordPress, you will have to host your videos on a solution like S3 and then you would embed it the lessons using another solution and then you would use an LMS plugin to organise your lessons.
Supported Content Types
With both Teachable & Thinkific, you can add video, audio, pdf, text and other multimedia content types to your courses.
It's very easy to create courses and add content to your courses on both the platforms. You can bulk upload your content onto the platform and then you can reorganise the content by dragging and dropping.
So, both platforms are very similar when it comes to supporting various content types. However, Thinkific has a slight edge over Teachable in terms of content types supported natively.
For example, Thinkific has a native 'Survey' element which you can use to collect feedback and do assessments. If you want to collect feedback for your Teachable course, you will have to use a free solution like Google Forms. It's not a big deal but still....
When it comes to quizzes, Teachable allows you to create basic multiple choice type quizzes. However Thinkific allows you to create both basic and advanced quizzes (e.g. question banks).
You can always use external solutions like ProProfs to create advanced quizzes and integrate with your courses on both the platforms.
Content Delivery (Course Player)
The thing that I like least about Thinkific is it's course area/player. Firstly, the look and feel of Thinkific's course area is outdated. It's doesn't give that premium feel about it.
Secondly and most importantly, it's badly designed from user experience perspective. So, when a student clicks on the 'Next' button, a transition screen appears every time and the user needs to click the 'Next' button once more to move to the next lecture. It's annoying and unfortunately, there's no way to get rid of it.
Thirdly, Thinkific isn't very flexible with adding multiple content types in a lesson. So, if you want to create a lesson with a video + some text + native quiz + discussion area, it isn't possible with Thinkific.
Finally, Thinkific's course player isn't customisable. So, you can't add some code and modify the look and feel of Thinkific's content area.
Now, let's talk about Teachable's course player. The Teachable course player looks modern & professional and is very well designed from a user experience perspective. So, when a student clicks on the 'Complete and Continue' button, he/she is taken to the next lecture directly.
More importantly, you can add multiple content types in the same lecture. For example, you can have videos + text + embedded comments + quizzes, all in the same lecture.
I love the look & feel plus the flexibility of the Teachable course player. After working with 100s of Teachable & Thinkific clients, I can tell you that the courses created using Teachable give a more premium feel and are more engaging.
Teachable supports a native comments system on the platform. The native comments feature allows students to discuss and ask questions. The instructor can then respond to the queries.
What I like about Teachable's commenting system is that comment blocks can be embedded in individual lectures, making it really easy for students to discuss & engage with the community & instructor.
Also, the previous discussions motivate the students to engage with the community and start a discussion!
Thinkific takes a different approach to student discussions. It supports a native comment system as well as integrates with disqus.
The thing that I don't like about Thinkific's discussion system is that it can't be embedded in individual lectures. So, to start a discussion, the user first needs to click on 'Discussion' in the left panel and can then leave a comment.
It becomes even more difficult for students to leave a comment while taking the course on mobile as the 'Discussion' area is not visible by default.
Another major advantage of creating courses on Teachable is that it has a native iOS app which makes it even easier for students to take courses on mobile.
Thinkific has this cool feature called 'Groups' that allows you to easily sell your courses to cohorts or organizations.
With 'Groups', you can bulk sell your courses, enroll several students at once, better organize them, track their progress and generate reports. This feature is especially useful if you sell your courses to organizations.
Now Teachable doesn't have a similar feature as 'Groups' in Thinkific. As a workaround, you can create a multiple use coupon to enroll several users in your course.
You can also filter your students by the coupon code to track their progress and generate reports. However, it is not as easy to sell & manage as using 'Groups' in Thinkific.
In this section, I have discussed the most important course delivery features. Obviously, there are other features like content dripping, course certificates etc. which are an important part of course delivery and student engagement.
If you wish to see the comparison based on other features as well, download the Teachable vs Thinkific comparison chart below:
#5: Both Teachable and Thinkific offer great customer support
Let me actually start by saying that Thinkific has great customer support which goes out of its way to help the customers. I know some of the guys personally and the team is awesome.
For a long time, Thinkific's customer support was better and faster compared to that of Teachable and one of the most common complaints you would hear about Teachable was its customer support.
With Teachable, the things started to change when they received series A round of funding in January 2017 and at that time, Ankur had mentioned that one of their main focus is going to be on 'Customer Care and Community'.
I have closely observed the evolution of customer service at Teachable since then and I must admit that it has been a great turnaround. The response times and the quality of response have improved significantly.
As per the data shared by the Teachable team in their FB group, the average response time has come down from around 9 hours in Jan 2017 to 1 hour in Aug 2017.
I don't have any data for response times at Thinkific and so it's very difficult to do a direct comparison of the response times at Teachable & Thinkific.
However, based on my interaction with customer supports on behalf of 100s of clients that I have worked with, I can tell you that both Thinkific and Teachable offer great customer support.
One area where Teachable wins over Thinkific is live chat support. While Teachable offers its user live chat support option on the Professional Plan ($99/mo) & above, Thinkific doesn't have any real time support channels.
Moreover, both these platforms have very active Facebook groups where you can engage with the community, ask your questions and get advice on anything related to selling online courses.
Teachable vs Thinkific Review - Conclusion
So after having a look at some of the most important features of the two platforms, it's clear that they both have a lot to offer. They both allow you to create courses, sell them, deliver content and engage students.
One area where Teachable really shines over Thinkific is sales & marketing tools. The entire checkout process is highly optimized - 1-step checkout, powerful 1-click upsells, multiple pricing options, multiple currency, EU VAT etc.
So if you sell the same course through both Teachable and Thinkific, I would expect a 20-30% better conversion rates on Teachable and this for me is a very strong incentive to it.
Another factor that shifts the balance in favour of Teachable is content delivery & student engagement. Teachable's course area is more professional, has a premium feel about it and supports a better discussion system. The result is better user experience and engagement.
Obviously there are other factors which we have discussed in detail in this guide earlier.
Note: The free trial applies to users who're upgrading to a Paid Plan for the first time
You can expect this post to be updated quite regularly as I am really excited to see where this battle goes. Like I mentioned earlier, I'll try to keep this post updated as much as possible as new features and changes come up for both platforms.
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below, so I can get back to it as soon as possible!
Click Here to See Thinkific vs Teachable Update History
UPDATE #1: Teachable introduced the ability to drip content based on fixed dates as well. With this update, both Teachable and Thinkific allow you to drip content relative to student enrollment as well as based on specific dates. (27th Oct 2017)
UPDATE #2: Teachable completely revamped the native affiliate marketing capabilities of the platform. They now allow you to: define custom cookie period for your affiliates, use Teachable's affiliate system even if you're using an external landing page and select which courses an affiliate can promote on your school.
With this update, Teachable's affiliate system is now more powerful and flexible compared to that of Thinkific.
(19th Dec 2017)
UPDATE #3: Thinkific team reached out and pointed out a couple of new features that weren't mentioned in this post. One such feature is Webhooks. Now both Teachable and Thinkific allow you to create webhooks to pass information to third party apps.
Another feature that Thinkific added to their platform recently is 'Groups'. The 'Groups' feature allows you to bulk sell your courses to a group and easily manage the students. Teachable at this point doesn't have a similar feature.
(17th Feb 2018)
(23rd Mar 2018)
UPDATE #5: Thinkific has launched this new and improved site builder that works on not just course sales pages but also on other pages on your site.
(12th Apr 2018)
Disclaimer: I am using affiliate links within this post, so if you do want to go purchase either of these two solutions, clicking a link will pass me off a little commission (without costing you anything extra)!