The eLearning industry continues to grow at a staggering pace. According to recent reports, the market is set to grow by over $12 billion between 2020 and 2024.
Content creators are working hard to carve out their own little slice of that, and it’s no wonder online course platforms like Thinkific and Podia have become so popular.
In this comparison article, we’ll take a look at these two platforms, comparing their features, such as pricing, support, customizability, marketing tools, security, and much more.
My team and I have spent over 9 hours reviewing and comparing the course creation tools, and here’s what we found.
1. Course Creation
Both platforms offer an intuitive and user-friendly interface, and it makes it easy for anyone to get their first course up and running regardless of their skill level.
The drag-and-drop builders on the respective platforms are particularly useful to help you create a customized site quickly and easily.
Let’s take a closer look at what else these course creation software tools have to offer with regard to course building functionality.
Thinkific focuses on ease-of-use, and while the platform has powerful features, all of them are designed so even total beginners with no technical knowledge can leverage the power of the platform to build their online course.
You can include various types of multimedia content (including images, videos, type-form, surveys, quizzes, discussions, comments, etc.) on any of your course pages.
Furthermore, you can host all your video content for free, meaning you don’t have to worry about integrating a third-party tool or paying extra for video hosting services.
Take a look at this video on how to create a course using Thinkific:
You have the option of building your course from scratch or using one of the many beautiful predesigned online course templates on the platform that are built according to the industry’s latest best practices and proven to convert extremely well and boost student engagement.
Podia is a creator-friendly service designed for building exceptional online courses, selling digital downloads, and creating memberships and subscriptions.
This popular platform aims to provide an all-in-one service, complete with tools for email marketing, affiliate marketing, course promotion, and much more.
In other words, this one platform will provide you with everything you need to design, create, market, and sell your online course in the quickest and most effective way possible.
The video below shows you how to create a course with Podia:
As you can see, this platform is just as easy to use, with a simple yet powerful drag-and-drop editor that lets anyone quickly create customized online courses or school pages.
The features outlined above make it clear that Thinkific has a lot more to offer than Podia in terms of course creation capabilities.
The process of building a course is a lot simpler on Thinkific and the various design features are much easier to learn, particularly for new users with very little to no technical experience.
A lot of people choose the best online course platform based on price alone, but that shouldn’t be the only factor you consider.
Having said that, it’s still important to ensure that you get value for your money, so let’s look at how these two course-building software tools compare in terms of price.
Thinkific has four pricing plans for their monthly subscriptions:
- Free ($0/month): Great to test out the platform and understand how everything works. Accessibility to 1 course, 1 community, 1 administrator, 1000 students, 0% transaction fee, fully integrated e-commerce, quizzes/surveys, and email/chat support.
- Start ($99/month): Great for those with a growing online school. This plan includes all Free plan features with accessibility to 10 courses, 1 community, 1 administrator, 2,500 students.
- Grow ($199/month): Great for those with a medium-sized online school. This plan includes all Start plan features with accessibility to 25 courses, 3 communities, 2 administrators, 5,000 students, and phone/email support.
- Expand ($399/month): Great for those with a large-sized online school. This plan includes all Grow plan features with accessibility to 75 courses, 10 communities, 5 administrators, 10,000 students, and priority phone support.
*Note: Thinkific offers a discount of 20% on annual subscriptions, and there are no transaction fees.
Podia offers a free trial, and like Thinkific, the platform also has a range of growth-focused plans to suit businesses and budgets of all sizes.
- Mover Plan ($39/month): This plan provides you with unlimited everything, zero transaction fees, free migrations, and round-the-clock support. You can also have additional teammates and sell online courses, webinars, and digital downloads on your website. Furthermore, you can host a community, leverage customer messaging, and create product bundles.
- Shaker Plan ($89/month): The “Shaker” option has many of the same features as the “Mover” plan, but you also get to sell coaching and have the option for creating a paid community with up to 15,000 members compared to 1,000 on the Mover plan. You can issue course certificates and use the affiliate marketing feature, as well as embedded checkout to boost your conversions.
- Earthquaker ($199/month): This plan includes 5 additional teammates at no extra charge. You can also have up to 100 community members with unlimited community topics. Like all the other plans, you get email marketing features with unlimited email subscribers, but your number of monthly subscribers increases to 50,000 compared to the “Shaker” plan which only offers 15,000.
If you choose the annual subscription, the platform migrates your content and customers for free.
And if you’re wondering which plan is best for you, Podia offers a video tour with a full walk-through of each of the plans.
Both platforms have flexible plans to suit everyone, but Thinkific wins this one by virtue of the fact that the platform offers a free trial.
This means you can test-drive all the core features risk-free to get a feel for the interface and course creation process before committing to a paid plan.
3. School and Course Marketing
Having the right tools to market and sell your courses is crucial to your success as an online course creator, so let’s take a look at how each of these platforms can help you market your online course or school.
Thinkific lets you integrate with email marketing tools like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Active Campaign, and many others. This way, you can run your email marketing campaigns and drip content to your students – all from one convenient place.
There are a ton of features to support your marketing campaigns including a robust Affiliate Center for managing and rewarding affiliates who sell your courses online.
You can track affiliates directly from your dashboard and you have the ability to use a variety of commission rates to incentivize others to sell your courses for you.
Thinkific also has advanced data tracking tools that allow you to see what works and what doesn’t so you can maximize your campaign results.
Furthermore, you can integrate additional marketing tools using the many integration options on the platform.
Podia also has great marketing options designed to help course creators realize the highest return on their investment.
The all-in-one course building platform is primarily designed for solo course creators and entrepreneurs, but the tools can be of use to businesses of all sizes.
You’ll be able to create a stunning digital storefront to sell your courses, and you also have the ability to build diverse course options using a variety of multimedia types such as digital downloads, videos, PDFs, webinars, and much more.
This will help to make it a lot easier for you to market your course to a broader audience of users.
Although Thinkific has a lot to offer in terms of school and course marketing features, Podia has more powerful email marketing tools that allow you to send one-off newsletters, drip content, and much more.
And while Thinkific has more integrations for marketing software, Podia also has integrations with Google Analytics, PayPal, and Stripe.
4. Instructor Support
Your online course platform should have a responsive customer support team to provide you with answers and guidance anytime you need it.
Instructors often face unforeseen operational issues, and the last thing you want is for your questions to go unanswered when you’re trying to build, promote, or sell your online course.
Here is what these two customer service systems offer.
Here, you can get proactive assistance for a quick resolution to any issues you encounter.
Simply fill in a form on the website to get in touch with the customer support team and they will get back to you in a timely way with relevant and personalized responses.
Podia’s goal is to become the easiest platform to use for course creation. It has a minimal user interface, making it extremely intuitive even for someone who has never created a course before.
But, if you come across any problems, there is constant guidance and support via email, you can also arrange a live demo with customer support professionals who will show you how to proceed step-by-step so you are never stuck.
You can also get in touch through live chat, where you will get a response virtually instantly.
The winner here is Podia because it offers live chat support whereas Thinkific does not offer real-time support.
Also, compared to Thinkific’s response time for email support, Podia’s response times are faster.
5. School and Course Customization
As an online course creator, you need a platform that will allow you to build a visually appealing, engaging, and intuitive customer experience.
Luckily, both these platforms have powerful features that let you fully customize your students’ experience.
With Thinkific, you get excellent customization options to build a truly unique online learning service that will stand out from the rest.
For instance, there are multiple themes to choose from, all of which are expertly designed in line with industry standards.
With these stunning templates, you’ll be able to highlight your content any way you want to, and you can also use other features such as:
- Prerequisite lesson feature
- Private or hidden courses
- Easy integration with membership websites
- Drip schedule content feature
- Completion certificates for learners
- Multiple course instructors in real-time
Creating a new course on Podia is extremely easy. All you have to do is click the “Add New Product” button once you’ve signed up, and you will have the option to create multiple products including webinars, bundles, digital downloads, and online courses.
Once you select “Course”, you’ll instantly have your very own course structure ready to be filled with content.
After that, you can start adding different types of content, including text, files, links, quizzes, etc. the goal here is to create a simple, quick, and seamless course creation experience.
In terms of customizing student experiences, Thinkific is the clear winner. Although Podia is most suited to beginners, Thinkific offers a lot more variety for the types of media files or content you can add, as well as the options you can take once you’re done adding your content.
The platform has multiple themes to choose from and more powerful customization features compared to Podia.
There are also a ton of native integrations with other useful software tools and apps, making this a more flexible platform, particularly for those who love to multitask and want to cater to a broader, more diverse group of learners.
6. Student Experience and Retention Tools
Unless you can provide an exceptional student experience and ensure your learners retain important information from your courses, it’s unlikely that your learners will return to take your other courses or refer you to their friends and colleagues.
He is a quick look at how Thinkific and Podia assist you in creating an outstanding learner experience
Thinkific offers a wide range of tools for creating the best possible experience for your students. For instance, students get a custom dashboard and you have the option to fully customize their sign-in experience through the use of videos, custom pages, etc. that only course members can see.
The platform also has language translation features which means you can deliver your course in over 30 languages to students from across the globe.
The mobile access feature is another helpful tool to help you create a phenomenal student experience. In fact, Thinkific’s entire platform is fully mobile responsive so your students can seamlessly transition between desktop and mobile with easy access and progress tracking inside the course.
The course software also has white-labeled URLs so you can show your own website address to learners creating a seamless experience for visitors and students.
You can offer your Podia students quizzes and assignments to help them get the most out of your course. You can also create a community around your content.
But, the platform doesn’t have many customization options for creating unique quiz and assignment pages.
There are no course completion certificates, but you have the option to offer drip content as a way to make your course more engaging to students and keep them coming back for more.
Thinkific is the winner here, no contest. The course building platform provides an impressive array of tools for instructors to create exceptional student experiences, including course welcome/completion emails, custom course completion pages with upselling offers, white-labeled URLs, a fully mobile-responsive platform with progress tracking, custom student dashboard, and content translation into 30 languages.
7. Data Analytics
The course platform you choose should have powerful analytics features that will allow you to get a clear picture of all your metrics so you can work to provide the best online course experience for your students and ultimately grow your online school.
Here’s what Thinkific and Podia offer in terms of analytics features.
On Thinkific, it’s easy to make sense of the data generated from your users and marketing campaigns.
You’ll find everything laid out on your dashboard in a clear and concise way so it’s easy to get actionable insights at a glance, allowing you to make data-driven decisions to improve your business.
You can see the information you want in four categories:
- Student engagement
You get a simplified data overview, but you also have the option to switch to the “Details” tab for more information on specific entries.
There are lots of parameters you can use to break down the data including time, product bundle, single course, payment methods, affiliates, currency, new or returning customers, and much more.
You also have the ability to check on the status of any of your students through the use of specific filters in the platform.
The growth and cohort reporting features let you monitor your business from your dashboard so you can optimize different aspects of it.
You get data exports and detailed email segmentation, as well as the ability to integrate your Thinkific account with add and re-marketing tools from Google and Facebook.
Podia’s analytics feature is designed to help you track and analyze your churn. It provides you with metrics, reporting, and analytics for pinpointing any growth problems that exist so you can find ways to outpace your competitors and meet your revenue goals.
In addition to providing you with advanced email reports The platform also integrates with a variety of other tools like Google Analytics and HotJar so you can get more accurate data
You can see your course sales from the sales tab located in the top navigation menu. You’ll be able to see everything, including:
- All your invoices
- Individual sales and transactions
- Different types of sales
- Specific plans or products
… and much more.
You can also see your engagement metrics by going to Products > The specific course you want to analyze > Customers.
Here, you’ll see the following stats:
- Your student’s course progress
- Enrollment date
- Last active time
- Lessons already completed
… and so on.
Podia does a great job of providing you with basic data analytics tools, as well as integrations with Google Analytics and HotJar. But, Thinkific is the winner here, and it’s not even close.
The platform has a powerful yet easy-to-use set of tools for data analytics allowing you to track the customer journey effectively to find opportunities for improvement.
8. Advanced Tools and Developer Features
Having a simple drag-and-drop page editor is great for the majority of people, but if you are more tech-savvy, you’ll appreciate a platform that offers you full access to its HTML/CSS editing environment so you can leverage the software to its fullest.
Thinkific gives you access to a theme importer and SSO (single sign-on) features. The platform has a powerful API design for developers and is a feature for importing or exporting themes for advanced customization.
This way, you can import, export, create, or modify complete website themes on different sites, including images, forms, and various other content assets.
For advanced customization, you can use HTML, CSS, or Liquid. You’ll have full access to the theme code, allowing you to add pages, layouts, sections, and snippets, as well as styles and custom assets.
Podia doesn’t offer as many advanced features as Thinkific does. The platform focuses more on being user-friendly to make it easy for beginners to create courses online.
However, on the “Earthquaker” plan, you do get the feature for third-party code.
It’s clear to see that Thinkific has a lot more to offer in terms of advanced tools and developer features. Developers will get a lot more access compared to Podia which doesn’t offer much in terms of web administration and developer features.
Security is important for both course instructors and students. Your data and financial transactions must be kept secure at all times, which is why it’s crucial to choose an online course platform that offers robust security features.
Here’s what you get on each platform:
On Thinkific, you get secure cloud hosting for 24/7 data security. The platform provides regular automatic backups to avoid data loss and there are automatic security updates, which is one less thing for you to worry about.
You have total control and absolute ownership of all your data. The course building platform also comes with built-in SSL certificates, meaning all your content is stored on secure servers.
The security team monitors the platform around the clock so that quick action can be taken in case of a security breach.
Podia takes its platform security seriously and has robust data privacy, security practices, and compliance practices in place.
For instance, your Podia checkout is protected by PayPal and Stripe. The platform doesn’t collect information whenever any of your customers go through the checkout.
Checkout pages are 100% secure and transactions are sent through encryption and protected by 128-bit SSL technology.
Both platforms have superb security features, but if I have to choose a winner, it would be Podia because the platform understands that customers won’t buy from you if your website or checkout page doesn’t inspire confidence.
The platform focuses on not only creating and maintaining security for your data and payment information but also communicating that security and translating it into a sense of ease and peace of mind so customers don’t hesitate to make a transaction.
This review has shown that both these platforms provide unbelievable service. But, because they offer different features, one will likely be better for you than the other.
After reviewing each aspect of these two course-builders, I’ve come to the conclusion that Thinkific is the winner overall.
It’s perfect for you if you want an affordable course platform with incredible customer service, a wide range of marketing tools, and easy integration with third-party apps.
However, Podia also has a lot to offer and while it doesn’t have as many advanced features as Thinkific does, particularly in terms of marketing, student experience, and data analytics, it’s quite easy to use and pretty comprehensive.
It’s also offered at a reasonable price, making it perfect for beginners who want an easy way to get their online course out there.