Course Platforms: which one to choose?

I’m excited for today’s topic, because it’s one of those that usually comes up right away either first in the discovery call, or it’s one of the first decisions we make with a client when I’m working with them to launch their course. It’s one of those first questions that people often have top of mind, and that is… which platform to use. So today, I wanted to do a deep dive into course platforms.

When I talk about a platform, I’m referring to the place where your course lives. Just like your website, it has a URL or a specific address on the internet. The platform is a place on the internet, where you house your course content. When someone buys your course, it’s where they go to access the course content. That’s the beauty of a course is it can be all automatic, you don’t have to manually send them an email for them to get in to the course or do anything once they buy, the platform kind of handles all of that automation for you.

In technical terms, we refer to this whole process as the fulfillment of the course. Someone buys your course, and through the fulfillment process, they get access to the content.

The other thing that your platform does for you is handle the sales. So you’ll have your sales page, as well as the checkout page where people can actually type in credit card info to purchase the course from you. So there’s two sides. I call this side, the sales side. And then of course, you have the fulfillment side.

And the three elements you must have in order to sell your course, are the sales page, a checkout, and fulfillment. There are platforms that do both the sales and the fulfillment all under one roof and there are separate platforms. You could have one platform that handles your sales and processes the client’s credit card, and then another platform that does the fulfillment. So there’s two ways to go about it. You can have it all under one roof, or you could have them separate.

I’m going to dive into kind of talking about why you would choose one or the other and the differences. So first, in the category of the all in one, you have Kajabi, which is one of my absolute favorite platforms. So with Kajabi, you have your sales, you have your checkout, and your fulfillment and the emails, like the automation that kind of makes all of that work all under one roof.

For me, this is really ideal, and especially if your DIY it Kajabi can be a really good option. They also have a support chat, which is really nice to have if you’re doing it yourself. I think about 90% of my clients end up using Kajabi. And it’s really easy, user friendly.

So in Kajabi, you can build a sales pipeline, which is essentially a funnel or a journey that you take your clients on. And one of the most popular pipelines is to have a freebie, and then an email series that introduces your paid offer, which is your course. With that you have a landing page, a sales page, a checkout and also the email automation and a way to collect those emails.

With Kajabi you don’t need a MailChimp or a MailerLite or any other service email service provider, because you have it all under one. Also, as soon as the client buys, they get access right into the course content. And you can also have multiple courses right inside the platform. So that’s one of the reasons why I love Kajabi.

(I should probably say also that I’m not an affiliate for any of the programs that I’m talking about today. I should probably set up an affiliate program, but I just haven’t. So I’m really just talking from my own experience and the experiences of my clients.)

Kajabi is, is also really good at creating a really elegant user experience. So from the perspective of your customers or your students, it’s really easy to log in, it’s easy to navigate through the course content and it’s just a beautiful back end. There’s so many reasons why I love Kajabi. But the one thing I don’t like about Kajabi is you can only have one custom domain setup in the platform, which for me is a little bit limiting.

Then you have other options like Click Funnels, which is also technically an all in one solution. You have your sales page, and your checkout and you can also fulfill your course in Click Funnels. ClickFunnels strength is really in sales pages and the entire sales function. They have all these different options to build your cart value. So you can build the sale with like an order bump, a one time offer, upsells, downsells. ClickFunnels really excels in the selling side of the process, in my opinion, where they lack is in fulfillment.

If you have only one course that you’re fulfilling Clickfunnels is fine. But if you have a larger course or more than one course, that’s where Click Funnels really, really becomes challenging.

So I use Click Funnels for the sales side of my own business. I had my course, Email List on Autopilot along with an OTO that’s called Get Your First 1000 Subscribers. But what I realized is each course had to have its own login. If someone bought both of the courses, which was the goal because I designed them to fit together in that way, my customers had two different logins, one for each course. And for me, that was just not an ideal experience for my customers.

So if you have a lot of core courses, or you’re planning to create more courses in the future, definitely consider something other than Click Funnels for your fulfillment.

I do have a couple clients that use Click Funnels for the sales side and then Kajabi for fulfillment which is kind of like the ultimate setup! You do need a connector tool, so something that speaks to Click Funnels and says to Kajabi. “Hey, someone just bought this course, let them in to the course.” And this tool is called Zapier. It’s a connector tool. That’s the only thing that has to happen in addition, if you use two different platforms.

Then you also have your WordPress website. Let’s say your main website is built on WordPress. There are plugins that you can get that allow you to set up your course content behind a paywall. So essentially, you set up your sales page, you set up a checkout with something like WooCommerce. And then you have the course plugin that creates the course fulfillment. You can make WordPress an all in one solution as well.

The one thing with WordPress is it is more expensive on the front end to get it all set up. Because if you’re doing it yourself it takes a lot of time because there’s a learning learning curve with WordPress, and the plugins and figuring out which plugin is going to work for you. If you hire this whole process out, it’s quite expensive because you’re going to be paying a designer, a developer to set all that up for you. The other thing is time. WordPress could take you, a good month to six weeks to set up your course platform depending on the workload of your developer and the complexity of your particular setup. Whereas with Kajabi, you could literally set up your course in a matter of a couple of days work.

So you can start to see the differences.

You’ll pay a monthly fee with Kajabi and Click Funnels and your course is literally being built on their platform. But if you build it in WordPress, there’s more money up front to develop it. But you generally won’t pay the monthly fees in depending on which plugin you use. But you’re developing on your own land, not on someone else’s platform.

Other all in ones that are out there that I don’t have a ton of experience with that you might look into our Kartra, and also one called New Zenler.

Then we get two separate platforms for just the fulfillment side and there are tons of different options. So you have a platform called teachable, which is one you’ve probably seen or heard of. Thinkific is another one. And then there’s one called Member Vault, which is really good.

It seems like there’s a new platform popping up all the time – these are just the main ones that I’ve had some experience with. So these only handle the fulfillment side so you’re still going to need something on the sales side in order to sell the course and process the money. So with that Click Funnels is really a good option as the standalone sales side as well as WordPress.

You can set up a sales page and a checkout right on your WordPress and then fulfill it with teachable thinkific or Member Vault. I have a client who was using member vault and she had set up a couple of her courses in there. Through working with her I got to have a peek in the back end and I really am so impressed with the things that you can do inside.

For example, if you want to email everyone that’s only made it 10% through the course and you want to give them like a little nudge to keep going. There’s so much data within member of all that you can use to keep people engaged and keep people going. There’s also gamification options where you can add different emails or celebrations or any of these kind of really clever things to keep people excited about the course and keep them moving along.

Because we all know that’s the goal of the course is you want people to finish it. You want people to experience the transformation that your full course offers. And the truth is a lot of people don’t finish the course. So using a platform like member Vault for your fulfillment is really interesting with all the tools you get that help you see into kind of how people are using your Course, how they’re consuming the content. And then you can set up different options to kind of keep them motivated along the path.

Some of you might know about the new course I’m launching in March, which is my passion project in the fashion sewing niche, which I want to share more details about my launch process in another episode, but I’m giving member vault a really serious look to house my own course content. I’ll use Click Funnels for my sales, and then Member Vault for the course fulfillment.

The only downside to using separate sales and fulfillment platforms is you’ll have to connect them using Zapier, which is just a little bit more work on the tech end.

Other platforms like teachable and thinkific, I’ve really only experienced from the user side. I don’t have a lot of experience with them as far as the back end of setting them up, but definitely worth doing the research.

If you’re just looking for a really easy way to get started and have an elegant course your students and your customers definitely consider an all in one option like Kajabi, because it does make it so easy with as little tech issues as possible. That’s the benefit of paying, you know, each month for the Kajabi software.

So I hope this has helped get you started thinking about what platform option is best for you. If you want to skip all the research and leave it to me, we should definitely talk. You can book a discovery call here and I’d love to learn more about what course you’re planning and also share with you details about how I might be able to help.