Thinkific vs. Podia comparison: What is the best LMS? (2024)

I compared the pros and cons of using Thinkific and Podia as an online course platform for your business.
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One of the best ways to monetize your business and create passive income is to sell courses.

Not only can you sell courses from your website, but you can also establish your authority in your industry, build a strong relationship with your students, and get paid for doing what you love!

But to get started, you need the right online course platform.

Valued at $260 billion by 2023, this industry is experiencing rapid growth and change.

In this post, I'm going to take a detailed look at two of the best course creation platforms on the market today: Thinkific and Podia.

I'll go over all the features the platforms offer, including their course designers, membership site platform, and more, so you can decide which platform is best for your business.

It's gone!

Thinkific and Podia: Overview

Here's a quick overview of the two platforms.

Thinkific

Thinkific is an all-in-one solution for creating, marketing, and selling your online courses.

You can easily create courses using their intuitive course builder, import existing content, or download your own.

Thinkific cover image

Thinkific takes care of everything: hosting and delivering the content of your online learning courses to your students, processing payments, collecting tax information, and providing support.

You don't need to worry about technical details. Focus on creating great content for your students.

You can also create multiple courses and manage them from a single location.

Thanks to Thinkific's flexibility, you don't need to worry about the format of your course: you can choose text-based lessons with images/videos/documents (which can be imported), quizzes to test student knowledge, and certificates to be delivered at the end of the course.

It also integrates with major marketing tools like Zapier, Keap (Infusionsoft), Shopify, Zoom, ActiveCampaign,

Here are a few key features:

  • User friendly course builder that requires no coding or technical know-how.
  • Fully customizable, ready-to-use templates and design themes.
  • Drag-and-drop course editor.
  • Preview before publishing.
  • Full control over the marketing and sales of the course.
  • Integration with other marketing tools.
  • Data analysis at your fingertips.
  • 24/7 support.
  • Thinkific Academy course for beginning creators.
  • Networking and learning.
Try Thinkific

Podia

Podia is also an all-in-one platform that allows you to create and sell online courses, digital downloads, and set up membership sites without worrying about technology.

You can upload videos, PDFs, audio files, or any other type of content to your website.

Podia cover image

Podia also offers deep integration with third-party email tools like MailChimp, Convertkit, and AWeber, payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe, and analytics tools like Hotjar and Google Analytics.

You can also connect it to Zapier for more integration options.

Here are some of the main features of Podia:

  • A wide variety of online courses to choose from.
  • Creation and sale of digital products.
  • Create communities with varying levels of membership.
  • Host webinars with an unlimited number of participants.
  • Email marketing functionality.
  • Analyses and reports.
  • Live chat on the page.
  • Personalized mobile-friendly websites.
  • Create and manage using the affiliate program.
  • List of integrated products.
Try Podia

In short, Podia is an all-in-one platform for selling online courses, digital downloads, and memberships for your content.

It's also a great option for selling content like coaching, events, and even acts as a webinar platform, allowing you to host and run your own webinars on the platform.

Thinkific is a system of learning management (LMS) that helps you create, market, sell, and deliver your online courses.

Here's a detailed comparison of Thinkific and Podia.

Features - Thinkific vs. Podia.

1. Course creation.

Thinkific :

The Thinkific course builder allows you to create lessons, add content, and configure your course settings.

The editor allows you to create and edit lesson content in your course.

You can use it to add text, images, videos, quizzes, and more.

You can sign up with your first name, last name, email address, and password.

Thinkific doesn't allow you to sign in using your Google account directly.

The registration process also takes you through a few additional steps, during which you need to answer a few questions.

After registering, you can access course items from the Thinkific menu on the left side of the dashboard, or click directly on the “New Course” button if you want to create or add a new course.

Thinkific course creation

You can choose from various types of templates to get started, such as:

  • Blank course (where you build your course from scratch)
  • Flagship course
  • Presale courses
  • Mini course
  • Resumption of the webinar

All templates are customizable and come with different guidelines and goals.

You can add, edit, and delete as many chapters as you want in these templates.

Organizing your course content into chapters allows you to separate the content into different sections.

Here is an example of the mini-course model that allows you to create an inexpensive course that is suitable for building a first audience.

Thinkific mini course template

It can be used as a lead qualification tool to encourage customers or students to enroll in a full course.

Then, you can add content to the course in two ways:

  • Or you add the chapters one by one
  • You can also use a bulk importer to download all of your content at once.

To add one chapter at a time, go to the Curriculum tab in the upper left corner, and select Add Chapter.

The chapters are then divided into lessons that contain media, such as text, video, audio, PDFs, presentations, and more.

You can also add quizzes, assignments, surveys, and exams to assess your students.

Thinkific: types of lessons

You can preview this lesson and make it available for free.

You can also enable discussion about this lesson and others, make your media downloadable from the course, and add tags or keywords to help people find your content.

You can also change your course name, add the course URL, choose the instructor, and set access permissions in the Course Settings tab.

Thinkific course settings

Sometimes you don't want to give your best content right away.

In this case, you can set up your course so that students unlock new content over time (that is, content in a piecemeal way).

You can use the drip course calendar to control when your subscribers can access course material, including:

  • Student enrollment date
  • Start date of the course for the student
  • Precise date

For example, you will have full access to lesson 1 from the day you register.

Then, you can access the next chapter one week after registering and the next chapters seven days after each previous chapter.

Drip content thinkific

You can choose to make your course available for a one-time payment, a recurring subscription, a monthly payment plan, or even for free.

You can also decide where students land after purchasing your course.

Start with Thinkific.

Podia :

Creating a Podia account only takes a few seconds. Simply enter your name, email address, and password and you're ready to create your course.

You have a free 14-day trial period before becoming a paid member.

Podia sign up process

With Podia, you can choose from a variety of online courses.

You can create:

  • Autonomous courses
  • Drip course
  • Course packages
  • Presale courses
  • Pre-launch course.
Add lessons Podia

The next step is adding content to your online course. Podia allows you to add text, links, quizzes, or download files.

In your lessons, you can also incorporate YouTube videos, Vimeo videos, Soundslice, Google Docs, Instagram, and more.

As for pricing, you can make a personalized course free, offer recurring payments, and add additional products during the checkout process.

Podia also allows you to select availability.

For example, you can conduct presales, that is, make your course immediately available for purchase, or hide it until it starts, so that all of your participants start simultaneously.

Start with Podia.
Podia availability

Winner: Thinkific.

Podia's course creator is easier to use and more straightforward than Thinkific.

However, Thinkific offers more features and flexibility for course creators.

2. Membership sites.

Both Thinkific and Podia allow you to create a membership site.

Membership sites are password-protected portals on your website where members pay a monthly or annual subscription to access exclusive content or services.

Let's see how they compare.

Thinkific:

Your membership site Thinkific allows learners to access your course content whenever they want

To create membership sites with Thinkific, you can start by creating a Bundle.

Bundles allow you to bundle multiple courses together and sell them as one package.

Go to the Courses tab, click Memberships and Bundles, then select +New Bundle.

Type a name for your grouping and click Create.

Click the+sign next to Member Courses and select all of the courses you want to offer in this bundle.

Thinkific Course Bundle

Then, you can give members different access rights to your content, depending on the membership level they buy.

Subscription tiers thinkific

Set your price once it's done, and you're ready to go.

You can set up multiple membership levels and subscription plans, so users have different options for signing up.

You can also set up trial periods or charge users on a one-time or recurring basis.

You can allow members to make one-time payments or one-time, one-time, or recurring payments through Stripe.

Additionally, the bundled landing page also gives you the option to insert custom code and SEO information.

Podia:

Like Thinkific, Podia also allows you to create different levels of membership plans and course offerings.

You can create different topic pages for your members, pin important announcements, and schedule your messages in advance.

You can also keep access to your course:

  • Open, where everyone in the community can see or follow a topic.
  • Private, where you can find specific members who can see or follow a topic.
  • Public, where all members can see and follow a particular topic.

When it comes to pricing, Podia also allows you to offer various price levels, including monthly or annual recurring payments and a free trial.

The other characteristics are as follows:

  • Features like upsells and coupons to encourage subscriptions.
  • Connect your membership site to your Facebook group, Slack channel, or Palapa community.
  • Send email notifications when you create membership posts.

Winner: It's a draw.

3. Marketing and sales.

Both Thinkific and Podia offer similar tools, including coupons, discounts, drip emails, and extensive third-party integrations with digital marketing tools.

Let's see how they compare.

Thinkific:

Thinkific comes with a variety of marketing and sales tools, including built-in SEO features, landing pages, upsells, discount codes, and more to help you market more effectively.

You can gather leads by allowing visitors to sign up for free and paid courses on your site, to get started. It allows you to set up different price levels to attract different customers.

Then, you have features like coupons and promotions to encourage customers to buy.

You can also add purchase orders to your existing highly successful courses to increase sales volume.

A purchase order is an additional product or service that a student can add to their purchase of a course, bundle, or membership.

Thinkific allows you to present it as an optional addition to your storefront during the checkout process.

If the student chooses the order box, you will charge them for it when they complete the course.

Order Bumps Thinkific

Integration with email marketing platforms like ActiveCampaign and customer relationship management (CRM) tools also helps you:

  • Create brand marketing emails.
  • Send personalized emails based on user actions.
  • Automate the process of adding and updating contacts.

With Thinkific's social sharing features, you can also share your Thinkific content on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter without ever leaving the platform.

You'll get a preview of what your message will look like, and you can add any details you want before sharing it.

Thinkific social sharing

Thinkific also allows you to add QR codes to your courses and marketing materials, making it easy for users to access the information you want to show them.

Here's how you can use the Thinkific QR code to market your courses:

  • This makes it easier for customers to find your site and the course landing page.
  • Print the QR code on your printed materials so that customers can easily switch from offline to online information.
  • Add a promotion code to the QR code and give anyone who scans it a discount on your product or service.
  • Give your customers a free preview of your course by attaching a QR code to the information they want.

Second, Thinkific's pre-order feature allows users to pre-sell their course before it's ready to be released.

It will allow you to sell more courses, increase sales speed, and generate more revenue.

Try Thinkific

It will also help you:

  • Analyze whether there is a market for your course.
  • Raise money to reduce your initial costs.
  • Get initial feedback.

With Thinkific, you also have access to an integrated payment gateway with no transaction fees and the ability to accept payments in over 100 countries.

Podia:

Podia comes with many of the features you need to manage your online business: a cash register system, an affiliate marketing system, and an integrated email marketing tool.

You can also market your course through membership sites, webinars, and digital products.

You can use Podia's email marketing feature to send a broadcast email to your entire audience (customers and subscribers) or a sequence of automated emails to customers only.

You can also segment your audience based on the products they buy to send targeted emails.

You'll also be able to get a quick overview of Podia's analytics as well as detailed metrics like:

  • Beneficiary activity
  • sales
  • Opening rate
  • Click-through rate
Podia email marketing analytics

When someone downloads a free product, you can also use a dropwise email campaign to guide that person through the sales funnel to your paid products.

Because email marketing features are integrated into the Podia dashboard, you don't need a third-party tool.

However, you can integrate it with third-party applications to get more advanced features.

You can even integrate registration forms into your Podia site to develop your email address list.

Podia is also equipped with a affiliate marketing program integrated.

This program makes it easy to set up affiliate partners, display their statistics, and pay their commissions.

Podia affiliate marketing feature

Podia also has an integrated messaging tool that allows you to engage in dialogue with prospects and build relationships with customers.

You can use it at no additional cost.

Podia messaging tool

Thanks to the “Embed” function, you can sell digital products on the web from your website.

Podia allows you to add product sheets, buy buttons, or text links to your website or sales page.

Winner: Podia.

Try Podia

While Thinkific and Podia offer extensive marketing and sales functions, Podia clearly wins.

Its integrated email marketing tool and affiliate system are hard to beat.

4. Sale of digital products.

Digital products are a great way to start selling your products because you don't have to worry about shipping costs or worry about physical products.

Thinkific and Podia both make it easy for you to create and sell digital products, but which one is better?

We are going to find out.

Thinkific:

Thinkific allows you to insert certain types of files into your course to offer them as downloadable lessons.

This makes it easy for you to provide your students with additional content, like worksheets, video tutorials, exams, and more.

Note that Thinkific does not support selling products separately.

You'll need to add them as downloadable products in the course or offer them as add-on products at checkout.

Here's how you can create a digital product that can be downloaded as part of the course:

In the left sidebar of your admin dashboard, you'll see a link to Manage Learning Content. From there, choose Courses, then choose the course you want to add your digital product to.

Then, select the three dots on the course card, and click on the “Edit” option.

Then, select “Add Content” in the Curriculum tab and choose “Downloads.”

Thinkific digital downloads
Image: Digital downloads added; Source: Thinkific Help Center

Next, you'll need to give your product a title and upload your file, which you can do by dragging the file into the box or by clicking the “Select Files” button in the window.

There is no limit to the number of files you can upload and the types of files that are accepted.

Once the download is complete, click Save and your downloadable lesson will be ready.

Once you've published it, students can simply right-click on the file to save it to their devices.

Podia:

You can use Podia to create and sell digital products like ebooks, audiobooks, PDFs, checklists, predefined collections, and more.

Here's how you can create one yourself:

From your dashboard, click Products, then click + Create Product.

You will have the choice between different types of products. Select digital download.

You will then access a window in which you can download the files that you want to offer for digital download.

Podia digital downloads
Add digital downloads; Source: Podia Help Center

Use the file upload button to choose files or drag and drop your files here.

After downloading, you'll see four different tabs on your window: Files, Details, Price, and Availability.

These tabs allow you to change the properties of your digital product as follows:

  • Files: Here you can upload and manage all of your digital files.
  • Details: You can define details like your digital product name, URL, categories, and social media image!
  • Price: You can set the price for your download.
  • Available: You can control the visibility of your digital product and when it will be available for sale.

When you're ready, click Publish, and your digital product will be online.

Winner: Podia.

While both platforms allow you to add digital products, Podia allows you to create standalone digital products and sell them individually.

In contrast, Thinkific only allows you to market and sell digital course downloads.

5. Student experience and engagement.

Are your students engaged?

Do they watch videos, fill out quizzes, and interact with you and other students?

If not, engagement is something you can improve.

Fortunately, both Thinkific and Podia have student engagement features.

Here is a detailed comparison.

Thinkific:

You can start by creating a business website or standalone payment pages with Thinkific to engage your students.

A student must register for the course to start using course content.

Image: Opening and closing a student account; Source: Thinkific Help Center

When students register, the form asks for their name, email address, payment details, etc.

Students can also create an account without purchasing a course.

Once students have purchased the course, they are directed to a thank you page.

Or, if you want to personalize this feed, you can do so in your settings.

Additionally, they will also receive the Thinkific welcome email and the course welcome email.

Thinkific: The Student Dashboard
Image: The Student Dashboard; Source: Thinkific Help Center

Unless students buy a course outright, they will have immediate access to course options.

With Thinkific's built-in course player, they can watch videos, answer quizzes, and access other files.

Course Player is highly customizable; you can customize its fonts, colors, themes, and logos.

Thinkific allows you to create quizzes that your students can take after each lesson or video.

These quizzes help students remember what they've learned and reinforce key concepts.

Thinkific Quizzes
Picture: Quiz; Source: Thinkific Help Center

Once your students have completed your quiz, you can check their scores.

You can also check the survey responses of your students if you have set up surveys in your course.

To view the full report, export your quiz and survey data to a CSV file by going to the Quiz and Survey section in your admin panel and selecting “Export.”

You can also customize your search results by course name and completion date.

You can also view your student profiles, including details such as name, email address, company, job title, time zone, site language, and more.

Image: Student Profile; Source: Thinkific Help Center

The menu at the top left of the page allows students to access their certificates, course updates, billing details, past orders, and more.

They can also update their password from this section.

Other characteristics of student assessment are as follows:

  • Student progress - After completing a unit, students will click on “Finish and Continue” to access the next unit in the course. Students can also see their progress in the course by clicking on the Progress Report button.
  • Activity flow - Thinkific provides an activity feed for each student, allowing you to see which chapters they have viewed and completed.
Image: Activity Stream; Source: Thinkific Help Center

  • Login information - Access the last login dates of your students, the total number of times they logged in, etc.

Additionally, you can get insight into how students interact with your video lessons.

To view these statistics, go to Manage Learning Content > Video Library > Edit button next to the desired video, then select Analytics.

Here, you'll see the following metrics like:

  • Average engagement: How long does the average viewer watch your video for?
  • Total views: How many times has this video been viewed?
  • Read rate: Calculated by dividing the number of people who saw the video by the total number of people who uploaded it to a website.
  • Last viewed: The last time someone watched the video?

You can also save these reports as a CSV file. You will receive an email with a link to your download.

The export comes with filters including affiliates, amount spent, course administrator, email, enrollment, enrollment status, and more.

These offer you immense flexibility when analysing your data.

Podia:

Podia has a built-in community function that allows you to interact and communicate with your audience in each lesson.

With the community, members can do the following in one place:

  • Buy your products
  • Consume your content
  • Post and participate in discussions

You don't need to connect to another platform to interact with other members or course creators.

The community allows you to post various messages, FAQs, and topics that your members can follow, comment on, and even publish themselves depending on the level of access you allow.

Community privacy settings will help you limit who can see and do what in your community.

Community Podia

You also have access to detailed community analytics.

You can see how many members are in your community, the total number of likes and comments on posts in your community, the number of topics in the group, and more.

You can narrow your results by using filters.

These are All Members (by default), Free Trials, Free Members, and Paid Members.

You can even sort this data by membership date or member role.

Community analytics

Image: Community Analytics; Source: Podia

The main dashboard also provides insight into how your members interact with your products.

In addition, there are various sections for the various analyses of student engagement:

  • The “Community” section shows the total number of posts, as well as comments on those posts.
  • The Audience section provides information about the total number of subscribers, customers who purchased your products, and community members.
  • The Sales section shows the total number of sales, total revenue, and monthly recurring revenue.

Additionally, you can access email engagement metrics to see how your customers, subscribers, and members are engaging with your broadcasts and campaigns.

The report also provides an overview of email interactions, such as the number of emails sent, opened, clicked, and returned.

Additionally, you can see the number of unsubscriptions and sales resulting from these emails.

Winner: Podia.

Start your online courses with Podia.

Thanks to its community and community moderation feature, Podia is the winner here.

Pricing - Podia vs. Thinkific.

Podia offers three plans, available for 33, 75, and 166 dollars per month.

Thinkific offers three plans, priced at $39, $79, and $399 per month.

The fourth plan is a freemium plan.

Note that these prices apply if you sign up for 12 months on both Podia and Thinkific.

Let's break down their pricing options in detail.

Thinkific pricing:

  • Free Plan ($0) - Limited courses and unlimited students, site administration account, drag-and-drop course creator, e-commerce features, website templates, email and phone support, Thinkific app store.
  • Basic Plan ($39 per month) - Includes all free features + unlimited courses, students, and content, live chat support, custom domain, coupons and promotions, scheduled content, one-to-one student email, Thinkific Academy core courses.
  • Pro Plan ($79 per month) - Includes all basic features + two site administration accounts, private and hidden courses, flexible subscription and pricing, course completion certificates, unique communities, live lessons, and more.
  • Premier Plan ($399 per month) - Includes all Pro features+ five site admin accounts, unlimited communities, white labeling, API access, Brillium exam integration, and more.
Start your online courses with Podia.
Thinkific Pricing

All paid plans come with a 30-day free trial.

Podia prices:

  • Mover plan ($33 per month) - personalized website, email marketing, customer messaging, community, unlimited courses, unlimited downloads, unlimited webinars.
  • Shaker Plan ($75 per month) - Includes all Mover features+ an unlimited number of coaching and affiliate products.
  • Earthquaker Plan ($166 per month) - Includes all Shaker+ features from priority customer support professionals to help you if needed, greeting calls, and a monthly call from the creators.

All paid plans come with a 14-day free trial.

Start with Thinkific.

Summary.

Choosing the best online course platform for your business is not easy.

Both Thinkific and Podia are course creation tools suited to creating a profitable online course.

Both have advanced customization options, a minimal user interface, a site builder, and the ability to create an unlimited number of courses, interactive classroom functions, among other advanced tools.

If your number one goal is only to sell courses and make money, then Thinkific seems to be fine.

It also has a free plan for startups and newbies who are discovering the possibilities of a course builder.

For the general population, I think Thinkific is the winner and the way forward.

Try Thinkific for free

On the other hand, Podia is more like an all-in-one tool, with all the bells and whistles.

These include email tools, affiliate programs, and more. If you are looking for something more specific, this platform may be a good choice.

Try Podia for free

Further reading: Do you want to delve even deeper into each of these platforms?

For more information, see my detailed analysis by Thinkific And of Podia.

Want to see how other online course platforms compare to each other?

Then, check out my various comparative reviews below:

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