Over the years, I have recommended Clickfunnels for marketers, Clickfunnels for Amazon sellers and even Clickfunnels for non-profits.
If you've landed on this post, you have some questions about it...Here are some answers.
TL;DR: Clickfunnels is a great software and you can definitely use it to host your web course. However, it isn't perfect and there are better options if your main concern is having the best course area possible. I use Clickfunnels for my front end and then host my courses inside of Thinkific. Clickfunnels allows you to integrate easily with 3rd party course platforms like this. I explain why in this article.
I have used the Clickfunnel's membership site feature for several membership sites, courses, one time payment courses and free courses (that I use for lead generation).
Here are the results of one course launch I created with the help of my good friend Christopher Grant from Cleartheshelf.com.
Obviously, it gets the job done.
However, with so many available options, you deserve more than a biased review showing you just one option that "gets the job done." You deserve a review that helps you, "get the job done best for you."
That may or may not be Clickfunnels.
Let me explain why. First, let's discuss where Clickfunnels falls short when it comes to online courses.
The Shortcomings of Using Clickfunnels for Online Courses
First, let me explain why I am not as in love with the membership/course features of Clickfunnels as I am with the other features of Clickfunnels.
1. Formatting/Creating Modules Isn't as Simple as Other Solutions I've Tested
Notice I say that it isn't "as" simple.
I admit, I am extremely fluent in Clickfunnels. I have used it for years and paid thousands on trainings to master it.
If you aren't familiar working with Clickfunnels, you may find the interface a little confusing for awhile.
This can translate into an awkward, unorganized overall design if you aren't careful to remain consistent across your modules and lessons.
You can always hire someone to build your course, but that can get pricey if you do it right. I don't recommend trying to go cheap on outsourcing design work.
2. Design Templates Aren't as Attractive as Other Solutions I've Tested
Let me first say something... I understand that the design of the course is far from the most important thing. The content is really what matters, but if you have a God awful design, you're going to risk turning away some of your users.
Fair or not, many of your members may associate the bad design with a bad course. You need to frame your course for your members and start off on the right foot.
More attractive design can lead to:
- Lower refund rates
- Higher member satisfaction rates
- Higher member completion rates
- More referrals from members
Here are what the log-in areas look like.
Of course you can make any changes to these that you'd like, but that is easier said than done when it comes to actually making a halfway decent looking design.
Even someone like me who knows HOW to make changes, I lack the design skills to really make something that is awesome. Usually, it takes a lot of effort for me to make anything that looks better than the defaults (which I said, I don't like).
Another downside is that once you customize the first page, there isn't going to be continuity on the next page. You will have to update typography, backgrounds, margins, etc. there too and often times, subtle differences make big differences from a design perspective.
Here are what the designs for the actual Clickfunnels course membership areas look like.
You can also download additional course templates or purchase premium designs from the Funnel Marketplace.
They range from free to $147. If you buy these and stick to the design, you can end up with a decent looking course.
3. The Mobile Experience Isn't Great
It's unreasonable to believe all of our students will be watching our courses on their laptops.
I watched an entire 4 hour course from the chair of a tattoo parlor while getting a sleeve put on.
Mobile needs to be optimized and so far, Clickfunnels doesn't have an amazing mobile experience when it comes to videos, especially if you host the videos through YouTube.
A premium video hosting platform like Vimeo will improve this mobile experience, but it comes with another recurring expense.
Also, platforms like Thinkific are able to remember exactly where a user was when they stopped watching. So, if they stopped mid video, it would pick up where they left off when they got back.
4. No Quiz/Test Options
There is no native way to add quizzes within Clickfunnels.
You can always embed them from another 3rd party service, but that is often clunky and requires another expense.
Personally, I find quizzes on web courses to be a bit overrated and cheesy.
It reminds me way too much of traditional schooling and all entrepreneurs know that traditional schooling is NOT a big part of our success.
It is always nice to have that option though since quizzes can help to increase engagement and encourage students to pay closer attention to all of the content (successful students = successful courses).
5. No Discussion Area
This is another "nice to have" feature that Clickfunnels doesn't offer but its competitors in the course software arena do support.
Discussion areas are a great place for members to ask questions and help each other without leaving the course area itself.
Many people who use Clickfunnels for their courses create Facebook or Google groups where members can engage with each other and ask questions.
Personally, I like to have both a discussion area and another group for all alumni and current students.
6. You Can't Track Student Progress
The best course creators don't stop after the sale. They do their best to make sure every student has the best chance of succeeding.
One metric that I like to monitor is student progress.
Clickfunnels unfortunately doesn't do this. Thinkific however, does (as shown above).
Who Should Use Clickfunnels for Their Membership Sites?
I do believe that Clickfunnels is a valid solution for certain people.
1. People Who Already Have Clickfunnels Accounts
A few years ago I was planning a trip that was going to take me somewhere that didn't have wi-fi. For an internet entrepreneur, that isn't an option, so I started shopping for wireless hot spots.
While browsing the internet for the best options, I learned something awesome.
My iPhone was ALREADY a hot spot, I just had to turn it on.
It wasn't blazing fast and it was limited in usage, but it was enough to fit my needs. It also helped me avoid paying another monthly payment for something I wasn't going to use very much.
If you're an existing Clickfunnels user, you don't need to add another expense to your ever growing internet business overhead.
Also, if you're an existing Clickfunnels user, you are most likely more comfortable with the Clickfunnels interface so you won't have the learning curve that others have.
2. People Whose Launches Require Upsells, Downsells and One Time Offers
Clickfunnels reigns supreme in the world of sales page and funnel software.
Your goal shouldn't just be increasing the amount of sales you make, it should be increasing the CART VALUE of the sales you make as well.
If what I just said is totally new to you, you MUST read Dot Com Secrets by Clickfunnels creator, Russell Brunson (one of my business idols).
Do not, I repeat DO NOT underestimate the power of upsells with Clickfunnels.
I have routinely added 30%+ to the net profit of my sales funnels through upsells, downsells and one time offers.
3. People Who Want to Run Affiliate Campaigns and Manage Them Easily without Multiple Programs
Although it requires an upgrade, Clickfunnel's Backpack program works very well for running affiliate campaigns for your products.
Courses particularly benefit the most from bringing affiliates onboard, especially if the course is high ticket ($997+).
It is for this reason that I still use Clickfunnels on the front end of all of my courses (more on that in a minute).
4. People Who Are Well Versed in CSS and Web Design
I am NOT a designer by any means.
If you are comfortable with web design, Clickfunnels gives users the ability to add their own CSS and you can really make any Clickfunnels page look anyway you please.
The majority of us however, don't have this luxury.
Why I Use Clickfunnels on the Front End of My Courses
Here is what my PREFERRED set up now looks like...
Clickfunnels (sales + affiliates + emails) + Zapier (integration of softwares) + Thinkific (actual course content)
All sales related pages. This includes squeeze pages, Jeff Walker style "dripped" course launches, upsell, downsell and one time offer pages. There is no better software than Clickfunnels for creating high converting pages that sell products. I also use Backpack and Actionetics for affiliate management and email management (in that order). That is why I pay $297 instead of $97. If you don't need affiliates or the ability to send emails natively to students, you can use the basic $97/month plan.
Zapier (plans starting at free, I pay $550/year but use it for many other tasks than just this one)
Zapier is the tool that connects Clickfunnels sales with Thinkific course access. It took me until recently to make this happen, but when someone purchases a course from me on Clickfunnels, I am now using Zapier to enroll them into the Thinkific course. Think of Zapier like a premium version of IFTTT.com
Thinkific (plans starting at free, I pay $948/year)
Thinkific is where I actually send my students to access the course content.
I am in love with its features. Here are the core features of Thinkific.