“When you unite business and education, you create an unstoppable force for change.” – Miranda Lievers, Co-Founder & COO, Thinkific

Want to teach an online course?

Business owners who want to create online courses face some tricky challenges. Before you can create a sustainable income stream, you have to answer questions like:

  • How do you turn your knowledge into an online course?
  • How do you make something people are willing to pay for?
  • How do you create a website to host your educational business?
  • How do you market your business, so that people who need your expertise can find you?

If you’re an entrepreneur or business with specialized skills and want to sell online courses, you need tools to turn your expertise into a sustainable business.

With a mission to revolutionize the way people earn and learn online, Thinkific helps make online courses easy.

If you have things to teach, you need a way to get it out there

“We empower entrepreneurs to realize their dreams and build something that’s 100% theirs.” – Greg Smith, CEO

Greg Smith was frustrated. He was teaching a weekend LSAT course, but there was a cap on the class size — students that needed to get into law school were getting turned away from his class.

Greg realized he could help more students if he put his course online. But there wasn’t a software platform that gave him the tools and control he wanted.

So Greg built a team. Together, they set out to build the course-building software they needed — not only for themselves, but for anyone who wanted to create online courses.

Thinkific logo

Fast forward to today, Thinkific has helped over 40,000 people create their own online courses.

From hula hoop fitness to marketing training: Easily create and sell online courses that get your skills out there

Thinkific is an all-in-one online course platform that lets you control every decision about how to publish, price, and promote your business. Whether your goal is to grow your audience, be seen as an expert in your field, or build incredible revenue…Thinkific makes it easy.

Thinkific coursesThinkific helps experts (on any topic) create and sell courses that work.

Andrea Merson, Thinkific’s Director of Marketing, explains, “We wanted to build a platform that was easy enough to use for people without a team, and also be able to scale for a large business.”

Thinkific isn’t restricted to specific industries. Anyone with expertise on a subject can create content to share their knowledge.

The educators Thinkific hosts courses for include:

  • Hootsuite. The social media management platform educates over 250,000 students on how to use social media, through their Hootsuite Academy
  • David A. Fahrenthold. A Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner for National Reporting in 2017, he offers a course on investigative journalism.
  • Jonathan Levi. He founded SuperHuman Academy, where he’s taught over 120,000 students how to improve their learning and memory skills
  • Deanne Love. She teaches classes on how to hula hoop to over 1,500 students from around the world. The first class was filmed on her iphone — since then, she’s been featured on the Today Show and in Women’s Fitness.

Hooplovers banner adHooplovers is the ultimate portal for total beginners, well-seasoned hoop spinners, or those looking to become professional hula hoop instructors.

“The power of the internet is in those niche markets,” Andrea says.

Course instructors can choose the medium that best suits their (and their students’) needs. The types of lesson content you can host on Thinkific include:

  • Text
  • Audio
  • PDF
  • Voice-over-slide presentations
  • Assignments
  • Video and live-streaming
  • Downloadable files
  • Discussion-based lessons
  • Quizzes and exams

Thinkific course optionsNot only do course creators have multiple formats to share content, they have complete power over how they present it.

Thinkific serves a huge range of customers, who:

  • Work across a broad range of industries
  • Have different resources to put towards online courses
  • Want to create a variety of product types

Thinkific needs a personalized marketing and automation strategy to make sure each type of instructor gets the information they need.

And for that, they use ActiveCampaign.

How Thinkific uses ActiveCampaign to help people create and grow their own businesses

ActiveCampaign’s automations give Thinkific the control they need to guide customers as they build sustainable businesses.

ActiveCampaign is especially useful for two of Thinkific’s specific needs:

  1. Automated email sequences. Thinkific needed a way to get people started in their platform quickly. Onboarding sequences help them show people the tools they can use.
  2. Reactive triggers. Thinkific wanted to give customers a tailored experience based on what part of Thinkific’s platform they show interest in

Spell out what your customers need to do. And then automate it.

Thinkific takes what could be a complicated process — onboarding new customers — and makes it simpler with ActiveCampaign. An automated welcome series leads people through the entire process.

As one customer said on the review site Capterra, “They spell out exactly what to do! I am happy with how professional it all looks. Now I will get busy with the marketing end and Thinkific can help with info about that too!”

Thinkific’s onboarding, which takes 15–20 days, includes 4 drip sequences, each focused on a different step of creating an online course:

  • Set up your course
    • Includes a webinar that talks about off-app activity to prepare you for course creation
    • How to pick the topic of your course
    • How to decide how you’ll present your lessons
    • How to make sure that there’s real demand for your topic
  • Design your website
    • Tips and strategies for how to design a professional website that’s easy for students to use
  • Optimize your end-to-end experience
    • Walks you through how to optimize your course and website so people have a seamless experience
  • Launch your course
    • How to market your course
    • How to deliver an amazing student experience

“It started out with mapping our customer journey — taking people down their tailored paths and giving them only the most essential steps.”
– Andrea Merson

The power to give customers the information they need (when and how they need it) is what makes email marketing automation so powerful. Tweet this!!

Be proactive about your customers’ journey and you’ll trigger success stories

There are two sides of the Thinkific product:

  1. Course builder: Builds the content of your course
  2. Site builder: Builds your website and landing pages to sell your course

“Right off the bat there are those two roads to go down,” Andrea explains.

Before ActiveCampaign, they hadn’t been able to guide which road new customers first chose to work in. “We prefer they use Course Builder first so they have a full course they can sell”.”

Thinkific course builderThe Course Builder is where you access your curriculum, course settings, pricing, drip schedule, and publishing tools.

How does Thinkific know when to keep new customers pointed towards Course Builder…and when to let others jump into Site Builder?

They use reactive triggers.

With event tracking set up in ActiveCampaign, Thinkific can see where people are in their platform.

  1. If a new customer visits the Site Builder once, their action triggers a follow-up email that attempts to lead them back into Course Builder
  2. If a new customer continues to access Site Builder, their actions trigger an email that introduces them to the Site Builder features

“20-30% of our users care solely about the Site Builder,” says Andrea. “If they visit Site Builder more than once, they clearly have intent on building out their website.”

With reactive triggers, Thinkific can personalize the experience their customers want.

Thinkific site builderThinkific’s Site Builder lets you quickly build a customized website and course landing pages that can contain any content you’d like.

Thinkific gets even more value from ActiveCampaign by using it to:

  • Deploy marketing campaigns to promote upgrades or registrations
  • Share valuable information like:
    • Announcements
    • Case studies
    • Help-center documentation
    • Videos and webinars
  • Automate research with a net promoter score (NPS) survey sent after 8 and 30 days
  • Track sales leads with the ActiveCampaign CRM

“Everything else has been democratized, why not knowledge?”

What could be better than every day seeing entrepreneurs from all over the world earning a living teaching what they love?” — Andrea Merson, Director of Marketing

“If you think about the difference between courses and content,” says Andrea, “content is based around information, and information is everywhere on the internet.”

People don’t look for just information from courses…they want to create lasting change in their life.

As Andrea says, “You have large masses of people transforming themselves.”

An online course lets you create lessons once and sit back as hundreds (or even thousands) of people use it to improve their lives.

Traditionally, knowledge and education have existed inside institutions. But there are so many people and businesses out there with expertise and something to say. Thinkific’s goal is to give them a platform…and ActiveCampaign helps makes that possible.

ActiveCampaign automation recipeDo you think reactive triggers would make your customer’s journey better? Use this automation recipe to send people follow-up emails after they’ve visited specific pages on your website.