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Kajabi: The Apple of course platforms?

review Oct 27, 2022

This is a review and walkthrough of the course platform Kajabi, where you’ll learn about the pros and cons of the software - but I’ll also explain why I think Kajabi is to course platforms what Apple is to tech.

"What do you mean what Apple is to tech - expensive and overhyped?"

I understand why you say that, and many Android fans also think Apple is overpriced. But I will argue that the extra price you pay comes right back to you in the form of time-saving and a good user experience.

"Sounds like you work for Kajabi? Listen, Kajabi is just another course platform, and there are many GREAT alternatives. So why even bother making this review?"

No, I don’t work for them, but I’ve been a customer for a couple of years now, so I think I can give people unique insight into how the platform actually helps you turn your knowledge into income, as Kajabi says on their website.

 

Simple interface

The first immediate benefit you experience when buying Kajabi and setting it up is the interface. It’s light, easy to overview, and there’s really not that much to learn.

If you’re not a technical person, you will still be able to build your website, create email sequences, and all the other parts of building an online business.

What typically causes bad website designs, for example, is the creator's lack of design skills. Kajabi gets around this challenge with themes and templates.

If none of them fits your business or style, which was my experience, then you choose Streamlined, which is a super simple template that just looks nice and simple.

What also has to be extremely simple is the creation of a new course. Most educators who sign up for something like Kajabi would like to automate the selling and consumption of digital products, right?

Just like with website design, templates are a big thing for creating new products. In my early Kajabi days, I tested all the product templates out—just to get inspired and see what the possibilities were.

The conclusion was that I’d rather create my courses from scratch - and I guess most online teachers have unique topics and structures for their courses, so I recommend starting from a blank slate.


The most important thing to me is how my STUDENTS experience my courses. What does the video player look like? Can they ask questions? And is it easy to find the courses they have bought?

"I could probably list 10 other course platforms that do the things you just mentioned perfectly."

Yes, from a technical standpoint, but not perfectly in terms of user interface. Is it a GOOD EXPERIENCE for the student? Sure, there’s an aspect of personal taste here, but I’ve seen some pretty rough designs out there.

"Ok, so it comes down to design to you. I know that most platforms let you put your own spin to how things look. Customization! Not something Kajabi likes, right?"

No, you’re right, and that’s a strength, I think. As with an iPhone, you can’t change much, so you can’t mess it up. It is as its supposed to be, and as some pro design team decided it should be. Kajabi is the same story.

 

Student experience

What your students see depends on the Theme you choose for your individual products.

I use the one called Momentum for all of mine. I think it beats all the other themes in terms of professional look and feel.

In essence, it consists of a student dashboard, a module overview, and a single lesson view with a comment section.

My courses are video based, but Kajabi lets you add Audio lessons, text-only lessons and simple quizzes to test and score students.

But Kajabi is more than just courses. It’s a course platform first and foremost, but it’s slowly becoming more of an online business ecosystem.

This ties together all the components you need to run a business online; an overview, product creation, sales module, website builder, email marketing, a CRM system and an Analytics module.

 


"I’m sorry to interrupt, but Kajabi is NOT the only platform to offer all these things. It’s pretty standard among all the other big ones; Thinkific, Teachable.."

Okay, okay. Let me explain it in another way; Most cars nowadays have wheels, windows, lights, an engine, everything you need in a car. And most cars are built from parts that come from many different suppliers, right? All good.

But some premium cars are built in-house, with every part specially made by that manufacturer, for that car. It’s still “just” a car, but it’s on another level in terms of how things work together, and some are ready to pay a premium for that.

"Well I’m not - but please; go ahead and show me some of those “premium parts” that make up the Kajabi engine."

 

Core features of Kajabi

Let’s quickly run through each module of the platform.

The Dashboard was recently simplified a lot, and I like the new look. What you see are a few key metrics that instantly tells you how you’ve done the last 30 days. If you’re interested in learning more about Kajabi features or more broadly about online business, this is where you see upcoming webinars - and links to all kinds of helpful resources.

The Products tab sends you directly to the courses, communities and coaching programs you’ve created. A couple of extra menu items unfold when you click on Products, with the most interesting being Podcasts.

Yes, you can host a Podcast on Kajabi, and they recently launched this feature, so I had to try it out. I’m super satisfied with the, again simple, interface and limited features that makes it easy to handle.

I’ve seen experienced Podcasters switch from industry-leading platforms like Libsyn to Kajabi - in order to gather all their activities in one place.

A Community is also something most online educators think about - with Thinkifics eLearning trends report stating that online learning is moving towards social - and that our brains aren’t wired to learn solo.

That social element is something you can add in to your product mix with Kajabi’s simple Facebook-like Community module.

At first, you might think it looks a bit empty. I was a bit disappointed too at first, until I understood why.

It’s not because Kajabi’s Community features are stronger than LearnWorlds, HiveBrite or Circle. You can do WAY less in Kajabi, and that’s the point.

Many learners aren’t very tech savvy, and they don’t BOTHER learning a NEW platform. Kajabi has boiled their Communty feed down to the bare minimum.

You can post something, attach a link or a photo, and comment on other’s posts. That’s pretty much it. This means that all your students can focus on learning about your topic, and not about the platform you use to teach it.

 


"But how do I make money, fan boy?"

Yes, an important part of what your course platform is supposed to do; convert leads to customers, and make it easy to buy from you.

"You can win me over, if this works well in Kajabi. Because if there’s one thing I’ve struggled with, it’s friction in the checkout process."

Agree—you want to GROW your online business, make it sustainable.

 

Make money with Kajabi

To do that, you have to make money - unless you’ve inherited and you do this for fun. For the rest of us, we put a price on our products, and this happens in the Sales tab.

Sales unfolds to include Coupon management, Payments overview and any affillites you’ve recruited to promote your products.

Offers is the most central module, where you manage how you bundle Products together, how you price those packages and what the checkout flow looks like for the customer.

A common theme for everything we look at is simplicity—both in the limited number of features, and in the way you manage these features. A pleasant experience to work with.

Let’s look at one of my courses as an example. There are a few sub-menus for individual Offers like Details, where you set your price, upload a cover image, and decide what automated actions that happen when someone buys.

Pricing is where you give your Offer a title, description, choose a price, and payment gateways to accept.

Upsells is a way to offer the customer something extra, once they’ve bought your primary thing.

And Details shows a number of toggles, where I choose to get an email every time someone buys this offer, for example.

All these settings translate into a checkout process that’s frictionless and looks great - on desktop and mobile.

 

 

"So, I’m no Steve Jobs, can’t design anything. But I’m sure Kajabi won’t make a good designer, either."

No tool will give you skills in any area. It’s just a tool. But a good course platform should make it easy to get started - with website templates for example - and easy to create content as well.

This is NOT easy with all course platforms, I can assure you of that.

"Well, again; if you get a designer to help you, and maybe a developer too, you can customize most course platforms’ website builders to anything you want."

You said it yourself; a designer, and a developer?! Most online teachers are solopreneurs - we do everything ourselves. Also our website and content.

 

Kajabi's Website Builder

There’s a LOT of interest around Kajabi’s recent update to their website builder. And as a person who comes from Wordpress and all the issues it brings along, I can truly appreciate a simple drag n drop page builder.

Oh, and people ask about hosting - you DON’T need to buy a domain - Kajabi has one for you already - a “mykajabi.com” domain. I didn’t want that, so I bought RuedRiis dot com and connected that to Kajabi. Took 2 minutes and was super easy to do.

My website design is quite simple, but you can go in all directions with this. Common for all themes is the backend, which is controlled from a dynamic side panel.

This means it changes when you click something. The benefit is, you don’t see a million things at once - you only see what relates to the block you edit.

The website builder has a bunch of so-called sections. These are your building blocks and contain a number of prebuilt elements, you can customize or delete as you want. Great way to get something on the page quickly.

A cool thing is that Kajabi comes with a series of must-have pages, you don’t have to worry about building. These are already in place - you just need to customize them.

From there, you can build as many landing pages as you want - to market a course, sell an event or tell your story.

I’ve never used a faster website builder, and I’ve built my fair share of websites in all kinds of tools. And speed matters; when you get a new idea for something you want to test out, it’s no big deal to quickly build a page for it.

The same is true for Blogs and blogging. Technicalities just can’t be a limiting factor, if you feel inspired one day, you sit down to write an amazing piece, and then some plugin needs updating.

And.. now you lost that creative momentum, right?

Kajabi’s blog makes writing obstruction free, and you can easily upload video and audio to your blog posts as well. I mostly use the blog module to repurpose my YouTube videos, so I embed the video in its YouTube iframe, and write a short article around the topic.

If you’re into Search Engine Optimization like me, you worry whether blogging on Kajabi let’s you rank well in Google. And it should be alright - you get a few options to improve your SEO with a custom URL and Meta tags for your blog posts, for example.

 


"One thing Kajabi doesn’t do is advanced email marketing, right? I use ConvertKit for my emails, and it’s the best."

Yes, many dedicated email marketing tools does email better than Kajabi. More features, more analytics, more bells and whistles. But Kajabi does it… simpler.

 

Email Management in Kajabi

One of the biggest hassles for me PRE Kajabi was email management.

Under the Marketing tab, you create your Email sequences and Email Broadcasts, which are one off emails, you send to your list.

The sequences are automated email series that are send out to people who do certain things, like download your ebook or subscribe to your newsletter.

My old provider was called SendFox, and I used it when it was brand new and shaky. Information was lost here and there, and the right automations didn’t trigger as they were supposed to.

One of the biggest Pros of Kajabi is that there’s no need to set up integrations between a bunch of providers.

If you use another email provider already, and you want to keep using it, you CAN integrate with the major ones. But my recommendation is to lean into the fundamental premise of Kajabi, and put all your eggs in one basket - host all aspects of your business with Kajabi. That’s the whole point of the platform.

Marketing also includes Funnels, Automations, Events and Forms. Funnels is Kajabi’s version of ClickFunnels - a sequence of landing pages, forms and emails designed to move a lead from cold to warm to customer.

I don’t really use this module, as I think the customer journey is often a lot more chaotic and random, so I don’t rely too much on the numbers coming from my Funnels.

But the features that make up Funnels, like the page builder, the forms and the automations are all great, intuitive to use and everything just works.

One area I use a lot is Contacts - an overview of everyone who’ve interacted with your business. This makes it easy to locate a customer, get a quick overview of what they’ve bought and when. And if you need more details on the contact, you can dive into their first interaction with you, their way to purchase, and their progress with your courses.

Insights is a relatively new module, where you can learn about the health of your subcriber base. Are they reading your emails and logging onto your site. Pretty cool.

Last but not least, you have Kajabi’s version of Google Analytics. I like that it’s narrowed down to a few important metrics to navigate after. But I still use Google Analytics to supplement my insights into what blog posts drive traffic. Here, Kajabi could do a bit more work.

And every time one feels that way, it’s easy to Submit new ideas to Kajabi. They actually build what the community suggests - although with a good amount of delay. But that’s how it is to manage a product roadmap.

Let’s zoom out a bit from features and functionalities and talk about the benefits from using Kajabi.

I’d say that the typical Kajabi customer chooses to pay their premium price because of the all-in-oneness and the easy of use.

That Kajabi makes everything themselves results in a very solid and stable piece of software that never crashes on me, and where everything works in tandem.

The ease of use is great for educators who are passionate about their topic, like knitting, cooking, and coaching, but not very passionate about managing their business.

Kajabi costs a lot, yes, but it’s money well spent when time-saving is the goal.

The 3 plans you can choose are Basic, Growth and Pro at 119 dollars, 159 dollars and 319 dollars, as of now.
It’s not relevant to talk about monthly pricing for course platforms, as you have to commit for at least a year, I think. It’s a big decision, and it takes time to get set up, so you don’t want to switch again in a couple of months.

This means that price I pay once a year is 1908 dollars, which is one of the highest subscriptions on course platforms you can find.

The only reason why I’m on Growth and not Basic is that I wanted more than 3 Products. I have a Community, a couple of courses, a coaching product and an Academy, so that already supersedes the Product limit of the Basic plan.

Kajabi talks a lot about their 0% transaction fee on sales, which really isn’t that unique. Other course platforms usually take a few percentages of your sales on the cheaper plans, but if you upgrade to a plan similar to mine on Kajabi, there’s also no transaction fee.

 

Cons of the Kajabi App


"You’re obviously fan of Kajabi, since you’re still a user, but what are some things, you’d like to see improved over the next years?"

Well, their app is fine, but not great. My students have to download the Kajabi app, not the RuedRiis app, so it’s not customized to my business. That would be cool.

Another thing that doesn’t work well on the app is the Community - one of the features that makes the most sense to have on an app. You can’t comment on posts via the app. Kajabi says it’s an Apple issue, but I’m sure there’s a way around it.

The current fix is to go to a browser and comment there, which works okay.

I already mentioned the Analytics module which is a bit too thin. More data on traffic sources, best performing pages and in general better filtering options would help me in my content creation.

 

Is Kajabi the Apple of course platforms?

We can agree on the fact that.. Kajabis strength is also it’s weakness. For all the amazingly successful coaches and teachers out there with complex, fine-tuned marketing machines and business setups, - it’s not super easy to switch to Kajabi.

No - my business is already built on multiple platforms and apps that are tied together in custom ways. To switch, I’d have to rebuild a lot of things in Kajabi, and that’s probably not even possible.

There actually is a Third Party Integrations menu, but Kajabi only supports the A-team of platforms like Aweber, Mailchimp, Drip, ConvertKit, ActiveCampagin, Segment, Google, Facebook, Zapier and ClickFunnels.

So I couldn’t integrate with my SendFox, for example.

Probably for the better..

Yeah.. hundred percent.

Back to your point: Is Kajabi the Apple of course platforms? Maybe yes - they ARE one of the largest players on the market, they close themselves around their complete ecosystem for online business owners, and they clearly have raving fans that love their simple platform.

Look, I’m not a super-fan—there’s definitely room for improvement, but they won me over as a customer because of their user interface and general approach to how they build software.

There’s a lot of other great course platforms out there for the price, and I highly encourage you to check them out - again; Kajabi charges a premium for being this all-in-one tool. If you only need the course management and not the email and website stuff, you should definitely consider alternatives.

For example, Teachables Pro plan at $1.188 is 700 dollars saved. Or Thinkific’s Start plan at $888 a year.

If you are still researching alternative course platforms check out my comparison video of the 4 main course platforms I think you should consider before making the big decision.

See you again next week.

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