Online learning has gone through a heavy period of democratization recently. There are courses that cover almost every single niche you can think of, no matter the area of interest.
This has led to the rise of course marketplaces like Udemy and SkillShare. These spots have a huge collection of courses from a wide variety of course creators on a large array of topics.
It has also seen content creators using tools to create and manage courses on their own websites.
The marketplaces are a great way to host your courses with minimal effort and upkeep. But it is these course creation tools for your website that I want to focus on.
Here's what we'll cover
- What are online course platforms?
- What is Zenler?
- What is New Zenler?
- What are the features of New Zenler?
- New & updated features of Zenler
- Zenler vs Podia vs Teachable vs Thinkific
- Why you should get New Zenler now
- Pros of New Zenler
- Cons of Pro Zenler
- New Zenler beta pricing and promo code
- Final Word
With New Zenler, you can:
- Set up a landing page with a free downloadable
- Add their email address to a list of leads in a marketing funnel
- Send an email broadcast to leads
- Have them sign up for your free course
- Move them to a new phase in the marketing funnel
- Email broadcast to advertise a premium course
- Have them sign up
- Add them to an exclusive community
- Have impromptu live webinars and classes for specific course users
This is on top of the basics:
- Setting up a course
- Breaking them down into modules
- Setting up pricing
- Having detailed insights into how many users are signed up for each course and their progress.
Every element of what you read above can be done with Zenler.
What are online course platforms?
Online course platforms are tools that let you create a course on your selected topic.
They also let you manage aspects of it like categorizing leads to pitch future courses or deals on existing ones.
Marketplaces like Udemy fall under this line of tools. Having a large marketplace means you have access to a system that obviously works.
There is also the higher likelihood of being discovered if your course is a cut above the rest and you’ve targeted the right niche.
But tools like Zenler and Podia offer a way to integrate this system onto your own website. This gives you greater control of your courses and flexibility in selling them to your audience.
On top of that, you can match the courses to your brand and not conform to a rigid system.
Then there is a big difference in the income you make. While marketplaces offer you a simple way to host courses, they also take a big bite out of the course fees being paid.
What is Zenler?
This means you decide where to host the course, custom pricing, lead management, integrations with email marketing tools, etc., and great customer support.
By leaving the safety net of places like Udemy, you get greater control of the structure of your course. You also get complete control of your assets.
Your assets are of course the audience you’ve painstakingly built. With tools like Zenler, the details of your course buyers and leads are in your control.
You get to decide when and how to contact them about new courses, or new offers on existing courses.
This is a big advantage for smaller businesses that depend more on customer loyalty than sheer numbers for their profits.
Before I dive into what New Zenler is and why it’s such a big deal, it’ll be helpful if we first understand what the features of an online course platform are.
That’ll give us an understanding of what is expected of such tools, and later, how to surpass these expectations.
1. Create and sell your courses
Zenler lets you create multiple courses using Zenler Studio.
The Zenler Studio comes packed with all the best features one needs to build a top-notch course and have it integrated into your website.
This includes course themes, narration tools, screen recording, adding attachments, linking to YouTube, etc..
You can publish it to your website and even on your Android app if needed. This is only available on the Pro Plus plan.
Then you can sell these courses to your audience from your website.
2. Easy course management for users
Your users can easily manage their courses (multiple) once they finish their purchase.
They can choose from all their purchased courses, and track their progress on each one.
This means they can pause and resume courses at will, making it a very flexible training environment.
3. Track user progress
As an administrator, you can see how far each user is in their training.
This is useful when you want to categorize users based on the courses they take, and how far along with those courses they are.
You would use this grouping when you send burst emails, customized to each user and their progress.
4. Get real-time statistics
You can get an overall picture of course-related statistics.
This is useful if you’d like potential leads to know of the users who’ve signed up to your courses, the completion rate of these courses, etc..
5. Integration with other tools
All the categorization and back-end features are pointless if you can’t use it to direct your marketing strategy.
You need to be able to integrate with tools like email automation tools, for you to fully leverage all this information on your hands.
What is New Zenler?
The idea of New Zenler popped up when the folks behind Zenler asked themselves a simple question. “What is the single biggest challenge with online courses?”.
They came upon the answer after a few rounds of customer feedback and surveys. It’s in sales and marketing.
It is not the course creation where creators struggle. It is finding an initial audience and then scaling this initial number steadily.
The set of features that would then define New Zenler came bursting out, once they found this answer.
They built the new version of their already solid tool based around giving the course creators ways to market and sell their courses.
Then they just kept running with this vision, till New Zenler became an entirely new beast.
What are the features of New Zenler?
The section about Zenler features was to get you accustomed to what is expected of your garden-variety online course platform.
Now we get into the part of why Zenler redefines what can be expected. It is an all-in-one solution for course creators, in the truest sense.
Say goodbye to all other tool subscriptions that you’d normally have. All you need is Zenler, once it’s out of beta.
Drag-and-drop page builder
To sell any digital product, a good landing page is a must.
Something that is usually ignored when you consider course platforms. The job of a course platform is to host and manage courses.
Not with Zenler. Here, you get an exceptionally easy-to-use, feature-rich drag-and-drop page builder to get the job done.
All the elements you’d ever need on your landing page, is included in their builder. This is thanks to their commitment to taking on board the recommendations from their beta users.
Options like the countdown timer for your landing page is genius. Ask any online content creator.
There are features that I can add in a couple of minutes and publish instantly that’s attractive.
There’s even extreme attention to detail with each element.
For instance, the countdown timer can be set to a specific time or make it evergreen. You can even set it up in a way that it pops up 5 seconds after the visitor lands.
With a few tries, you’ll get really good and really quick at making high-converting landing pages.
And you can create and publish multiple landing pages for split testing or just different ones for different target audiences.
This too shows a focus on scaling.
What makes the builder so great is that these are pre-made blocks. The idea was that the user, that’s you, could imagine what you wanted a visitor to see, and build that page quickly.
So the elements of the page builder are not your cookie-cutter set of blocks. They are based on high-performing design elements that come together to make a smashing landing page.
There’s even the option of optimizing the page for mobile. Some blocks may look great on a PC, but stand out in a bad way on a mobile device.
Considering this, there’s an option to hide such blocks, when viewing the page on mobile.
Attention to detail.
Upgraded course creator
The core product is not left unenhanced either.
The course creator now accepts all sorts of additions like videos, audio, PDFs, PPTs, downloadables and very soon, live videos!
Along with this, you can create membership sites and course bundles.
Comes with Marketing Tools
One of Zenler’s main focuses building the new version was to allow course creators to market and sell their courses using the same tool used to create the course.
This means features like pop-ups, page elements like newsletter subscriptions, and free downloadables.
A pop-up is something that you can set up to become active when a visitor has been on your page for 5 seconds, or when they scroll through half of your homepage.
Here’s what a pop-up looks like, when done through New Zenler:
It’s a great tool to get subscriptions or let them know about a discount on your courses.
Newsletter subscriptions are a great way to foster community, by having regular contact with your students. This too is possible through New Zenler.
Take a look at this sample of an invitation to join a mailing list.
Free downloadables are little snacks of wisdom you give away for free, in exchange for a visitor’s email ID.
Below is a screenshot of what downloadables could look like:
This email ID is then entered as a lead in the marketing funnel where you can target them with emails and offers. Just the fact that they wanted the free PDF or mini-course shows that they have an interest in the topic of your choice.
Visualize your marketing funnels
Marketing funnels are an excellent way to plan and manage a marketing strategy. It all gives you all important information like conversion rate, from stage-to-stage.
Without this, you’d have no real information to work with when you try to improve your funnel’s performance.
This usually means you get a subscription to something like ClickFunnels, an excellent marketing tool.
But Zenler is a bit obsessed with being the only tool you need.
Currently, you can create 2 types of funnels. A video series or a lead magnet.
The lead magnet gives away a freebie like a blueprint in excel or a detailed pdf with a step-by-step breakdown, once the user enters his/her contact details.
The video series creates value for the audience with a set of free videos, delivered daily for a week or so. The final step in the series is an offer for your paid course.
The best part is that you can see how your funnel looks, and the performance of each step.
Here too, the attention to detail is astounding. The options you have in building this funnel blows the mind.
Based on real campaigns that convert well, Zenler covers any and all page templates like different versions of the Optin page, a number of variations of a video step, and thank you pages to complement each of the potential opt-in pages.
This means you can build a funnel perfect for each niche audience you’re targeting and not settle for a sub-standard one-size fit all funnel.
Live classes & webinars
The latest feature to be added to the tool is the option to do live classes & webinars within the tool.
It’s an easy process of entering details into a simple form. You’d have the title, description of the session, start time, maximum duration, maximum attendees, and name of the host.
Then you just enter the session 15 minutes before the scheduled time and make sure audio and video set-up is right.
You also ensure all the participant rights are sorted. Stuff like the audience’s ability to chat, share screen, rename themselves, and unmute themselves.
The premium plan, currently $1167 a year, lets you support up to 500 attendees at a time.
The classes and webinars are the same for the most part. The difference lies in who gets access.
When setting up a class, you have to choose between on-site registration and people enrolled in the course.
You’d ideally be doing live classes for your existing students, to add value or to sell them on a new course. So you can choose to give access to students of a particular course or bundle.
A webinar on the other hand is more public. You get a link for the webinar, and share it wherever you prefer. You can post it on social media, and let them know when, what, and for how long.
Or you can send an email broadcast to leads who’ve shown interest in the past, and give them a demo class.
You can also stream a class or webinar to Facebook and YouTube to drive more traffic to your site or social media.
Setting up Email campaigns
This is another major upgrade to the online course platform model.
Rather than collecting data on your course tool and then handing it off to an out-and-out email marketing tool, you can now do it all in one spot.
It all starts with the leads you’ve collected through your funnel or imported from your old setup.
Once you have the categorization of your leads figured out, you can set up email broadcasts custom-made for each situation.
It could be a list of users that have signed up for your free course and have completed at least 75% of that course.
You would set up a sign-up email for just these users. The beauty of this set-up is that leads from your funnels can feed directly into your email campaigns.
This massively cuts down on your tool costs and the time it takes to set up a campaign.
Two factors you’ll agree are big concerns for small businesses.
The automation is what makes the whole thing run as smoothly as it does. Someone downloads a free PDF in exchange for their email id? They get added to a list of leads you created.
You can schedule when and what mail they receive. Maybe you’re saying hi. Or maybe you’re letting them know there’s a free 1-hour course related to the PDF they downloaded.
It’s all about coming up with an idea of your funnel and bringing it to life on Zenler.
High-converting email scripts
Zenler will also be tapping into their beta user base to get together a set of proven email scripts, to make your email campaign setup even easier.
They are not just happy to provide the tools for us to do well, they’re doing everything they can to give us results.
Build your own Community
This is an absolute stunner of a feature to have for an online course creator.
One of the up-sells or just an add-on feature, very common, in online courses, is access to fellow students for advice and for general discussion.
Zenler lets you build space for one to grow and engage, as part of your course!
This is usually handled by another tool, or a one-size-fits-all solution that makes the whole affair a bit drab.
Once you set up a community with name, logo, and description, you can add a subsection of your students’ group to that community.
Here, members can post and respond to each other freely. Something that would’ve taken you a whole other subscription and associated learning curve now takes you minutes on your course platform.
This works with your list of course students. You can create separate communities for each of your courses.
When you create a new course, you can assign it to an existing community that tackles a similar topic or specialty.
This is a great way to build engagement among your students, making the course experience fuller.
This engagement is a big part of any flourishing online business, as tools like MemberVault proved with their success.
There’s a live chat feature to top it all off.
New & updated features of Zenler
New Zenler has been crushing it in terms of new features for at least a year now.
Live Classes & Webinars
The latest addition to New Zenler is the ability to conduct live classes & webinars through the tool.
Zenler uses Zoom to give its course creators the ability to promote and add value to their audience.
Both classes and webinars are similar. You can set up the session in advance with title, description, scheduled time, maximum duration, and maximum attendees.
The difference is that for classes, you have to have on-site registration or give access to certain people like people enrolled for a specific course.
For webinars, you get a link that you can share in social media, mails or DMs and have them attend.
But with this option, you can get visitors signed up for a free course, convert free users to paying customers or sell them on your latest course.
Stream on Facebook and YouTube
You can then drive further traffic to your social media pages or landing page, by live-streaming a webinar or class session to Facebook or YouTube.
You would do this in the prep-stage for the class. You have the option of setting up a stream on Facebook or YouTube.
This also has the added advantage of storing the session in the cloud, as you can record the native session and save it only on the local host device.
Zenler vs Podia vs Teachable vs Thinkific
If we’re talking online course platforms, Zenler has to compete with the likes of Podia, Teachable, and Thinkific.
I omitted Kajabi because of the much higher price brackets Kajabi operates in, without any significant features to show for it.
Podia pricing plans start at $39 a month. That’s $468 annually.
Their premium plan, Shaker, costs $79 a month. That comes up to $948 a year.
Unlike their competitors, Podia doesn’t charge you transaction fees on top of your subscription. That’s a pretty strong incentive by itself.
Podia is a market leader in this space. It lets you create memberships to attract further leads and embedded checkout for smoother sales.
It even supports affiliate marketing. With Podia, you can generate codes for your supporters to do the sales for you.
Podia keeps it simple for course creators, in that it includes the essentials for any course creator and doesn’t overwhelm you with fluffy features.
Also, their support is top-notch. This is a big factor, especially at the start, when you’re trying to get your course off the ground.
Teachable pricing starts with the basic plan of $29 a month, up to the $399 a month business plan.
That’s a range of $348 to $4,788 over the course of a year. But the business plan is not for individual course creators. So we’ll keep our focus on the Basic and Pro plans.
So the pricing range is $348 – 948. This similarity in pricing is what makes the Zenler vs Teachable battle so enticing.
It is the established competitor providing a better price point against someone hoping to shake up the course creation space, coming in at a higher cost.
The basic plan is a very economical option, but it comes with a 5% transaction fees on all your sales. Teachable does give instant payouts and support unlimited students across all plans.
Teachable has excellent features like graded quizzes, and drip course content to make the course experience fuller, and more rounded.
There’s a neat feature of generating course certificates for students who put in the time.
A quick look through the Teachable reviews online, you will see a lot of people mentioning ending up choosing Teachable after sampling other course creators.
Thinkific is one of the OGs of course creation, and they have a long, storied history of successful course creators.
They even offer a free plan for someone new to dip their feet in the market. But we’re looking at more serious options.
That would be the Basic and Pro plans.
The annual cost ranges from $588 – 1188. Thinkific offers great features like drip content, memberships, course bundles etc..
Both of these plans support unlimited courses & students. The Pro plan opens up advanced customization of the design of your course page, which is crucial for branding.
The Pro plan also lets you create communities for your course students, one of the big pluses of Zenler.
A quick look through Thinkific reviews online did bring up the issue of a steep learning curve with this platform.
This is a major point in favor of Zenler vs Thinkific, as the folks at Zenler prioritized making it approachable for those not technologically savvy.
But the same Thinkific reviews did mention the support team being at hand to help them through the learning process.
Why you should get New Zenler now
Is there a case for getting New Zenler straight away, rather than waiting till it becomes the tool it aims to be.
Other than the obvious excitement of being involved in the evolution of a super-tool, there are a few pragmatic reasons why getting it immediately.
The obvious one is that the sooner you start creating courses, the sooner you build an audience and make money. And for my money, there is no better tool than Zenler.
The other advantage is that if you take the dive and get a subscription now, you get the tool for the same annual package for eternity.
It is currently $1167 annually, which comes to $98 a month. I’m told this will go up.
In April 2020, New Zenler introduced their latest major feature. The ability to conduct live classes and webinars.
This further consolidated Zenler as the one-stop solution for course creators.
Pros of New Zenler
- Easy to use – The actual process of outlining and creating a course on Zenler is quick and easy. They have a 5-step tutorial on how to create a course.
Then the addition of content is another 9 steps, painstakingly detailed and easy to follow for people unfamiliar with such tools.
Fast forward to their latest feature, and they already have an entire course to explain how to implement it.
- Open to ideas – There was a time when users were asking for Zoom to be used for live webinars. In April 2020, this feature became the latest addition to the New Zenler toolkit.
They have a very active feature request thread, to gauge which ideas are most popular among the community.
- Community – There is a secret group on Facebook that you get access to after you become a member of Zenler. The member count currently stands at 2.2k.
This group is very active and super-supportive of each other. The CEO of Zenler, Rakesh Vallil, has been very active here right from the start.
- The pricing strategy – The thing about Zenler is that it knows it’s a smaller name in the market compared to a Teachable or Kajabi or Podia. So if you get in now, at 1167$ annual for Premium, you get to use the tool for the same annual price forever.
As Zenler continues to grow, their prices will go up. Realistically, Zenler is building a tool with no actual competitor, so it will be considered premium soon enough.
- Support – The effectiveness of the support team is a big concern for anyone investing heavily in a tool.
The Zenler team has been quick at resolving issues and clearing up doubts their users may have.
On their Intercom, it is mentioned that theirs is not ‘live’ support, but the turnaround times have been great.
They’ve also put together a comprehensive knowledge base, and this was curated from the doubts and questions thrown at them constantly by the active community.
- Quick to implement – If there are small bugs, iterations, and issues that you are facing they are quick to get back with a fix. This is evidenced by this snapshot.
The user had an issue with viewing the course videos they uploaded onto their course dashboard.
The Zenler team was quick to identify the problem with their video provider, and give the user a promise of a quick fix.
- One-stop solution – The Zenler platform lets you design and create your course.
Then it lets you start building a pool of potential students by setting up a newsletter on the topic of your choice and give away freebies to demonstrate how good your course is.
All this will be on a landing page that you can make in minutes, with Zenler’s native page builder, which is good enough to ensure conversion with a clean, attractive look.
There is a marketing funnel to ensure the people that downloaded the freebies sign up for your free courses, and then buy your base course, and then move onto your premium course.
The student experience is rounded off by setting up communities on Zenler, ensuring they have a system of peers to discuss, dissect, and give feedback on the course.
Cons of Pro Zenler
- New to the market – Zenler is a relatively new entrant in the market so its brand name is not easily identifiable. This also means a much lower number of users.
- Slow interface – The platform overall, in comparison to Teachable and Thinkific, is slightly slower. For instance, there were issues while uploading videos onto the platform, in the past.
But they have shown signs of improvement over the past few months.
Overall for the price it is offering for the whole array of features these cons can be ignored as they are improving rapidly according to user feedback.
New Zenler beta pricing and promo code
Currently, still in beta, you’ll have to request an invite to use this fantastic new tool.
But once you get in, you get access to the Premium plan for $897 a year. For a tool that takes care of everything course-related, that’s a steal.
The basic plan costs $337 a year but comes with a limitation of sending 100K emails and holding info for up to 25K leads.
There’s no promo code currently. But once one is active, we’ll be sure to update this section.
I’m fairly sure that if course creation has been an issue or a field you feel could’ve been improved upon, the details of New Zenler will have you really, really excited.
We are excited to share what we know about New Zenler with you.
So don’t be caught waiting too long, and supercharge your online course with Zenler ASAP.