(Update: Coach is now Podia.)
(Update: This post was originally published in January 2017. I still think technology is a distraction and won't be publishing any new platform reviews. But after using Coach for 9 months, it was important to refresh this review. Many of the 'needs improvement' issues are still present. Coach is a good, low-cost option for beginners and marketing-focused course creators. For advanced course creators focused on learning features though, you'll want to look at other options.)
In Part 1 of this review, you read about everything I love about Coach. In this second part, I’ll share some areas for improvement.
As you’ll read below, these areas for improvement primarily fall under two categories: lack of integrations and clunky workflows. For a couple areas, I’ve added “nice to have” features as well as workarounds.
Let’s dive in.
Areas for Improvement in Coach
When you see potential in someone, it’s important to share praise and constructive feedback. I see the potential for Coach to be a top platform for online course creators. Here's where they can improve:
1 - Limited Learning Features for Courses
I'd love to see the following learning features for online courses created in Coach:
Drip course content (update: Coach now has drip content)
Student progress tracking (at a learning item level)
Multiple instructor support
Manual enrollment of students
These are features other platforms have that Coach will need to add to truly compete in the marketplace.
WORKAROUND - None
Nice to Have Learning Features
Some way for project-based courses to allow students to share their work with the instructor within the platform.
I’d also love to see some deep learning analytics so I can see exactly where students are in the course, but also where engagement drops off. As an instructor, this would provide insight on content improvements.
2 - LACK OF INTEGRATIONS WITH Email providers
(Update: Coach now integrates with ConvertKit and Zapier)
Currently there are no integrations with Email Service Providers (ESPs). As a workaround, you can export your customer list from Coach and import it into your ESP. For the record, the process was pretty seamless when I tried it.
However, since I only have one course in Coach right now, I can’t speak to how Coach handles customer lists for multiple courses. Will you have to manually identify who is in each course? If so, there needs to be a way to filter customer lists by product.
The good news is that Coach has assured me that integrations with ConvertKit and Zapier are coming within the next two months.
Zapier will allow you to create integrations with other ESPs, like Mailchimp, Drip, etc. So this could be a non-issue in a few months.
WORKAROUND - Export your list and import to your ESP
3 - No Ability to Schedule Email Broadcasts
Coach has built in email newsletters. (You can read more about them in Part 1.) While I absolutely love the usability of their drip emails, there are a few areas for improvement when it comes to newsletters.
For one, the ability to schedule email broadcasts. Right now if you want to send a broadcast email to everyone in your course, you have two options:
Draft an email the day before, then wake up early to hit publish (did I mention, I’m not a morning person?) or
Export your customer list, upload it to your ESP, then draft and schedule your broadcast there.
Both of these are a bit of a hassle. Not a deal-breaker, but a hassle.
The second feature missing is the ability to set which days your emails go out. Why is this important? Because if I'm going to use Coach's newsletter and my ESP, I'd really like to make sure I'm not sending emails from both platforms when my ESP broadcasts go out. This is a personal thing, though; sending multiple emails in a day may not matter to you.
WORKAROUND - Send email broadcasts through your ESP
Nice to Have Email Features
Behavior-specific triggers for drip emails
4 - Landing Pages aren't optimized for courses
(Update: After using Coach for 9 months, the landing pages are still frustrating.)
Course creators need landing pages that look good and convert. Currently, the landing pages look great, but aren't optimized for online course enrollment.
As a result, it can feel like you’re being forced to change how you work in order to use them.
For example, if a prospective customer visits a landing page for your online course, they have to:
optin to the form on the landing page
wait for an email with a link to your course's product page
click that link
visit your course's product page to sign up and pay for the course
That’s at least two steps that are totally unnecessary. What's worse is these extra steps have a risk of reducing conversion rates. It should be sign up, pay, enrolled, done!
Also, I'm not exactly sure how the course sales pages differ in purpose from the landing pages. In other platforms, course landing pages give you the ability to learn about the course and enroll. In Coach, this happens on the sales page. It's a little confusing.
WORKAROUND - Course creators can just link to their course's sales page.
5 - complicated workflow at times
When it comes to building courses, using Coach is a breeze. The challenges happen when you try to integrate the platform with your systems and workflow.
For example, it’s not possible to manually enroll students within the platform yet.
To do so, you’ve got to email support, give them time to set up a special enrollment link for each student and email you the links. Then you have to manually email each student their link and hope they take action.
When I found this out, I wanted to cry.
Email support and manually send each student an enrollment link, or
Try to avoid manual enrollment for now. If you need to give people free access to a paid course, send them to your course page and give them a coupon code.
(Update: As a user, it feels like many areas of Coach are incomplete. This comes from trying to do it all. Coach should drop email marketing and develop integrations with ESPs like Drip, ConvertKit (currently available) and Mailchimp.)
Sometimes it feels like Coach is trying to do too much. They’ve taken on the ambitious goal of building five solutions in one: landing pages, email newsletters, digital downloads, online courses, and invoicing.
Without integrations those features can feel like a roadblock instead of a solution.
As business owners, we need tools to make life easier so we can focus on sales and making new products. As course creators, we need data on our learners. What are they working on? What aren’t they working on? How long has it been since they logged in? Did they complete all the learning objects in the course?
I’m looking forward to seeing how Coach improves their platform over the next year.
Do I Recommend Coach?
This is the question everyone wants to ask, right?
Well, that depends on you.
If you are launching your course immediately and looking for a mature solution with all the bells and whistles, you might be better off with Thinkific or Teachable.
However, if you are an early adopter-type and have some time before your course launch, give Coach a spin. You won't find a better priced product or support team.
My vote for Coach is part affinity and part long-game. With their speedy development schedule, I’m certain that many items in this article will not be an issue in 3 - 6 months.
In fact, I’ve got a feeling that when you look at online course platforms a year from now, a lot of people will be with Coach.