Who is this for: Online course creators that are not tech-savvy but rather want a simple solution to manage and host their courses and students.
I found that people using Simplero don’t want to depend on a developer to do things for them but instead want to focus on creating the products they sell not on “connecting the pipes”, patching together different apps, plugins, APIs, etc.
Simplero also works perfectly for creating Virtual Summits - I have created 2 summits inside Simplero - I will post a tutorial on this shortly.
It has everything you need to create a membership site - your online course, broadcast emails, send autoresponders, manage affiliates.
The design of the finished product is minimalistic. (see screenshots and examples below)
Simplero has 3 price tiers with a monthly fee and a small transaction fee.
Prices start from $125/mo
It is not the cheapest solution but I found that it works and I use it daily.
Ease of use
Intuitive and easy to setup. In fact, I managed to setup a new product: pricing, details, content in less than 15 minutes.
(see over 10 demo videos below)
Excellent support, usually every ticket is answered in 24 hours.
Also it has a built in ticket system you can use as a client, with your clients (included in all plans except the Basic plan)
Summary: It's not the cheapest kid on the block for creating online courses yet it is very solid. I have been using Simplero for 3 years and they keep adding new features and refine the old ones. As a result I believe it is perfect for people who want to focus on selling their products rather than focusing on creating WordPress pages, protecting them with a membership plugin, integrating payment processors and making sure everything works.
Back in 2014 I was determined to sell an online course but I had no idea how to create the system that allowed me to sell it.
Creating a course is hard enough as it is. You have to talk to the students, record the videos, edit them, create worksheets, create quizzes….
It’s a full time job for at least a few months if you want to create something to make you proud and really help others, right?
But then comes the tech part.
Connecting the pipes of various marketing apps to make this work seamlessly was a dream because I have never built a website before.
I was searching for something that was drag&drop and intuitive.
Paying a developer 1-2,000$ to create the structure for my website was out of the question because I didn’t have the money.
Plus, I figured that I would be dependent on this programmer.
And I want to be INDEPENDENT.
If something breaks, I’ll have to pay him to fix it. If something breaks in the middle of the night -pay him extra...
What if i wanted to duplicate and create another course in the future?
More money? NO WAY!
Learning to make it all by myself was another option but the time cost was too big - probably a few months and I wasn’t a tech geek, just a normal guy that loved helping people.
So I started researching online for online course hosting platforms that solved this problem (creating the tech) and allowed me to focus on my business (creating the course, selling the course, building a relationship with my tribe).
I got over 2 million results! - go figure the one that works now...
A s a result I found a huge list of potential platforms: Simplero, Ruzuku, Rainmaker, Kajabi, Thinkific, Teachable, etc.
And a huge list of wordpress plugins: Zippy Courses (it came later) aMember, Whishlist member, MemberPress, OptimizePress, etc...
I read countless reviews and tried most of them.
Eventually I decided to go with Simplero.
And haven’t looked back since.
It quickly became the backbone of my online business and in this review and tutorial I will show you how it works.
I manage over 1200 paying customers inside Simplero for 5 online courses and 2 virtual summits.
I tried to make this review as thorough as possible, uncovering the upsides and downsides of Simplero.
Obviously I still use it and I recommend it.
But I think it's fair that you get to see the insides of Simplero from a power user's perspective and make your own mind.
If you decide to try it (they have a lifetime free trial to try until you are ready to sell) or become their customer using the links (affiliate) provided in this post, do so only if you really believe this tool helps you.This is the reason I created this epic review and tutorial, to save you countless hours and slash the learning curve.
Let’s see how it looks inside...
This overview video takes all the functions of Simplero and guides you through them one by one.
Your raw content (videos, pdfs, worksheets, audios) is hosted inside Simplero (actually it is hosted in Amazon’s Cloudfront for security and speed).
In addition each account gets a minimum of 100GB, depending on the pricing tier you chose.
So you don’t need to pay extra for services like Vimeo to host your videos.
This is how the media vault looks inside your Simplero account:
A nice trick is that all of the videos you upload in Simplero, once encoded, have a special audio mp3 download link so your clients can download the audio of any video without you needing to manually encode the audio from the video (this alone saves a few minutes per video so if you have a large number of videos you save a few hours when you create your course)
Here is an overview of the “spaces” feature inside simplero:
After you create your raw content, you need a protected (by user and password) place to put this content, where only your students can access it.
In Simplero this is called a Space.
Basically a membership site where your course lives.I’ll walk you through creating a space and managing access to the space below, but in the meantime, this is how it looks in the admin dashboard (what YOU see, not what your customers see)
All of your spaces get a URL address that is basically a subdomain of zenlearn.com
So, you need to find a unique name for your space that other Simplero clients are not using. (some people might not like this)
This was not a problem for me yet although I now have 7 different spaces (courses) available.
By no problem I mean that nobody complained and I didn’t feel like I was loosing “brand awareness” because of this.
Usually people bookmark their course and/or click a link in the email rather than typing it manually.Inside each space’s dashboard you get a eagle-eye view of everything that ishappening inside.
shows you who visited any pages and when. It also tells you which pages are the most popular and which are the latest comments.
The Content Tab
is where you go to manage what your clients see. Each page that you see has individual settings you can customize.
Each page can be dragged and dropped to create the structure you want.
You can rearrange pages easily up-down and/or hierarchically by dragging and dropping the pages.
The Access Tab
allows you to see who can access your course and what product must they have purchased to gain access.
The bunch of products you see from my dashboard are special products I created for my JV Partners because I offered different bonuses depending on the JV partner that promoted my sales webinar.
This was very useful to see the results I got out of each collaboration.
Therefore Good results = must repeat! 🙂
Simplero uses lists.
So your contacts can get into your lists by opting in or by manual import.
Opting in can be done in 2 ways.
The first is using the Simplero built sign-up forms.
Here is how the built-in optin boxes look.
And Full Page:
The second: integrating the list html optin code with your optin plugin of choice.
Just copy and paste your raw code into LeadPages or Thrive or MonsterOptin and you’re good to go:
I have always used the second option because I use the Thrive Optin plugin. I just feel it looks better and it’s easier to customize.
But if you don’t have this (or another optin plugin) on your website, the build-in optins are an easy choice.
Here is a short video that explains exactly how to use the built in optin forms and how to use the Thrive forms and integrate them with Simplero's list
Yet this is only the first step.
The power is in Segmenting your contacts and here are some nice tricks you will like.
All contacts can be segmented in three ways: by lists, by products purchased and by tags.
Segmentation is very straightforward and it is done in the Segmentation Tab.
Once you have a segment ready you can do a bunch of things with the contacts inside but first let me show you how to create these segments.
Once you have a segment, you can have the system perform one of the 21 actions with the entire segment you just created.
Here are the actions - I grabbed 2 screenshots because there were just too many 🙂
BROADCASTS and AUTORESPONDERS
Sending a New Broadcast to your list
Starts with the New Broadcast screen, then you can customize tons of thingsng email to your list
Here is a video of how to actually compose and send a new broadcast:
A lot of effort is put into creating awesome emails, although some people prefer plain text.
There is a quick way to setup the email templates being sent so that they match your personal style and branding.
I personally send my emails as plain text because my readers are my friends and I don’t sent my friends fancy html emails.
But it’s a matter of preference, any type of email works and Simplero helps in both cases because if you already have an autoresponder with a fancy html email template, you can import it into Simplero and use that.
Here’s a short video explaining exactly how to setup your own email templates design and how to import html from your current email autoresponder.
So far so good, but the money is in the products, right?
Here’s how Simplero handles product management for different types of products:
online courses with or without drip content
other types of products
Before you create a product, you should know HOW you are going to sell it.
Simplero lets you have have 3 types of prices for your products
Creating any of these takes 2 minutes in Simplero.
You can even decide to use multiple currencies for each product, if you sell in countries where clients are more used to other currency (ex: GBP, EUR, or anything else as long as your merchant gateway accepts this currency).
Check this short video demo to see exactly
After you create your product (what you sell) you need to decide what content on the platform does this product give access to.
You can drip content using the “auto-publish” feature.
Here is how my drip content is released during 8 weeks:
Content is released with an email that is being sent to your client that includes the link to that particular page.
Once recipient X is sent the “release email” he automatically has access to that page, even if he does not click the link inside the email.
So, if somebody misses your email, he will have access to the new page from the space itself, because the menu links will be visible for him. Good thing.
Product Sales, Upsells and Checkout Form
In the video below you will discover how to create sales pages for your products inside Simplero and how to integrate an external landing page if you don’t like the Simplero built in pages.
Personally I don’t like them. And I have always used sales pages in WordPress, using Thrive Themes.
They look antique but the team behind Simplero promises they will change this in the future.
Anyway, here is a demo video with the sales pages you can use to sell your product:
Upselling is the best strategy to sell more when your client is hot.
The process usually goes like this:
The client buys > is presented with an upsell - a special offer to another product.
Main product: 129 EUR
Upsell: 33 EUR
***This UPSELL sold a 33 euro product after the main 139euro product was bought.
I had the option to add another upsell or another downsell.
I kept it simple with just an upsell. And here are the results:
The main product sales:
The upsell product sales
**Prices are in USD because I used multicurrency (see above) and USD is my main currency.
But look at the numbers.
46% of my new clients took the upsell too 🙂
Basically I increased my dollar value by 9.2%.
Without breaking a sweat.
Main product: 14 euro (~ $15)
Upsell #1: 97 euro (~ $99)
Upsell #2: 147 euro (~ $150)
Main product Sales: 794 euro (~ $860)
Second product Sales: 873 euro (~ $943)
Third Product Sales: 447 euro (~ $483)
TOTAL: 2114 euro out of which 1320 euro (62%) were the upsells 😉
So i doubled my sales with the upsells !!
I use upsells for almost all my sales and I strongly suggest you do the same.
Here is a short video on how to create these upsells inside simplero.
You can have 2 type of charges:
Automatic Charges that include Stripe, Paypal and Spreedly (basically over 100 extra payment gateways in over 100 countries) and Manual Charges
The Automatic Charges Processors include:
This is very useful if your business is not located into one of the countries supported by Stripe
For example, my business was located in Romania and I couldn’t use Stripe.
That’s why my payment setup was through Braintree with the Spreedly integration.
I had absolutely no problem cashing in over 100,000 euro (~ $108,000) so far with this.
A nice little feature that is built inside Simplero is the ability to ad as a “payment processor” the money that you receive offline, like in a bank account, from your clients.
For example, for my Romanian market, that is not very accustomed with credit card online purchases, I had to accept bank transfer payments.
Every time somebody paid (I had to manually check my statement) I registered the payment inside Simplero using the “Bank Transfer (manual)” processor.
This way I could look at this dashboard (see below) and understand how my money is flowing in. Pretty important information for my scaling strategy.
So my payment processor statistics looks like this (I tested several gateways but eventually I have kept active Braintree and PayPal):
You’ll notice that at the time of this writing I cashed around 13% offline, using bank transfer.
It’s quite a lot and I suggest you do this only if you have to because the logistics is going to eat up a lot of your time.
This is why this method is not available for me anymore.
In September of 2016 I created Launch With Partners, my very first virtual summit with Neil Patel, Danny Iny, Navid Moazzez and others. You can still check it out, it’s free for 24 hours.
And I had around 40 partners and affiliates that were promoting my launch.
So I needed a way to manage, track and engage my affiliates.
I hardly noticed the Affiliates Section of Simplero until that moment and I was about to pay for a separate plugin until I dug a little deeper into what it does and how it can be used for any affiliate promotion.
And I realized it’s quite strong, probably stronger than Infusionsoft because it creates the Affiliates Dashboard automatically, something that my friends that use Infusionsoft told me it takes some Excel skanderbeg.I don’t know if this is the case but if you are an Infusionsoft user you’ll know better after you check this section.
This is how the affiliate dashboard looks:
You notice that I have used my name as one of the affiliates.
This was my way of tracking traffic coming from my paid sources (Facebook Ads).
This particular affiliate (me) had a 0% payment commission.
And here are some nice things that can be done in Simplero’s affiliate dashboard.
Let’s take these individually:
Usually an affiliate program has a fixed percentage for all affiliates.
But not all affiliates are the same
And not all affiliates will work the same to get you traffic.
So it makes sense to negotiate different percentages with top affiliates.
For example, my top affiliate generated most of the sales (he has a huge list, well engaged) so it made sense to offer him 40% while other affiliates got only 30%
If you look at the numbers, his sales were as much as all the other affiliates combined. So THANK YOU! 🙂
You have 2 ways of paying your affiliates:
1. MANUAL PAYMENT
There are 2 steps to this:
Look at the dashboard after I mark my own affiliate account as paid.
2.Automatically via PayPal mass pay
This is a one-click payment process so you must be very careful when you click it. Money instantly gets paid!
In my opinion it would be a better idea to ask for a second confirmation (I’ll open a ticket with Simplero, maybe they will change this someday to make it safer for click-happy fingers)
Simplero is an incredibly versatile platform.
But some people complained about the design.
In certain areas it looks very minimalistic and we as humans are constantly taught to look for the shiniest object, the most polished…
I have 2 notes to make on this subject.
First, the membership sites look minimalistic and probably it is better like this because you want your students to enjoy the content without distractions.
So, although membership sites built inside Simplero have tons of features, like inline comments, forums, the ability to allow or deny downloading of materials from the membership site they don’t look aesthetically pleasing from a 2017 designer perspective.
It’s a matter of taste and preference.
After over 1200 students that bought my courses I found that nobody really cares how your paid website looks like if it has quality content.
Nobody has ever complained about the design of the site.
I think the design is paramount BEFORE somebody buys your product, this is why I recommend using Thrive Builder.
After the purchase is made nobody (or 99.99% of people) will refund because the design is not flat or something like this.
I’ve added below 2 comparisons between my premium products and other premium products, created as membership sites, by Jeff Walker and Andy Jenkins.
Here is a comparison of my website and Jeff Walker’s Launch book extras membership site built on Kajabi.
Also, here is another comparison of my Launch with Partners premium content built inside Simplero and Webinar Genesis (owned by the creator of WebinarJam: Andy Jenkins) built in Kajabi.
Ever wanted to create awesome automations with if/then/else actions like this one that I created in Active Campaign?
Well, the bad news is that you cannot do it so you have to live with it or use Active Campaign for something this complicated.
Automations inside Simplero are basic and the whole logic is linear.
There are no if/then conditions.
And there is no visual drawing like Active Campaign’s or Infusionsoft’s.
An automation looks like this:
This particular automation is dripping the content of my course to my students.
So it’s very simple.
You can have a ton of actions inside the automation, here are some examples:
It’s a little annoying but, in true honesty, most people think they need tons of complicated automations but actually do not need them until the business grows to a certain extent and they need to automatize lots of stuff.
I have used Simplero since 2014 when I started selling my first online course.
As I am writing this I have 1225 paying customers on 7 membership spaces inside Simplero (6 with one time payments and 1 subscription based (monthly/yearly))
My financial scorecard looks like this (this is a screenshot from Simplero’s dashboard - the first screen you see when you login):
I have sold the following products:
Since Simplero is the backbone of my business, I have told other people about it and here is what they said.
For example, Nicole was building a virtual summit and she had already purchased Whishlist Member but she didn’t have time to learn how to use it and she was already overwhelmed with all the tech details.
After I showed her around Simplero, she took it for a spin and she decided to use it.
Although not perfect, Simplero has pros and cons.
Since it has a lifetime free trial, you can take a look inside, apply what I showed you so far and see if you like it before you decide to keep it or look somewhere else.
Pro #1: Lifetime Trial
There is a lifetime trial when you sign up so you can play with it immediately, for free, and when you’re ready to sell you can start upgrading.
The trial does not give you access to the most powerful features but it helps you get an idea of how exactly it works.
Pro #2: One in all platform
For a monthly payment it replaces several tools you would need to patch together to have a similar machine work for you: Mailchimp, Vimeo Plus, Whishlist Member (multisite $297 for multisite)
It also replaces a developer to fix things when something breaks the price of Simplero is good (probably worth more than $1500 / year)
Pro #3: Integration with a huge number of payment processors.
Some people do not or cannot use Stripe.
But since simplero is integrated with Spreedly it basically has over 100 payment processors. See the details on this above.
The great thing is that once somebody pays, YOU get the money directly from your payment processor, it does not go through Simplero so you get the money fast.
Con #1:Simplero wants to grow with you so it takes a cut from what you sell.
Depending on the price tier you choose Simplero bills you with up to 1.5% of what you sell.
Here is a comparison of the base price of Teachable, Thinkific, Simplero, Kajabi - clockwise direction.
Taking into account that it replaces several services (affiliate marketing platform, email autoresponder, CRM, shopping cart, etc) it was a fair price to pay for me.
Con #2:Some people say the design is too minimalistic
This is a matter of preference. I had no trouble with my clients because of this.
I’ve also added some screenshots above.
In my opinion it looks good enough: decent and minimalistic.
Simplero is the backbone of my operations. I use it every day to keep track of sales, to broadcast emails to my students and to my leads, and to manage affiliates and partners. It is my Swiss Army Knife of online courses and it became indispensable for my business.
Of course, starting at $100/month is some good dinero and there are other options that I mentioned in this review. But Simplero replaces multiple tools and this alone saves a behemoth of time when it comes to working on my business. A single subscription to Simplero does the job of Mailchimp/Aweber/Infusionsoft, Whishlist Member, Vimeo, an affiliate plugin (or more). If you were to buy all these tools separately you'd look at a bill running well into $400.
But what I like about Simplero is that you don't need to be a techie to use it. My friend Marie - a non tech person - was nervous about using it at first but she wanted to import her entire virtual summit from WordPress and Infusionsoft into Simplero after I showed her how it works. In less than a week she imported everything all by herself, without a developer to patch things for her (products, lists, customers, videos, emails) and didn't look back since.
Another thing that I appreciate about Simplero is their team and customer support.
They are dedicated to improving the quality of the product and they have some pretty cool stuff about to be released soon - which means I'll have to revisit this review a lot.
So, if you are serious about your online courses and want to focus on creating them you'd want to spend some cash on Simplero. It will save your sanity and time and it will allow you to really dive into talking to your customers, creating an amazing content and doing a better job overall.
And if you have a good product I bet that you'll get your money back - and more - every single month.
Ease of Use
If there is one tool that is truly indispensable for me, it would be Simplero. The reason we only give it 4.6 stars is because of the minimalist design.
Ciprian is a procedures "guy" and he loves to see people succeed using his blueprints. Follow him for the latest business hacks to get you up and running in no time. Results you will see: more business and less stress. Try it if you don't believe it.