Cyber Monday Extended Deal Unlocked

How To Choose The Best Online Course Platform For Your Business In 2023

Joanna Taylor Profile

Joanna Taylor

Last Updated: October 16, 2023

How to choose the best online platform

The online education industry is huge, worth approximately $200 billion a year with annual revenue expected to triple by 2030.

If you have a lot of knowledge or experience in a particular industry, selling online courses is a good way to monetize that knowledge and gain a portion of that revenue.

But, unless your expertise lies in web development, you will need an online course platform for help in creating a course, marketing it, and tracking your student’s development.

There are a lot of online course platforms available with similar features, which makes choosing the best one difficult.

Below, we highlight the main features and some of the factors to consider when choosing the best course platform.

What Is an Online Course Platform?

An online course platform is a software tool that educators use to design, market, and host online courses and other educational materials.

online course platform

Online course platforms like OptimizeMentor help you organise your course content

Self-hosted platforms can be branded with your name or organization and most offer at least basic marketing tools to help create a pipeline of potential students. 

The best online learning platforms include:

A visual editor for intuitive course design
Marketing tools to create landing pages and manage email marketing campaigns
Payment processing tools to accept a variety of payment methods
Administrative tools to help manage student and educator profiles

How To Choose The Best Online Course Platform?

Finding the right online course platform can be overwhelming, so it's important to take the time to research the options available and determine which platform best fits your needs. 

Regardless of your technical skill set, here are some of our top recommendations on what to look out for when choosing the best online course platform.

Intuitive Course Builder

The core of any online course platform should be a drag and drop course builder. If you can’t create effective and appealing courses, you might want to look for a different platform. 

Drag-and-drop editors allow you to build your lessons and course pages using different elements including text, video, audio, file downloads or any other content you're sharing.

These elements can then be placed on the page and ordered to draft the design how you want. Because the creator is drag-and-drop, you shouldn’t need any coding skill or technical knowledge, but you should be able to make attractive looking content.

If you have HTML and CSS knowledge, and you’re the kind of person that likes to customize every element of the page, look for an online course creator that allows more in-depth editing controls.

Multimedia Support

Despite the vast majority of online courses being video based, research indicates that reading is a better form of study than watching video or listening to audio. 

It forces concentration and improves information retention and comprehension. 

Reading is also quicker than listening, with students typically achieving a reading rate of around 280 words per minute when reading but only 180 when listening to audio or video because this is restricted by speaking speed.

However, video can make courses more fun, while audio files can be listened to while driving or while travelling to and from work. And, while text may be a more effective media for most, there are some that learn better with different formats.

Most online course platforms allow creators to upload videos, audio, and text, but not all allow other forms of media. Slides, for example, are a popular learning tool in universities and other educational institutions.

As well as lacking the capability to upload certain types of media, some online course platforms may restrict the file types you can upload. If you record videos in .mov format but can only upload them in .mp4 format, you will have to convert every file before you upload.

Third-Party Integrations

Third-party integrations enable you to incorporate additional features or combine things like calendars or advanced email marketing and list management with your online course platform.

Through these integrations, for example, you might add buyers of your online course to your CRM (e.g. Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign) to allow you to send out regular communication to your existing students.

Some online course platforms require you to use additional services like Zapier to connect up to external integrations, so lookout for this when reviewing the tool feature set as this can add to your additional costs for setting up your course.

Analytics & Reporting

The number of course sales or subscriptions you make will give some indication of how well you are performing, but these are basic figures. 

Advanced analytics can provide you with much more actionable information related to site visitors, prospective customers, and course take-up and performance.

analytics how to choose the best online course platform

OptimizeMentor provides analytics on your members from the dashboard

You can learn which pages are attracting visitors to your site, which courses convert those visitors to sales, and which of your courses are more likely to lead to additional sales and greater retention. And by using this information, it is possible to increase course sales and generate more revenue.

You can see whether:

Your marketing emails are converting leads to sales
Landing pages are converting
There are paint points at certain stages of the sales funnel that are preventing sales
Certain educators are outperforming others
Certain topics or course types are more popular than others

White-Label Branding

Branding your courses ensures that students remember the name of your business and of their tutor. When they talk about the incredible experience they had and the insightful knowledge they picked up, it is this brand that they will share with others. 

Therefore, you want your courses to include your name and your website to be branded with your organization, and not that of the course platform you use.

At the very least, you should be able to use a custom domain or host the courses on your own website. 

Additionally, you should be able to add your logo to your course documents and choose font, text colors, and other design elements that are in keeping with your brand.

Using OptimizePress and OptimizeMentor for your online course

OptimizePress includes a complete suite of tools for creating your marketing website and your online courses, all hosted on your WordPress website.

This means you maintain full control of your content, maximum flexibility, and you can benefit from our full suite of marketing tools to help grow your online course fast.

Marketing Features

Marketing your courses is an important part of making your online business a success. There are many ways you can market an online business, from search engine optimization to email marketing and even paid ads.

Landing Page Design

Whatever form of online marketing you use, your website will be the main focal point of your efforts. It is where visitors from search engines and social media first arrive, and it is where you will direct your email marketing recipients. 

A dedicated landing page builder means that you can create the content for these pages. They won’t contain course content, but they will be important to your course business.

Email Marketing Tools

Email marketing is a powerful tool. You develop a list of potential targets, either by buying relevant lists or, ideally, by building your own list of prospects. 

You can then send automated emails to list members. Gathering email data from website visitors is a proven method of increasing conversion rates and reducing churn rates.

Some online course platforms allow the integration of lead capture data on sales pages and course detail pages, and they offer email automation features, while others provide integration with email marketing software like MailChimp. 

If you already have a list that is managed through another provider, you will want to ensure that this provider is included as one of your course platform’s third party tools.

Affiliate Marketing Features

Affiliate marketing is another potential way to generate sales. 

Other websites and individuals pre-sell your courses for you, sending targeted leads to your sales pages and, if those leads convert to sales, the third party receives either a set amount per sale or a percentage commission of the sale. 

Affiliate programs need affiliate code integration so that you can track cookies and ensure that the affiliate gets paid. Some course platforms include affiliate sales tracking so you can introduce an affiliate program..

Intuitive Student Interface

As well as an intuitive interface for creating courses, the software you use needs to be intuitive for individual end users: the students. 

If they find it difficult to login or struggle to navigate around course content, it will detract from the learning experience. It can lead to neutral or negative reviews and it is very unlikely that students will return to buy more courses and consume more content.

You should also check the platform compatibility. While many course students will consume content on laptops or PCs, some will use Macs. Others may prefer to access content via cell phone or tablet, and if your content isn’t available then they will look elsewhere.

Payment Options For Students

As well as ensuring that your students can access the type of course content they want and on the devices they prefer to use, you should consider their payment options. 

Card payments may be the most common forms of payment, but many people prefer the convenience of using a PayPal account, and some users will prefer to use Google Pay or Apple Pay features.

Your online course platform should deal with payments for you, and the more payment gateways that can be integrated into your system, the better. You will still need Stripe, PayPal, and other accounts, but the platform should deal with accepting those payments and directing them to your accounts.

Student Engagement Features

Student engagement is beneficial for you and your students. For students, it makes them feel part of a community and gets them involved. Interactivity can improve learning capabilities too. 

The interaction means deeper thought on a topic and requires more concentration, so the brain retains more information. Some online course platforms offer community building features as well as gamification.

They might offer social media like features. If your students communicate with other members of your learning community, they can help one another and improve their own understanding of the course content.

Examples of student engagement features that can be found on some learning management systems include:


Pricing Structure

Price matters, especially when you are starting out as an online educator. 

Different platforms have different price plans, as well as different pricing structures. If you are just starting out and are looking to create your first course to see whether it is for you, you won’t want to invest thousands of dollars a year.

Basic and Premium Plans - A basic plan usually allows one or a small number of courses while more expensive paid plans can offer up to an unlimited number of courses and an unlimited number of tutors and course creators.

Free Trials - Some services provide a free trial which is a good way to ascertain whether their software is right for you.

Free Plans – A limited number of companies also provide free plans, but bear in mind that these aren’t truly free. You will generally be charged a transaction fee on every purchase, and this can be as high as 10% of the transaction value. 

Once you’ve sold a handful of courses, a free plan works out to be more expensive than some of the cheaper paid plans that are available.

Responsive Customer Support

Course creation platforms offer a lot of features, and they automate many tasks associated with course creation. 

This is great for the online educator that doesn’t want to learn coding, but it also means there are a lot of elements that can go wrong. Good customer support is crucial if anything does go wrong, but it is also important when users have general questions, questions about accounts or billing, or any other enquiries.

When choosing an online course platform, choose one with a good response time and that offers communication via your preferred method. Communication methods include live web chat, telephone, and email.


Businesses grow and evolve. At the moment, you might only have plans to launch a single course and take on a handful of students. But, if that course works out, you will likely want to increase the number of courses and the scope of what you offer in the future. 

If your account only allows a single course, or a limited number of courses, and doesn’t have the scope to upgrade this, you will be left looking for a new provider and a new account. 

Most platforms do offer some degree of scalability, but it is something that you will need to check when choosing the platform and account.

Are you looking for the best online course platform?

Knowing how to choose the best online course platform will have a big impact on your business, so it is important that you make the right choice. 

Consider how many courses you want to launch, whether you want additional features like email marketing campaigns included, and, using the guide above, choose the platform that provides payment systems, third party integration, and other features that will benefit your business.

Watch Our On-Demand Demo

Build Landing Pages, Funnels & Membership Sites in WordPress

Learn how you can high conversion landing pages, funnels, online courses & membership sites in WordPress with just one tool.

By entering your email, we'll also send you marketing emails related to OptimizePress. You can unsubscribe anytime. We always respect your inbox. See our privacy policy.

Discover the one tool to run your landing pages, funnels, courses & membership sites

Our on-demand demo shows how OptimizePress can power your complete digital marketing business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Watch Our On-Demand Demo

Build Landing Pages, Funnels, Courses & Membership Sites in WordPress

Learn how you can high conversion landing pages, funnels, online courses & membership sites in WordPress with just one tool.

By entering your email, we'll also send you marketing emails related to OptimizePress. You can unsubscribe anytime. See our privacy policy.