A common question in the Thinkific facebook and support communities is how to use a third party cart with Thinkfic. The reasons for this can be numerous but the top reasons are:
- A user may wish to use a payment type not supported by Thinkific. For example, you may want to use a local payment provider like WeChat in China, or have existing customers using WooCommerce Subscriptions.
- A user may want to use recurring payment gateways like PayPal that Thinkific does not support.
- A user wants more control over the checkout procedure as with Thinkific, there are significant issues with abandonment due to the Thinkfic two-step checkout process.
- A user wants to use their own website e.g WordPress as the core of their experience as it offers more flexibility than Thinkific.
- A user wants to control who has access to their Thinkfic school and vet them prior to enrollment. By default, anyone can access and sign up for a course in a Thinkfic school.
In this blog, I’m going to breakdown how you can connect your own cart system to Thinkific. I’m going to use WordPress and WooCommerce in my example as they are the most commonly used systems. However, the methods are broadly the same for Shopify, Thrive Cart and Sam Cart.
The Manual Method
This is not the recommended method but, in theory, when a user checks out on your chosen cart system, you can manually add them to your Thinkific school. Of course, this is a terrible user experience as they need to wait for you to enrol them and this not to be recommended.
The Zapier Method
Zapier is an extremely useful and commonly used platform to automate tasks. For example, you can set up drag and drop triggers and actions to run your business on autopilot.
In our case, we would set up a Zap that enrols a user into your Thinkfic course once they complete their checkout. It would look similar to this:
The problem with this method is the complexity and cost. For starters, you will need the following accounts and plugins:
- A WooCommerce Zapier Plugin (or a similar way to notify Zapier of your sales e.g. Webhooks)
- A Growth or higher Thinkific Plan
- A Starter or Professional Zapier Account (As you need lots of actions and will need multi-step Zaps)
And this is before you consider the other applications you will need e.g. Mailchimp, Active Campaign etc.
Cost: ~$150/month (Before other Apps like Mailchimp etc)
The Cheapest (& Least Complex) Method
We’re thinking smart and being efficient with our resources. For this method, I’m going to assume you are using WordPress and WooCommerce. If you aren’t, you should strongly consider them as they are both free and can cost less than $5/month to host. They are also better for your overall SEO and brand flexibility.
This is where we get smart and save thousands per year. Enter Groundhogg and their funnels. Using our WooCommerce extension for Groundhogg and the WooNinja Thinkific extension, we arrive at a super simple funnel-like this:
In this example, as soon as a product is purchased on our site, we create the user in our Thinkific system and enrol them in our course. Simple, right?
Now, how does this save you money?
- You do not need to pay for third-party apps like Zapier, Mailchimp, Active Campaign or similar.
- Groundhogg is available for free, but the flexibility of even the lowest pricing plan is magnitudes greater than any email provider.
- You do not need to pay extra for more contacts as Groundhogg is free whether you have 10 or 10 million contacts.
- You can leverage Groundhogg to do amazing things that you would otherwise need even more apps for. For example, sending SMS’s, moving contacts into sales pipelines and similar.
- You can expand and use great extensions like WooCommerce Subscriptions or additional payment gateways to fine-tune your user experience.
- You can use better forum tools like Ultimate Member to keep your students engaged and content safe.
So, doing the calculations, you would require:
- Groundhogg (Free)
- Groundhogg WooCommerce Extension
- Groundhogg Thinkific Extension
- Basic WordPress Hosting (~$5/month)
- Thinkific Growth Plan or higher ($99/month)
Cost: ~$115/month (of which Thinkific is $99)
Your actual costs are $15/month for what is otherwise costing you $50+
But wait, is there any reason I wouldn’t use this method?
I would consider not using this method only if:
- You do not use WordPress and will not consider using it. If you have dismissed WordPress before, I would urge you to reconsider for the reasons for website flexibility and SEO alone.
- You already have extensive Zapier integrations and are happy paying for the service and convenience it offers.
- You do not have very large email lists (Less than 2000 contacts) and wish to maintain a very simple Thinkific technical landscape.
- You prefer the interfaces of Zapier and Mailchimp etc (But don’t forget we can teach you in a 1:1 call regardless this method)
Disclaimer: I am the developer of the Thinkific Extension for Groundhogg and I wish to be transparent to this fact. However, I believe my article outlines the major methods, and costs, of these integrations. The creation of my extension for Thinkfic and Groundhogg was spurred on by countless implementations for Thinkific creators and my own desire to lower this cost. If you find an error in this article, please contact me and I will promptly correct it.