If you’re launching any kind of online program with a membership area, and if you’re in a search for what software to use to accomplish what you want to do, you’ve most likely heard about two different options: OptimizePress and Kajabi.
There’s often a lot of confusion about the differences between the two, which makes it hard for people to decide which one to consider using, so in this post, I’d like to clear up the fog a bit in hopes of helping you make a decision with less frustration.
First, let me explain, in general terms, what OptimizePress and Kajabi do.
What does OptimizePress do?
OptimizePress is a WordPress theme that allows you to quickly and easily create opt-in pages (or squeeze pages), launch funnel pages, sales pages, and membership area pages all right within a WordPress site.
If you’re thinking about launching your online program or product using the product launch formula method, where you publish a series of free training content pieces over the course of a week or two, and then open up your program for registration or make your product available for sale, OptimizePress is a popular option.
It gives you dozens of predesigned page templates with various layouts for the pages that you’ll need in order to set up your launch sequence.
That means you don’t need to hire someone like a web designer to help you get the kind of layouts you’ll want to use for your squeeze pages, launch funnel pages, and membership area.
One big thing that OptimizePress doesn’t do is that it does not handle the creation of a password protected member’s only area of your WordPress site.
OptimizePress has page templates, or page layouts, for the membership area pages you’ll create with something like Digital Access Pass, but they are essentially just templates applied to the pages needed for your member’s area.
You’ll still need something like DAP or Wishlist Member to protect the pages of your members area though.
OptimizePress also integrates with your email marketing platform, like Aweber or Mailchimp, so that when you need to create an opt in form (or sign up form) for your launch funnel, you can create the web form in your email marketing app and then drop the HTML code for the form into OptimizePress.
It will then style the form and fit it right into a squeeze page that you build with an OptimizePress page template.
Now, OptimizePress does a lot of other things that are important, but in general, what I just described is the majority of what it does.
What does Kajabi do?
Kajabi has many similar features to OptimizePress, but it’s not a WordPress theme. It’s a separate, hosted web application, which means it’s a totally separate website than your main website, and as a result, it doesn’t require you to use WordPress.
Like OptimizePress, it allows you to easily create the pages and functionality you’d need to do a product launch sequence (such as squeeze pages and launch funnel pages.)
However, there’s one big difference between OptimizePress and Kajabi: Kajabi has a whole other set of built in features that allow you to easily create a membership site where the content of your online program is delivered (such as videos, audio recordings, articles, and downloadable files.)
So, when comparing OptimizePress with Kajabi, it’s not really an apples to apples comparison.
Part of their feature sets are very similar (the part that allows you to create a product launch funnel), but there’s another half to what Kajabi does that OptimizePress doesn’t do (membership site creation and management.)
With that said, I’ll run through the pros and cons of both OptimizePress and Kajabi, at least in my opinion.
OptimizePress Pros and Cons
1) OptimizePress is less expensive than kajabi, at least for the squeeze pages, launch funnel pages, and sales page parts of your system. OptimizePress is a one time payment (currently $97), whereas Kajabi has a recurring monthly fee (currently $99/mo, $199/mo, or $299/mo, depending on what plan you choose.)
2) If you want to keep everything on WordPress, which you might want to do if you or people on your team know WordPress better than Kajabi, then OptimizePress allows you to do that, since it’s a WordPress theme.
3) You’d have much more flexibility to hire someone to do custom workflows and create custom code for your launch pages if you find that OptimizePress can’t do some things that you’d like it to do (which won’t be the case for most people) because OptimizePress is just a WordPress theme.
That means that you’d have full access to its code, as well as the code of WordPress, should you need to hire someone to customize something.
Kajabi doesn’t allow much access to the code that runs their platform, so if you want to do any kind of custom workflows, like having people added to Infusionsoft with multiple tags AND have them added to an Aweber email list at the same time when they opt in (or sign up for something you’re offering for free), you wouldn’t be able to do that because you won’t have access to the code in the Kajabi platform. But you shouldn’t need to do that kind of custom work until your business and list gets pretty big.
4) OptimizePress has a big selection of pre-designed graphics, such as add to cart buttons, arrows, or special box styles that can be used to highlight specific text on a page.
Those graphics can be quickly and easily added to any pages you create with OptimizePress, and they can really make your squeeze, launch, and sales pages look great…without having to hire a graphic designer. (Kajabi has a pretty good selection of similar graphics, but the OptimizePress selection is bigger and better in my opinion.)
5) In OptimizePress, you can set the date and time for launch pages to be auto-published. In Kajabi, that’s currently not an option, which means that you have to publish your squeeze, launch, and sales pages manually.
That’s not a huge downside, but some people like to be able to set up their whole launch funnel to be automated, in terms of when each part of it are published.
1) In order to create a password protected member’s area on your wordpress site, you need to integrate OptimizePress with a WordPress plugin like Digital Access Pass or Wishlist Member. Optimizepress has layouts for membership pages, but it doesn’t handle payment processing or protection of your paid content on a WordPress site.
2) There’s no integrated video/media hosting and delivery, as there is with Kajabi, which has a built in content delivery network (Amazon’s Cloudfront content delivery network) that allows you to upload your videos and mp3 audio files, then embed them on launch funnel pages or your membership area pages inside your program.
With Kajabi, if you select a plan that has the content delivery network included, that functionality is built in.
3) Because OptimizePress is a WordPress theme, when you install it, it takes over the look and feel of your whole site. That means that if you want to keep the look and feel of your main site (which is probably using another theme) and still use OptimizePress, you’d need to install another copy of WordPress in a subdirectory on your server (or a subdomain), and then install OptimizePress and your membership area software (like Digital Access Pass) in that site that’s in the subdirectory or subdomain.
This isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s important to keep in mind, because if you install OptimizePress on your current, main WordPress site and you set it as the active theme, it’s going to change how your entire site looks.
4) You can’t easily customize the look and feel of the OptimizePress theme without editing its code, or hiring someone to do that for you.
It does allow you to do basic customizations, such uploading header or logo images that will appear at the top of pages you create with it, but for the most part, the pages you create with OptimizePress are going to look different than your main site’s look and feel, meaning, your main site’s theme.
This is also true of Kajabi’s launch funnel pages though, which are going to look different than your main site.
Kajabi Pros and Cons
1) Squeeze pages and launch funnel pages are integrated with the member’s area. No need to install and learn another app to get your membership area created. This also means that the workflow around people buying your program and getting access to your membership area is tightly integrated within the same app…which is a good thing.
2) Kajabi has an integrated discussion forum inside the member’s portal. To get a discussion forum with WordPress, Optimize Press and either Digital Access Pass or Wishlist Member, you’d need to install a forum plugin for WordPress, like BBpress.
3) Kajabi integrates well with Infusionsoft and Aweber, which is important if you’re using either of those apps for your email marketing, or, in the case of Infusionsoft, for your email marketing, CRM, ecommerce, and affiliate tracking.
4) With Kajabi, there is very little work needed to create a membership site. You essentially pick a theme, change some colors or margins or fonts, upload your logo or header images, add your program’s content, set up permission levels, and you’re done.
5) The theme customization tool is great. It’s an entire panel of adjustments you can make to the CSS code that styles your membership area and funnel pages…but you don’t have to touch any code.
6) A content delivery network (Amazon’s Cloudfront CDN) is built in to Kajabi if you sign up for the plan that includes this feature.
7) Creating launch funnels and membership sites for new products or programs that you want to have separate from each other is easy with Kajabi. It just take a few clicks to create a new “project” inside of Kajabi and once you do, you can start setting up a new launch funnel and membership area.
8) There are a number of squeeze page theme options you can choose in Kajabi that use a full page picture background and a simple opt in box in the middle of the page.
These types of squeeze pages have been winning all of the split tests I’ve heard being done on different types of squeeze pages. You can’t create these kinds of squeeze pages with OptimizePress currently.
9) Kajabi comes with a pretty extensive library of marketing training videos from some big internet marketers. They call this Kajabi University, and there’s a lot of good content in there.
10) Kajabi’s customer support team is amazing. Having 24/7 live chat support really comes in handy, particularly when you need help right in the middle of a launch on a weekend. I always feel like an app is only as good as it’s customer support, because if you’ve got a great app but poor or no customer support, you’ll run into big problems eventually. With Kajabi, the app is great and the support is great.
I haven’t heard of any bad reports of OptimizePress support, and I suspect that the support they give is great, but they don’t have 24/7 live chat, as Kajabi does.
1) Kajabi is more expensive than OptimizePress. At the time that I’m writing this post, OptimizePress costs $97, and that’s a one time payment. Kajabi’s available plans are $99/mo, $199/mo, or $299/mo.
2) There’s not a lot of access to customize the style of the squeeze pages, launch funnel pages, or membership area pages beyond what you can do with their theme editor. Their theme editor is actually really amazing. You can adjust many things about a theme without touching any code. I wish every WordPress theme had the same kind of editing interface. However, if you want to enter in custom CSS to fix certain things that may be off in some browsers, you’re limited in terms of how much custom css you can put in.
3) There’s little access to create custom code/workflows if needed. Again, you may not ever need that. I don’t for my business, but some bigger businesses do.
4) Currently, they don’t support mobile devices, so your Kajabi squeeze pages and launch pages could be messed up in mobile devices, or at least not displayed using responsive CSS, which is what resizes and reorganizes websites in mobile browsers so they are displayed well on tiny screens.
5) You can’t hide text and buttons until a certain time has elapsed after a sales page loads.
This is often desired by marketers who want to hide the add to cart or buy now buttons, as well as any sales copy, that appears below a sales video, until a certain amount of time has elapsed after the sales page has loaded in the prospect’s browser.
The theory behind this tactic is that if you show the sales copy and buy now buttons (and the price) before prospects are engaged in the sales video, you can lose a lot of customers because they’ll see the price of your program but wouldn’t have understood the full context of the price, such as all the deliverables, benefits, and bonuses that they would get if they sign up for your program.
If that happens, you can lose a lot of customers because they’re making a buying decision based almost entirely on the price alone.
In Kajabi, you can only hide the add to cart buttons so that they appear at a given point after the sales page has loaded. You can’t, however, also hide the sales copy that appears below the sales video.
With OptimizePress, you can have custom work done by a programmer that would allow you to hide both the add to cart buttons and the sales copy until a certain amount of time has elapsed after the sales page loads for a given prospect.
6) With Kajabi, you currently can only set up automatic content dripping for online programs that you have set to “evergreen mode”, which means that your program is always available.
You can’t set up a content drip schedule if you’re doing a timed launch where your program opens for registration and closes for registration in a short period of time.
A content drip schedule means you set content to be released to a specific group of members on a date and time that you set, such as publishing one learning module every week on a specific date and time.
All of this means that if you do want to release your content over time, and if you’re Kajabi project is not in evergreen mode, doing that can be a bit of a tedious process if you have a lot of lessons.
It involves manually setting the correct permissions for your content categories, sub categories, each individual content post, and each forum category that you may have set up for each module so that the correct group of people in your member’s portal get access to the newly released content.
6) People aren’t notified via email of replies to comments in launch funnel threads when using the built in Kajabi comments.
This may seem like a small thing, but when you’re doing a product launch, with multiple pieces of free content being published over a week or two, people often like to have comments beneath each piece of prelaunch content so that you can have a conversation with your prospects during your prelaunch phase.
With Kajabi’s comment system, people who leave comments on your launch funnel pages are not notified via email when you respond, which means the only way they’ll find out if you responded is if they go back to your funnel page where they left a comment and go hunting for their comment on the many pages of comments you might have.
Most people won’t do that, so the end result of prospects not getting an email notification of your replies to their comments is that you can’t really have a conversation with people.
This is unfortunate, particularly when folks ask you questions in the comments and you take the time to answer them.
7) Similarly, in the member’s portal (or membership area) of Kajabi, by default, members aren’t notified of comment replies that you or your team post on individual post pages.
Those pages are where you post the individual lessons that make up your online program, and again, it’s common to turn on the commenting feature for post pages so that people can ask questions about a specific lesson.
People can turn on the email notifications for comment replies in their profile settings, but they are not enabled by default.
This creates situations where your paying members think you’re not responding to their questions, which can make them upset.
You can instruct people to enable the email notification settings in the welcome email they get right after joining your program, but still, some people will miss those instructions and not enable them.
The Bottom Line
Okay, those are the pros and cons of OptimizePress and Kajabi that I’m aware of currently. There are likely a few others, so if you use either of these, and if you’re aware of any pros or cons I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments below.
So, which one should you use for your particular business?
If you’re looking to go the less expensive route, OptimizePress is the clear winner.
You’ll need to also install and learn other plugins for WordPress to get the other features that Kajabi has, but the recommendations I gave for those plugins (Digital Access Pass, Wishlist Member, BBpress) are all either one time payments or are free (in the case of BBpress.)
You’d also need to use a separate service to host and stream your videos, but there are affordable options among the recommendations I gave above.
If you’d like to have more functionality all within one app, and if you have a bigger budget to work with, Kajabi is an awesome option.
Because it has so many features built in, it can seriously cut down on the number of problems that might otherwise arise as a result of trying to tie together 5 or 6 different apps and plugins to accomplish the same things.
I’m a big fan of Kajabi and have been using it for my own business for the last year. For me, the pros far outweigh the cons and the benefits are worth the extra cost. Plus, any company that goes overboard with their customer support, as Kajabi does, will always win a place in my heart. There’s nothing wrong with the support from OptimizePress, but having 24/7 support from Kajabi has saved my hide multiple times right in the middle of launches.
At the end of the day though, they’re both great options.
Okay, thanks much for spending some time with me today in this rather lengthy post. I hope it’s helped clear up some confusion and made it easier for you to make a decision about what software to use for launching an online program or product!
p.s. If you’re curious about all of the major pieces I use for my own tech system for my own online program, Tech Genius, I’m currently using Kajabi (for launch funnels and membership site), Infusionsoft (for email marketing, CRM, ecommerce, and affiliate tracking), and Wistia (for video hosting, streaming, and video analytics.)