Circle.so Review: Is it the Best Community Platform in 2024?

Circle detailed review

I have been using Circle for some time now to see where it thrives and lacks.

Right of the box, Circle is a learning-focused online community platform. It allows you to bring your members together, and engage them using online courses, live streams, group discussions, gamification, and more.

It also boasts impressive community management tools like automation workflows and bulk actions. 

But is Circle the right choice for building online communities, membership sites, and online courses?

In this Circle.so review, I’ll share how the community platform fairs. Specifically in the following areas:

  • Ease of use
  • Community building and management
  • Online course creation
  • Customization and branding 
  • Pricing

Let’s get started.

What is Circle.so?

Circle website

Circle.so or simply Circle is an online community platform that allows you to build online spaces for your audience and engage them via online courses, group discussions, events, live streams, and more. 

The platform was launched in 2019 by a trio of former Teachable employees—Sid Yadav, Rudy Santino, and Andrew Guttormsen.

After working in Teachable, Sid and his business partners realized that there was a disconnect between content-focused products like online courses and engagement-focused experiences like communities. 

Seeing this gap, they created Circle to empower creators and brands to build thriving online communities around their digital products.

Today, Circle has massively grown offering an all-in-one community platform for creators and ecopreneurs to build thriving and rich members experiences.

It features an online course builder, native live streaming capabilities, a community platform, and robust workflow automation features. 

Circle.so Features at a Glance

Here’s a quick summary of Circle’s features.

Circle.so FeatureDescription
Community + Content Combine community interaction with your content (courses, events, live streams, memberships) under your brand.
Private and Public SpacesCreate private areas for exclusive content or discussions, alongside public spaces for broader engagement.
Live video experiencesGo live to your eager members, accompanied by co-hosts, interactive chat, Q&A sessions, and a virtual stage. 
Integrations and APIWorks with existing tools (WordPress, Teachable, Zapier, Webflow). Use Circle’s API for further third-party integrations.
Analytics and InsightsGain data-driven insights into community engagement, member behavior, and content performance. Understand what resonates with your audience.
Member Profiles and BadgesAllow members to create profiles, showcase their expertise, and earn badges based on participation and achievements.
Discussion Threads and TopicsOrganize conversations into threads and topics for better navigation and focused discussions.
Mobile App SupportAccess your community on the go with a dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android.
Moderation and ReportingManage community health with moderation tools, report features, and guidelines enforcement.

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this circle.so review and see how the community platform measures up.

Circle.so Review: User Experience

Circle
UX Rating: 4.5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐Try Circle.so Free

Circle’s UI is super intuitive but locating features such as workflows, bulk actions, API and other important tools can be daunting for new users.

Circle has a clean design layout for both admin and members. 

The dashboard’s menu items are conveniently located on the left side, making navigation easier. You can find all essential community settings, such as spaces, courses, go-live buttons, and community app download links here.

Circle menu items

Moving from one menu item to another is smooth and frictionless. The layout remains consistent, and there is no lag. I have used other membership platforms like Searchie and Kajabi, which sometimes experience lag, but this is not the case with Circle.

There is a lot of white space in the tool’s UI, making it feel less bloated. The layout is minimalistic and feels modern. However, I didn’t like how they’ve hidden some important tools in an easily ignorable dropdown menu. I am not sure how this displays on your screen, but this is how it appears on my DELL XPS.

drop down menu

When setting up an automation workflow, I needed to click on a dropdown menu to access more tools and settings, including workflows, moderation tools, theme customization, and more.

Circle UI

Okay, this is not necessarily a huge con but I bet Circle could do a better job to make these items easily accessible.

Circle offers keyboard shortcuts that make navigation seamless and effortless.

Besides having a clean user interface, Circle supports keyboard shortcuts that you can use to quickly navigate the platform and perform some tasks.

For example, you can hit the Commant+Shift and P in MacOS and CTRL + SHIFT and P in Windows to open the text editor in your community and begin creating a post.

To access the list of all keyboard shortcuts available in the community, click the Keyboard shortcuts icon in the upper-left corner of the community header.

H6QES Nxrv9Iz5mz6s7Ejvnas 0CBqukvmkRV0TCyfcLchrL8WfJBzhghjq78ohGv0CWzifQizD7gqCSex 8ZSKX1tqbc MGz KsvYzE6jx9a1n Bhzlvoj9nSgc4WrZslB7DWAVM7auO7wuJ4seRTc

Alternatively, you can press Command+Slash (/) on macOS or press Ctrl+Slash (/) on Windows.

Circle.so Review: Online Community Building and Management

Circle
Circle communities: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Try Circle.so for FREE

Circle has sophisticated online community software that allows you to bring together your members and engage them. The platform uses space and space groups for community organizations. 

It also comes with powerful community engagement tools including community chats, posts, event spaces, livestreams, and gamified rewards.

When it comes to managing your community, Circle comes with useful tools including automated workflows, bulk actions, Custom profile fields, AI activity scores, and profanity filters.

Now let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of online community creation in Circle and see how it fairs.

Circle uses Spaces and Space Groups for community organization.

Spaces are the CORE building blocks for creating an online community in Circle.

They act as organizational containers where you can organize your community around specific topics and content types.

You can create different space types including:

choosing a space type in Circle
  • Posts
  • Events
  • Chat
  • Course 
  • Members

And set the access to Private, Public, or Secret.

You can use Spaces to do a variety of things.

For example, you can use them to:

  • Create an online course and limit access to only paid members
  • Host community events to only invited members
  • Start a private group discussion for specific members of your community
  • Create posts tailored to a specific topic

Meanwhile, Space Groups allow you to categorize your community spaces into common themes.

For example, in this community, spaces such as Weekly Events, Announcements, Share Your Wins, etc are grouped under a common space group — Circle Community.

Circle community UI (space and space groups)

Circle’s chat functionality can replace Slack.

Circle allows you to create a chat space in your community. This allows you to initiate group discussions and chats to engage members. 

Members can leave a message, add an image, voice message, emoji, GIF, and mention other members.

Circle Chat UI

They can also opt to reply to the message via a thread which can help create organized discussions around specific messages without adding clutter to a chat space just like in Slack. 

Reply a message to a thread in Circle Chat

This a unique feature not found in most community platforms like Kajabi and Mighty Networks.

Moreover, Circle chat displays a list of members online and offline in your community allowing others to identify active participants for immediate communication.

view live members on Circle

Circle allows you to create community posts but takes it a step further with a robust editor and AI.

One way to engage members in your community is through posts. You can create a post and members can engage using comments and a reaction emoji.

However, Circle takes this a notch up with its powerful post editor. The editor has different formatting tools, including headings, blockquotes, bullets, and numbers.

the slash / command in Circle editor

It also makes it easier to share different content formats in your posts including: 

  • Code Snippets
  • Video – from your computer or video hosting platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Loom, Wistia e.t.c
  • Images
  • Forms
  • Spreadsheets
  • Surveys
  • PDFs
  • Audio

If we compare Circle’s post editor it’s competitors like Kajabi (especially) we can see that Circle’s post editor is light years ahead.

For example, Kajabi allows you to post different content formats including PDFs, Audio, images, and videos but it does not allow you to import video from platforms like YouTube, Wistia, Vimeo, and others which Circle does seamlessly. 

Moreover, its content editor is limited and does not support formatting functionalities like headings, blockquotes, and bullets which are automatically supported in Circle.

Kajabi community content editor

Circle also comes with an AI writing tool called Content Copilot that you can use to use to generate content ideas, a post outline, and even a content paragraph allowing you to quickly create content.

Circle community AI (Content Copilot)

Circle live-streaming tool can replace Zoom

You can use its native live-streaming tool to create different types of live sessions, depending on your needs and goals.

Circle livestreaming options

One option is to host a live room, where up to 30 members can join and interact with you and each other using audio, video, and text chat. This is ideal for small group discussions, coaching calls, or workshops.

Another option is to host a live stream, where up to 100 participants can watch you and your co-hosts present on a topic. Only the co-hosts can use video and audio, but the participants can chat with you or request to be invited on stage. This is great for large-scale events, such as Q&As, interviews, or masterclasses.

Your members can RSVP for your live events and get email notifications from Circle. You can also record your live sessions and share them with your attendees or post them in your community spaces.

During your live sessions, you can share your screen. You can also switch between speaker view and gallery view, depending on how you want to showcase your co-hosts or attendees.

Circle’s live-streaming tool is available on its iOS app, so you can go live from anywhere.

Circle Workflows—simplify community management via automation and bulk actions.

With Circle Workflows, you can automate repetitive tasks and personalize your members’ experience. You can use this feature to send a welcome message to new members, add them to a space, message them if they don’t upgrade after a free trial, and more.

Circle Workflow automation builder

It works using two types of workflows.

  • Automation: allows you to automate specific tasks in your community. Consider them as the “event trigger” types of automation. For example, you can create an automation that adds a member to a paywall space when they pay a membership fee.
  • Bulk Action: This allows you to perform the same operation on many items at once, instead of doing them one by one. This can include sending a message to everyone in your space or messaging members who have logged in to your community in the last 30 days.

Circle also provides 15+ workflow templates that you can easily customize and save time.

Circle workflow template

Circle.so Review: Online Course Creation

Circle
Online course creation: 4.5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐Try Circle.so Free

Circle allows you to create online courses and monetize them. But how good is it and how does it compare to the competition? Let’s find out.

Circle online course builder is easy to use and offers more course design freedom.

Circle online course builder is hands down easy to use.

Right out of the box, the online course platform allows you to create three different online course types.

  • Self-paced
  • Structured
  • Scheduled
course types in Circle.

The online course builder allows you to structure your course using sections and lessons.

Perhaps, what I loved about Circle is the course design freedom it gives you.

Most online course platforms like Kajabi follow a rigid design with prebuilt templates that you can’t change. However, that’s not the case for Circle.

With Circle, you get to decide how you want to design the appearance of your course. 

Circle course builder offers more content upload flexibility.

With Circle, you can add various content formats to your course content, such as videos, audio files, PDFs, sheets, GIFs, code snippets, forms, and more. 

You have the option to upload content from your computer or embed from over 700 content platforms that Circle natively supports, including YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, Airtable, and more.

Circle’s content link feature works flawlessly, unlike other platforms that often fail. 

For example, I tried to import a video in Kajabi using its link import feature, but it failed.

Circle link import tool

But it worked perfectly for Circle.

emebedding a YouTube video in Cicel

Circle lacks native course assessment tools but depends on third-party integrations.

Unlike its competitors (Kajabi and Thinkific), Circle does not have any native course assessment and grading tools. If you want to add quizzes, surveys, or certificates to your course, you will need to integrate third-party tools like Google Forms, Typeform, SurveyMonkey, and more. 

Circle media embedding tool

Circle.so Review: Sales and Marketing

Circle
Sales and Marketing Rating: 3.0/5.0 ⭐⭐⭐Try Circle.so Free

Circle.so offers tools to help you market and sell your memberships and courses. This includes landing pages, email marketing functionalities, and checkout tools. But how do they compare? Are they any good compared to what its competitors offer? Let’s dig into this Circle review and see how its sales and marketing features measure up.

Circle offers basic landing page design options.

Circle offers a landing page building functionality they call Lock Screen. It allows you to create a landing page to sign students to your course and private spaces including courses and private group chats. 

The page builder comes with only four page blocks to create and design your online course landing page. Including A banner section, space description, lessons and Call to action.  

Circle landing page builder

Each page block comes with basic customizations. For example, the banner block allows you change the hero background of your page, add the banner heading a description of your image, and the overlay color. You can also change your CTA button color.

page customization options in Circle

Circle does not offer a native page drag and drop page builder and all its page sections are predetermined meaning you can’t create a custom page design from scratch.

It doesn’t offer page templates to choose from limiting you to choosing a design that best impresses. It also has fewer page-building elements. For example, you can’t add elements like forms or a countdown timer which can help establish FOMO and boost membership sales. 

If you’re looking to build a sleek landing page for your online course, community or membership, you’ll want to go with a professional page builder like Leadpages.

Circle has basic email marketing functionalities such as weekly digests and email-white labeling but more advanced features will prompt you to integrate a third-party tool.

Email marketing comes in handy when you have a membership, community or offering courses that you can use to engage with your audience and boost conversions. 

Circle falls far behind when it comes to email marketing. It lacks a dedicated email marketing tool that you can for your email marketing.

You can’t create drip email campaigns or automated email sequences. You’ll need a third-party tool like ConvertKit to manage emails and create email campaigns for membership and digital business.

Weekly Digest is the closest email marketing feature that Circle has to offer. It’s an email summarizing top trending content in your community keeping members informed. This can come in handy, especially for members who spend a week or a few days off your community. 

Weekly digest feature in Circle

You also get the option to white-label emails by setting up a set of DNS records provided by SendGrid on your domain hosting provider. Such that instead of your email notifications in your community being sent from no-reply@circle.so it can follow a custom email from your root domain. 

Circle checkout supports sales optimization features such as free trials, discounts, and coupons.

With Circle checkout, you can:

  • Offer free trials to let your members try your memberships before upgrading. This can increase your conversion rate and reduce your churn rate.
  • Create discounts and coupons to reward your loyal customers, attract new ones, or clear your inventory. 

However, Circle checkout does not support order bumps and upsells yet. If you want to access these features, you will need to integrate a third-party cart system like SamCart via Zapier.

The Circle checkout system supports 6 currencies but is limited to Stripe Gateway only.

With the Circle checkout system, you can accept payment subscriptions from SIX currencies including USD, CAD, EUR, GBP, AUD, and BRL. However, its payment gateway is only limited to Stripe. 

Connecting Stripe to Circle

It does not support other gateways like PayPal, Authorize.net, Braintree and more. If you’re in countries that do not Support  Stripe this can pose a challenge for you.

Circle.so Pricing Review

Circle pricing

Circle comes with five main paid packages namely:

  • Basic: costs $49 per month
  • Professional: costs $99 per month
  • Business: costs $219 per month
  • Enterprise: costs $399 per month
  • Circle Plus: custom pricing

Except for Circle Plus, all packages provide a free 14-day trial for you to assess if the online community platform aligns with your needs.

Circle offers affordable pricing packages but puts hard limits on the number of community admins, moderators, and spaces.

While Circle’s pricing is budget-friendly, it imposes strict limits on community admins, moderators, and spaces. For those needing more, additional costs apply:

  • $10/month per admin
  • $20/month per 10 moderators
  • $20/month per 10 spaces

Comparatively, this can be pricier than competitors like Mighty Networks, which offers unlimited access.

Mighty Networks pricing vs Circle

Circle charges you a transaction fee for every payment you receive.

Circle also introduces a transaction fee for received payments, ranging from 0.5% to 4%, depending on the plan:

Circle PlanTransaction Fee 
Basic4%
Professional2%
Business1%
Enterprise0.5%

Note that this excludes the additional 2.9% + $0.30 Stripe payment processing fee. As your subscriptions increase, these combined charges can eat into your profits.

Circle.so Pros and Cons

ProsCons
✅ Intuitive UI❌ Transactions fee
✅ SSO integration❌ The Basic plan has limited features
✅ Native live-streaming feature❌  Basic landing page builder
✅  Automation workflows
✅ Community mobile Apps for both iOS and Android devices

Top Circle.so Alternatives

Circle is a great platform to create and manage your online community. It allows you to build a branded community space with features like discussions, memberships, and integrations, and offer online courses. 

However, Circle might not be the best option for everyone. Here are the top Circle.so alternatives you can try. 

  • Bettermode: the best option for creating branded customer communities, especially for SaaS brands. You can customize your community’s look and feel, integrate with your existing tools, and engage your customers with gamification and rewards.
  • Kajabi: an all-in-one digital business platform that helps you create online courses, podcasts, websites, community, and coaching sessions. You can also use its built-in email marketing software to grow your audience and sales.
  • Might Networks: budget-friendly Circle alternative that allows you to build online communities with unlimited members. You can also offer paid memberships, courses, events, and groups within your community.
  • MemberPress: best WordPress-powered online community platform.

Circle Review: FAQ

What is Circle Community?

Circle is an all-in-one community platform designed for creators, brands, and online business owners. It provides a space where you can seamlessly blend community interaction with your valuable content, such as courses, events, live streams, and memberships—all in one place.

Can You Go Live in a Circle Community?

Absolutely! If you’re on the Circle Pro Plan, and above you can livestream and record events natively inside your Circle community. Whether it’s a coaching call, an online class, or a broadcast with live Q&A, Circle has you covered.

Similar Posts