Business Platforms, Tools and Apps to Support Your Coaching Business: Part1 – Marketing Platforms

In this Article:

  1. Key questions to ask to help choose the best platforms for your business
  2. Website platforms
  3. Email marketing platforms
  4. Tools of marketing engagement
  5. Digital & print media creation platforms (images, eBooks, podcasts, video, etc.)
  6. e-Course platforms
  7. Integrated marketing platforms – all-in-one

*Disclaimer: This article and the platforms mentioned is for information purposes only. Neither Delaney Tosh, Emma-Louise Elsey nor VI Coaches endorse any of the platforms discussed in this article, nor are any of the above named affiliates of any of the platforms mentioned here. 


Emma-Louise Elsey (The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness) and I (SquarePeg Leadership and Phoenix-Hearted Woman) were asked to create and deliver a presentation to our local ICF Chapter on how coaches could harness digital technology to support them in streamlining and automating some of the processes involved in running a thriving coaching business.

Both Emma-Louise and I have each been running our respective businesses for quite some time and, as technology advanced and our businesses grew, it became clear that a lot of time could be spent just logging into and out of the various platforms (websites, email marketing platforms, spreadsheets, etc). It also became clear that trying to puzzle together the various apps and platforms into one workable set of solutions could be quite frustrating. My own journey as a business person in an ever increasing digital world has been guided by keeping things as simple and savvy as possible and my hope is to provide enough information here to help guide others on this journey.

There are quite a few platforms for each business process and there are a few things to say about each, so this will be a series beginning with marketing processes.


What do we mean by the term ‘business platforms’?

These are the digital tools, apps and Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms that you can either subscribe to or download to help you organize, systematize and automate your operational and marketing activities.


Key Questions to Ask Yourself:

The overriding message across this series will be the same: Your choice of platforms to invest in should be guided by these key questions:

  1. What is my business model (link to definition), now and in the future?
  2. What are the processes that drive my business?
  3. How would my business benefit from increased automation of at least some of the required tasks?
  4. Is it a set of apps and tools I need, or would a more integrated platform be a more streamlined and better investment?
  5. How technically savvy am I?
  6. What can I afford that will support my business growth as it grows? (grow into it)


Why is it important to be systematic and to automate some of your operational tasks?

When you launched into the coaching profession, you likely didn’t quite understand all the tasks that would come along with this career.  Being a coach, as it turns out, means learning how to be a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Technical Officer, Product and Services Development team, Chief Financial Officer, Marketing & Sales Director, and the Administrative Assistant.  Oh, and there is being the coach and managing your client work and relationships, as well.

It makes sense, with the technology available to us, to try to streamline and automate as many of these tasks as you can.


What are the typical marketing processes of a thriving coaching business?

Presence and engagement are the essential marketing processes and are supported by the following, each of which will be discussed further in this article:

  • Website
  • Newsletters & Email marketing
  • Thought leadership – blogging, e-books, video or podcasting
  • Social media
  • Digital & print media
  • Product – programs, e-courses, webinars and other info or physical product

Website Platforms


“A good website builder is one that helps you succeed in your project.” ~Nate Shivar


What you should know:

There are essentially three different categories of website:

  • Self-hosted/open source platforms
  • All-inclusive website builders
  • Online Store builders

What you should ask:

  1. What are my goals for this website?  How do I want it to support my marketing?  How do I want it to integrate with my other marketing tools?
  2. What features does this website need to help me attract and convert prospects?  Do I need a blog, lead-building pages, contact form, ability to sell digital and physical products?
  3. Will this website builder/platform be able to grow as my business grows?
  4. How important is it to me to completely own 100% of my website?
  5. How tech savvy am I?


1. Self-Hosted Website Platforms: WordPress and Drupal

One of the world’s most popular website building platforms, there are two versions of WordPress available – and – and it is important to know the difference. aka “the real WordPress”, is the popular website platform that you have heard all the great things about.  It is open-source and 100% free for anyone to use (well, not quite, but I’ll explain that later). All you need is a domain name and web hosting. This is why it is also referred to as self-hosted WordPress.  When it becomes not free is when you opt to purchase a ready-made theme or template from a third party that has been built on WordPress open-source. A pre-made template means that a lot of the design, layout and functions have been chosen and the template allows you to make some limited design options. All you have to do is plug in your logo, content and photos, and organize your navigation bar and associated webpages.

It also becomes not free when you realize your technical abilities are stretched and you have to hire a website developer.

The benefits of is that you have full ownership and control over your website, and if you didn’t purchase a template, you have the ability to customize it as much as you want.  You can integrate other platforms into your website with third-party plug-ins – a shopping cart, calendar, or a membership site, for example.  If you have the time and know-how, you can build yourself a website for a rather low cost (<$100)

The cons are that you are responsible for maintaining regular updates, backups  and security.  You are also responsible for knowing how to ensure all the plug-ins and third party themes keep talking to each other when updates are run. Alternatively, you can pay to have a web developer create a WorPress website for you and pay for them to maintain it (updates, security, backups, support).

I manage a WordPress website that was built by a developer and I do not enjoy the experience. I find it all clunky and it is frustrating when the various plug-ins stop functioning after an update. I find it time consuming and requiring too many phone calls to the web developer – with the associated invoice. is much the same as  There are many developers who prefer Drupal because, as they’ve told me, it is more powerful and flexible.  I had a Drupal built website years ago and I found it just as frustrating as WordPress.  But, keep in mind that I am not counting myself among the tech savvy.

Further Reading:

TIP: is a hosting service created by the founders of WordPress.  Many hobby bloggers use this and you will notice the strange ads filtered throughout their blogs.  This is because if you use their free hosting service, they get to run ads for their benefit. You are not allowed to monetize your website. The other con is that you cannot customize your website.  It comes as is based on the package you choose.  Also, they can delete your site at any time if they should decide you have violated their terms of service.  This is likely not the website builder to choose for your coaching business.


2. All-Inclusive Website Builders: Squarespace, Wix, Weebly

These are three of the most well-known website builders. They are known as all-inclusive website builders and do not require you to know any code (HTML/CSS).  All-inclusive refers to providing you with the drag and drop interface (they convert it all into HTML and CSS in the background), along with hosting, security, customer support, integrations, media storage and marketing tools.  You will want to choose a good website builder that provides excellent SEO (search engine optimization).

Basically, the more complex your website and marketing needs, the more you will want to consider using, and possibly a good web developer. That said, for ease of use and decent functionality, these all-inclusive website platforms can be a good choice. Keep in mind that with these all-inclusive website builders, you are essentially leasing space and ‘decorating’ it with your own content, but they own the infrastructure.

I haven’t used Wix or Weebly, but I have created beautiful websites in Squarespace, which offers many beautiful default designs/templates with access to some coding features. What I like about Squarespace is its ease of use, that it offers me just what I need for my business model and I can have my own website/email hosting (I needed a website hosting company that was wholly Canadian). If you use their hosting, you are guaranteed good website speed and redundancy (this is important). The other pro is that included in the monthly fee is that they take care of all the security, updates, etc. And, quite frankly, their templates are beautiful.  You will want to use high-resolution images, though.

My advice is to try out a few of these website builders’ templates during their free trial period to get a feel for the differences in their various templates and how intuitive each is for you to figure out.

Further reading:

TIP: GoDaddy also offers a hosted website builder, but it is quite limited, yet pricey when compared to what you get with these other all-inclusive website builder platforms. Their websites also don’t integrate well with your social media and social sharing and they apparently tend to bog down in loading due to a lot of JavaScript files.


3. Online Store Builder:  Shopify

The focus of the Shopify website builder is mainly on eCommerce.  Shopify offers an all-in-one platform to build your online store for product sales. If your business model focuses solely on the sale of lots of products, this may be an option to explore, but if you are primarily focused on coaching and you want to offer a couple of digital products for sale, you can do this with more ease via Squarespace, or just install a PayPal button, or you can use the Woocommerce plug-in for WordPress.



Zenutech – Canadian/Montreal-based and data is stored in Canada – great customer service.

Islandnet – Canadian/Victoria-based and data is stored in Canada and I’m fairly certain they fixed their lack of redundancy problem. Great customer service.


All-inclusive website platforms offer hosting (and even domain registration) as part of their packages, but in my experience the pricing is a bit higher than just purchasing hosting separately from a provider of your choice, but the trade-off is that your website and hosting are all through one platform.

TIP: Choosing a wholly Canadian host (company and server location) means that you will enjoy better privacy protection.  As well, ensure you host your email through your Canadian website host so your email data is not property of the US-NSA.
TIP: Make sure your website is being backed up wholly and regularly by your service provider (or web developer) in case it is hacked or corrupted in some way

Further reading: If you are not concerned with your data and email privacy, here is an article with comprehensive info on what to consider when choosing web hosting and reviews of many of the big names in hosting:


The Alternative:  Integrated marketing platforms that include a website builder

The alternative is to choose an integrated marketing platform, such as Simplero or The Coaches Console, and build your website within their platform which includes many other integrated solutions such as e-course builder, product sales, email marketing and customer relationship management, and more.

*See the section further in this article on Integrated Marketing Platforms for more information.

Email Marketing Platforms

These are platforms that help you manage contacts and email list opt-ins legally and effectively with automation.  When you sign up for a company’s digital newsletter, you are opting in to their contact management platform giving them permission to send you that newsletter via email.  Your information is now in a database that helps that company connect with and market to you.

What to look for in an Email Marketing Platform:

  1. Provides enough tools (flexible opt-in, automations, drip, newsletter templates, etc.) to really manage and ENHANCE your client/prospect relationships by helping you expand your knowledge of them in some meaningful (to you) way and by providing you with useful client history that supports you in your client relationships and marketing.
  2. Provides flexible opt-ins so you can market to different people in various ways: newsletters, downloads/freebies, programs & e-courses, specific info and updates.
  3. Should have solid CASL & GDPR compliance protocols making it easy for you to be compliant with these powerful anti-spam laws.
  4. Allows you to group prospects and clients (current and past) into separate groups so you can interact with them differently and more meaningfully based on their history with your business or on their interests and preferences.
  5. Should include the ability to set up automated emails and provide drip emails based on factors you can specify.
  6. Has good reporting with lots of details so you can monitor the success rate of your newsletters and campaigns and so you can see who is engaging with your emails and who isn’t. Good reporting helps you manage your bounced emails, as well, which ensures your emails aren’t poorly ranked, and therefore, don’t land in inboxes.
  7. Has a solid track record of deliverability – meaning that your emails actually land in people’s inboxes.


Examples of email marketing platforms:

There are many platforms and most are expanding their services to integrate more functions beyond simple opt-in management and some of these functions can be purchased as add-ons as you grow your business and your budget allows.  The one you choose will depend on your budget and you business model and marketing strategy.

Keep in mind that some of the website-building platforms discussed above have now expanded to include an email marketing add-on (Squarespace, for example).

The integrated marketing platforms (Simplero and The Coaches Console, among others) also include robust email marketing and customer relationship management along with several other marketing solutions that make these attractive options to consider, especially if e-courses and digital marketing and engagement are going to be a part of your business model.

Here are a few of the platforms we are aware of, including the ones we each use:

The ones that usually show up on the Best Platforms lists:

Integrated marketing platforms with robust email marketing included:

Robust and pricy platforms for the serious online marketer (with lots of time to try to set these systems up, or a tech team on hand):


Further reading:

Tools of Engagement

Social Media

Before jumping on the social media bandwagon, give thought to who your target clients are, how clients typically come to you and also your business model – how you plan to make money.  It may be that you don’t really need a big social media presence, aside from LinkedIn, perhaps. But if you plan to offer e-courses and attract clients from around the world for your coaching and programs, you will likely need to consider social media that can support you in this.

Here are a few of the typical social media platforms that may be appropriate for reaching and engaging with your target audience: 

  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit
  • Medium
  • Your own blog

Managing your Social Media

This is where streamlining and automation are important.  If social media engagement is going to be an integral part of your marketing strategy, you can save a lot of time by adopting a platform that allows you to create, schedule and cross-post across all your social media.

Here is a quote from a coach I know who has a robust social media strategy to attract clients and build her brand and niche:

“As a master freedompreneur, there’s no way I do things manually on the fly. I bulk tasks and schedule/automate everything. SkedSocial is the best social media planner and scheduler for Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. For $25/month, it has every function I could possibly need, from IG carousel to hashtag manager.”
~Ellany Lea, PCC, Founder of Guide to Grace

Our best advice is to look at reviews, pricing and features of some of the examples of social media managers listed here and determine what features will serve you best.  And please don’t think that posting to each of your social media individually is going to serve you well. If social media engagement is how you will bring in clients or sell online product, you will need a platform to streamline your efforts – schedule in bulk, manage comments and track engagement across all your socials media platforms.

Engaging People to Opt In to Email Lists

This is about list-building – engaging people to sign up for your newsletters, value-added downloads, etc.  The purpose is to capture attention and encourage opt-ins to your programs and products. If your business model includes e-courses and other online offerings, these can be helpful to your marketing efforts.

1. Landing Pages:

  • LeadPages
  • or your own website – simply create a new page and call it a landing page

2. Quizzes:

TIP: quizzes are an awesome way to both invite people to give you their contact info and find out about them so you can further develop your marketing – either to them directly or in general.
      • Survey Monkey
      • Google forms
      • Quizzes – LeadQuizzes, Riddle, Thrive Quiz Builder

Creating Digital & Print Media


Stock Photography & Graphic Images:

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Many people respond better to images and are more likely to pay attention to your webpage, social media posts and other marketing or resource media if they contain an image.

Free:  The obvious benefit is that these sites offer free royalty-free images. The drawbacks are that image quality may not be of a high enough resolution for print of large display images and search functions can be frustrating and very time consuming.

Further Reading:
Review of free image sites:
Guide to Using Stock Photos in Your Marketing:

Fee: These websites offer subscription access to high quality, royalty free photos and images/graphics and have robust search functionality that allows you to filter down to several specifications to help you find what you are looking for.

Affordable Freelancers: Professionals to help you create the media you don’t have time or know-how to create (like favicons, logos, etc.)

DIY Design Tools:  Create those attractive memes you’ve been seeing on Instagram.  Design a poster or cover page for a document. Design a better slide presentation.

    • Canva: for anything, really – print, digital, social media, cards, infographic, video….
    • Picmonkey
    • Word Swag: simple app for mobile devices to create simple memes for Instagram, etc.
    • Photoshop & Indesign: for the intrepid designers with patience to learn

Physical Media:  brochures, business cards, tradeshow displays, etc.


Make an eBook:

Further reading:—A-Step-by-Step-Guide

Create a Video:


Easy Video Editors:

Many of these are free online services or downloads, and some have a fee option offering more features.


Creating Podcasts:

Record your podcast:

Podcast Hosting Platforms:

  • Podbean – good for beginners with a free and pro version; good controls
  • PodOmatic – good for beginners with a free and pro version; partnered with Patreon and AdvertiseCast, so there is the possibility of monetizing your podcast.
  • Art19 also helps you monetize your podcasts

Further Reading:

Creating & Marketing E-Courses

Developing E-Courses can be a great way to extend your products from one-to-one coaching.  If you create a highly relevant e-course, it can become an evergreen product on your services/products mix.  The primary benefits to develop e-courses are:

  1. Expand your reach – reach new marketplaces and new clients
  2. Monetize your skills – what do you know really well and can share in the context of a course with modules that is saleable?  This can become an evergreen income source that, once you get your digital marketing right, almost sells itself.
  3. Create multiple streams of income – When the world hits the big pause button (ehem, pandemic), it’s good to have multiple streams of income in case your primary revenue source dries up. E-courses proved to be good products that actually gained relevance as the world hunkered down.

E-Course Platforms:

You can easily develop an e-course using your email marketing service – simply create a series of emails, each containing course modules and set them up in your email platform to automatically go out at regular intervals (weekly, perhaps).

However, for those wanting to incorporate a more swish user experience using video and graphics and membership forums, the following learning management systems (LMS) will serve you well. But, be sure to understand the differences of each:

Stand-alone platforms:

Software that allows you to create, deliver, market and sell your online courses.

All-in-one platforms:

E-course design and delivery integrated with other web services – website, email marketing, CRM, payment systems and more. Note: these integrated marketing platforms are discussed in more detail in the next section.


You love your WordPress website and have the time and tech skills to integrate an e-course plug-in.

Marketplace platforms:

You author/deliver your course; they market and sell it and you get a cut of the deal.


What you want an e-Course platform to do for you:

  • Ease of setup and ease of use
  • Registration and Payment
  • Scheduling and Content Delivery
  • Audio and Video: Hosting & Streaming Content with good storage
  • Learning Community and Discussion Forum (membership areas)
  • Progress Tracking
  • Live Calls or Webinars with Recording

Communicating and Collaborating with Ease:

Communication is key to developing good client relationships. The platforms you choose can help streamline both your client and partner/staff collaboration processes and create ease.  From choosing the platforms for your coaching calls and webinars, to creating an easily accessible hub for documents, information and resources, the platforms you choose can either facilitate trust and ease or frustrate people.

I’ve been using the free version of Yammer (Microsoft) to create private client spaces where I can post files and resources that both of us can access easily.  I consider these spaces my clients’ individual coaching libraries.  When I begin to develop e-courses, I will likely choose an integrated platform like Simplero or Coaches Console so that I can consolidate my email marketing platform, my website, my e-courses. This integrated platform will have built-in membership sites that will allow me to also move away from Yammer.

Here are a few platforms that facilitate communication and collaboration in a digital world:

Communication/face-to-face collaboration:

Collaboration/Shared Documents:

  • Yammer – part of Microsoft 365, but can find the app for free online
  • Slack
  • Google Docs
  • Dropbox  – free or fee
  • Membership Sites/Client Areas (various: either as part of an integrated platform (see below), or as a plug-in for your website)


Using Integrated Platforms to Avoid Multi-Systems Chaos


I currently use Constant Contact, Squarespace, Yammer and if I add e-courses to my offerings, I could also be using a platform like Thinkific, and I might add a scheduler, and perhaps some sort of landing page tool to enhance my marketing. And I might need some sort of shopping cart or payment system.  All this adds up to multi-system chaos.  It can also become expensive to pay for these platforms individually and become time consuming trying to patch them together to talk each other in some sort of streamlined way, which then means I might need to add Zapier to the mix (another platform and another expense).

Or, I could create systems integration by migrating everything over to a single platform that integrates many of these marketing communications tools into one streamlined package. I would be able to access my website, products and commerce, marketing, community, and more from a single dashboard. One log-in, one help-desk, one invoice.

When choosing systems integration you are choosing:

  1. simplicity versus overwhelm
  2. single-platform automation of multiple tasks
  3. streamlined expense versus multi-system expenses (less bills, less logins)

What to Look for in an Integrated Platform:

  • Automates the key tasks that run your marketing and operations
  • Provides a solid Email Marketing platform and CRM with enough controls to manage customer relationships:  history, downloads, segmentation
  • Provides individual and group membership spaces to allow info sharing, collaboration and subscriptions:
    • large file storage
    • media share-ability (videos, podcasts,  image-rich documents)
  • Supports sales of info-based products and e-courses
  • Simplifies the e-commerce experience:
    • Caters to sale of digital products, but allows for physical product sales
    • Large file storage
    • Security
  • Many testimonials that provide excellent reviews of the:
    • Impeccable customer service
    • Levels of support catered to your budget and business size
    • Ease
    • Value for price

“The company of the platform you choose should interact with you like they are partners in your business.”

~Ellany Lea, PCC, Founder of Guide to Grace


Examples of Integrated Platforms:

Simplero: “Your entire online coaching business in one place.”

Simplero was designed by a Danish coach and programming wiz. Simplero is built on its own code by one person (Calvin) and so it is cohesive and runs smoothly.  Other platforms seem to be built on a combination of WordPress and plug-ins with some coding to patch it all together – built by teams.

Simplero gives you a CRM, email marketing, with sophisticated auto-responders, opt-in forms and popups, marketing automation, payment processing + recurring billing, landing pages, website and blog with comments, plus the ability to host and sell e-courses and other info products (+physical products, too). And it is simple to use and affordable compared to its direct competitors. A coach I know who switched to using Simplero appreciates the simplicity, yet robustness of the platform and the excellent customer service she receives. Simplero is top of my short-list of integrated platforms that I’m considering.

What it includes:

  • Website + Landing pages
  • Email marketing + Newsletter
  • Contact management +CASL/GDPR
  • Auto-responders
  • Automations
  • Tagging
  • Affiliate program
  • Helpdesk
  • Storage
  • Products
  • Upsells + Downsells
  • Simplified payments (automated invoices, recurring, consolidated revenue reporting)
  • Online course builder & delivery
  • Worksheets + Quizzes
  • Membership Sites + Subscriptions
  • Concierge migration


The Coaches Console:  “The industry’s leading tool to organize & automate your professional coaching business – in a single, all-inclusive application.”

The Coaches Console is built by two coaches, Melinda and Kate, who wanted to get the world coached and wanted to help coaches create thriving businesses.  Many coaches in my coaching forums recommend Coaches Console. What I notice is that it includes a calendar/scheduler which I don’t think Simplero or Kajabi include.

  • Website
  • Email marketing + Newsletter
  • Contact management
  • Auto-responders
  • Automations
  • Helpdesk
  • Products
  • Simplified payments (automated invoices, recurring, consolidated revenue reporting)
  • Online course builder & delivery
  • Forms & documents
  • Membership Sites
  • How to tutorials
  • Client Support – scheduling, client log, coaching notes, documents


Kajabi: “Everything you need to grow in one place – no plug-ins, no integrations”

Kajabi was not built specifically by or for coaches, but is definitely known as an industry favourite which provides much the same features as Simplero and The Coaches Console.

  • Website + Landing pages
  • Email marketing + Newsletter
  • Contact management
  • Auto-responders
  • Automations
  • Tagging
  • Analytics
  • Helpdesk
  • Storage
  • Products
  • Upsells / Bundling
  • Simplified payments (automated invoices, recurring, consolidated revenue reporting) Integrates with Stripe or PayPal
  • Online course builder & delivery
  • Membership Sites + Subscriptions


Pricing comparison:

Systems Integration: ~ $89 – $247 per month

  1. Simplero: $89 – $124 per month
  2. The Coaches Console: $147 – $247 per month
  3. Kajabi: $119 – $159 per month


Multi-systems Chaos: ~ $182 – $566 per month

  • Constant Contact: $65/month or more
  • Squarespace website: $18 – $26  per month
  • Membership Sites: ~$25 per month
  • E-course platform: $49 – $99 per month
  • Acuity scheduler: $25 per month
  • Zapier subscription to patch all the apps so they communicate with each other: 27.19 per month

Looking at all the systems you would need to patch together and the costs involved, one begins to see the appeal of investing in an integrated system.

Further reading on Integrated Online Marketing Platforms:


Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series
for information on platforms to support coaches
in the operational side of business
(financial management, productivity, online scheduling, etcetera)

Contributing Member: Delaney Tosh, CPCC, PCC

Delaney believes women do leadership differently and envisions a world fundamentally changed by the contributions, the voices and participation of women who are living and leading from their unique strengths. Delaney helps clients navigate the hurdles unique to women in leadership so they can radiate with confidence and thrive as leaders. She delivers Resilience at Work® toolkit and Resilience at Work® Leader Scale, and is the co-creator of the Phoenix-Hearted Woman leadership retreats. Connect with Delaney at SquarePeg Leadership or on LinkedIn.


Contributing Member: Emma-Louise Elsey

Emma-Louise is a professional life coach, NLP practitioner and founder of The Coaching Tools – and recently, Fierce Kindness. She has been a life coach for 16 years and has combined her passion for coaching, creativity and love of systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. Connect with Emma-Louise at The Coaching Tools Company, Fierce Kindness, or on LinkedIn.