Khoros, formerly Lithium, is one of the most popular community platforms on the market. It’s an excellent all-in-one platform that boasts a rich feature set, and it’s on this rock many well known brands build their church. The place where their community comes to engage and interact with each other and the brand they love.
But (and it’s a big but) Khoros is one of the most expensive platforms on the market, both in terms of usage costs and features.
The initial entry cost is low but this is because they’ve split key features like Gamification, Ideation and Q&A into add-on packs, and considering these are features most communities can’t go without (something many discover after launch), the costs quickly mount up.
The problem with this pricing structure is that building a community is a marathon not a sprint, and over time you’ll end up paying far more than you needed to.
If you’re frustrated with Khoros’ costing structure and are thinking about migrating to a new platform, this is the list for you. Likewise, if you are yet to begin your community journey but have been looking at Khoros, this list will help you review your choices.
Quick housekeeping: Other, longer lists on this topic exist, but they lump internal and external communities into the same category and recommend platforms without considering the different needs and goals of each.
In this blog we’ll be focusing on external customer communities, and only recommending platforms with a similar feature set to Khoros. So while our list is shorter, these are the only alternatives to Khoros you should be looking at.
Verint Communities is simple yet sophisticated and is typically considered as another of the main players, offering robust functionality to rival Khoros.
However, Verint includes all functionality out-of-the-box.
Over the duration of your license length this opens a huge pricing gap between the two platforms, despite them offering nearly identical features, security and analytics.
Any Community Manager will tell you how crucial these modules are for maintaining engagement and offering a satisfying customer experience. However, on Khoros you’ll be paying $100k more annually. That’s also before you account for Khoros’ more expensive pricing tiers (based on traffic).
Despite offering an equally robust platform and being vastly less expensive, there is another reason to consider Verint Communities over Khoros and other platforms; the ability to build on top of the platform and add your own applications. This allows you to add more functionality and new features to your community.
Honestly, no platform is going to give you everything you need for your specific community out-the-box. With millions of communities out there, how can they?
Vanilla is a platform that has been around for a long time, however, they recently rebranded themselves as a community platform combining the power of customer communities, Q&A, knowledge base, and ideation.
They are considerably cheaper than Khoros and have done a nice job of disrupting their more expensive competitors, however, you will start off slightly on the backfoot as the standard feature set is not as rich as Khoros and Verint.
It does include most of the essential features you need in your community toolkit, but lacks the finesse more advanced communities will need.
The upside is the ability to integrate and build on the platform, meaning there is scope to take the community past the initial roadblocks. Although we recommend building features from scratch first to get the community to a point where it rivals other vendors, and then building custom integrations to avoid bugs.
Despite those drawbacks Vanilla comes in at around 25x cheaper than Khoros (despite being more than worthy of being talked about in the same sentence) and is a platform you should consider if budget is an issue and you are happy to go without some of the more advanced features.
P.S. Licenses are month-to-month which may be something you prefer.
Insided is another alternative to Khoros that is worthy of your consideration.
The software is simple and easy to use (both for end-users and admins), rivals Khoros and Verint in terms of features, and it’s great to see how InSided listens to its customers for it’s plans for the future development of the software. As with any tool there is always room for improvement.
When accounting for the variations in pricing tiers, Insided comes in at around 3x cheaper than Khoros, and considering it actually has a few features Khoros doesn’t, it’s a strong alternative.
While the platform does have some existing APIs and the ability to build custom applications, unlike Verint there is no ecosystem of developers which limits just how far you can go. Again, it’s a trade off between cost and future proofing.
Which One Should You Choose?
In terms of long-term value, Verint would be our pick. The costs are reasonable, the functionality is solid and there are no nasty surprises down the line when you begin to turn on the more advanced features.
However, the frustrating thing is we can’t tell you here outright which is best for YOU. Your community will have specific needs and long-term goals, backed by differing budgets. For that we’ll need another conversation.
What we will say is even though Khoros powers over 400 of the world’s most recognised brands, they have priced themselves considerably above the rest of the market without making their platform considerably superior. It’s certainly not a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.
And with the sharp uptake of Khoros migrations we’ve performed recently, we think brands are starting to realise they are vastly overpaying.