Comparing enterprise community platforms: A deep dive into the top 4 vendors

Molly Clouse, Integrated Campaign Manager at Khoros

Online communities have become essential for fostering engagement, collaboration, and knowledge sharing among customers, prospects, and employees. However, their challenge often lies in identifying the most effective technologies for community building.

This blog explores the landscape of enterprise community platforms, offering detailed insights into the advantages and disadvantages of four leading solutions: Khoros, Higher Logic, Salesforce, and Gainsight.

Before thoroughly analyzing the four vendors, let’s first review the different types of online communities.

Types of Communities

The spectrum of community solutions ranges from enterprise community platforms to Facebook groups, each with distinct features and functionalities tailored to various organizations, industries, and use cases.

At the broadest level, online communities are categorized into two groups: unowned and owned communities.

Unowned communities exist on platforms not overseen by any single organization, including social media groups (like LinkedIn and Facebook groups), discussion forums (such as Reddit or Quora), and location-based communities (e.g., NextDoor).

Owned communities, in contrast, are directly managed by the organizations or platforms that establish them. These communities are typically developed in-house or acquired through vendors.

Owned community solutions can be classified as enterprise-level platforms or specialized community solutions. Enterprise-level platforms support multiple business functions and integrate with various business processes, from sales and support to product feedback. They are generally suited for mature communities or businesses with multidimensional needs.

Specialized platforms, on the other hand, are designed to address specific business objectives, such as support/success, product, acquisition, advocacy, content, or engagement. These platforms offer focused community solutions catered to specific use cases, business values, and industries.

This blog will focus on the top four vendors in the enterprise community platform space, which are most relevant for large companies seeking comprehensive community solutions.

The Community Vendor Scorecard Template

Khoros Communities

Khoros Communities is a dominating presence in the online community platform arena, boasting over two decades of industry experience and a track record of launching over 650 enterprise communities worldwide for customers such as Zoom, Airbnb, Intuit, and Samsung.

Known for its versatility across various industries, Khoros supports large-scale communities with its API-first architecture and robust GraphQL layer, ensuring unparalleled scalability and performance. Its advanced gamification features, powered by a patented rank and reputation engine, fuel unmatched user engagement across numerous activities.

Despite its complexity, which may be daunting for smaller organizations, Khoros remains the top choice for enterprise-level firms seeking to drive long-term growth through community engagement. Recognized by leading analysts and praised by customers, Khoros cements its position as the industry standard, offering unmatched scalability, security, and strategic support.


  • Expertise and partnership: Khoros has over 20+ years of launching over 650 of the world’s largest and most successful communities with expertise ranging in use cases and industries. Khoros also offers strategic and managed services, making it a one-stop shop for community technology, knowledge, and support.

  • Enterprise scalability: Designed to support large-scale communities with thousands or even millions of members, Khoros Communities boasts an API-first architecture and robust GraphQL layer, ensuring seamless scalability and performance.

  • A deep set of gamification and engagement features: Khoros has a patented rank and reputation engine that allows scoring user actions across more than 80 activities. Moreover, Khoros offers a multitude of interaction styles, including forums, blogs, knowledge bases, events, ideas, private messaging, contests, and more.

  • Drag and drop design: With intuitive visual design tools, Khoros empowers community managers to swiftly adapt to evolving needs and reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by facilitating easy changes to page design.

  • Best in class ‘no code’ customizations: Community managers can change the community’s styling and visual themes in a snap with ‘no code’ customizations.

  • Simple OOTB setup: Khoros Communities offers expertly designed templates, so you can get up and running quickly with little to no setup services required.

  • Advanced moderation with automation: Community managers can streamline moderation and keep forums clean using AI-driven spam management and content filtering, enabling them to spend more time on strategy and less on routine tasks. Khoros also offers an accelerated community management tool to scale further moderation, workflow automation, and analytics for active communities

  • Advanced analytics: Khoros Communities provides robust analytics and reporting tools — including customizable analytics dashboards, widgets, and a bulk-data API — enabling organizations to effectively track community engagement, user behavior, and performance metrics.


  • Too robust depending on needs: While Khoros excels in catering to the needs of large enterprises, it may pose challenges for smaller organizations looking for a more lightweight solution.

  • Price: The comprehensive features offered by Khoros come at a price that may be prohibitive for smaller businesses with limited budgets and modest customer bases.

Ideal use cases

  • When Khoros is a good fit: Khoros Communities is an ideal solution for enterprise organizations seeking to establish long-term growth and business value through community engagement. Moreover, Khoros is often a fit for companies with self-service and knowledge-sharing needs for complex solutions, services, and products. This includes industries like hi-tech software, telco, automotive, complex manufacturing, business services, travel and hospitality, or utilities. For example, the Microsoft Power BI team leveraged Khoros Communities to scale support and drive customer engagement, resulting in +$1 million saved per month in deflected support call costs.

  • When Khoros isn’t a good fit: Organizations viewing a community as a nice-to-have rather than a strategic business initiative may find the complexity and price of Khoros Communities excessive for their needs.

What top analysts are saying

Here, we’ve included a list of the top analyst reports where the vendor has received recognition:

  • IDC Worldwide Collaboration & Community Applications 2021: Khoros earns recognition for its sophisticated gamification capabilities and leadership in the market, “Khoros has sophisticated gamification with separate badging and rank systems to allow for different incentives and engagement patterns for visitors, new members, experts, and super users across 100+ different trigger events."

  • Market Leader in Community Platforms, FeaturedCustomers Fall 2023: Khoros secures its position as a market leader by displaying the highest ratio of customer success content, content quality score, and social media presence relative to the company size.

What customers are saying

Below are a few noteworthy customer reviews from TrustRadius, G2, and Gartner Peer Insights to provide more insight into customer’s experience partnering with Khoros:

  • “There isn't even another competitor that can come close to Khoros for an enterprise-grade external community. Salesforce talks a good game, but you would need to hire developers to get the base level capability Khoros has taken over a decade to perfect." - Gartner Peer Insights

  • "Every part of this organization commits to the success of their customers - from product management to account management and professional services.” - Gartner Peer Insights

  • “They are a leader in this space. No other platform can come close to the ability to securely scale and power massive communities/page views. This is a strategic advantage for them vs. other smaller / newer players. If you are running a consumer-grade or enterprise-grade community with millions of views a month - you need to be sure you have a platform that will deliver.” - TrustRadius review

  • “The best part is its scalability, so as we grow, Khoros can smoothly expand to handle more users, engage our community better, and adapt to whatever new things we're up to. It's like having a solid and flexible support system that's ready for whatever our growing business throws at it.” - TrustRadius review

  • “Khoros is the industry standard in the Community space. There are cheaper options out there, but to leverage them, you'll have to be willing to give up on potential features, flexibility, and integrations that Khoros is ready to provide near-out-of-the-box.” - G2 review

  • “We went through an extensive evaluation of Community Platform Vendors, with Vanilla and Khoros making it to the final two selections. Khoros had the vision to get us where we wanted to go with a roadmap to get there. Vanilla at the time seemed to lack providing us with a clear vision and the road to getting there. The Khoros team was highly involved and both skilled and very supportive.” - G2 review

  • “We chose Khoros as a partner because of their community experience and expertise. Now we can consult with our account manager about business decisions, and we can consult with the services team about strategic decisions.” - Samsung case study

  • “We wanted a Community platform with consistent enterprise-level abilities as well as a history that showcased staying power and could support a long-term partnership. That’s why we chose Khoros.” - Qlik case study

Higher Logic

Higher Logic comprises two primary community solutions: Higher Logic Thrive and Higher Logic Vanilla. Higher Logic Thrive, specifically designed for associations and nonprofits with small budgets and niche needs, serves as the cornerstone product of the platform. On the other hand, Higher Logic Vanilla, born out of the 2021 acquisition of Vanilla, targets small and mid-sized companies venturing into the community space, offering a cost-effective forum community solution.


  • Low cost: Higher Logic stands out for its affordability, offering lower-priced contracts than many competitors. The price makes it an appealing option for smaller companies embarking on their community journey.

  • Easy 'no code' customizations: Higher Logic simplifies community customization with user-friendly tools, allowing organizations to effortlessly tailor their communities' look and feel.

  • Built for nonprofits and associations: Higher Logic's expertise in serving associations and nonprofits shines through its tailored feature sets and case studies, catering to the unique needs of these niche verticals.


  • Lack of enterprise deployments and functionality: Higher Logic's limited presence in the commercial/enterprise space poses challenges, with few enterprise deployments and functionalities. They also lack product capabilities to support commercial organizations at scale (customizability, enhanced gamification, SEO, Spam control, localization/translation, Mobile SDK, Case portal, Content syndication, etc.), and their drag-and-drop functionality is inefficient for creating truly bespoke community experiences, often referring customers to 3rd parties for extensive customizations or design.

  • Basic gamification: Higher Logic’s gamification capabilities amount to simple rankings and badges, where users can accumulate additive points across only nine activities.

  • Limited automation for moderation: Higher Logic requires manual configuration of moderation settings and provides little OOTB automation. Customers must pay for Cleanspeak as an add-on for additional automation and content moderation.

  • Lackluster user experience: Higher Logic’s platform is less complete, structured, and thorough than competitors. Members often describe the front-end experience as old-school and clunky, while limitations in gamification, reporting, moderation, and enterprise integrations usually leave customers disappointed and wanting more.

  • Professional services: Beyond their technology and customer support, Higher Logic doesn’t offer strategic or managed services.

Ideal use cases

  • When Higher Logic is a good fit: Higher Logic is well-suited for small to mid-sized companies, associations, or nonprofits seeking a low-cost forum community solution.

  • When Higher Logic isn’t a good fit: Enterprise companies looking for long-term partnerships and scalable community solutions may find Higher Logic's offerings lacking advanced functionalities and capabilities.

What top analysts are saying

Here, we’ve included a list of the top analyst reports where the vendor has received recognition:

What customers are saying

Below are a few noteworthy customer reviews from TrustRadius and G2 to provide more insight into customer’s experience partnering with Higher Logic (no Higher Logic reviews presently on Gartner Peer Insights):

  • “Higher Logic is very well suited for small organizations that are in need of a full suite of community and website management tools. When incorporating the tool into large organizations, more work is needed to ensure that the system is fully integrated and works well within the existing technical environment as well as the front-end user experience.” - TrustRadius review

  • “Some of Vanilla's functionality leaves a lot to be desired, especially as it relates to larger or different types of communities. Some features were clearly not built with worst-case scenario abuse in mind, such as the ability for users to react to posts, hide posts, or the inability to have a limit on how far users can quote or tag one another (resulting in long, unwieldy chains of conversation), or the spam filter's tendency to have a high number of false positives and inability to deal with foreign language spam. Even basic post-searching is devoid of any meaningful advanced algorithm, leading to a lot of results that are irrelevant or just not intuitive to end users.” - TrustRadius review

  • “Poor user experience. It's a clunky, outdated backend that's difficult to pick up. HL staff is hit or miss. Sometimes they go out of their way to be helpful and answer your questions. Other times it's like pulling teeth to get a response to an email.” - G2 review

  • “Vanilla is lacking on a few features that their competitors do well. Automation rules are a huge miss with Vanilla, as they do not currently exist. Vanilla can often be slow to action small feature requests that would solve gaps in the product.” - G2 review

Salesforce Experience Cloud

In 2021, Salesforce folded its Community Cloud into Experience Cloud, reflecting a strategic shift towards online communities as integral components of broader engagement strategies. Experience Cloud offers a compelling proposition for companies already utilizing Salesforce CRM, leveraging existing integrations and familiarity with the Salesforce ecosystem. However, community managers often find it challenging to execute on their needs for branding and customization and attaining the expected value from Experience Cloud requires substantial developer resources.

With a focus on simplicity and accessibility, Experience Cloud caters to organizations just entering the realm of community engagement or those seeking basic discussion board functionalities. 


  • Low or no cost: Enterprise customers often see Experience Cloud thrown in ‘free of charge’ with other Salesforce products. Even when it’s not a free add-on, the Experience Cloud’s price tag remains significantly lower than many competing community platforms.

  • Basic out-of-the-box setup: Powered by Lightning, Experience Cloud offers a straightforward, one-size-fits-all approach to community deployment. Pre-designed templates and ‘themes’ you can apply on top of templates expedite the setup process, allowing organizations to launch their communities quickly with minimal customization efforts.

  • Easy procurement: Leveraging existing Salesforce products streamlines the procurement process, making obtaining IT and procurement approvals easier. With much of the due diligence already completed, companies find integrating Experience Cloud into their existing tech stack simpler.


  • Limited peer-to-peer community deployments: Salesforce's expertise primarily lies in website and portal communities, lacking examples and case studies for peer-to-peer communities with active engagement. Organizations aiming to build vibrant peer-to-peer communities may find Salesforce's expertise and capabilities needing improvement.

  • Cumbersome reporting and administration: Experience Cloud provides limited reporting metrics out of the box, hindering the ability to demonstrate ROI and manage communities effectively. Custom reporting necessitates manual data export or Salesforce admin involvement, adding complexity and extra costs to the process.

  • Rudimentary gamification: Gamification is limited to a simple points accrual system and all-time leaderboards based on points, needing more sophistication to motivate engagement and reward the most valuable contributors.

  • Templatized (but limited) approach: Customizing beyond the few out-of-the-box templates is arduous and requires a Salesforce developer.

  • Lack of community focus: Experience Cloud represents a small percentage of Salesforce's revenue, reflected in the level of support offered. Support agents may need more community expertise, and customer success managers prioritize upselling over providing value-driven support.

  • Hidden costs for administration and customization: Cost is so intertwined with CRM licensing that it is often difficult for even their sales reps to explain how pricing works. If you want to customize your community beyond the OOTB templates, be wary of the additional costs for dev resources that will accrue.

Ideal use cases

  • When Experience Cloud is a good fit: Salesforce customers seeking an efficient, cost-effective solution to get started with owned communities may find Experience Cloud appealing. The platform's integration with Salesforce products streamlines the onboarding process, making it an attractive option for organizations with time constraints.

  • When Experience Cloud isn’t a good fit: Enterprise companies aiming to build thriving community ecosystems may find Salesforce Experience Cloud lacking features, vision, and support. Organizations requiring extensive customization, robust peer-to-peer engagement capabilities, and comprehensive reporting should explore alternative community platforms.

What top analysts are saying

At this time, there are no publicly available analyst reports reviewing Salesforce Experience Cloud that we are permitted to use in this blog.

What customers are saying

Below are a few noteworthy customer reviews from Gartner Peer Insights and TrustRadius to provide more insight into customer’s experience partnering with Salesforce (no Salesforce Experience Cloud reviews presently on G2):

  • “While basic brand elements can be brought in by default, matching a mature brand's look and feel will require additional support outside of an IT team's capabilities. There is no styling available out of the box beyond some pre-made templates and minimal component-level options.” - Gartner Peer Insights

  • "Customization is extremely limited, makes it very difficult to build a product that is OK to go live with customer-facing - Had to delay deployment because of lack of personalization - Platform design." - Gartner Peer Insights

  • “Overall, it's a good tool that has really helped us address a specific need. It's just difficult to use. If you're able to get a developer to build it all exactly how you want, then I'm sure it's great, we just didn't have that luxury.” - TrustRadius review

  • “I would like to see an easier way to enable product branding and customization of the community. Report generation is good, but need to be a bit more customized per company needs” - TrustRadius review  


Gainsight, a customer success platform for software companies, acquired community platform inSided in 2022, making way for their newly rebranded Customer Communities product. For those who already use Gainsight’s customer success product, integration with the community allows customer success managers to better understand their accounts by gaining visibility into account-level community activity.

Leveraging its expertise in B2B SaaS, Gainsight positions its Customer Communities product as a seamless extension of its core customer success platform. With a promise of simplicity and rapid deployment, Gainsight Customer Communities aims to address the growing demand for integrated community solutions within the software industry.


  • Integration with customer success platform: Gainsight's Customer Communities product seamlessly integrates with its customer success platform, facilitating the exchange of data and automation of workflows between community interactions and customer success activities. This integration enables a holistic approach to customer engagement and relationship management.

  • B2B SaaS expertise: With a core focus on B2B SaaS companies, Gainsight brings industry-specific knowledge and expertise to its Customer Communities product. This specialization allows for tailored solutions and support catered to the unique needs of software companies, enhancing the value proposition for customers.

  • Ease of use and implementation: Gainsight boasts a swift deployment process, with the ability to launch a community in less than two weeks thanks to its out-of-the-box (OOTB) product. Pre-built templates and baked-in features streamline the setup process, minimizing the need for extensive customization efforts and reducing time to value for organizations.

  • Federated search: Gainsight Customer Communities packages include federated search powered by Algolia, enabling users to quickly and efficiently search for relevant content and resources across the community platform.

  • Price: Gainsight's Customer Communities product offers competitive pricing, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious buyers. However, at $200 per seat, it should be noted the number of admins/users can quickly accrue additional costs.


  • Outdated documentation and poor support: Despite migrating inSided documentation to its portal, Gainsight still needs to update or refresh the content, leaving many articles obsolete and inaccurate. This lack of updated documentation hampers user experience and may confuse community administrators and members.

  • Basic gamification with no tracking: Gainsight Customer Communities offers basic gamification features such as badges and leaderboards lacking advanced granularity and control capabilities. This limitation restricts the ability to monitor and analyze user engagement and may hinder the effectiveness of gamification strategies.

  • Basic moderation capabilities with minimal automation: Gainsight provides basic moderation capabilities such as member reporting and keyword blocking, but it lacks advanced automation features needed to manage large communities effectively. Examples include archiving content, auditing logs for content version history/editor details, and implementing bulk actions like anonymizing @ mentions and content URL previews, all essential for maintaining community integrity and quality at scale.

  • Easy to outgrow for mature communities: Gainsight Customer Communities may prove insufficient for mature communities or enterprise-scale deployments due to significant product gaps. Lacking advanced features such as language localization, audit logs, and comprehensive reporting, Gainsight struggles to meet the evolving needs of large-scale communities.

  • Lacks customization: While Gainsight offers OOTB templates for quick community setup, the platform lacks advanced customization options, limiting flexibility and uniqueness. Organizations seeking highly tailored community experiences may find Gainsight's offerings restrictive and uniform.

  • Barebones reporting and analytics: Gainsight Customer Community analytics needs more in-depth analysis and measurement.

  • Limited integrations: Gainsight Customer Community has 1-click integrations with 12 tools OOTB, but those integrations are limited to 1-way data pushes. Two-way syncs require internal dec resources or an external contractor to build the integrations. GCC also relies on 3rd party vendors like Zapier for most of their integrations, leaving it up to customers to identify the suitable connector and install it to their account.

Ideal use cases

  • When Gainsight is a good fit: Gainsight's Customer Communities product is ideal for organizations seeking a seamless integration between community engagement and customer success initiatives. With its focus on B2B SaaS expertise and rapid deployment, Gainsight caters to software companies looking for efficient community solutions.

  • What Gainsight isn’t a good fit: Enterprise companies in B2C hi-tech software/products, telco, automotive, and travel and hospitality may find Gainsight Customer Communities lacking in advanced capabilities necessary for long-term growth and success. Organizations requiring extensive customization, robust moderation features, and comprehensive reporting should explore alternative community platforms.

What top analysts are saying

Here, we’ve included a list of the top analyst reports where the vendor has received recognition:

  • Market Leader in Community Platforms, FeaturedCustomers Fall 2023: Where Khoros and Higher Logic received the highest recognition as a ‘Market Leader,’ Gainsight was ranked a tier below as a ‘Top Performer’ when comparing their ratio of customer success content, content quality score, and social media presence relative to the company size.

What customers are saying

Below are a few noteworthy customer reviews from Trust Radius, G2, and Gartner Peer Insights to provide more insight into customer’s experience partnering with Gainsight:

  • "While there are many pre-built templates and features available, there are times when I've wanted to customize things more, and I've found that the platform doesn't always allow for that level of flexibility." - G2 review

  • "As the platform is an out-of-box type of solution, some of the functionality is quite basic and configuration options are limited." - G2 review

  • "I wish we could drill deeper down into the numbers from the dashboards without having to run an export and manually cut and slice the data." - G2 review

  • "Lack of consistent communication, extreme delays in requested changes, and no solid resources to help with community activation. Not to mention much of their help center documentation is out of date and not helpful at all." - G2 review

  • “The community tool works great, the users like using it and asking questions, as well as the ideation which is great for users' feedback and other ideas. The Knowledge base is not so good, we weren't able to sync it with our app as promised.” - TrustRadius review

  • “I would rate my overall experience as average. Although the product has a lot to offer, many of the features don't come bundled and you need to pay a premium to access it. The support is slow and poor most of the time. I have never got my issues resolved with them.” - Gartner Peer Insights

Decision-making considerations

While each vendor in the community platform space offers unique strengths and weaknesses, the true differentiators between “good enough” and “best-in-class” solutions lie in specific features, functionality, and the caliber of customer support they offer.

This distinction identifies vendors capable of addressing short-term community objectives and those equipped to foster long-term sustainable growth. Unfortunately, businesses often prioritize immediate gains and cost efficiency during vendor selection, overlooking the essential tools and support needed for enduring success.

To ensure optimal return on investment and the cultivation of a flourishing community capable of extending its impact throughout the organization, it is imperative to evaluate community vendors against these critical factors, which are essential for achieving short-term engagement, long-term success, and for separating the adequate solutions from the top-tier platforms:

  • Customization: Does the community product enable you to customize page layouts, navigation, and brand themes to meet your brand’s look and feel?

  • Community engagement tools: What engagement tools are built into the platform to keep community members engaged and attract new ones?

  • Advanced moderation: Does the vendor offer robust moderation tools to manage and regulate community content effectively?

  • Community analytics: What level of analytics and reporting capabilities does the vendor provide? Are tools available to track community engagement, user behavior, and other pertinent metrics to inform strategic decision-making and optimize community performance?

  • Expertise: Does the vendor possess deep knowledge and experience supporting enterprise communities in similar industries and products?

  • Scalability: Do they have the infrastructure to support and scale enterprise communities?

  • Product coaching: Does the vendor provide access to guidance and support to maximize the use and benefits of the product post-sale?

  • Integrations: What integrations does the vendor offer? Does the community architecture enable developers to build custom integrations?

By ensuring the chosen community vendor checks the box on these criteria, businesses can forge long-lasting partnerships that help achieve short-term objectives and cultivate a dynamic, sustainable community that drives impact across the organization.

Easier said than done, right? Here we’ve included a list of resources to support and streamline your evaluation of community vendors:


Selecting the right community platform vendor is crucial for fostering engagement, collaboration, and knowledge sharing within your organization and with your customers. As highlighted throughout this blog, the landscape of enterprise community platforms offers a variety of options, each with its strengths and weaknesses.

When evaluating potential vendors, consider key factors such as customization capabilities, community engagement tools, advanced moderation features, analytics and reporting capabilities, vendor expertise, scalability, product coaching, and integrations. These criteria are crucial for fueling a thriving community that drives impact across the business and will help separate the “good enough” community platforms from the “best-in-class” solutions.

It's essential also to remember that while immediate gains and cost efficiency are tempting considerations during vendor selection, prioritizing these factors over essential capabilities, support, and expertise may hinder long-term success. Investing in a vendor that aligns with your organization's long-term goals ensures optimal return on investment and cultivates a flourishing community that extends its impact throughout your organization.

For additional research, consider further exploration on review sites like TrustRadius, G2, and Gartner Peer Insights, as well as analyst reports, demos, and case studies. These resources can provide valuable insights and perspectives from real users and industry experts, helping you make an informed decision that meets your organization's unique needs and objectives.

If you want to learn more about Khoros Communities, contact our sales team today to schedule a demo.

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