by Juan Robin II
Are you thinking about building a membership website? Great idea.
Membership websites generate recurring revenue by offering premium content and features to members. It’s also a great way for you to establish your value within your niche. By offering memberships, you’re telling people that your content is so valuable you don’t have to offer it for free.
In order for your membership business model to function properly, you need to install a membership plugin that adds this feature to your website to manage memberships, payments, and other user information.
If you have a WordPress site, there are tons of membership plugins to choose from. I found 746 in my search. Luckily, you don’t have to do too much in-depth research — I’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you and narrowed down the top seven membership plugins. You can use this list as a reference, instead of to trying to find all of the pros and cons on your own.
LearnDash is for websites that create and sell online courses. It gives you the option to control the enrollment for all of your courses. You’ll set the pricing, and determine if the course is available to the public or exclusive to members.
There are a few different ways to set this up. In addition to a membership that offers access to all of your content, you can add one-time pricing to give users the opportunity to buy individual courses.
This plugin also lets you use automation to your advantage. You can schedule content delivery. That way you can create all of your courses at once, but distribute them at later dates automatically. This is more much efficient than approaching this manually. If a user doesn’t have automatic renewal enabled for their membership, you can set up automatic renewal notifications to encourage them to renew.
With LearnDash, you can also create a system of points, badges, and certificates to reward users based on their progress. There are also engagement triggers that users can interact with as they are going through your courses.
Support and resources are exceptional too. There are helpful video tutorials and an active community forum to discuss ideas or potential problems with other site owners. If you still need help, you can always contact the LearnDash customer support team.
It’s tough to find another plugin that outperforms LearnDash when it comes to managing a membership site for online courses.
MemberPress allows you to switch your existing site into a fully-functioning membership website with ease. A seamless transformation isn’t necessarily the case with every other plugin out there, but it’s an important feature to consider for those of you who already have a website that’s up and running.
With MemberPress, it’s as simple as installing the plugin, adding the details of your payment gateway, setting up your products, and inviting people to join.
It’s very easy for you to manage your content with this plugin. You can restrict access to specific posts, pages, or files. You can do this for content that was already published before you installed the plugin.
This plugin also comes with pricing page templates, which is another top feature. This will help you generate more profit by focusing on your pricing strategy. In addition to the pricing templates, MemberPress supports payment gateways like Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net and more. MemberPress integrates with some of the most popular email marketing platforms as well.
At the end of the day, your membership website will only be successful if people actually join and pay for content. So you need to treat this like any other product or service. Installing a plugin alone won’t necessarily generate sales for you. With that said, MemberPress makes your job much easier.
3. WooCommerce Memberships
WooCommerce Memberships is another plugin that’s ideal for integrating with your website’s existing content. Like we’ve seen before, this plugin allows you to drip content, so you can automatically schedule when members will have access to premium features.
I’d recommend WooCommerce Memberships to those of you who want to add a membership site to your ecommerce platform. The plugin allows you to sell memberships along with product purchases.
From the user end, memberships can be purchased as a standalone product, or as a bundle. For example, let’s say you have a fitness brand. If a customer purchases diet supplements, you could give them access to the training programs section of your website for free. So, if you want complete customization and fewer restrictions for your memberships and products, the WooCommerce Memberships plugin might be your best bet.
Here is a look at some of the custom functionality offered from the plugin dashboard:
WooCommerce Memberships makes it easy for you to import or export your members. So if you want to combine these memberships with existing services or subscriptions you offer, you’ll be able to do so without having to go through everything manually.
With that said, there are times when you might want to go the extra mile to please one of your customers. For example, let’s say someone has a problem with one of their orders purchased from your site. This customer also pays for a membership to access exclusive content. To rectify the situation, you could easily change their membership to complementary for a specified time. You won’t get this type of flexibility and customization with some of the other membership plugins on the market.
WooCommerce also has an option for selling memberships to groups, teams, or corporations. But that’s a different extension that would have to be purchased and installed separately.
4. aMember Professional
I should preface by letting you know that aMember Professional isn’t a native plugin for WordPress. It’s software that’s built with PHP, making it possible for you to integrate it with WordPress.
However, since it’s not native and specifically designed for WordPress, there could potentially be some compatibility problems with other plugins you’re using.
I like it because it’s another all-in-one option for membership websites. There are unlimited membership levels and items for you to add to your site. They also have more than 200 payment systems that you can use to manage memberships.
From the administrative dashboard, aMember Professional lets you run customized reports about your members. You can also manage your email lists, set up autoresponders, and contact users who aren’t set up for auto renewals with reminder messages.
I really like the access control features for aMember Professional. In addition to controlling who can access different types of content, this software has features to prevent access sharing between users. It tracks the number of IP addresses being used to access content, so if a limit is reached, that user will get locked out of the system and be reported to the admin.
Unlike other membership plugin options, aMember Professional is just a one-time purchase, as opposed to a recurring subscription, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to set up your membership sit.
5. Restrict Content Pro
Restrict Content Pro also offers a cost-effective pricing option. Their plans range from $99 to $249 annually, but you can spend $499 one-time for lifetime access. It may seem like a lot initially, but this pays for itself in two to five years, depending on the plan you were considering. It’s definitely worth it if you’re planning to have a membership site for an extended period of time.
Cost aside, Restricted Content Pro is extremely easy for to use if you’re going to manage basic content and membership levels on your website. You can create and share an unlimited number of discount codes to entice your website visitors to make purchases based on the best value. Restrict Content Pro also has built-in payment integrations so that you can accept credit cards, alternative payment options, or multiple payment methods at the same time.
What really separates this plugin from the crowd is the way you can analyze performance by generating custom reports to view the latest month, or specified date ranges to see how well your memberships are doing. This information is extremely helpful when it comes to assessing your pricing, promotions, and things of that nature.
With MemberMouse, you can easily sell memberships along with subscriptions and products on your website. This versatility definitely makes it a standout membership plugin. It’s great for websites that want to add memberships for content restriction, as well as for ecommerce sites that want to add membership features.
The reason why I love this plugin is because it’s designed for website owners who aren’t too tech-savvy. It’s easy for anyone to use, regardless of your technical expertise. Simply restrict content on your website with password protection for members. When you create content, you can customize how it’s delivered based on things like membership levels, length of memberships, or the referring affiliate.
MemberMouse lets you set up free memberships as well. This is a great opportunity for you to get users to join your site, without having to pay first. Once they join and see your free features, they may be more inclined to upgrade to a paid membership.
The plugin is also designed to help you grow your email list.
You’ll also be very pleased with the data provided with the MemberMouse analytics and reports. You can track and measure things like:
- Customer retention
- Customer lifetime value
- Refund rates
- Activity logs
- Affiliate tracking
Some of these made my list of the top metrics every marketing manager needs to track. So the ability to get these reports directly from the plugin will make your life much easier.
7. Paid Member Subscriptions
Paid Member Subscriptions is another versatile plugin that I couldn’t leave off of my list.
While it doesn’t necessarily offer anything different from the other plugins we’ve covered so far, it does have a free option. So for those of you who are new to this and don’t want to spend much money setting up your membership site, you won’t have to pay a dime to use Paid Membership Services. But, you won’t have access to premium features, such as content dripping, unless you upgrade to a paid plan.
Another reason why Paid Member Subscriptions made my list is because the interface is user-friendly and extremely straightforward. If you get intimidated by new software or technology that’s out of your comfort zone, you shouldn’t have a problem using this plugin.
Building a membership website is an effective way to improve your content strategy, establish brand authority, and generate recurring revenue. In order to create a membership site with WordPress, you’ll need to install a plugin.
So what’s the best membership plugin for WordPress?
It depends on what you’re looking for. I created this list to give a wide range of options based on specific features. Some plugins are designed for managing memberships with online courses, while others are better for ecommerce websites that need to integrate memberships with product purchases. There are plugins on this list that are all-in-one solutions, and options that are cost-effective as well. Since there is so much variety in this guide, I’m sure you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for to meet the needs of your website.