10 Best Membership Site Platforms & Software
You look at another competitor’s website and sigh. You have all the necessary information on your webpage, so why aren’t people buying your products or engaging with your content?
Experts say that you need a membership website, but you have been stubborn and stuck to the old ways of advertising, hoping for the best. Surely you don’t really have to create a membership site just to make sales and keep people coming back to your company as loyal customers!
Drawing visitors to your website is only half the battle. If you can keep them there and then have them coming back again and again, then you’ve won the war. But what’s the best way to make this happen?
A staggering 15% of people spend less than fifteen seconds on a website before bouncing to another. Creating a membership site is a dynamic way to keep your website visitors sticking around, engaging with, and browsing your site.
It also creates a connection with your site. And that relationship encourages them to return to your site and spend more time interacting with it. When 98 percent of customers fail to make a purchase decision on their first visit to a site, getting them to return is vital.
So how do you use this strategy to increase your web traffic and boost your revenue? Creating a membership website might seem like an overwhelming task. However, the advent of some super helpful and intuitive platforms and software make it incredibly attainable.
Here, I’ll go over what a membership site platform is, how to use them, and review the very best ones out there. I’ll also discuss the features you should look for when choosing one for your brand. When we’re done, you’ll be well on your way to creating a membership site of your own so you can benefit and boost your brand.
Disclaimer: Affiliate compensation may be received by me via the links below at no additional cost to you. This does not impact the advice below nor does it affect the ratings of the website tools in any way.
What are membership site platforms?
A membership site platform is an incredibly valuable tool to add to your brand’s arsenal. It includes all of the functionality that you need to manage your customers’ information and conduct sales activities. It should allow you to:
- Create a polished, easy to navigate website
- Add pages for content, calendars, resources, and products
- Produce reporting, analytics, and financial information
- Process payments and track sales
- Automate order confirmations, follow-up emails, and promotional communications
- Manage customer memberships
These platforms are an efficient way to manage your business and automate many of your processes. It also gives your customers and members a self-serve way to interact with your brand. Using a membership site platform gives you a centralized hub to manage your site and track your sales and customer data.
How do you use a membership site platform?
So now that you know what a membership site platform is, let’s discuss how to use one. This, of course, will be different depending on the nature of your business. But there are some general guidelines you can use to get started.
The whole point of a membership site platform is to monetize your website and the content you create. Giving exclusive access to paying members is the whole point. A membership site platform can help you develop a website and manage access points for members and non-members.
You can either use a full-service membership site platform or a membership site plug-in. With a full-service platform, you’ll build your site right in the tool. Then, you can add content and set up membership access parameters.
With a plug-in, you’ll use your current content builder like WordPress. Then, you’ll use the plug-in to manage the membership capabilities and the areas that they can and can’t access. This is a helpful option if you already have an established site.
Either way, you’ll create the membership site with your specific brand in mind. You’ll create valuable content and release it regularly. The key is creating a steady stream of content to keep your members sticking around.
There are some key factors that you need to consider when you are setting up your membership site. The first of which, being user experience. The long and short of this is that you need your visitors to WANT to become members. You need to make sure that the experience of navigating and using this site is pleasant and user-friendly.
Now that your website is welcoming, you should consider design flexibility and incompatibilities. Things can change and the things change with them. You might run into problems when dealing with code so you really want to know the level of compatibility when choosing a membership platform. For example, some plugins have a harder time with drag and drop themes than others!
One of the biggest limiters for anyone building a website is cost, so you will need to make sure that you research all of your options for hosting, design, and any related spendings for plug-ins that you want to use for this site. Making sure that you can maximize the potential of your site for the long-term is very important.
Once you have established what your design plan is, think about value for your money. You want to be using this added-value feature to drive sales and traffic to your website. If you are not using the correct integration and support, you will find that you are struggling right out of the gate.
Throughout all of the steps of this design portion of the process, you need to be thinking about the customer’s experience as well as your own as the business owner. The right platform and site design will work for both portions of your business need and will offer you a good value for your money.
What are the best membership site platforms?
There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to choosing a membership site platform. So, how do you begin to choose one for your brand? Here, I’ll go over the top ten so you can make an informed decision.
The Best Website Building Tool for WordPress Users
Overall Rating: (★★★★✩)
MemberPress is a great plug-in that allows you to convert your WordPress site to a membership site. It has some great features that enable you to skip setting up a new membership site and get yours launched more quickly.
Integrating seamlessly with your WordPress site, you will avoid the hurdle of learning a new webpage building tool. It also allows you to keep using the other WordPress plugins that you are currently using. You can easily set it up, add your products, and be on your way to selling your content.
You can also easily create online courses with MemberPress. It allows you to host community forums and collect payments. You’ll get simplified reporting with all of the data that you need to improve your site and its offerings.
- Easy site access controls
- Click and go course builder
- Create coupons and discounts
- Content dripping and expiration
- Simple to interpret reporting
One of the best things about MemberPress is the price. Starting at only $149 a year, it’s a steal. If you want access to all of the features, you can opt for one of the other plan tiers. And if you don’t love it after the first two weeks, they’ll happily provide you with a refund.
Best Website Builder for Email Marketing
Total Rating: (★★★★✩)
Podia is a one-stop-shop of tools to help you sell your online course material and webinars. It allows you to provide digital downloads to customers and sell memberships. Plus, it’s super easy to get started.
Unlimited hosting is included and Podia will even migrate all of your existing content for free. You can easily build your website and create a custom URL. With their flexible layouts, you can make your webpages exactly how you would like.
But the best part of Podia is the email marketing tool. This feature allows you to import your existing email list or build a new one from scratch. Then, you can send segmented emails and build custom sales funnels. It also gives you access to a chat tool so you can communicate with your customers in real-time.
- Drip online course content
- Sell digital downloads
- Create unlimited membership plan types
- Live event hosting
- Intuitive email marketing
- Real-time chat tool
- Customizable sales pages
- Migrate current content and contacts
Podia offers two distinct pricing models. The Mover is $39 a month and is perfect for those just starting out. Plus, it comes with a free 14-day trial and discount if you pay annually.
The Best Overall Membership Site Platform
Total Rating: (★★★★✩)
I chose this as the best overall membership site platform because of the sheer number of impressive features. They are super intuitive so anyone from beginner to expert can make use of them. This online course platform allows you to easily post content on nearly any subject imaginable. Plus, Thinkific has come up with some pretty great pricing tiers.
This platform allows you to drip schedule content with ease. It also allows you to host downloadable content. You can import your own content or use their stunning templates. The drag and drop design tool is easy-to-use and responsive.
You can upload video, audio, and docs like PDFs and slide presentations. And the platform integrated with over 1000 tools like Google Adwords, Zapier, and Mailchimp, making streamlining your marketing and communication a breeze. It even allows you to automate progress and reminder emails to students.
Adding multiple instructor profiles makes cooperative posting simple. Single sign-on makes sure each profile is secure. And you can create evergreen content with individualized start dates. Thinkific also allows you to create content that’s optimized for all devices.
Monitoring your site is made simple with an easy-to-use dashboard. You’ll get SEO-optimized URLs and meta keywords that result in impressive search engine rankings. And you’ll be able to export all of your data to ensure your site is performing as well as possible.
- Student surveys, quizzes, and discussion tools
- Great integration capabilities
- Customizable design and site branding
- 24/7 Security Monitoring
- Data dashboard and reporting
- Student progress tracking and assessment tools
There is a free option that includes limited features. Or, you can opt for one of the other levels of plans with various features and functionality. This allows you to select the perfect tool for your needs and only pay for the features that you’ll utilize.
Best Premium Membership Website Platform
Total Rating: (★★★★✩)
Kajabi is a great site that allows you to easily create online courses and coaching tools. It’s one of the priciest on my list. Even if you do have a budget for it, you might not necessarily need it if you’re already set-up somewhere else for your website and blog. For example, if you’re already using other marketing tools, like Mailchimp for email marketing. Then you might not need an all-in-one solution like Kajabi. But the intuitive features make it an awesome platform that can eliminate the need for multiple tools that you are currently using.
Sadly, the email marketing tool is not top of the line. You will need to look for a third-party tool to bridge this gap if you want to use email marketing to do outreach to your customers. Thankfully, there are numerous really great options out there for this need and you can pick and choose the features that you require from among these choices.
You can also automate communications with your members to save time and ensure accuracy. You’ll be able to engage with your customers and get to know them on a deeper level. And then you can manage your lists with ease.
- Easy to create quality online material
- Integrates with PayPal and Stripe for faster transactions
- Visual email editor for high-quality publishing
- Customizable landing page designs
- Create automated marketing campaigns
- Includes a mobile app for customers
- Organized data for optimal reporting
The basic plan starts at $119 per month but has limited features and products. You can als up your game with The Growth Plan at $159 per month. Whichever you choose, Kajabi will let you try out the platform for the first 14 days absolutely free.
Best Community Website Platform for Engagement
Total Rating: (★★★★✩)
Mighty Networks is an awesome community-building platform that makes it easy to get started and begin adding members. It has flexible pricing options and a great combination of features. Plus, it allows for unlimited members and includes both Apple and iOS apps.
You receive your own, simple to customize landing page. It also makes sharing posts and articles streamlined. And the direct messaging tool makes communicating with community members easy.
You can also personalize activity feeds to your members’ preferences. With the upgraded plans, you receive your own domain name and SEO-friendly tools. But the best part is that you can get started absolutely free.
- Unlimited members
- Membership billing feature
- iOS and Android apps
- Personalized activity feeds
- Member notification tools
- Tax management
There is a free version of Mighty Networks with limited features. With The Business Plan, you’ll receive access to expanded features. If you pay for the whole year, you’ll get two months free.
Best Membership Site Software for Beginners
Total Rating: (★★★★✩)
Weebly is a free tool that’s perfect for those just getting started. It’s an awesome platform for designing a webpage that looks polished and professional. Plus, you can add a membership sign-up right on your homepage.
You’ll get some valuable insight to get you started on your way, perfect for beginners. The powerful drag and drop website builder is helpful to add buttons, links, and even a one-click member log-in. Weebly also lets you create beautiful email newsletters and social media posts to market your site.
You can create custom fonts and add video backgrounds to customize your member’s experience. The on-site photo editor makes adjusting photos super convenient. And the included mobile app allows your members to access your information from anywhere.
- Advanced animation tools
- Ready to launch customizable themes
- Website search capabilities
- High-quality video play
- Easy to use drag and drop builder
- SSL Security
Weebly has a free option for basic needs. You can also opt for the budget-friendly Professional Plan for $16 a month. The other plan options contain various features and additional functions.
Best Website Builder Designed for Non-Technical Entrepreneurs
Total Rating: (★★★★✩)
MemberSpace is an awesome tool to restrict pages on your site instantly. You can grant access to everything from online courses to video tutorials to members as you choose. The best part is, it’s designed for users in a way that eliminates the need for any tech-savvy skills.
MemberSpace integrates with all of the popular content management tools. It allows you to have complete control over your website, the settings, and the experience of your members. It’s easy to set up and even offers free migration of your existing system.
You’ll get access to helpful growth and retention features like automated upsells and cancellation alternatives. Your members will enjoy the self-service ability to change their membership level and your ability to create coupon codes.
- Stripe integration for seamless payment processing
- Members-only Podcast functionality
- Accessibility from any devices
- Fully secure content
- Custom member emails
- Payment collection in over 100 currencies
MemberSpace offers four unique plans that are tiered by the features offered. That means that you can choose the best one for your brand and budget. Each one includes VIP support, unlimited members, and starts with a 14-day trial period.
Ideal Website Builder for Small Businesses and Nonprofits
Total Rating: (★★★✩✩)
Wild Apricot is a great cloud software tool that allows you to create great membership sites using their drag and drop tools. Their themes and templates take the guesswork out of creating stunning and organized pages. It can automate your membership tasks and make database updates quick and easy.
You’ll be able to collect membership payments in real-time as well as charge recurring fees. It integrates with Square so you can take credit card payments. You can also export all of your financial reports seamlessly to your QuickBooks or Excel programs.
The best part of Wild Apricot is the simple-to-use mobile app. On your end, you’ll be able to easily access your member management tools on the go, ideal for events and meetings. Your members will also have the opportunity to download the app, giving them all of the tools they need to get the most out of their membership.
- Cloud-based membership database
- Intuitive website builder
- Payment processing, invoicing, and tracking
- Simplified event management tools
- Contact and communication management tools
- Dual mobile apps for hosts and members
- Easy to manage online store
Wild Apricot offers eight unique pricing tiers. Each comes with a free trial and you get a discount if you prepay for a year or two. Do you have multiple chapters? They also offer multi-chapter pricing so you can easily manage all of your chapters in one convenient place.
Best Membership Building Tool for Multimedia Content
Total Rating: (★★★✩✩)
Teachable is an awesome platform to create and share your online courses. Watch their webinar to get a jumpstart on creating your own classes or coaching business. Their features make it simple to get started posting content and earning income.
The platform allows you to upload unlimited content for purchase by an unlimited number of students. You can chat with students live and schedule classes. You can also encourage course completion with certificates.
Teachable has a powerful editor that allows you to create some seriously stunning video content. Its emphasis on quality means your site will be as stunning as it is functional. The course player is easy to use and provides various helpful tools for your customers.
- Fully customizable course content
- Dashboard to track sales and student activity
- Integrates with Calenly for seamless scheduling
- Create surveys to solicit student feedback
- Intuitive payment and financial tools
- High-quality customer service
All of the plans provide you with unlimited students and courses. The Basic Plan starts at only $39 per month and the most popular Pro Plan is $119 a month. You can get a discount on each if you opt for annual billing.
Best for Building a Website
Total Rating: (★★★✩✩)
Wix is one of the most popular website builders out there, and for good reason. It is super user-friendly and gives you the ability to easily create high-quality, professional-looking websites. Its over 500 templates allow you to customize the look of your web pages while maintaining top-notch functionality.
One of the most valuable features that Wix offers is a comprehensive SEO plan customized for your business. This allows you to create a stunning website that’s also likely to rank higher in search engine results. You can also use the mobile editor to optimize the mobile version of your site.
You can add video backgrounds and animations to take your website to the next level. You can schedule appointments and manage your calendar to keep members updated. Automated confirmations and chat functions help make communication more efficient.
- Detailed member profiles
- Add text and email reminders
- Financial analysis
- Generate coupons and discounts
- Integrated accounting with QuickBooks
Wix has three pricing tiers that in price. Features like the video hours and the storage space vary across the options. And you get to try out Wix for two weeks with their money-back guarantee.
What features should you look for in a membership site platform?
No matter what type of membership you plan to offer, there are some features that will make your membership site platform more useful. These can also ensure that you can build a website that’s member-friendly and has features that users will love.
Payment Processing Options
It’s essential that you are able to offer a plethora of payment processing options. You want to be able to accept all major credit cards and a variety of currencies. Consider alternative forms of payments as well like PayPal and cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
Look for a platform that makes payment processing more streamlined on the back end. Integrations with your payment systems mean you get your money quicker and more efficiently. It also means that you might be able to automate these processes, saving you valuable time. Time is money, after all!
Automatic financial reporting is a must. Being able to compile transaction data quickly and efficiently is extremely helpful. Look for a platform that creates easy-to-read and interpret reports. It’s a bonus if it can also calculate taxes.
Flexibility in the way you can set up your memberships is key. You don’t want to be limited in the number of tiers or membership types you can offer. You also want to be able to let members self-service their accounts and profiles.
Look for platforms that allow you to have unlimited membership types. The ability to upgrade or downgrade at any time is also very helpful to members.
Drip Out Content and Expiration
Being able to automate when your content is released is a must. Regularly providing access to new videos, products, and tutorials is what makes membership so valuable. Content dripping keeps your members sticking around for the long haul.
Look for a platform that allows you to set your content dripping automatically. You also want to be able to set old pages to automatically expire. Not having to monitor this schedule will free you up to focus on creating great content.
Customers love discounts. In fact, 80 percent of people say that a discount is more likely to make them first-time purchasers. So being able to offer discounts on your site can be a big win for your brand.
Look for platforms that allow you to offer free trial memberships. You also want the functionality to be able to create promo codes and coupons. A referral bonus is another great feature that appeals to current members and can earn you new ones.
Email Marketing Capabilities
Being able to send emails to your members is essential. But do you really want to deal with managing a separate tool for doing so? If not, a platform with this feature built-in is a must for you.
Look for one that allows you to create and publish engaging and attractive emails. A drag and drop design tool is especially helpful for those not super into technology. Then, use the tool to manage your members and contacts all in one place.
Tiered Pricing Plans
You likely have a budget for your platform cost. It’s important to find one that you love at your desired price point. Platforms with multiple tiered pricing plans are going to be your best bet.
With these, you only end up paying for the features that you pay for. And most will allow you to upgrade your plan as your business grows. So when you find yourself needing more storage or video hours, you can simply shell out a little extra to move to the next tier.
On the membership side of things you can offer tiered subscriptions as well, and these membership levels can greatly improve your user experience. Not every person wants or needs the same things from your business, or your membership site and they will feel like they are getting more bang for their buck if they can choose their level of commitment to your site.
People like to customize their options, even in these kinds of situations, and offering them tiered pricing options will make them feel like you are willing to work with them to meet them where they are at. This can be useful as well for you as the business owner, because it will allow you to offer elite level services and basic level services.
Great Video Capabilities
Depending on the nature of your membership program, you might need to post video tutorials and webinars. A platform that has the capabilities to do this well is key. Make sure your videos are able to be hosted so they are clear and high-quality.
Pay attention to the number of video hours allowed as well. Some platforms limit you to a certain number. For many, this won’t be an issue. But if you plan to post a ton of video content, look for a platform geared toward that functionality.
Your data is incredibly important to your business. The information of your members is even more essential. It’s important to make sure it’s well protected.
Look for a platform that offers top-of-the-line security protection. And make sure it’s provided 24/7. A majority 59% of customers will simply not engage with a company that has suffered a data breach. So make sure you arm yourself to protect against it.
Stellar Customer Service
As with any service, customer care is essential. Make sure the platform that you choose goes above and beyond providing the very best and quality service. You may not need a ton of support at first. But when you do, finding that it’s lacking can be incredibly frustrating.
You might want a customer with 24/7 support. Maybe you want customer service offerings like tutorials and videos to get you started. Whatever your priorities, make sure the platform you choose can accommodate them.
Over 50% of web traffic happens on mobile. This makes it pretty important that your membership site be accessible from all devices. Optimizing it for mobile makes it easier to use on mobile screens and tablets. Look for a platform that has a built-in mobile optimization editor.
You can also consider looking for a mobile app feature. This would allow you to create a members-only app, adding even more valuable to the membership for users. Some platforms even have admin mobile apps. This makes managing your site and accessing your information on the go simple and convenient.
Knowing how well your site is doing is vital in keeping it at the top of its game. It’s also valuable information when you are working to optimize its performance. A platform that can provide you clear and custom reporting will allow you to best interpret the data.
It’s also important that you get to know your members, and well. This allows you to enhance your product offerings and keep them happy. It also gives you a good insight into your target market and how to expand your customer base. Reporting on your customers, their feedback, and how they interact with your site is extremely helpful knowledge for growing your membership.
Choosing a Platform
So, now that you have looked into all of these options and done all of this research, how do you pick a platform?
The best way to help streamline this effort is to ask yourself some questions:
- Do I need additional items like quizzes or forums?
- Do I want to pay monthly or per transaction?
- Do I need to customize the look of my site?
- What email service am I trying to integrate with, if any?
- Do I need to be able to create landing pages and marketing pages?
- How large is this site going to grow? Will I reach the cap of my chosen site quickly?
- Is my membership related to a course of some sort?
- Do I need to integrate a payment processor?
- Will I need to offer discounts and coupons?
Being able to answer these questions accurately will help you to weed out the services and platforms that will be a bad fit for your needs.
It is always a good idea to look at other sites that are using the platform you have chosen to make sure that you like the appearance of them and to be certain that you like how they function.
Creating Your Membership Website Using the Right Tools
Creating a membership website doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right website platform or software in your corner, you can create a site that your members love. Look for the features that make sense for your brand and get building.
How can you use these tools to create a membership that is valuable to your users? What features would you need to take your site to the next level? Consider your needs, your target audience, and your brand. And you’ll create a membership website that’s attractive, engaging, and has your sign-up page seeing tons of action!