You want to setup an Ecourse, online program or recurring membership but you don’t know what membership plugin to choose? This article should help you narrow it down and make the best choice for your business.
The biggest mistake you can make is asking people what they recommend without explaining in details what your requirements are.
it’s a bit like asking what is the best car?
The first step is to identify exactly what you need and that can be tricky because often times we don’t know what we don’t know.
I have setup dozens of memberships for entrepreneurs and public figures and I’m here to help you get clarity on what to do!
CHOOSING A SOLUTION THAT WILL GROW WITH YOUR BUSINESS
Unlike the creation of a website where we can get started with something really simple and improve it as we go, it’s a different story when it comes to online courses and memberships.
The main reason is that once you’re going to have members setup, recurring payments, it can get tricky to move to another platform. So you’ll save a lot of time and money by picking the right tool from the start.
Some solutions are more costly than others but it comes down to this: do you believe in your membership? if you do then setting up the best platform for your members or student is a critical part of your success and should be a no brainer.
How to choose a membership plugin that will work for you now and in the future? There is unfortunately not one solution fits all.
It depends on a number of criteria and I’m going to outline some of them below (there is definitely more!)
There are several steps that I go through with my clients in order to determine what solution is best for them. Because my background is in software development, I have a good understanding of how the tools I use work and we even sometimes get into the code and fix bugs that they later on incorporate into the actual product (you’re welcome WishlistMember 🙂 )
HERE ARE THE STEPS THAT WE GO THROUGH TO DETERMINE WHAT SOLUTION IS BEST:
1- DEFINE YOUR PROGRAM AND COURSE DETAILS
This sounds obvious but you’d be amazed at the number of clients I had coming to me without knowing exactly how their course/program is going to look like. This step is critical. It does not mean that your program can’t change in the future, but it’s a necessary step to get you started.
– how many modules/weeks
– how is the content delivered (all at once, dripped daily, weekly,..)
– what payment system you want to support
– do you want to support free content
– do you want a live course or an evergreen or both
– do you want an affiliate program
– do you want to track progress of your students
– do you want support for multiple programs that do not build on top of each other
– what list management system do you want to integrate with
– do you want to offer a trial period
– do you want to offer coupons
– do you need to protect just pages and pdfs or also posts
– are you going to need access to the code for customization (you or a developer)
– are you going to manage it yourself (interfaces are more or less friendly for non developers)
You get the idea.
2) CHECK WHAT YOUR LIST MANAGEMENT SYSTEM RECOMMENDS/INTEGRATES WITH.
If you already have a list management system such as Infusionsoft, Ontraport, Active Campaign, Aweber, Mailchimp,… it’s crucial that the membership solution you choose integrates with it.
Do some research, ask their support team what they recommend.
3) Make a list of tools that you need to integrate with
You need to be able to scale and that means that all the tools you use should integrate well wigth each other with minimum manual steps.
Tools to look at:
– list management system
– shopping cart of payment system (paypal, stripe, authorize.net, woocommerce, Samcart..)
– affiliate program
– page builders (clickfunnels, leadpages,…)
– forum solutions
You get the idea! So check all the tools that you plan to use and make sure they’ll work well together and are supported by your membership plugin.
If you don’t have one yet or you’d like to explore your options we recommend Active Campaign and Convertkit for starters and Infusionsoft for more advanced marketing automation capabilities.
4- MAKE A LIST OF MUST-HAVES FEATURES
This list is very important because it is going to determine if some solutions are viable or not for you. If you absolutely want an affiliate system for example, do you want it integrated with the membership or would you be ok with a solution outside of your membership?
– content dripping
– free and paid content
– support for multiple products/programs
– progress tracking
– forum integration
– live webinar integration
– content dripping based on behavior (complete goals)
– ability to leave private notes or send notes/questions to the admin/teacher
Those are some of the questions you could ask yourself when you’re looking for a membership plugin. Looking at current memberships/online courses you belong to is also a great way to get ideas on what you’d like to have for your own platform.
5- MAKE A LIST OF GOOD-TO-HAVES
There is no perfect membership solution. It’s important to make a list of “nice-to-haves but I can live without” in order to give you more options.Things like coupons, free trials, membership pause, integrated affiliate system are typical nice-to-haves but not a deal breaker, especially when you have ways around it to achieve a similar type of feature.
6- DO YOUR HOMEWORK
If you’re going to hire someone to do it for you, they should ask you all these questions before coming up with a solution. If they don’t that probably means that they’re just familiar with 1 solution and will try to make your project fit with the solution when it should be the other way around. That sometimes works but is not a good sign.
If you want to do it yourself, check out the membership solutions out there (I have put a list below) and see if they support what you are trying to do. Ask around what people are using but make sure you compare apples and apples and that you have your own list of requirements! They might have completely different needs than you so a solution that works great for them might not work so well for you.
No matter what solution you choose for your membership plugin, always check one thing: SUPPORT. It’s needs to be responsive, that is a must.
Here is a list of membership solutions that I have used and that you can look at when shopping for a membership solution; They are in my order of preference 🙂
– For Infusionsoft, Ontraport, Active Campaign and Convertkit: AccessAlly
– Works with most shopping carts: wishlist Member
– A good alternative to WishlistMember: MemberPress
– Free if you use paypal (for basic online course only) : S2member
If you found this information useful and it helped you select your membership plugin please post a comment below!
And if you’d like to discuss your project in details with me you can schedule a complimentary call here.