Finding the right membership software can be a real pain, so I created a membership software mindmap . Just as a side note most of my experience has been with using Digital Access Pass(DAP) and S2member. Although I have used the premise membership software a little bit.
Why you would want membership software
There are many reasons that people use membership software, although this article will assume that you are an internet marketer using WordPress to make a profit from your website. Facebook is also a membership site, but it is nothing like what we will be building here.
- You want to do rebills – this is Holy Grail of Internet Marketing. For example if you can get a 100 people to pay you $10 a month that makes you a $1000 a month in revenue. Now if you increase that number from 100 people a month to 1000 people a month that will get you $10,000 worth of revenue.
- You want to have an upsell and downsell tree – this is useful since the best time to get a customer to buy is right after they’ve already made a purchase. The concept is simple, customer buys product A and then is presented with an upsell. Taking it even one step further, if the customer buys the upsell then they will be taken to another upsell. If the customer decides not to buy, then they can be taken to a down sell.
- If you are unfamiliar with the concept of upsell then go to your local McDonald’s and order a burger. You will be presented with your first upsell which is would you like fries and a drink with that. If you say yes , you will be presented with a second upsell, which is would you like to supersize this.
- You want to use drip feeding – this allows you to give your customers monthly installments of your product. Or it can be used to give the customer different products every single month.
Main Things a Membership plugin does
- Protects your content
- Unlocks your content automatically via notifications such as Paypal IPN
- Locks your content automatically when the users cancels or refunds
Others Things you can do with membership software
- Autoresponders – some membership software suites allow you to set up an autoresponder as well. The autoresponder can then be used to tell your customer when their drip fed content is available.
- Amazon SES for autoreponders – so if you’re going to use your membership software as an auto responder you’re probably going to need a third-party service to send out your e-mails. This is especially important if you use shared hosting as delivery rates can be relatively low for shared hosting.
- Amazon S3 for file downloads – since you’re usually going to provide some sort of downloads for your customers it is a good idea to use a file download service like S3 for your file downloads. Again this is especially important if you use shared hosting as your hosting provider may limit the size and amount of downloads. Usually this happens with shared hosting providers that promise unlimited amounts of downloads.
- Free Give Aways – one of the most frustrating things I have found is how to protect my free giveaways. With digital access pass I have found a way to fix this problem. Digital access pass allows you to provide access to your membership site via an opt in from an e-mail service such as AWeber. While you could have a person actually sign up to your membership site first, then allow them to have access to the product, this presents a problem because usually you’re going to want the person to be on your e-mail list so you can follow up. Although if they sign into your membership site first it doesn’t mean that they are going to be automatically added to your autoresponder. Secondly if they sign up this way it presents another problem of double opt in. Services such as AWeber require a double opt in if the message is sent through an API ( application programming interface ).
- Affiliate program on your products – now that you have a membership site, wouldn’t it be great if you could have both your customers and affiliates sell it for you? While you can use third-party services for your affiliate program such as digiresults or 1shoppingcart. Some membership software such as digital access pass have built-in affiliate software. One good thing, depending on your business model, which can also be bad with digital access pass, is that every person gets an affiliate link for all of your products.
Paid WordPress Membership Software
Digital Access Pass – this is a piece of software that I both love and hate at the same time. The good is that it has lots of features, such as a built-in affiliate program, built-in autoresponder that works with Amazon SES. although the most important reason why I use this piece of software is its ability to sign up a person from a Weber. How the process works is as follows: a person fills out your Aweber opt in form, then the user is redirected through a digital access pass link which then creates an account for them. Digital access pass performs this using the data supplied by Aweber. You can read more about this feature here at http://www.digitalaccesspass.com/doc/aweber-to-dap/
the first time that I installed digital access pass it crashed my entire website. This was a test website, so my live website with my business partner Chris was not affected. Luckily I was able to find a SQL query that was able to turn off all of the plug-ins and I was able to get the site back. Even now I have digital access pass installed on a separate wordpress installation, other than our main site (www.mainsite.com/dap-installed-wordpress). Secondly I believe that digital access path is kind of expensive compared to the other membership software. I bought the unlimited site version which was $297 at the time. The reason that I purchased DAP (Digital Access Pass) because of the bonus S3 media vault plug-in which cost $97. Third Digital access pass is difficult to install for the novice as you have to upload this plugin via ftp or Cpanel.
Profits Theme – well I have not personally installed this software, one of my friends has and it has been a lot of trouble for him. Similarly I have looked online and have not found very many good reviews of this theme.
Premise – premise offers both landing pages and a membership site. First off I didn’t really like the way the landing pages looked for premise. So I contacted customer support to which they told me that I needed to hire a web developer if I was going to make changes to the way landing page looked. I bought this software because it was supposed to make creating landing pages easy and fast. If I was going to hire web developer what was the point of buying the software? As for the membership software I really didn’t see anything special that the other membership software offered.
Wishlist Member – while I have not use the software personally, I have included it because it is extremely popular. The reason that I didn’t choose this software was because I had heard that can become extremely expensive due to add-on plugins. If you want drip feeding, that’s extra. Do you want WishList member to work with your autoresponder? There is an added plugin cost for that. Although it is really popular which is a good thing. For example I had gone with a nonstandard shopping cart service because it was cheap and the only membership software that it worked with was WishList member. Although now I no longer have that service.
memberpress – while I have not used the software personally either, I just wanted to include it because there’s lots of rave reviews all over the Internet about it.
Free WordPress Membership Software
S2member – S2member is a extremely stable and is extremely easy to install. The tutorials are fantastic, I learned everything that I need to about PayPal setup from their tutorial. They have video tutorials explaining all of the features and S2member breaks it down into little bits that you can easily understand.
The thing I don’t like about S2member is that you have to be a programmer to expand its functionality. So if you want to drip feed content then you need to create that via PHP.
Plus I don’t really like their membership model concept in which each membership level builds upon one another. So if you have three membership levels such as bronze silver and gold. The Silver members get access to everything that bronze numbers have access. Gold members get access to everything that both silver and bronze members get access to.
My recommendation is that it you have never tried membership software before, checkout S2member as it is both free and has great tutorials.
Paid Memberships Pro – this is another piece of software that I wanted to include even though that I do not have personal experience with it. Paid Memberships Pro has received lots of rave reviews on the Internet.
Types Drip Feeding
- Drip feeding by page
- In content drip feeding via shortcodes
- Drip feeding through an autoresponder
- RSS via a secure key
Things you can with your Membership Software
- 30 day challenge
- You could schedule your autoresponder messages to tell the customer when the dripfeed content is available
- Monthly Continuity Product
- Paid Forum
- Free Gift
Working with Paypal
While there are many different types of payment processors I’m only going to discuss PayPal as it is probably the most common way that internet marketers will be taking payment. The main thing you need to know about PayPal, with regards your membership software, is how it ist going to tell the membership software that a person has paid. The way it does this is by instant payment notification. This can be done both at eight global PayPal, or on the PayPal button via notify URL.
Things you should know about instant payment notification
- The global PayPal instant payment notification must be set up first for the button notification to work
- PayPal allows you only send one notification, therefore it can be difficult to have your autoresponder set up and get your membership software working properly.
- People use the button because PayPal allows you to only have one business account per person. Therefore if you have multiple websites you will need a way to notify these membership sites that someone has paid.
- A PayPal button instant payment notification will override the global PayPal notification. Remember you only get one notification from PayPal
Things to watch out for!
- RSS Feeds – You don’t WANT YOUR PAID CONTENT going on an unsecured RSS feed
- Plugin Conflicts -the first time I installed DAP it took down my wordpress installation
- Caching Issues -Because membership software locks and unlocks content you have to be careful because the user may get cached version of the page which is locked