When you're looking for the right WordPress plugin to build an Ontraport membership site, there are two pretty solid names that come up: PilotPress and AccessAlly.
PilotPress is a free plugin created by Ontraport, available through the regular WordPress plugin repository. It's designed to provide an integration that will allow you to utilize some of Ontraport's capabilities in conjunction with your WordPress membership site.
AccessAlly is the plugin created by the team at AccessAlly. It's a robust membership site plugin that's designed to work with tag-based CRMs. So not only does it fully integrate with Ontraport, but it also integrates with other CRMs as well.
From a price standpoint, the difference is pretty clear… but the effectiveness of your membership website isn't dependent on how much you did (or didn't) pay for your tech tools.
So let's take a closer look at how the two plugins compare in terms of functionality, design, and user-friendliness.
Table of Contents
- Content Protection
- Ease Of Setup
- Additional Features Available With AccessAlly
- The PilotPress vs AccessAlly Showdown
Both PilotPress and AccessAlly provide the most basic functionality of any membership site plugin: protection for your content. Each plugin uses a slightly different feature within Ontraport to make this happen.
PilotPress: Membership Levels
The first notable feature about PilotPress is that it makes use of Ontraport's membership levels. These levels are set up within Ontraport, and will appear inside each page or post of your website. To protect the content inside your website, simply check the boxes of any membership levels that will have access to it.
Depending on how many membership levels you decide to have, the options will look something like this:
The membership levels are a nice, simple way of creating a series of membership tiers for your website. The downside, though, is that the more control you choose to have over your content (such as offering “dripped” content to your users), the more complex the membership levels must become.
All setup is manual, and you must keep a clear idea of how you'd like the end result to appear in order to keep your levels straight.
The other downside to this system is that, if you revoke membership from a user, you also lose the record in the CRM of their former access.
AccessAlly : Ontraport Tagging System
AccessAlly, on the other hand, uses Ontraport's tagging system to designate permissions. Effectively, this protects content the same way as membership levels, but with a few bonus perks.
First, AccessAlly automatically creates the tags you need when you set up your course content inside the Course Setup Wizard. This saves a ton of time in terms of knowing with confidence that you haven't overlooked a drip fed tag or a full-access tag that you need for the course.
Second, in addition to creating tags that give users access to your courses, AccessAlly also creates tags that can be used to revoke access. These come in handy if you're offering a subscription-based course, for example, and the user stops paying.
The revoke tags are super helpful from a customer service standpoint, as well: they allow you to revoke access to a course without removing the tags indicating that the user used to be subscribed to a certain product. We've found the trail of tags to be invaluable when we're working with our clients and former clients.
Finally, AccessAlly includes a unique “all-access” feature which allows you, as an admin, to see all the content on your website, regardless of the redirects and permission settings.
Ontraport offers a great affiliate center (known as the “Partner Center”). It's not surprising that both plugins allow you to utilize this feature in your own membership site.
Here, PilotPress and AccessAlly are on fairly equal footing, as both will permit affiliates to view their earnings, custom links, and payment information.
However, AccessAlly also includes a unique Affiliate Leaderboard. The Leaderboard is a great motivator when running affiliate contests, as it reveals the top affiliates in a number of categories.
Ease Of Setup
The user-friendliness really begins to differ between the two plugins when it comes to ease of setup. On the one hand, you have PilotPress: simple and straightforward. On the other hand you have AccessAlly, which offers additional tools and tutorials, without sacrificing any of the easy-to-use simplicity.
PilotPress is a pretty streamlined plugin, and most of the setup is actually done inside Ontraport, where you'll designate your membership levels, set up the drip feed sequence, and sales stuff.
You can set up a login page via a shortcode, but after that you just checkmark the pages to setup course.
AccessAlly's setup really begins to shine with its famous Workflow Wizard.
The Wizard guides you through the course creation process (both standalone and drip versions), auto-creates the required pages and tags you'll need for each course, and includes a step-by-step tutorial to walk you through setting up the required sequences and forms in Ontraport.
It's such a cool, intuitive tool that simplifies what might otherwise be an extremely confusing and complex process.
You'll still set up the order forms and access (or revoke) sequences themselves inside of Ontraport, but any tags you want will automatically show up thanks to AccessAlly's integration.
Additional Features Available With AccessAlly
In addition to the features listed above (which AccessAlly shares on a basic level with PilotPress) there are some additional perks to going with a more robust, paid plugin like AccessAlly.
These additional perks include:
Organic Cross Selling and Upselling For Your Products
Of course you can always manually integrate your cross-selling and upselling campaigns into your membership site.
But with AccessAlly, it's all built in via the course dashboard.
Here, users can see the full-color icons of the courses they currently have access to …as well as grayed out icons for courses that you offer that they don't have access to yet.
And, since the icons are designated inside the Course Creation Wizard, there's no need to worry about a complex setup if you do want to take advantage of the course dashboard!
Credit Tracking System
It's fun to get rewards for completing course content, for example, or even just for paying the monthly membership fee!
That's why we've included a feature in AccessAlly that allows you to set up a point or credit system for your members. This can be used as in-site currency, which your members can take advantage of to “pay” for additional access to courses, or redeem for certain perks.
It's an exciting way to get people more invested in your products!
Built in Webinars
This allows you to host an unlimited number of webinars on your own site, with immediate access to an instant replay the moment you're done recording.
AccessAlly also includes a user directory feature, where users can upload their own images, info, and connect with each other.
We've taken advantage of this feature in our own Heartquarters membership site, to allow our members to act as accountability partners for one another.
It's a great way to build community among some fabulous like-minded people.
The last great feature we'll mention here is AccessAlly's user management capabilities. This allows you to manage a user's tags and Infusionsoft or Ontraport ID from directly inside your membership site.
No more logging into the CRM if you have to quickly add or revoke access to a user…what a relief!
The PilotPress vs AccessAlly Showdown
In short, both plugins allow you to utilize the power of Ontraport's CRM, automation, and ecommerce capabilities.
The biggest draw of PilotPress, of course, the fact that it's free.
So if you're running your membership site based on some really standard membership levels and aren't looking for a lot of bells and whistles, this is going to be a good option.
The downside is that it's pretty basic and is known to have some compatibility issues with other plugins.
AccessAlly, on the other hand, comes with a price tag of $79/month OR $790, paid annually…but it also includes quite a few more features for you to take advantage of (see the full list of features here).
It's also cleanly coded to play nicely with other plugins, giving you more flexibility if you want to use some additional tools within your membership site.
And, since the effectiveness of your membership website isn't dependent on how much you did (or didn't) pay for your tech tools, the end result is always going to be the deciding factor.
Keep your students' needs first, and the rest will follow :)