WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews – The Ultimate Comparison

WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

There are an unnerving number of lists that turn up when you’re looking for fair WordPress membership plugin reviews. From free plugins to really expensive ones, the sheer volume of options leaves many entrepreneurs scratching their heads, wondering “Which WordPress membership plugin is best?”

The “best” plugin is subjective, in a way, since the perfect plugin is the one that fits your needs! We want to help you find out which WordPress membership plugin is best for you.

Keep in mind, as your business experiences growth and change, the “best plugin” may also change. Here is our comprehensive WordPress membership plugin review list that will help you decide.

It All Depends on Your Business

Brand new businesses (the stork’s latest delivery) don’t need the most expensive, advanced software available. Since new businesses often start with a very small amount of capital and a lot of heart and passion, it isn’t worth your while to invest in really expensive software.

In the early months (or years), it’s often best to get a foot in the door by using software that is cheap or free – but gets the job done.

As your business grows and experiences financial success, you have more capital to invest in better software. Presumably at this point you also have an improved grasp of where you want to go and how to get there.

Well-established, successful companies are another beast. With a detailed, streamlined process and an extensive amount of contacts, an established business often finds that a fine-tuned premium WordPress membership plugin is best.


A list of the plugins we review in this article:


Criteria Used In Our WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews:

WordPress Membership Plugin ComparisonWithout standard criteria to provide an “apples to apples” base, it can be impossible to decide between similar WordPress membership plugin options.

We’ve provided a list of decision criteria that we used when comparing each of the options in our WordPress membership plugin reviews. Use these as the basis for deciding which is the best WordPress membership plugin for your particular business and purposes:

1. Email Integration

Especially important is an existing integration with your preferred email marketing platform and CRM.

Integration is key to survival in the world of WordPress. Some plugins are created with clear, clean code that is specifically designed to integrate well with the other tools you need to create a solid membership site. Whether you use MailChimp, Infusionsoft, Convertkit – or any other software – your membership site plugin has to work seamlessly with it in order to reach your members outside of the website.

Don’t have an email marketing platform yet? Read our email marketing system comparison post here.

2. Payment Gateway

Membership sites are a great way to bring in steady revenue with content that you only need to create once. WordPress membership plugins handle this transfer of funds during the sign-up process, and must be able to integrate with the payment gateway that you and your members are most comfortable with.

Think of some of the big names: PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Infusionsoft, Ontraport – all of these payment methods carry an element of trust that will help to encourage your members to take the plunge and join your membership program.

Some options allow you to charge on a recurring basis, while others leave all of the payment stuff to you… so you need to know what your membership site plans are ahead of time.

Click to get the 6 membership site models and case studies

3. Course Options – Content Delivery & Flexibility

What type of content you’re able to create and promote within your membership site is dependent on the plugin that you choose. Some plugins have a set number of membership levels for you to choose from – others might limit the amount of courses that you can offer. Or, make it really difficult for your students to upgrade or access more courses in one simple interface.

Drip content capabilities (releasing new content over time, or with certain “trigger” actions, such as completing a lesson) is an almost necessary feature to help keep members engaged – but can be impossible to set up if you’re using the wrong plugin.

4. Customization & Design

Consistent branding is key! Many of the WordPress membership plugins that we’ll review come with pre-designed templates that are nice to get you up and running quick… but might stick out like a sore thumb when compared with the rest of your company branding.

Being able to add your own customization is a huge perk, and one that is challenging for many plugins to accommodate. Typically, the more design options that are available, the more complex the setup will be.

5. Affiliate Referral Tracking

If you’re looking for a way to really let your business shine and gain traction with new crowds, a well-developed affiliate referral program provides the opportunity and medium to make it happen.

For this, you’ll need a system that enables you to track leads and purchases obtained through your affiliates – and a way to oversee the whole process. The affiliates will need their own corner of gated content, where you can provide them with all the tools they need to succeed, from social graphics, tracking links, and email content.

WordPress Membership Site Reviews

6. User Progress Tracking

User progress tracking is incredibly helpful when it comes to retaining the members who have already signed up for your online program. On the programming end, progress tracking provides the foundation that you need to be able to send out email reminders if the member is “stuck” somewhere – or simply forgot about their membership!

On the front-end, user progress tracking can be visible to the members to give them a visual of what they’ve accomplished so far – and what they still have to gain from your program.

7. Support

It doesn’t matter how elite your plugin is….you’ll probably run into a glitch somewhere along the line.

Whether you need help with integration, troubleshooting, or simply understanding what the instructions mean, the support that’s available to you can make or break your plugin experience. Look for a dedicated support team that commits to a quick turnaround and great help when you need it most.


Those are the fundamental components that will come into play throughout our WordPress membership plugin reviews.

So with our criteria ready to go, we can get into some specifics.

Best WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews by Business Type

It's time to delve into some specific Wordpress membership plugin reviews to help you decide where you want to go next:

Level 1: Just Starting Out

reviews-plugin-grid-pinterest
Just because you have a new business doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the benefits of having a working membership site! In fact, if your business model is ready, it’s worth going the extra mile to set up a membership site for a group of paying members. Start as you mean to go on!

There are a few different options when it comes to free WordPress membership plugins. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a free option when you’re just starting out. For the sake of your business, it’s probably the best idea to go this route – at least initially. Although you’ll need to spend some time and effort creating a membership site that complements your business, it will be well worth the effort when your membership site begins to generate revenue.

We took the time to handpick the top free WordPress membership site plugins that seem to function well and are worth the time it takes to set everything up. Keep in mind that many of these also offer paid “Pro” versions that can be purchased. The Pro versions, however, are not included in this section of the review.

That having been said, here are the top 3 in the “free” category of our WordPress Membership plugin reviews:

S2 Member – free version

S2 Member - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

S2 Member is a great plugin that is constantly receiving attention from its original development team. The free version serves as a basic framework for the fundamentals of building a worthwhile membership site on WordPress.

The free S2 Member plugin lets you sell courses and content through the basic PayPal integration. When you upgrade to their paid versions, you can also accept payments through Stripe, Authorize.net, and ClickBank. This plugin comes with integrations with MailChimp and Aweber, and in the pro version GetResponse. If you use these email systems, it will definitely do the trick, but otherwise this might not be the right plugin for you.

S2 Member does come with 4 membership levels that can be used throughout your site. The way the plugin is designed, you can use shortcodes to show different content to different members based on their membership levels.

After that, it falls short in terms of customization & design, no progress tracking or content dripping over time, and no built-in affiliate referral program.

Support is available for the paid versions, but if you’re going with the free option you’re left to the knowledge base and googling for answers.

Email Integrations: MailChimp, Aweber
Payment Gateway: PayPal
Course Options: BASIC
Customization/Design: Use any WordPress theme, customized with shortcodes
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: NO
Support: NO

Membership 2

wordpress membership plugin reviews for membership2This membership plugin is developed by the great team at WPMU DEV. Although the Pro paid version has much higher capabilities, the free plugin is nothing to be sneezed at.

With a focused set of integrations (basic MailChimp email added to one list, and PayPal, Stripe, and Authorize.net for payments), it is still competitive and enables you to set up unlimited membership levels and a content drip – an advanced feature in the realm of free plugins.

The great bonus of working with this plugin is that it is naturally designed to work with some of the other plugins offered by the team at WPMU DEV, and it offers lots of addons to choose from. So if you need more advanced features, there’s probably a complementary plugin that can help.

The downside: The shortage of integrations, and controlling how users can sign up for your membership site. There are also instances of bugs being reported from long-time users.

Email Integrations: MailChimp
Payment Gateway: Paypal, Stripe, Authorize.net – no tax calculation in the free version
Course Options: 4 customizable membership types to choose from, Dripped content
Customization & Design: Use any WordPress theme, customized with shortcodes
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: NO
Support: YES via forums

Simple Membership

Simple Membership - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

Simple Membership is a simple plugin, designed to do what it does with ease. It is designed to integrate with MailChimp for email marketing and PayPal as a payment gateway.

One of its unique perks is that it offers unlimited membership levels. You can also change the language settings, so if you offer a membership site in a different language this is a nice feature.

To deal with the ever-growing scourge of spammers, you can alter the settings so that registrations must be manually accepted.

The flaws of this plugin are definitely in its lack of integrations. Of course, if MailChimp and PayPal are what you use, there’s no problem with this!

Overall, this plugin lives up to its name – it’s simple and you won’t get bogged down with options. But if you want to create more sophisticated membership sites, it might not be the way to go long term.

Email Integrations: MailChimp
Payment Gateway: PayPal
Course Options: Unlimited membership levels, uses shortcodes to protect content.
Customization & Design: Use any WordPress theme, customized with shortcodes
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: NO
Support: YES, through support forums

Level 2: Ready to Invest In Your Business

Ok, we’ve made it to level 2! This level of plugins has been reviewed for businesses that have already experienced some level of financial success – and who can afford to invest in better, more advanced software. After some success under your belt, you’re at a point where you’re ready to look for a plugin with more capabilities.

Since price is still something to be considered – no need to go all-out on software till your business is set in stone and flourishing – we’ve selected the best of the mid-range plugins to include in this section of our WordPress membership plugin review extravaganza.

You can take a look at the premium versions of the free plugins we reviewed above, if you want an easy-peasy upgrade path.

Although the free plugins mentioned above are definitely great in their field, we found that their “paid” or “Pro” versions didn’t really stand up to the test for most growing businesses. The downside to that is, of course, the need to port information from one plugin to another. Fortunately, there are a lot of great people out there who have the skills and experience to help you out with that task.

The downside is that many of these plugins don't deliver the premium experience you might want to offer your customers if you're charging premium prices yourself.

And so, our “affordable” WordPress membership plugin review list includes:

Wishlist Member

wishlist wordpress membership plugin reviews by nathalie lussier

This plugin is fairly comprehensive at a super affordable cost per year. If you use any of the major automated marketing software platforms or payment gateways, Wishlist probably integrates with it… because this WordPress plugin has been around for over a decade and has the user base to back that up!

If you’re not an Infusionsoft of Ontraport user, Wishlist makes for a great plugin. But a huge downside for Infusionsoft and Ontraport users is that this plugin lacks the ability to use complex logic with Infusionsoft tags.

For example, if someone has a tag added in Infusionsoft (because they clicked an email, opted in, or purchased something), a membership site built with Wishlist won’t be able to automatically reflect the change on their account. As site administrator, you would have to manually unlock content or otherwise acknowledge the change for the user.

Of course, sites with very basic membership levels (Basic, Professional, Premium) shouldn’t have too much of an issue.

There are some other plugins (AccessAlly, iMember360, Memberium) that do have much more to offer in terms of Infusionsoft integration, but for its price, this is still a very solid plugin with a lot of addons available.

Some of its negatives lie in a lack of customization within the plugin. Members do not have control over their billing preferences, and upgrading/downgrading from one level of membership to the next is impossible.

Price: $196 / $297 per year
Email Integrations: YES
Payment Gateway: YES (no deep integration with Infusionsoft or Ontraport, and these are paid addons that don’t add all the possible functionality you might want)
Course Options: YES – more advanced options must be purchased through add-ons
Customization & Design: 2 membership themes with paid multi-site.
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: NO
Premium Support: YES (1 year)

OptimizeMember (OptimizePress)

OptimizePress - WP membership plugin reviews

The OptimizeMember plugin is a great option if you’re already using OptimizePress to create landing pages or sales pages on your site.

It comes with all the essential features you’d expect like different membership levels, drip content, and video tutorials to help you set up your site.

This WordPress membership plugin is designed to work within the OptimizePress system – which makes it a little tricky to review on its own. The basic package costs $97 per year and includes many of the templates you’ll need for your membership site.

However, each template is designed for a specific purpose – if you wanted to add anything beyond what the basic package templates offer, you will have to spend extra in the OptimizePress marketplace to get it.

Another negative factor to this plugin is the complexity of the setup process, so if you’re comfortable with tech it makes for a good option but otherwise it could be confusing.

The main strengths of this plugin lie in its price and the many enhancements offered by OptimizePress – although adding many enhancements can boost the cost considerably, it is nice to have options available.

Pricing: $97 – 297 / year
Email Integrations: YES
Payment Gateway: YES – PayPal, Stripe, Clickbank, Authorize.net (no deep integration with Infusionsoft or Ontraport)
Course Options: (Templates)
Customization & Design: YES, but limited to templates that must be purchased separately
Affiliate Referral Program: YES – but limited to templates that must be purchased separately
Progress Tracking: NO
Premium Support: YES (1 year)

MemberPress

MemberPress 2 - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

MemberPress consistently receives incredibly high ratings and great feedback, and the team responsible has also created other successful WordPress plugins so you know they’re here to stay.

When the plugin is installed on your WordPress site, you also receive a very helpful list of addons that will enhance the capabilities of your plugin. It offers unlimited course and digital offerings, along with dripped content.

Members are given the ability to update their subscription and billing preferences as needed, saving you a ton of time in customer service.

It is integrated with PayPal, Authorize.net and Stripe – as well as the major email marketing platforms, such as MailChimp, Aweber, MadMimi, etc.

Price: $99-199 / year
Email Integrations: YES
Payment Gateway: YES – PayPal, Authorize.net, & Stripe
Course Options: YES – content drip, unlimited membership levels, unlimited courses
Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme
Affiliate Referral Program: YES – AffiliateRoyale plugin included in your purchase
Progress Tracking: NO
Premium Support: YES

ZippyCourses

ZippyCourses Example

Looking for a plugin that requires no tech expertise to setup? That’s ZippyCourses in a nutshell, but keep in mind that the plugin was really designed specifically for online courses as opposed to different types of ongoing membership sites you might have in mind.

This is a straightforward plugin that gets its name from the short amount of time it takes to set everything up. With the majority of the required settings tweakable from a simple dashboard, you will have your new course site up and running in no time.

One perk you get with ZippyCourses is the ability to see how much time students spend inside your courses. With many built-in 3rd party integrations, it’s also a membership plugin that can work with nearly any theme.

One downside to trying to integrate with a lot of different systems is that it doesn’t do any “deep integrations” with full-fledged CRMs like Infusionsoft or Ontraport, so it's definitely best to pick another option if you're on these systems.

Price: $199/year (use on 1 site)
Email Integrations: YES (shallow integrations – 10)
Payment Gateway: YES – 8
Course Options: YES (unlimited membership/courses)
Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme, comes with a default theme that isn’t super customizable
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: Only on the back-end for the administrator
Premium Support: YES (1 year)

Exchange from iThemes

iThemes Exchange - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

The plugin Exchange, developed by the team at iThemes, is a payment processing plugin that allows you to add additional plugins like their “Exchange Membership” feature.

The Exchange Membership addon offers a way to turn a regular WordPress website into a membership site with just a few settings to tweak on each page. The way the plugin is designed, it feels like a great way to add paid gated content to your existing blog, as opposed to a full-fledge course delivery platform.

You can also deliver digital downloads to your new members, right out of the box. One thing to keep in with with Exchange from iThemes is that it’s not an “all in one” membership site solution, but rather a combination of smaller WordPress plugins that each achieve a specific goal.

Price: $197-$247
Email Integrations: Mailchimp
Payment Gateway: PayPal or Stripe
Course Options: Dripped content, unlimited access levels
Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: NO
Premium Support: YES

MemberMouse

WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

The MemberMouse plugin is set up with a recurring monthly payment schedule, rather than yearly fees. The base price of $19.95 per month allows your site to host up to 1000 unique members. These members can be grouped into an unlimited number of membership levels.

Like many of the WordPress membership plugins, MemberMouse uses its own system of shortcodes to determine what content can be seen by whom. Although it does connect with some major email marketing services (MailChimp, AWeber, and GetResponse), this plugin does not integrate with any particular CRM. And for businesses who want to have the software in place that will help them monitor and foster growth, this can be devastating.

One benefit of using MemberMouse is that you can create “My Account” pages that allow your customers to update their credit card on file, change their membership levels, and automate some of the customer support tasks you might run into.

Price: $19.95 – $299 / month
Email Integrations: YES
Payment Gateway: YES
Course Options: GOOD
Customization & Design: YES – with shortcodes
Affiliate Referral Program: YES
Progress Tracking: YES, only on the back-end for the admin view
Premium Support: Videos and community forums only

Memberful

Memberful - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

Memberful is a strong plugin with limited integrations – but ones that it carries off almost flawlessly. Its greatest strength lies in its ease of setup and lack of distractions. You create your “order form” via Memberful, add the code to your site, and it will take care of payments.

With Memberful you can have unlimited members, and the plugin is also compatible with forum plugins for WordPress like bbPress. You can integrate Memberful with your email marketing platform, but they have built-in transactional emails already handled.

Although all of the plugins we’ve been reviewing are specifically for WordPress, Memberful can be used on more than just a WordPress site, through their software-as-a-service integration.

Pricing: $25 – 100 / month
Email Integrations: MailChimp, Campaign Monitor
Payment Gateway: YES – Stripe
Course Options: Different levels only
Customization & Design: Works with any WordPress theme
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: NO
Premium Support: Documentation and Email

Users Ultra

UsersUltra 2 - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

This WordPress membership site plugin is a bit of a departure from the others we’ve been reviewing, because it’s more about creating your own “social media” platform than a course delivery platform.

Your users can sign up and sign in using their social media accounts (Facebook, Google, Twitter), which saves them from creating yet another account on a new website.

Each user has a profile page, a “wall” that others can comment on, and the ability to “add friends” and search for other users. This might make a good addition to one of the other more “content focused” membership plugins that we’ve reviewed so far.

Pricing: $59-$199
Email Integrations: None
Payment Gateway: WooCommerce integration
Course Options: None
Customization & Design: Built-in design (not super customizable)
Affiliate Referral Program: NO
Progress Tracking: NO
Premium Support: Yes

Level 3: Amping Things Up

Level 3 plugins are for those who are amping things up and are ready to earn more with a membership site. Everything in this section of our WordPress membership plugin review comes at a price – but one that is totally worthwhile for the amount of features and flexibility that the plugin gives you.

The important thing about this group of plugins isn’t necessarily their price tag – although some did get bumped from level 2 because of their cost.

More important, I’d like to focus on the integration capacity that they offer with premium automated email marketing software biggies: Infusionsoft and Ontraport.

As a business grows, it naturally develops a need for more advanced and fine-tuned management. Comprehensive software can be used for retargeting, and really advanced campaigns. For some companies, this might not even be necessary.

For multi-faceted companies, it is a necessity.
The elite WordPress membership plugin review list includes:

iMember360

iMember360 - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

This plugin is extremely advanced and intuitive – and one that we used to use for our own membership site in the early years of our business. Developed specifically with Infusionsoft integration in mind, it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of membership levels, setup, and functionality.

When our membership site really began to explode (expedited because of a free membership area), however, iMember360 had a hard time keeping up communication with Infusionsoft. When it checks permissions, this plugin makes API calls to the Infusionsoft server – and with over 10K members, this constant communication was causing major lags in our membership site.

Its complex shortcode system can be used for many design and member site functionality purposes – and can also be used to integrate with other 3rd party plugins. Although those who are more familiar with coding might not struggle with memorizing the shortcodes and their functionality, many business owners can become frustrated with this system – even with the resources available.

After all, time is money!

iMember360 does not come with client management features (updating credit cards and running payments), nor does it pull in affiliate data from Infusionsoft. It also doesn’t have advanced features like a credit unlocking system, or built-in user management for administrators.

Price: $47 / month to $89 / month
Email Integrations: Infusionsoft 
Payment Gateway: Through Infusionsoft
Course Options: None
Customization & Design: GOOD
Affiliate Referral Program: Not built in
Progress Tracking: NO
Premium Support: YES

Memberium

Memberium - WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews

Memberium is a great plugin, very similar to iMember360 in terms of functionality and compatibility with Infusionsoft. It is one of the least expensive plugins in our “level 3” group, but you do pay per site, so that cost can increase exponentially.

Memberium’s functionality is dependent on using and applying the right shortcodes per page. The amount of flexibility you have is great, but it is extremely challenging to remember what each of the shortcodes can do without referring back to the fairly lengthy guide.

These shortcodes are also utilized when it comes time to design and brand your new membership site. There are plenty of Memberium alternatives that offer additional functionality.

Price: $47 / month
Email Integrations: YES
Payment Gateway: YES
Course Options: GOOD
Customization & Design: Good
Affiliate Referral Program: YES
Progress Tracking: Basic
Premium Support: YES

AccessAlly

AccessAlly was designed specifically to integrate with Ontraport and Infusionsoft. It is designed to take your membership needs to the next level – without requiring you to hire a programmer just to get the job done.

AccessAlly

It comes with professionally designed templates that you can choose from. Each of these templates is able to be customized, so you can get the exact look that you need in your members-only area.

Unlike many of the other plugins that we looked at, AccessAlly is not heavy on the shortcodes. Rather, it uses an intuitive setup wizard that offers the same functionality and course design flexibility – but without the frustrating hassle of memorizing dozens of codes. For the shortcodes that AccessAlly does use, it’s just a click of a button to “insert shortcode” with all the details filled in for you.

AccessAlly Workflow Wizard

And, of course, it integrates seamlessly with AccessAlly Pro.

What Makes AccessAlly Different:

There are a few points to consider if you’re debating between AccessAlly and another plugin. Here are a few of the components that really make AccessAlly stand out:

With built-in webinar hosting, you can easily host your own webinar within your membership site. You can offer paid webinars for members or free webinars to engage new audiences.

With the affiliate members area integration, this plugin offers a single location to provide a streamlined affiliate program. Affiliate links, stats, etc. make the affiliate members area a breeze to monitor and manage.

AccessAlly Credit System

Use the built-in credit system to allow site members to “unlock” certain content based on their actions (completing a portion of the course, earning points, etc.). This is a great tool to encourage your members to make the most of the content that is available to them.

The client payment management within AccessAlly allows members to easily update credit card information – as well as be presented with 1-click upsells.

The admins on your team are able to access user management tools to help monitor your membership site.

AccessAlly Pro also adds gamification, quizzes, and rewards – essentially the components that are needed to make the experience fun. It can definitely give your site the boost it needs to grow and flourish – and continue to bring revenue into your business.

Price: $79 / month (see pricing here)
Email Integrations: YES
Payment Gateway: YES
Course Options: Levels, Dripped, Stand alone courses
Customization & Design: 4 Designs To Choose From, Fully Customizable and Compatible with Any WordPress Theme
Affiliate Referral Program: Yes, built-in integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip
Progress Tracking: With AccessAlly Pro
Premium Support: YES

The Rest is Up To You

This is a fairly comprehensive list in the world of WordPress membership plugin reviews, but it still doesn’t begin to cover the many plugins available for your business.

It’s worth reiterating that all WordPress Membership plugin reviews are meant to help you determine which plugin is right for your needs.

Young businesses have specific demands that really shape which membership plugins should be invested in.  If your business is at the healthy, established state in life, you might be looking for a plugin with more unique properties.

Regardless, I hope you've found our WordPress membership plugin reviews to be a helpful resource that can get you started with a valuable membership site that will really impress your customers.

Please feel free to share your experience with any of these plugins in the comment section below!

For a snapshot view of everything covered in this article, download our WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews graph:

WordPress Membership Plugin Reviews Infographic Grid

24 Comments

  1. Caressa on March 9, 2016 at 11:37 am

    This came at THE right time. I was going to go the free route but, I was torn at the lack of options and I like to have things as smooth as possible in the long run. So I started exploring the paid plugins and the same ones I highlighted as a strong possibility are the ones you discussed in your blog post.

    Thank you for the details, Natalie. Now I am off to make an investment. ;)



    • ambitionally on March 9, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Happy to hear this came at the right time for you Caressa! :) Best of luck on your journey to course and membership site creation!



  2. Star Khechara on March 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

    The only problem with all of these plugins is that none of them take into account the EU VAT on digital services (if you sell your ecourse or membership site to a customer in any EU member stat you have to pay VAT to that country).

    Since January 2015 (when this new law came in) it’s vital that an all-in-one membership site access & payment system include the right elements to allow either the gathering of the correct data to determine if EU VAT is applicable or to act as the responsible collector of such VAT.

    Currently only the 3rd party platforms (Udemy, Teachable etc) do this, which renders all of these plugins unusable unless we geoblock all EU buyers.

    Natalie are you planning to add EU VAT compliance to yours or is it already in place?



    • ambitionally on March 9, 2016 at 11:53 am

      Hey Star! This is a really good question, but it really depends on how you set up your membership site. Most membership sites that I’ve seen, include a community or live element so the EU VAT rules don’t currently apply. If you wanted to do a purely “hands off” no-contact with the course creator course, then I might look at the EU VAT issues as a real deterrent, but otherwise I really don’t think it should limit you or your options for how you want to set up your courses online.

      For our AccessAlly plugin, all of the payment stuff is handled by either Infusionsoft or Ontraport, and these sophisticated systems allow you to do a lot of different searches and set up taxes based on different locales, too.



      • Star Khechara on March 9, 2016 at 7:56 pm

        Only the UK (HMRC) agreed that adding a live group removes you from EU VAT responsibility though – the other 26(?) member states do not agree on that point. So technically they could still chase up all the folks selling ecourses and memberships with an FB group attached. It’s pretty complex stuff and there is still a massive campaign raging about it.

        I’m pretty technical so I’ve cobbled my own systems together to handle it but it’s a shame that there isn’t yet an all in one solution that can handle this.

        Have you got any plans to open up accessally to those not using ontraport or IS?



        • ambitionally on March 10, 2016 at 11:38 am

          Thanks for clarifying that Star! It’s definitely a complex issue, and I also wonder how they’re really going to enforce this stuff on such a large scale. It feels like a nightmare to track, let alone submit paperwork to each of the different countries in the EU.

          And we have a post with more details about why we’re focusing on Infusionsoft and Ontraport for AccessAlly at the moment, here: http://ambitionally.com/increase-online-sales/creating-membership-sites/accessally-integrations/



    • Rebecca Portsmouth on March 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Hi Star, this is my problem too, also being in the UK. Gumroad is great for handling + paying VAT but doesn’t sync with membership areas for courses and their own membership plug-in is MIGHTILY clunky. As in, there is no way I could use it. It’s a frustration.



      • Jean Miller on March 12, 2016 at 6:54 pm

        Could you use Gumroad for payment & Optimize Press for memberhship area? Just wondering if those two integrate well.



        • ambitionally on March 14, 2016 at 11:26 am

          Hey Jean! A quick google showed me that OptimizePress has a tutorial for integrating with Gumroad. The main thing you’ll need to have on your site according to their info page is an SSL Certificate, to make sure that orders going through Gumroad are secure. :) Good luck!



  3. Amethyst Mahoney on March 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    This is a great list! Unfortunately, it’s got all the usual suspects. I recently found LearnDash, and it is my God-send. I would have loved to use Progress Ally, but as far as I’ve seen it only integrates with InfusionSoft, and my biggest joy in life this year so far was to finally get rid of that system. Keep up the great work that you do. I do recommend your membership to anyone who still has IS, as well as your pop-up system and everything else!



    • ambitionally on March 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Hey Amethyst! Just to clarify, AccessAlly Pro works with ANY WordPress plugin – it sits on top of membership plugins like LearnDash does. :) And AccessAlly is our “Ontraport and Infusionsoft” only tool. We consciously made AccessAlly Pro compatible with all the above plugins, because we know that not everyone uses these platforms.



  4. Elizabeth Goddard on March 9, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I love this post <3
    I work exclusively with OptimizePress and OptimizeMember for my clients. I know not everyone loves it, but I clicked with it so quickly.
    Anyway, I'm really baffled by the info you provide for OptimizeMember:

    1. Course Options
    2. Customization & Design
    3. Affiliate Referral Program

    Intrigued by the information you provide for OptimizeMember for these 3 areas!



    • ambitionally on March 9, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Hey Elizabeth, thanks so much for highlighting this section of our review! We tried to cover a lot in this post, and while we did our best there were a few spots where we either copy and pasted or didn’t review things as clearly as we could have. We’ve made updates the original post to clarify things, and we so appreciate you pointing those out to us! :)



  5. Genevieve on March 9, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    This is a great article but as someone who uses OptimizePress for everything in my business, I would argue that your section on OptimizePress/OptimizeMember is very misleading and incorrect!

    You can work with templates OR you can design your own pages…and if you do decide to work with templates, they are all completely customizable so you CAN ABSOLUTELY add anything to them without spending a dime!

    You also continue to say: “The main strengths of this plugin lie in its price and the many enhancements offered by OptimizePress – although adding many enhancements can boost the cost considerably, it is nice to have options available.”

    This is misleading… suggesting that to use it beyond a basic level would augment the cost..this is false. When you purchase OP, you get everything you need; all the page building elements, a bunch of free templates and your membership plugin. The only enhancement offered is the Clubhouse membership which gives you free updates and access to a few more templates. There are also vendors who have designed templates to work specifically with OP who sell these in the Marketplace.



    • ambitionally on March 9, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      Hey Genevieve, thanks so much for highlighting this section of our review! We tried to cover a lot in this post, and while we did our best there were a few spots where we either copy and pasted or didn’t review things as clearly as we could have and it looks like the OptimizePress section was where we flubbed! We’ve made updates the original post to clarify things, and we so appreciate you pointing those out to us! :)

      I know many people who love their OptimizePress sites, so I totally appreciate you chiming in here with your experience!



  6. LBF on March 9, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Nathalie, this is a great list and comes at the right time, I’ve been agonizing over what to use. I would love to use ambition ally, but I’m using mailchimp right now and can’t invest in ontraport or infusionsoft, Do you think that you will develop that integration? I was going to go the zippy course route, but it doesn’t have affiliate integration so that’s no good. I’m also looking at course ware like thinkific and teachable. Opinions about those?



    • ambitionally on March 10, 2016 at 11:44 am

      Here’s a post with more information about why we aren’t building out an integration for Mailchimp at this time. I’ve heard good things about Thinkific in particular, if you’re looking for a hosted platform (that doesn’t give you as much control over the look and feel and hosting of your site like you’d get from a WordPress install).



  7. Dave Cearley on March 9, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Great job guys, Thanks!



  8. […] That having been said, there are some plugins – or genres of plugins – that are fundamentally important to a website. These “genres” range from site security to social sharing, from lead generation tools to more advanced features like a membership site. […]



  9. Linda on March 28, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Great post thanks. I have checked out a few of these membership plugins, but it’s not completely clear to me whether it would be possible to do what I want to do with them. Maybe you could help me out with this.

    I want to offer my clients an “ad/profile” page on my website displaying specific information about their business, which they can edit once logged in. In the membership area I also want to offer them content only available to the members, such as webinars and courses, though that would be developed later. My first concern is that I am able to give them their own page to be edited by themselves.

    Could any of you point me to a membership plugin that does that?



  10. Melanie Rettie on April 12, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Yes, great list and review – many thanks!

    I’ve got a very active but small (invite only – will stay small, maybe 200 people or so) membership group. Right now we’re using SharePoint and email to coordinate. Yuck! The group is primarily a not-for-profit group, and networking is our main focus. We’re also going to be doing some benchmarking – meaning that we’ll be sharing files and status about key performance metrics. I’ve been looking at listserve type membership groups combined with something like Dropbox for sharing the files. We have about $1,500/year that we could spend on a service/site.

    Is there a set of tools based on WordPress that might meet these needs?

    Many thanks in advance!



  11. Rich on April 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

    I have a rather specific question about some of the software capabilities of membership plugins. Particularly, I am looking for a plugin that allows you to directly email specific members without having to create a lists/groups with a particular autoresponder.

    For example: If I have a specific membership level (member) and status (expired/active/inactive). Do any plugins allow me to email a subset such as “Member-Expired” and not send an email to “Member-active” and “Member-Inactive”. TIA!



    • ambitionally on April 29, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      You could definitely handle that inside a CRM like Infusionsoft or Ontraport, which would hook up to your membership site.



  12. Monish on May 13, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Hi,

    Can somebody please help me with the current situation i am facing?

    We are developing a website for a client in wordpress. They would be offering online courses to users. They have 3 categories for users namely Earlybirds, Normal & Premium. User has to register & pay for gaining an access to online courses & becoming any of the above member. When they pay the amount gets converted in Credit Points which they have to use to access different online courses. They will also get credit points after completing courses which needs to be added in their account balance. Also, for eg – If they only 200 credits & they want to access a learning course which costs 300 credits then they have to buy extra credits for it.

    Is there any plugin that can help us in achieving all of the above tasks



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