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The Top Membership Site Trends To Keep An Eye On

Every year tends to be accompanied by an almost incredible influx of new inventions and possibilities, especially in the ever-changing world of technology.

With the last year coming to a close, we wanted to take a look at one of the staple markets of entrepreneurs across the globe: the membership site.

After all, it’s not just another website plugin: a membership site is truly one of the foundational tools of any online business owner… no matter what niche you’re in.

So let’s see what membership site trends have been prominent, and especially which we’ll want to focus on next year.

Membership Site Trends Pick Up In Every Industry

Membership sites continue to snowball in popularity and functionality. In the past, we’ve seen membership sites used as a pretty standard training component of large, corporate businesses, as well as housing courses for online schools and universities. But all that is changing.

Entrepreneurs from all industries have discovered the pure resourcefulness of adding a membership site component to their online business and website community.

For small business owners especially, the membership site provides a nearly unparalleled opportunity for recurring income and a status of authority within their niche.

There’s always a lot of programs and courses focused on “how to create and launch an online course.” Be discerning of the courses that you invest in for your own training, always opting for professional, trusted instructors with a proven track record of success.

Some Ideas Of How Others Have Been Using The Membership Site:

Style Challenges

Style challenge screenshot

Alison Lumbatis, a fashion stylist, created her membership site as a way to offer indepth fashion advice to women who are serious about kicking the wardrobe doldrums.

Her membership site is, unsurprisingly, extremely visual, and provides a calendar view to assist users with the perennial dilemma: what am I going to wear today?

The Media Method Program

Media Method screenshot

Natalie MacNeil and Gwen Elliot, both incredibly successful entrepreneurs, use their membership site as a training platform to teach other entrepreneurs how to gain significant and meaningful media coverage for their own businesses.

Throughout the online course, they provide incredible training videos and extremely practical instruction to help members achieve the highest level of success after completing the course.

Stu McLaren’s Tribe Course

I think a special mention has to be made here of Stu McLaren and his incredible Tribe course.

Stu McLaren’s Tribe course took the membership site world by storm, and some of the biggest takeaways are around designing membership sites that don’t overwhelm students and that keep them coming back for more.

Some of his strategies include creating a success path, deciding on your content frequency and pricing, and choosing a topic that people don’t want to quit.

Stu was hyper-engaged and hosted ongoing live Q&As for students.

The Year Of (Even More) Membership Site Options

Each year there are more options for membership site platforms, from WordPress plugins to hosted solutions.
The basic “protecting content for a membership site” problem has been solved!

Now membership site owners want elegant sites that are easy to navigate, and that add gamification and learning management touchpoints to encourage students to succeed.

The all-in-one platforms, have been quick to jump on adding these features, to provide the best experience for their clients.

In the world of WordPress plugins, you’ll be looking at an increase in LMS (“Learning Management System“) plugins coming out on the market. These plugins will provide that quiz, progress tracking, and other gamification features that are so integral to ensuring happy and successful membership site clients.

AccessAlly Pro Becomes A Full LMS Plugin

The past few years have brought a new wave of features to our own AccessAlly Pro plugin, which now rivals some of the top LMS plugins out there.

Back in the day, AccessAlly Pro was more of a gamification add-on, providing sweet quizzes, progress tracking, and some video bookmarks.

But all that has changed.

Now, you’ll find a full suite of features inside AccessAlly Pro that make it an almost necessary partner to any online training course or membership site:

  • Automatic, custom certificate generation when students complete a course
  • Graded, personality-style, and pass/fail quizzes
  • Private notes for individual student coaching
  • Video bookmarks, so your students can start watching a course video at the right point (instead of having to start over from the beginning!)
  • And much more!

And, since it integrates well with most other WordPress membership plugins, AccessAlly Pro is an LMS tool that can be easily added to your current site.

You Might Change Your Mind About What Features You Want, so You Need a Platform That’s Flexible.

Get your own free demo sandbox account so you can experience the flexibility AccessAlly has to offer.

Computer screen with 3 people looking pensiveSee it in action

As we move into 2017, these LMS features will continue to grow in importance and focus on the side of both entrepreneurs and online students.

New Integrations With Your Favorite Tools

Of course, accessibility to tech tools has always been a thorn in the side of entrepreneurs with a limited budget. While there hasn’t been a lack of affordable (or free) membership plugins for WordPress sites, the need for a reasonable level of functionality (without emptying the bank) can be challenging.

So this year, one of our main focuses has been to collaborate with two very different email marketing teams: ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit.

With these two new integrations, AccessAlly has been opened up to an entirely new set of entrepreneurs: those who might not have a large enough audience or budget to justify using something like Infusionsoft or Ontraport, but who are still serious about setting up a membership site with full automation and capabilities.

Ecommerce Capabilities… Without The Need for A Separate Plugin

Another area that has seen a ton of improvement here (both in our own plugin and in other areas) is the world of ecommerce and being able to sell a product on your own website.

In the old days, you had a couple of standard plugins that would be installed purely for the purpose of allowing clients to purchase products on your site.

Now, our own development team has created a PayPal integration and Stripe LMS integration for AccessAlly, so users can purchase access to your membership site or online courses without having to leave your site.

This new feature is a total life-saver for users of ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign, for example, since these CRMs don’t currently include their own e-commerce solutions.

All In All, It’s Been A Year of Great Success And Improvements

Looking back, there’s definitely been a huge emphasis on development and functionality. In our own company, we’ve had some incredible success with our new integrations and increased number of AccessAlly users.

The challenge, though, is always this: to be certain that whatever improvements we’re currently working on are guided by the needs of our clients… and not just the fact that it would be “cool” to add to our plugins.

So if you could add anything to your membership site, what would it be?

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a writer, technologist, and regenerative farmer. I founded AccessAlly with my husband in one frantic weekend to solve my immediate course platform issues. Over a decade later the company has grown, and our product has evolved to serve millions of learners across the globe.

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