Building a digital recurring subscription business is smart, because all of your sales and marketing efforts compound from month to month.
You can have happy long-term members paying you monthly or yearly… for years!
But if you pick the wong WordPress subscription plugin, and realize you need to switch down the line… you might lose all of your hard work and cut your income in half.
The Curse of the WordPress Subscription Plugin Migration
It happens to the best of us: we pick a WordPress paid subscription plugin based on a “top 10 list” and get on with our project.
After hours of work creating our membership site, putting in the effort to recruit paying members, and keeping them engaged and happy…
Maybe the plugin…
- Doesn’t handle pausing subscriptions for members who will be away.
- Can’t handle free or paid trials, and you want to test this new way of onboarding members.
- Doesn’t automatically process refunds and revoke access, and it ends up causing an administrative headache.
- Is clunky on mobile devices and causes a reduction in sales as more people browse on their cellphones and tablets.
Whatever the reason… you realize you’ve set up your recurring subscription business on unsteady ground.
You need to switch WordPress recurring plugins to solve your problem.
But switching means you have to ask all of your current members to sign up all over again.
Now there are ways to incentivize people to register on your new WordPress payment system, by giving them bonuses or other perks.
Some people will miss your emails, be on vacation, or just forget.
So you’re left managing two different WordPress subscription plugins on your site… or forfeiting some of your revenue for the members who don’t switch.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and that’s why I’m writing this article: to help you evaluate the different WordPress recurring payment plugins out there, so you can make the best decision for your business long term.
So you can avoid the curse of migrating members down the line.
Let’s dive in.
How to Evaluate The WordPress Subscription Plugin Options On the Market
Often we don’t know what to look for when we’re selecting software, so we end up comparing on price and what the different vendors seem to highlight.
But it’s often the “little things” that no one advertises or makes a big fuss about, that end up being really important to how usable a tool really is.
Here are some things that are really important to the long term success of any subscription program – so you can dig in and test out the different tools you’re considering to make sure they can handle these cases.
Order Form Design & Functionality
It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: a paid subscription plugin needs to be able to take payments… easily.
That means you need the ability to have a design-friendly and branded order form that can handle the different offers you might want to test.
Here are just a few of the things you might want your order forms to be able to handle:
The ability to have someone make an immediate or later purchase without re-entering their credit card details is important for increasing lifetime customer value. Read more about 1-click upsells here.
Showing an additional offer on the check out form right before hitting “buy now” can get people to spend more on their initial purchase. Check out some order bump examples here.
No one talks about the fact that 75% of people who start the checkout process never finish their order… with abandoned cart follow up you can recapture these lost sales.
See a successful abandoned cart follow up email sequence.
Offering a free trial or a many-day paid trial is a great way to get more people into your membership or subscription. The more flexibility you have around how you design your trials, the easier it will be for you to figure out what works for your particular business. See how offering a $1 trial increased sales by 400%.
Combine different products, services, and subscriptions for different groups of people. There are always going to be people who want a premium experience or are willing to purchase more – so bundle your best stuff together.
Running seasonal or evergreen promotions is part of many business best practices. The ability to set up different types of coupons is key here: you might want a coupon that expires after 10 people have claimed it, or that runs until a certain date. Still, you might want an expiring individual coupon for each person who enters your funnel. See examples of different ways to set up coupons here.
As the digital landscape continues to get more and more global, being able to offer multiple currencies on your subscription payments is great. You might be based in one country but have a large base of customers in another part of the world – so why not have people see the price that makes the most sense to them.
Integration with Other Systems
Ahh… integration, that pesky but oh so important part of any digital system. When many companies say they integrate with another tech platform, they don’t go into detail on how deep of an integration it is.
Here’s what you might need to keep your eyes peeled for:
CRMs & email marketing platforms
Your business likely already has an email platform or CRM (if not, check out our in-depth CRM comparison) so it’s important to make sure you’re not adding a tool that won’t work with your existing set up. You might be thinking that your WordPress subscription plugin doesn’t need to talk to your CRM/email system… but with anything subscription related, it’s important to be able to segment the email addresses of your paying members and those who default or cancel. So you can target your messaging and not bombard the wrong people with the wrong emails.
Many systems offer PayPal payments for their shopping cart… but for recurring PayPal subscriptions there’s a bit of a hitch. PayPal allows members to cancel their PayPal recurring payments within their own PayPal accounts, so how your subscription plugin handles these cases is imperative. With some tools, you might never be notified that someone cancelled their subscription and so they’ll continue to have access as if they were still paying. Yikes!
Over the past few years, Stripe has become the standard when it comes to taking recurring payments via credit cards. Being able to integrate with Stripe and send invoices through Stripe is a great way to make the most of a recurring subscription integration.
Will you need an additional affiliate management plugin or system, or does the subscription management plugin handle this as well? If you plan to start an affiliate program, then you'll need to think about how the integration will work for paying out affiliates on a regular basis, too.
If you’re using a WordPress subscription plug-in, then it stands to reason you’ll need to manage people’s subscriptions over time.
Here are some cases you might not have thought about that come up often once you start offering a recurring payment membership.
Start, Stop, Pause
Some members might want to pause their subscription and come back at a later time… they might also want to stop and re-start entirely.
Having the flexibility to offer these options shows you care about your members, and they’re more likely to come back when they’re ready.
Apply credits to skip months/payments
Every now and then, you might want to be generous and give some credits to your members so they can have a few months without paying. Maybe they earn these free months by referring friends or because submit a testimonial… the reason is up to you!
Refunds and revoke access
Every business will experience a refund or two along the way, and being able to control access after someone asks for a refund is key. This should be something that’s easy to handle, and that happens automatically once you notify your subscription management system of the refund.
If you offer different subscription plan levels or payment frequencies, it pays to make it easy for your members to manage their subscriptions. For example, if you offer monthly and yearly plans or a starter and high level plan, a member should be able to switch between these options without waiting to email support or cancel one subscription to re-register for another plan. If it’s pro-rated when they switch levels, so they don’t pay more for switching – then all the better!
To reduce administrative overhead, you should be able to set up a simple “cancel my subscription” button that a member can click to cancel future payments and stop their subscription.
Subscription WordPress Plugins to Evaluate
Selling on WordPress can be as simple or as complicated as you make it – but the key is to keep in mind what you need to accomplish today and where you see your business going in the next 18 months.
Now that you know what to look for, here are some suggested WordPress recurring payment plugins to consider:
- WooCommerce Subscriptions: as an add-on to the free WooCommerce plugin for WordPress, it makes sense to choose this option if you're already taking one time payments through WooCommerce. It allows subscribers to upgrade or downgrade their subscriptions.
- AccessAlly: we're biased because we created this all-in-one paid subscription plugin that also includes membership site and learning management system functionality. It ticks all of the boxes above, from member management, CRM integrations, and subscription set up flexibility.
- MemberPress: this is a straightforward plugin for those who want to use an all-in-one system that doesn't have a ton of flexibility, but that can be extended with additional coding savvy.
- Restrict Content Pro: this WordPress paid subscription plugin focuses on protecting paid content, as well as integrating with payment systems. It also handles sending emails for you directly.
- Paid Memberships Pro: also created by a husband and wife team, this plugin comes with both a free and a paid version and might be a great option for protecting content and running paid subscriptions through for smaller businesses.
- S2Member: the biggest difference between this WordPress subscription plugin and the others on the list is that it has a one-time fee instead of a recurring cos,t which might be good for budget conscious startups or solopreneurs. It handles different payment integrations and protecting content as well.
- Cart66: this is a big competitor of WooCommerce, and it focuses on offering a simplified interface and set up for both one time and recurring payments through WordPress. They also offer a service to set things up for you.
- ThriveCart: although this option isn't on the market at the time of writing this WordPress paid subscription plugin review, ThriveCart is a popular option for offering one time or recurring payments through a few different payment integrations.
So what WordPress paid subscription plugin will be the winner for your business?
It's time to pick the subscription plug-in that will serve for you for the next few years, and beyond as your business continues to grow!
If you're scratching your head and wondering what is an order bump… and why you might consider adding an order bump to your online sales process instead of an upsell, then keep reading.
In this order bump examples compilation, you'll see the true meaning of an order bump and see how it's different from a traditional upsell.
Plus you'll get some order bump ideas to help you design your own highly effective order bumps, so you can increase your average order value.
What is an Order Bump and How is it different from an Upsell?
Before we dive into our order bump examples, we need to define our order bump meaning… and how it's different from other digital ecommerce terms like upsells and cross-sells.
You're likely very familiar with the concept of an upsell: it's when you're buying one item and you're presented a second product to add to your order. Like adding a pack of gum to your basket when you're checking out at the grocery store.
In the real world, an order bump and an upsell are one and the same. The semantic differences come when you're talking about websites and different pages.
- An Order Bump Happens Before Someone Clicks “Buy Now”: The magic of an order bump is that it adds an additional item to your shopping cart before you complete your order. This captures the excitement of making a purchase, and it can increase the average customer value.
- An Upsell Happens After Someone Has Completed Their First Purchase: On the other hand, an upsell usually happens on the “thank you page” after someone has already finished their purchase. This can be done using a 1-click upsell, so the customer doesn't need to enter their credit card details again and it's a seamless purchasing process.
With both options at your disposal when you're selling on WordPress, you might be wondering when to use each type of offer?
Order bumps make the most sense the offer is a continuation of the current product the person is about the purchase – like an add-on.
1-Click upsells are best when there's a complementary offer or product, something that might be more expensive or that might make people question their original purchase.
For example, if your upsell includes more information or additional resources – the buyer might wonder why these weren't included in the original product. By giving this upsell option after they've already committed to their purchase, you remove the doubt and only leave them with a “yes or no” decision on the second offer.
7 Order Bump Examples To Get Your Creativity Flowing
Now that we've explore what is an order bump and why you might want to use them in your ecommerce and digital marketing efforts, let's take a look at some mainstream order bump examples.
You'll see that these order form bumps are very tied to the original product – so use these as inspiration to design your own order bumps.
After you add a pair of shoes to your cart, you’ll see some recommended products that complement the purchase. For a shoe company, it makes sense to upsell a “maintenance kit” – especially if you’re selling leather products. This absolutely mimics the in-person shoe shopping experience, but it happens seamlessly in digital, too.
Although this isn’t a traditional order bump and they could make it easier to add another pair to your order… they do have the incentive right inside the shopping cart to add more products to get an additional 10% off.
This is a twist on the usual order bump, because it’s tied into a discount – but it does get you think about adding more products to your cart before checking out.
An improved version would have a link back to the “shop” page or even a link to “add 2 more of the same product” to get up to 3. This is an order bump example that works well for businesses where buying multiple products makes sense.
Apple has mastered the art of the order bump and adding different products to your cart can give you more order bump examples. In many cases, the first order bump is the AppleCare protection plan.
This makes sense for an expensive tech gadget, but you can think about adding any service that would help your clients make the most of or protect their investment in your products. There’s also a second order bump – the trade-in, which makes sense for physical products like Apple sells.
4. Omaha Steaks
Omaha Steaks is unapologetically bold with its succulent order bump invitation that appears as a prominent popup the moment you add your first item to the cart.
Since the company is known for its high quality steaks and gourmet foods, it comes as no surprise that the order bump is for a steal of a deal on filet mignon steaks… something that anyone who’s shopping on the site will likely enjoy.
This offer comes with some smart prerequisites: the order (before filet mignon) must be at least $28. Second, you can only get one per order at the advertised 60% discount.
5. Home Depot
I can’t speak for all people, but when I’m at Home Depot, I’m usually shopping for gadgets or home improvement materials that I hope will last a long time.
That’s why their order bump — an offer for a Home Depot Protection Plan — is genius. Whether the item in question is a table saw or materials for a new roof, I am crossing my fingers that it will be worth the investment. As a consumer, I feel compelled to take advantage of the warranty and consider it a smart choice “just in case.”
Well-known for their cute fabric patterns and overall product durability, Thirty-One has a standard order bump that’s very effective, no matter how many times you’ve ordered from them.
On every product page (and checkout form) is an invitation to “personalize” your bag, whether that’s a new purse, a weekend tote, or just a cute box for the kids’ toys. Subconsciously, it works to encourage shoppers to buy multiple items: “Maybe I’ll get one for me and one for my spouse … and personalize them, so we don’t get them mixed up.”
Here at AccessAlly, we've tested different order bumps on our own product. In this example, we're offering the ability to add a PDF called “Profitable Courses Playbook” to the order for $49.
Since AccessAlly helps people create and sell their online courses, it makes sense for us to offer an additional product that makes it even easier for people to finish their course creation and marketing.
Got more order bump examples?
All of the order bump examples in this post are for traditional retail businesses… but order bumps work well in all kinds of ecommerce and digital businesses.
I'd love to hear what order bump examples you've seen in the wild, and which ones you're considering adding to your business' checkout process, too.
Leave a comment below to share!
Referral programs are on the rise: the industry of affiliate programs is projected to reach $6.8 billion by 2020 in the United States alone.
That's a huge chunk of money… and the playing field is wide open for more people to get in on it.
For business owners, the projected growth also means that affiliate programs are becoming increasingly mainstream and viable options for you to increase your reach and revenue.
So let's take a look at how you can use something as simple as a WordPress referral plugin to host a profitable affiliate program on your own website.
How a Referral Plugin Can Increase Your Reach
Nathalie Lussier, the founder of AccessAlly, recently shared a candid look at how she's been on both sides of the referral industry, and has made multiple 6 figures in referral sales.
That's good news for those who are building an income as affiliate marketers.
And, considering the fact that the affiliate only receives a portion of the cut, it's even better news for the company selling the products.
The initial revenue from an affiliate sale is only the beginning of the story: referrals have a prolific tendency to snowball. A single affiliate might be end up being responsible for a large percentage of your sales. As more affiliates become engaged with your business and actively promoting your products, the bigger the snowball effect will be.
Features of an Affiliate Program Poised for Success
Ok let's pause a minute.
A referral program isn't a magic cure-all for your sales and marketing woes. There's a possibility that it might not be right for your business.
That's because the ultimate goal, for affiliate marketers, is to create streams of recurring revenue, whether through annual launches or with evergreen promotions that keep on earning.
Once your understand this, you'll be in a good place:
To successfully enroll affiliates and earn referrals you'll need:
#1 A Great Product
Hopefully this is a total no-brainer, but the product you're opening up to affiliates will have the most success if it can beat the competition in the eyes of your affiliates and clients. A smart affiliate marketer (the kind you want on your side) will ignore poor quality products in favor of ones that deliver real results to their end clients.
#2 Dedicated Fans or Existing Network
Speaking of a great product… if you don't already have a crowd of dedicated fans or an existing network of peers, you'll definitely want to focus on building relationships before starting your affiliate program.
After all, it takes an average of 6 to 8 touchpoints before someone is ready to commit… so if your product isn't already “out there,” you may find that your affiliates fizzle out and lose interest quickly.
#3 A Good Commission Structure
It's tempting to want to fill your pockets faster. But generosity with your affiliates is a long-term strategy that increases their own incentive to promote your products, bringing you more revenue over the long haul. (If it doesn't pay off for them, it probably won't pay off for you, either.)
Many affiliate programs start at a 50% commission split, depending on the offer.
#4 Referral Training Materials
The fact that someone is excited about your product doesn't mean they're a natural marketer. The more guidelines and training materials you can provide to your affiliates, the better they'll be able to promote your product.
#5 Promotion Materials
Along the same lines as the training materials, it's always a good idea to pre-design a variety of promotion materials, from banner ads to social media posts to email swipe copy. Not only does this help save time for your affiliates, but it also ensures that the promotional material will be on-brand.
#6 Affiliate Management & Guidelines
We've talked before about the dark side of affiliate marketing. The more effective you are at eliminating spammy promotion and fake coupons, the better your product will appear to online shoppers.
Prepping Your Business for An Affiliate Program
You know what to include in your affiliate program and how you want it to look… but you also have to do some preparation on the business side of things to make sure that the new referral program will get off the ground without a hitch.
1. Multiple success stories
The best affiliate marketers are often those who have already invested in your product and received its benefits first hand. Make sure you have a strong network of these case studies in place, as they may be responsible for your very first referral sales.
2. Bandwidth to manage a separate program
Affiliate marketing might seem like a hands-off way to get more sales… but there's a ton of behind-the-scenes admin work required, too.
3. A WordPress referral plugin to run your affiliate program.
Finally, you need the right software to take care of the all the technical component of you referral program, from order records (purchases, returns, and refunds) to link tracking and custom referral links. There are self-hosted plugin solutions that you can add to your own WordPress site.
Affiliate WP is a “standalone” referral plugin that can give your site affiliate functionality and offers some integrations with other order form and shopping cart WordPress plugins. If you have a WordPress site set up, but none of your other plugins or systems include affiliate functionality, you may benefit from using the Affiliate WP plugin.
AccessAlly is a full suite plugin that includes memberships, online courses, and an e-commerce solution in addition to affiliate program functionality. The benefit of using AccessAlly is that, since everything is housed in a single plugin, you don't have to worry about failed integrations that might put your entire program in jeopardy.
Plus, since it integrates with your CRM, you can have a fully automated program that's set up once, and runs automatically afterwards.
Tips & Tricks' Affiliate Plugin
Tips and Tricks' Affiliate Plugin is another option for WordPress referral plugins that focuses on integration with WooCommerce and Cart66 plugins, along with a few other options. One main drawback will be integrating with your CRM, but the biggest benefit for this option is the low price point. Worth checking out if you're just getting started.
These software solutions are made for the sole purpose of running the affiliate programs of hundreds (or thousands) of businesses. They can be particularly beneficial if you can't house an affiliate program on your own site (like if you're not on WordPress or you plan to move off eventually).
The downside is that it's another tech tool to add to your stack, and it might not integrate with some of the systems you're already using. You also don't have full control over what the affiliate area looks and feels like. With a WordPress referral plugin, you can design your own affiliate center and keep it on-brand.
How To Set Up Your WordPress Referral Plugin
In this video, you'll see first hand what a “real” referral program looks like to the affiliates and program manager. While the video is specific to AccessAlly, you can expect to follow the same general setup process no matter which tool you sign up for.
1. Accept Applicants
At AccessAlly, we prefer to review all affiliate applications, asking for some key information to assess whether an applicant will be able to send high quality referral traffic our way.
This helps us prevent irritating spam signups that waste our time and that of our clients.
2. Add New Affiliate to a Tier
Each affiliate tier that you create can have a different commission structure. So you might offer a “regular” 30% commission for affiliates, but a higher commission of 50% to key joint venture partners of your business, for example.
3. Connect Affiliates With Resources
When a new affiliate logs into your site, they should see a well-organized area where they can access promotional materials (including swipe copy and graphics), as well as any information available on the number of link clicks, sales, and clawbacks associated with their account.
4. Motivate Affiliates With Contests and Leaderboards
Your affiliates have lives of their own, and may not always feel motivated to promote your product, especially if they've hit a referral dry spell.
One way to counter this natural loss of motivation is by running special affiliate contests and using leaderboards to offer special bonuses to top performing affiliates.
5. Manage and Review Link Clicks
As your program begins to grow and you start getting some great referral traffic, you'll want to keep an eye on where all that traffic is coming from, and whether it's converting into sales.
Take a look at the link clicks periodically to see what pages (and affiliates) are making the biggest impact on your program.
6. Payout Time
Pay your affiliates promptly and on time every month, to maintain trust and a positive working relationship with them.
Increasing Reach with Your Referral Program
A well-run affiliate program will grow and expand along with your business, multiplying the effectiveness of your campaigns, leading to increased visibility and reach for your products. As you begin to develop your own referral program, always look for ways to leverage your existing fans and clients, trusting that the ripples will make their way to other circles as well.
Take a look at how AccessAlly has helped WordPress membership site owners scale with its' built-in affiliate functionality.
WordPress is the most popular content management system and website platform… so it’s only natural that you might want to start selling on WordPress.
Whether you plan to sell digital products, physical goods, services, or a mix through an online membership portal… You need to know what you’re in for when you decide to open up a shop using WordPress as the tech backbone.
In this guide you’ll learn about the key things no one talks about when it comes to selling online using WordPress, and the best options to get started.
The Obstacles of Selling on WordPress
Before we get into “how to sell on WordPress”, we need to address some of the challenges of selling on this platform. This is the nitty gritty stuff that no one talks about, but that could save you a lot of frustration later.
Let’s dive in.
A “Buy Now” button won’t make you rich
Unfortunately, you can’t just put up a buy now button and expect people to buy. Selling on WordPress, or any platform for that matter, takes more than just technology.
Yes, you can’t take people’s money without a “buy now” button, but unless you’ve spoken to potential customers and really understood what makes them want to buy, it won’t take you far.
Selling Securely and SSL
For good reason! When you’re taking payments through your WordPress website, you want to make sure that the connection is secure enough to handle payment details from customers.
You’ll want whatever WordPress plugin or payment option you choose to also be PCI compliant. The last thing you want is to be caught in a security breach that affects your clients!
Dive deeper: why and how to set up an SSL Certificate.
Speaking of hosts… what about crashing websites?
If you’re planning to launch a program and send a slew of traffic to your WordPress website… you need to prepare for the possibility of a crash.
Cheaping out on your hosting is not a good idea when you plan to sell from your website. The upside is that when you choose a good host, you’re not at the mercy of a 3rd party server like you might be on a platform like Thinkific or Kajabi.
Dive deeper: choose the best WordPress host for your business.
The refunds will come, how you react is up to you
Yes, it’s true. If you offer a refund policy, you’ll have people take you up on it. It’s just part of doing business, and it doesn’t mean that you’re a less worthy human being.
Handling refunds means swallowing your pride and following through on your promises. But it’s also a technical process that you need to be able to execute, when the need arises.
Choose your WordPress shopping cart wisely, knowing that you’ll need to administer refunds and possibly manually handle some of these steps.
Some checkout pages are more effective than others
Trust is everything when it comes to selling online – and selling on WordPress is no exception.
Sure, you can use your WordPress theme to customize the look and feel of your checkout pages… but usually the payment plugin you’ve selected will come with some standard designs that you can’t alter.
You’ll want to make sure that you ask only for the pertinent information on your checkout page, to reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions.
The more you stay on brand, and the less it feels like a visitor left your website to check out and make a purchase… the better, and the more trust it builds.
Speaking of abandoned carts… where did that cart go?
The stats around abandoned carts are startling: 70% of online sales are aborted before they’re completed.
That means someone intended to buy, started the process, but left before clicking that “buy now” button.
Having a solution in place to capture these folks and follow up with them is key.
Selling Multiple Products? Here’s how to streamline…
If you offer many products, your experience with selling on WordPress might increase in complexity quickly.
Whether you need a sales page or item description page for each product, or you want to display all of them in an easily searchable format… you need a plugin to help manage that.
You might also need the ability for people to add items or remove items as they decide what they want to buy. Displaying all of your products in a neat way can be hard, and we’ll discuss some options below.
Tracking pixels and analytics are key
If you do any form of Facebook or Google advertising, then you’ll know that tracking pixels help you assess if your ad spend is converting to sales.
On WordPress there are ways to tap into Google Analytics as well as add tracking pixels… but most of the time you’ll need to create a separate “thank you page” to get the cleanest data.
To PayPal or to Stripe… that is the question
Everyone has a preference when it comes to how they prefer to spend money. For some, offering a PayPal option means more international sales because people can hold multiple currencies in their PayPal account and not suffer the conversions when purchasing abroad.
There’s also a benefit to using Stripe to handle subscription payments: people can’t cancel their subscriptions themselves unless you give them that option. With PayPal subscriptions, they can manage and cancel a payment plan even if they agreed to make all payments.
So which option is best? I recommend both because you get the best of both worlds. Not everyone has a PayPal account, and Stripe is available in many countries – so either way, you’re covered and you won’t be turning away customers.
The 1-Click Upsell – Where most businesses leave money on the table
If you only have one product or service, you might think that 1-click upsells don’t apply to your business.
But practically any product or service can benefit from a premium version or add-on. Being able to offer something additional right at the point of purchase, whether it’s through an order bump or a separate 1-click upsell page means you’re making the most of the excitement that happens during a sale.
By giving someone a chance to add an additional offer to their order before they finish is a great way to provide a more in-depth solution, and to add more revenue to each transaction.
The fortune is in the follow-up
When it comes to selling online, everyone focuses on getting the sale… but the real fortune is in the long term relationship with your customers.
Being able to follow up with new and potential customers is key to building a business that grows from year to year. It also leads to building better products and offering better services, because your clientele will grow along with you and your offerings.
So how do you follow up? I recommend using a marketing automation platform so you can customize your messaging to each client based on their interactions with you so far.
Now that you know what to expect, let’s explore your options for selling on WordPress
There’s no shortage of WordPress plugins and 3rd party integrations that you can choose from to start selling from your WordPress website.
Here are some of the most popular ones, along with a few things to keep in mind for each.
1. Straight up PayPal buttons
If you decided to go with a pure PayPal option, you can get away from using any WordPress plugins by embedding a regular PayPal buy now button directly on your pages.
This is the simplest method, it won’t cost anything, and it’s also very flexible. It doesn’t allow for a ton of customization, and it might increase in complexity as you add more products and services. You can’t do 1-click upsells, but if you’re just getting started it’s not a bad idea.
Dive deeper: Read the PayPal documentation on setting this up.
When it comes to WordPress shopping carts, WooCommerce is the big kahuna. It’s a free plugin that gives you ability to start taking payments right away on WordPress.
However, most people don’t end up sticking to just the free WooCommerce plugin because it is fairly limited once you realize you want to customize things to suit your goals.
That’s why WooCommerce has a thriving paid add-on ecosystem: you can purchase additional plugins to add more functionality, integrations, and customization options.
WooCommerce is best for physical products, but it can be used for any type of product too.
Dive deeper: Check out the WooCommerce ecosystem to see what’s possible with this framework.
3. Easy Digital Downloads
If you’re offering something downloadable or that requires a license key, then you’ll notice that the majority of WordPress businesses turn to Easy Digital Downloads.
It’s a free plugin with a paid upgrade that will run you $299/year if you want integrations and recurring payments, but it handles more than just the payment piece. It will also allow you to set up a download area for your digital products, and also tracking licenses if you’re offering any.
It’s a great option especially for selling software, ebooks, and the like. If you need something simple that works out of the box, this might be it.
Dive deeper: Check out the Easy Digital Downloads site for more details on what it can do for you.
If you want to offer a more personalized download area that includes a membership portal, online courses, member directories, or gamification… then AccessAlly is the full fledged payment and delivery solution for you.
Unlike some of the other plugins above, AccessAlly won’t require you to purchase additional plugins or add-ons: you get everything you need to open up your shop and deliver your paid client experience.
It’s ideal for you if you were planning to build a tech stack that includes an affiliate management plugin, an LMS plugin or online course component, and a CRM or automation marketing tool.
Instead of duct-taping different plugins together, AccessAlly lets you take payments, create logins for your members, track affiliate sales, create online course content, and follow-up automatically with each member.
Dive deeper: Check out the full AccessAlly guide and why people choose it as their long term WordPress solution.
Another option for taking payments on WordPress is brought to you by the ThriveThemes team, and it’s designed to seamlessly integrate with your WordPress site and layout.
With Thrivecart you can take payments on your WordPress website, and handle different things like taxes, subscription payments, and also integrate with other systems you might be using.
It’s a great option for those who don’t feel a full learning management platform or membership site, but who want more of a robust experience than EDD or WooCommerce provide out of the box.
Dive deeper: take a look at the Thrivecart page and get on the waiting list for when they re-open up registration.
Using the right tool for the job
What you plan to sell on WordPress is going to help you determine which of the options above will best suit your business.
Keep in mind that your business may shift over time, and what makes sense today may shift as your business grows or you add additional products and services.
If you can forecast a 12–18 months down the line, you might be able to select a tool that will grow with you – so you won’t need to re-do your set up work again once you outgrow your current solution.
Selling digital products
If you’re selling digital products you might choose Easy Digital Downloads, AccessAlly, or WooCommerce with add-ons.
If you’re selling memberships you might choose AccessAlly, WooCommerce with add-ons, or Thrivecart with add-ons.
If you’re selling online courses you might choose AccessAlly, WooCommerce with add-ons, or Thrivecart with add-ons.
Selling coaching, booking time/scheduling
If you’re selling coaching you might choose PayPal, WooCommerce with add-ons, or Thrivecart with add-ons.
If you’re selling services you might choose AccessAlly, WooCommerce with add-ons, or Thrivecart.
Here’s to selling successfully on WordPress!
We’ve covered a lot today, but the most important part to getting started with selling on WordPress is to start.
You won’t have it all figured out on day one, but each step you take will help you validate your ideas, and improve your process. Good luck!
When it's time to compare tech tools, my automatic starting point is the tech equivalent of an arms race: the plugin with the most features wins.
Maybe in some cases this is a good way to make a decision.
But LMS WordPress plugins are different: their whole purpose is to enhance the learning experience inside your online courses, so that you can have happier students and grow a steady stream of revenue as a result.
In this case, the more important thing is to make sure your plugin can give you the elearning boost you need before delivering “nice to haves”.
What membership site models will be the most profitable for your business? (Yes, you can combine more than one!)
It's a question you'll need to answer in order to create a membership site that will enhance and grow your current business. There are different types of online course sites and experiences you can create based on your strengths as a teacher, leader, and business owner… and what your ideal customers are willing to invest in, too.
In short: the type of membership site you choose can make or break your offer, and affect conversions and the long term sustainability of your site.
A membership site is a place where free or paying members can log in to access their content, courses, and community. You can charge a one-time fee for access or build in a recurring revenue stream with monthly or yearly payments.
7 Types of Membership Site Models
In this guide to membership site models, you'll see the leading membership site types along with membership site examples for each one.
1. A Community-Focused Membership
The community-focused membership site is all about facilitating strong relationship-building among your paying members.
Some of the identifying features of a community-focused membership include:
- A member directory, where users can search for, and connect with, one another.
- Forum, so members can easily carry on group discussions.
- Masterminds, where members receive a high level of support, feedback, and resources.
- Accountability tools, so members are empowered to follow through and achieve their goals.
- …or other “people-driven” benefits.
There are a number of things to think about when creating a community focused membership site, from membership goals to mapping out the engagement interaction paths that will be available inside your membership site.
The best part about this type of membership is that people are more likely to stay with you as active paying members once they've made great connections in your community. You might be interested in a WordPress member directory plugin that allows members to customize their profiles, opt out of the listing, or connect with each other more easily.
Example: Tara McMullen's CoCommercial community.
2. The All-You-Can-Eat Education Buffet
Think of this style of membership as the Netflix of online learning: a member joins and has access to a bunch of content from day one. It's a library of courses that continues to grow over time to incentivize current customers to stick around and attract new clients, too.
You can do that using quizzes that guide people to the right next step. Or, you can connect them with the appropriate material by offering sophisticated search functionality, or even giving recommendations based on previous courses they've enjoyed.
Many education buffets offer a wide range of topics to attract a large client base. However, when you're just getting started, it helps to have a focused outcome in mind that appeals to a very specific audience (rather than trying to be a jack of all trades).
Focus on getting a targeted set of courses done well, and branch out from there.
Example: BrainPop‘s online learning portal for kids.
3. Coaching and Accountability Membership
This type of membership is often called group coaching, and it packs a lot of value for the participants.
There are a few different ways to offer coaching and accountability with this model:
Generally, you’d offer live office hours or coaching calls where members can show up, ask questions, get support, and accountability. You can also create opportunities for the coach or leader to keep track of participants’ progress, encouraging them if they get stuck along the way.
In our busy modern world, there aren't a lot of places where you can get individual attention from someone with a lot of expertise… at least, not without breaking the bank.
If coaching is something you love and you want to help your clients achieve their goals (without putting a cap on your earning potential), this might be for you!
Example: Erika Lyremark's Mark'd Mastery.
4. Done for You Resources
This type of membership offers a big time savings for its members by eliminating time-consuming work and offering a resource that can be used as is or with minor tweaks.
If a teacher, ministry leader, or blogger needs new content each week and can simply take your material and tweak it… They'll stay on board to save time and keep getting your new materials.
It's a no-brainer for the right clients, and if you're drawn to this type of membership it's likely because you've BEEN your ideal client so you can create the best materials for them.
This type of membership will see you creating a lot of consistent content, so think through the best way to organize it from day one.
Anything that saves people time is highly valued, and if you're already seeing interest, you know that the demand is there. All that's left is a matter of marketing it properly to get the word out.
This type of membership tends to be extremely stable, because of the recurring needs of your specific set of clientele.
If you're already doing the work creating this type of content, and people are asking how you do it or if you ever offer it… then this might be a great type of membership site for you to offer.
Example: Lesson plans created by teachers on Education.com.
5. Retainers and Other Service Memberships
The best way to describe this type of membership is a client dashboard. It can be used to facilitate the process of onboarding a new client… Or, you might use the membership site after the services have been delivered, as a way to stay in touch with a client and offer additional training or resources.
It’s set up to communicate with your clients, retainer engagements, and other services… so you’re freed up to focus on the service itself, whether that’s interior design, copywriting, or health coaching.
Depending on which step of the client process your membership site will take over, you'll want to create a map of the steps that you generally take when signing up a new client, while you're working with them, or after you wrap up an engagement.
This is a no-brainer type of membership for freelancers, agencies, and anyone who works with clients already. It's also a great way to onboard 1 on 1 coaching clients, and build in a clear process to keep everyone on the same page.
Example: SnapCopy uses credits to manage client copywriting projects.
6. Internal Training Turned Into a Profit Center
As your business grows, you’ll start to amass a lot of internal knowledge that you want your whole team to become familiar with. Having a membership site to host internal training, onboarding videos, exercises, and other resources is extremely efficient.
You can keep track of who on your team is up to speed, and easily bring in new team members and help them onboard quickly.
If you're working with a team, you've probably already started recording short training videos for how to do certain things in your business, or run weekly/monthly training sessions that are recorded. You might have even started to create a company wiki to house this information.'
Example: Digital Marketer turned their own internal company training into a paid certification program that they've continued to improve and earn from.
7. The Dripped Content or Dripped Release Course
Some membership site models are a natural fit for things that happen every month or every week. For example, you might be creating a new piece of content to match the astrological changes happening each month.
Or, you might be creating an online course that would be better consumed over time, like music lessons that must be mastered before moving on.
Doing this type of membership might mean you need a drip course plugin, or other way to release content over time if you're not creating it live each month or week.
Example: Whole Woman by Sarah Jenks is a monthly membership that follows the cycles of the moon with dripped content, and also combines other elements of the membership site models above.
How to Choose the Best Membership Site Model for Your Business
In the end, you know best who your current clients are and what you can offer as a benefit to help them grow.
Don't be concerned if none of the options above feels like the “perfect fit”. You can always mix and match to come up with the perfect balance of materials that will engage your clients and bring in a stream of recurring revenue.
Want this post in downloadable format along with 10 ways to overcome the most common membership site struggles? Click below to grab it now.
This isn’t your first rodeo: you already have an online course (or many!).
Now it’s time to look at ideas for improving online courses, so your participants get all of the amazing results you know are possible for them.
You’re in the right place, because we’re going to take a look at an entrepreneur who had run an already successful online course for 5 years… and what she did to kick up the learning experience.
Meet Kendrick Shope and her online course called Sales School
Kendrick Shope is the creator of the leading sales training for women entrepreneurs, and the Authentic Selling® process which has created millions of dollars in revenue and new business for her clients.
Kendrick hosts her own daily talk show, and reaches nearly 100 thousand followers in six continents. She has been featured on the Steve Harvey Show, NBC, Forbes, and INC to name a few.
Before starting her own online empire, she spent two decades delivering top performing sales results for 3 Fortune 500 companies.
Our case study starts 5 years after Kendrick’s first round of her result-oriented Sales School program.
You see, Kendrick had been running her multi-million dollar course Sales School for 5 years, and she knew she wanted to improve the online learning experience for her students.
Here’s what one returning student had to say after the site update:
Now let’s take a look at the 7 strategies to improve online learning that Kendrick used, and how you can apply them to your business too.
Organize content using an intuitive navigation
In the early days of Kendrick’s Sale School, the program was run almost entirely within a Facebook group.
That meant students had to search for content, and finding things from previous weeks of the online course made it difficult to keep up or review.
Over the years, Kendrick built a beautiful membership site on WordPress to house the lessons and content of the course.
But one thing that Kendrick’s team realized is that just because a website is beautiful, it doesn’t mean that it’s functional.
That’s one simple way of improving online courses, no matter what platform or how much content you have to teach!
Track progress to motivate online learning
By adding progress tracking to the online course’s members area, Kendrick was able to provide a road map for students.
As participants watch training videos, complete assignments, and practice their sales skills in their own businesses…
They see how far they’ve come, and they’re more likely to finish each module, thanks to the completion bias.
The completion bias is our tendency as human beings to feel good when we finish what we start.
By implementing progress tracking checklists using AccessAlly, Kendrick was able to tap into human nature to help people extract the value out of the online course they signed up for.
Progress tracking is also helpful as an online course creator because it allows you to see how students are moving through your content. It shows trends and can highlight especially challenging areas that you can improve.
Offer bonuses and goodies for completion
Of course, improving an online course by adding progress tracking is just the first step… Kendrick took it even further by adding in bonuses and extra goodies when a module is completed.
Kendrick is always teaching her clients and students to do the common things uncommonly well, and when it comes to strategies to improve online learning… that goes double.
Really think through the bonuses or extra content you might offer a bonus for completing a course. It needs to feel like a reward, and not just more work to get through.
Kendrick’s enthusiasm is contagious, and her bonuses are truly motivating and rewarding for her students.
Setting up the online learning experience to unlock bonuses upon module or lesson completion isn’t hard with AccessAlly, it’s the intention behind it is what takes the most thought.
Overdeliver during live facilitation, and bring in additional coaches
If there’s one thing that Kendrick Shope has always been known for, it’s overdelivering for her students and clients.
Way back in the early days of her Sales School program, when it was delivered via live video trainings… Kendrick has rocked the live facilitation aspect of online training.
Answering participants’ questions, helping them role play, jumping into the nitty gritty and offering to edit sales scripts and emails… Kendrick is fully present for her students when she’s running her online course.
But as an online course scales and more students join in, it can become difficult for one teacher or facilitator to handle all of the questions and give the same level of feedback alone.
That’s why Kendrick brought in additional Sales School certified coaches to help new participants get the same hands-on learning experience, without burning Kendrick out.
If you run online courses, and you’ve noticed that you’re not able to answer all of the questions on your live group facilitation calls – then it might be time to hire on or train additional coaches to help you.
Follow-up based on student engagement and check in on social media
Kendrick has always had a “no student left behind” policy, where she would work with her course participants until they got results in their business.
But the onus is on the student to ask questions, and raise their hand when they fall behind or get stuck.
One way to catch people who might be falling off the wagon is to look at their engagement and their progress, and reach out before it’s too late.
Kendrick and her coaches check in with students on social media, and make sure that people are having a good learning experience and most importantly are implement what they learn.
With AccessAlly, it’s also possible to see who hasn’t logged into the online course members area, and check in with them.
Sometimes people sign up for online courses before they’re ready to participate, but if you’re offering a live round of a course then you’ll want people to join in for the live sessions to get the best experiences.
Ensure smooth purchase and login experience
One often overlooked way of improving online learning is to make the on boarding experience glitch-free.
It’s easy to set up an online course platform and shopping cart and assume that it can handle a big launch and student registration period without a hitch…
But not all online course plugins and integrations work seamlessly together, which can lead to a choppy registration and login experience.
Kendrick’s Sales School launches had always felt a little chaotic, with last minute fixes because of login issues or other access blips for her students.
After switching to AccessAlly, Kendrick and her team realized that the peace of mind they got from having a smooth purchase and login experience for their students was worth way more than the price of the plugin.
Plus, thanks to AccessAlly’s cross-selling dashboard functionality, Kendrick could display both the free video series alongside her paid courses all in one place.
Here improving the user experience leads to more sales, fewer support requests, and a better learning experience, too.
Call in experts and bring in complementary resources
The final tip in our list of 7 strategies to improve online learning is simple, and it doesn’t involve you as a teacher doing any additional work.
During Sales School, Kendrick often reaches out to her colleagues and fellow experts to help answer questions and provide resources for her participants.
The benefits are clear: as a teacher, Kendrick shares from her area of expertise and brings in the complementary resources and teachers to help her students succeed.
This way, she doesn’t need to be an expert in “everything” and she’s still improving online courses because it’s not just a static experience but it will differ based on the questions people ask.
Kendrick taps other people’s expertise in a very classy way, by sharing the answers to students questions and giving full credit to the colleague who helped out. It’s a win-win experience for everyone involved.
As a course creator yourself, you can do this informally for on-the-spot questions or you can have other experts create content right inside your members area, too.
Migrating Course Platforms Top the List of Ideas for Improving Online Courses
Undertaking a course platform migration is not for everyone, but if you find yourself considering switching course solutions to improve your online courses, then Kendrick’s experience will be helpful.
Here’s what Kendrick had to say about her migration to AccessAlly:
Now let’s take a look at what tech systems Kendrick was using before, and what her transition looked like.
Improving Online Courses: The Tech Stack
Looking to improve the learning experience, Kendrick’s team undertook the migration of existing members using AccessAlly’s migration plugin and building a new version of the membership site.
The final tech stack looks like this:
There are not a lot of natively integrated Ontraport LMS plugins on the market, but another aspect that was useful for Kendrick’s team was the ability to pull in the affiliate information into the membership area, too.
Kendrick’s team plans to make use of AccessAlly’s order forms and abandoned cart follow-up functionality in future launches.
Design and Development of the New Online Course Environment
I asked Laís Cerutti Scortegagna, the designer responsible for the new course set up what she thought of the migration project.
Here’s what she had to say:
“My favorite part was being able to create a learning environment that really supports the level of the learning experience Kendrick offers. We were able to personalize it and make it as actionable as Sales School is.
Kendrick gives everyone action steps and being able to mimic that inside the members area was a breeze.
Creating the structure was super easy with the AccessAlly course wizard.
The migration system also makes it so easy to migrate to AccessAlly. The tag system made it easy for the team to create the drip release automation in Ontraport.
But there are special details that AccessAlly made easier and are worth mentioning:
- creating a beautiful dashboard that creates desire with different course icons for who has an who doesn't have access
- being able to use the students' names to welcome them
- creating checklists for each module and bonuses that reveal once they complete it
- easy to create a beautiful login page
I also really liked that AccessAlly with Divi makes it a dream to create membership sites.”
Improving Online Courses Starts with Your Intention
The biggest takeaway I want you to have from this case study is that having an attitude of constant improvement is key.
Kendrick’s Sales School program started off as a totally live program run in a Facebook group, then from year to year she upped the learning experience.
Each time, she put a lot of heart and thought into helping her students succeed with the program.
In turn, she upgraded her technical systems, and hired team members to help her develop the technical foundation for her online course to scale.
Finally, she migrated to AccessAlly to provide the level of online learning automation and personalization that she knew would deliver the best results for her students.
If you want to see if AccessAlly is the right online learning plugin for your business, then book a demo.
Your website is more than just a tool that gives your business a face online. It can be a business in itself.
Here's what I mean by that:
One of the best ways to increase your income (without working more hours for dollars) is to set up a membership site platform.
A membership site becomes the hub of your online training, allows your fans to connect more, and gives you a community of fans to ask for input, information, and questions.
When done well, it can provide an amazing source of recurring revenue for your online business.
Here's the dream:
You create your courses and set up your WordPress membership site. You integrate it with your email marketing system Drip, so you can still use the same tags and email automation software as before.
Then, you just kick back and watch as the membership site sells itself and keeps your students engaged like a well-oiled machine…
Sounds like a pipe dream, right?
Whether you're offering online courses, products, a social network, or any variety of resources inside your membership site, you can absolutely automate the whole thing, using just two tools: AccessAlly Pro and Drip.
If you use ConvertKit for your email automation marketing platform, then you know how powerful of a system it is.
But you might be wondering what the best way to integrate ConvertKit with a WordPress affiliate plugin might be…
There are a few generic WordPress affiliate plugins on the market, but which one is right for you? We’ll answer that question and more below!
What Do You Plan to Sell With Your Affiliate Program?
The first question we need to answer to help you choose the best ConvertKit WordPress affiliate plugin integration is this:
What do you plan to offer? It could be…
The good news is that there are different WordPress plugins that handle many of these options.
If You Sell Online Courses, Digital Products, or a Membership Program… You’ll Want To Check out AccessAlly
While there are a few WordPress affiliate plugins that integrate with ConvertKit using Zapier or other add-ons…
There’s a brand new option on the market for ConvertKit users when it comes to affiliate plugin integration, and it’s called AccessAlly.
With AccessAlly’s mobile friendly order forms you can now track affiliate cookies and run your own affiliate program.
Why is it ideal for those who offer online courses, digital products, and membership sites you ask? Because AccessAlly also handles delivery of each of these types of offerings.
In fact, AccessAlly is a ConvertKit membership plugin too!
This affiliate management plugin does so much more for your business, and here's just a taste of the full features you can look forward to:
- Affiliate Registration is handled directly through ConvertKit's opt-in forms – becoming an affiliate is as easy as having an “affiliate tag” applied and getting the AccessAlly account created through a ConvertKit webhook.
- Unlimited affiliates: the number of affiliates you have is up to you! Since each affiliate is a contact in your ConvertKit account, you'll only be limited by your ConvertKit plan.
- Real time reports: see exactly which affiliate accounts are sending traffic to your website, including where the link is coming from. Very few affiliate systems show you what page a link it being clicked on.
- Easy affiliate login and reports: your affiliates can access their own individual affiliate sales reports and see their progress in the affiliate area on WordPress as they send people your way.
- Promote your products and services: there's no limit to the amount of products or services you want to promote through your affiliate program using this WordPress affiliate plugin. The sky's the limit!
Let’s take a look at how easy it is to set up an order form and an affiliate program on WordPress for ConvertKit.
Setting up a ConvertKit affiliate plugin integration
The first step is to integrate ConvertKit with your WordPress site using AccessAlly.
Next you’ll want to create the products you plan to sell, as well as the offers that go along with them.
The benefit of AccessAlly’s 3-step order form is that you can follow-up with anyone who doesn’t complete their check-out using ConvertKit’s automation functionality.
Finally, once you have your products in place you can create the affiliate program in AccessAlly.
In AccessAlly’s affiliate plugin functionality, all you need to do it make someone an affiliate is assign a tag in ConvertKit.
This gives them the ability to access your affiliate center on your WordPress site, where they can get their affiliate links, stats, and more.
Delivering Courses and Products using ConvertKit
Delivering your online courses and products using AccessAlly is easy with ConvertKit’s automations. You can do dripped content release, or instant access – it’s all based on tags.
You design the course or membership structure in AccessAlly, while your WordPress theme handles the look and feel of your site.
From there, ConvertKit handles the delivery of emails and decides when to unlock access. It could be a daily challenge, a weekly course, or a monthly membership… your automations in ConvertKit power it all.
Plus, you can decide what kind of affiliate program you want to run.
You decide what affiliate commission structure you want to offer, how long you want to track affiliate cookies and if you’re offering a recurring product you can also choose how long you want to pay affiliates.
Get Started with the ConvertKit Affiliate Plugin WordPress Integration in AccessAlly
While there are other WordPress referral plugin options out there – not all of them were designed with ConvertKit integration in mind.
So if you’ve been looking for the right affiliate plugin on WordPress that deeply integrates with ConvertKit… you’ve found it!
Check out AccessAlly and get started integrating your ConvertKit account with the checkout pages and affiliate system.