AccessAlly vs. S2Member

AccessAlly is a WordPress LMS and membership plugin that allows you to earn more with fewer tech snafus from your online courses and membership site. We know you’ll love AccessAlly’s power features, along with its built-in learning management system.

If you’re curious to see how AccessAlly really stacks up to s2Member, read on!

How is AccessAlly different from s2Member?

AccessAlly and s2Member can both be used to build and power your membership site… But, this is where the similarities end, and the differences begin.

s2Member is a WordPress membership plugin but many users find its interface dated, and native functionality restrictive based on their needs. It’s also overly complex to use from an integration standpoint.

In comparison, AccessAlly is jam-packed with powerful features designed to help you sell more, teach better, and keep your members engaged longer. It’s an all-in-one membership management and LMS WordPress plugin – perfect for membership site owners and course creators alike.

Flexible Course Creation and Design Customization

With s2Member, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of what functionality can be built into your site. However, setting up the necessary integrations with third-party plugins and CRM systems tends to require more technical effort than most membership site owners and online course creators want to put forward. 

You’ll need to be comfortable setting up API calls and webhooks to connect your CRM to your site. If you’re not a skilled developer, this tends to be a dealbreaker for many users.

AccessAlly boasts the same flexibility but requires less technical know-how. Plus, you have full design flexibility, allowing you to add content in any format or layout you prefer. 

AccessAlly’s robust feature set, and native functionality prevents you from having to create integration after integration with additional plugins and add-ons.

Plus it integrates directly with your CRM, giving you the freedom to create any type of automation you need to create a personalized, and seamless user experience for your members or students.

Laptop with screenshot of AccessAlly Custom Operations Feature - WordPress Gamification Plugin

How many plugins does it take to run a membership using s2Member vs. AccessAlly?

s2Member was developed with a focus on the membership management and content protection features for your membership site and online courses.

To expand on s2Member’s core functionality, additional plugins are usually required. In turn, you’re likely going to acquire additional expenses, not to mention the increased complexity you’re adding to your tech stack. 

You could find yourself seeking out and investing in 6 or more plugins and add-ons for: 

  • Advanced e-commerce functionality beyond payment processing
  • Integration with your CRM for marketing automation
  • Progress tracking and reporting
  • Bulk course enrollment
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Gamification

When it comes to integrating s2Member with these additional plugins, the integration process tends to be more cumbersome than it needs to be and often requires advanced knowledge of webhooks and API calls. 

With AccessAlly, you sign up for one tool that seamlessly handles everything from payments, course creation, LMS functionality, deep integrations, and member management.

Maximize Sales with Advanced E-Commerce Features

s2Member and AccessAlly both integrate with Stripe and PayPal for payment processing. You’ll be able to collect one-time payments, set up recurring subscriptions, and offer payment plans for your offers.

You can also integrate s2Member with and ClickBank for payment processing.

AccessAlly’s order forms are more customizable than s2Member’s and offer more advanced e-commerce features and functionality than s2Member.

With AccessAlly you can offer 1-click upsells for other courses and memberships from your course dashboard or at the most opportune times throughout your site. You even have the opportunity to add order bumps for add-on products at the time of purchase.

You can build out your upgrade and downgrade paths inside AccessAlly right within the interface, and customers can easily self-manage their subscriptions to reduce the number of customer service inquiries you or your team have to process manually.

You’ll also be able to improve your sales conversion rates with cart abandonment campaigns for those who initiate the checkout process when you use AccessAlly.

The best part? Because AccessAlly’s is directly integrated with your CRM, you can easily manage and segment your sales and marketing funnels based on purchases and actions taken on your membership site so your customers and prospects get the right communication.

For s2Member users to have access to or benefit from these features, you’ll need to purchase an additional plugin or add-on to integrate with s2Member, adding complexity and expenses to your tech stack.

In some instances, you can use custom code to get the functionality you need, but if you’re not a developer this could be a major roadblock for you.

Looking for an Option with less restrictions?

Have full control of your content, members, and their experience on your site.

Spend your time doing what you do best, not struggling with frustrating platform restrictions.

With AccessAlly, you’ve got all of the power and flexibility of WordPress, and there are no limits on your business’ growth potential either.

Get a Free AccessAlly Demo

One client's Experience with AccessAlly

Kelly Georges

I feel like I am supported by such a strong, responsive, kind, wonderful, brilliant, Responsive software family!

And as a small business owner (and extremely busy mama), I cannot tell you how much it means to me. I am 1000% happy with my choice to become an AccessAlly customer this year, and I only wish I’d been unafraid of the learning curve and taken the plunge sooner.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for building this, for always improving it, for listening to me and your other customers, and for being so committed to our successes.”

– Kelly Newsome Georges,

Onboarding & Customer Support

Getting tech help when you need it means you’ll be able to take better care of your students and customers. That’s why dependable, quality customer support for your course or membership platform is so crucial to the success of your course or membership build.

s2Member isn’t being actively developed aside from existing feature enhancements and bug fixes. Since their main developers moved on to different roles, the plugin hasn’t been maintained at the same level it was a few years ago.

In the event you need to reach out to s2Member for tech support, you’ll be supported by volunteers through their community forum. Users do have access to support documentation within s2Member’s knowledge base but they don’t provide support beyond that.

In comparison, here at AccessAlly, we pride ourselves on our world-class support team. We respond to all e-mail inquiries within 24 hours, Monday-Friday, and in most instances, you will receive a response the same day within the hour.

We also have a public knowledge base, complete with step-by-step tutorials, setup guides, and troubleshooting articles to help you overcome any hiccups you may experience in the setup process.

You also have multiple opportunities throughout the month to ask questions on live calls with our team and troubleshoot any roadblocks you may have on the fly.

Our team is always checking in and responding to inquiries posted in our very active user-group on Facebook as well.

Rest assured, no question goes unanswered here at AccessAlly.

Member Diorectory Examples

Styled member directories, and fully integrated member profiles in your CRM

AccessAlly started off as a membership management plugin, but has evolved into a full-fledged learning management system and membership plugin for WordPress.

We know how important community engagement is for a lot of our users. With AccessAlly, you can create beautiful, searchable member directories, sorted by your marketing automation platform tags. This allows members to opt-in or out of your member directory, and even purchase a premium listing for increased exposure.

You have complete control over your directory content and display so you can decide what information is highlighted. Members can even edit and manage their profiles on their own. The most common types of information our users display in their directories are member biographies, points earned if they are using gamification, contact information, and course progress.

Plus, with AccessAlly’s profile editing functionality, a member can update their name, email, address, and password… or any other custom field inside of your marketing automation platform.

With one click, everything gets synced between your membership site and your CRM.

s2Member also has a member directory feature, but they don’t provide templates to get you started with the design or layout. You can customize the look and feel of your s2Member powered directory with some custom coding, though.

License your courses, teaching assistants, and have students submit homework

If you want to sell “bulk licenses” or the ability to have umbrella or parent/child accounts, where a group leader can assign sub-accounts, unfortunately, s2Member does not offer this functionality. 

As more and more businesses and organizations move their operations online, corporate or team accounts for bulk course enrollment is a more desirable feature now, more than ever.

With AccessAlly, this functionality is native to the plugin.

You can have multiple team managers, and even show student progress to different administrators.

Team leaders can track and monitor student progress and quiz results. Plus, students can easily upload homework attachments, like PDFs, Word documents, or other files for the administrator to review and provide feedback.

Why Course Creators choose AccessAlly over s2Member

Ana-Maria Janes

I knew that AccessAlly would be amazing but I did not realize how amazing

“I literally purchased and asked for refunds to 4 other membership/course options because I couldn’t get them to do what I wanted. I knew that AccessAlly would be amazing but I did not realize how amazing. It’s hard to explain but it’s all in the details.

For example it serves as both a membership site and a course plugin. When I tried to use a membership plugin, I had to figure out how to integrate with the course plugin.”

– Ana Maria Jones

Jen Levitz

A tool for those who want to delegate or do it themselves

“Most of my clients are non-techie… they want tools that they can wrap their heads around so they can confidently delegate the tasks to a VA to execute.

I feel that you have done an EXCELLENT job of creating a tool that is accessible for that level, while still being robust enough that the techie users can ‘play’.

Needless to say… I talk up AccessAlly when I can.”

– Jen Levitz,

Imporve student experience with progress Tracking & User reporting

With AccessAlly, you have two types of progress tracking and reporting features available to you as the site owner.

You can set up front-end tracking for your users to keep track of their progress and back-end tracking for the course admin.

Front-end tracking is based on objective completion and can be displayed as a percentage with a pie chart, a progress bar, or a simple text display.

In the backend of the website, AccessAlly Pro shows unique progress tracking stats so that the course admin can see, at a glance, how users are interacting with their course content.

These reporting features make it possible for you to gauge student success and see where the dropoff begins to happen in your courses to improve the overall user experience. You can use this data to inform your decision-making process for adding various learning reinforcements and checkpoints to prevent students from falling off the wagon.

AccessAlly also has additional business reporting features through its built-in metrics feature for tracking sales, projected revenue, churn, refunds, and so much more.

Progress tracking and metrics aren’t part of s2Member’s feature set but could be configured manually or with the use of a third-party tool.

iPad image with mockup of the 90 day year progress goals

Create a Gamified User Experience

As more and more membership sites and online courses come to market, one thing that can set you apart from your competition is the user experience you create.

s2Member doesn’t have a built-in gamification system that could be leveraged to keep members engaged and coming back for more. There’s no way to award badges and s2Member lacks the functionality to create a credits/points system to reward users.

In comparison, you’ll find all of these features native to AccessAlly. When it comes to user experience, we’ve put a lot of heart and effort into making sure our users have the features and flexibility they need to best serve their customers.

Leverage affiliates to increase sales & reach new audiences

Affiliate marketing is a great way for course creators and membership site owners to get their offerings in front of more potential customers.

It also takes some of the pressure off of you to make all of the sales on your own, which can free up some of your time to focus on fostering your relationship with your members and improving your product offering.

s2Member doesn’t have an affiliate management system available within the plugin, however, they do recommend iDevAffiliate and ShareASale as potential tools to set up and manage your affiliate program.

It should come as no surprise that AccessAlly has this functionality available within the AccessAlly plugin, at no additional cost to you.

You can create multi-tiered affiliate programs, set up a leaderboard for affiliate contests, display your affiliate’s individual ledgers, and unique links all within your affiliate portal to create easy access for your affiliates.

Looking for something that integrates both ways?

Marketing automation tools are here to stay.

Use your marketing automation tool to power your course and membership program by taking advantage of AccessAlly’s deep 2-way street integration.

It’s built to help you sell more, teach better, and engage with your students longer.

Get a Free AccessAlly Demo
Email marketing envelope

your workflow on AccessAlly vs. s2Member:

AccessAlly Logo
  1. Set up your WordPress site with your favorite customizable theme
  2. Install the AccessAlly plugin on your WordPress membership site
  3. Run through the AccessAlly onboarding wizard to integrate with your CRM and select payment settings
  4. Create your first offering with the Offerings Wizard and add your content
  5. Create emails in your CRM or in AccessAlly
s2Member logo
  1. Set up your WordPress site with your favorite customizable theme or install the PMPro theme.
  2. Install the WordPress membership plugin on your membership site.
  3. Sign up for a Zapier account to integrate this WordPress plugin with your CRM or install an add-on.
  4. Integrate with your payment gateways or install an additional WordPress plugin for payment features like recurring payments or multiple payment features.
  5. Create your membership site pages using Custom Post types and restrict access.
  6. Set up any content dripping within your email marketing automation system.
  7. Install any additional add-ons or WordPress plugins for LMS features, member directories, affiliate marketing, and gamification.
  8. Add your content to your membership site.

See How AccessAlly and s2Member Features Compare

We’re a digital marketing software company built by marketers and software engineers. With our particular background and expertise, we’ve designed AccessAlly to give you everything you need in an easy to use, powerful package.

Software Feature
Protected course content Included checkmark Included checkmark
Built-in Recurring Stripe and PayPal payments Included checkmark Included checkmark
Course builder for modules, lessons, and topics Included checkmark Included checkmark
Automatically creates tags, pages, and menus Included checkmark  
Deep 2-Way Integration with Infusionsoft, Ontraport, ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, and Drip Included checkmark  
Multiple currencies, automated expiring coupons, and order bumps Included checkmark  
Cart abandonment automation Included checkmark  
Progress tracking, and progress-based unlocking content Included checkmark  
Multiple types of quizzes, and auto generated certificates of completion Included checkmark  
Course Licensing with Teams or Umbrella Accounts Included checkmark  
Searchable member directories and editable custom fields through profiles Included checkmark Included checkmark 
Gamification where members can earn points, and activity-based automation, login tracking Included checkmark  
Media player, video bookmarks, tagging automation on quizzes Included checkmark  
Cross-selling dashboards, with 1-click upsells Included checkmark
Built-in affiliate tracking with multiple tiers, links, and reporting Included checkmark  

The true cost of s2Member

s2Member’s pricing ranges from free to $189 based on the features you need to deliver the membership site experience you plan to create.

If you sell or plan to sell online courses be sure to budget for a learning management system as well, such as LearnDash which can cost you up to an additional $329/year plus add-ons for more advanced functionality.

Be sure to thoroughly research the features based on your needs to have an accurate picture of what your investment will entail if you choose s2Member as your membership site and course creation plugin.

With AccessAlly, all of the features discussed here, and more, are native to the plugin so you won’t incur additional expenses for each new feature you want to add.

Should I use AccessAlly or s2Member?

s2Member might be right for you if...

    • You need a bare-bones membership website, with no plans for added functionality down the line (or have an amazing developer if you do)
    • You’re a developer who is comfortable with writing custom code, setting up API calls, and webhooks to create an integrated robust membership and course solution for your clients
    • You’ve used it in the past and don’t mind an outdated interface
    • You’re a duct-tape artist who doesn’t mind piecing plugin after plugin together to create a complete LMS and membership site solution

AccessAlly might be right for you if...

    • You know the value of your time, and you want a tool that will handle set up for you based on your instructions
    • You want everything to work seamlessly from one end to the other (payments, courses, and memberships) with as few plugins as possible
    • You’re looking to create an amazing customer experience, that’s functional, profitable, and helps you stand out in the marketplace
    • You like to geeky or you have advanced marketing needs and need lots of flexibility in your course platform

Marketers all over the world are loving AccessAlly

Eden Fried

AccessAlly is going to grow and scale with me over time, and that's unbeatable

“Honestly, Teachable, Thinkific, or Kajabi would have been the *easier* option, but AccessAlly with my WordPress theme is hands down the *better* option. It’s going to grow and scale with me over time, and that’s unbeatable.

AccessAlly allows me to provide a dashboard for all members, and it also allows me to create a member-directory (great for forming that community), an editable profile, plus lots of gamification features that can help members track their progress and reward them for their achievements.

I also love that my students can take notes right within the site. How cool is that?

The fact that AccessAlly integrates directly with my ESP also gives me incredible functionality to track my students’ progress, send them reminder emails and keep them coming back to the membership.

The capacity to do just that ensure that I can retain members longterm by engaging with them and providing them with an experience unique to them. That’s priceless.”

– Eden Fried,

Jane Copeland

I simply adore AccessAlly

“I moved to Access Ally after being frustrated and experiencing many issues with the platform and membership management plugin my programs were hosted on before. Moving to Access Ally has not only been a joy but also hiccup free! When choosing which membership site to move to, I wanted to give my students a high end quality learning experience and this is exactly what I now have. Thank you for creating such a beautiful and easy to use product. I simply adore it!“

– Jane Copeland,

Migrating from s2Member to AccessAlly is easy

With the AccessAlly migration wizard, you can import all of your s2Member members and create their accounts quickly and easily.

You can also import members directly from your marketing automation platform, and AccessAlly’s migration wizard will ensure all of your members have the right tags and permissions.

Then you can run through the Offerings Wizard to add existing course content, and you’ll be ready to showcase your new members’ area.

Researching course platforms on your own is great, but if you want to talk to someone, we're here to help!

If you’re wondering whether you’re on the right track or not, we can help you sort out all of the different options.

We’ll let you know if AccessAlly is a good fit or not, too. Not sure what AccessAlly is? Watch the video to find out now, then book a call to discuss further:

Book a free discovery call

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