s2Member Alternatives:
Compare s2Member to Competitors

If you’re in the market for an s2Member alternative for your online course or membership site or are just getting started with your research about this plugin...

You’re in the right place.

As the creators of AccessAlly, we know what a lot of membership site owners are looking for in their membership plugin.

Let's dive into our in-depth review of s2Member and take a closer look at our comparisons of popular s2Member alternatives. We’re taking a closer look at native s2Member features, integrations, and pricing so you know what you can expect if you choose s2Member as your membership site plugin.

s2Member logo

Before We Dive into Our s2Member Comparison

We’re always curious who is behind the software reviews we read online, so we want to give you the full disclosure.

We are the creators of the AccessAlly LMS and membership plugin for WordPress. We are also affiliates for some of the tools that we review and compare on our site - meaning we may earn a commission if you buy from our recommendations.

However, we never let an affiliate incentive sway us in our reviews, it just makes it possible for us to test out these tools and dedicate time to passing our knowledge on to you. We know how overwhelming the research process can be so we want to help you make the right decision for your business.

Let’s take a closer look at s2Member and see how it stacks up, and why current users might start looking for an s2Member alternative in the first place.

laptop displaying the s2member home page

Why People Choose s2Member

Before we get into our list of s2Member alternatives, let’s look at why s2Member might make your list of possible plugins for your online course or membership site in the first place.

  • It’s affordable: s2Member is one of the most affordable membership plugins on the market - it’s free unless you need more advanced payment integrations other than PayPal buttons. While the plugin itself isn’t widely used amongst newer membership site owners and online course creators, it does have a lot of loyal customers who learned the software when it first came to market. If you’re on a budget, it’s worth taking a look at especially if you're a developer.
  • You want a simple membership: If you’re just getting started online and you don’t need a lot of functionality beyond a basic membership site, s2Member isn’t a bad choice. However, there are newer and easier to use membership plugins on the market that will most likely save you time implementing in the long-run.
  • You have a very unique use case: s2Member is very flexible, if you're comfortable writing custom code, working with webhooks and API calls. Since it's easily extensible through its API, it's possible for you to create a truly custom membership site experience. Just keep in mind that the more you custom develop, the more you may need to invest down the line to maintain and update.
  • You have a history with the plugin: since s2Member was one of the first membership plugins on the market, it has a lot of loyal users. If you're one of them, it might be a good fit for you depending on the features and functionality you plan to implement.

Why People Look for s2Member Alternatives

If you’ve tried s2Member and found it overly complicated or you’re looking for a plugin that's more of an all-in-one membership and LMS solution for your business, then you already know why you're in the market for an s2Member replacement.

Here are some of the other common reasons why people look for s2Member substitutes.

  • Lack of functionality: Because s2Member focuses on the membership management and content protection features for your membership site and online courses, additional plugins are usually required to add additional functionality to your site. In turn, you’re likely going to acquire additional expenses and you’re adding complexity to your tech stack. The technical integration is also more cumbersome and will require 3rd party tools in most cases or advanced knowledge of webhooks and API calls. This is where course creators and membership site owners start to break out the duct tape and look into hiring a developer to build and maintain their site.
  • Dated-interface: s2Member was one of the first membership plugins to come to market, and while that could be seen as an advantage, unfortunately, that’s not the case for s2Member. It hasn’t evolved much since coming to market and leaves a lot to be desired in terms of ease of use and native features.
  • Marketing Automation and CRM integration: With s2Member, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of integrations. However, your integrations tend to be more technical in nature and require you to set up API calls and webhooks to connect your CRM. Unless you’re a skilled developer, this is an added layer of complexity that could be handled more seamlessly with a more modern plugin.
  • Not actively developed: While there are still bugfixes and existing feature enhancements being released, s2Member is not actively developing new features. Their main developers took on other roles in late 2018/early 2019 so the plugin hasn’t seen a lot of love in terms of evolution since that time.

One Users Path to Finding the Right Solution

Ana-Maria Janes
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 the other membership plugins, I had to figure out how to integrate them with the course plugin too.

-Ana-Maria Janes

Compare s2Member Pricing

s2Member’s pricing seems like a steal at first glance, but it can be a bit deceiving. With a $0 price tag, it may be hard to pass this plugin by, but if it seems too good to be true it usually is.  

s2Member is, simply put, a permissions manager with limited features, but extensible via API and webhooks.

In order to process payments from customers using an order form, you’ll need to purchase the Pro version. It's still rather affordable, but you'll need to invest in additional add-ons for your LMS features, as well as member directories, and affiliate management if you plan to use an affiliate program to help increase sales for your membership and courses.

While the framework may be free or require a minimal investment, you could end up spending more than you initially anticipate. 

Cost isn't the only thing to consider when you're researching membership software or LMS plugins, but it does heavily factor into the equation.

Here is the cost breakdown for some of the most commonly compared s2Member substitutes:

s2Member $0
Includes the s2Member framework and PayPal buttons for sales.
$189 one-time investment
payment processor integrations included, additional plugins for advanced functionality required.
Kajabi $1490/year
Includes only 3 products, and limit of 10,000 contacts
$3990/year
100 Products, 100,000 contacts, limited email sending
Thinkific $490/year
Unlimited courses and students
$4990/year
Additional features and groups
Teachable $390/year
Plus 5% transaction fee
$4990/year
No transaction fees, includes bulk student enrollment
Podia $390/year
No memberships or affiliate functionality
$790/year
Includes 3rd party code and embedded checkout forms
Mighty Networks $280/year
Community forums only, no online courses, plus 3% transaction fee
$980/year
Includes online courses, plus 2% transaction fee
MemberPress + LearnDash $448/year
No course or student limits, basic functionality
$918/year
Includes group licensing, affiliate functionality
LifterLMS $299/year
Ecommerce and CRM addons included
$999/year
Quizzes, groups, and social learning
AccessAlly $990/year
Unlimited courses and students, affiliate, and bulk courses
$1290/year
All LMS functionality
s2Member logo

s2Member might be right for you if…

  • You are open to a larger tech stack, and using a lot of different plugins to achieve your goals
  • You're comfortable with tech and know your way around webhooks and API calls for integrations.
  • You don't need deep CRM integration to create more personalized customer experiences, but you do need a lot of flexibility to custom code your unique use cases.

In-Depth s2Member Replacement Comparisons

Now that we’ve looked at all of the reasons why someone might choose s2Member, or migrate to another membership solution, it’s time to compare s2Member alternatives!

These in-depth comparison pages will showcase each software’s strengths and highlight where it falls short so you can make the best decision for your particular business and online teaching needs.

Popular LMS & Membership Comparisons

Your s2member Substitute Might Include Several Tools, Software, and Plugins

s2Member handles the membership functionality of your online courses and membership, so you’ll likely need to add additional plugins to achieve your desired functionality for your online courses using a learning management system, advanced e-commerce functionality, team accounts for bulk course enrollment, and affiliate management to name a few.

Since s2Member is a WordPress plugin, you'll likely already have your website host and theme but it's always a good idea to reevaluate your existing tools on an ongoing basis.

The number of plugins and tools in your tech stack will depend on your requirements, and what goals you’re trying to achieve with your online courses. For instance, you might need:

CRM Software

CRM software and an email marketing automation platform is important to both sell your courses and memberships, as well as deliver them.

Website host

If you’re going with the self-hosted membership site option, a reputable host will go a long way toward giving you a fast site that you have full control over.

Website Theme

If you’re investing in a custom design then you’ll want to decide on the best theme to give you the most functionality that accommodates your design and branding. 

Subscription management

Taking payments is a key part of selling courses and memberships, and there are several different tools that allow you to take payments, and manage subscriptions.

Affiliate Management

If you want to give students and colleagues the ability to refer and earn a commission, an affiliate management solution can help you do just that.

LMS plugin

Finally, how you deliver your courses to help you teach and engage better is how you can set yourself apart in the marketplace, and help your customers succeed.

What matters most in online learning for 2021?

Make the most of online learning in 2021.

In 2020 so much changed, and business owners who started to create and sell online courses have come out ahead.

With the focus on online learning, some entrepreneurs realized their online course platform was limiting and lacked the features they really needed.

It's important that any LMS you choose gives you the ability to get started quickly and to be flexible enough to meet your needs as things change.

There are also ongoing updates to privacy laws like CCPA, GDPR, CalOPPA, that are on every digital business owner's mind.

With tighter budgets, transaction fees, integration with existing tools for email marketing, and landing pages need to be top of mind.

iPad with screenshot of Equity statement

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I'd love to learn more about your goals and answer your questions about how AccessAlly can help you get there. Book a demo today!

Kimberly Gosney