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The 6 best membership site management options for creators

If you’re looking to streamline your membership management, get this guide on finding the right membership site management program for your business.

May 8, 2020 by Cyn Meyer

Managing a membership program without an official home is a lot like herding cats.

If you’ve chosen your membership idea but you’re missing a central portal for your members to access, maintaining and growing your membership can feel nigh impossible. 

And I don’t just mean a place for gathering your members. 

An official membership site also allows you to upkeep everything related to your membership, including your fees, content, correspondence, engagement, customer service, and your members, in one central location.

Whereas not having an official site or platform . . . well, that plays out a lot like the .GIF above. It’s chaos at its best, and unworkable at its worst.

To help you manage your membership program in one central hub, we’ve got six membership management solutions for you today organized by these categories:

  • Features
  • Integrations
  • Price
  • Best for
  • Not ideal for

Before we dive in, though, let’s cover some of your options for managing a membership program, so you can compare how software solutions tailor different needs.

Membership program management options

To manage your membership program, you can use a WordPress plugin, customer relationship management (CRM) system, or an all-in-one platform. 

Let’s go into the pros and cons of each of these options, the first being a WordPress plugin. 

If you have a WordPress site, you can keep the structure of your site as-is and add on the membership arm to it by downloading and activating a WordPress plugin. 

If keeping your current WordPress site sounds enticing to you, you’re in good company. WordPress powers a whopping 35% of the internet, and over 400 million people visit WordPress sites every month.

The pro to using a WordPress plugin is you can manage the remainder of your current site while tacking on your additional membership program all under one roof. 

The downside is if you come across any complications, you’ll likely need coding skills. Your site experience could also be clunky -- not all widgets are made equal (or play nice together). 

Your second membership option, using a CRM, is especially helpful if you want to track and organize your member history in a meaningful way.

After all, CRMs are widely used by businesses for managing all of their relationships and interactions with customers and prospective customers. 

They’re so popular that CRM software is the biggest software market globally, and it’s expected to reach more than $80 billion in revenue by 2025.

The pro of using a CRM for your membership site is that you can grow your membership by focusing on building relationships with prospective members and converting them through their member journey. 

One of the biggest cons to relying solely on a membership CRM is once your members join your program, the membership portal and member experience still need to be a priority. Oftentimes, CRMs focus on the member journey to the point of conversion, rather than the aftermath.

For your final option, you can use an all-in-one platform. All-in-ones handle everything related to running your program, from selling and corresponding to hosting and updating member content.

A perk to using an all-in-one platform is you can manage everything related to your membership program, like setting your membership price and uploading exclusive member content, all from one dashboard, and (good) customer support is only a chat or email away.

Plus, just like an all-in-one marketing platform can save you from jumping between 5-10 different tools, each costing anywhere from $50 to over $250 per month, the same goes for an all-inclusive membership platform. Fewer tools mean fewer bills to juggle.

The downside is you’re limited to the membership features the platform develops. If there’s something specialized that you’re looking for, the platform may not have it available, and there usually isn’t an option to build it yourself. 

In other words, simplicity comes at the cost of code and widget customizability. Whether that trade-off is something that’ll work for your business is, ultimately, up to you and how much granular control you need to reach your goals.

Basically, your options boil down to this:

If you want the ultimate control and are a hardcore D-I-Yer, WordPress plugins are probably a good solution for your membership program.

If you’re more interested in building customer relationships during acquisition than you are in retention -- say, you’re planning to offer a content library or lifetime membership fee -- then a CRM tool can be a good fit.

But if you’re in the market for something that helps you manage your membership from day 1 to day infinity and don’t have the want (or time) to wrangle a bunch of tools, an all-in-one platform is likely your best option.

OK, so those are your top-level options and their pros and cons. Now, let’s change gears and dig into six of the top membership management software solutions across those options and see how they compare.

6 membership management software solutions 

#1. AccessAlly

For creators who want to integrate a membership program into their WordPress site, AccessAlly offers a comprehensive way to do that. 

Features: AccessAlly offers a way to gamify your membership program. Whether you’re providing your members with assessments, assignments, or quizzes, the tool allows you to track your members’ progress as a way to keep them engaged. 

You can also set up automated emails based on members’ behaviors and customize your order forms. Additionally, there’s a user directory that allows your members to connect with each other.

Integrations: AccessAlly integrates with third-party email tools like ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, Drip, InfusionSoft, Keap, and Ontraport. You can also choose Stripe or PayPal for your payment options.

Price: Pricing is $82 per month for the Essentials plan, which is ideal for small businesses and solopreneurs, and includes unlimited members, files, and tags. The Pro plan is $108 per month and includes additional flexible quiz types, more reporting, and built-in social sharing.

Best for: People looking for a WordPress membership plugin to integrate with their current marketing stack. The price isn’t the cheapest, but it’s not the steepest, either, so it’s a good solution if you’re working with a slimmer budget.

Not ideal for: If you’re looking for a more robust way for your community and members to chat with each other, AccessAlly doesn’t currently offer a community forum solution integration. It’s also not ideal if you want to offer standalone digital products outside of a membership.

#2. Hivebrite

Hivebrite is an all-in-one community management platform that allows you to engage with your members and grow your membership.

Features: Using Hivebrite’s dashboard, you can easily add, update, and manage your content. There’s also a searchable directory that displays results on an interactive map, which allows members to locate other members with the same interests as well as upload media files. 

Additionally, you can organize events, ticketing, payments, and invitation emails using the dashboard. Hivebrite also has an excellent support team to help with any technical and management issues while using the platform. 

Integrations: Integrates with social channels Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as well as CRMs like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. Integration with LinkedIn makes it easy for members to log in and fill in missing profile info. 

Price: While pricing isn’t listed on their website, subscriptions may start at $5,000 per year, according to a GetApp review

Best for: People looking to manage an interactive membership where members can engage with each other in forums, dedicated groups, or dedicated projects, based on their interests or location.

Not ideal for: People who aren’t looking to create or prioritize an active networking environment for their members -- or who don’t want to front a lot of money from the first pass.

#3. Neon CRM

Designed for non-profit organizations, Neon CRM is a software that allows you to grow your membership and build your own online membership site by integrating it into your existing website. 

Features: Features include membership management, online forms, member portal, member directory, marketing and communications, payment processing, and reporting and analytics.

Integrations: Neon’s integrations support a variety of auction, event, advocacy, database optimization, finance and accounting, and prospect research products.

Price: Pricing ranges from $49 monthly for the Essentials Light plan, which includes email marketing and fundraising and volunteer management, to $299 monthly for the Empower plan, which is ideal for established organizations that need wealth screening and member support.

Best for: Non-profit organizations or memberships that focus on fundraising, donations, and organizing volunteer efforts. Also ideal for people who want to integrate a membership site into their existing website.

Not ideal for: Businesses that aren’t focused on non-profit fundraising and volunteerism. If you’re a business that doesn’t rely on donations and looking to prioritize serving your members through a robust member portal with updated content, this may not be an ideal fit.

#4. Podia

Let’s get the obvious caveat out of the way.

We’re super biased about this one.

But so are our 17,000+ creators, and here’s why:

An all-in-one platform designed for creators, Podia allows you to create a branded membership site directly from your dashboard without needing any coding. Their support team is readily available to help you at every step of creating and managing your online business.

Features: Features include the ability to offer multiple membership levels (including a lifetime membership tier), private, public, scheduled, and pinned posts, email notifications, comments, membership management, product bundling, and embedding content directly into posts. 

Podia also comes with additional features that let you run your online business, including hosting, product management, sales pages, email capture and an email marketing platform, messaging for live chat, coupons, and payment processing.

Integrations: Podia integrates with a range of email service providers, payment processors, analytics tools, advertising platforms, Zapier apps, and third-party snippets. Learn more about our integrations here.

Price: Pricing is $79 per month for the Shaker plan, which includes everything needed for managing your website, digital products, membership, and business. Take it for a spin yourself with this free, no-obligation trial.

Best for: Creating a robust membership site where your members can log into a portal and swiftly access exclusive content across all formats. It’s ideal for creators who want to launch a membership out-of-the-box and don’t need to dig into coding to create their vision.

Not ideal for: People looking for an end-to-end blogging solution or large enterprises. Podia is meant to take the place of several tools in a marketing stack, so if you’re someone who wants a complex stack (and hey, nothing wrong with that), Podia may not be the best fit for you.

#5. Wild Apricot

Founded in 2001 and joined under the Personify umbrella in 2017, Wild Apricot is an easy-to-use membership management software designed for associations, non-profits, and clubs. It allows you to set up events, add members, and create groups.

You can also choose from 12 membership themes to customize your membership site. Additionally, the software allows you to automate renewal reminders and invoices.

Features: Features include an online database, a website builder, online payments, event management, email management, and a mobile application. 

Their membership management features include membership applications and renewals, database management, gated member content, membership directory, and website widgets that integrate with your WordPress site.

Integrations: Wild Apricot integrates with its own payment processing system and WordPress.

Price: Pricing ranges from $40 per month for 100 contacts to $600 per month for 50,000 contacts.

Best for: Associations, non-profits, and clubs. Also ideal for creators who have a WordPress site that they want to maintain alongside their membership site.

Not ideal for: For-profit businesses focused on serving members with a robust member portal of updated content -- it was built for a niche crowd, and what makes it great for that niche will put a dampener on most businesses outside of it.

#6. YourMembership

YourMembership, another all-in-one membership solution, is designed for small to mid-sized organizations. 

Serving predominantly associations, non-profits, and association management companies, the membership software helps them streamline operations and personalize the member journey.

Features: YourMembership features include membership management, event management, website design and hosting, workflow automations, online community, accounting and payment processing, reporting, ecommerce, and donations management.

YourMembership also provides a range of free online training resources to support membership creators with the backend setup.

Integrations: Integrations are based around its target audience and include add-ons such as a learning management system (LMS), a mobile event app, and a career center app.

Price: While it isn’t listed on their website, pricing starts at $292 per month according to a Capterra review.

Best for: Associations, non-profits, and association management companies with a focus on growing membership dues and fundraising. Charitable organizations that want to build a community could really thrive on YourMembership.

Not ideal for: For-profit organizations and businesses that don’t have a heavy focus on events. While you can tool this platform to work for an online-only organization, it’s not a great fit for most solopreneurs -- it’s built for teams, especially growing teams, and is bloated for a solo flyer.

See why Podia is the best platform for selling memberships

Join a live demo to see how Podia's all-in-one platform can help you grow your business. Every Tuesday at 4PM ET.

Carole your members into your best membership program 

Managing your membership doesn’t have to feel scattered and chaotic as you grow your membership.

These days, there’s a range of solid membership software solutions to help you reel in your members and serve them in the best way that you can -- all while growing your membership and business.

In sum:

  • To manage your membership program, use either a WordPress plugin, membership CRM, or all-in-one platform. Of course, they each come with their own pros and cons.
  • Use AccessAlly if you’re looking for a WordPress plugin to manage your membership and integrate with other WordPress plugins.
  • Use Hivebrite if your focus is to provide an interactive membership program that encourages active networking and connecting with others.
  • Use Neon if you’re looking for a CRM to streamline your fundraising and member volunteer efforts. 
  • Use Podia if you want an all-in-one platform that helps you manage everything related to your online business and membership program, including providing your audience with a robust member portal with updated content, email management, and live chat. 
  • Use Wild Apricot if you’re a non-profit, association, or club that has a WordPress site. It’s also ideal if you want to pay by member count.
  • Use YourMembership if you’re a non-profit, association, or association management company that wants to streamline your member journey and events.

Now that you’re armed with these top-notch options, here’s to growing a vibrant membership.

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