You’ve been growing your audience and your vision for starting your membership site is clear.
The hard part -- knowing what to serve your audience -- is done.
The only thing left to do is put it all together.
What do you need to pull it off? Tools, of course. And that’s where the smooth-sailing comes to a screeching stop.
These days, there are tools for nearly everything.
You’ll need something to create your video tutorials. Oh, and a tool for hosting and delivering those videos would be helpful, too.
What about your email marketing? The list goes on.
Hold on -- before you fall into a rabbit hole of perusing every tool under the sun, know that running a successful membership site doesn’t have to be complex if you understand which tools you need for your business.
Which is why today we’ve laid out 21 of the best membership site tools for you to consider, organized by three simple categories for building, launching and marketing, and maintaining your site.
Let’s start unpacking, beginning with the most important components of a membership website tools can help you with.
What are the most important components for building your membership site?
The best tools for building your membership site include tools that help you create these two components:
#1. Engaging content
Creating engaging membership site content for your customers is vital to the success of your membership site.
If you’re wondering which type of content is preferred across the globe, 54% of customers want to interact with video, which is more than any other content format.
Marketers are responding to this preference. 52% of marketers claim video to be the type of content with the best ROI.
Our second component also impacts your bottom line.
#2. A well-designed site and individual pages
Design hugely impacts your audience’s experience, especially during first impressions, so it’s important to use tools that allow you to create clean and sleek designs whenever possible.
The reason: A clean and usable design lends itself to a positive user experience (UX), which is vital for your membership success.
One of the highest ROIs of any promotional activity -- $100 for every $1 spent -- is allocated to creating a seamless user experience with smarter design.
From a member’s perspective, it’s essential to be able to easily navigate through your membership site, like in the case of Michael Yadchuk’s The Productive Writer Mastermind membership site:
Otherwise, they’re likely abandon your site and stop engaging with your business altogether. In fact, 40% of customers will refer your competitor if you provide a poor website experience, whereas 15.8% are more loyal if they have a positive experience with your site.
Whether it’s your membership site or the content you publish on it, design plays an integral role in your business success.
Now, as for how to get these components right, let’s start digging into our tools.
Video recording and editing tools
Tool #1. CloudApp
CloudApp is a video recording tool which allows you to record your screen and share HD videos, GIFs, and screenshots. Not only can you do a screen-recording, but the software also gives you the option of using your computer’s webcam to record yourself as well.
Additionally, you can also annotate your images with drawings and text for a more explanatory use.
Pricing ranges from free for an individual user to $51 a month for over three users. The free plan includes a 15-minute video recording and 100 MB storage cap.
Tool #2. Debut Video Capture
If you’re a beginner, you may want to try Debut Video Capture instead, which is an easy-to-use video recording software fit for any novice.
Though the site may look a bit dated, its functionality allows you to capture recordings of your screen or footage from a video input device.
One of the unique perks is Debut offers scheduled recordings and programmable hotkeys. What’s missing from the dashboard are editing features, which means you’ll have to download its sister program, VideoPad.
Pricing ranges from free for personal use to $60 for business use.
Tool #3. Camtasia Studio
Ideal for professionals, Camtasia Studio lets you record your screen and as well as footage using an external camera (or your computer’s internal webcam).
While it allows for basic editing, the dashboard also includes a number of more advanced editing features, such as effects, music and audio, annotations, zoom, pan, animations, and even quizzes.
As a major plus, you can share your edited video files directly from the Camtasia dashboard.
Pricing is on the higher end at $249 for a single license on two computers. If you’re in the education field, single license pricing drops to $169.
Tool #4. Final Cut Pro
For professional users on a Mac, Final Cut Pro is advanced-level editing software that provides fast performance, organizational tools, and support for 360-degree footage and HDR.
The elegant dashboard also provides professional color grading tools and the ability to import and capture features all in one panel.
Final Cut Pro is priced at $299.99.
OK, that has you covered for the visual side of video content, but what about the audio side? That’s where this next category comes in.
Audio recording and editing tools
Tool #5. WavePad
Similar to Debut Video Capture, WavePad is another NCH software, which allows you to cut, copy, split, and trim your audio files. The platform also allows for other audio and music effects, such as amplification, normalization, and equalization, and even lets you edit your files in batch.
One of the main perks is WavePad has a robust assortment of audio effects and filters in comparison to most software. It even lets you noise reduction and “click pop” removal.
The cost is $60 for the standard edition editor and $99 for the master’s edition.
Tool #6. Audacity
Developed by a group of volunteers as an open source software, Audacity is a simple multi-track audio editor and recorder which offers several editing options.
If you’re going for basic editing, this may be an ideal option for you. While the program allows for features like batch processing, it’s not ideal for more advanced editing that goes beyond simplistic vocal recording and destructive editing. The support is also limited to its user forum.
Audacity is free to use, making it ideal for those with a limited production budget.
Now, let’s zoom out a bit and look at another category of tools that helps you produce visually appealing content.
Tool #7. Canva
Canva is a free online design tool for both beginners and experts, which allows you to create graphics, charts, and designs, and edit photos.
Known for their easy-to-use templates and editing tools, you can create hi-res images fit for a wide variety of uses, such as social media, logos, posters, presentations, worksheets, infographics, covers, and newsletters, to name a few.
Canva is free for their simple drag-and-drop editor, and $12.95 per user per month for their “Pro” level, which includes unlimited design folders, team functionalities, unlimited storage, advanced organizational features, and access to 400,000 photos, illustrations, and templates.
Tool #8. Venngage
Another popular online design tool is Venngage, which offers the ability to easily create graphs, infographics, charts, and a wide array of other visuals. The platform also includes access to several templates.
Fit for both novices and advanced designers, Venngage’s user interface is simple to navigate and allows for several editing aspects, like color, text, opacity, content, and size.
Pricing is $49 per month for the business plan, includes a robust collection of templates, infographics, charts, and icons, and the ability to use your own branding and export hi-res files. The business level also comes with full customer support.
As for how to tie it all together, we may be biased about this next tool, but it’s a bias over 17,000+ creators share with us.
Tool #9. Podia
All-in-one platforms like Podia make membership site building a straightforward, seamless process. With a dashboard that’s easy to navigate, the platform includes an editor view, which makes designing and managing your site and content very simple.
You can build your entire membership site using the platform and replace many of the other tools we’ll mention in a bit, such as email marketing, while you’re at it.
The benefits don’t stop there, however. Podia also allows for numerous integrations and third-party snippets so you can manage everything from one location. And if you’ve got other digital products ideas, the platform is built for managing your entire online storefront.
Pricing is $79 per month for the Shaker plan, which includes benefits like unlimited everything, third-party code, free migration, email marketing, and the ability to create and sell online courses, digital downloads, and your membership site.
If you’re interested in learning more about the integrated features, our no-obligation 14-day free trial gives you complete access to the intuitive dashboard and full customer support.
OK, regardless of the tools you choose, after you’ve found the tools for building your membership site, it’s time to find the same for launching and promoting your site.
What are the recommended tools for launching and marketing your membership site?
When it comes to launching and marketing your membership site, here are three important areas to prioritize:
A. Email marketing
First and foremost, email marketing is a top-performing channel for promoting your business.
It’s been known to convert higher than social media and search traffic combined.
In some cases, email marketing provides a whopping 65% conversion rate in online sales, which is why it’s vital for you to prioritize tools that allow you to automate your email messages.
How well do automated emails perform? Very well.
In fact, automated emails generate 320% more revenue that non-automated emails. If you make your emails transactional and offer your contacts something for sale, like a membership, those emails are 8x more likely to garner opens and clicks and can generate 6x more revenue.
Our next topic is also key to promoting your membership business.
B. Social media marketing
With 3.48 billion active social media users around the globe, it’s vital to incorporate a social media plan into your business, which means having a tool to help automate that process and save time is important, especially if you’re a solopreneur running your business.
Not only is it helpful to use a tool that schedules your social posts, but it’s also useful for managing and maintaining your online conversations.
This functionality is essential because it’s imperative to respond to your social channel inquiries. 71% of people who have a good social media experience with you are more likely to recommend you than people who don’t receive any response, who are only 19% likely.
Basically, social media is on the rise and an effective way to promote your membership business, and social media tools help you streamline your outreach across multiple channels. If you'd like to read more about using social channels, check our article on how to use social media to sell more digital products.
Wondering what to distribute on those social and marketing channels? That’s where the topic in this list comes in.
C. Content marketing
It’s beneficial to have a tool that helps you manage your editorial calendar because -- whether it’s published articles on your blog, social media posts, or new videos -- content is king.
Marketers know this quite well with 42% of marketers publishing content multiple times per week, or even daily, and allocating 42% of their marketing budget to content.
What does this mean for your membership site?
You’ll want to publish valuable content consistently -- whether in the form of videos, live conference calls, articles, posts, or digital downloads -- on your site for members to access and engage with.
Ready to conquer all of these points? Then let’s walk you through the best launching and marketing tools, starting with an email marketing service.
Tool #10. ActiveCampaign
For intermediate users, ActiveCampaign is a robust email automation platform which allows for autoresponders based on a wide range of conditions and behavioral data.
You can automate and manage your contacts, content, and lists from one platform. ActiveCampaign also offers thorough reporting and tracking.
Depending on the number of contacts in your database, pricing ranges from $9 to $229 per month. The “Plus” package is the most popular and priced at $49 per month for 500 contacts. As your contact list goes up, so does the pricing (i.e., $199 per month for 10,000 contacts).
Tool #11. ConvertKit
For more advanced users, ConvertKit is an email and newsletter tool built on a tag-based system which allows you to manage subscribers and run automations efficiently. The dashboard is visual and straightforward to use, and enables third-party app integrations.
Pricing ranges from $29 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers to $79 per month for up to 5,000 subscribers.
Tool #12. Mailchimp
Finally, if you’re just starting out, you may want to consider Mailchimp for managing your email marketing needs. You can easily collect leads, create and send emails, and design newsletters from their intuitive interface.
The system also allows for email campaigns, automations, reporting, and third-party integrations.
Based on freemium pricing, Mailchimp’s packages range from free for your first 2,000 contacts and audience to $14.99 for their “Standard” package, which includes management of 100,000 contacts and three audiences.
Their largest package is the “Premium” level, priced at $299 per month for 200,000 contacts and unlimited audiences.
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into these email marketing tools, check out our comprehensive guide on Podia-ready email marketing tools.
Otherwise, let’s move on to social media tools.
Social media posting
Tool #13. Buffer
Appropriate for beginners, Buffer has a simple dashboard which enables you to easily schedule nearly unlimited social media posts for multiple profiles. The platform also lets you create simple graphics and track basic analytics.
If you’re logged into multiple accounts, you can post across several social platforms at once. You can also post immediately or opt for scheduling at a later date.
Buffer starts at $15 per month for their “Pro” plan, which includes eight social accounts and 100 scheduled posts. For $199 per month, their “Medium Business” plan allows for 50 social accounts and 2,000 scheduled posts.
Tool #14. Hootsuite
For more advanced needs, Hootsuite is a social media management system which allows you to schedule and manage social posts, provide content approvals, organize and store pre-approved content, track analytics, and integrate with third-party apps.
Pricing for Hootsuite runs from $29 per month for 10 social profiles and one user to $599 per month for 35 social profiles and up to 10 users.
Our final tool for content delivery is something that helps you manage postings beyond social media and ties your website and marketing channels together.
Editorial calendar management
Tool #15. CoSchedule
If you’re looking for a more robust content delivery system, you may want to consider using CoSchedule to manage both your editorial calendar and social posts.
The drag-and-drop interface allows you to integrate outside platforms, such as a WordPress plugin for blog posting, and also includes a “best time” feature that posts your content at optimal traffic times. You can view your scheduled content in a calendar view that supports re-queues.
Pricing ranges from $80 per month for their “Growth” package, which includes three users and 10 social profiles, to $400 per month for their “Professional” package, which includes 5 users, 15 social profiles, and an added work organizer feature.
OK, so far we’ve gone through the building and promoting tools. What about tools for retaining your membership and growing your business over time?
What are the top tools for maintaining your membership site?
Any tools that help you with membership retention are a must-have. Not only is it important to earn the trust of your new members, but it’s also vital to retain your recurring membership year after year.
Why? Such loyalty is more valuable than new customers.
Repeat customers are responsible for generating 40% of a business’ revenue and are nine times more likely to convert than first-time shoppers.
Take Apple, for example. Having a loyal audience is part of the reason they’re a “best in class” global brand with a 91% loyalty score. Their newest products practically sell themselves among their dedicated customer base.
To achieve such loyalty, customer service is an essential aspect of maintaining customer retention, whether you offer support through video conferencing and live coaching calls, online chats, and/or Q&A helpdesks.
Let’s start with video conferencing.
Video conferencing tools
Tool #16. Zoom
For both beginners and advanced users, Zoom lets you host live meetings and webinars while recording your video conferences. The platform allows for screen sharing for both one-on-one meetings and group video conferences.
You can even integrate with your CRM and marketing automation tools, create panels, and automatically mute group meeting attendees.
Zoom pricing ranges from free for up to 100 participants and 40-minute group meetings, to $199.99 per month for up to 1,000 participants and unlimited cloud storage.
Tool #17. Google Hangouts
If you’re more of a novice with a limited startup budget, Google Hangouts is a basic video conferencing tool to use. You can log in directly from your Gmail account and host individual or group chats directly in your browser.
The interface is intuitive and allows you to share images and videos. You can also use the handy search bar to find sent and received chat messages.
The cost to use Google Hangouts is free.
Of course, building a loyal customer base goes beyond video conferencing, too. You’ll also need to upkeep your customer service, which brings us to our next tool category.
Customer service tools
Tool #18. Intercom
If you’re looking for a comprehensive customer service system based on live chat, Intercom allows you to manage conversations from multiple channels, send target messages, create a Q&A help center, and integrate with third-party platforms.
You can also customize and automate chat box messages on your site as they visit various pages.
Intercom goes for $136 per month for the “Essential” plan to $202 per month for the “Pro” plan, which includes added features like customizable workflows, multi-touch campaigns, and additional third-party integrations.
Tool #19. Zendesk
For customer service that goes beyond live chat, Zendesk offers a suite of support apps which allow you to provide customer support, live chat, call center solutions, and a knowledge base to your members.
For more advanced business needs, their products use AI to triage queries and empower you to use a ticketing system based on customer priority and urgency, which means you can organize processes, workflows and track your customer engagement.
Zendesk has several customizable pricing plans that range from free to $199 per month, depending on your needs.
Our final tool overview is less to do with customer service, and more about administrative upkeep, but it’s just as important for supporting your audience -- after all, it tells you what’s working, and moreover, what isn’t.
Tool #20. Google Analytics
To track a wide variety of business metrics on your membership site, you can use Google Analytics. The collected data allows you to understand your members’ and potential customers’ behaviors better.
While it requires a bit of training -- which typically comes from third-parties -- once you link the tracking codes to your site and learn to navigate the platform, you can track marketing, traffic, and advertising data for your site.
Like many of the other G-suite products, Google Analytics is free to use.
Tool #21. Facebook Pixel
If you’re using Facebook ads to promote your membership site, you’ll want to use the Facebook Pixel tool to measure the effectiveness of your ads. By installing the code snippet into your site, you can track your visitors’ interactions on your site after they click on your Facebook ad.
You can include custom “events” in your pixel reports for a better understanding of specific conversions your audience make, like when they view or click one of your pages or convert from a lead to a customer.
The Facebook Pixel is free to use from your Facebook business manager dashboard.
Phew, now you’ve got the lay of the land. We’ve gone from building to launching and marketing to maintaining and growth tools.