Need to control access to the content on your WordPress website? Consider using a membership plugin. While the main feature of a membership plugin is its ability to put some or all of your website content in a restricted area only members can access, membership plugins can do a whole lot more.
In this article, we’ll be covering what exactly it is that the best membership plugins offer. We can help you decide if a membership plugin is the right option for your project and, if so, which features you should look for when selecting a suitable plugin of this type.
What Does a Membership Plugin Do?
You’ll immediately discover there are a myriad membership plugins available for WordPress, including our own MemberPress product. While the best membership WordPress plugins all have their own way of doing things and come with individual characteristics that separate them from one another, they also share a common set of features and functionally.
We’ll be looking at some of the most important things a membership plugin should be able to do so that you’ll know how to find the right tool for your project, get the most out of your chosen plugin, and build the best membership site possible.
Control Access to Your Content
Perhaps the most important feature of any membership plugin is its ability to control access to your content. The best membership plugins make it easy to restrict access to your site, to individual pieces of content and files, and even to portions of your posts or pages.
If you want to successfully manage your membership site, look for a plugin that gives you fine-grained control over who can access what. The best WordPress membership plugins allow you to create detailed access rules that automatically protect new content as it's created, depending on its category, tag, or other predefined criteria.
You’ll also want to look for a membership plugin that allows you to release access to content over a predefined period. This feature is known as dripping, and being able to slowly drip access to content over days, weeks, or months—all in relation to when a user becomes a member—has many benefits.
If you want to control the rate at which your members consume your content so they don’t have access to everything the day they sign up, look for a plugin with the ability to drip access to content.
Collect Membership Payments
Another key function of the best WordPress membership plugins is the ability to monetize your website and collect payments from your members.
The more payment-related tasks your membership plugin takes care of for you, the less time you’ll spend on day-to-day admin tasks. If you can find a membership plugin that seamlessly integrates with your payment processor of choice and automates the collection of subscription payments, you’ll have more time to create content that will attract new members and keep existing users happy.
Most WordPress membership plugins support the PayPal payment processor. However, if you want to use advanced membership site reporting tools to really grow your business, we highly recommend a membership plugin that supports Stripe payments.
Create Multiple Membership Products or Levels
For some projects, you may want to offer a free membership package alongside your premium plan to help get new members through the door and into your sales funnel. In other cases, creating multiple premium membership levels allows you to upsell and reserve certain content and features for your highest-paying users.
Be sure to look for a membership plugin that makes it easy to create multiple levels or products—even if you don’t need them yet. The more options you can offer prospective members, the greater the chance they’ll have of finding something that matches their requirements.
Also, to help potential members decide which level or product to select, it’s a good idea to look for a membership plugin that automatically generates product comparison tables for your website.
Support Discount Coupons
One of the best ways to generate new business for your membership website is to offer discount coupons. Be aware, however, that coupons can be abused if not properly managed.
Thankfully, the best membership plugins give you full control over any money-off coupons you create, including defining how many times they can be used, giving them an expiration date, stating which membership levels or products they can be used against, and whether they reduce the price by a fixed amount or percentage.
Handing out coupon codes is a clever way to grow your business, but unless you have full control over them, they could end up costing you more than you expected.
Automate Important Tasks
Managing a membership website can be time-consuming. There are new member accounts to create; subscriptions to pause, resume, and cancel; forgotten passwords to reset; membership upgrades to take care of; email reminders to send out; and a whole list of things.
Have no fear. There are WordPress membership plugins that take care of most, if not all, of these tasks for you. If you want running your membership website as hands-off as possible, it’s vital you look for a membership plugin with a strong self-service element. Self-service features let new members sign up and manage their own accounts and subscriptions while also sending out reminders that cover credit card expiration dates and such.
Self-service features automate many of the tasks involved in running a successful membership site, leaving you to focus on what you do best—creating new content for your members.
Now that you know the basics of what a membership plugin can do, you’re in a good position to choose the right tool for your project. But we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to the features you’ll find in the best WordPress membership plugins, so make sure you fully evaluate your options before making a final decision.
Although there are a number of WordPress membership plugins out there, we’re confident our MemberPress plugin will meet your needs. So why not take the MemberPress tour and find out exactly what this plugin can do for you?