Think you need a membership plugin for your WordPress website? You might be able to use a simple form builder instead. Let's find out!
Wondering if you should use a membership plugin? Our help desk gets this question all the time. The answer? It depends.
When you're building more advanced WordPress websites, it always helps to use a plugin specifically designed for your specific needs. That said, sometimes a simple WordPress forms plugin can get the job done.
For example, if you just want to offer a free download in exchange for an email address, one of these WordPress gated content plugins is all you need.
In this blog post, we’re going to fill you in on everything about WordPress membership plugins, covering what they are, why you might want to use one, and which one we recommend.
What is a membership plugin?
A membership plugin lets you protect content and reserve it only for members, rather than the general public. This is done by placing content behind a payment gateway, often referred to as a paywall.
With content restrictions, you can maintain the value of your content. Use it in marketing pushes or as a key benefit to signing up/purchasing a membership.
A typical membership is based on a recurring payment. The payment is usually higher depending on the membership level the user subscribes to.
When it comes to membership tools, there are two main options: standard WordPress plugins, and specialized plugins (e.g. LMS plugins, Learning Management Systems like LearnDash).
Here are a few examples of the kinds of membership sites people build using WordPress:
- Product or service subscriptions
- Content-related subscriptions
- All-access sites
- Online courses
- Online communities
What does a membership plugin do?
Control access to your content
This is the main reason why people look for a membership plugin. You can control and restrict access to your content, reserving it only for people who purchase or sign up.
Restricted content is a standard feature in most of the top membership plugins. On membership sites, content protection is usually disabled once a user buys a paid membership.
If you're pushing content as a benefit or exchange to signing up, you've got to make sure users can't get that content without a membership. If they can find it elsewhere, why would they bother purchasing a membership from you?
Protecting your content is vital to ensure you're not losing out on money and subscribers. With a membership plugin, you can restrict access to individual pieces of content, downloads, posts (custom post types), or pages of your website.
Use drip content to keep subscribers (& keep them engaged!)
Drip content is a good marketing technique to ensure new users are receiving a lot of benefits over time rather than all at once.
Some people will sign up for a membership but realize they can get everything they need in one download. In this case, there's nothing stopping them from canceling once they've got what they need.
Controlling your membership by introducing drip content can really help you keep your subscribers from falling off the list. If you want to use drip content, then a membership plugin could really help with this.
The best membership plugins for WordPress integrate with email marketing services. This helps to automate the release of your drip content. All you need is a dedicated email list for your members only.
Accept membership fees
Now, for what's arguably the most important part. Creating a membership subscription on your website allows you to easily collect payments from those who sign up.
That means less admin for you. You're then free to dedicate more time to creating the content that your members will love.
Offer discounts and coupon codes
If you offer open discounts on your website, you may very well be giving something for nothing. People who aren't even interested in becoming members, or ever buying from you, might be taking advantage of those handy discounts.
While you may be happy to give away stuff for free, you can instead use discounts to entice people to sign up as members. That way, you get the members you need and the fees they pay to become members. It means you're only offering the discount to people who are likely to buy something. This equals less loss for you.
If you’re handing out discounts to just anyone, it could end up costing more than you expected.
A membership plugin will give you full control of any discounts or coupons you want to offer. You’ll be able to control how many times they can be used, when they need to be used by, and who can use them.
Revoke user access or change user profiles
Sometimes you need to revoke access to a user who canceled or let their membership expire. But if you're handling this all manually, it's going to take a lot of time out of your day to keep on top of.
With a membership plugin, you can revoke access to whoever you need to automatically. You can set the plugin to trigger automatic access revoke once a membership has expired or been canceled.
You can even change the roles of your subscribers, based on tiered subscriptions. For example, if your user upgrades to a premium subscription, you may want to open up new, higher-level content for them to access.
Doing this within a membership plugin allows you to automate all this hard work and keep your content open only to those who pay for it.
Why else would you use a membership plugin?
Besides the biggest reasons above, there are plenty more reasons to use a membership plugin on your WordPress site:
- Automated emails & notifications
- Login & welcome pages
- Third-party integrations
- Mobile ready & responsive design
- Website security & SSL
- Payment systems
- Member analytics
- Community forums
- User-friendly interface
A membership plugin is always designed with one thing in mind: helping you build and run your WordPress membership site.
So while you can piece together a membership site with an assortment of other WordPress plugins, it often makes sense to bite the bullet and pay for a full-scale solution.
Do you need a membership plugin?
Membership plugins are great if you are building a full-blown membership site. But if you want to restrict downloads and offer some gated content, a WordPress form builder might be all you need.
With Formidable, the beauty is in its flexibility.
One thing Formidable can do is help you set up a pay-per-post membership system. This is a fairly straightforward system that operates on the same premise as restricted drip content.
If you want a simple way to allow users to log in to your website, you can set that up easily in Formidable Forms. You'll need to use our User Registration add-on to set up login forms. It's easy to use Formidable Forms in place of the MemberPress profile form if all you want is a simple way to allow user logins.
However, if you want additional features and control over your membership directory site, a membership plugin might be your best bet. It will be more user-friendly to more specific membership needs.
Which WordPress membership plugin do we recommend?
MemberPress is a really simple membership plugin built for WordPress, that we'd recommend to any of our users. It's very easy to use and has a clean and clear interface and database structure. It never duplicates user data, which can lead to errors, and it performs extremely well.
MemberPress also works perfectly alongside Formidable Forms, so there's no need to worry about using two different plugins. It's ideal for anyone looking to create a more complex membership system, without the hassle and over-complication you might expect.
See more of the best WordPress membership plugins.
So, is a WordPress Membership plugin right for you?
We hope that today's post helped answer your questions about membership plugins for WordPress. As always, stick to the Formidable Blog for all things WordPress. Until next time!
Read more on membership sites
If you need a membership plugin for WordPress, MemberPress will be a good fit for you. If you decide Formidable Forms best fits your needs, take a look at our plans or range of features if you're not already with us.