The Top Premium Membership Plugins for WordPress:

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Membership portals pose incredibly valuable opportunities for websites. Adding extra value to the site users’ experience, introducing a membership element to a website is a great method for brands, businesses, companies and bloggers to begin fostering a deeper connection with their user base, and too, possibly monetizing this exchange.

There are a number of reasons for creating a membership portal within a website, such as listing private job positions for a company, displaying employee-only documents and manuals for a corporation, or selling courses, tutorials, marketing material or graphic assets online. Including a membership portal within a website can bring immense value in terms of growing a loyal follower base, and too — in the case of the brands using membership portals to sell products or services — growing profits.

At present, there are a plethora of membership plugins readily available, and although variety is the spice of life, selecting the best membership plugin to fit your requirements can be an overwhelming task. To help streamline this process, we’ve created a list of the Top Five Best Premium WordPress Membership Plugins for WordPress.

To compile this list, we researched and cross-referenced a number of membership plugin listing blog posts and tallied the most frequently cited plugins. The five membership plugins on our list were mentioned (and praised) consistently across the board, and when investigated in-depth and compared with other plugins that were featured less frequently, we felt that the five plugins listed below offered incredible value.

Membership Plugin Features:

Depending on the type of membership structure you’re going to create, you’ll require a membership plugin that offers a number of core features. Not all of the plugins available will have these features so be sure to have clear objectives with your content types and the delivery thereof.

Membership levels: This refers to the number of membership options you’ll be able to set up for your user base (for example tiered memberships such as Silver, Gold, Platinum or Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced). While some plugins offer unlimited levels, others (often free plugins) restrict the number of membership levels. This can be a hindrance in the event that your product offerings and the marketing thereof evolve over time.

Dripped content: Particularly useful for those releasing an online course or tutorials, membership plugins that offer content drip allow for the scheduling and staggering of content, seeing it released in portions at set intervals over a time period.

Restricted content: Maybe you’d like to display only certain forms of content for specific member groups, or, maybe you’d like to display various forms of content at specific time intervals. Most membership plugins will allow you to set permissions designated to the membership levels, often allowing you to restrict pages, posts, categories and tags. Some plugins offer further restrictions on custom post types and various forms of file uploads to the Media Library. If, for example, you’re displaying content intended for download with purchase, be sure to investigate whether your plugin can put a restriction on downloaded content (often PDFs).

Promotions: Consumers love feeling special, so potentially including promo-style initiatives to reward your loyals along the way is great to include in your marketing strategy. These could be (for example) discounts or special offers based on seasonal campaigns or membership longevity. Also, consumers love making informed decisions. A great promotional strategy could be offering your customers a free trial membership. If either of these or similar strategies seem like they fit well with your offering, make sure that you pay attention to which plugins make these features readily available.

User subscription management: Users should be able to manage their subscriptions to fit both their content consumption and payment preferences. They should be given the option to upgrade or downgrade their membership levels, and possibly pause their subscription. Ideally, a membership plugin that’s well integrated with a payment gateway, should be able to recognize a change in membership levels and bill pro rata (site users only pay differences when moving between membership levels). A particularly useful feature, this alone will decrease the number of support queries you’ll receive, but keep in mind, not all plugins — particulary the free ones — offer this.

Forums: If a good fit for your brand and membership portal, a forum of sorts might be a worthy consideration as you’ll be able to create a value-rich community-based member-only forum for your members. Typically, membership plugins include allowances for this by integrating with forum builder platforms.

Payment integrations: Each membership plugin offers a selection of different payment options. Some are offered as standard and are integrated within the plugin, while others are separate purchases billed as extensions/add-ons. As most membership sites have a payment aspect, it’s worth noting the available payment options offered within each plugin, and which alternate options can be purchased. Comparing these factors can have an effect on your total plugin cost.

Affiliate marketing: If your business could use a bit of an extra push from an online network, an affiliate program could be of great value. Although not a standard feature across all membership plugins, some have integrated the functionality to set up an affiliate program either by having integrated a related product or by accommodating for third-party platforms.

Auto-responders: Communicating with your site members is an important aspect of marketing, even more so if you are regularly sending out membership promo emails and subscription updates. Most membership plugins accommodate for this and have either integrated with popular autoresponders or allow for third party software integration.

Reporting: Not a standard feature across the board, some membership plugins offer report updates of your members and their activity. If available, this is can be an immensely powerful tool to help you refine your offering and targeting strategy.

E-Commerce integration: If you’re looking to further monetize aspects of your business and are interested in selling related products or assets to your members, consider a membership plugin that offers or integrates with an eCommerce feature.

Choosing the Perfect Membership Plugin:

There are many, many membership plugins available, and with such vast options, it can be hard to determine which would be the best for you. When comparing plugins, its worth keeping a number of factors in mind, but most important of all is your brand, your online presence, your business objectives and how you see the membership aspect of your website evolving over time.

When making a purchase decision, take the following into consideration:

Website objectives: Membership sites can take on a number of forms. Typically, they are tied in with sellable products or assets, but this isn’t always the case. If you or your client are simply looking to offer deeper levels of available content for certain users (i.e. job postings, non-public corporate information, employee log-in sections), you might find yourself valuing certain features over others. In these cases, features such as payment gateways or affiliate marketing programs might not be the most important elements driving your decision making process.

Product/asset types: If you are using the membership platform to sell products or services, it’s important to consider not only the content forms themselves, but the manner in which they will be marketed, and too, how you intend for your customer base to interact with it. If you’re selling access to either online course or tutorial material, you might consider staggering your content (content drip). If you’re selling digital assets, consider the option of making certain content forms available for select membership levels (content restriction). All of these factors need to keep your target market, their needs, their media consumption, and the USPs of your products/services in mind while still determining the best possible pricing (and possibly timing) strategy that satisfies both your intended profit objectives as well as user value.

Payment gateways: From the vast number of membership plugins as well as the ones on this list, some offer endless payment gateways, while others offer only a select few (with possibly the option to purchase an extension or add-on). When deciding on which plugin to opt for, make sure that you really understand either your or your client’s target market, and keep in mind both their common and preferred online payment methods, as well as other factors (such as location, device usage, tech habits) if applicable.

SSL Certificates: If your or your client’s website is pushing sales, it’s advised to get an SSL Certificate. Your client may be very knowledgeable of and involved with this process, or, not at all. Regardless, it’s definitely worth mentioning.

Your development skill level: While some of the membership plugins require no knowledge of code whatsoever, others do, and even further, some offer the functionality to play around with the core framework and customize the available code. Consider what it is that you’re aiming to achieve, and let this align with your skill level. Most of the plugins are easy to use and are suitable for beginners, but if you’re a seasoned developer who is fond of tinkering with APIs and code, consider opting for a plugin that lets you do so.

Your client base: This largely ties in with the amount of money you’re willing to spend in the event that you select a premium plugin. If you’re creating a website for your own business or personal blog, the cheaper, “use on 1-site” model would more than likely suffice, especially as most plugin companies offer extensions/add-ons that can be purchased when required. If, however, you’re a web developer that is working on a range of clients, selecting an annual developers license (or similar) could more than likely set you in good stead. This is impacted based on the number of membership sites you’re due to build, which is largely dependent on your client base and their needs and requirements. If you’re a niche developer, this will be easier to assess, but if you’re creating general websites, it’s harder to predict which web elements your clients will require. Keep these factors in mind when purchasing a plugin. If you only get sporadic requests for membership platforms, then maybe a professional license or similar that offers usage for a small number of sites will suffice.

Long-term growth: As with everything in life, the future can’t be predicted, but with business and marketing, it’s safe to say that growth and evolution are the driving objectives. While your starting point might be small, including a membership portal within your website pretty much signals a few things: that there is a need or demand for your offering and that people are willing to pay for dedicated access to your products, services, skills or knowledge. Including a membership portal can be a huge step toward success, and making use of available tools (i.e. affiliate marketing strategies and eCommerce solutions) could bring you an immense amount of value — both in devout customers and income. If you have a clear plan for your business or can see some growth opportunities for your website’s membership portal, keep these later steps in mind when selecting a membership plugin.

The Top Five Best Premium Membership Plugins for WordPress:

MEMBERPRESS:

MemberPress is one of the most popular and feature-rich membership plugins. Setting up a membership site takes only a few clicks, and after products, permissions and payments are configured, you’re ready to begin selling through your site.

MemberPress includes a number of features that are geared toward maximizing conversions, such as allowing you to incorporate beautifully designed pricing tables within your site. This might not be a major selling factor if you’re using a visual builder that natively includes a pricing table module (i.e. Divi or similar), but if not, this could be a huge time saver.

  • Membership levels: Unlimited.
  • Dripped content: Yes.
  • Restricted content: Yes (pages, posts, custom post types, categories, tags and files uploaded to the Media Library). MemberPress integrates with Google First Click Free which allows protected content to be indexed.
  • Promotions: Unlimited discount codes and coupons, as well as trial periods.
  • User subscription management: Members have the freedom to upgrade, downgrade, pause and cancel their subscriptions at any time. As MemberPress automates payments, any change in membership type will automatically bill pro-rata, also, if a payment fails, MemberPress will automatically revoke site access for that user.
  • Forums: Integrates with forum software including bbPress and Simple Press Forum.
  • Payment integrations: At present, MemberPress only supports three payment gateways –
  • PayPal (Standard, Express Checkout and Pro) and Stripe on the basic package, with the developer license granting access to Authorize.net. Depending on the nature of the purchase processes of your or your clients site users/intended members, the lack of payment gateway options (in comparison to the extensive options offered by other plugins) could be a bit of a hindrance.
  • Affiliate marketing: Both the Business and Developer packages include Affiliate Royale, also created by the MemberPress team.
  • Autoresponders: 10 + (including AWeber, MailChimp, MailPoet, and MadMimi to name a few).
  • Reporting: Yes.
  • E-Commerce integration: No. An additional plugin will need to be purchased to allow for on-site selling.

Available in two packages, the Business package ($99.00 per annum) can be used on 1 site only, while the Developer package ($199.00 per annum) can be used on unlimited sites (includes integration with authorize.net as well as additional advanced add-ons (Developer Tools and Corporate Accounts)). As well as Affiliate Royale, both the Business and Developer package include an additional 5 basic add-ons.

RESTRICT CONTENT PRO:

Developed by the same highly credible team at Pippins Plugins, Restrict Content Pro is a powerful membership plugin that can easily be integrated with both Easy Digital Downloads and AffiliateWP (both created by Pippins Plugins).

With a very user-friendly UI that integrates seamlessly with the WordPress user interface, setting up a membership platform with Restrict Content Pro is simple, as is navigating through the various features and settings. A developers dream, Restrict Content Pro allows for developers to extend the base functionality of the plugin. For example, if you’d like to add another payment gateway option not inherently offered through the plugin, Restrict Content Pro includes an API that allows for custom gateways to be built.

  • Membership levels: Unlimited.
  • Dripped content: Yes. Content dripping is enabled through the use of the Drip Content for
  • Restrict Content Pro add-on (only available through one of the premium packages).
  • Restricted content: Yes. Not only are you able to select which member groups are able to view select content, but you’re also able to display an excerpt for non-members. This is great, not only for attracting potential users but also for SEO purposes.
  • Promotions: Unlimited coupons and trial memberships to attract new users.
  • User subscription management: Through the customer dashboard, members have the ability to track and manage their subscriptions. When moving between membership levels, billing will be automatically prorated.
  • Forums: Each of the Restrict Content Pro packages includes a free add-on that allows for integration with bbPress.
  • Payment integrations: Built-in integration with a number of payment gateways, including 2Checkout, Stripe, Alipay, Braintree and PayPal (Pro and Standard).
  • Affiliate marketing: Available as a separate purchase, Restrict Content Pro integrates with
  • AffiliateWP (also developed by Pippins Plugins).
  • Auto-responders: Restrict Content Pro integrates with a number of autoresponder services including MailChimp and Mail Poet.
  • Reporting: Yes.
  • E-Commerce integration: Restrict Content Pro can easily be integrated with WooCommerce to create an eCommerce solution. Here, you’ll be able to set which members will be able to purchase which products, as based on their membership package.

At present, there are four tiers of purchase for Restrict Content Pro: Personal (one site) at $49.00 per annum, Plus (5 sites) at $99.00 per annum, Professional (unlimited sites) at $199.00 per annum and Ultimate (unlimited sites) at a one-time payment of $449.00. Each of these levels currently includes 13 free add-ons, while the higher tiers offer the pro add-ons.

WOOCOMMERCE MEMBERSHIPS:

If you or your client’s site is already, or will be, selling items through WooCommerce, using the WooCommerce Memberships plugin might be the most effective solution for you. Extending the already superb functionality of WooCommerce, WooCommerce Memberships will allow you to tailor both membership plans and product sales within the membership packages, and due to the sheer number of extensions available, there’s nothing stopping you from creating a really powerful, multi-faceted online selling platform.

To really get the full functionality of a membership platform, WooCommerce Memberships will need to be teamed up with WooCommerce Subscriptions (purchased for $199.00). This might be a deal breaker for some, as other plugins either integrate the WooCommerce Subscriptions features naturally, or offer the same or similar functionalities (for example user subscription management) for a relative, more affordable price point.

  • Membership levels: Unlimited.
  • Dripped content: Yes.
  • Restricted content: Yes. Pages, posts, custom post types, categories, tags.
  • Promotions: Unlimited coupons, discount codes, trial periods (with WooCommerce Subscriptions).
  • User subscription management: When used in conjunction with WooCommerce Subscriptions, members can upgrade, downgrade and pause their subscription and billing will be pro-rated.
  • Forums: At present, WooCommerce Memberships has basic compatibility with bbPress.
  • Payment integrations: Through WooCommerce Memberships, you’ll be able to make use of a plethora of payment options including PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Payments, authorize.net and more. Despite the vast number of payment options, standard payment processes as included in other plugins are lacking. To set up, for example, recurring billing (a pretty important feature),
  • WooCommerce Subscriptions is needed.
  • Affiliate marketing: Integrates with the Affiliates Pro plugin (purchased separately).
  • Auto-responders: WooCommerce Core offers a number of mail integration opnions (including MailChimp, AWeber and Mad Mimi).
  • Reporting: Yes
  • E-Commerce integration: Due to the already incredibly powerful features of WooCommerce, WooCommerce Memberships includes a range of ready-to-go eCommerce features.

WooCommerce Memberships is available for $149.00 for a single site, $199.00 for 5 sites and $249.00 for 25 sites. Keep in mind, this plugin will more than likely need to be teamed with WooCommerce Subscriptions, valued at $199.00 for a single site, $249.00 for 5 sites, and $399.00 for 25 sites.

MEMBERMOUSE

MemberMouse is great membership plugin that allows for both the selling of memberships, subscriptions and products. Despite boasting a collection of incredibly powerful features, MemberMouse is really easy to use, and setting up a membership site can be done in a few quick steps.

Again, the features can’t be stressed enough. Through MemberMouse you’ll be able to set up gift bundles, allow site login through social channels, split-test price points for membership levels, and much, much more. With all of this, the MemberMouse pricing could be a deterrent for some.

  • Membership levels: Unlimited.
  • Dripped content: Yes.
  • Restricted content: Yes. Pages, posts, custom post types.
  • Promotions: Coupons, free trials and more.
  • User subscription management: As well as a Members Area, MemberMouse offers user control over subscriptions, allowing for user-managed upgrades, downgrades etc., with prorated billing.
  • Forums: Integrated with bbPress.
  • Payment integrations: MemberMouse is integrated with 8 payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, Braintree and more. Billing is automated, and if a payment is missed, MemberMouse will update the membership status to show that a payment has been declined.
  • Affiliate marketing: Compatible with virtually any affiliate platform, with direct integration with iDevAffiliate.
  • Auto-responders: MemberMouse is compatible with MailChimp, AWeber, GetRespone and iContact.
  • Reporting: Yes.
  • e-Commerce integration: Yes.

Pricing is split into three packages (Starter, Advanced and Premium), each offering various levels of features. The Starter and Premium packages further operate on a sliding scale, where the number of site members increase proportionality with the price. MemberMouse packages are billed monthly so the costs can get high, but their pricing strategy takes the growth of your membership portal into account. For example, the entry level Starter package is $19.95 a month for up to 1,000 members while the most Premium (Professional) package, allowing unlimited members is billed at $599.00 per month.

ITHEMES EXCHANGE MEMBERSHIP

iThemes Exchange is a robust eCommerce solution, developed by the team at iThemes. While iThemes Exchange is free, the model can be further expanded by including additional extensions. To create a membership site, the iThemes Exchange Membership plugin (valued at $ 97.00 is required).

You’ll need a few additional add-ons to really make the full membership site work as well as other plugins that offer the same or similar functionality in core. To accommodate for this, there is a Pro Pack (available for $197.00) which includes the Membership, Recurring Payments and MailChimp add-ons, amongst others. This is really not a bad idea as the add-ons are extremely powerful and the bundle purchase presents good value for money.

  • Membership levels: Unlimited.
  • Dripped content: Yes.
  • Restricted content: Yes. Posts, pages, post types, categories or tags.
  • Promotions: Coupons.
  • User subscription management: As well as the Member Dashboard, iThemes Exchange offers user control over their account, allowing for upgrades, downgrades with prorated billing.
  • Forums: Integration with bbPress (included in Pro Pack)
  • Payment integrations: iThemes Exchange supports PayPal and Stripe payment gateways. Other third-party payment add-ons (such as 2Checkout, CyberSource and authorize.net) are not available in the Pro Pack and must be purchased separately.
  • Affiliate marketing: iThemes Exchange can be integrated with various affiliate platforms including AffiliateWP and WP Affiliates Manager (separate purchases).
  • Auto-responders: MailChimp, Mad Mimi, GetResponse, Campaign Monitor or AWeber can be integrated with iThemes Exchange. They can either be purchased individually or will all be included in the Pro Pack.
  • Reporting: Yes.
  • e-Commerce integration: Yes.

While iThemes Exchange is free, the Membership add-on ranges from $ 97.00 for 2 sites to $ 150.00 for unlimited sites. To really maximize this membership portal, you’ll need a few additional add-ons. It really is worth considering purchasing the Pro Pack ($ 197.00), or even the Developer Suite ($ 247.00) which includes all of the iThemes Exchange add-ons, iThemes plugins and added special features.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this article and that this list of The Top Five Best Premium Membership Plugins for WordPress has helped steer your plugin selection. If you have any comments or queries, please feel free to leave them below. We love hearing your feedback!

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