Tired of the limitations of social media groups?
When you’ve worked hard to build a following and cemented your brand, the next logical step is to create some kind of membership site to engage people more effectively and monetise this part of your business.
It’s what we like to call the “passion economy”, which is based on the fact that loyal followers are more than willing to pay for access to premium content or products.
Membership site software helps you to manage your community and benefit from the passion economy.
This article explores what to look for in membership site software and apps, as well as discussing the powerful alternative offered by community platforms.
What is membership site software?
Membership site software is a computer program, often a web-based app, that manages your online membership groups.
Although each membership site app has its own set of features, most of them do pretty much the same thing. They help to manage member data, membership information, communication with members and payment processing.
Membership site software helps to eradicate some of the more time-consuming tasks associated with running a membership site, such as creating, renewing, and downgrading memberships, as well as processing recurring payments.
Look out for these key features in membership site software
As mentioned earlier, most membership site apps and software have similar features, but there can be a difference in how effectively they work.
Good membership site software will have a simple, intuitive interface that makes it very easy to generate and manage members’ information and data.
New members should be able to register easily online, without a long and complicated process. Their details should be automatically added to a database which can be easily accessed. Management tasks such as renewing membership or downgrading membership due to non-payment should be automated.
Some of the more expensive membership management apps come with a website builder these days, making it easier to build a home for your members. You can simply create a functional website, often with a forum based approach, to communicate with your members.
Other membership site apps link up with WordPress. If you haven’t used WordPress before, it’s a website builder that allows you to customise the look and feel of your website. To a degree. The problem with WordPress is that it’s pretty complicated to use. You may need to hire a specialist developer to help you create your site. Also, to get additional features you need to buy plugins, which can make the cost skyrocket.
The other issue with WordPress is that if you outgrow the limitations of the platform, you lose any customisations you have made. In other words, you can’t just migrate your web design to a different hosting service, as it is built for the WordPress platform.
It’s a good idea to choose membership site software that lets you process payment from a variety of sources. At the very least you should be able to process all major credit and debit cards, and PayPal.
Make sure that your membership site and the software behind it, is adapted to suit both desktop computers and mobile devices. In tech terms this is known as “mobile responsive”, so look out for that phrase when choosing software. At the end of the day, mobile traffic has gone up by 222% over the past 7 years, and that percentage is likely to keep growing, so you need to give your members a good mobile experience.
This includes things like online event scheduling and registration, online store for merchandise or exclusive content, and donation processing. Not all membership site apps have these features built-in, so if these are important you, be sure to check the software features list.
Choose a powerful alternative to membership management software
Membership site software does a decent job of automating certain tasks and keeping your site organised. But it lacks the element that pulls a membership site together…
Without a sense of community, membership sites can feel a bit sterile, or boring even. People like to feel a human connection with others, even online – or especially online.
This brings us on to a very effective alternative to membership management software and apps.
Community platforms are a powerful, all-around solution for businesses and individuals looking to build a membership site.
Community platforms such as Disciple have the familiar feel of social media, with multiple communication channels such as Newsfeeds, Group Messaging, Private Messaging, Push Notifications, Livestreams, etc. alongside all the features you need to manage your members.
Also, platforms such as Disciple are highly customisable and easy-to-use, so you can create a style that fits your brand.
For instance, let’s say you’re a personal trainer. You’re looking to create a paid membership site to share your unique workout routines. You can set up a community with tiered membership levels for access to premium content. You can communicate directly with your members via messaging or hold group workouts via live streams. Plus, you can also notify people directly when new content is released.
Your fully customised site will stand out from the crowd, with your unique branding. And, you’ll also get full control over your group data, helping you to grow your business.
Membership site software provides a limited way to set up, manage and maintain an online following. They are limited in the fact that they don’t help you to increase engagement and, as a rule, are not very customisable.
Disciple is a community platform that ticks all the boxes with both engagement and management tools and features built-in. To discover more, contact us today.