The Ultimate Guide to Top 6 Membership Site Platforms in 2020
Are you looking for a way to gather all your loyal customers in one place and keep them engaged? Have you considered relying on membership site platforms to build your community? It’s high time you started thinking about this option. Using membership site platforms comes with a wide range of advantages.
Not only does a membership site platform enable you to keep your community members more engaged, but it also allows you to own the community.
You have all the freedom you need when it comes to site planning and organization instead of depending on someone else’s policy. And there’s no need to juggle several platforms at once — you can use one to cover all your needs.
Sounds tempting already, doesn’t it? Let’s find out more about these and many other benefits of membership site platforms, what makes a good platform, and which ones are the best to use.
First Things First — What Is a Membership Site?
A website where only members have access to exclusive content and other benefits is called a membership website. It is an excellent solution for community members and business owners alike.
Those true fans of a product or service can be sure they can get high-quality content as site members. As for business owners, a membership site makes it easy to keep customers engaged and monetize by charging membership subscriptions.
Before you get to monetization, you should be prepared to invest some money first. When it comes to the big question of how much a membership site costs, we should tell you that the costs can go anywhere from $200 to $11,000 to build one.
It all depends on your needs and expectations. In case you’re just starting out and you’ve actually dreamed about starting a membership site for free, we have good news — your dreams can come true with GroupApp, an optimal membership site platform for your business.
We will move on to list a few of the many reasons why you should use GroupApp to build your membership site, but first, let’s see what features you should look for when choosing a membership site platform.
Top Features That Make a Reliable Membership Site Platform
To make your final decision and choose one membership site platform over the other, you need to know what features to look for. There are so many platforms out there, but not all of them will meet your needs and help your business thrive.
If your community members have a hard time navigating your site, or the platform doesn’t allow third-party integrations, you should think twice before you even consider it. Here are some other must-have features to keep an eye out for.
The Ideal Platform Allows You to Charge Membership Subscriptions
The ultimate goal of your membership website is to make money out of it, right? That’s why the first thing you need to check is whether a platform allows you to charge your community members membership subscriptions.
According to Digitalist, as much as 53% of all software revenue is expected to come from subscription models by 2022.
Depending on what you find most convenient, you’ll be able to choose between setting a monthly or yearly subscription fee in most cases. Or you can include both and give your members an option to choose between these two plans.
Offering multiple subscription fee plans is also a good idea. That way, you get to cover a wide range of customers, from newcomers who are only prepared to pay a couple of bucks to subscribe to your website to those loyal customers who are willing to pay more to access your exclusive content.
You Don’t Have to Worry About Usability for Your Members
Not only does having it all under one roof make it easier for you to run your business, but it can also improve user experience. A good membership site platform allows users to enjoy every single second they spend browsing your site or taking part in discussions and learning new things.
In other words, your chosen membership site platform should be the one that ensures usability for your community members. After all, you are building your site for them, right?
When they enjoy being members of your community, customers are more likely to stick around and come back to purchase more of your products or services.
It Allows You to Deliver Online Courses and Make Your Site a Resource Hub
Your community members pay a membership fee to access exclusive content on your site. Online courses have become one of the most popular forms of the content offered on the Internet.
So, this leads us to another highly important feature your chosen membership site platform should have — a possibility to host online courses.
Those who miss to see the importance of this feature usually end up stuck with WordPress or YouTube for hosting their content. Why would you make the entire process of online course building and delivering much more complicated when there are platforms that cover this crucial aspect, too?
Don’t send your customers elsewhere when you can turn your own website into their reliable resource hub.
You Can Count on Easy Third-Party Integrations
If there are some tools that you already use and you’d like to continue using, an optimal platform will allow you to do that, too. It is always convenient to have third-party integration as an option, so do not overlook this feature when choosing a membership site platform.
Even if you don’t need any integration right from the start, you never know when you might need one later on.
GroupApp – the Best Membership Platform for Your Business
Now that you know what essential features a membership site platform needs to have, you can begin to realize what makes GroupApp such a good choice. This easy-to-use, all-in-one platform has all of the above mentioned features and so much more.
Charge Membership Subscriptions
As previously mentioned, membership subscriptions are the secure way to your website monetization. When you use GroupApp, you can set up a membership subscription plan in just a few simple steps and make sure you have recurring revenue in the future. All you need to do then is start charging your community members a fee for the exclusive content you provide.
While monetization is your ultimate goal, you should know that it’s not always possible to start charging for your services right away. Especially if you’re new to this business. What you need to do first is establish a loyal audience that will be willing to pay for your content.
That’s why GroupApp also allows you to keep portions of your membership website free for a while. When you generate enough leads, you can begin turning these customers into regular paying members.
Create an Online Community
One of the greatest advantages of using GroupApp is that you can easily gather people interested in your products or services to form your online community. More importantly, you can even own your community, which means you have full control over it. No more limitations by other platforms’ policies and guidelines — you’re fully in charge.
This means that you can communicate with your community members much more smoothly. They will also be given an option to connect with each other. To make sure everything is well-organized, you can divide group discussions into different categories or by topics.
Create and Sell Courses
Considering how popular online courses are, you’ll be happy to hear that GroupApp also provides you with a free and easy-to-use online course builder.
There’s no need to worry about running a separate platform to host your online courses, and a whole other one to sell them. You can do both within your site when you build it with GroupApp.
GroupApp’s online course builder is easy to use. As soon as you record your courses and have them ready to share, you can do that — just upload the content and let your community members enjoy it.
Easy for Your Members to Use
While there are various alternatives to GroupApp, we should warn you that many of them feel outdated, which is a big turn-off for most customers.
Another potential problem is that other platforms may make your community members relearn some things over and over again. When faced with this type of problem, users easily become overwhelmed and eventually frustrated.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about any of these problems when you use GroupApp to build your membership site platform. Your members will find it easy to navigate from the very first contact.
GroupApp is carefully designed to look like other community platforms that your members are probably already used to using, such as Facebook Groups and Slack. That way, users can learn easily how to find everything they need and enjoy intuitive site navigation.
Third-Party Integrations With the Tools You Use
Would you like to integrate your membership community with your favorite software? Whether you already use it or you’re planning to, GroupApp allows smooth and easy third-party integrations.
Not only will this allow you to automate community management and marketing campaigns, but you can also use this option to track ROI.
Questions to Answer Before You Choose a Membership Site Platform
Choosing a membership site platform is one of the crucial decisions for your business. Nowadays, when everything and everyone is online, your business can’t bloom if you don’t have a solid membership site. And you can only lay the foundation properly when you use a reliable membership site platform.
When you fully understand the importance of this choice, you can begin to understand how essential it is to ask yourself a couple of questions first. Once you narrow your choice down and you can’t seem to make the final decision, answer the following questions:
- How much does the membership site platform cost?
- Can you set it up easily?
- Is the platform easy to use?
- How secure is your chosen platform?
- Is there a possibility for integrations?
How Much Does the Membership Site Platform Cost?
Different providers offer different plans, but you should know that there are even those that charge $1,000 per month or even higher.
Since your budget plays a vital role in making the final decision, you should look into this issue early enough, so that you can rule out the most expensive options right from the start.
Depending on how far off you are with your business, your budget intended for membership site platforms is likely to change.
If you’re just starting out, the ideal solution would be to get it all free of charge. This is possibly to do when you rely on GroupApp to build your site.
Can You Set It Up Easily?
You want to do whatever you can to make your business run as smoothly as possible, right? As part of that endeavor, you need to choose a membership site platform that allows you to set it up without much trouble.
There’s no need to spend precious time on platform customization. Find one that can be set up easily, and invest your time in content creation and member engagement, instead.
Is the Platform Easy to Use?
Even when the setting up is over, you want to keep the “smoothly running” part and use your platform effortlessly. You need both phases smooth and easy, as you are about to spend a long time maintaining your website, and you want to do it seamlessly.
How Secure Is Your Chosen Platform?
Your chosen platform can be used free of charge, it’s easy to set up, as well as to navigate later on? That’s great. But how secure is it?
None of the above mentioned is enough if the platform is not secure enough, so be sure you check this aspect, too, before getting started.
Community members are becoming more concerned about their privacy and sensitive information on platforms that sell their data to advertisers. This is one of the main reasons why people move away from Facebook Groups and other similar platforms.
Will the Platform Provide Me Customer Support When I Need It?
Last but not least, you shouldn’t forget about customer support. With a platform like GroupApp that offers customer support at any time given for any technical issue you may encounter, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Even if you don’t need this option right away, ask yourself if you might need it in the future.
Why Do You Need a Membership Site Platform?
In case you still have any doubts about why having a membership site platform is beneficial for your business, here are some of the crucial reasons to keep in mind:
- Membership sites have become an integral part of community building.
- Statistics show that 76% of businesses claim it is the subscription-based model that helps them ensure customer retention.
- Gathering your community around a membership website allows you to build a long-term relationship with your customers.
Other Membership Site Platforms
There is a wide range of GroupApp competitors that might sound tempting to choose. While they do have their fair share of benefits, there are also quite a few downsides that are not to be neglected. To help you get a clear picture, here’s a short overview of some of the most popular membership site platforms out there.
Kajabi is primarily popular for two features combined in one platform — selling online courses and having a paid membership site. Those who use it for online courses can choose from different forms of content, from files to photos and videos. Kajabi also provides tools for email marketing campaigns.
Even though it does have some good features, Kajabi is often not enough, so some eventually decide to combine it with Mighty Networks to make up for what’s missing. But then you haven’t done much to ease the process — you still have two separate platforms to maintain.
Another downside is the somewhat high pricing scheme — the most basic plan starts at $119 monthly. There is no transaction fee, but the payment gateway fee is 2.9% + 30 cents.
When it comes to Podia, you should know that it is primarily used for building email and affiliate marketing campaigns and hosting online courses. The costs are the same as with Kajabi — there is no transaction fee, but the same payment gateway costs will wait for you around the corner (2.9% + 30 cents).
Podia makes it possible to monetize your site through monthly or annual subscriptions, but it doesn’t allow your community members to connect with each other. This can eventually affect your revenue. People are more likely to remain in a community where they can share their knowledge and interests with others — where they actually feel like part of that community..
Mighty Networks is considered one of the best Facebook Group alternatives. As such, the platform surely does come with some advantages. It helps businesses build a membership website and manage their online community, allows for online course creation, hosting quizzes, etc.
However, the platform can be difficult to set up and there’s a learning curve that may repel some users. You’d rather choose one of the best Mighty Networks alternatives and have it all solved within one platform? We’re back to the most complete solution — GroupApp.
AccessAlly is primarily convenient for formal online learning. It can be used to create and sell online courses, but its purpose still lingers, making it a bit complicated to customize compared to other membership site platforms. Another major disadvantage is that it is expensive to use.
Even if the budget is not a problem for you, you should never forget that AccessAlly is simply not intended for building an online community and running a membership website. No matter what you do, it still remains an online learning platform, so you’ll always miss many other features needed for your business.
Memberful can be used to create a community around your service. When it comes to this part, the platform offers some convenient features, such as tracking members’ activity, providing them with coupons, free trials, etc.
However, when it comes to sharing exclusive content for your paying members, you have to do that through integrations with email newsletter or discussion forums. Again, you don’t have it all under one roof, like you do with GroupApp. Another potential problem with Memberful is that it can be rather complicated to set up.
In a Nutshell
As you can see, picking a membership site platform is of great importance for your community and, in turn, for your business. Using the right platform to build your membership website can make it much easier to run your business and bring you closer to monetization.
So, before you make any final decisions, do remember the previously mentioned features and questions to answer. Consider them closely to be sure you’re making the right choice. Though the choice is quite obvious already — GroupApp fits perfectly into the description of an ideal membership site platform.