Building a membership site or subscription program and not sure which tool to use? Here are the best membership platforms and software tools to use in 2023.
By Joanna Taylor • Updated 4 October 2023
Content creators are successful when they have a place to connect with their audience, build their brand, and maximize their earning potential.
That’s why membership site platforms are so important. They give you the tools to effectively manage a community and expand your reach.
But with so many membership software options out there, choosing the right platform for your membership site can quickly become very complicated.
In this article, we will explore the best membership platforms on the market, highlighting the core strengths of each platform to help you choose the best home for your membership site.
Each membership site is different, with its own unique needs, and that’s why we have focused on factors relevant to every type of membership platform.
Depending on how you want to serve your members, offering online courses is a great way to enrich and upskill your subscribers. There is also the added benefit of recurring revenue from course sales.
You will need a platform that lets you create online courses and control access to your content. A library of well-designed templates is also essential to quickly set everything up without coding skills.
The idea behind membership sites is to create a space where like-minded people can interact and share ideas.
Your membership site platform must provide features that encourage interaction, like chat forums, member profiles, live events, comments, and moderation tools that help maintain a sanitized space.
At the bare minimum, you should be able to create and schedule emails to be sent to your members to celebrate in-platform milestones and personal achievements. They help engage members and nurture your relationship with them.
Some platforms are also leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to help users automate aspects of the content ideation and creation process.
The most successful membership sites on the web today got to where they are because they generated awareness and successfully convinced people to check out their content.
Your platform should give you the tools you need to entice potential subscribers. You should be able to offer perks like discounts, coupons, and free trials.
Avoid overly complicated platforms that require hours of training before you can figure out the purpose of each feature and how it can help you achieve your goals.
Your members must also be able to find their way around the platform easily. Read online customer reviews to see what current users say regarding the platform's ease of use.
The easiest way to integrate your new membership platform with your existing ecosystem of software apps is to ensure your membership site builder supports them.
Support for your payment provider, CMS platform, email marketing platform, and accounting software is particularly crucial.
It’s essential to offer multiple membership levels to ensure customers only have to pay for the package that best meets their needs and budget.
Your platform should also give you the tools to manage how your members consume your content. You should be able to choose between drip-feeding your content and offering everything at once.
This list will focus on the core strengths of each platform to help you easily identify which site builder has the best suite of features for the peculiar needs of your membership site.
We wrote this article to make your life easier, so each platform listed below has an intuitive user interface and excellent customer support.
Here's our top list of the best membership platforms for your membership site:
This platform is a powerful membership site builder that will help you build white-label course portals with extensive community features.
Kourses is designed around Content Hubs that facilitate interactive membership. Each hub will include an online course, content page, digital files, lesson comments, feeds, and its own mini-community of members.
That way, your site members will be organized into spaces that are of the most interest to them. Discussions will flow more naturally, drastically increasing the chances that members will bond with one another.
A close-knit community will lead to repeat visits and a thriving community of loyal subscribers. You just need to focus on keeping your content relevant, and the revenues will flow in.
In addition, there is a churn rate detection tool that helps you track members that are dropping off. You have complete control over content visibility, and you can revoke the access of members flouting your moderation rules.
If you want to build a WordPress-based site, the OptimizeMentor plugin is a complete membership site-building solution for WordPress users.
It is part of the OptimizePress suite of WordPress tools, and it will provide you with pre-designed membership site templates you can use to create structured courses and online communities.
You have complete control over access to your content pages, posts, and feeds. Monetizing that access is easy, and you can create membership tiers and set up recurring payments.
OptimizeMentor also integrates seamlessly with OptimizeFunnels. It lets you use pre-built funnels to create landing pages and set up automated email sequences. Each page can be customized to fit your brand using OptimizeBuilder.
The leads you attract with your marketing campaign can be enticed to check out more content using promo tools available on OptimizeCheckouts, like coupon codes and discounts.
You must subscribe to the OptimizePress Suite plan or the Suite Pro plan to use the OptimizeMentor plugin.
Mighty Networks is a powerful all-in-one membership platform that combines features for creating courses, content libraries, online forums, and live events under one roof.
It lets you set up Spaces that are essentially mini-communities where members can access your pre-recorded courses, live coaching sessions, and events.
Each space is equipped with social networking features like chat groups, member directories, and Facebook-style timelines that showcase the activity of each member.
The main issue with the platform is that it tries to do too many things, and it's not great at anything. Its course creation features are notably lacking compared to platforms like Kourses and OptimizePress.
Pricing starts at $33/month, and it’s free for the first two months if you paid for an annual plan.
If you are a video content creator interested in managing your entire business on one platform, the Uscreen.tv membership platform has all the tools you need to create gated video libraries on your own white-label website.
It will provide you with a drag-and-drop site builder that you can use to set up a Netflix-like website with your video content organized into categories and collections.
Visitors to your site can rent a video, make a one-time purchase, or become paying members.
You can also use it to set up a live-streaming service; every subscription plan includes video hosting.
There is a free trial period, and the basic plan costs $149/month.
AccessAlly is a powerful all-in-one WordPress plugin that gives you all the tools to create your own e-learning platform.
It’s primarily designed for coaches and trainers. You can use the flexible builder to create coaching portals with features for private note-taking, assignment submissions, and badges upon course completion.
AccessAlly won’t be the right fit for everyone. The wide range of functionality available on the platform can be overkill for the needs of many content creators.
There is a 60-day money-back guarantee and pricing starts at $82/month.
If you want to create a premium membership course, the Kajabi platform offers powerful course creation features plus the marketing tools needed to promote and sell your content.
You will get membership templates with ready-to-use sales funnels you can use to attract leads to your website and convert them into paying subscribers.
It lets you use an automated email marketing system to segment your target audience and send personalized emails directly from your dashboard.
Community building is the one area where Kajabi falls short. Such an expensive platform lacks most of the tools needed to build online spaces where your members can interact freely and build relationships.
There is a free trial period, and pricing starts at $199/month.
This is a dynamic site builder with powerful membership management tools that make it perfect for clubs, associations, and nonprofits.
Websites created using Wild Apricot come with integrated member directories and features for setting up fundraising campaigns.
You can organize events on the platform and send automated reminders to your members. Volunteers can download the site’s app to manage their profiles and participate in events.
There is a 30-day free trial period, and pricing starts at $60/month.
If you want to attract a large audience to your e-learning platform, Kartra will give you the tools you need to recruit and incentivize affiliate marketers to help sell your digital product.
It's a very robust platform that lets you create any type of content, including courses, videos, webinars, podcasts, and audio files, and gives you a wide range of tools to promote your content.
The platform is particularly unique for its affiliate marketing features. You can use it to build a network of affiliate marketers, set multiple commission tiers, and control when and how they are paid.
There are other marketing features, including automated email marketing and pre-designed sales and lead funnels.
There is a 30-day money-back guarantee and the popular Silver plan costs $229/month
Podia has a decent free plan, and its paid plans also offer good value for money.
Another key perk is that it lets you scale your membership site without additional costs. You are allowed as many courses, content pages, students, and email subscribers as you need.
It is no cheap, basic membership site. You can use it to create beautiful websites for selling online courses and digital products.
Your content can be monetized with subscriptions and one-time payments. There is also an impressive automated email marketing feature that lets you sell your digital products to the people on your email list without having to pay for a third-party tool.
There is a free plan, and paid plans start at $39/month.
If you are looking to create an online space where your fans can donate to support your content creation activities, the Patreon platform lets you set up personalized pages that you can use to sell merchandise and raise recurring funds.
You can encourage your fans to subscribe by offering exclusive access to premium content and raise more funds by selling branded merch like t-shirts, cups, etc.
Only a few content creators raise substantial funds, and you can only really succeed on the platform if you have a dedicated following on major social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Depending on your subscription plan, you can expect to pay at least 8% of your earnings each month.
You'll see from our list above that we've evaluated both hosted (SaaS) and self-hosted (WordPress) membership platforms in our list of tools for your membership site.
When choosing your membership platform, you should consider the following:
If you're looking for greater flexibility and reduced cost, you might consider a WordPress based solution like OptimizePress with OptimizeMentor. This does come with a slightly increased learning curve.
If you need a platform that is self-contained, but needs minimal technical skills we'd recommend considering a platform like Kourses.
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