Tech Set Up for Membership Sites: The Tools You Need
Membership sites represent one of the most lucrative online business models – providing digital access, community, services, resources etc. to subscribers in exchange for recurring payments. But smoothly running the tech infrastructure enabling memberships requires integrating various platforms and tools.
This guide will provide an overview of key technical elements for launching and running robust membership sites, including payment processing, access gating, email management, and community building tools. We’ll outline top solutions to evaluate across each functional area.
By understanding the core technical foundations and top tools purpose-built for the unique needs of member sites, you can confidently assemble technology stacks optimized for profitability, automation, and member experience. Let’s build your membership tech blueprint.
Payment Processing Platform
The engine of any membership site is accepting recurring and installment customer payments reliably. Look for platforms that offer:
Flexibility for offering diverse subscription packages – monthly, annual, tiered access etc. Automated recurring billing is mandatory.
Support for one-time and installment payments via multiple methods – cards, PayPal, bank transfers etc. Global payment support is ideal.
White label checkout pages matching brand aesthetics provide a seamless purchase experience minimizing cart abandonment.
Tools for tracking member payments, billing details, and history all in centralized dashboards streamlines monitoring.
Email Receipts and Invoicing
Automated payment confirmations, invoices, and renewal receipts add a professional touch while reminding members of billing cycles.
Top payment solutions include Stripe, MoonClerk, MemberPress, PayPal, and 2Checkout. Choosing established names inspires trust.
Access and Rights Management
Once paid, members expect easy access while non-payers are restricted. Solutions should offer:
Tools for selectively gating and revealing content – full member walls, individual posts etc. – based on member status, subscriptions, and permissions.
Single Sign On
Members appreciate only logging in once. Integrated access control with unified logins across site, community, and tools is ideal.
Ability to monitor member engagement with gated content provides valuable usage data revealing popular vs unused assets.
Support teams need visibility into member purchase history, access status etc. to efficiently resolve issues.
APIs connecting access management to payment systems, CRMs etc. keeps backend systems in sync and access seamless.
Top access management platforms include MemberPress, WishlistMember, Memberium, and MemberSuite.
Email is crucial for member relationships and engagement. Look for:
Separate new member welcome sequences, different membership levels, lapsed members etc. into segmented outreach flows based on attributes.
Set series of pre-scheduled automated emails like onboarding sequences, renewals reminders, re-engagement campaigns etc.
Broadcasts and Newsletters
Functionality for bulk sending announcements, newsletters etc. to all members or targeted segments.
Drag and drop builders, pre-built templates, and custom CSS options enable polished, on-brand email design.
In-depth tracking of opens, clicks, unsubscribes etc. provides data insights to optimize and improve email performance over time.
Top platforms include Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Drip, and Active Campaign.
Community Building Tools
Thriving member discussion and networking foster loyal communities. Useful features include:
Themed discussion boards around interest areas and topics encourage member conversations and bonding.
Groups and Subcommunities
Allow members to self-segment into smaller groups based on similarities and nuanced interests for deeper connections.
Direct messaging functionality between individual members facilitates getting personal advice and forming relationships.
Virtual Meet Ups
Webinars, ask me anythings (AMAs) etc. allow live video interaction between members and hosts.
Profiles and Bios
Member profile pages featuring bios, activity etc. help members learn about each other on more personal level.
Top community solutions include Circle, Discourse, Tribe, and MemberSpace.
Beyond core platforms, useful supplementary tools include:
Integrate SalesForce, HubSpot etc. to track prospect interactions from initial discovery through eventual conversion across sales funnel.
Zoom, Demio etc. facilitate live coaching sessions, Q&As, meetups with members.
Quick pulse surveys via TypeForm, SurveyMonkey etc. provide quick member feedback on interests, pain points etc.
Solutions like HelpScout centralize member support communications for efficient operations.
Rounding out your stack with purpose-built tools enriches functionality and streamlines workflows. Avoid overcomplicating integrations though – choose essentials that truly amplify core member site platforms and save costs.
Build vs Buy Your Tech Stack
Some entrepreneurs wonder whether to build proprietary platforms from scratch or leverage existing solutions. Key tradeoffs include:
Building in-house allows perfectly matching tools to your unique use cases, branding, user flows etc. Requires high initial investment.
Leveraging popular third-party platforms brings built-in exposure to millions of existing users familiar with the tools .
Established SaaS platforms continuously invest in robust security, redundancy, and reliability that’s challenging for in-house builds.
Third party solutions handle backend updates, optimizations etc. while custom platforms add overhead to maintain and improve in-house continually.
Building internally redirects focus from core content and community building to engineering and debugging.
Except for extremely unique use cases, leveraging proven SaaS solutions for core functionality is typically advisable to limit distraction.
Optimize Tech for Conversions
Carefully configure tools and integrations with conversion optimization in mind:
Simplify Sign Ups
Minimize fields to reduce abandonment. Allow easy social logins. Guest checkout removes barriers.
Clearly Convey Value
Highlight membership benefits prominently throughout sales funnels – pricing pages, emails, ads etc. to continuously reinforce why members should join.
Facilitate Mobile Purchases
With majority traffic now mobile, ensure checkout and sign up flows are flawlessly mobile responsive.
Less clicks from discovery to payment means less drop off. Streamline and combine pages where possible.
Offer Payment Plans
Installments, payment over time etc. expand affordability. Present clearly upfront at pricing pages.
Include Trust Symbols
Feature security badges, guarantees, testimonials etc. to provide purchasing reassurance.
Seamlessly guiding visitors from interest to conversion optimizes member sign ups and retention.
Monitor and Optimize Tech Performance
Continuously assess your stack’s performance using data to improve:
A/B test pricing, sales messaging, checkout flows etc. across platforms. Double down on elements lifting conversion rates.
Measure Platform Uptime and Reliability
Track outage frequency across tools. Identify points of failure undermining member experience.
Analyze Engagement Metrics
Assess email open rates, forum views, content downloads etc. to spot platform adoption issues.
Monitor Member Satisfaction
Survey members on ease of site navigation, tool intuitiveness etc. to catch technical frustrations early.
Stay on Top of Updates and Innovation
Regularly review release notes and test new features from vendors to ensure you adopt enhancements proactively.
Ongoing optimization using performance data amplifies growth and prevents churn resulting from technical difficulties.
While membership site business models promise recurring revenue, thoughtfully structuring supporting technology is crucial to deliver positive member experiences at scale.
By understanding key technical components like subscription management, access gates, community platforms etc. entrepreneurs can effectively evaluate solutions purpose-built for the unique demands of member sites.
Assembling integrated stacks prioritizing seamless member journeys from signup through ongoing community engagement establishes solid foundations for sustaining loyalty and growth.
While off the shelf solutions accelerate launch compared to proprietary builds, continual optimization and innovation based on performance data helps ensure your membership site tech stack remains state-of-the-art.
With robust tools in place elevating both business efficiency and member delight, founders can focus their energy on high-value content creation and community relationship building rather than engineering.
- 1 Tech Set Up for Membership Sites: The Tools You Need
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Payment Processing Platform
- 1.3 Access and Rights Management
- 1.4 Email Management
- 1.5 Community Building Tools
- 1.6 Additional Integrations
- 1.7 Build vs Buy Your Tech Stack
- 1.8 Optimize Tech for Conversions
- 1.9 Monitor and Optimize Tech Performance
- 1.10 Conclusion