7 Best Membership Site Platforms of 2021 (Ranked and Reviewed)

7 Best Membership Site Platforms of 2021 (Ranked and Reviewed)
Last Updated on March 12, 2021 by Adam Enfroy

Building a membership site is a great online business idea because of stable, recurring revenue.

In fact, 82% of businesses are adopting a subscription model and the online learning (LMS) market is expected to grow to $28.1 million by 2025.

The first step is picking the best platform, as there are a lot to choose from.

In this ultimate guide, I ranked and reviewed the best membership site platforms based on features, pricing, integrations, ease of use, and more.

Let’s get started.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links where I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you choose to purchase a plan from a link on this page. However, these are the tools I have vetted and fully recommend when it comes to building a membership site. You can read my full affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy.

What Are the Best Membership Site Platforms?

Here are my top picks for the best membership website platforms.

1. Thinkific.

Best overall membership site platform (Free – $499 per month).

Thinkific: Best membership site platform

Thinkific is an online course platform that helps you create, market, and sell courses and membership sites. It provides a drag-and-drop builder to help you build and design your courses and websites.

You can also upload videos, quizzes, schedule lessons, automate your content, and customize other elements of your site. The drag-and-drop builder also enables the sorting of various sections across the page and customizes the site’s theme to match your style.

Thinkific: Membership Site Customization

If you’re a developer, you get full design access and the ability to create a domain name of your choice. You also get numerous options to create plans and subscriptions, including free trials, payment plans, and custom first-month payments.

Thinkific also allows you to add immediate payment options with a variant of 100+ currencies on your site. You can accept payment through secure options like MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and third-party payment gateways like Stripe and Paypal.

You can also leverage features like course completion tracking, automated progress emails, course discussions, and more to engage your audience. It also maintains cloud-based databases with a built-in SSL certificate and 24/7 server monitoring.

Some other key features include:

  • Drip schedule content.
  • Downloadable content.
  • Javascript tracking.
  • Mobile-responsive content.
  • Single sign-on (SSO).
  • Site monitoring dashboard.
  • Evergreen and expiring content.
  • Full video and content hosting.
  • SEO-friendly URLs and meta tag keywords.
  • You can add multiple instructor profiles.
  • Automated progress and reminder emails.
  • Full support for video, audio, PDF, text, HTML, slide presentations, etc.
  • Integration with over 1000 tools like Google Adwords, Zapier, Mailchimp, etc.

Additionally, it offers advanced marketing and ecommerce features to help you promote your course or site. Some of the marketing features include affiliate rewards, email send-outs, data tracking, external app addons, ad tracking, retargeting campaigns, etc.

It also offers additional student support by providing progress indicators, replay options, language control options, and completion certificates. Plus, it keeps track of data and utilizes all the information to create reports, segment audiences, and export for other purposes.

Pricing:

Thinkific offers four pricing plans:

  • Free: $0
  • Basic: $49 per month
  • Pro: $99 per month
  • Premiere: $499 per month
  • Enterprise: Quote-based plan

All of the plans offer features like the ability to add quizzes and surveys, content hosting, instant access to your funds, and more. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get started with Thinkific.

2. Wild Apricot.

Best for small businesses and non-profit organizations (Free – $600 per month).

Wild Apricot: cloud-based tool

Wild Apricot is a cloud-based membership site tool for building and managing membership sites.

It automates membership tasks and is suitable for bloggers, art councils, non-profits, clubs, historical societies, and more.

It provides a drag-and-drop builder and ready-to-use themes to create mobile-friendly sites easily. Those themes and the builder help you create a member application page, members-only area, news blog, member directory, events listing, etc.

The platform also saves your members’ data in the cloud, allowing you to access it any time, from any device. It also lets you search and manage your database, automate renewals, customize membership levels, store members’ data securely, and more.

You also get a mobile app to manage contacts, edit events, check-in members, accept payments, etc., on the go. Additionally, the mobile app allows you to look up your directory, view member profiles, edit or update member profiles, etc.

Even your members get their own mobile app to manage their profiles, register for events, and search the directory.

Wild Apricot also provides instant payment availability, along with auto-generation of invoices and receipts. You can even use your site to collect online donations and set up recurring membership fees.

Key features include:

  • Event management features.
  • Automatic database updates in real-time.
  • Set up recurring membership fees.
  • Embed an event calendar on your site.
  • Check members and event attendees through QR codes.
  • Guest and waitlist option available.
  • Mobile-friendly website themes.
  • Integration with Square for credit card payments.
  • Export your financial data to Excel or QuickBooks
  • Two separate mobile apps for admins and members.

Wild Apricot also comes with an email system that integrates with your company’s database, enabling auto-confirmations and reminders. It also helps with advanced contact search, targeted campaigns, tracking email open-rate and status, and more.

You can use Wild Apricot’s builder and themes to create an online store as well. There are features like online catalogs to sell products, add product variants, and allow special member pricing.

Pricing:

Wild Apricot offers eight monthly billing options:

  • Free: Always free (for up to 50 contacts)
  • Personal: $40 per month (for up to 100 contacts)
  • Group: $50 per month (for up to 250 contacts)
  • Community: $90 per month (for up to 500 contacts)
  • Professional: $160 per month (for up to 2,000 contacts)
  • Network: $290 per month (for up to 5,000 contacts)
  • Enterprise: $350 per month (for up to 15,000 contacts)
  • Global: $600 per month (for up to 50,000 contacts)

The freemium plan doesn’t offer an online store, payment, or mobile app options but you get those features with all paid plans.

My advice is to start with the free plan if you don’t have many contacts, then upgrade to one of their most popular plans – either Group or Community.

As a special offer for my readers:

  • If you sign up for the Group plan, you get a $50 Amazon gift card when you renew your plan for 3 months.
  • If you sign up for the Community plan or higher, you get a $100 Amazon gift card after 3 months of subscription.

Get started with Wild Apricot.

3. Kajabi.

Best high-end membership platform ($119 per month).

Kajabi: all-in-one business platform

Kajabi is an all-in-one online business platform that helps you create online courses, coaching sites, and membership sites.

It offers pre-designed and customizable templates and a drag-and-drop to build membership sites without any prior coding knowledge.

You even get templates to create landing pages and email marketing campaigns to promote your membership site and courses. It allows you to send one-time email blasts, automated multi-touch sequences based on customer behavior, event announcements, etc.

It also has a visual editor to preview and customize your site and include elements like countdown timers and videos. The dashboard also connects your website with your marketing campaigns, emails, landing pages, and products.

The membership software also helps you build automated pipelines using templates and previously developed sales funnels. There are various ready-to-use playbooks and pre-built frameworks to launch membership activities of any type.

Kajabi - Automated pipelines

These sales pipelines help you map out and track your members’ journeys. Besides courses, you can use the tool to launch your affiliate program, run podcasts, or automate your entire sales flow.

When it comes to analytics, Kajabi analyzes and displays data from all touchpoints to monitor your subscription rate. It also keeps track of your revenue, offers sold, subscription metrics, and more. You also get “Subscriptions Churn Reports” to identify key profitable areas.

Key features include:

  • Create quizzes and surveys.
  • Sales page builder.
  • Video hosting and drip content.
  • 10+ pre-designed product themes.
  • Private online community area for members.
  • User forecasting and member progress tracking.
  • Built-in CRM to track, segment, and filter members.

Additionally, it helps you get paid faster through integration with payment gateways like PayPal and Stripe, without any additional charges. Kajabi also lets you set different subscription tiers, including recurring payment, one-time plan, trial payment plans, one-click upsells, etc.

Besides, you get a mobile app for both Android and iOS devices. The mobile app also comes with account recovery via saved progress and one-link sign-in features.

Pricing:

Kajabi offers three pricing plans:

  • Basic: $119 per month
  • Growth: $159 per month
  • Pro: $319 per month

All of the plans provide automation, ready-to-use templates, zero transaction fees, the ability to host webinars, chat support, and more. It also offers a 14-day free trial with all the plans.

4. Teachable.

Best for creating multimedia course content ($39 per month).

Teachable: course building platforms

Teachable is one of the most popular online course platforms to create, sell, and host courses and membership sites. It offers several customization tools to curate and personalize content, with additional support to make payments.

It comes with a page editor to create a membership site, multimedia lectures, videos, a sales page, and coaching sessions. You can even add team members and other contributors and set their specific permissions and roles.

The only downside is that Teachable doesn’t let you create separate posts or pages – you have to deliver all the information in the form of courses. It doesn’t allow the formation of an individual community for your members either.

Moreover, it tool doesn’t let you create a free trial for your membership tier. There’s no option to charge a custom upfront payment either. You can only create annual and monthly payment levels.

That said, it lets you provide coupons and discount offers to members for incrementing subscriptions and memberships. You also get an option to accept payments in 130+ currencies through PayPal and other payment getaways.

It also handles payouts to all third-party authors and contributors, affiliate payouts, first and last touch attribution, etc.

Teachable Features

It lets you create and embed various content types, including quizzes, surveys, drip content, certificates and course compliance, etc. It also supports integration with any tool you want, including help-desk software platforms like Zendesk, Olark, Intercom, and more.

Other key features include:

  • In-built course player.
  • Conversions pixel support.
  • Build one-on-one sessions.
  • Unlimited video bandwidth.
  • Live Chat support.
  • Full EU VAT support for membership payments.
  • Built-in affiliate marketing tools.
  • The dashboard provides membership tracking and student insights.
  • Link your existing site using a custom domain.
  • Embed forms and surveys to your site to gather feedback.

Teachable also allows Calendar integration with Calendly to schedule and host activities and events. Third-party forms and surveys are also available to gather feedback from students and members.

Additionally, it provides hosting for data security and 24*7 data monitoring to provide support during outages, including auto-updates. They use a 2048-bit SSL certificate and only work with PCI level-1 compliant payment providers to ensure safety.

Pricing:

Teachable provides three subscription plans:

  • Basic: $39 per month
  • Pro: $119 per month
  • Business: $299 per month

You get unlimited courses and members, integrated payment processing, quizzes, VAT (value-added tax) for EU, etc., on all paid plans.

5. MemberPress.

Best for WordPress websites ($149 per year).

MemberPress: WordPress LMS plugin

MemberPress is a WordPress plugin and LMS plugin that helps you create WordPress membership sites, courses, and digital downloads.

It provides all standard features like gated content, creating membership tiers, accepting credit card payments, etc.

The setup process only takes three steps, including installing the plugin, entering payment details, and adding products. It comes with customizable themes to help you create variants of pricing pages for the membership products.

You can either choose to use the customizable themes or build your own CSS style pages. The tool allows you to add several membership tiers, including custom recurring payments, free/paid trials, annual fees, etc. You can even limit the number of payments.

It provides full control over content access rules and lets you restrict access based on membership or digital products purchased. You can control access to child pages, posts, custom post types, categories, tags, and more.

The membership plugin also allows you to generate and manage unlimited coupons for running promotions and giveaways. There are also options to customize coupon codes and control their number of uses and when they expire.

Other prominent features include:

  • Manage and track membership subscriptions.
  • Add forums and social communities.
  • Integrates with your existing WordPress website.
  • Set up your payment gateway using API.
  • Reports to track financial status, sales, and marketing activities.
  • It enables timed release of content and content access expiration.
  • Members can create, update, upgrade or cancel subscriptions directly from the website.
  • An automated billing system that auto grants or revokes payment based on payment status.

MemberPress also lets you install and use WordPress forum plugins like bbPress to create your own password-protected community. The Pro edition of the software includes the Affiliate Royale plugin that helps to manage any affiliate program.

Additionally, it integrates with many third-party payment gateways and business apps like Paypal, Mailchimp, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, etc. You can also install other WordPress themes from companies like StudioPress and WooThemes.

Integration with custom codes and Zapier also helps you manage data and connect with various products and services. It also provides a user manual and a support team to resolve queries about admin pages or features.

Pricing:

MemberPress comes with three annual subscription plans:

  • Basic: $149 per year
  • Plus: $249 per year
  • Pro: $349 per year

All of the plans include payment integrations, customizable checkout, content protection, content dripping, course creation, self-serve member dashboard, and more. It also provides a 14-day money-back guarantee.

6. Podia.

Best for promoting membership sites via email marketing ($39 per month).

Podia: digital storefront

Podia is a digital storefront that lets you create and sell membership content, online courses, digital downloads, webinars, and more.

It assists you through the complete sales funnel, including sales page creation, email capture, charge EU VAT, and payment processing.

The website builder helps you create mobile, tablet, and desktop-friendly sites, with auto-update options. It runs in the background without compromising business confidentiality and lets you collect all membership payments without paying any transaction fees.

You can also view purchases with a one-time log-in and filter, sort, and export all purchases, earnings, and customer data. You can accept payments on a one-off basis or set different membership tiers like monthly/annual tiers or free trial periods.

It also lets you monetize online courses, digital programs, or periodic content under a membership plan, along with a free newsletter service.

Podia’s other key features include:

  • Drip-feed your content.
  • Integrated live chat option.
  • Pinning important posts on top of the page.
  • Schedule post updates in advance.
  • Enable members to comment and react to shared content.
  • Send email notifications when content gets added.
  • Integrate videos, images, and social media content with membership posts.
  • Connect membership to the Facebook group, Slack, or Palapa account.
  • Community service to connect like-minded people.
  • Affiliate program to promote membership.
  • Add coupons based on time and usage limit.
  • High-converting checkouts for faster payments.
  • 24*7 availability of customer service.
  • Bundle different products into one membership plan.
  • Create individual pages or posts for your members.
  • Restricting specific posts to “Premium Access” based on membership level.
  • Allow members to access “Public Posts” through links or search engines indexing.

Podia also comes with a built-in email marketing platform that helps you send newsletters, create drip campaigns, and segment subscribers. You can also track your subscribers, email open-rate, clicks, conversion rate, and more.

The only issue is that Podia doesn’t support learning paths and the ability to charge a setup fee. However, you can integrate it with advanced tools like Zapier, Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, Paypal, and more.

Pricing:

Podia offers two payment plans:

  • Mover: $39 per month
  • Shaker: $79 per month

Both of the plans offer 7-days-a-week reports, live Q and A sessions, messaging, email marketing, webinars, your own website, etc. They also offer a 14-day free trial period.

7. Wix.

Best for building a website ($23 per month).

Wix: website building platform

Wix is a website-building platform that helps you manage your overall web presence by creating, designing, and developing websites. It lets you add a “Members Area” to your site and restrict access to exclusive gated content.

With the help of over 500+ pre-designed templates, the tool helps you create various variants like blog, portfolio, web application, or online store. Standard features include customizable domain name, CDN performance, traffic monitoring, SSL certificate, multiple languages, etc.

Membership services include free trials, subscriptions, punch cards, display services, timetable, and limited-time discounts. You can offer different membership subscription options like recurring payments, open trial sessions, members-only content, exclusive services, etc.

Wix: membership options

You can also accept payments via cash, digital cards, wallets, or payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, Alipay, and more. It also comes with a built-in “Wix Payments” option and allows you to receive payments in over 40 currencies.

It also sends automated price quotes and invoices and integrates with popular accounting tools like Quickbooks to streamline economic activities.

Some of its other advanced features include:

  • Host sessions online with Zoom.
  • Live chat support.
  • Offer coupons and discounts.
  • Notify members via email or SMS.
  • Bundling services with membership plans and packages.
  • Calendar integration for scheduling activities.
  • Provision to accept recurring payments.
  • Coupon code generation.
  • SEO tools for managing organic ranking.
  • Custom booking forms to capture members’ details.
  • Track your business performance and client attendance.
  • Manage calendars, members, attendance, and clients.
  • Scheduling option for purchasing services and products.
  • Permission to collaborate with other members on your website.
  • Portability of operations and interactions through the mobile app.
  • Run business email campaigns with custom domain names.
  • Lead generation tools with invoice and quotes tracking facility.
  • Plugin to add a business phone number.
  • Integrations with 250+ professional website solutions.

It also provides resources like blogs, partnerships, privacy center, and design integrations to enhance website performance.

Pricing:

Wix offers three plans that can help you add a members-only area to your site, including:

  • Business VIP: $49 per month
  • Business Unlimited: $27 per month
  • Business Basic: $23 per month

You can create the membership area for free if there’s no requirement for processing payments. Even the paid plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee.

What Are Membership Site Platforms?

Membership site platforms or “Membership Management Software” is a one-stop destination to create, manage, and promote membership websites. They allow you to restrict access to exclusive content and accept online payments, donations, and fees.

Most website owners create members-only areas to offer content like courses, coaching, special reports, newsletters, events, etc. Besides giving access to gated content, you can also offer special coupons and discounts to entice potential members.

Most Membership Management Software allows you to:

  • Process and regulate fees, donations, etc.
  • Set up events, reminders, payment information, and more.
  • Communicate and engage with members via emails and newsletters.
  • Send automated invoices.
  • Create a database with all the contact information of all your members.
  • Engage and increase membership with events calendar, blogs, member directories, etc.
  • Track your revenue and members’ journeys.
  • Get full access to membership analytics.

What Features Do You Need in Membership Site Platforms?

After reviewing all these site building tools, it’s time to select a platform for yourself.

To make your choice easier, I’m listing down some key points that you should consider before investing in a membership tool.

Here are the features to consider:

1. Gated and Exclusive Content.

Your site should cater to both the members and those who are just visiting your site. The platform should be able to provide gated content, which means providing relevant content to the members and a glimpse of what you’re offering to regular visitors.

2. Contact Segmentation.

A good membership platform will be able to assort your contacts into members and non-members automatically. It should also provide CRM-based services and classify other assignments based on the desired target.

3. User and Member pages.

The platform should provide the flexibility to create personalized membership pages, forms, events, sales page, pricing page, etc. Most membership tools also come with pre-designed templates and a drag-and-drop editor to create various member pages easily.

4. Automation Features.

Automated sales workflows help you convert potential members and retain existing users. You can send email reminders, welcome notes, retargeted ads, discount offers based on specific actions, and more.

5. Payment Gateway Integrations.

You won’t need this feature if you are offering free membership. However, if you have paid membership, then choose a membership platform that integrates with third-party payment operators like Stripe and Paypal. It should also accept payments via wallets and cards.

6. Membership Tiers.

An ideal membership site builder should comply with different levels and provide the necessary information as and when required. It should allow recurring payments, one-off payment options, annual/monthly subscriptions, free trials, and more.

Other essential features include integration with third-party business apps, email marketing functionality, the ability to track engagement analytics, blogging, etc.

How Do You Use Membership Site Platforms?

Most of these tools function similarly. To give you an idea, I’m using Wild Apricot to demonstrate the process.

Let’s get started:

Step 1. Check Browser Compatibility and Log In.

First, make sure the browser you are using is in sync with your Wild Apricot account.

Provide all the required credentials to get your account started if you’re a new member. This will lead to a pop-up, where you need to accept the “terms of use” to make the account active.

Next, a message might appear at the bottom right corner that shows unpaid invoices, incomplete registration, renewal date, etc.

Step 2. Navigate to Site Pages.

Click on the Website > Site option from your dashboard. It will take you to the website editor that will help you customize the membership templates.

Wild Apricot: dashboard navigation

You can choose from multiple themes by clicking on the “Theme” option from the top navbar.

Wild Apricot themes

You can use themes and the drag-and-drop builder to create and modify sites, email campaigns, customized renewal reminders, etc.

Step 3. Set Up Membership Levels.

You can also build a membership application form with different membership levels from the same dashboard.

Click on levels under the Members > Level section to create the levels.

Set up Membership levels

You can change “Renewal policy” and create custom levels from the same dashboard.

Just hover over the “Members” option and click on the “Membership Fields” option. Next, hover over the “Contact” tab and click on the “Common Feld” option. Here, you can also add information about each common field.

Step 4. Set Up Payment Options.

To set up payment, click on the “Settings” button and then select the “Payment Setting” option.

If you’re from the US or Canada, submit an application form with your federal tax ID and bank account details. Otherwise, you’ll have to connect to another payment gateway.

Membership payment settings

It may take one to two business days to get verified and approved to receive payments.

Return to the “Payment Setting” option once you get approved and check the box for the “Enable Online Payment” option. Finally, select a payment system along with your account details.

Step 5. Set Up a Membership Application Gadgets.

To add a membership application form, go to the “Website > Site pages” option to create or edit a membership application form. Next, click on the gadget icon on display and then drag your desired gadget’s icon on the page.

Membership Gadget Options

You can embed any desired gadget to your website, including an event calendar, donation form, donation goal, catalog, cart, etc. You can also customize the look, text, color, and fonts of the gadgets and add elements like description and title.

Finally, click on the “save” option to save the changes.

Step 6. Create Membership Discounts.

You can also provide exciting discount offers and coupon codes to encourage members to subscribe to your content.

Click on the “Settings” option, and then head to the discount option under the “members” section. A screen will appear named discount coupons, where you can create discount offers or coupon codes for your members.

Summary.

That’s it – this was my list of the best membership website platforms. Offering gated content and membership options is one of the best ways to enrich customer experience and earn revenue.

If you want to create an exclusive members area, add subscription tiers, and make revenue from your content, consider these platforms:

  • Thinkific: Best overall membership site tool.
  • Wild Apricot: Best for organizations and small and mid-sized businesses.
  • Kajabi: Best for promoting your site.
  • Teachable: Best for creating online multimedia courses.
  • MemberPress: Best for turning WordPress site into a membership site.
  • Podia: Best for built-in email marketing services.
  • Wix: Best for building a website.

Which one of these membership tools are you planning to use, and why? Let me know by commenting below.