Posted on

One Stop for WooCommerce Memberships

Choosing the right WooCommerce membership plugin, setting it up, managing memberships from one place and a few tips to grow your sales to build a loyal fan base....you will find it all here.

Last updated on March 27, 2022

While customer acquisition is important, what’s even better is to drive repeat sales and increase your business by retaining your existing customers. Have you thought about how and why?

By offering membership on your WooCommerce store, you can make your customers feel valued and that enhances their loyalty towards your brand. It can be done either by giving them privileged access to content and offers or making them a part of an exclusive club.

Limiting access can help convert the non-members to a paid membership and make the existing members switch to higher plans in favor of the special offers and deals we have for them.

WooCommerce memberships plugins do not require a lot of money and time unlike managing the old school memberships.

In this article, we’ll look at the memebership extension on WooCommerce.com, how to set up memberships, and other options you’ve got to get started with a membership program on your store.

Let’s first explore what membership sites are and why people choose them.

Why will users stretch their budget to buy a membership?

I remember the time when I used to spend my summer holidays with my cousins in the resorts of Manali (a popular hill station in India) and got so jealous when they were privileged to better facilities.

They had access to free sports, lounge, internet, club area and rooms with a better view. Just watching them enjoy everything without being able to do anything equal, was because they were resort members.

I convinced my dad that spending extra would be a good idea and bingo! Upon taking the membership, I was on cloud nine, enjoying sports, a pool-side room, and other facilities.

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy some extra comfort and luxury for some extra cash?

In my eyes, membership is a better way of conversion. Especially, if you have a WooCommerce store, you have customers who need better plans or visitors looking for special memberships. The best part is that you just need a WooCommerce memberships plugin to put up products for the same.

What types of membership sites can you build?

Here are some ideas of the types of membership sites you can build:

  • An online site with courses – including projects, documents (like PDFs) videos, and quizzes.
  • A WooCommerce store selling plugins bundle only to members.
  • Holidays site wherein you offer different plans based on seasons, locations.
  • A service-based membership program with members paying for a certain amount of services per month or year. An online or over-the-phone coaching program is a good example of this.
  • Fitness consultation, diet programs, streaming sites, podcasts…
  • Training site for marketing, SEO, ads…
  • An online community where users have to pay a membership fee to have full access to chat or learn with forums and live chats, articles, and other resources.

Be it small, medium, or large stores, customers will pay a higher amount to get those extra perks or unlock quality content.

How does WooCommerce membership work?

There are two ways how memberships work:

  1. Create one where only members get special offers on your products/services or access to your exclusive website content. Example – Fitness consultation, Marketing, and SEO training.
  2. Turn membership into a subscription-based model where you deliver specific products to members regularly. Example – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Dollar Shave Club.

In both cases, it brings immense value and convenience to members.

Benefits of creating a membership website

Build loyalty and increase sales
The ability to offer special discounts or deals and give members the privileges they need will make them refer your site to others, resulting in increased sales.

Thus, a membership website helps you create a loyal community of customers who value your brand and look forward to what you offer.

Ensure solid customer relationships
Keep on providing values, perks and members will stay longer, even lifetime. The longer they stay subscribed to you, the more they’ll realize the benefits of your products/services, enhancing their faith in your brand.

Establish a recurring income source
Memberships can bring recurring income, in addition to the sales you make. That’s because members pay a monthly or yearly fee to access the premium features – and they are billed automatically until they choose to cancel their subscription.

This also makes a membership program a reliable and predictable source of income, as you’ll know exactly how much you’ll earn from your ongoing memberships.

Now, let’s see the popular WooCommerce Memberships plugin and how to set it up.

WooCommerce Memberships plugin – the best of the lot?

One of the highly-rated and easy-to-use extensions on WooCommerce.com, this WordPress Membership plugin or WooCommerce Memberships plugin could be your go-to solution.

The plugin allows you to create a fully functioning membership system on your website by limiting content access.

You can sell memberships separately, tie memberships to a product purchase or registration, or assign them manually to make an invite-only members area.

Combine this plugin with the official WooCommerce Subscriptions extension and make memberships time-based and recurring.

WooCommerce Memberships plan

WooCommerce Memberships plugin features:

  • Grant access to members to the same membership from several products (i.e., a monthly subscription or a yearly purchase).
  • Assign memberships manually for an invite-only members area.
  • Make some products public but restrict the purchase to members only.
  • Automatically show perks to the members.
  • Provide members with discounts for all, some or certain products.
  • Member Area to allow members to find all the required information about their memberships.
  • Offer free shipping directly to your members while for non-members, set criteria to meet a minimum order amount.
  • Drip content and schedule – decide when members should have access to it.
  • Enable any or all sections of the member area to show members a list of accessible content – pages, posts, products, discounts, public membership notes…
  • Export members to a CSV file.
  • Include or exclude free trial periods in content restriction and dripping. You get full control over the content available in trials.
  • Import members via CSV to add new memberships, create new users, or bulk-update existing members.
  • Membership Notes to track information about memberships for a customer. You can add your notes for reference and easily communicate with a particular member by sharing a note with them via email.
  • Set up free trials for the membership via a subscription.
  • Allow members to pause/upgrade/downgrade/switch/suspend their memberships.
  • Use reminder emails to let members know that their memberships are due for renewal.

Pricing: $199/year with support for one year.

Considering the benefits the plugin offers and quick RoI, the cost is justified.

Get WooCommerce Memberships plugin

Now let’s see how to create memberships with this plugin.

How do I set up WooCommerce memberships?

Installation and activation are the same as you do for other WooCommerce plugins.

Once you’ve purchased and downloaded the WooCommerce Memberships plugin, go to Plugins > Add New and upload the plugin zip file. Click Install Now and then Activate. The plugin will be installed and activated.

Setup wizard

Upon installation, you’ll come across this setup wizard:

Member content appearance to non-members

WooCommerce Memberships plugin settings for non-members

Decide how the members-only content appears to non-members.

You can hide it completely, showing users a 404 page or redirect them to a separate page altogether. Selecting ‘hide only restricted content’ is an awesome opportunity to prompt non-members to subscribe.

It is recommended to enable the box labeled I want to show excerpts of the restricted content to non-members and search engines to get SEO juice for the partial content that is indexed.

Basic membership settings

creating membership plans

The next step is picking your type of basic membership.

Membership perks

membership perks

The third step involves what your members will get as perks. Whether that is access to certain categories or post types, individual products, certain discounts, etc.

Emails

Email settings when membership ends

What about customers who abandon the cart? Abandoned cart emails can work to a great extent. You can also do that with membership emails as well. Remind your users that they need to renew their subscriptions, both before and after expiry.

Having a renewal reminder email with a discount code may work even better to retain users.

Membership plugin settings

Go to WooCommerce > Settings > Memberships to configure the plugin.

The default Memberships settings should work for most shops, without any adjustments. Restricted content will include the title and featured image and an excerpt, but full content will not be accessible.

To edit restriction messages or change your restriction mode, go to the settings document. Else, move on to creating your membership product.

In the settings, you need to check for under the Products and Messages.

Under Products, you can tune how your memberships function. One of the options is to exclude products on sale from member discounts.

Under Messages, you can “customize restriction and discount messages displayed to non-members and members.” This is the page where you shouldn’t ignore the opportunity to both upsell customers and sell potential customers on the benefits of becoming members.

With the provision to include HTML here, make your messaging as appealing as possible.

Check this WooCommerce Memberships documentation for more details.

Creating and selling membership products

If you only want to manually grant access to memberships on your site, skip this setup step. If you’d like to sell membership access, you’ll need to create a product to do so.

It is almost like creating a product in WooCommerce, with some exceptions.

Memberships are not a particular product type; instead, they can be tied to any kind of product on your site – simple and variable, product variation, simple and variable subscription, subscription variation, etc.

Your potential members will purchase a product from your shop, and upon purchase, the plugin marks their account as having an active membership of that level.

To sell your membership, create the kind of product you’d like to use to sell it. For example, to sell a one-year membership to your site, create a simple product with the membership cost as the price. Same for other product types. We’ll later tie the membership to this product.

creating a membership product

Once you’ve created the product(s), it’s time to set up the membership plan.

Create a membership plan

Go to WooCommerce > Memberships > Membership Plans. Click on Add Membership Plan. This will let you create your first plan. For more detailed instructions on creating plans, view the membership plans document.

General plan details: Name your plan (you can skip the “slug” field) and determine how members should get access to this plan: only when you create a membership manually, via registering for an account on your site, or via purchase.

determine access for members to the plan

In this example, the silver membership is tied to the silver variation.

Next up is to determine the member access duration. It can be unlimited (that never expires), a specific length like five years (from the creation date), or between a set of dates.

set membership duration

Restrict content to members

This will let you restrict access to pages, posts, or custom post types (such as portfolios or other content) to members. You can also restrict taxonomies like categories or tags.

Currently, all of your content is public. If you add content to this tab, it will no longer be public and will require this membership (or another that grants access) to access it. The content will be restricted as soon as your membership plan is published.

You can save a plan as a draft if you need more time to create your plans. Rules will not apply to a draft.

restricting content

Select the content type to restrict. If you want to restrict all the content for that type, leave the Title field blank. If you want to restrict certain posts or pages, search for them and select them. Determine when access to the content should be granted (immediately or after the customer has been a member for a certain length of time).

restricting product

Once you’ve restricted content, restrict products in the same way. Select the product type to restrict, select individual products or categories if desired, and set content dripping if needed. Refer to this document for more details.

Create member discounts

The discount will be applied automatically to the selected products for logged-in members if the discount is active. The members-only price change will be applied to all specified products every time a member purchases one of them.

WooCommerce Memberships discount rules

Activate member area

You can choose what members will see in the member area. This will let your members click “View” for membership from the “My Account” dashboard. Members can then see content, products, and discounts assigned to the membership. You can enable the following sections:

members area settings
  • Content: shows a list of all posts, pages, and custom post types the member has access to or will have access to on a future date.
  • Products: shows a list of all products the member can view and/or purchase, or will be able to view/purchase in the future.
  • Discounts: lists all products the member has a discount for, including the discount amount.
  • Notes: displays a list of any member-facing notes for the membership (ones that have been added with “Notify Member” only).
  • Manage: shows the membership details, and links to subscriptions if used.

Learn more about the Members’ Area in this document.

Customize email content

Member emails will be disabled by default, but you can enable them if you want to inform your members about the upcoming expirations, membership ends or prompt them to renew after membership expires. These can be enabled under WooCommerce > Settings > Emails.

Under the Email Content tab, you can customize content for up to three emails if you don’t want to use the default content.

  • Membership ending soon – this email can be sent 1 to 60 days before a membership ends to inform the member of the upcoming expiration, and/or ask them to renew before that happens.
  • Membership ended – this email can be sent immediately when a membership ends to let the member know they no longer have access and potentially ask the member to renew.
  • Membership renewal reminder – this email can be sent 1 to 60 days after membership ends to encourage the member to renew. This email is only sent for renewable memberships (accessed via purchase).

Any email can use the “merge tags” listed to personalize emails, such as the {member_name} tag to insert the member’s display name, or the {membership_renewal_url} to give members a link to renew a purchasable membership.

Don’t forget to save and publish, once you are done creating your plan.

Woopie! Your membership is now live.

When a customer purchases your membership product, it will be created for the customer automatically (once paid), and the customer will gain access to the members-only content based on your rules and dripping.

Create/manage members

You can manually create members or view/edit existing memberships from the WooCommerce > Memberships > Members screen. Each member is a WordPress user and WooCommerce customer; the membership login and account are handled by WooCommerce, and Memberships adds additional information to the account, such as the Member Area.

Creating new content

Once your membership products and plans are created, you’ll probably add new content or products to your site. You can quickly integrate them into your membership plans using the “Memberships” meta box.

When you add any new pages, posts, or other content, you can restrict it to a certain plan, and customize the “content restricted” message displayed to non-members. If a rule already applies to the content (i.e., a taxonomy rule applies), it will be displayed and disabled from editing. You can edit it from the plan page.

creating new content

When you add new products, you’ll see a different meta box. This is because you can restrict products to a membership plan, but you can also create a discount on the product for certain members, or this new product could grant access to an existing plan.

The product Memberships meta box, therefore, has multiple tabs to account for this. You can use it to restrict the product to a plan, grant access to an existing plan when this product is purchased, or set up a discount on this new product for a plan.

restricting product to a plan

Note that the controls in this meta box will work for simple products, or variable parent products (which means that the rules will be applied to all the variations). If you want more fine-tuned control over variations, please use the membership plan page instead.

You’re all good to go.

Get WooCommerce Memberships plugin

How to manage WooCommerce Memberships in bulk and from one place?

Isn’t it tedious and frustrating to manage memberships and membership plans, when you have hundreds and thousands of members?

What do you think is the right way to manage them directly without digging through all of it? Is it possible to cancel the memberships of hundreds of users in one go?

Yes, you can!

Using an Excel-like spreadsheet, Smart Manager makes WooCommerce Membership management ten times faster.

Upgrading memberships, changing prices of membership products, assigning perks to thousands of members, bulk editing posts and pages… Smart Manager covers everything.

  • Edit any membership field directly, simply by using the Smart Manager grid without entering individual membership products.
  • Using advanced search to locate specific members/membership products to change the prices. Example – Find all members belonging to the Gold plan.
  • Export all the membership data or filter it for future reference.
  • Upgrade membership plans in bulk. For example – you want to migrate 100 members from their Bronze plan to the Silver plan based on their order total to date, say $1000.
  • Activate around five hundred expired memberships at once using bulk edit.
  • Offer free shipping to customers in Europe based on lifetime value. Let’s say the customer count is 200. So, using Smart Manager, you can easily spot these customers by applying the search filter. Select all those 200 customers and set free shipping for these members.
  • Offer perks on your store anniversary to all your 500 members say $50 gift card. Select all your members from the Smart Manager grid and assign $50 using the bulk edit feature.
  • Cancel membership statuses of all those on monthly plans and migrated to the annual plans.
  • Sorting lapsed members by email.

…and a lot many tasks more can easily be accomplished using Smart Manager.

Get Smart Manager plugin

WooCommerce Memberships plugin alternatives

If you would like to explore other WordPress membership plugins / WooCommerce memberships plugins, you can consider these options. They are quite popular too!

YITH WooCommerce Membership

YITH WooCommerce Membership allows you to create sections on your store that are accessible only to members – such as pages, posts, and products. You can therefore create private stores with members-only products, hide certain pages from non-members, or even give them a preview of content they won’t be able to read without becoming a member.

YITH WooCommerce Membership plugin

Top features:

  • Create unlimited plans with different permission rules. For example, certain plan members can only download the products while certain members of another plan can just read the blog posts but not view the videos.
  • Create restricted access areas (posts, videos, exclusive contents) available only to registered users and automatically mark them as “members” as soon as they register into your website.
  • Use the Gutenberg block to easily set where the “Members-only” content starts
  • Choose the “Membership free shipping” option to offer free shipping to your members for all the orders they place through your shop.
  • Display limited content (e.g. an article preview) and require users to sign up (and pay) to see the full content
  • Offer your members dedicated discounts on all the products. For example, 15% for Gold users, 25% for Platinum users, and so on.
  • Create a credit system to allow members to download items (like stock images or digital resources)
  • Monitor the memberships and the downloads from the integrated dashboard
  • Offer your members a dedicated section in “My Account” with all their memberships
  • Send a notification email to your users whenever a new membership is created, ten days before its expiration, when the membership expires and when it is canceled.
  • Allow members to directly communicate with you using the “Messages” widget for instant query solving and improving customer experience.

Pricing: $149.99/year

Get YITH WooCommerce Membership plugin

Restrict Content Pro

Restrict Content Pro was developed by Pippin Willamson, but acquired by iThemes in 2020.

It’s a WordPress plugin that integrates with WooCommerce and it’s a powerful membership plugin for WordPress sites.

In Restrict Content Pro, you can create a free, trial, and premium subscription level, but customers can only choose one – they can change plans at any time, and Restrict Content Pro adjusts their charges accordingly.

Restrict Content Pro plugin

Top features:

  • Inbuilt integrations with Stripe and PayPal
  • Create unlimited subscription packages with membership levels – create free, trial, and premium subscriptions.
  • Display content previews with an offer to become a member to view and access the content with an easy-to-configure WordPress block!
  • Content restriction can be done individually or in bulk for posts, pages, some custom post types, categories, and tags.
  • Elegant and easy-to-use reports to show you exactly how well your membership site is performing. Easily see the current month’s performance or any other time.
  • Generate a CSV of all active members of any particular subscription level or a CSV of every member in the system.
  • You can also generate a CSV of every payment that has been made.

Pricing: Starting from $99. A free plan with limited features is also available.

Get Restrict Content Pro plugin

MemberPress

Another highly-rated membership plugin for WordPress, that allows you to create unlimited memberships with different access levels, trials, and prices.

It integrates with WooCommerce. MemberPress is another highly rated membership plugin.

Top features:

  • Has a learning management system (LMS) plugin, “Courses” addon that lets you create and sell online courses on subscription.
  • Create and easily manage coupons in your store. You can configure coupons’ expiration dates, the products they apply to, the discount percentage, and more.
  • Control expiration dates and number of uses.
  • A default theme to create a high-converting, dynamic pricing page in minutes – no coding required.
  • Drip Content – keep your content irresistible and customers’ interest alive with timed content releases and content access expiration.
  • Release locked content on a schedule, send notification emails to members automatically, and even set content access expirations.
  • Detailed insights on the performance of your membership site, like which products are selling the best and how much you’re earning.

Pricing: Starts from $179/year

Get MemberPress plugin

WooCommerce Membership by RightPress

It creates unlimited memberships on your online store easily and quickly using this plugin. With its bulk editing feature, you can easily and quickly protect content on posts and pages.

With this product, you can create a membership product from any simple or variable product. It allows members to “pause” their memberships and provides the ability to grant or revoke membership.

WooCommerce Memberships plugin by RightPress

Top features:

  • Using it, posts that don’t have access to users are removed from lists and menus, so the users can easily access your website.
  • Adding or removing members manually from easy to use admin interface
  • Link plans to other plans in order to assign them to the members automatically
  • Set delay for linked plan activation to create a content drip feed
  • Select any number of membership plans to grant access to when a product is purchased
  • Set up optional expiration time to make sure that users are only getting what they are paying for
  • Restrict access to any post or page, including custom WordPress post types
  • Built-in access restriction shortcodes for granular access control
  • Membership can also be granted or canceled manually from the membership plan page
  • Membership Granted and Membership Cancelled emails can be configured and sent to customers automatically.

Pricing: $59

Get WooCommerce Membership plugin

WooCommerce Members Only

It is possible to create a membership program on your store by restricting access to pages, posts, products, and categories based on user roles, whether they are logged in or not, or by a password.

WooCommerce Memebers Only plugin restriction settings

Top features:

  • Setting one or more than one global password
  • Creatin different passwords for each product/product category or post/post category
  • Specify one or more user roles at a global level
  • Add custom fields to the registration form
  • Allow or disable payment gateways and shipping methods based on user roles

Pricing: Starts from $59/year

Get WooCommerce Members Only plugin

How can you encourage customers to join your WooCommerce membership program?

Setting up memberships is easy now. However, getting a unique appeal for your membership plans and getting more customers to buy is what makes the difference.

Making your customers understand the value of membership is enough for a start. Here are a few tips that would help you optimize your membership strategy.

Put the customer first
Think in terms of the potential member – what do they get from joining your program? Focus on the advantages for customers rather than your business goals. In that way, you will be able to create something that will attract a large number of customers.

What you offer through the membership plan should be relevant and rare to the customer.

Become irresistible
When you present the benefits of multiple plans side by side, your customers get a chance to compare each and make a decision. A combination of well-crafted deals and good copywriting is essential. A dull, unappealing description with no proper details would only repel your audience.

Ensure clarity and transparency
If you somehow manage to get a few users to sign up without revealing the terms clearly, they may anyway not renew the membership later. So have a clear policy.

Also, you may need to include relevant reviews and testimonials to assure the minds of potential members who are on the verge of making a decision. A positive word might just inspire those sitting on the fence people to hit that ‘Join’ button.

Communicate easily
Mostly, when users are comparing plans or about to pay some money on your site, they may need some clarifications. There should be someone readily available to answer their queries, or you might lose some potential customers. Setting up a live chat option or phone call is a great option to manage this kind of scenario.

Establish a pricing structure
You need to create an ample number of options so that your customers can put in some thoughts and choose. However, providing too many options may confuse users and make them leave your site. The trick would be to keep things simple and clear.

Benefit from automatic recurring billing
Combine two popular solutions – subscription and membership. However, you may have to use a payment gateway that supports this type of payment. An automated recurring billing ensures steady cash flow until the customer cancels the membership.

Provide members with something valuable
Provide incentives, perks, coupons for switching to higher plans and customers will be delighted.

Wrapping up

With memberships and privileged access, you have the advantage to keep customers close to you, thus making them loyal to your brand.

WooCommerce offers excellent options for setting up membership plans on your site. We covered the popular WooCommerce Memberships extension, its setup and some other alternatives. You can choose the one you like best.

Try Smart Manager as well, which can help you manage memberships to save time and effort.

I hope you like this article. Comments, suggestions are welcome!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.