Literally, you can say membership means belonging to a particular group. By selling memberships of golf clubs, gymnasiums, library, etc. you add members to certain groups and provide them various facilities according to plans. While adding members to your plans you live in trouble with managing lots of hard copies of membership forms, customer’s information, their subscriptions, logs, expired subscriptions, etc.
To resolve such issues, we moved towards membership management software. These softwares make damn easy to manage various services and their availability period to your customers or members. In other words, a software that manages membership of users for an organisation is said to be a membership software. A membership software always manages certain number of plans which can be subscribed by your customers to gain access to services as available in the plan.
Two basic ways of managing memberships are:
- Offline Membership Management Software
- Online Membership Management Software
The former one works as a stand-alone software and doesn’t require any Internet connection. While, the latter one looks for the availability of Internet to manage memberships. Generally, offline membership softwares are not preferred for your use because of three main reasons, viz.:
- Unavailability of support from the developers of the membership management software.
- Remote access of the memberships for the customers is not allowed
- Small area of contact with your customers. Manual work is required at it’s best.
There exist a mile long list of membership softwares like PayPlans
, Wild Apricot, Blackbaud NetCommunity, Member Clicks, ClubExpress, ppSD2, etc.
There are two types of membership softwares:
- Open Source Membership Software
- Proprietary Membership Software
Open Source Membership Software are available with minimal costs and provide you lots and lots of flexibilities. With open source membership software you can assign various memberships to your customers. Because it is open source, if there exist any plugin, application or a module which is not included in the membership software, then you can customise the membership software with your own requirements too and sell the your memberships accordingly. This is the power which you get with open source software. For example, PayPlans, ppSD2 etc.
Proprietary Membership Software also work similar to the open source membership software but, the key difference lies under the fact that with proprietary membership management software you remain bounded with copyrights of source code, the membership software may support only certain types of files, high cost of availability and millions of other restrictions. If you suffer from any problem in selling your memberships with proprietary software, then you require some other proprietary software to resolve your issue, which means extra investment of money on proprietary membership softwares. For example, Wild Apricot, Blackbaud NetCommunity, Member Clicks, etc.
Key ingredients which are required before you sell online membership are:
- Website: You must own a website to which your customers can directly interact and view all your advertisements of plans and other essential things. Here is an example of live website which sells it’s Membership Management Software.
- CMS (Content Management Software): A content management system keeps track of every piece of content on your Web site. Content can be text, photos, music, video, documents, etc. It requires almost no technical skill or knowledge to manage. For example, Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, etc.
- Services: These are the facilities which you want to sell via your membership management software. The facilities can be plugins, components, modules, etc. For example, a document managing software’s subscription can be sold by you. It will be able to manage your customer’s documents for the specific duration of the plan.
Collectively you can say that, you require to have a Content Management System to develop your website and, then you need to host the advertisements of your service providing plans on your website.