At a time when work, play, and everyday life are being carried out online, it’s more important than ever to choose the right platform for your membership database. After all, while you may not be seeing your members every day, your membership website is the gateway through which they see you.
A strong, accessible platform can engage users, increase member retention, improve internal operations, and incentivize associates to encourage their personal network to join your organization’s program. On the other hand, a poor interface and user experience can sour member relations and reflect negatively on the organization itself.
Considering all these intersecting factors of the member experience, it’s no wonder that choosing the right association management software can be so daunting. It’s a big task, with many moving parts to consider.
However, you shouldn’t have to be a coder, a UX specialist, or a graphic designer just to pick out the right platform. To ease the search, we’ve compiled a list of the best software on the market based on a balance of usability, visual appeal, overall functionality, and integration capabilities.
Here are our top choices.
- CMS Hub
- Membership Works
10+ Top Membership Platforms to Explore
Here are our top picks for the best membership platforms on the market.
1. Fonteva – All-in-One Salesforce App
With an intuitive design and a comprehensive arsenal of integrated tools to maximize member and staff activity, the Fonteva Salesforce App is without a doubt our favorite AMS solution.
While many other services only offer either big-picture solutions or are specialized for niche membership program types, such as point or tiered programs, Fonteva caters to all association program strategies.
Not only that, but the service is also run on one of the world’s premier CRM platforms, providing a full-scale system of optimized association technologies through Salesforce.
Stand Out Features
- Complete scalability. Salesforce’s cloud-based hosting allows for mass storage and powerful processing capabilities. Yes, organizations of any size and phase of development will benefit from this service. However, with the Fonteva app, there’s always opportunities for growth.
- Full integration and reportage. The transfer of data onto this app is practically instantaneous. Records and important KPIs are logged, processed, and set for future tracking with minimal hassle for your organization. On top of that, automated and customizable reports are available to keep your team up to date on site performance.
- Member communities and networking. Users are capable of connecting with one another and forming dynamic, enduring bonds within the association database. This opens up the door for member engagement and increased retention even when your team isn’t actively working to improve these metrics.
- Powerful event management capabilities. The Fonteva platform makes it easier than ever to plan, host, and manage events, all within the native software. Whether it’s a virtual fundraiser or an in-person conference, this service accommodates every event type to raise member attendance and engagement.
- Salesforce AppExchange. With Fonteva, the entire Salesforce toolkit is at your disposal. Our software is powered by one of the world’s most robust CRMs, integrating the powerful Salesforce library of marketing, analytics, and enterprise resources into your association development plans.
2. CMS Hub
CMS Hub stands out for the versatility of its SEO and personalization toolkits.
Rather than an association management system, CMS Hub is instead a broader content management system. While this software might not have been made with membership site logistics as its express purpose, the accessibility and usability of this platform make it a powerful tool for any association organization.
Stand Out Features
- Data segmentation. CMS Hub not only tracks your data, but offers programs that break down these user analytics into segmented chunks. This is then used to help optimize functionality, target user interests, and improve content that is underperforming.
- Personalization and smart forms. Take your personalization and engagement efforts to the next level with CMS Hub’s smart forms, smart content, and smart CTAs. These built-in algorithms automatically process user data to customize member site experiences.
- Integrated SEO tools. CMS Hub also comes with a pre-installed package of search engine optimization tools, including a content strategy tool that pulls data directly from Google to build future SEO campaigns.
If you’re seeking simplicity and accessibility for your membership site creation experience, then MemberSpace is the perfect gateway to the online world of associations.
All in all, this is an incredibly easy to use, straightforward association software solution with a wide range of tools to customize your site in a wide variety of ways.
Stand Out Features
- Highly accessible user interface. MemberSpace is made so that any membership professional can easily hop on and begin navigating their site creation tools. No design, coding, or UX/UI experience is required to sink your teeth into this service.
- CMS freedom. Most membership systems key into a specific CMS, such as WordPress, and transitioning to a new system may prove challenging. MemberSpace specifically advertises its compatibility and easy switching between all major CMS platforms.
- Association networking communities. MemberSpace is not only an AMS, but it doubles as a community for other membership site builders to share best practices, tips, and strategies among fellow association professionals.
YourMembership is a fully integrated association solution that offers a strong content strategy toolkit across the board.
The service is already highly accessible, but one of its biggest benefits is most definitely the organization’s commitment to service and smoothly facilitating the transition onto the platform.
Stand Out Features
- Workflow automation. YourMembership offers a streamlined workflow system, creating an intuitive dashboard of content that helps to streamline the planning and execution process for everyday operations and larger campaigns.
- Training programs and ease of use. One of the platform’s biggest areas of focus is accessibility. Training courses are available to help membership professionals at any stage of their careers learn something new about design presentation, user experience, and marketing strategies in the virtual sphere.
- Implementation teams. Each customer organization is partnered with a team always available for contact in order to maximize their content and grow comfortably into the platform.
MemberPress is an all-access membership plug-in for the WordPress CMS.
An extension of one of the most popular, open-source CMS databases on the internet, this service could be a good fit for associations looking for the smoothest and easiest possible transition into the online association sphere.
Stand Out Features
- Absolute WordPress compatibility. This service works for and with WordPress to provide the most complementary possible experience in the CMS. All templates and tools already existing in WordPress will be supported by this extension.
- Course and pricing creation. Launching e-learning and e-commerce opportunities with this software is especially simple, with a special Courses add-on being one of the many simplified programs offered by MemberPress.
- Content dripping. Timing, queuing, and dripping content is made all the easier with MemberPress. The plug-in carefully manages the lifecycle of content available for members, managing expiration dates and access launches to drive the demand for these pieces of content.
This popular membership software platform specializes in the management of small to medium sized organizations.
WildApricot provides a cost-effective solution to smaller organizations that might otherwise be unable to enjoy these powerful association tools. With outstanding SEO and design capabilities, this AMS option is a popular choice.
Stand Out Features
- Membership database. With a versatile cloud-based hosting service, WildApricot is able to store and implement tons of member data with no trouble. Important details such as payment preferences and user activity are all kept up to date and ready for use.
- Payment processing. WildApricot uses an integrated payment processor to directly accept important online payments, from dues to additional on-site purchases. Due reminders and other payment notifications add an additional layer of efficiency to this streamlined system.
- Site creation tools. The platform boasts a library of dynamic website design tools to ensure that you have a sleek, aesthetically pleasing layout in only a few hours. Not only that, but the service includes drop and drop features that simplify data transfers into the site.
This middle-of-the-way association website builder provides a strong set of services across a broad scope of different needs.
In particular, SubHub specializes in providing varying levels of membership. This makes the program especially helpful if you’re looking for a service that allows you to easily segment content access according to the membership type of users.
Stand Out Features
- Stacked membership access. Managing content access between your various membership levels can be a balancing act. However, SubHub has specific programs in place to maintain how, when, and what each level of membership sees on your website.
- Intuitive editing software. SubHub’s built-in content editor analyses your content and suggests new strategies to more effectively communicate ideas to members, all before you hit post.
- Customer support. The in-house SubHub customer service team is second to none, with staff always available to improve your site building and offer new opportunities to maximize the platform’s many uses.
Not only is Memberful a great option for website builders, but the service also specializes in membership management across a variety of other mediums.
Their multi-channel integration tools allow you to expand your presence across your members’ various preferred channels of engagement. If you’d like to take your association beyond your website alone, Memberful offers easy connections to various services in the world of podcasts, newsletters, and social media.
Stand Out Features
- Multi-channel integration. One of Memberful’s biggest selling points is its ease of integration across a wide range of different entertainment and engagement platforms. The service syncs and gathers all of your accounts, from Discord messaging to MailChimp and CampaignMonitor data.
- Easy member engagement. User engagement is of the utmost importance to Memberful. Members are sure to be entertained by its various cross-community integrations, lively member networking options, and profile customization opportunities.
- Automated communication. Never worry about forgetting to send members important communications, or member questions going answered. Memberful automatically handles key messaging, such as subscription, renewal, and payment emails.
MembershipWorks guarantees a responsive, flexible membership management solution with robust customer service and care.
If you’re hoping to find a cost effective service that prioritizes the training and support of newer membership professionals, then MembershipWorks may just be the AMS pathway for you.
Stand Out Features
- Smart member search. MembershipWorks includes an intuitive directory of members that are searchable by names, keywords, and customized labels to make sure you’re able to find who you’re looking for among your supporters.
- Data security and administration. Security is a major priority for the MembershipWorks team. It’s possible to place multiple levels of limited access across sensitive folders and management widgets, and member data is stored in three safeguard servers in case of hardware failure.
- Membership CRM. The Memberworks “Timeline” allows you to study member activity at a glance. All this important data, from attendance to payment plans, is available at the tip of your fingers.
This membership software solution is promoted as the ultimate way to sell what you know. Association programs are just one of its possible uses, as it can also be used to sell online courses, market products, and monetize your skills and services.
Overall, Kajabi is a strong AMS platform that is especially useful if you’re on the lookout to launch additional e-learning or shopping opportunities.
Stand Out Features
- Shopping and e-commerce. Setting up a catalog and shopping widget is extremely simple. Facilitating e-commerce in any way, shape, or form your membership desires is Kajabi’s speciality.
- Pipelines. Kajabi includes fully-automated programs to help launch your future marketing strategies. With the Kajabi Pipeline, scaling your organization for campaigns should never be an issue.
- Mobile performance. The Kajabi app ensures that your members will have a smooth and pleasant mobile experience. This feature grows more valuable with each passing day, as mobile usage increases and optimized mobile performance becomes a standard benchmark for all association organizations.
Like Kajabi, Podia is an all-in-one sales platform that includes membership program management among its many other uses.
However, Podia endeavors to offer similar services with greater affordability and a far more personalized service experience. If you’d like a more economical, guided journey into your AMS launch, Podia may be the right fit for you.
Stand Out Features
- Affordability. Podia is one of the most affordable membership platforms available, with plans starting at just 39 dollars a month. Considering the strength and versatility of the tools provided by the service, this is a fantastic offer to consider if your own budget is limited.
- Two-step checkout. Payment completion has never been easier. With just two clicks, members can easily have their purchases processed and move on to navigate other areas of your site that might catch their interest.
- Unlimited membership levels. With Podia, you have the ability to create as many membership levels as you see fit. Customize each level with its own unique access, navigation capabilities, and perks, and Podia will quickly process and implement these special programs for members to enjoy.
Membership Platforms: An Overview
At the most basic level, membership database software allows associations to carry out their membership programs.
Typically, these systems store and process important details about members and their activities. This makes it easier to analyze trends in user data and formulate actionable goals towards member engagement.
On top of that, this software should also offer a variety of sophisticated solutions to enhance the member experience. Here are just a few of the many tools that a model membership platform would offer:
- Facilitation of communications. Users are far more likely to interact with organizations that use their preferred communication channel, and 95% of users want to see proactive communication from the organizations with which they do business.
- Streamlined event planning. Automatic reporting, notifications, and easy logging of event schedules are popular methods offered to simplify the event development process.
- Data tracking and analytics. Keeping track of essential KPIs and data metrics should be a given for any membership platform service worth its salt.
- e-Commerce. This could include additional on-site subscription services, e-learning, and gift opportunities to bring more revenue directly through the database.
- Online fundraising. While in-person fundraising opportunities are limited, the right online fundraising features can accommodate the broad base of your members, regardless of physical limitations.
These basic support features are the baseline for a strong association platform. They address some of the most important aspects of the member experience, and offer opportunities for generating more non-dues revenue.
Locally Hosted Vs Cloud-Based
This is a distinction many program organizers might not be aware of, but it can significantly affect the cost, functionality, and scale of their association management systems.
For reference, many traditional management solutions are hosted locally. This is the old framework of operation, with hosting taking place on client servers.
These local or in-house servers are usually promoted for their speed and security, as operations can take place without having to connect to a third party server. However, these systems can be inflexible, unable to perform automatic updates and instead relying on the association to make any necessary software changes.
Cloud-based solutions are free from the restrictions of a local server. They are a decentralized system, meaning that operations can take place on a larger scale with more powerful processing and greater storage. Furthermore, updates occur automatically and the separate overhead cost of physically installing and maintaining these servers is cut out.
As long as a secure and trusted host is chosen to undertake your cloud-based operations, the overall price, efficiency, and power of the cloud system could very well outweigh the benefits of a local hosting solution.
Benefits of Membership Platforms
Benefits for Staff
Considering all the hard work your staff is already doing to ensure the success of campaigns, events, and member satisfaction, the everyday headaches of managing an membership management software system should be reduced to a minimum. An effective, robust membership platform should decrease administrative time, optimizing efficiency and easing your workload with:
- Automatic reports and automated messaging. These programmed capabilities cut out the administrative middle man by giving you regular updates of important site metrics and allowing basic member inquiries to be answered without distracting staff.
- Integrated event planning and multi-channel communication. These solutions streamline the event development and promotion process. A strong event management system will enable you to carry out the event lifecycle with the greatest possible efficiency.
- Data tracking and customized reports. By drawing on data that’s been automatically stored in this centralized location, the platform can share critical data with departments across your association.
- Easily-monitored finance and accounting. Revenue, membership fees, and donations can be tracked without issue, and automatic notification features such as due reminders can expand these incoming funds.
- Enhanced member engagement strategies. Boost member retention and engage users with such features as automatic renewal notifications, grace periods, member self-service options,customizable member profiles, and easy online payment processing.
Benefits for Members
An optimized association software can not only streamline in-house operations, but it should also offer an additional level of engagement, connectivity, and accessibility for members. The right software will facilitate a positive, rich on-site experience by providing:
- Customizable profiles and searches. Members should be able to update their profiles with custom fields. This will allow them to connect to other, similar profiles in an easily accessible and searchable database.
- Invitations and member networking. For example, members should be able to organize virtual communities or forums and invite new members to join. The power to participate in special projects, manage permissions, and organize events is a powerful incentive for member engagement and retention.
- Device optimization and payment integration. Studies show that 56% of members favor one loyalty program over another because of ease of use and accessibility, and 8 in 10 users would stop engaging with content that displays poorly on their device. These strategies accommodate your members’ needs and preferences and encourage future engagement.
- Self-service portals. These self-guided tools will put power back into your members’ hands and allow them to manage their own digital experience. Features such as member directories and registration pathways will allow them to curate optimal encounters through and within your association, according to their own preferences.
Membership Platform Software Essential Features
Depending on what sort of service and projects are guiding your own organization, the function and special features of your membership software may vary. However, on a broader scale, there are a few features that every association program can benefit from.
Regardless of whatever angle you’re approaching the management of your association web software from, be on the lookout for these essential tools:
- Comprehensive member profiles and membership levels. These tools greatly increase the opportunity for member engagement within your web platform. Not only will members be able to create a rich virtual persona, but granting them different levels of access incentivises members to continually increase their involvement and pledged support.
- Member communities. While you should try to forge a strong relationship between members and your organization, allowing them to connect with one another is a highly effective strategy to raise member retention and engagement. Give them the chance to create their own committees, organize and develop special projects, and build a personal network of colleagues and peers. This sense of community, respect, and responsibility is a powerful motivator to secure potentially lifelong membership and support.
- Intuitive dashboards. The many departments that comprise your organization have vastly different priorities, goals, and projects. Therefore, it only makes sense that each sector of your team should have its own dedicated interface to record their own unique tasks. The intuitive dashboard feature makes this possible, offering team members their own customizable tool to track goals and focus on the information that is most important to them.
- Event management systems. There are very few associations that have nothing to gain from an event management solution. These versatile technologies help to streamline every step of the event lifecycle, from development to registration and launch. With an effective event management system in place, the attendance, engagement level, and revenue gains for member events can be boosted far beyond what was previously possible. Keep an eye out for membership software that supports the integration of event planning features.
- Revenue accounting. Handing off financial data to be processed through a third party system is not only a significant security risk, but an unnecessary division of your resources. With an association system that integrates your accounting software, this data can be more easily and efficiently translated into usable statements on member activity. This feature will allow you to track key financial trends, such as membership fees and refunds, and pair them to the relevant member profiles.
- Reporting and analytics. Data tracking is one thing, but robust reporting and analytics features will allow your association to understand the meaning of this data and create actionable goals based on what you see. A membership platform with a truly optimized reporting tool will make it possible for you to customize analytics by department, intuitively display data for staff members, and report on any of the data fields stored in your database. Look out for this tool if you’d like your internal operations streamlined for maximum efficiency.
If you’d like to learn more about these critical features, as well as other tools that every membership platform should carry, check out our essential guide to membership software. No matter how you plan to run your own program, these services are key to enriching the member experience, formulating future campaign strategies, and smoothly carrying out events.
Your membership platform is the center of member activity, the nexus of their engagements through and with your organization. A positive online experience can make all the difference. On the other hand, even small hiccups in design and management can deal a significant blow to member relationships.
However, with this comprehensive list of what features to look out for and who are the major players on the AMS market, we hope that your search for the right membership site software has been made a little easier.
For more information on membership site software, other top performers in the industry, and what to know in the AMS sector, take a look at the following resources:
- AMS: What is it? & 5 Solutions. If you’d like to learn more about association management software and how Fonteva’s AMS systems stack up to the competition, check out this quick crash course.
- Top Membership Management Software and Reviews. Are you eager to streamline your membership management operations? This definitive buyer’s guide to membership management software should get you started on your search.
- Membership Software: The Essential Guide. Clear up any confusion or inquiries you might have about membership software with this comprehensive guide to the technology and its essential features.