Paid Memberships Pro Review 2021: In a Sea of Membership Plugins, How Does This One Stand Out?

Paid-Memberships-Pro-Review
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Getting potential members to actually land on your site is one thing, but once you get them there, you have one job: keep them there.

Without the right LMS system or plugin, your efforts to get them to sign up and cross that threshold from viewer to customer are basically DOA.

Paid Memberships Pro is the plugin that comes with everything under one banner, but you have to know how to use it. There’s a learning curve to get over, but it won’t take nearly as long as you think.

In this Paid Memberships review, we’re going to cover every question you have surrounding the plugin, and discuss whether or not the annual membership cost is really worth the price you pay.

What is Paid Memberships Pro?

As you might guess from the title, Paid Memberships Pro is designed to let you charge site visitors for access to your content, online courses, and anything you want through a membership program.

Similar to a Netflix subscription, for as long as your customer pays their membership fee, they are allowed to enjoy content, forums, community engagement, and whatever else you offer.

Paid Memberships Pro is one of many WordPress plugins with this functionality, but they offer a lot that their competitors simply don’t. They call themselves the ultimate WordPress plugin for memberships, and they just might be.

The reason that we install plugins in the first place is to make things easier on us, and there are just some plugins out there that miss the mark.

Paid Memberships Pro prides itself on being rightfully simple to use. With a narrow learning curve of about two or three days, you can learn everything that you possibly need to know via their FAQ, online community forums, and reviews like this.

Navigation is easy, integration is a snap, and they give you the option of so many free add-ons without shoving them down your throat that you’ll be able to cherry pick what you want, and discard the rest.

Overall, they made a true all-in-one experience here that’s hard to beat.

Installation

Search for the plugin through “Add New Plugin” on WordPress, find Paid Memberships Pro, and activate your account through it.

It’s done. It’s really that easy to install. It doesn’t take much time at all, and it snaps right into WordPress with little to no issues reported.

Upon installation, PMP makes pages for you to get the ball rolling, which you can edit. Depending on how hands-on you like to be, this can be aggravating, but expedite the process of getting your memberships site up and running faster than ever.

Setup

When you load up Paid Memberships Pro, you’re met with six menu tabs in the plugin. You can change membership levels, pages, SSL, email, then there’s advanced options, and the add-on section.

If you’re trying to go as lightweight as possible here, the last two tabs can be left untouched for a faster setup.

Begin by making your ideal membership package/bundle, and then determining which pages require a membership account in the next tab. In the SSL tab, you have the option of accepting different forms of payment (Visa, Amex, etc.) by selecting checkboxes, and the sales tax is calculated for you depending on your location. It couldn’t be easier to set up.

pmpro price plan

You want Paid Memberships Pro for free?

You’ve got it—they offer a free plan that allows you to use their WordPress theme, install the plugin, use 19 different add-ons, and six payment gateways without ever having to pay them. It’s free, but unlicensed, and installation is a pain in the neck.

However, for $297 per year, you get access to the full pro version with a license key, advanced code “recipes” (as they call them), unlimited support, and up to 65 add-ons with all the previously mentioned benefits. This is only an annual plan with no lifetime purchase plan available, and renews at the same price every year.

Then there’s the unlimited plan, which is simply everything mentioned in the full pro version, but with access for unlimited sites instead of just one. This locks in at $597 per year, and once again, there’s no lifetime plan. You have to pay annually to secure this as your membership plugin.

Your Membership Pricing and Tiers

Ironically, PMP has their content for learning how to set memberships, tiers, and prices behind a content wall. You just have to sign up for their free version to learn how to do it thankfully, but at least they’re practicing what they preach.

Setting up new members is simple. Through the plugin, you simply hover over the memberships tab, and add a new user. There’s one small list of fields all in the same page to fill out.

Near that, you’re going to see a tab that says tiers, and from there you can create the different membership levels. This will reflect in the dropdown list when you make a new member so you know it went through.

Payment Methods

PMP gives your customers six different ways to pay. You can install an additional plugin like WooCommerce if you want (which plays nice with PMP), but it’s not entirely necessary.

Choose from PayPal, major credit cards, and direct bank account payments or digital checks. They give you tons of ways to have your customers pay.

How to Use Paid Memberships Pro

integrations on third party plugin

It’s recommended to use their page builder. This is basically a landing page that’s integrated with the theme that PMP gives you.

It’s been proven to increase conversions, and it’s used through Elementor Page Builder, which is one of the most-trusted plugins on WordPress.

This does require some coding knowledge, but if you use Elementor properly you can do a lot of it with copying and pasting. PMP wants you to develop a membership levels page, and use links to level-out specific membership pages through buttons.

In a nutshell, that’s how they designed it to be staged, but you can find easier ways to incorporate it into your WordPress site that appeal to you.

Setting Up Memberships

In one of the tabs within the plugin interface, you go to membership levels, and then fill out the different tiers. From there, you can name the tiers, customize how members sign up, and what payment gateway that your customer can use.

Then you set up the payment gateways to that your new customers can finalize their payment and become part of your online community.

Membership Management

You have a full range of access all in one confined space. Start by clicking on your member directory, and just by selecting one setup member, you’ll be able to edit their information.

If they’ve forgotten their password, you can change it for them here to help them out, all from the back-end.

Features

Apart from just allowing you to charge for memberships, you can also restrict individual pages, drip content, and personalize content to thank users for signing up.

There’s even a way to use directories and profiles if you want to make a more personal, hands-on experience for your users. This is extremely helpful if you’re making a community-driven online business.

You can maintain member email communiciaties, offline community engagement, and sync member roles and levels so that everyone is in their proper place.

With payments, you can set up recurring subscriptions that renew monthly or annually, just be sure to warn your customer about this on the payment screen in bold lettering.

Third Party Integration

There are tons of add-ons that come with this, but on top of everything else, there’s a full list of integrations that PMP allows.

They manage a lot of plugins that are always compatible with PMP, but then of course, there are third-party plugins like AffiliateWP, Email Users, and iDevAffiliate (just to name a few) that also work well with PMP.

So they do and do not have their own analytics. Instead of gathering and displaying data on their own, they actually use membership levels as a tracking item in Google Analytics.

They actually encourage you to use this service since it’s often the most accurate measurement tool out there. They’ll even walk you through how to save custom dimensions in Google Analytics to specifically pertain to your site.

It’s a little complex, but once you get the hang of it, you can use data to drive your online business.

Any time you allow third-party apps to work with your plugin, there’s a cause for security concerns.

Thankfully, they review their own internal code for security before they push out updates or add more third-party apps onto their approval list.

PMP is an open source software, and while there are some security challenges with that, the most important thing is that payment information isn’t stored on your site, and is directed through a top-notch SSL for your security, and the financial security of your customers.

Pros and Cons of Paid Memberships Pro

paid membership pro pros and cons

Pros

  • Powerful Landing Pages: Half the battle is getting someone to even think about buying a subscription from you. PMP allows you to make powerful landing pages that are proven to increase conversions over many other WordPress plugins. You need some coding know-how to make it work, but they have walkthroughs on their site to give you a helping hand.
  • Six Payment Gateways: There aren’t many plugins that allow people to pay with a check, but PMP allows it. Let your users choose between PayPal, major payment cards, checks, or direct bank payments. You’ll get your money through one avenue or another.
  • Simple Membership Management: It takes ten seconds to go into Paid Memberships Pro, find a user profile, and alter something. Ten whopping seconds. If you woke up to a dozen emails with inquiries about subscription problems, you could handle it in under five minutes and go back to making more courses. That’s powerful.
  • Free Theme: The theme is actually free because you can get it with the free version of Paid Memberships Pro. It works well, it’s responsive to coding that you may need to build landing pages, and it looks unique at the same time. A win-win.

Cons

  • Too Many Options: It sounds like a good problem to have, but it can get very cluttered, very fast. Learning PMP takes a while specifically because of this. We find that you’re not going to use every individual feature in PMP, and that’s okay—you don’t want to overcomplicate things for your users, either. Nothing will turn them off faster than a difficult subscription process or a hard time setting up their account.
  • Coding Required (Sometimes): For some of these elements to work in PMP, you have to have some understanding of coding, at least a little bit. While you aren’t expected to know everything, this isn’t a drag and drop solution, so you’ll have to get your feet wet. Thankfully, hiring someone to help you set up coding once and for all isn’t a hugely expensive endeavor, and you can customize it if you want to.

Will You Ever Need Another WordPress Plugin for Memberships?

PMP is an all-in-one plugin, but for the price you pay, you could have 10/12 months of a full-service LMS that includes domain creation and site building.

If you already have a WordPress site and a following, not to mention decent SEO stats, a plugin like PMP just makes sense.

LMS systems are your other option if a WordPress plugin doesn’t suit you. Thankfully, PMP has a 30-day money-back guarantee when you buy their “Plus Package” for $297 per year, but I would read the fine print there before you devote your time and money to it. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it for everyone? Not so much.