For clubs, companies, and organizations with members, member management can be a challenge. We've moved beyond hard copies of membership lists and spreadsheets (hopefully), but that doesn't always make it easy.
In this article, we'll share the best membership management software options. There are tools that can help you do things like charge for membership, track who’s in and who’s out, create member profiles, and get detailed analytics about where your members are spending time.
And if you’re thinking of starting a membership site business online, we’ve got you covered here too.
There’s something here for every type of membership business.
What is membership management software?
Membership management software are digital tools that help to navigate the relationships between an organization and its members, making it easier to sort, track, and deliver value. Good member management software will always simplify your business while increasing effectiveness, and providing you with the tools to scale, automate, and grow.
Membership management software can take a few different forms:
- Back-end member software: Membership management tools your members don't see (e.g. membership lists, organizing members by plan, building email sequences).
- Unified member software: Membership software that gives you every tool for both front-end and back-end management, creating incredible experiences while also helping you track and run the business (out of sight).
Note that membership management software could be used for an online or offline membership community or business. Which of these are right for you may depend on your business model.
For example, a fitness center might not have any member-facing software, it might just have tracking tools. A national association might need unified member software.
Why you need membership management software
Membership management software makes the life of any membership organization easier by giving you quality information and insights about your members' activity. It helps you keep track of memberships, payments, plans, and more. Some of them also let you communicate and build relationships with members, handling notifications, messaging, and more. This lets you focus on providing a quality membership experience to members.
One of the best features of a good membership management software is that it will let you automate a lot of member functions, freeing up time for you to focus on what matters. Here are some of the tasks you can automate:
- Approving potential member applications.
- Organizing all of your member data into an easily accessible database.
- Automating membership payments and renewals.
- Allowing you to send mass emails to your members.
- Detailed access to member activity reports.
Membership management software won’t completely eliminate these tasks but it will significantly reduce your work. It can also scale your customer service, including your ability to handle complaints and questions.
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Key features of membership management software
When we’re looking at membership management software, here are some of our favorite features:
Membership applications & fees: Quick and easy purchasing and/or registration to reduce cart abandonments and make it simple to join!
Mass notifications and messaging: Ways to notify and reach your members, either through a dedicated membership app, integrated email, or chat features, offering reminders about opportunities, events, and more.
Membership data and analytics: Memberships create a lot of data. The best membership management software lets see and store data, but should also help you understand it: things like membership trends, activity, etc.
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Bundles and plans: If you're selling memberships, you need ways to build different plans and create sustainable revenue.
Virtual events: Most member-facing platforms need opportunities to come together virtually! That's why a virtual event feature is a must-have for a unified member platform.
Online courses: Lots of member-facing organizations are looking for ways to provide more value to members (and to increase revenue) and live or pre-recorded online courses can be a way to do this!
A live cohort course in a Mighty Network
The 12 best membership management software options
1. Mighty Networks
Memberships, community, and events on your own app
Mighty Networks is a unified member platform perfect for a free or paid membership site. It's also ranked the #1 community management platform by G2.
Mighty brings together a powerful suite of membership tools with content, courses, community, and commerce.
It has all the features you need to both serve amazing member experiences and to track members at the back end. Flexible Spaces bring features like pre-recorded or live teaching, easy event integration, custom course communities, messaging all members, and Q&As. And Mighty's AI membership tool--Mighty Co-Host™--makes it RADICALLY EASIER to wow members, with things like auto member profiles, the "make it better" text editor, icebreaker questions, instant course outlines, application assist, instant landing pages, and more.
Here are the features you get with Mighty:
- Community AI
- Website and landing page builder.
- Member profiles and messaging.
- Automated membership applications.
- Activity log.
- Downloadable analytics for member data.
- Automated payments in 135 different currencies + bundling.
- The ability to create exclusive content, host discussions, and post video and text.
- Live streaming and built-in events.
- Online courses.
And every Mighty Network comes on our awesome community app, available on iOS and Android.
2. Mighty Pro
Custom membership management apps
Mighty Pro is the completely white-label solution of Mighty Networks. It has the same powerful membership features, but it deploys them under your own branded app in the App Store and Google Play store.
When you build with Mighty Pro, you'll work with the Mighty Pro Team: Account Executives and Community Strategists who have scaled 7-figure creator brands and 8+-figure subscription businesses.
We've built membership apps for Cambridge University, Fortune Magazine, TED, Mindbody, Lifebook, and more!
If you’re curious about what your organization could build with Mighty Pro, request a call with us and we’ll show you more!
Back-end only member management
If you're looking for a back-end-only tool to organize memberships, iMIS is a really good option. It brings together member management with a powerful CRM tool, letting you collect and track emails, manage your member database, and keep track of payments. It even has native fundraising tools.
iMIS gives you tools to create member websites too, with a drag-and-drop website builder. And it comes with event management tools: you can track registrations, upload agendas, and build event-specific landing pages. As a bonus, the member portal means members can sign in and manage some of their own information.
iMIS is a great tool for back-end member management, and it even lets regional chapters manage their own websites and member lists.
4. Wild Apricot
Membership management for nonprofits
Wild Apricot is another major player in the world of membership management software. They describe themselves as a platform that will help you “attract, engage, and retain” your members, and their cloud-based membership management solutions were designed with nonprofits in mind.
It has its own website builder that lets clients create a visual landing page for their nonprofit organization, complete with a member portal function. And it has options for regional chapters of organizations to create their own regional websites and track their own members.
The brand has focused on providing tools to streamline the processes of collecting and analyzing member data. Some features we like are:
- Automated membership applications.
- Membership renewals.
- Online membership database.
- Live event management.
- Exclusive content.
- Mobile App.
Wild Apricot has many must-have membership management features, and they excel in automation. It’s a great pick if you’re solely looking for a way to streamline interaction with members.
Wild Apricot is primarily a member-tracking site, with some very limited community features. If you’re looking for membership management that lets you host discussions and engaging content, it’s more limited. It also lacks a course feature, which may or may not matter, depending on your vision for your membership business.
5. Join It
Membership management only
Join It has created membership management software that emphasizes automation of repetitive tasks. When you choose Join It, you’re getting a lot of the features we’ve talked about above, but you need to have a lot of the infrastructure laid out already.
Here are some of the features that Join it has that we like:
- The ability to put memberships into different categories.
- Activity log.
- Automated membership renewal.
- Online payments and cancellations.
- Downloadable member analytics.
While Join It offers a lot in the way of monetization and automation, that’s basically all you’re getting. Their services are much more impersonal compared to Mighty Networks and Wild Apricot. On top of that, they don’t allow you to offer online courses, and there’s no mobile app.
Membership management for in-person businesses.
If you’re running an in-person membership business like a gym, Vagaro is a membership management software option for this. It has a bunch of different use cases for bricks-and-mortar business, especially geared for business models with beauty, wellness, and fitness.
Vagaro gives you features like sales and incentives, branding, and integration with your front desk software so members can access your services with a phone or key fob. You can also integrate your calendar for appointment booking.
7. Member Clicks
Membership management for associations
Member Clicks is a membership management software that’s built for membership organizations to manage their databases and websites, run marketing campaigns, collect info with forms, and pay membership dues. You can also add features like task automation and a job board.
It’s branded as a membership solution for association management, and lets you keep track of your members efficiently. It doesn’t have many community features but does offer a simple discussion forum.
Membership management plugin for WordPress
Finally, we’ll talk about membership management software for WordPress. If you’re a diehard WordPress fan and looking for a plugin to run your membership, BuddyBoss can work for this.
BuddyBoss comes with content gating and user profiles, and lets you create a membership area for your website. It has the option to track your membership and integrates with LearnDash if you want to sell a digital course. It can also be integrated with payment plugins to sell memberships.
But do note that most of the options on this list could be used to add a membership component to a WordPress site. BuddyBoss is really only best for those determined to do it with a plugin.
Hivebrite was built as an alumni management platform, but it has some good membership management features that can work for any organization.
With member-facing experiences like a community platform, separate groups, and member profiles, you've got options to create solid member experiences. And it has some good tools for hosting live events: member check-in, ticketing, etc.
And on the back end, Hivebrite has a good CRM for keeping track of membership status, charging payments or dues, plus analytics for understanding what's working for member engagement. Hivebrite also has some useful integrations, most notably with Salesforce which can give you even more member management power.
Hivebrite does have a few disadvantages, which move it down this list.
- It has no native video features: livestreaming or posting video.
- The community feature is really basic, and it lacks the user experience and powerful options of other membership platforms.
- It has no virtual event features.
- It has no course features.
The result is a platform that's strong on the back end, but really isn't great for member-facing.
Memberspace is another website-specific tool, made for adding membership management to your existing site. It works like a content gate or a paywall, and you can charge people to access content or courses. The software has integrations like Stripe and Zapier, and let you build functional member directories.
The downside to Memberspace is the lack of a mobile app. And there's a seriously complicated learning curve, you'll need to customize with coding and plugins (many of the options on this list are plug-and-play).
Bettermode (formerly Tribe) is a membership management tool that can be used to build customer forums on a company website. It gives members a place to share content and join discussions organized into Spaces.
On the backend, it gives you different moderation tools as well as some member analytics functions and search.
Bettermode doesn't do payments or mobile apps--so it's best for adding a simple (free) member discussion forum to an existing website.
Memberful is a membership management software that gives you a plugin to turn a WordPress-based website into a member management tool.
It makes it relatively easy to sell courses, digital goods, and a basic community. You can build on a custom domain, monetize with Stripe, and even accept different currencies.
Unfortunately, Memberful has very little by way of managing your back-end member lists. And even the member facing tools are limited--the community and course functions are really basic. Add to this the complication of building on WordPress, and the lack of native apps, and Memberful is last on this list.
Ready to start?
We can’t stress enough how much membership management software can improve the way you work. It’s great that you’ve been thinking about how you can start your own membership site and hopefully, this guide will help you get started.
But using membership management software to create your website isn’t just about automating the processes of your business. It’s also about making it easier for you to create a space for your online community to convene and interact with you and your fellow members.
We hope this list has you excited for the added value you can bring to your members!
And if you want to give Mighty Networks a try, you can check it out free for 14 days. It gives you the tools you need to create a powerful membership business and community, no other software required.
Or, book a call with us and we'll show you how to get member management software on your own app!