Not many new entrepreneurs starting an online business understand the benefits of using membership software or its implementation process. It's far easier to sign up with an online mega-store, add a few products and copy-paste the widget code on to the website template. But webmasters who do this will miss out on the possibilities that become available with a member area, which is one of the most powerful monetization tools for websites.
The basic advantages include full payments instantly available in the seller's bank account, without a cut of the sales being taken by the online mega-store. There will be no annual or monthly fees to pay either. Other benefits include versatile member management, multiple payment provider options and integration of third-party scripts including affiliate programs. It can also be used for managing newsletters and email lists.
The control and flexible choices available with membership software is another big plus point. Sellers can create any number of items and categorize them under any number of subscription levels. Some may have a specific type of content, while others may have less or more content. Members who sign up can choose which level they would like to have access to. There may even be a level offering incremental content, with new content being added daily or weekly and members being billed accordingly.
When signing up with an online store, sellers can accept payments from customers through credit cards and maybe a couple of other payment gateways. This tool, however, has no such limitations since sellers can integrate just about any kind of payment processor. They can even accept payments through mobile phones or offer a "cash on delivery" option if they are selling products that can be delivered.
It's also possible to integrate the member area with a CMS (content management system) and other traffic tools and scripts in use on the site. For instance, if the CMS and affiliate program can be plugged into it, then visitors referred by an affiliate link or banner can be sent to a special landing page for that product. This page can include a preview and a call to action encouraging the visitor to sign up as a member and log in to the member's area to view the full content.
For webmasters, the administration is much easier and more powerful. The control panel can be securely accessed online using a web browser. Administrators just have to log in a couple of time a day using an admin password and manage users. This may include deleting users, changing passwords, sending newsletters and notifications, going through daily reports, and so on.
In some cases, the control panel can also be installed locally on a personal computer. The member-area script is still installed on the web server and offers password-protected access to members. Only the admin tool is locally installed and connects to the web server via an FTP connection. It can be used to remotely issue commands to the script and download or upload data as required.
In addition to all the benefits described above, the right choice of membership software will also make the website and its owner seem like a more professional outfit. Of course, all this ultimately depends on the availability of exclusive and original content which users find useful or interesting enough to renew their memberships. Once the site is capable of this, it becomes a self-sustaining growth engine as old members renew and new ones add to the revenue.