Thoughts on group membership sites

(Leland Fiegel) #1

I’ve always been pretty interested in the membership site business model, but recent advances in “group membership” WordPress plugins have piqued my interest even more.

It looks like Paid Memberships Pro was the first to offer such functionality with their [Sponsored/Group Members addon]
(, which allowed buyers to buy a set of sub-accounts. The eventual sub-account users would be have coupons distributed to them by the buyer, that would grant them free access. You could’ve also patched together a similar system with WooCommerce, as described here.

More recently, Restrict Content Pro released their Group Accounts addon a few months ago. And Member Up (@tnorthcutt) just released WooCommerce Group Memberships last week.

These two addons allow group account owners more control over sub-accounts, being able to add/remove/edit them at will (without being stuck with the original accounts registered) up to however many sub-accounts were allotted for their membership level.

These solutions make it a lot easier to automate group account purchases. Code School and Laracasts both have automated “team account” purchases, for example. I’d imagine many other sites have more of a manual, time-consuming process.

A combination of WooCommerce, WooCommerce Subscriptions, WooCommerce Memberships, WooCommerce Group Memberships, and Sensei for an group-account-selling e-learning setup would add up to a fraction of the cost it would be to have a solution custom developed.

My concerns would be:

  • You’d really need an “enterprise-level” offering, like Laracasts and Code School. But this isn’t just about e-learning. I could imagine Netflix selling group accounts to companies as a perk for their employees. High-quality content, production value would be key in selling these to the businesses that could afford them.

  • Many businesses would just opt for a single-user account anyway, limiting it internally to one-user-at-a-time (which can be enforced from the site owner’s perspective with WP Bouncer). Although I suppose these wouldn’t be your “target market” anyway.

As a (potential) membership site operator, what would your thoughts be on group accounts? What about as a consumer?

(Zackary Allnutt) #2

Very interesting, I could see this being very usefull for companies needing training.

I would restrict a single account to not allow them to login on more then one computer.

Yes they could time share an account, but that would be limiting and inconvenient.

(Tonya Mork) #3

The individual has different needs from the enterprise, which necessitates having different models for each.

Individual Needs
Focusing on the individual means that you cater the interface and content to the needs of that person. The account is tailored to him or her. It has his/her viewing, stats, and history for easy access. It has links to his/her subscription to renew, cancel, and/or edit.

Company Needs
A company wants something completely different. Companies want ROI. They’ve invested money to train their teams. They want to know that the team is using it, how they’re using it, and what they’re getting out of it. They want one place to manage the payment, people, and training. And if you can tailor the experience to their specific needs, then you’ve increased their ROI and your reach.

How do you do that? You create a separate experience for companies. Call it enterprise or group, it’s a separate experience that serves the needs of the company.

Think about that. Think about the benefits if you are a company and want to train your teams.

Do you want each person on your team signing up for their own account? How do you manage that? It costs more money to handle payments or reimbursements.

How do you track individual usage? How do you know your teammates are growing and progressing? How do you know it’s because of the training they are getting from xyz?

Companies want to measure these metrics. They want a return on their investments. They want to be efficient and effective. One interface to manage all of their accounts benefits a company.

Know the Code
Currently, as I write this, Know the Code has not implemented a group or corporate membership…yet. Why? I wanted to focus on individuals first. I wanted to make sure I was serving the individual developer’s needs first before branching out into the corporate space.

We use MemberPress. They recently released a group addon. In 2017, we’ll expand out and add this feature. But it takes planning and thought to ensure it’s built for the companies’ needs.

(Travis Northcutt) #4

Thanks for the mention, @leland :). In my opinion there’s a HUGE missed opportunity for many membership sites by not offering group/corporate accounts. Depending on the product, that could be a major portion of revenue. And you’re absolutely right: even though the plugins aren’t “cheap” (mine is priced at $249), all the parts needed are still vastly cheaper than a custom solution, with the additional huge benefit of not having a custom app to support for years.