Recently, I (Kathleen) was looking on Twitter and a fellow entrepreneur had tweeted about his tech stack. Since I’d been anxious about how we’re putting together the membership (anxious primarily because the way we’d strung things together meant I was the only one on the team who could troubleshoot and I hate being the bottleneck!), I clicked the link to Outseta.
And I was blown away.
See, a long long time ago, I created my blog on WordPress, and after more than a decade in the WordPress ecosystem, I can’t imagine building my website or any of my clients’ websites anywhere else.
That’s the preamble before saying this: there has been no easy way to create a membership or a course within WordPress itself.
That was never what WordPress was supposed to do, and as such, the plugins that I’ve used to try to create a membership portal through WordPress itself are complex pieces of software that take hours to figure out, and even after I’ve spent hours on that figuring, I’m still not sure I’ve finagled it correctly.
The issues are with me, not those plugins, so I’m not going to mention the ones I’ve tried, but suffice it to say, it’s been most of them.
As we’ve been talking more and more about what we should be spending the vast majority of our days doing, “tech things” keeps going farther and farther down the list.
I am one of the voices of my company.
The loudest voice, if you ask Emma.
So writing and creating videos and amplifying our message are the things that I should be doing.
Figuring out complex tech is not among the things that are in my wheelhouse.
All-in-one membership software had my attention.
And a CRM?
I was excited, and once I showed Emma, she was too.
So we signed up.
The signup and integration process was easy from my perspective since that kind of thing is entirely within Emma’s wheelhouse, not mine.
But I noticed that the forms weren’t showing up.
She talked with their support, and we waited.
Meanwhile, I’d been doing a ton of promotional work on social media and through email, and I was starting to get nervous.
Outseta is platform-agnostic, which means:
- They’re not trying to FORCE WordPress into some weird configuration (to integrate with Outseta, all you need is a snippet of code)
- They don’t know WordPress better than we do
So they couldn’t figure out why our forms kept disappearing but could be seen when we were logged in.
Their support was super helpful and even hopped on a Zoom call to work through the issue. We were able to fix half of it with them and then I got the bright idea of asking the smartest person about internet things, Andrea Whitmer.
She diagnosed this as a caching problem immediately when I explained my dilemma, and said, “anytime something looks different on your site when you’re logged in vs. being logged out, it’s a caching problem.”
Which, hey, that would have been good to know earlier on, but guess who’s not forgetting that bit of wisdom now?
So once we disabled our caching plugin, the problem was solved! As an added bonus, our site was faster to load too.
What can Outseta do?
Alright, this is Emma writing now. I’m going to step in since I did the setup and troubleshooting with Outseta.
One of the best things about Outseta is that it fully integrates all the tools required to launch and grow a membership business.
- Subscription billing (Outseta is a Stripe Verified Partner)
- Sign up and login forms (authentication)
- Protected content
- Email marketing
- Help desk (live chat, support tickets, knowledge base)
So once we got the form issue fixed, I dived in to get the rest of the tools set up.
Since we already have a Stripe account, it was simple to connect it to Outseta. Basically, just click the link in Outseta, sign in to Stripe, and done.
Ok, you already know that this caused us some trouble. But once we got them to show up, it’s been smooth sailing.
The forms are simple to create and look like this:
They can be embedded on a page, or as a pop-up. And not only can they collect names and emails, but addresses or phone numbers too. It’s also easy to set up a redirect URL after the form is submitted.
This is one of my favorite features because is so darn easy! Once the small piece of code from Outseta is inserted into the header of your site, you can control protected content from their dashboard.
Just set the URL you want to be protected, where you want people who don’t have access to be directed, and which plans this applies to.
Another awesome feature is that you can connect Google sign in so that people can use their Gmail to get access to their accounts. No more forgotten passwords!
I was a little intimidated about getting this feature set up but I used Outseta’s knowledge base article and it was actually really simple to do.
I’m not sure how much we’ll use this section, but you can keep track of deals in Outseta. The part I know we’ll use is segmenting.
Much like any other email management software, you can create segments based on certain criteria. This means we can email people who’ve purchased the membership, or people who have downloaded certain opt-ins separately.
We are replacing ConvertKit with Outseta. I kind of can’t believe it since we’ve tried so many email systems and have always come back to ConvertKit. But Outseta has what we need:
- Drip campaigns
It’s easy to use and we’ve already been sending some of our emails from it. I just have to finish setting up those pesky email sequences so we can be fully functional.
Help desk (live chat, support tickets, knowledge base)
This is another feature I’m pretty darn excited about. We haven’t set it up yet but I’ve already poked around in the system.
We can create an entire knowledge base for our members. With FAQs, common issues, and whatever else we need to tell them.
Then there is a ticketing system for support! And a chat function! All part of the system so it’s tied back to the person’s profile.
Finally, the reporting is pretty top-notch. You can see customers’ lifetime value, how often they’ve logged in or opened emails, plus new subscriptions and purchases.
The downside of Outseta
There are a few things that I’d like to see changed in Outseta.
First, customers can only purchase one membership. They can upgrade, but not add another product to their account. That caused us problems when a member wanted to purchase an Offer Diagnostic session. She made the purchase but was not charged so she never got confirmation. Luckily, she reached out so I could complete the transaction and help her set up her appointment.
Second, the email system was a bit clunky. Lists and Segments are in different sections. Segments could only be created based on certain criteria which caused a problem for our needs.
Third, I wanted to add a was for people who purchased the Offer Diagnostic to get a free trial of the membership and there was no way to do that easily. I was going to have to add and remove them from the membership manually. Not the end of the world, but not ideal either.
Outseta for WordPress
Overall, this is the best program we’ve found for setting up a membership on WordPress. And believe me, between Kathleen and I, we’ve tried them all!
It’s not a plugin that needs to work within the WordPress dashboard itself. Everything you need is in the Outseta website interface which is super intuitive and getting set up just made sense.
Now, we did have an issue getting the piece of code needed in the WordPress header to work correctly, so it’s not perfect. But their support was top notch and now that it works, I couldn’t be happier with it.
So overall, if you are planning to build a membership on WordPress, I’d highly recommend checking out Outseta.