How to Name Your Membership Levels or Subscription Options

How you name your membership levels is one of the most important components for conversions on your membership on site.

Let’s spend some time thinking about membership level names. We’ll cover the classic membership site structures and provide examples for naming the membership levels or subscription options for each case. (And there’s even a nifty “level name” playground that tests your name within various plugin-generated phrases.)


Take a step back and evaluate your membership level names.

I work with thousands of membership sites and have seen a lack of clarity (and creativity) in this key area. The membership level name identifies what the member is receiving in exchange for their membership fee. In some cases, the name is a badge of pride for your members, turning them from the anonymous “visitor” to a member of the “in-crowd”.

Putting all of this touchy-feely stuff aside, the level name is also used in various default “phrases” within your membership site system. You need to make sure your level name “reads well” within these phrases. I’ve created a simple tool at the end of this article that provides a litmus test for your level names within the key system phrases in Paid Memberships Pro.


Membership Site Structures Covered include:


Tiered/Hierarchical Levels

This flavor of membership site offers more (or fewer) features based on membership level. This is the structure of our own site here at Paid Memberships Pro. We offer a Free, Core and Plus level. I think the level names are OK, and they do imply a tier (Unlimited being the highest membership option available).

Here are some level name ideas based on the “tier”

Tier 1
  • Basic
  • Beginner
  • Starter
  • Primary
  • Bronze
  • Baby Bear

Tier 2
  • Intermediate
  • Enhanced
  • Standard
  • Secondary
  • Gold
  • Papa Bear

Tier 3
  • Advanced
  • Ultimate
  • Extreme
  • Professional
  • Platinum
  • Mama Bear (just right!)


Price/Payment Term Structured Levels

Use this level naming structure when all membership levels offer the same package of features, but vary based on price or term. First, try to think of something clever based on your specific name, brand or site topic.

If your membership site was a sports team, what would you call your fans?

You can give membership an overall brand, such as “Trekkies”, “Bronies”, or “Cheeseheads”. Then use your level names to clarify the price or payment term.

You may still have an idea of “tier” in this structure, such as a Foodie Box site that offers 3 Month, 6 Month, and Annual subscriptions, with the option to “add on” a dessert box. For this case, I’d suggest reading through my post on price-adjusting Register Helper fields to have a selection at checkout modify the level price. Easy as pie.

Here are some level name ideas based on the price/term

  • Daily *
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Yearly

  • Annual
  • Per Annum
  • Bi-Weekly
  • Bi-Monthly
  • Semi-Annual

  • Half-Yearly
  • Perennial
  • Lifetime
  • Forever
  • Eternal

* Note that not all integrated gateways offer “daily” subscriptions.


Content Vertical/Category-specific Levels

In this type of membership site, the membership levels differ not by features, but by type of content or “vertical”. This is common in a stock or investing site, nationwide membership chapters site, or an online dating site where identifying the member’s “interest” is handled via the membership level selected.

Here are some level name ideas based on the content vertical

  • Stock/Investing Sites: Technology Sector, Gas and Oil, Retail, Pharmaceuticals
  • Member Chapter Sites: Country Name, State Name, County Name
  • Online Dating Sites: Man Seeking Woman, Woman Seeking Man, Man Seeking Man, Woman Seeking Woman, etc.

User or Member-type Levels

This is a category of membership site where the member receives a different level/price/package based on the type of member they are. Check out our Sponsored/Group Members Add On if you have a membership level that offers parent/child account relationships.

Here are some level name ideas based on the user/member-type

  • Individual
  • Student
  • Parent
  • Family

  • Senior
  • Corporation
  • Volunteer

  • Teacher
  • Non-Profit
  • Military: Active Duty and Veterans


Content Delivery/Subscription Type Levels

For this type of membership site, the levels differ by how the content is received. It will make more sense after reading the level names below, but basically this case is used when the content is offered in various formats (online, print, email), and the selected level determines the members’ preferred method(s) of content delivery.

For this case, you could use the same membership branding concepts covered in the Price/Payment Term Structured Levels section above, then use the level names to clarify content delivery.

Here are some level name ideas based on the type of content delivery

  • Online Only
  • Print Only
  • Online and Print
  • Email Newsletter

Sponsorship Level/Benefactor Tiers

If you’re a non-profit organization, you most likely think about membership a bit differently than most other site types. In your case, membership level is actually sponsorship level, and you have a chance to get really creative in how you name your tiers.

A great approach to level naming is to pull ideas from the goals of your organization, your location, the group or cause you represent.

Instead of coming up with my own examples, I’ve compiled a few non-profits and their benefactor/membership tier names below:

The Franklin Institute’s Benefactor Society

  • Pendulum Partners
  • Baldwin Circle
  • Celestial Circle
  • Ambassador Circle
  • Kite and Key Circle
  • Franklin Fellows
  • Inventors Circle

Colonial Williamsburg’s Donor Societies

  • Duke of Gloucester Society
  • Capitol Society
  • Colonial Williamsburg Assembly
  • Colonial Williamsburg Burgesses
  • Colonial Williamsburg Associates
  • Raleigh Tavern Society

The Kimmel Center’s Founders Circle

  • Partner
  • Benefactor
  • Artists Circle
  • Leadership Circle
  • Presidents Circle
  • Chairmans Circle


Go Forth and Name Ye Levels!

I hope this post has given you some direction as you brainstorm level names for your new or existing membership site. If you have a type of membership site that wasn’t covered, post a comment below so we can discuss some level naming conventions for your site.

If you run an existing membership site, you can still rename your membership levels. With Paid Memberships Pro you can simply update the level names under Memberships > Edit Level in the admin. Every member that currently has that membership level will automatically have their membership level name updated.


Time to Play

The Membership Level Names Playground below allows you to enter a desired membership level name and see how it will “read” within various plugin-generated phrases. These are the most common phrases your members will see, both on your site and in membership-related emails.

Test your level name against key phrases in Paid Memberships Pro.

Enter a level name to test:


You have selected the My Level Name membership level.
Shown on the membership checkout page.


Membership Level: My Level Name
Shown in most member communication emails and invoices.


Your My Level Name membership is now active.
Shown on the membership confirmation page.

If you have a level name that doesn’t pass the litmus test, don’t fret. Every phrase in Paid Memberships Pro can be “translated”, and I’m not just talking about languages.

Our blog has several posts on renaming key terms within the plugin, such as this post about replacing the word “Membership” with “Subscription”.

Depending on your membership site, you may need to use these methods or another approach. Just open a topic in our members forum (provided to PMPro Plus and Unlimited members), and we will help you work out any hiccups between your desired membership level name and the built in phrases of Paid Memberships Pro.

Make the Most of Your Ad Space with Level Specific Ads Targeting

Advertisements are a classic method of monetizing your website, and ad-serving networks such as Google Adsense make it fast and easy to start displaying ads.

It’s important for a membership site to consider which ads to display for non-members, per-level or completely hidden to members for an “ad-free” experience. Read on to explore how to control ads for your PMPro-powered membership site.


Considering Ads for a Membership Site

Your site’s membership is often the most lucrative product sold through your website. That said, ads can still be a component of your revenue stream if you make smart choices about ad placement for free members and site visitors.

With the methods outlined below, you can target which ads display to which users. This unlocks a unique opportunity to target your ads for each membership level, not only to hide ads for members, but to show premium ads with exclusive partner offers to your paid members.


Ad Networks, Affiliate Ads, and Direct Ad Sales

The simplest way to insert ads is via an ad network. These services connect advertisers with sites that want to make money by displaying ads. You’ll be provided with a script or other integration method to dynamically embed third-party ads on your site. Some popular ad networks that you may be familiar with include Google Adsense, Facebook Audience Network, and Amazon a9.

Alternatives to an ad network include affiliate networks or direct ad sales. For this case, you would be obtain ads (graphics, links and promos) directly through company’s affiliate program or via a service such as ShareASale or CJ Affiliate. These methods take a bit more time to set up and manage, but generally offer a higher commission than an ad network.

Option 1: The pmpro_displayAds() Function

This PHP function checks against the “Hide Ads from Non-Members” settings under Memberships > Advanced Settings. It allows you to wrap and insert ad blocks that will load based on how you have configured the admin setting.

if(pmpro_displayAds())
{
//insert ad code here
}

Option 2: The [membership] Shortcode

If you are inserting ad blocks into posts or pages, you can simply use the shortcode to wrap your inserted content. Using this method, the ads will only be shown to the specified visitors or members.

View Shortcode Documentation

Option 3: The pmpro_hasMembershipLevel() Function

This PHP function allows you to check whether a user has any membership level or a specific membership level. You can then insert your ad blocks wrapped in the appropriate conditional check to achieve the desired result.

View Function Documentation

Option 4: Using Advanced Ads Pro

Advanced Ads Pro has just released a native integration for Paid Membership Pro. You can now target ads on your membership site in relation to the membership level of your visitors.

View Premium Plugin

Option 5: Integrating with Other Ads Plugins for WordPress

Many ads plugins for WordPress make use of shortcodes to allow you to insert the “ad block” into your content, then manage the content of the ad in a central place. In most cases you can use these shortcodes in combination with the shortcode method outlined above.

Alternately, I have seen ads plugins that offer ads widgets. You can use these plugins in combination with the hide widgets for members recipe outlined in this post.

Lastly, if your ads plugin automatically inserts ads on pages or posts, please post a topic on our support forum (Plus or Unlimited membership required) and we can help you locate available filters in your plugin to conditionally display ads based on membership status.

Sitewide Membership Signup Banners for Memberlite – Three Sample Concepts

Convert more site visitors into members with these three sample callout banners for Memberlite.

There are many creative ways to display an advertisement for membership throughout your site (once I get started coming up with layout ideas I find it hard to stop). I find that an ad at the bottom of your page is a great place to start—it’s a catch all when the reader has reached the end of your content looking for the next page to view.


memberlite_before_footer_upgrade1Banner Sample 1: Membership Callout for Site Visitors and Members of Level ID 1

This demo is designed for a site with two levels: a free level and a support level for $10. The example checks to see if the page bottom banner has already been set; if it is not set, the visitor sees a callout and link to sign up OR upgrade to level ID 2. You can update the recipe with your own messaging and level IDs.

REQUIRES: Memberlite, Memberlite Shortcodes, Paid Memberships Pro.

This code recipe requires a PMPro Core Account or higher.

View Membership Options


memberlite_before_footer_upgrade2Banner Sample 2: Advertise Membership Signup for a Single Level + Login Link for Existing Members

This demo features a signup link for a single level as well as a link for existing members to login. The logic checks to see if there is a logged in user or if the page bottom banner has already been set; if neither is true, the visitor sees a callout with a link to sign up for level ID 1 or a link to log in. You can update the recipe with your own messaging and level IDs.

REQUIRES: Memberlite, Memberlite Shortcodes, Paid Memberships Pro.

This code recipe requires a PMPro Core Account or higher.

View Membership Options


memberlite_before_footer_upgrade3Sample 3: A Full 3-Column Levels Display for Site Visitors and Existing Level 1 or 2 Members

The final demo shows a full Membership Levels comparison for a site with three levels (or more). We use a model similar to this for our site here at Paid Memberships Pro. There’s a main heading to identify the section, the three levels compared side-by-side, and a link below for existing members to log in.

REQUIRES: Memberlite, Advanced Levels Page Shortcode Add On, Paid Memberships Pro.

This code recipe requires a PMPro Core Account or higher.

View Membership Options


If you’re not using Memberlite, check with your theme author to find a similar hook that you can use to add this banner or try this tutorial to insert ads within post content.

How We Built A Subscriber List of 24,000+ Members

Paid Memberships Pro has always been and always will be 100% GPL and available for free to download from WordPress.org. So how are we capturing (and hopefully converting) all of these free users of our plugin and documentation?

Below are a few tactics that have helped Paid Memberships Pro grow into (one of) the most used membership plugins for WordPress.


  1. Give away quality content for free on your website.

    Share on social media. Guest blog. Post free plugins to the WordPress.org repository. Anything to get traffic to your site. Make sure the free content is useful to your target customers.


  2. Have a desirable product to encourage users to share their email on your site.

    With Paid Memberships Pro, we ask you to become a free member before you can download the plugin or view our documentation. You could use white papers, 15-minute consultation calls, free samples that are inexpensive to ship, or anything that would convince users to subscribe.


  3. Synchronize your free members with MailChimp or another email marketing applications.

    See our MailChimp add on or browse all of our third party integration options here.


  4. Add email forms EVERYWHERE.

    Add them to the bottom of your posts and pages. Use plugins like OptinMonster to ask for emails in a slightly annoying (but totally effective) manner.


  5. Set up a landing page to capture email address.

    In a couple days we’ll be posting an article about how to easily set this up with Paid Memberships Pro.


Post a comment if you’ve tried these tactics.

I’d love to hear if you are having success with list building using these concepts. Or, share a comment about other list-building techniques that you’ve found successful.

Getting People to Open Your Email: Two Tactics for A/B Testing Email Subjects

Here are two tactics we use to get people to open our emails:


First, we try to send targeted (non-newsletter-type) email out on a Tuesday.

Tuesday is generally considered the best day to start a marketing campaign or launch a product. You can read an interesting breakdown of which days to send email on here (or another here), but one theory is:

  • People avoid email on weekends. (Normal people anyway.)
  • Mondays are hectic for everyone.
  • People are likely to be off Friday or spacing out.
  • Tuesday-Thursday are all similar, but you might as well send as early as possible in the week.

Second, we A/B test provocative subject lines to get you to open the email.

A/B testing means trying out multiple versions of something and then choosing the one that performs better. Mailchimp makes it really easy to A/B test subject lines. They have a whole article about it here.

We generally test 2 subject lines to 20% of our total list (10% receive subject line A and 10% receive subject line B). MailChimp (and other email marketing programs) may recommend a larger quantity depending on your list size.

After a specified time period of gathering data (we set the delay to 4 hours), MailChimp picks the winning subject line and automatically distributes to the remaining 80% of your mailing list.

pmpro_mc_a_b_testing


I hope this increases your email open rate.

If you want to A/B test other components of your campaign, MailChimp provides tools for testing From Name, Delivery Date and Time, and Content. They have also recently added the ability to A/B test the full email content although we haven’t experimented with it yet.

Post a comment below about your experiences with A/B testing – if you use another email marketing tool, let us know if they have better (or worse) A/B testing options. We’re partial to MailChimp, but always open to suggestions.


Paid Memberships Pro Addons for Email Marketing

MailChimp Integration Sign Up for MailChimp

Constant Contact Integration AWeber Integration

Paid Memberships Pro is 100% GPL and Why

This text is included in the license.txt file in the base of our plugin and represents the current license for Paid Memberships Pro:

Paid Memberships Pro Copyright (C) 2011-2018 Stranger Studios, LLC

Paid Memberships Pro uses the same software license as the current version of WordPress: GPLv2. You can get the text of that license in the license.txt file of your root WordPress directory or online at http://wordpress.org/about/gpl/.

Please read the GPLv2 for full details, but what this means in practice is that you may install this plugin on any site for personal or commercial use. You may redistribute this plugin any way you choose as long as you maintain the GPLv2 license. If you distribute an altered version of this code, we ask that you:

1. Give your software a name other than “Paid Memberships Pro” or “PMPro” to avoid confusion.
2. Disable the upgrade functionality (includes/upgradecheck.php) to avoid contamination of your distributed plugins or our upgrade services.
3. Notify us of your distributed version so we can potentially promote the distribution if it’s a good effort.

Why GPL?

  1. Paid Memberships Pro is a WordPress plugin.
  2. WordPress uses the GPL license.
  3. The folks at WordPress consider plugins and themes “derivative works”.

Therefore the GPL applies to all WordPress plugins, including Paid Memberships Pro. And so Paid Memberships Pro must use the GPL license.

Controversy

Some people may argue against #3 above, and say that not all plugins are derivative works. We disagree and further believe that even if you don’t believe that the GPL is legally applicable to your plugin, it makes business sense to be on the same side as the software you are building your business on.

Why No Split License?

A split license typically means offering your PHP and other executable code as GPL while using a more restrictive license for HTML, CSS, Javascript, and images. This is appealing because it allows one to legally abide by the GPL while adding restrictions that will make it harder for people to distribute your code without breaking the secondary license.

We considered using a split license, and I think it still makes sense for some themes and plugins. However, for Paid Memberships Pro, using a split license would be against the spirit of the GPL.

A split license is a “hack” to discourage people from redistributing a plugin. The real value of our plugin is not in the HTML, CSS, Javascript, or images… although they (or replacements) are necessary to get the plugin to work. The value is in the code itself and how it works together with WordPress. So we plan to charge for access to our plugin. But because it is GPL, we can’t restrict our customers’ use of the plugin.

What about the three “requests” in your license.txt?

From my understanding of the GPL, the 3 requests we ask of people distributing copies of Paid Memberships Pro are allowed and fairly standard. (Think of all the different “flavors” and names for Linux distributions.) We are not trying to keep people from distributing the code, but we are trying to avoid confusion (the version called “Paid Memberships Pro” is the one we maintain) and other badness (you obviously want to stop pinging our upgrade servers if you change your version of the code).

I always aim for straight forward language and requests in our legal documents. That’s what I’m doing here. If there is something wrong or unkosher about that text, I am open to revising it.