s2 Membership Pro WordPress Plugin is a really feature rich plugin, with more functionality than you will probably need. Pretty much anything is possible with s2 Membership in fact. One of my favorite features is the flexibility that s2 Member Pro provides for creating specific ‘Buy Now’ products that can be added to any membership level (something that they refer to as Custom Capabilities). This gives you the option of releasing products that aren’t reliant on an existing membership and can be purchased by both new subscribers and existing members of any membership level.
Another similar feature is the ability to sell specific posts/pages or packages, completely separately from membership. So for example I can protect a page, create a buy now link for it and specify things like how long the page link will work for someone. When someone buys they are taken straight to the protected content, as well as emailed the link. So, no login etc needed. It actually was quite a while before I started using this feature, but it’s definitely a great one. You can even offer one-time offers on login for members.
s2 Membership Pro WordPress Plugin Overview
A handy feature is how easy it is to customize your login and registration pages, including adding custom registration fields. Even the welcome email templates are easy to customize. You can also select from any of your pages for both the membership options page (your sales page essentially) and membership welcome page (the page members are directed to when they log in). You’ll get a login widget too, which can be added to sidebars or footers.
If you’re using PayPal Pro for payment then s2 Member Pro makes it easy to create shortcodes for pretty much any pricing structure you can imagine (including free or paid for trials), and it’s easy to make a few style changes so that these forms look good too (see the example to the right). You can make use of coupon codes no problem, and you can select whether you want a user to create their username and password during the payment process, or have it emailed separately. Both the paypal forms, and payment buttons for other payment types, are created with shortcodes that you can easily add to any page.
Speaking of shortcodes, this is how s2 Member controls most of it’s functionality. Want to hide content on a public page so that only logged in members see it? There’s a shortcode for that. Want to have content dripped so that it appears to members over time? There’s a shortcode for that too. There’s even a shortcode for creating a member profile editing page. (Don’t know what a shortcode is? It’s basically an easy way of adding dynamic content to a page rather than using a string of code).
If you’re planning on setting up a site using WordPress multisite, then s2 Member is fully compatible with this right out of the box and works like a dream, so your site empire can become a reality! I’ve recently used it to set up a multisite for a fitness company and was really impressed – I’m not sure which other, if any, membership plugins do this so this is a big plus for s2 Member.
As well as the obvious protection of pages, posts, categories etc, s2 Member will also protect your downloads, including allowing you to limit the number of downloads allowed. It even has security features to stop things like username and link sharing, so your content is as safe as possible, which is obviously the aim of the game when all is said and done!
This bit is just for the code monkeys and geeks – unlike certain other membership plugins, you actually have full access to the source code so you can make modifications to your hearts content, and event driven API notifications can be done no problem, so whilst it only integrates with Aweber and Mailchimp out of the box, you can pretty much hook it up with any email software, or affiliate software etc.
Wow, that seems like a lot! I’m sure I’ve missed some things though, so make sure you check out the full list on the s2 Member site here!
A couple of downsides I need to mention – if you’re going to be using a lot of content dripping for your site, then, whilst s2 Member does have the ability to drip content, it isn’t the most user friendly and you might want to weigh it up against other options. Similarly, s2 Member doesn’t send any emails other than the initial welcome and login emails, so don’t rely on it to send your users payment reminders or emails when new content is released.
S2 Member Pro integrates with both standard PayPal and PayPal Pro for payments, as well as Authorize.net, Google Wallet and Click bank. They mentioned a while ago that Stripe integration was in the works, but that seems to have been put on the sidelines at the minute, which is a shame. Update: since the July 2014 update to s2Member Stripe integration is now available.
In terms of email then it’s easy to integrate both Mailchimp and Aweber, and this can be hooked up so that members are unsubscribed when they cancel or move lists depending on membership level, which is pretty cool. It integrates with Get Response too now, although this doesn’t seem to be reflected on their website yet. Whilst it doesn’t integrate with other providers out of the box, because it has all the API scripting and notifications info available, it’s not too difficult to set these up if you need to (you may need a developer or techie to do it for you).
If you want to use affiliate software then s2 Member is pre-integrated with both iDevAffiliate and ShareASale. It will also hook up with pretty much any other affiliate software as well though, such as WP Affiliate.
One great thing if you want more of a community site is that s2 Member is fully compatible with both BuddyPress and bbPress, which makes it a lot simpler to set up things like a forum without needing to worry about different protection levels or login issues.
From a users point of view s2 Member is pretty seamless. The login is the same as the normal WordPress login so there are no issues there, and you can set either one default welcome page (the page the user is sent to when logging in) or you can set a different page for each membership level. Aside from having to login and the fact that they have access to restricted content, the experience is pretty much just like being on a normal website.
With s2 Member shortcodes you can set a profile page so that people can change their personal information, and you can also set cancellation and billing modification pages (if you’re using PayPal Pro for payment – not necessarily available with other payment methods) as well so that a user has full control of their membership.
If you’re using BuddyPress or BBPress then the integration is seamless for the user, and even external forums such as IP.Board can be connected via premium 3rd party plugins so that the user isn’t having to log into several different areas.
s2 Member Pro essentially adds new roles and capabilities to the basic WordPress user system, so if you’re already familiar with this it will be easy for you to understand the s2 Member user system.
Whilst obviously the aim is for members to be added and updated automatically, it’s easy for you to add new users yourself, assign their membership level and even to assign their payment reference and end of term date. It’s equally as easy to upgrade or cancel members.
There’s also support for upgrading/demoting/deleting members en-mass, and you can both import and export members via CSV files.
Other than that, you can use shortcodes to create a profile editing page for members and, depending on the payment processor being used, a cancellation page, billing modification page or upgrade/downgrade pages, so members can control everything themselves.
That’s about all the member management there is – you can obviously see the number of members by looking at the Users page in your admin dashboard, but you won’t get any stats or reporting like with some of the more recent membership plugins.