The online membership site business model has been around for some time. Membership sites are very compelling for the right product, yet a major challenge is having solid tools to help manage the content your customers are paying for. Early products were expensive, often required a separate hosting account, required customization, and were inflexible. In the last two years, several lower price options have come on the market. One of those products is the subject of today’s post. This post will cover:
- what DigitalAccessPass.com is and who this product is for
- my first impressions of the product, likes, and dislikes,
- if it is better than Wishlist Member, and
- what you need to know to get started.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Update, June 2012: Since the original review in 2010 DigitalAccessPass has gone through several releases and many enhancements.
The update to this review will include many of those changes with the goal of helping you, the reader, understand what it can do, and if it’s right for your business. Will try to update those post more often. Cool? [/box]
Recurring revenue is one of the top benefits of having a membership site. However, with so many WordPress plugins and membership software packages out there, determining which is the right one for your business is a time consuming challenge? Last years Review of Wishlist Member showed one of the first products on the market to make it easy to use a WordPress blog as a membership site platform and although Wishlist Member does a good job, it is not without flaws. Recently, I looked at Digital Access Pass, and decided to put this review together for you.
What is Digital Access Pass (DAP)?
Described on their site as a “Membership Plugin For WordPress (and regular HTML web sites)” Digital Access Pass positions itself as a flexible and robust tool for its customers to secure content and deliver it to paid members in a “TrueDrip” fashion (more on what that means later).
Feature Snapshot. DAP has many features one might expect in a membership software package:
- Simple Install, made for WordPress
- Time Released content for members (Drip feed)
- Supports Recurring Payments and One-Time Purchases
- Works with Paypal, Clickbank, 1ShoppingCart
- Built-In Affiliate Program: Single level only, (Pay per lead, Pay per sale, or both) with a host of Affiliate Analytics.
- Unlimited: Membership Levels, Users, Affiliates, Email Autoresponders/Broadcasting
- AWeber integration
- Built in Email Broadcasting: Allowing you to self host, external host, throttle messages, target messages based on customer profile, etc.
- File Protection & Security: Very flexible configuration, with a host of content and user security features.
- Subscription support: Pay As You Go, Pay-Per-View, or Pay-Per-Download.
- Custom: Templates, Headers, Footers, and Emails.
- Fair investment: The cost to get started is a fair considering the features (details here).
Who Digital Access Pass is For?
Anyone who has or is going to launch a membership site, needs a way to secure content, and deliver it to paying (or free) customers in a timed fashion. WordPress is a very popular website platform in recent years, DAP integrates with WordPress, but as a result of it’s design, it also secures regular webpages (html, and php pages).
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[box type=”note” style=”rounded”]Disclaimer: One of the ways this site serve readers and subscribers is through our hype free product reviews. Product makers often give review copies of their products at no cost, in hopes that we might review it. This is the case with this digitalaccesspass review.
We also receive compensation (millions… ehem, not really) for those who find the product to be a fit for them, and purchase through our affiliate link. These commissions are used to recharge Travis’ Starbucks card, pay hosting, and other costs associated with running the site. Here’s hoping you find this review useful, chime in using the comment boxes toward the bottom and let us know. [/box]
My First Impressions
One of the benefits of using DAP is that they offer a service to install it for you, this is nice for people uncomfortable with doing tech things themselves. I wanted to see how difficult is was to install so I did it myself, and have been running the software for nearly a year here. In my view, software like this should be simple enough for a novice to get up an running without much hassle. These were the steps I ran through. I found them to be relatively easy:
- Download the 2 software zip files. Unzip the files.
- Upload two unzipped folders. I did this pretty easily with FileZilla. You can do this with any FTP software after plugging in login details for your hosting account. Caution:only one of these folders goes in the traditional WordPress “plugins” folder, the other folder goes off the root of your domain.
- Activate Plugin via your WordPress admin plugin interface.
- Permalinks update: Last item is to verify a permalinks setting, and hit the save button. Again, this is done via the WordPress admin panel.
Total Install Time: 10 minutes
The first thing I noticed in my WordPress admin panel was a new icon in the lower left of the navigation bar. After selecting that icon, the right hand pane refreshed into another scroll bar, and I saw the administration area for Digital Access Pass.
I was a little confused because during setup, I was given another link to login to the admin panel separately from WordPress. After talking with Ravi, the product’s creator, I learned that DAP actually does most of its work outside of WordPress, which gives it more flexibility. I’m not a coder, but I was glad to hear DAP does most of its work outside of WordPress because WordPress has had issues with security.
Payment Processors Supported with Digital Access Pass
In order to sell a product online online, you need to be able to process payment. Below is a list of the payment processors the system currently supports.
- Google Checkout
- e-Junkie (e-J does not allow recurring payments)
- Paypal Standard
- Paypal Website Payments Pro
- WSO Pro (Warrior Plus)
Shopping Carts Supported with Digital Access Pass
If you use an online shopping cart service to process payment there are several supported.
- 1SiteAutomation.com (a 1shoppingcart private label)
- Premium Web Cart
- WP eStore
Email Services Supported with Digital Access Pass
While Digital Access Pass has an integrated mailing system, some marketers may want to use one of the top email providers online. These are different than the mail functionality that comes with a shopping cart, or all-in-one system like Infusionsoft.
What I Like About Digital Access Pass
These aren’t all the features (find them here), but a list of the ones that stood out to me while evaluating the software are (in no particular order):
- Email Integration: Ties in with AWeber and other services nicely.
- TruDrip Feature: This feature allows you to create a product, then assign content to that product, which is released to the subscriber in a given # of days.
NOTE: By contrast with Wishlist Members administrators create a “product” (piece of content), and determine when *it* is released. Rather than a stream of content for a given product, the admin has to create another product for the next month. If there are multiple membership levels, buckle in. The admin has to create one product per level per month. If you want to roll out 4 pieces of content a month and have 3 membership levels, you need to create 4 products per level, or 16 products a month, after 6 months you have created, (16*6) 96 products! As you can imagine this becomes challenging (read more about it here).
- File Protection: Can protect the following file types, .mp3, .zip, .flv, .zip, .exe. .pdf, .doc. .xls, .mpeg. .swf, .js, and they don’t have to exist within WordPress structure for the site. It also allows for partial content protection. For example; you can make a post public but the video, or PDF (like a checklist), or other media file, would be available for paid members.
- Pay-Per-View/Download: This is big for anyone who sells video training or coaching. The ability to tie down a video or download on a “Per-View” basis can be a pretty big deal.
- Fraud Detection: There’s nothing worse that someone buying a membership only to share the login with friends. This configurable feature by default allows a member to login from up to 5 unique IP addresses, then locks them out, sending an email to the member, and admin. (Warning: Does not currently protect against multiple concurrent logins from the same IP – behind corporate firewall).
- WordPress Forums Integration: Membership sites that also use forums are great for building community among members. DAP supports integration with WP-Forum, bbPress, and Simple Machines. vBulletin is also supported.
- “Post Cancel” Affiliate Access: This allows those who are no longer members to continue to sell the product as a member of the affiliate program.
- Credits-based System: This addon (additional fee) solution allows one to assign value to products as credits. Credits are given to members for each month they are a subscriber in exchange for access to content. This offers flexibility for members who’d rather get your more advanced content, at their own pace.
What I Don’t Like About Digital Access Pass
- User Interface: Some may find this concern picky, and maybe it has to do with having a background at a software company – the user interface works, but could be improved with the right touches. The admin panel has been improved from earlier renditions, but may add to the learning curve for some in the beginning. DigitalAccessPass does what most plugins do, present itself in the admin side of WordPress in a frame.
- CRM Feature: DAP has a feature that will mail the administrator a reminder to send a postcard, letter, or call the customer. It will even merge their customer’s contact details so everything is right there in the email message. While this is likely a handy feature, I have a hard time labeling it as a “CRM” feature. Sure email or phone follow up is an aspect of Customer Relationship Management (small one), it is more of a task reminder function. Learn more about DAP here.
Digital Access Pass vs. Wishlist Member Which is Better?
When it comes to leveraging WordPress to build an affordable membership site Digital Access Pass and Wishlist Member are the two market leaders. In this post I’ve laid out the standout features of DAP so you can make an informed decision about which membership site management system to go with. At the time of this writing, here are a few things to consider (their “showdown page” is found here):
- Setup Time: While both take about the same time to install, getting them ready for supporting members is the real time investment. Both will require a decent amount of time to setup for any membership site. However, with the additional labor required for building monthly WishList Products once it is installed makes it tough not to give the edge to DAP with it’s TrueDrip Feature (scroll up if you missed that part of the review).
- Support: When things go wrong, you want to know someone is there. On both accounts, I’ve had positive experience with support from both product makers, timely responses to questions, etc. And everything I see on Twitter and around the web backs this up (Yes. There are always exceptions for the rule. But there are no glaring problems that I could see for either product at this point). The owner of Digital Access Point even puts his personal phone number on his website and invites people to call about his product. How’s that for putting your money where your mouth is?
- Financial Investment: Wishlist Member does not have a trial available. It costs $97 for a single domain, and $297 for unlimited domains. Customers get 1 year free updates and free support. It then costs $97 for a single domain, $197 for 3 domains, $297 for unlimited domains. DAP has a Membership Site In A Box setup option at $497. DAP customers now get 1 year of free updates and free support.
For those serious about having more granular controls over their membership site, give Digital Access Pass a good look. Both products are pretty good at what they do. For this round, I have to tip my hat to Digital Access Pass. The TrueDrip Feature puts it ahead of Wishlist Member.
What You Need to Know to Get Started with Digital Access Pass
To install the product you’ll need a decent web host. Make sure their servers support:
- PHP version 5+
- MySQL 4+
- PDO for PHP library installed and enabled for MySQL
These are common features among most hosts. Here’s the host I used during my test. If you are like me, you’ll have it installed in 10 minutes or so.
Bottomline on Digital Access Pass
Digital Access Pass is a solid membership site software package. Where it may be weak on user interface, it makes up for it in robust, and highly configurable features, while the investment is in keeping with other products. Learn about the Digital Access Pass here.
Comments? Questions? Please chime in with your thoughts below.