Setting your Access and Payment Terms

MemberMouse supports a wide variety of different membership models. Essentially, a membership model is the structure of your membership site, and is primarily guided by your business model: the types of content you want to offer, and how you want to package that content for sale. If you have not yet chosen a model, we have an engaging Membership Models Quiz that can help you make this decision.

Once you have selected a model that fits the type of site you want to build, you'll use MemberMouse features to bring the model to life. Most successful membership sites provide several different purchase options, and these translate to varying access to protected content. You'll make specific decisions on the following issues:

  • Available Options for Access
  • How Members Pay for Access
  • How Access is Retained and Terminated
  • Access and Payment Combinations
Available Options for Access

When creating your site, you may choose to provide tiered access, where several options are available and members can switch from one to another; à la carte access, where members can choose to purchase from several options in any combination, or a hybrid of these.

Tiered access is constructed using Membership Levels (Product Settings > Membership Levels), and is often used in the Pure Membership Model. All members must have a membership level, as it is connected with their ability to log into your site. A member can have only a single membership level at a time, so acquiring a different membership level replaces the existing access. When Protecting your Content, you provide each higher-tier membership level access to all lower-tier content, so when members switch between levels, their access is extended or restricted automatically. This relationship between membership levels allows for Proration, where members receive a discount (up to the remaining value of their paid access) when switching to a different membership level. 

A la carte access is provided using Bundles (Product Settings > Bundles), which are ideal for Online Courses & Digital Products. Here, each bundle protects specific content, with minimal to no overlap. This allows members to pick and choose access to different elements of your site. When a non-member purchases a bundle, they will be automatically added to one of your free membership levels. This provides the member the ability to log in and access their content.

Hybrid access involves a combination of membership levels and bundles, and this approach is often used in the Mix & Match Combo membership model. It uses a tiered structure of membership levels to provide access to essential or closely-related material, but also includes bundles for add-ons, optional access, or digital products.

How Members Pay for Access

For your paid offerings, members do not actually purchase access directly. Instead, they purchase a Product (Product Settings > Products) which specifies their payment schedule. By connecting a product to an access control (a membership level or bundle) members are rewarded with access when they purchase the product. This necessitates that a given product can only be connected to one access control, but it is possible to offer split pricing by connecting multiple products to a particular access control.

Products can be configured to bill in several ways:

NameDescriptionExample Configuration
Single PaymentBills immediately, and only once
SubscriptionRebills at a set frequency until cancelled
Payment PlanA subscription limited to a specific number of payments

For Subscription and Payment Plan products, it is possible to specify a trial period, either free or paid. This allows you to control what is paid at time-of-purchase, and how much time elapses until the first rebill, independently of the ongoing subscription terms. A trial cannot be used with a single-payment product.

Free access is also supported. Members can be Provided with Complimentary Access to a paid membership level or bundle, and it's possible to offer a membership or bundle at no charge to the public. However, note that a non-member cannot directly acquire a free bundle; they must first become a member on a free or paid membership level.

How Access is Retained and Terminated

In general, members will retain access until one of the following situations occurs:

  • Cancellation – Can be initiated by either the member of the site administrator. For free access, complimentary access, and access linked to single payment products, cancellation is processed immediately. When access is linked to a subscription or payment plan product, members are placed in pending cancellation status until their next payment is due. At this time, the membership or bundle is automatically cancelled.

  • Payment Fails to Process – For subscriptions and payment plans, if payment cannot be processed, the member is placed in overdue status and access to protected content is revoked immediately. If the payment method being used supports overdue payment handling, further attempts to collect payment may occur before the membership or bundle is cancelled completely. Stripe, Braintree, and Authorize.NET CIM support our Automated Overdue Payment Handling system, and are recommended. Other providers, like PayPal, may have their own overdue payment handling process.

  • Expiration – Membership levels and bundles can optionally be configured to “expire,” meaning that access is automatically terminated after a particular length of time. Expiration is intended for use with single-payment and payment plan products, and should not be used with subscription products unless they are payment plans. When using a payment plan product with expiring access, the membership or bundle should always be configured to expire a minimum of eight days after the final payment is due so as not to overlap with efforts to recoup an overdue payment.

For sites that will use timed-release Drip Content extensively, an Alternate Cancellation Mode exists where members retain access to the content that was previously unlocked, but no further scheduled content becomes available.  Note that this is a site-wide setting, and cannot be configured individually on particular membership levels, bundles, or accounts.

Expiration is primarily useful where you want to offer access for a limited time after purchase, or situations where you feel that your members would not be receptive to recurring billing. 

Access and Payment Combinations

Free Memberships and Bundles

Free membership levels are useful when you want to offer unpaid access to a selection of your content. Since every member must have a membership level, they are also used as a base, allowing members who have purchased only bundles to login and view their protected content. 

A free bundle allows you to make access to content opt-in or interest-based. This can increase the perceived value of a subset of your free content, or reduce clutter by preventing members from seeing content if they haven't explicitly selected it. Because MemberMouse fires a Push Notification when bundles are added and/or cancelled, free bundles are sometimes used to send emails, allow opt-in subscription to email lists, or trigger actions in third-party systems. Note that non-members must first sign up for a free or paid membership before they can add the bundle to their account. 

Free Expiring Memberships and Bundles

Free expiring membership levels are most often used when Migrating from an Existing Membership Solution. However, they can also be used to provide time-limited trial access without first collecting payment information. In order to limit the member to a single time-limited trial, this approach requires that you Disable Logged-Out Purchasing, add an additional free non-expiring membership level, and utilize an Automatic Downgrade Script, so it is more complex to set up. However, the member can start their free, time-limited trial in a single step, resulting in a more fluid experience.

Free expiring bundles are also used when migrating from an existing membership solution, and for providing time-limited access without first collecting payment information. For time-limited free access, bundles are easier to configure, but require that non-members first create a free account on your site. You then provide a link to add the bundle, and the member is presented with a confirmation dialog, so several extra clicks are involved. Free expiring bundles can also be used for time-limited automations, because they can fire Push Notification triggers both at activation and expiration.

Subscription Memberships and Bundles

Subscription membership levels are the primary building block of most tiered membership sites. After purchase, a member is periodically rebilled. Access is revoked in the event that payment processing fails. If a member chooses to cancel, they maintain access until the date their next payment would have been due. Subscription membership levels also support Proration, meaning that when a member upgrades or downgrades their tier, the remaining value of the current billing period is deducted from the purchase.

Subscription bundles have similar billing and access-control characteristics to subscription membership levels, the difference being that a member can purchase multiple offerings in any combination, or as an add-on to a base membership, and do not support proration. Examples of use could include courses, and subscription upsells to a single-payment base membership.

Single Payment Memberships and Bundles

Both these options provide perpetual access in exchange for a single payment. A single-payment membership level is most appropriate when you want to provide a base level of access to all members for a flat fee. It is often coupled with either single-payment or subscription bundles as upsell opportunities.

Single-payment bundles are useful when you plan to sell access to your content for a flat fee, but the offering does not represent a base level of access. Bundles are well-suited to situations where you have multiple independent options, and a member might choose any combination of them. For example, courses, downloadable content, and upsell opportunities for a membership level should all be structured as bundles.

Single Payment Expiring Memberships and Bundles

These options are similar to single-payment membership levels and bundles, but they provide time-limited access in exchange for a flat fee. Some customer populations are not receptive to the idea of a subscription, and these options allow you to offer access that must be renewed manually.

Note that for all types of expiring membership level, the member cannot log into the site after expiration occurs, and will instead be presented with an error page indicating the account is expired. In some cases, this may be desirable, but if not, members can be moved to a free membership level when their paid level expires through an Automatic Downgrade Script.

Payment Plan Memberships and Bundles

A payment plan is a special type of subscription that is limited to a fixed number of payments. Non-expiring memberships and bundles attached to payment plans are very similar to single-payment memberships and bundles, except that the single payment is divided into several smaller payments. However, until the payment plan concludes, the access is linked to a subscription, so cancelling the subscription will result in access being cancelled at the next scheduled rebill. For memberships, cancelled access would mean the member would lose the ability to log in.

With certain limitations, it's possible to prevent members from cancelling their subscriptions and memberships. If you would like to prevent cancellations to ensure that the full value of the payment plan is collected, please request information from our support team by Creating a New Ticket.

Payment Plan Expiring Memberships and Bundles

Generally, subscriptions and expiring access cannot be used together, but this combination is an exception, subject to an important restriction. When configuring your product settings, the last payment in the payment plan must be scheduled to occur no less than eight days before access expires. This is required to prevent the possibility that an overdue final payment will attempt to bill after the access has already expired.

The use-case for this combination is similar to a single-payment expiring membership or bundle, except that instead of being charged a single up-front payment, the member is charged several times over the duration of their time-limited access. 

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