In this article, I give an overview of AccessAlly, specifically as it can be used for WordPress ONTRAPORT integration. I present some of my favourite features, as well as outlining some of the current gaps in the plugin. My overall recommendation for AccessAlly is a big thumbs-up!
Who This Review Is For
If you want to build a WordPress membership website and integrate it with your ONTRAPORT CRM, and you want to evaluate the features, and pros and cons of the AccessAlly plugin, then read on! This review is for you.
What is AccessAlly?
AccessAlly is a robust WordPress membership plugin that allows you to protect your valuable content in a members-only area. It works hand-in-glove with ONTRAPORT, using tags to control access. At its simplest, your WordPress pages have a "must be logged in and have XX access tag to view" condition. You control who gets what access tags through ONTRAPORT automations when customers purchase your programs. If a contact has the right access tag, then they are able to view the protected content, and if not, they are directed elsewhere (to an "elsewhere" of your choice).
That's AccessAlly in a nutshell, but it provides loads more sophisticated functionality on top of that. Because access control is tag-based, it's extremely flexible, allowing content to be dripped, and allowing fine-grained control over who can see what. For example, a single page may be part of two separate programs, thereby reducing your maintenance overhead; you don't need to keep two copies in sync. Also, you can use shortcodes to make content on a page conditionally visible. That lets you do things like include a special section visible only to premium users, for example.
On top of the access control, AccessAlly adds functionality to support order forms (with coupons, order toggles, order bumps, one-click upsells, multiple currency support), team support (for selling packages of licenses), credit systems, gamification (in the Pro version; includes social share, progress tracking, video bookmarks, private notes, quizzes, and event-based tagging). I hope you're getting the idea that it's a well-rounded system!
Why Listen to me?
I'm an AccessAlly Certified Partner, and I'm a Certified ONTRAPORT Consultant. That means I know the ins and outs of both of these products, including both the gems and the warts! I've built or consulted on over 20 AccessAlly websites, the vast majority of which used ONTRAPORT as the backing CRM.
I’m a proud affiliate partner for AccessAlly. That means that I stand to earn a commission if you sign up for AccessAlly using a link from this article (at no additional cost to you!). This does not sway my review, and I will share my experience with AccessAlly candidly so you can make the best decision for you and your business.
I have invested in a partnership with AccessAlly because I admire both the product, and the business behind it.
(Also note that if you engage my services to help you build your AccessAlly website, and you use my affiliate link to sign up, I offer bonus strategic consulting hours as a thank you!)
Why choose AccessAlly for your business?
Here are a few of the WordPress ONTRAPORT Integration Requirements from my Clients:
- Integration with ONTRAPORT
This is a key, basic need for anyone wanting to build a WordPress membership site, and who is using ONTRAPORT to manage their customers and marketing automation. There aren't a lot of choices out there for you. ONTRAPORT's PilotPress is an obvious competitor. If you have simple needs, it may well be enough for you. Do consider that, as you grow, your needs may grow too, and starting out on a full-featured, purpose-built membership platform like AccessAlly might save you a migration in future.
- Dripped content
As I mentioned before, access to your content is controlled by tags. That makes it easy to drip out content. You simply have to give your users a new tag each month to release a new module. You can prepare all your content ahead of time, and automate the release of new tags, and then sit back, and relax!
- Unified Membership Area and Opportunities for up-sell and cross-sell
All of your programs (free and/or paid) can be offered within a single membership site. Tags control which of the programs are accessible to a given user. That means that users who log in to access one program they purchased are also able to see that you offer other programs (without being able to get inside them).
- Automation of sales, and user management
As your membership grows, managing user requests to join, to add on new programs, to change their password, or handling failed credit card payments for subscriptions, takes up more and more of your valuable time. AccessAlly, in conjunction with ONTRAPORT, allows you to automate all this so you can set and forget.
- Opportunities to increase user engagement
AccessAlly Pro comes with many gamification features that will keep your users engaged. It includes everything from basic progress-tracking and social share buttons (for a member to share your sales page instead of the private page they are on), to more sophisticated video bookmarks and quizzes, all the way to being able to tag users based on objective completion, allowing you to check in with automated emails if someone is not progressing through the course.
The gems: What I Love About AccessAlly
A strong feature set is important in a plugin, but -- having been a WordPress developer for quite a few years now -- I can tell you that what's even more important is what happens when something goes wrong or you get stuck. Is the plugin developer responsive? Helpful? Is the plugin kept up to date? One of the biggest reasons that I love AccessAlly so much is the team that stands behind it. Nathalie and Robin and their team are simply amazing. Simply put, they care.
They care about their customers. Robin has been known to answer my support tickets at 11:30pm on a Saturday night! They work hard to answer questions in the Facebook group, and to respond to support questions. They go above and beyond. Theirs is a product that integrates with several others: WordPress, the CRM, Stripe, etc. They are always happy to debug and help you find the cause of your trouble even when it lies outside of AccessAlly.
They care about their partners. Ever since becoming a Certified Partner back in 2015, I have felt valued and supported by the team.
They care about their product. The team is constantly improving AccessAlly. They are responsive to feedback from their customers and partner, and welcome feature requests (and act on them!). They continue to polish existing features, as well as adding new ones.
This is a plugin you can feel confident in using.
I've already talked about the opportunities for up-sell and cross-sell provided by the AccessAlly. This is a big plus not offered by PilotPress. You can create a Dashboard page in your site that shows "icons" for all of your offerings. Depending on whether your members have the access tag for each offering, they will see an "access" or a "no-access" version of your icon, and when they click, be taken into the program if they have access, or to your sales page if they don't. This one is big! Here are a couple of examples cut from Dashboards of sites I've built:
If you already use, or prefer to use, ONTRAPORT's order forms, you can. With my first fewWordPress ONTRAPORT Integrations with AccessAlly, that's what I did. Over time, though, AccessAlly has built out some sophisticated functionality around order forms, and I now strongly recommend them to my clients.
One big plus of AccessAlly order forms is the ease of abandoned cart follow-up. After the first step of the order form, which just asks for name and email address, a new contact is created in ONTRAPORT and tagged. This allows you to follow up in an easy and completely automated way with potential customers who didn't complete the full order form.
Finally, AccessAlly order forms make some things, like failed payment handling, and order bumps, easier than ONTRAPORT. And let's face it, the forms are a whole lot prettier! Here are a couple of examples from my clients' sites:
This is a recent addition to AccessAlly, and has been an instant hit with my clients who want to sell multiple licenses to companies or school boards, who can then allocate those licenses to individual users as they see fit. Custom team management pages can be created to that "team leaders" can view the progress of individual team members/students.
This is another brand new feature of AccessAlly. AccessAlly has always integrated with ONTRAPORT's affiliate system so that products purchased using the AccessAlly order forms trigger appropriate affiliate commissions. Now, however, they have built their own affiliate system entirely within AccessAlly.
This powerful feature allows users to unlock content of their choice. One of my clients has a library of hundreds of content bundles. Her subscribers pay a monthly or annual fee, and receive four credits each month, allowing them to unlock four content bundles of their choice. This is a big selling feature of her membership because it gives a lot of control to her members over what content they receive in the membership. Here are a few screenshots from my client's site:
Not for the novice user, AccessAlly allows us geeky developer-types nearly unlimited creativity within the membership site. Custom operations, conditional logic, and event-based tagging allow some sophisticated user interactions to happen.
The warts: AccessAlly’s Downside
This will be a shorter section than the "gems!" As you may have gathered by now, I'm a fan. Any software, however, has its limitations. Here are a few things that AccessAlly can't do or doesn't have (at the time of this article; I know some of these things are in the works for future releases!):
- location-based taxes in its order forms
- integration with any payment processor except Stripe for subscriptions or payment plans
- strong community functionality like forums, chat, comments
- easy customisation of the words on the Team pages (e.g., changing the term "Child" accounts)
- easy customisation of the login widget
- easy customisation of styles and colours, if you want to go beyond the basics
In general, it's easy to build a basic course, and AccessAlly has created wizards that will walk you through the process step by step. Most of my clients, however, want a site with a highly customised design, and sophisticated, outside-the-norm functionality. I do like that this is all possible with AccessAlly, but it's not easy for a non-developer to create that kind of site. Shameless plug: you can always hire me :-)!
(Why you should check out AccessAlly if you use ONTRAPORT and need a Membership Site)
AccessAlly is a full-featured, robust membership plugin that provides seamless WordPress ONTRAPORT Integration, and is backed by an A-Team at AccessAlly.
Check out AccessAlly and see what you think.