Wild Apricot Review: High-Value Membership Software
Wild Apricot is a software service designed to build, host, and facilitate every aspect of a membership website. The top-rated membership management system on Capterra for seven years running (2013-2019), it delivers a comprehensive package of services the company claims will enable you to launch a membership site in just a few hours, with no tech experience needed.
In this Wild Apricot review, I put that claim to the test and review the pros and cons of Wild Apricot so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Who is Wild Apricot For?
Wild Apricot is a one-size-fits-most solution for building and running a membership site and it supports a number of different applications. Clubs, nonprofits, societies, and associations are some of the main groups that use Wild Apricot software – it was originally designed for and tends to be well suited to the needs of these sorts of traditional membership organizations.
Course creators and other expertise-based businesses are not specifically targeted by Wild Apricot, but those looking to operate more like a full-blown membership organization will find many of Wild Apricot features attractive. Just keep in mind that there are not native capabilities for creating and managing online courses. While “Subscription Site” is one of the template models that Wild Apricot offers when you create an account, you will need to pair Wild Apricot with other tools or a dedicated online learning platform to sell online courses.
Regardless of how you plan to use Wild Apricot, the setup wizard walks new users through adding the basics of their account, from importing members to authorizing new admins. Although Wild Apricot is designed as a self-service software, if you want help with set-up you can contact the Wild Apricot coaches by email, live chat, or scheduled phone call.
Wild Apricot Features
From your creator’s dashboard it’s easy to navigate the different areas of your account, from building your website to managing members and creating events. Wild Apricot offers a host of features, all of which are accessible to members at every level.
Unlike MemberSpace and other plug-and-play software designed to work with an existing website, Wild Apricot subscriptions include a website and hosting through AWS. The site builder relies on pre-made templates or a drag and drop editor for creating your membership site. This is a great feature if you don’t have your own website or want to funnel your learners into a separate site from your primary business. However, if you’d prefer a less templated approach and want to keep everything in one place, take a look at MemberSpace instead.
There are a dozen customizable themes to choose from, and you can also create page templates that apply default layouts to your template. A WYSIWYG editor allows you to customize your page, and in a particularly nice touch, the area you’re editing is highlighted in green to make it clearer what changes you’re making.
If you want a custom domain name for your account, you do have to upgrade to a paid membership. Free accounts get a subdomain automatically generated using the email address you use to sign up.
If you want to offer products and services through your website, you can build an online store simply and effectively with Wild Apricot’s included functionality. Add unlimited products and multiple variants, set special member pricing and discounts, and process payments with ease.
The store options allow the sale of physical and digital products, making it possible to sell ebooks, videos, and other educational products. You can choose to send purchases to a download URL or upload your products directly to Wild Apricot and let them handle distribution for you.
For physical products, Wild Apricot will track inventory and process payments, but leaves logistics to you. There’s no option to adjust the price for product variants, no shipping calculation tools, and you’ll still have to handle delivery for any sales you make of physical products. A more sophisticated e-commerce plugin would be a great feature to have here, but currently, if sales and processing of physical products is part of your business, you’d be better off using dedicated software.
Your member data is stored in a secure cloud database that can be accessed from any browser, or through Wild Apricot’s mobile app. The database is searchable for easy management, and you can use it to customize membership levels and renewals.
Members can also access their own profiles and update their information and these changes sync across the site in real time. You can also create a members’ directory from the database and allow members to view other subscribers’ profiles. If you’re switching to Wild Apricot from another membership management service, you can import your existing database.
Keep in touch with your members through newsletters and send out reminders, invoices, event invitations and more with Wild Apricot’s email templates and messaging features. Create your own template using the same drag and drop editor as your website or customize one of the many pre-made templates Wild Apricot offers.
You can segment your mailing list using the members’ database for advanced campaign targeting, and automate administrative emails such as account updates, confirmations, and reminders. Wild Apricot also includes analytics reports and open tracking. If you’re on a free plan your “From” email address is the same as your Wild Apricot subdomain. Upgrading to a paid plan and custom domain enables you to use an email address that more accurately reflects your brand.
Wild Apricot handles member and e-commerce payments through their native gateway, Wild Apricot Payments. From a buyer’s perspective, this is as simple to use as any other payment gateway — simply enter your card details and the payment will be processed. From the site owner’s side, you’ll have to create an account with AffiniPay, the payment processor that powers Wild Apricot Payments. There are no setup or contract fees, but it will take a few days for your account to be approved.
Wild Apricot Payments offers competitive processing fees (2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction), and payments are automatically deposited into your bank account once they’ve cleared. The processor automatically generates receipts and invoices, calculates sales tax/VAT, and can export data to QuickBooks or .csv.
The downside is that this processor is only available to Wild Apricot clients based in the USA and Canada. International members will have to use a third-party processor such as Stripe. If you’re a U.S./CA business and want to opt out of Wild Apricot Payments, it will cost you an additional twenty percent on your membership fee. While there’s no great reason to opt out if your members are based in the same country as you, there are additional fees for processing international payments, so if you’re based in the U.S. but teaching a lot of people in the EU, you could end up paying a sizable amount in processing fees.
While the donations feature offered by Wild Apricot was built with nonprofits in mind, many creators add a tip jar to their websites to capture a little extra revenue from non-members who enjoy their free content. With Wild Apricot, you can add a donation button to your site, include a goal and progress widget, and export a searchable database of donations received.
A great feature for expertise-based businesses is the ability to sell and manage events through your website. Create and share a calendar of upcoming events, host customizable registration forms, set up registration types, waitlists, and process payments. You can even have attendees check in to your event using a QR code that works with the Wild Apricot app.
Wild Apricot provides a true mobile app – i.e., not just a “responsive” version of your site, but software that actually downloads to a mobile device. There are two versions of it: one for admins and one for members. Admins can view and manage their members’ database, update events, check in attendees, and accept secured credit card payments through their app. Members can view the members’ directory, register and pay for events, and update their account profile.
Wild Apricot Pricing
Naturally, a Wild Apricot review would not be complete without pricing. Plans start at free for up to 50 members, although if you want to use Wild Apricot’s payment processing features, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid tier.
Every plan comes with a 30-day free trial Wild Apricot Pricing – which again excludes online payments, store, and access to the Wild Apricot app). Even with its limitations, the free plan is a good way to get a feel for the platform and decide if its features are right for you. If you don’t upgrade to a paid subscription before the end of your 30-day free trial, you’ll automatically be placed on the free plan, so your data isn’t lost.
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With prices starting from just $40 per month (or less if you pay for a year or two in advance), Wild Apricot pricing is incredibly competitive, especially considering it includes website hosting and email management software. If you’d rather self-host your membership site, you could end up paying considerably more for a range of separate plugins to do everything that Wild Apricot includes as standard.
Wild Apricot Review: Final Thoughts
Wild Apricot is an impressive platform that makes hosting and managing a membership website easy. For traditional membership organizations – particularly smaller ones with limited budgets – it is a fantastic option. The high value it represents for these types of organizations no doubt explains why it has been as been consistently ranked as one of the top membership software options on Capterra.
On the other hand, it isn’t a platform that was designed with edupreneurs and other expertise-based businesses in mind. If selling online courses is your main focus, you will need to direct members to an external site in order to offer courses effectively. Keep in mind that their are many existing integrations for Wild Apricot through Integromat. Between these and the application programming interfaces (APIs) and web hooks that Wild Apricot makes available, it should be possible to integrate with just about any external learning management system (LMS).
And, If your focus is more on events and you operate in a way that is similar to a traditional membership organization, then Wild Apricot is a slam dunk.
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