Considering using AccessAlly to build your online course or membership site? In our hands-on AccessAlly review, we’ll help you decide whether it’s the right tool for your site.
In a nutshell, AccessAlly is an all-in-one solution to help you create, manage, and sell all types of online offerings including courses, solo or group memberships, digital products, private or group coaching, and more.
Beyond its all-in-one nature, another one of the most unique things about AccessAlly is its deep integrations with customer relationship management tools (CRMs) and its focus on marketing automation. You can apply CRM tags to your users based on every action they take and optimize your marketing with emails, order bumps, upsells, and lots more.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, keep reading our full AccessAlly review to learn more about the plugin and some of its most unique features.
AccessAlly Review: A Quick Introduction to the Features
AccessAlly aims to be an all-in-one solution for setting up online courses and membership sites with WordPress.
In one package, it offers everything you need, including the following features:
- Content restriction.
- Content dripping to release content over time.
- Offer online courses, private coaching, digital products, and more.
- One-time payments, recurring payments, or installment plans via built-in integrations for Stripe or PayPal.
- Sell group/umbrella memberships.
- One-click upsells, order bumps, cross-sells, and more.
- Free or paid trial offers.
- Full LMS functionality (video players, quizzes, assignments, certificates, and so on).
- Gamification and progress points.
- Frontend member directories.
This is by no means the complete list of features – you can check out the full features page to learn more.
One of the most unique things about AccessAlly is its deep two-way integrations with your CRM and its focus on using CRM tags to automate actions, restrict content, and more.
I’ll discuss this in more depth in a little…but suffice it to say, this opens a ton of power when it comes to automation and it’s a big part of what makes AccessAlly more powerful than your average LMS/membership tool.
Exploring Key Features In AccessAlly
AccessAlly has a lot of features, so I can’t cover every single thing that the plugin does. Instead, I want to take a look at some of the most important features, and some of the biggest things that differentiate it from other solutions.
Detailed Tagging and CRM Integrations
As I mentioned above, one of the most unique things about AccessAlly is its detailed two-way integration with your CRM and its focus on tagging.
You can apply CRM tags to your students based on all of the actions they take on your site, from enrolling in a course to taking (or failing) a quiz, watching a video, viewing any page, filling out a form, and so on.
Using your CRM’s features, you can also apply tags based on actions taken outside your site, such as opening an email or clicking a certain link in that email.
Then, you can use these tags to track students’ progress and customize your site. You can restrict access to content, personalize content, and so on.
For example, below you can see that I’m able to grant or forbid access to a page based on each user’s tag:
You can also use these tags to set up all kinds of marketing automation in your CRM, such as sending emails and workflows based on the tags.
This tagging integration works in two directions:
- If you apply/change a tag on your WordPress site, that change will happen in your CRM.
- If you apply/change a tag in your CRM, that change will still reflect on your site. You could even add/edit tags directly in the CRM and still have those changes apply to your site, which gives you even more flexibility.
It’s hard to fully explain the versatility of this approach in a short section, but I think understanding how this tag-based approach works is key to getting the most value from AccessAlly.
To learn more, I recommend reading the explanation of why AccessAlly needs tags and the basic tag guide at AccessAlly. You can also explore the whole tags and permissions documentation category to get some more ideas for how tags can help you create more effective sites.
Do You Need a CRM to Use AccessAlly?
At the time that I’m writing our AccessAlly review, you must be using one of the supported CRMs to use AccessAlly.
Currently, AccessAlly supports these five CRM services:
Again, the plugin relies on using the tagging system in these CRMs, which is what gives you so much functionality.
With that being said, the AccessAlly developers are working on creating a standalone version of AccessAlly that would not require using one of those CRMs.
This version of the plugin was not finished at the time of our review, though, so I’m not sure exactly how it will function.
Everything Is An “Offering” (Courses, Coaching, Memberships, Etc.)
Another one of the things that makes AccessAlly so versatile is that it calls everything that you want to sell an “offering” instead of trying to force you into preset delineations.
You can set up an offering for pretty much anything. Here are some examples:
- Online courses
- Membership plans
- Private coaching
- Group plans or group coaching
- Digital products
To simplify things, Access Ally does give you pre-built templates for common use cases, though.
You can then configure different payment structures, including the following:
- One-time payments
- Monthly payments
- Monthly installment plans
- Yearly payments
You can also offer free or discounted trial periods for recurring subscriptions:
Then, you’ll be taken to the page to create all of the core content associated with that offering. Here’s what it looks like to set up course content:
For more flexibility, you can also nest offerings inside one another and/or create bundles.
For example, you could create an “all in one membership” offering that automatically grants access to all of your separate course offerings.
Or, you could create a “VIP” bundle for a course that bundles both the course content and a private coaching service.
Basically, by abstracting everything to an “offering”, AccessAlly gives you a lot of flexibility for how you set things up.
Powerful Bulk Course Enrollment (Group/Umbrella Memberships)
One common monetization strategy for online courses is to sell bulk memberships to businesses or organizations.
Essentially, the group would purchase one main membership that lets them add each employee/member of the group (instead of having each individual purchase their own memberships).
You can use these for corporate training, schools purchasing memberships for students, family plans, and so on.
While many membership plugins do offer features for group/umbrella memberships, AccessAlly focuses on doing it really well.
Once you set up your team programs, the team administrators will get their own frontend dashboards to…
- Add new team members (up to the limits of their license). They can either use the dashboard or upload a CSV to bulk enroll users. Or, individual team members can self-register using a special link.
- Track the progress of their team members. For example, a business could verify that each employee has completed a key certification or just generally see their progress.
- Add private notes to communicate with other team administrators.
You can also display all the team members in a frontend directory, including their progress/gamified points.
Of course, you can also restrict access to the directory so that only the relevant team members can see it.
It’s hard to show all of these features in a single screenshot, so you can check out this video if you want to see everything in action:
A Complete Ecosystem (All Important Features Built-In)
With the exception of its reliance on a CRM service*, one of the key selling points of AccessAlly is that it offers pretty much all the features you need in one package.
For example, let’s say you want to create an affiliate program to encourage other people to share/market your offerings.
With most other membership plugins, you would need to purchase a separate affiliate plugin (e.g. AffiliateWP) and then integrate that plugin into your site. But with AccessAlly, you already get built-in functionality to create an affiliate program, which makes things a lot simpler.
Here are some other examples of built-in features in AccessAlly that you’d typically need to use a separate add-on for with other plugins:
- Advanced CRM tagging and automation
- Order bumps, upsells, cross-sells, and so on
- Advanced payments (many other membership plugins make you use WooCommerce if you want more payment flexibility)
- Frontend member directories
Having these features built-in helps in two ways:
- It simplifies your tech stack because you don’t need to rely on a bunch of third-party plugins/tools.
- It can save you money, which improves AccessAlly’s value (more on pricing next).
*Again, the developers are working on a standalone version of AccessAlly, so you might not need a separate CRM service in the future.
AccessAlly Pricing and Support
AccessAlly only comes in a premium version and it’s on the more expensive end of things for the WordPress space.
However, I think it’s important to understand that AccessAlly isn’t just competing with native WordPress plugins – it’s also competing with SaaS tools like Teachable and Kajabi. When compared to SaaS tools, AccessAlly is actually on the cheaper end of things.
Basically, whether you think it’s “affordable” or “expensive” will depend on if you’re coming from looking at native WordPress membership/LMS plugins or SaaS tools.
There are two main plans, along with a third “in-house training” plan for training team members and new hires.
For all of the plans, you can pay either monthly or yearly. All of the plans are also only for a single live website:
- AccessAlly Essentials – $99 per month when paid monthly or $82 per month billed annually. Includes most of the features, but doesn’t have some of the more advanced LMS features.
- AccessAlly Pro – $129 per month when paid monthly or $108 per month billed annually. Includes all features.
- In-House Training – $250 per month when paid monthly or $208 per month billed annually. Includes all features. Adds extra internal licenses, training seats, and onboarding to help you train your team.
So – is AccessAlly worth it when there are other cheaper LMS/membership plugins for WordPress?
Well, I really think that depends on your needs. AccessAlly can be worth it for some use cases, but overkill for others.
I think the most unique thing about AccessAlly, and the biggest reason you might want to pay for it, is the way that it integrates with your CRM and lets you set up marketing automation functionality.
If you’re going to take advantage of this functionality to set up smart automation and tagging in your CRM, then I think AccessAlly offers a lot of value and a feature set that most other solutions can’t match (that applies to both native WordPress plugins and SaaS tools).
On the other hand, if you just want to deliver straightforward courses and you don’t see any benefit to being able to tag your users based on the actions that they take, you could save money with a native WordPress LMS plugin.
It’s certainly not that AccessAlly can’t handle straightforward courses without any automation. You’re just missing out on its value if you’re not using its features to improve and automate your marketing efforts.
While I haven’t personally had to use AccessAlly support, AccessAlly has an excellent reputation for support that goes above and beyond what you’d expect from other WordPress plugins (which is another thing that helps justify the price tag).
In addition to one-on-one support, you also get access to three monthly group tune-up calls to help you learn and get more value from AccessAlly.
Final Thoughts on AccessAlly
Overall, I think that AccessAlly has something valuable to offer when compared to both native WordPress LMS/membership plugins and SaaS tools like Teachable.
AccessAlly vs WordPress Plugins
When compared to most other WordPress plugins, AccessAlly offers more powerful functionality with its focus on CRM tagging and automation, the ability to sell anything via “offerings”, and built-in features like affiliate programs, bulk course enrollments, and so on.
The tradeoff, though, is that AccessAlly is more expensive than traditional WordPress LMS plugins. The CRM tagging can also seem a little complex if you just want to create super basic courses and you don’t have any plans for automation.
AccessAlly vs SaaS Tools
When compared to SaaS tools, the value proposition shifts a little.
First, AccessAlly is still a lot more flexible than most SaaS tools and gives you more functionality when it comes to setting things up how you want them. Again, the CRM tagging approach is a big factor here, as most SaaS tools don’t offer anything similar.
Second, AccessAlly can be more affordable than SaaS tools because it has no added transaction fees, no billing based on the number of members you have, just generally no arbitrary limits, and so on.
Finally, you’ll still get access to all of the flexibility and self-ownership advantages that are inherent in creating your own self-hosted WordPress site.
The tradeoff with AccessAlly vs SaaS tools is that you lose some of the simplicity that SaaS tools offer. You’ll need to self-host your WordPress site, install/maintain the software, manage your tagging system, and so on.
These are still things that non-developers can certainly handle, but they do require a little more effort from you than a SaaS tool.
Overall, I think these advantages can make it a great option for advanced course/membership creators who will use and benefit from the powerful CRM tag-based approach that AccessAlly offers.
Simply put, this unlocks more functionality than most other solutions when it comes to marketing automation and personalization. If you use those features wisely, you can market and grow your courses in ways that other plugins and tools don’t allow.
While AccessAlly doesn’t offer a free version or a free trial, all of the plans are backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk of trying it out.