Digital

Digital Access Pass Review, The Best Membership Plugin WordPress Offers

What is it: Digital Access Pass is a WordPress plugin that allows you to turn your website, or any wordpress site you create, into a fully functioning platform where users can purchase products, auto-pay memberships, have emails sent to them automatically, login and access any parts of your site, download content, be affiliates, and more. 

It also has some newer built-in features to make your content look and feel like more like a course platform. A lot of these updates are very recent.

What you need:You ONLY need a WordPress site to fully utilize Digital Access Pass. You do not need a CRM or email management system. 

I recommend their SmartPayCart shopping cart highly, but it is not required.

What it costs:From $149 /yr for everything you need to functionUp to $449 /yr for suite with software that goes well beyond just DAP

Who it’s for:Users who are comfortable enough to deal with WordPress, navigating the admin panel, editing pages, shortcodes, or willing to learn it.

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DAP works with a lot of elements like PHP and others that are part of your hosting company. Different hosting situations can vastly change how smooth and easy all of this is (from experience!) 

My time with it:I have used DAP for over 5 years now, for different purposes including running memberships, selling individual products and more, for myself and others. It is now the only thing I use for my personal sites, due largely to updates within the last year. 

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You can add multiple pages to the membership that get added with time. 

Depending on the structure, you could also just have one page for a membership product, and you update that one page with new content for the month, week, etc. I did this approach for most of last year and it worked wonderfully. 

When someone unsubscribed, they simply could not access that page anymore. 

Free Trials? Other Trials? No Problem. 

Any type of pricing structure you want is easy to do, it’s all part of the same setup process on one screen. 

Do you want a trial period? Simply set the time period and price, including free. 

You can see this there in the image above. A ton of different options and strategies can be easily implemented at any time just by changing those simple, clear parameters. 

I will elaborate more on how DAP handles subscriptions later on. It handles much of the complications of them effectively, automated, and provides a lot of options in terms of what you wish to provide to members. 

 Creating courses with digital access pass

This aspect of DAP is less than a year old at the time of this writing, 2020. I was actually part of beta testing it. 

While the essence of an online course is the content, videos, text and such, there are some key elements to make it really feel like a course.

The main elements are: A navigation menu that is clear, outlines the structure of the course, and is easy to get to any part of it. The ability to mark lessons as complete, and keep track of progress for future visits.

Digital Access Pass now has the ability to generate this course navigation and ability to mark lessons complete automatically, without requiring an additional WordPress “course management” plugin or system.

(If you already have, or prefer to use one of these however, such as LearnDash, DAP integrates seamlessly with most of them.)

This is a game changer for me. This has a HUGE impact on the user experience, and is one of the few areas where I felt using DAP + WordPress pages was at a disadvantage.

Not only does this work well for me, it’s easy to do.

One of the themes of all the new upgrades and additions has been streamlining.

This is in the same section where you give the course a title, description and price. It can be changed at any time:

In a format I like that is consistent throughout the software, it gives you a “shortcode” so I can put these elements anywhere on my page after I create them in this simple creator on the DAP backend.

For example, one project I was working with, I made a two column block, and put two codes on the right one that DAP showed me are associated with the outline and progress bar I created, which took seconds:

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 This is what you see on the page where those codes are: 

Of course, shortcodes and using them within your WordPress theme is a preference.

There are pros and cons to this system.

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Because every theme is different, and you are responsible for the layout and alignment of it. It is not the kind of drag-drop, and pre-built beauty of something like Clickfunnels because that would not really be possible. 

I tend to take other people’s themes and modify them rather than try to design myself. I use Thrive Architect for my theme editor, and actually just take the templates that Veena provides as part of what I get as an ‘elite’ member. 

Ultimately though, for me, the ability to turn my pages into this type of fully functional course style with no additional plugins or integrations adding to my bottom line, or technical headaches, is a huge deal. 

You may not have any course type-content, I did not for a long time, but it is nice to have the option. I actually use it in a free giveaway and it gives a sense of professionalism as to what other courses and paid content can be like. 

Digital access pass and subscriptions

I really like how DAP handles subscriptions from an admin and user perspective.

Subscriptions and memberships were the primary function of this software from the get go, and even years ago, I strongly preferred the way it handled all elements related to it.

It was miles better than products like Ontraport, that were hundreds of dollars per month, that some of the projects I was involved with “upgraded” to. It’s been a few years since I have used OP, but as robust as it could be, obviously it’s a much different and more expensive animal, but when it came to subscriptions there were big gaps and I really missed DAP on that project. 

Here are some HUGE pros about DAP and subscriptions. Some of these will seem very obvious or necessary. That’s because they are. However, it’s amazing how other, even more expensive platforms do not do them. 

User has the ability to cancel their own subscription right in their settings.

PayPal or Stripe is automatically cancelled when a user is cancelled in DAP.

No matter when user cancels, they remain having access until the end of their current billing cycle. 

You can easily set it up so that if a user upgrades to a different subscription, for example from a monthly to a yearly plan, or from something like a “gold level” to the “silver level,” they can automatically be unsubscribed from the other version so as not to be double-billed. 

Any tasks such as immediate cancellation, cancel at the end of current billing cycle, granting of additional access or changing any settings for an individual user, can easily be done manually by you as the admin.

Failed Payments?

This can be a big headache to manage. Digital Access Pass has automated options to handle this that a good platform needs, it can notify the user, make attempts to re-bill, and only cancel after a number failed attempts and notifications.

These can be customized to your preferences.  

I want users who subscribe to only get the content that’s been released after they join

This is one that many platforms do not handle well. 

Or if they can do it at all, it’s needlessly complex.

DAP being on top of this since years ago, understanding many would prefer this (in some cases, why would a user subscribe all year when they can join 10 months in and get everything?)

It’s called a “magazine style” subscription and can be done without headaches. 

Users Cancel, but Want to Rejoin Later? 

I have had this happen multiple times and it has been seamless over the last year or two. Product access is simply removed once their time is up, and re-added whenever they pay again.

Member pages: login, content, management

In order to make your site a truly functional platform for users to access content, subscriptions and more, there are a number of functions you need.

A place for them to login. A button to get their ‘lost password’

A list of their available content, courses, and what they could purchase – that is an important one that can really affect sales. You want users to be able to see what else you offer, not only what they own, in many cases. 

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Users will need a page where they can change their password, billing info, see their affiliate stats and more. 

These are a PAIN to do manually, and a much more recent and in my opinion, excellent addition to DAP is the ability to create and customize these easily. This is what it is like in the backend: 

So this has been made into short-codes as well, and has looked and functioned very well on my site (I use thrive architect) 

Of course, if you use a platform system with a monthly cost, most of these elements are automatically built into it. However, for WordPress solutions it’s unavoidable to have to have some type of pages created. These new page builders have made the process simpler and look a lot more like a pro platform site than in the past. 

I have sometimes used more than one of these templates on the same site, because the “course style” for example works great for certain contexts where I want a longer list of smaller products without pictures. 

Also an important note hinted at in these pages

digital access pass has its own built in affiliate system

This means users on your platform can refer your products to others and get a commission. 

I’ve had bad experiences with pretty much ALL independent affiliate systems I have tried. Because this one is integrated directly to the same system you are selling everything from, it tracks well and I’ve found it easy. Visually you have a lot more flexibility with it than before, which was a pretty bare-bones look but now can be customized.

It’s actually been a while since I have used it, so I would imagine like everything else in DAP it is improved, but would be happy to examine in response to any questions. 

Technical challenges, hosting and other considerations

As mentioned in the beginning, there are definite differences to using a WordPress integrated solution versus a completely separate platform (ClickFunnels, Kajabi, Thinkific) which are their own infrastructures created exclusively for the purpose of hosting your content and courses. 

You WILL have to deal with things like upgrading your version of WordPress, upgrading Digital Access Pass, keeping on top of things at times. 

Making sure new plugins you add to your site or features do not interact in any weird way with DAP or other systems. 

Your WordPress site + DAP are going to be communicating with PayPal, Stripe and other places using APIs. There are things that can happen in the chain. 

There will be certain elements of setting things up that while, DAP has *dramatically* streamlined and simplified over the years, cannot ever be as simplistic as something that is built entirely in house (don’t get the impression however, that those services never have anything go wrong or don’t have their own headaches with certain functions.)

With this kind of complete freedom to do whatever you want in your own house, so to speak, comes with responsibilities!

Having used a few different ones over the years, I STRONGLY agree with using one of the recommended host. If you do not want to or cannot, I strongly recommend you look into the experience of other users with your host, be aware of any settings etc. – you can face headaches and waste much time otherwise. 

I personally use Siteground and have found it to be the best I have ever used, by far, and while I don’t have a huge user base on any of my sites, I have had an extremely small number of technical issues. I had an uber cheap hosting at one point that no longer even exists, and if you did need to adjust something – it was hard. Bear in mind, WordPress itself can make major updates, as can servers, plugins and more, so you will want to have a good infrastructure in place. 

You can check out Siteground by clicking here. 

 

Digital access pass PRICING

DAP has a few different pricing plans. 

It is now a monthly or annual model, but even when it was a one-time fee, you had to pay after a year for upgrades and support. DAP is being upgraded SO much that I probably would not have suggested going without maintenance anyway, but please be aware that you can no longer just buy the plugin for a one-time price and use it in perpetuity. 

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An annual version of DAP as it is, which allows you to do everything in this review comes to about $12 per month.

If you want to get started and feel comfortable with a WordPress + Plugin approach, this is a low-overhead way to have everything you need.

Consider where you are at, and whether or not you would be able to handle a $80+ monthly cost for platforms, and feel it is worth the difference. This will depend on your financial situation, technical skill, priorities and such.

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There are those out there who could jump right into $299+ a month for Kajabi Pro or Clickfunnels Pro and it may be worth it for them to have a robust, self-contained platform. This was certainly not applicable to myself and most anyone I know. 

If you are able to do so, there are advantages to the other plans

You can also upgrade as your business or revenue grows. Once I had ideas for projects that were unrelated to each other, I upgraded to a multi-site subscription before going all-in with Lifetime Platinum at least a year or two after that. 

I do believe SmartPayCart adds enough value and features that directly translate to saving you lots of time, and improving sales (order bumps! that alone paid for it for me) that I would strongly consider an option that includes it, if you have decided to go with DAP and have your strategy together. 

Platinum Subscription

The Platinum subscription is essentially a subscription to several products, everything Veena has created or continues to. None are essential for DAP to function, you do not have to be concerned that you won’t be able to do a monthly subscription or any primary functions without paying for upgrades.

Many of the plugins and products that come with the platinum version are stand-alone, with tools for marketing, social media, incentivizing sharing, a rather in depth gamification / ability to earn and buy with points, and more. 

Several of these products would individually warrant their own long form reviews. Many of them can be purchased separately. My suggestion would be to examine how many you see yourself actually using, and assess what makes more sense for you price-wise if you stretch it out beyond a year. 

Do you h ave any questions?

As lengthy as this is, we’re honestly barely scratching the surface, especially when you get into the various use-cases and needs different people are looking for with these types of software. 

Please leave any questions as a comment below and I’ll be happy to share my experience if I can, whether as a comment reply or in a video. 

My links to DAP are affiliate links which means I get a commission if you buy, full disclosure. 

Like I said, I went all-in with this software and purchased a lifetime license of the highest level, so that is the most direct way to show that it truly is my choice. For me it’s an amazing value that matches my comfort with technology, preference to customize, and price point. 

Thanks! Drop any questions or comments below, and you can get DAP here:

Thank you for this super article Evan. I came across DAP during the most dreadful time in my life last year and felt uplifted by finding this DAP solution which will perfectly for my business! Am now ready to purchase DAP Elite Membership and just wanted to ask your opinion on the following: Which Siteground Package would you recommend for hosting option And how on earth did you learn and configure the DAP Plugin? Do you do this as a side hustle? You seem to know everything regarding setting up DAP – you amazing! I noticed from your website that you are a musician? If you do assist others, like myself in helping getting started with DAP Plugin please let me know. Need all the help I can get! For now, am happy to support you by clicking on affiliate link to purchase DAP Elite and looking forward to hearing back from you soon. Warm regards Ianthe Basson from Cape Town South Africa

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