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6 Reasons to Build a Custom Member Portal: Organize and Grow

by | Aug 24, 2021

Your primary business website is a great place to let potential visitors learn more about your business. But what happens when that visitor becomes a customer, client, or member?

That new relationship carries new demands, and even though they may vary based on your industry and unique business needs, a member portal is an invaluable tool for keeping members satisfied, employees informed, and your business on track.

The benefits of a member portal are clear, but for many business owners, choosing between off-the-shelf software and custom software can be a challenge.

The best decision incorporates several factors, like the size and nature of your business, your budget, and the capabilities of existing off-the-shelf member portal software. However, many businesses, whether enterprise-level, SMB, or startup, find the benefits of a custom-built member portal far outweigh those of the alternatives.

Why Choose Custom Software for Your Membership Portal?


Tailor-made for your business needs.

Off-the-shelf software is designed to meet the needs of businesses across multiple industries, and though there are options for specific industries or business types (e.g., one software product may support the restaurant industry while another supports medical organizations), off-the-shelf software is built to meet general needs. Unfortunately, that leaves many businesses scrambling to force their processes and objectives to meet software limitations. However, to be successful, your membership portal should fit into your business model, not the other way around. When you build a custom membership portal, you can design the functionality, user experience, and aesthetics to match your exact organizational needs. For customers, that creates a more unified, efficient, and enjoyable experience. The control and customizations amassed from custom-built software for employees and back-end administrators leads to enhanced data collection, workflows, and strategic planning opportunities.


Provides an easy path to user profile creation and management.

One of the most laborious aspects of user and membership acquisition and management is setting up the account, collecting, storing, and protecting user data, and then linking that data with internal databases or resources as required.

Off-the-shelf software can meet those needs, but the functionality rarely is aligned with the internal structure and resources your business relies on.

When you choose custom software to build a membership portal, you can streamline the entire membership process, creating personal logins for your users and immediately connecting them with the functionality and access they need while safely storing and controlling data as necessary.

And, because you’re developing your portal from the ground up, it can be designed to seamlessly integrate with internal systems already in place.


Simplifies legacy account management efforts.

Creating new member accounts is one thing, but what about existing members? If your business is established, you may have a robust collection of existing or legacy accounts. Migrating data, membership or otherwise, from one system to another can be a laborious activity, at best.

For example, many of our clients frequently express frustration when dealing with off-the-shelf software compatibility issues, finding that the new software simply doesn’t work well with existing CRMs or other databases and applications. That can lead to lost membership info, unnecessary lag times, poor customer experiences, and ultimately a significant amount of work for your employees.

Building your own membership portal makes it easier to identify any potential legacy account migration issues and address them before or during the development stage. As such, there are few, if any, membership account disruptions or data integrity issues.


Secure access to gated materials, billing, subscription, and account services.

Many of today’s leading off-the-shelf solutions for customer portals offer some level of security, but in a world where breaches and data theft are becoming increasingly common, relying on third-party security can leave your brand vulnerable. Additionally, your business can quickly become part of an umbrella attack on the host company without direct control of how portal data is secured. Developing and maintaining your own custom membership portal gives you additional control over the security provisions included during development. It also makes it easier to meet any specific or unique regulation or compliance requirements as they relate to your industry.


Superior support exactly where and when your members need it.

Your product or service may drive initial revenue and brand reputation, but poor customer support is often what keeps it from thriving. A poor customer experience can leave even once-loyal customers searching for an alternative product or service. As such, businesses that limit barriers to support can help ease customer frustration. Relying on third-party software for your support can make the experience feel impersonal or disjointed, frustrating customers as well as your customer support team. In-portal customer support makes it easier for customers to manage their needs in one location. And, since customer data can be securely stored in the portal and the portal can be seamlessly integrated with internal solutions, your support team is more likely to resolve issues quickly and efficiently in a timely fashion. In-portal support isn’t limited to customer and representative interactions, however. Your custom membership portal can be designed to include helpful information repositories that make it easier for users to find answers to some of their inquiries, empowering them and easing the burden on your customer support team.


Creates an environment that is well upselling and marketing opportunities.

When it comes to retention, your membership portal is a powerful tool. But the right membership portal also improves your ability to engage with users and provide them with timely and purposeful upsell opportunities at various touchpoints. When you choose custom software over off-the-shelf options, you gain more control of where, when, and how you leverage those upsell and marketing initiatives within the portal. Limitations set by off-the-shelf portals can make sales and marketing opportunities feel forced, particularly since you won’t have full-development control of how they are integrated into the customer journey – e.g., you’ll have to deal with the functionality that’s present, even if it isn’t ideal for your users or objectives. A custom portal makes it easier to provide a more organic sales and marketing experience that is less likely to alienate users and instead serves them what they may need at any given point of their portal experience.

Your membership portal is more than a place to centralize services, communications, and engagement opportunities. It’s a value statement that shows customers why your organization is the right choice. Don’t let off-the-shelf software underserve your brand.

Schedule your complimentary Innovation Session today to learn how a custom-built membership portal can grow your business and increase membership retention.