[Case Study] How Nonprofit MnSearch Used Drip + Eventbrite to Get 10% More New Memberships


One of the struggles of building a nonprofit marketing strategy is that your volunteers only have so much time and energy to learn new technology. If you can find something that simply works, you can save valuable volunteer time.

Our very own Josh Braaten, Director of Customer Acquisition at Leadpages and Drip, knows firsthand how challenging technological hurdles can be for nonprofit organizations. He also serves as Membership Director of the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association (MnSearch), where he has implemented a system with Drip and Eventbrite to drive event signups and sign up more members.

I sat down with Josh to learn how he’s using Drip with Eventbrite to build a easy-to-manage nonprofit tech stack. If you want to implement his tips as you read along, click here to get started with Drip for free:

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The Challenge: Route Eventbrite Attendees to the Right Email Campaigns Every Time

MnSearch runs monthly events about search engine marketing in Minnesota. The events are free with an annual membership, but you don’t have to be a member to attend.

Because of this model, they needed a way to do three things from an Eventbrite page:

  • Give members a way to register for free
  • Allow nonmembers to register for the next event and become members at the same time
  • Have nonmembers pay to attend a single event

MnSearch offers these three items for purchase on the Eventbrite page, with fulfillment and follow-up sequences running through Drip. Here’s how they do it:

1. Members who need a registration code

MnSearch sends a monthly email through Drip with details of the next event. Existing members, who are already tagged as members in Drip, receive a free ticket but are asked to pre-register for that month’s event.

Using Liquid code, Josh and the team at MnSearch are able to show the coupon code only to the email recipients who are tagged as members in Drip. (I’ll go over how MnSearch uses Drip to manage membership below.)

Here’s what that code looks like:

{% if subscriber.tags contains “member” %}
Registration Code: AdvancedStrategies
{%else%}{%endif%}

When members receive an email about the next event, it looks like this. Nonmembers will only see the call to action button, not the registration code.

Members can then click the button to visit the Eventbrite page, where entering the registration code will allow them to register for the MnSearch member ticket for free.

Meanwhile, Josh wants to track which members are signing up for events. Drip’s Eventbrite integration lets you record custom events whenever someone makes a ticket purchase. In this case, Josh uses a simple workflow to apply a tag to anyone who purchases the members-only ticket class in Eventbrite.

2. New members signing up for membership and an event ticket

If someone arrives at the Eventbrite page and decides to not only get a ticket to the next event, but also become a member, they can purchase a membership right on that page.

When they do, they will trigger a second Drip workflow. This trigger will look a lot like the trigger for existing members, but will have a different ticket class ID from Eventbrite.

This workflow applies the event-specific tag, allowing MnSearch to keep track of event attendance. Then, it removes the member tag (if there is one), waits a minute, and applies the member tag again.

Why take this odd-looking final step? Because even if someone has already been a member in the past, Josh wants them to restart MnSearch’s main member workflow. That workflow will send them a welcome or “thanks for renewing” email and remind them to renew when their membership is about to expire—and it’s triggered whenever the “member” tag is applied

3. Nonmember event attendees

MnSearch also allows the general public to buy one-off tickets to their events. They can do this on the same Eventbrite page, and then they’ll enter a third workflow in Drip, similar to the two we saw above. Josh also uses this workflow to apply a “contact” tag to distinguish these attendees from members.

How MnSearch Manages Memberships (Without Needing a Membership Platform)

In addition to tracking event attendance, Josh also uses Drip to manage MnSearch memberships—including new memberships, renewal reminders, and cancellations—all in one big workflow.

That’s right: MnSearch is now able to use one tool for both email marketing and member management.

See how they do it all automatically in this step-by-step video from Josh:

 

Josh uses rules to apply the member tag when someone purchases a membership from either Paypal or Eventbrite, which then triggers the membership workflow.

First, the workflow checks whether or not the new member had a set renewal date (which would be an indication that they are renewing, and not a brand new member). Then, it sends either a welcome campaign or a renewal welcome campaign.

The next step in this workflow is to do some housekeeping and remove some tags that members shouldn’t have, including “contact,” (which MnSearch uses for nonmembers) as well as “expired,” “cancel,” and “reactivation.”

Then, using some simple math, the workflow calculates the renewal date a year from the signup date, and sets the date in two custom fields: one displays the date in a more human-readable format, and one displays it as a timestamp. (Josh goes into more detail on this Liquid math in the video above.)

After that, the workflow waits 335 days before applying two tags: reactivation and cancel.

Applying the reactivation tag triggers another workflow, which will send a campaign letting members know that they only have 30 days remaining in their membership, and they need to renew.

It might seem counterintuitive to apply the cancel tag before someone actually cancels their membership, but it works in this situation.

The final step of this workflow is a goal that will remove a member once the member tag is removed.

This way, when someone’s member tag is removed, the cancel tag remains—letting MnSearch identify former members for reactivation campaigns down the road.

The Results: A Simpler Tech Stack & 10% More Memberships

Josh has essentially been able to turn Drip into a membership management platform that does exactly what MnSearch needs.

With a lightweight marketing stack built around Drip and Eventbrite, Josh has built a system that manages payments, event attendance, and membership automatically.

Before switching to Drip, MnSearch used Membermouse to process memberships—which was limiting, since they could only integrate with one method of payment. Since MnSearch also takes membership payments on their website via Paypal, this was a problem. But with Drip’s integrations, they can now accept memberships whether they come from Paypal or Eventbrite, and apply tags that start their powerful workflows.

Most importantly, they’ve created a nonprofit marketing system that allows the board of MnSearch to get back to strategic planning. Plus, since they now use Drip to remind members to renew, they’ve even seen a boost in membership. “Since moving to Drip, we have increased our membership by 10% and we have many more strategic plans to increase membership in the year to come,” Josh said.

If you’re ready to build your nonprofit marketing stack with Drip, you can get started for free.

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Are you interested in using Drip for your own nonprofit marketing? Drop your questions in the comments–the team and I are standing by to help you out.

  • Awesome! I have already integrated Eventbrite with Drip and had created a workflow around it when I hosted a 8-people business get together last November. I got some really neat ideas here to implement. My brain is racing! Thank you for sharing this “gold mine”

    • Daphne Sidor

      Oh, very cool. I never thought about using Eventbrite for a smaller group, but it makes a lot of sense for following up.

    • Glad you liked it, Anil!