Finding the right digital marketing mix

By William Henry, Head of Content Marketing at Feathr

One of the most established marketing principles is the Rule of Seven, which states that prospects must interact with a brand at least seven times before taking a desired action.

But the rule takes on new meaning in the digital age, where online information overload forces brands to seek even greater visibility — think between seven and 21 touchpoints, according to Doug Hoekstra, director of digital content at Financial Executives International (FEI).

The good news? Today’s digital marketing platforms make it easy for associations to employ strategies such as retargeting, a powerful method of capturing website traffic. With retargeting, association marketers can serve digital ads even after a customer leaves the association’s website, re-engaging them on external websites via their IP address.

“The best approach is multi-pronged,” Hoekstra said. “You can target hot prospects at the bottom of the funnel, like past event attendees, but you can also launch a broader, top-of-funnel network by running outreach campaigns for the general public. “

Hoekstra’s marketing goals at FEI, an association of approximately 9,000 senior finance executives, are similar to most: to increase membership, event attendance and non-dues revenue. Additionally, like most associations, FEI’s small but mighty marketing team needs to take a strategic approach to digital marketing to have a big impact on bottom line.

When the pandemic hit, for example, FEI replaced all in-person events with digital alternatives, shifting marketing efforts to a retargeting platform at the same time.

“We focused on digital initiatives, which focused on retargeting campaigns, after everyone started interacting primarily in the virtual landscape,” Hoekstra said. “It worked well for us.”

Now, as pandemic concerns ease, FEI is taking a hybrid approach, resuming in-person events with virtual options in some cases and keeping others entirely virtual. The association continues to use retargeting campaigns for both in-person and virtual events.

Leverage multiple campaign types and include sponsors

The best digital marketing platforms allow association marketers to leverage multiple types of campaigns, including geo-fencing, which targets visitors to a particular location (such as a competing trade show), and lookalike audiences, which target prospects who share similar characteristics with members.

Hoekstra said an email mapping, or CRM retargeting, campaign has proven particularly effective for FEI, which uses Feathr, a digital marketing platform, to run its advertising campaigns.

“All you need is a list of email addresses, like past conference attendees or past members, to upload to the platform,” he said. “Then the platform will use backend algorithms and cookies to connect email addresses to IP addresses so that you can target users from those email addresses, serving them advertisements while they visit different sites. website.”

The FEI runs campaigns for lapsed members once or twice a year, as well as general membership campaigns throughout the year targeting those who visit the association’s website. The Feathr platform sells programmatic advertising media in units of 1,000 impressions with multiple billing configurations, allowing FEI to easily control costs.

“There are tags in place that remove individuals from the list once they convert so we don’t waste our budget,” Hoekstra said.

FEI initially engaged with a marketing platform provider to manage the association’s internal retargeting campaigns. Since then, Hoekstra said the team had started offering retargeting packages to association sponsors, allowing them to get their message out in front of more people.

The strategy creates new non-dues revenue streams for the association while keeping the FEI website free from intrusive advertising.

“We want our members to come to the site and not have to worry about all the noise,” he said. “The beauty of retargeting campaigns is that they target audiences on external websites, so members don’t see a lot of ad clutter. It’s when they check the weather forecast or read the news that they see banners announcing your association or your sponsors.

Find real-time data and customer-centric support

Of all the features associations should consider in a digital marketing platform, Hoekstra said phenomenal customer support is among the most essential.

“Price is obviously one of the most important considerations, but ongoing customer service is huge,” he said. “We have an account representative who will walk us through everything. They can help handle even the most advanced tasks, like creating HTML5 banner ads or making sure conversion tags are tracked correctly through Google Tag Manager.

Hoekstra said responsive customer support is especially crucial for nonprofits that offer retargeting campaigns to their sponsors. So does the ability to offer sponsors insight into their campaign performance with real-time spend and ROI data.

“It’s great to be able to provide sponsors with real-time data dashboards, saying, ‘Feel free to contact us, and we can work on fine-tuning the campaign as you see fit.’ he said, “Having the ability to customize these dashboards is also helpful to avoid confusion on the part of the sponsor.”

The team at Feather—a marketing platform that helps nonprofits deliver highly targeted ads based on interests and behaviors—thanks Doug Hoekstra, Director, Digital Content at FEI, for sharing tips on effective retargeting. For more information on how Feathr helps over 900 nonprofits build awareness, grow membership, promote events and create new revenue, visit

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