Boost Online Visibility and ROI with Retargeting

A little effort can go a long way in growing and engaging a digital audience.

By William Henry, Content Marketing Manager at Feathr

As any association knows, growing membership, promoting events, and boosting revenue is easier said than done. Pressure to succeed in these areas often falls on marketing executives, who face the daunting task of capturing human time and attention—both scarcities in a digital era rife with communication overload.

For a shot at success in this brave, new world, association marketers must employ digital advertising strategies that keep members and prospects continuously engaged.

That’s where retargeting comes in. This common form of online advertising keeps associations front and center through the use of cookies, or small pieces of data stored in a user’s browser.

You’ve probably seen retargeting in action online, even if you don’t recognize it by name: You’re browsing Amazon for a colorful pair of running shoes one day. The next day, you’re scrolling through your newsfeed for interesting articles. There, alongside the article you click on, is an ad for the same pair of shoes that previously caught your eye. By providing you with additional touchpoints, Amazon keeps the shoes top-of-mind and increases the chance that you’ll convert.

Retargeting is the perfect antidote to the hesitation inherent in online transactions. Research in the consumer world shows that over 95 percent of first-time website visitors are not ready to buy. That could explain why in March of 2021, online shoppers worldwide abandoned 80 percent of their shopping carts, according to Statista.

But not all hope is lost: By harnessing the power of retargeting, marketers can effectively “nudge” visitors after they’ve left a website, recapturing traffic they would otherwise lose. In the association space, ad retargeting provides opportunities to boost event registration, recruit prospective members, and re-engage current members as they travel across the web.

Best yet, with the right tech partner, campaigns are easy to set up, deploy, and analyze. Some providers even offer affordable campaign management services, creative assistance, and consulting recommendations.

Minimal Effort, Big Impact

For the Association of Nutrition & Foodservice Professionals (ANFP), retargeting provides an avenue for reminding website visitors about pathways to earning the Certified Dietary Manager, Certified Food Protection Professional (CDM®, CFPP®) credential as well as continuing education opportunities.

“A lot of our marketing efforts are focused on touting the benefits of the credential, and then spreading awareness about member benefits, including educational offerings and live events,” said Emmy Bender, marketing manager at ANFP.

When ANFP signed up with Feathr, a digital marketing platform, in late 2019, the marketing team’s intention was to drive live event registrations. “Because of the pandemic, we pivoted and used our retargeting platform to focus on certification and education,” Bender said.

Retargeting campaigns in both certification and education led to significant increases in ROI, and ANFP began to run them monthly. “We have continued to see great success,” Bender said. “It’s demonstrated in front of me every month when I’m looking at the analytics for these campaigns and consistently seeing positive growth.”

Now that in-person events are back, ANFP has begun using its retargeting platform to promote its Annual Conference & Expo and two regional meetings. “In March, we ran a campaign promoting our Nashville regional meeting,” Bender said. “A $50 retargeting investment brought in almost $2,000 in registrations.”

Best Practices

Bender said that today’s digital marketing platforms make retargeting campaigns a breeze. “There’s not a lot of work to do other than narrowing down your audience segments, determining who you’re going to target and how you will target them,” she said.

With the right technology, users can segment digital audiences based on various activities and attributes and correlate them with specific marketing messages. Associations can then tailor advertisements to different audience segments or use existing engagement data to run campaigns at times of the day when they know a particular segment is active online.

“You’ll also need to figure out what constitutes a conversion,” Bender said. “With our certification campaign, for example, an exam registration or a certain amount spent on study materials would count as a conversion. From there, it’s just uploading the creative, hitting deploy, and watching the conversions come in.”

Associations can also leverage outreach tools like geofencing to drive visitors in particular locations to their sites. “Geofencing is great for events,” Bender said. “If you know that a related association has an event going on, you can send ads for your association out to people in that specific area.”

Other tools enable users to reach people who are searching for similar offerings through keywords or who have similar interests as existing audience members.

Ultimately, by becoming more targeted in outreach, associations can ensure their campaigns provide relevant messages to the right people at the right time—a cardinal rule of effective digital advertising.

The team at Feathr—a marketing platform that helps associations serve up highly-targeted ads based on interests and behaviors—thanks Emmy Bender, marketing manager at ANFP, for sharing her experience working with Feathr. For more information on how associations can increase awareness, grow membership, promote events, and create new revenue, visit