Dive Head First into Digital Marketing

As one association demonstrates, it’s possible to dip your toes into the waters of digital marketing and find immediate success.

By William Henry, content marketing manager at Feathr

The long-term care industry serves more than 3.9 million individuals across the country with social needs, disability, trauma, or illness each day. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that in 2030 Americans over 65 will make up 21 percent of the population, up from 15 percent today. This already-essential industry is becoming even more so.

In this climate, the American Health Care Association (AHCA), the largest trade group representing long-term and post-acute care facilities, bears a critical responsibility: Improving lives by delivering solutions for quality care.

Like most associations, AHCA depends on non-dues revenue to provide the level of service its 14,000 facility members and the residents they care for expect.

Education and events, from webinars and online training to summits and A​HCA’s Annual Convention & Expo, serve as a significant source of that non-dues revenue. So, in 2021—amid the pandemic—AHCA knew it needed to employ digital marketing tools to continue to advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable.

Jon-Patrick Ewing, vice president of marketing, AHCA, said he signed on with a digital platform provider that offered managed campaign services.

“We had never used these tools in any kind of manner within the marketing department, and this was during COVID,” Ewing said. “Still, we ran 13 diverse and comprehensive campaigns that year—and it worked well. Not only did our investment pay for itself, but it brought in nearly 90 event attendees.”

Consider Expert Guidance

Like many associations, AHCA has a small marketing team and needed extra support to reach its goals. As a self-proclaimed newbie to the digital marketing and retargeting platform Feathr, Ewing said he appreciated the help provided by Feathr Services, an add-on package in which the company will set up, run, and analyze campaigns.

“We provided them information and shared our ideas, and they put everything together,” Ewing said. “I think it was really important for us to work with Feathr in a copilot way. It can be a little daunting to put together multiple campaigns when you already have a lot going on, so it was worth the additional dollars.”

AHCA also uses implementation services to promote National Skilled Nursing Care Week and National Assisted Living Week, two events designed to celebrate health care workers and residents. “We use the platform to make sure people in the community are aware not only of the events themselves but also the ancillary products available for purchase,” he said.

Ewing said AHCA continues to leverage Feathr Services to boost attendance at large events like the 73rd AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo, which will be held in October 2022. But with the training he’s been provided, he has put together campaigns for smaller events and conferences himself—and was happy with the results.

“It was great to get my feet wet with the platform,” Ewing said. “I’m sure one day, I will be so comfortable that I will say, ‘All of this is so easy; it makes sense to me now, and I can do it on my own.’”

A Holistic Approach

Ewing recommends that associations leverage a strategic combination of campaign types to achieve overall digital marketing success.

Retargeting, for example, empowers marketers to engage with visitors even after they’ve left the association’s website, recapturing traffic. Geofencing targets visitors at a particular location, such as a competing tradeshow. Keyword search campaigns, on the other hand, target prospects who enter specified search terms into a browser.

“We certainly used a lot of retargeting; we used keyword searches and geofencing,” Ewing said. “We also used email mapping for targeted, comprehensive outreach to folks that are involved with AHCA in some manner, whether they attended a convention, bought a book, or connected with us in some other way.”

Through email mapping, AHCA was able to leverage existing lists of email addresses, including past conference attendees, and turn to Feathr to connect those emails with users’ IP addresses—ultimately serving them ads while they browse the web.

“Email mapping is a very good use of the media dollars that we put into the platform, because it’s the most targeted,” Ewing said. “Looking at our results, those are clearly the highest performing campaigns.”

Still, Ewing reiterated the value of a strategic combination of campaigns. “The first step is to get your information out there to help educate your audience,” he said. “The most important thing is raising awareness, and that takes time. Overall, you want to capture the full potential from those people coming to your site.”

The team at Feathr—a marketing platform that helps associations serve up highly-targeted ads based on interests and behaviors—thanks Jon-Patrick Ewing, vice president of marketing, AHCA, for sharing tips on effective retargeting. For more information on how Feathr helps more than 900 associations increase awareness, grow membership, promote events, and create new revenue, visit

(Handout photo)