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AAE earns $649k in ticket sales to annual conference with Feathr

American Association of Endodontists

4 min read
Jun 12, 2024


Membership Dues


Membership Renewals


Conference Ticket Sales

The Challenge

AAE had a marketing strategy that leaned heavily on email. And it was working, but they needed an updated strategy that included more touch points without tiring out loyal members.

The Solution

With Feathr, AAE was able to connect its email marketing campaigns with their print, social, and digital advertising. By tying everything together, they made $171k in membership renewals and $649k in ticket sales at their annual conference.

Natalie Hughes, integrated marketing manager at the American Association of Endodontists, can attest to the harsh reality that email alone isn’t cutting it. With weekly (or daily!) newsletters and 10%-off deals cramming the inbox, it’s becoming near impossible to get the message across.

She said, “Like many other nonprofits, we needed to diversify our digital marketing toolkit because attention spans have shortened. You have to tell people things multiple times before they fully internalize it, and sending more emails wasn’t sustainable because we know email fatigue is real.”

Email may have been an all-encompassing strategy in the past, but today people require more touchpoints. Natalie knew she needed to build a less intrusive and more considerate marketing funnel, and she had a few ideas:

“We want members to have a familiar experience from beginning to end. So what they see on our website and in email and then in digital — the little digital ads that follow them around — need to hold a level of continuity. Getting an email every other day from us can be exhausting. But still we need those touches, just with less lift on our end and lower disruption of their day to day.”

Dipping their toes into digital

AAE had jumped into programmatic and retargeting advertising back in 2019. But because it was a new channel for their team, they initially leaned heavily on a partner’s experience.

This may have been the best (or only) place to start, but Natalie felt more and more that she needed to be the one calling the shots. She was the one who knew her community’s values, and she was the one who built the messaging and timeline.

“We didn't have a lot of visibility until we received a report,” Natalie said. “So then we couldn't course correct. It felt like we were only finding things out when it was too late. And on top of that we were facing difficulty with counting conversions.”

So Natalie brought all the digital advertising in house with the Feathr platform in 2022 and began to really invest in connecting AAE’s email, social, and print with its digital ad campaigns.

She said, “We’ve always used a combination of email, direct mail, social media, video, print ads, you know, the works. The last two years is when we really started investing in digital advertising as part of our marketing campaigns for the annual meeting. And so with the help of Feathr, that aspect of what we're doing is just way more impactful than it's ever been!”

Whether you call it omnichannel or multichannel, at the root of Natalie and AAE’s success was her overall orchestration of her team’s marketing activities. When the emails weren’t getting the job done, they didn’t simply throw them out. It became about adjusting the volume, turning up the ads, timing the social. And once the mix was right, the emails, the posts, and the ads began to really sing. 

Knowing is (more than) half the battle

But there’s no way of getting the mix right without the right information. Now that Natalie was running her team’s digital advertising and pulling the reports directly from Feathr, she could know exactly how her campaigns were performing and better set her team up for success.

Natalie said, “My favorite thing about Feathr is that it's helped our team illustrate the impact our marketing is having. The data might live in the platform, but it's a reflection of everything that we're doing in and outside of Feathr. Through tracked link campaigns, we can tie our print advertising, emails, and social posts into our Feathr reports, so we can further centralize our data and see everything in one place.”

But making an impact within her own organization was only the first step. Now, with more accurate data, she can build more specific messaging for her diverse community and better meet each person right where they are. 

Natalie said, “With Feathr, this is our first time ever tracking conversions successfully. So that's huge for us. We're finally able to run abandoned cart campaigns. Before, since we couldn’t see who was completing transactions, we couldn’t talk to the right people at the right time. And this has worked really well for us with our event marketing and with our membership renewals.”

Knowing how much revenue the campaigns were bringing in was a huge win for AAE as a whole, but much of Natalie’s excitement as a marketer stems from the fact that she could now better engage with her long-time members. Now that she knows who’s completed the transaction, she doesn’t have to ask those people to do the same thing again. She can instead start a whole new dialogue, keeping the conversation going and the relationship growing.

Up, up, and away

After making $171k in membership dues and $649k in ticket sales for their 2024 annual conference, Natalie’s focused on building the momentum.

Instead of choosing what channels to invest in, AAE is now asking how to best engage with each of their community members in the way that fits the specific person.

Natalie said, “Previously whenever we were running programmatic advertising, everything was based on timing and savings. Was it an early bird discount or was it the last chance to register? And all of that still applies to what we're doing in Feathr, but we can get so much more granular in Flights with what call to action is appropriate at which stage of the customer journey.”

Feathr’s platform includes pre-built or custom-built flights, which help nonprofit marketers tie their diverse campaigns together into a single, cohesive plan. It’s part of the reason Natalie gives for the upward trajectory of AAE’s marketing efforts.

With any relationship, there’s a time to listen and a time to speak. And with Feathr, Natalie finally feels like she’s in the driver’s seat. She said, “We're really in control over how frequently our members see these messages.” And this ability to listen and then speak to their community is a central part of AAE’s growth. 

“The last two years is when we really started investing in digital advertising as part of our marketing campaigns for the annual meeting. And so with the help of Feathr, that aspect of what we're doing is just way more impactful than it's ever been!”
Natalie Hughes

Integrated Marketing Manager, AAE




The American Association of Endodontists, or AAE, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1943 that serves endodontists (dentists that perform root canals and specialize in treating the interior of the tooth) and helps connect patients to the very best in the business. The association represents more than 8,000 members worldwide. Learn more at aae.org.


Chicago, IL


Member retention and attendee acquisition

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