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ASCRS increases membership through digital marketing channels

The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery 
3 min read
Sep 14, 2023




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The Challenge

The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) knew who they wanted to serve as members, but they needed new ways of gaining their attention. With effective print marketing and a loyal social following, they knew there were still opportunities in new digital channels.


With Feathr, ASCRS was able to reach new audiences through geofencing and affinity targeting campaigns. After getting in front of new audiences, they then followed up with those who engaged with their website. With retargeting ads and email mapping campaigns, ASCRS brought in 115 new membership signups.

Karen Mathes and Liz Hillman are a two-person membership and communication team for the The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) — with help from the designers on staff.

ASCRS members are a specialized group of ophthalmologists who focus exclusively on front of eye surgery. This means the hard part isn’t finding who they want to invite into membership — the hard part is grabbing the attention of busy professionals.

Karen said, “We know who the non-members are. But we also know in detail who our members are. For instance, we have a category that we call YES (young eye surgeons), and now we have a group called Legacy Members who have been members for 30 or more years. This knowledge helps us to target the right message to the right person.”

From understanding to cultivation

As effective marketers, Karen and Liz had done their homework. They knew who they were trying to reach and they knew who their current community was composed of. But they realized that the traditional approach of print and email marketing needed an additional spark.

A critical moment the team tracked in the member journey came when resident members became full-time practitioners. Not only were these people at an important juncture in their life, but pricing changed from being free to a small annual fee.

Karen said, “They’re busy and if they don't renew, then they drop. We want to remind this group of the value of ASCRS membership. Additionally, you must be a member to attend the ASCRS Annual Meeting and if somebody's not coming to the meeting, they may drop their membership because they don't feel they need it. We want to remind them of why they should be at the meeting.”

Marketing isn’t only about reaching new audiences. It’s also about making sure every touch point a person has with your organization is positive. By encouraging young members to take advantage of all the amazing things they offer — in other words, by marketing to current members — they’re actually doing some of their most effective marketing.

Reaching members where they are

This need to reach members during this critical moment led the team at ASCRS to adopt new strategies for engagement. Instead of putting all their eggs in the print, email, or social basket, they decided to branch out in new ways.

One of their first campaigns in Feathr was a geofencing campaign. They chose, or “geofenced,” a physical location where mobile display ads would appear for everyone inside the area, which included non-members and existing members who might want to renew. They spent just $100 and gained 11,000 impressions. And this was just the start.

Next they retargeted people who had visited their membership signup page but had failed to complete the form. This is often one of the highest performing campaigns because these people have already expressed the intent to join. 

Finally, they followed up with those who visited their general membership pages and those who visited their high-traffic website pages, activating 48 new memberships.

All in all, these three retargeting campaigns brought in 108 new memberships. And all the campaigns together earned $40,585 in revenue with only $5,351 spent.

Maintaining altitude

It’s hard not to be happy with these kinds of numbers, especially as this was their first campaign in Feathr!

Karen said, “When we hit 26, I remember reporting about it and being super excited that we had that many new members, because those were outreaches that we just set up to run and it was just happening. We weren’t even actively in the system on a daily basis.”

The hardest part of marketing is doing the relational work of getting to know your people. And since Karen and Liz had already done that work, setting up the digital campaigns to continue the conversation with those people felt like background work.

“Our executive director is very pleased with the numbers that we're seeing and said it was kind of a no-brainer to sign up again,” Karen said. “I do love that it's real time and that we can look at the dashboard to see how the campaigns are performing. We can see how much money we've spent and we can talk to the team about moving it around if we need to.”

“When we hit 26, I remember reporting about it and being super excited that we had that many new members, because those were outreaches that we just set up to run and it was just happening. We weren’t even actively in the system on a daily basis.”
Karen Mathes

Director of Membership and Communications, ASCRS



The American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) empowers its members to improve the vision, outcomes, and quality of life for their patients through innovative approaches to education, advocacy and philanthropy. Learn more at https://ascrs.org/


Fairfax, VA


Member acquisition

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