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Marketing agency delivers 4,303% return on ad spend promoting virtual conference


3 min read
Jan 4, 2022


Total ad spend


Revenue generated


Return on ad spend


The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) worried that attendance at their annual conference would be negatively impacted due to the pandemic. And email, their primary channel for promoting the conference, wasn’t working as well as it had in the past.


SWE’s marketing agency, David James Group, used Feathr to promote the virtual conference, producing a return on ad spend of 4,303%. With the small investment of $1,678 in retargeting ads, SWE generated $72,207 in registrations.

The annual conference of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) is the world’s largest conference for women in engineering and technology. The 2020 event, WE20, had initially been planned as an in-person event but the ongoing pandemic caused it to pivot to virtual. 

SWE was concerned that COVID-19 and “Zoom fatigue” would hurt conference attendance and their ability to secure sponsors and partners in the future. They also noticed that email, which had been their primary channel for promoting the conference, wasn’t getting the results it had in the past.

"The pandemic was the right time to introduce a new marketing channel to SWE because their audience was experiencing email exhaustion,” said Andrew Navolio, VP of Client Services at David James Group. “On top of that, other channels we’d been using, like print magazines that went to people’s business addresses, weren’t effective with everyone working at home.” 

“I knew that SWE was ripe for a new approach, especially as they were promoting their big annual conference,” Navolio explained. He had heard of Feathr in the association marketing space so decided to take a closer look at its solutions. Navolio soon realized that Feathr offered a new marketing channel for WE20 and more.

A pandemic-friendly channel

Feathr gave David James Group the tools and insights they needed to tackle the challenge of marketing SWE’s conference during a pandemic. Navolio used Feathr Ads to run a number of campaigns for WE20, including email mapping, keyword search and lookalike audiences. The most successful of these was a retargeting campaign. 

“SWE gets a lot of web traffic so we knew that with Feathr, our ads would find previous visitors to SWE’s site across the web and remind them to register for the conference,” said Navolio. “And it meant we could reach them in the channel they were spending almost all their time in during the pandemic.”

Feathr’s real-time reporting capabilities allows Navolio to keep a close eye on how each campaign is performing for his client and make any necessary changes. He also has a monthly check-in with their customer success manager to discuss campaign strategy. “It’s a collaborative effort. If I run into a roadblock or I'm not thinking about a certain segment the right way, I’ll pick up the phone and brainstorm solutions with Feathr,” Navolio said.

SWEDavid James Group - Mockup  (1)-1

Example of a WE20 ad displayed on HGTV's website. 

A year-round tool with impressive ROI

Despite SWE’s initial concern that attendance would be down compared to past conferences, almost 20,000 people attended WE20.

Using Feathr Ads, David James Group was able to help SWE connect with their audience and boost attendance. SWE saw a powerful return on ad spend of 4,303 percent with the retargeting campaigns, where a small investment of $1,678 in ads generated $72,207 in revenue from registrations. 

“We had a great ROI on the campaign,” said Navolio. “SWE was really happy because they were very concerned that they weren't going to get the type of attendance and excitement that they usually get at their in-person conferences. But they ended up having their best attendance year yet.” 

David James Group has continued to use Feathr Ads throughout the year for SWE’s other virtual events, membership retention and renewal, and a professional development campaign. They’ve also branched out into digital sponsorships using Feathr Monetization, allowing them to run a campaign promoting one of their partners which proved to be mutually beneficial.

“When it came time to renew our account for another year, we looked at the numbers and it was clear that sticking with Feathr was the right choice,” said Navolio.

“Out of the box, Feathr gave us so many things that we didn't have before. We saw a multitude of applications for not only SWE, but also our other clients.”
Andrew Navolio




David James Group is a marketing agency that works with associations and nonprofits to increase their impact on members, prospective members and their causes.


Chicago, Illinois


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