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USCAP leverages digital ads to fill up seats at annual meeting

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology
3 min read
Sep 26, 2023




ticket sales


ad spend

The Challenge

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) had built a loyal base of members who they served with care. But they knew they needed new ways to connect with their many website visitors and meet them where they were at.


With Feathr, USCAP brought in 462 registrations for $385k in ticket sales for their 2022 annual meeting. They also sold sponsored ad packages to four of their event partners, bringing in an additional $21,000 in revenue.

Sometimes the most dangerous thing for a marketing team is to get okay results. Bad results clearly require a fix, and great results are simply that: great. With okay results, though, it’s easy to keep the same budget year over year and expect the status quo.

But Lisa Olson, director of marketing at the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, wasn’t going to settle for good enough.

As a marketing team of one, she had her work cut out for her. With a membership base over 8,500 and an annual event that regularly brings in almost 5,000 attendees, there are a lot of unique people who Lisa works hard at engaging with.

And although her email and organic social channels were working well, she knew she needed new ways to better meet her community where they were. One of those ways was through retargeting — digital ads that would follow website visitors across their web journeys. 

Lisa said, “For us, the people who have already hit our site are in a different place in the marketing funnel. We're past introducing who we are and what we do — these are people who already know those things, so we don't have to waste time explaining them. Instead we can educate and remind them of the value that we can add.”

Pathologists are people too

When you hear of an association that serves pathologists, it’s easy to think this must be a pretty homogeneous group. They’re all pathologists, right?

But for Lisa, pathologists are unique people with diverse subsets of interests. And as an effective marketer, Lisa is critically concerned with reaching these unique groups with exactly the right message.

She said, “Pathologists all have specialties, right? So some concentrate on breast pathology, some on hematopathology, and others neuro and other subspecialties. Rather than bothering a hematopathologist with a breast pathology course, we target each group individually because we know who's interested in what. I love that because it’s easy to feel like you're talking too much and bothering people too much. But when you know it’s relevant, it feels like I’m sharing value.”

USCAP knows how much more important relevance is than reach. It’s always better to talk to 1,000 of the right people instead of 10,000 people who aren’t interested in the message.

But USCAP didn’t stop at simple segmentation. Lisa then constantly switched her ad creatives so her audience wouldn’t tire of the messaging. Because she had already done the hard work of breaking her audience into smaller groups, she would rotate creatives between these groups every few weeks, ensuring that her messages didn’t fall on tired ears.

“To some people, here's the big lecture about this topic, and then to other people, here are the awards that are being given out,” Lisa said. “We started segmenting it a little more because what we found was that campaigns can get stale. Click-through rates drop over time. So it helped to have a new focus every few weeks with new art and copy.”

The proof is in the reporting

In total, retargeting ads brought USCAP 462 registrations for over $385k in ticket sales. As Lisa said, these registrants had already visited the website and were likely already interested. So it was a much easier sell than starting with someone entirely new. 

Their approach to marketing was that it’s a long game, sustained through building meaningful connections with their unique community members.

Lisa said, “I feel like a lot of times people will see one of our ads, click through, and then come back later. It's a big ticket item, so it's not like they're gonna buy the first time they see it. It's one of those things where they see it over time and that influences them. This is not an impulse thing, spending a substantial amount of money and flying to an out-of-town meeting.”

By understanding their audience and how people tick, and by diversifying the channels that they used to communicate with their audiences, USCAP was able to promote their annual meeting to current members as well as new ones.

Clear skies ahead

Even with the amazing results USCAP found with its 2022 Annual Meeting, they aren’t content to rest on their past success. They’re building even brighter plans for the future.

One area where they’re expanding is with sponsored retargeting. All these website visitors are a huge value for USCAP, and not only for them; their sponsors likely want to get to know these same people.

Lisa said, “We sold sponsored ad packages, which was a set number of ad impressions to our specific audiences, and we raised $21,000 from partnerships with four different sponsors.”

But at the heart of all of USCAP and Lisa’s marketing strategies are the people they serve. For Lisa, it’s simply about building relationships by meeting people where they are: “We’re just always looking for new ways to reach our people, and meeting them where they are is key.”

“The people who have already hit our site are in a different place in the marketing funnel. We're past introducing who we are and what we do — these are people who already know those things, so we don't have to waste time explaining them. Instead we can educate and remind them of the value that we can add.”
Lisa Olson

Director of Marketing, USCAP



The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) is dedicated to creating a better pathologist. It accomplishes this through its mission to provide the ultimate in continuing medical education and translational research to improve practices and patient outcomes globally. Learn more at https://uscap.org/


Palm Springs, CA


Attendee acquisition

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