Expand Your Online Presence Affordably and Effectively – Associations Now

By William Henry, content marketing manager at Feathr

As the leading global financial services association for international transaction banking, BAFT (Bankers Association for Finance and Trade), a subsidiary of the American Bankers Association (ABA), must fulfill the unmet needs of its unique stakeholders.

To do so, the association provides a forum for analysis, advocacy, and discussion among global financial institutions, industry suppliers, and regulatory agencies on a range of transaction banking topics.

Three years ago, when Gregory Hawken Kramer joined the team as senior director of data, digital strategy, and governance, BAFT was managing this heavy lift with little online presence other than a website. He knew right away that he had a big opportunity to increase omnichannel engagement.

After starting social media accounts on LinkedIn and YouTube, relaunching BAFT’s Twitter account with a new handle, and tackling search engine optimization (SEO) on Google and Bing, Kramer set out to further boost BAFT’s online visibility through paid digital third-party ad campaigns.

“Trying to justify the cost upfront was a little challenging, because it wasn’t something we had done previously,” Kramer said.

After getting the green light, Kramer focused on growing the two revenue-generating pillars of the association: events and education. “The ROI began to speak for itself, and now our paid campaigns are one of our primary digital marketing tactics,” he said.

Data: At the heart of successful digital marketing campaigns

Kramer said that data is key to any digital campaign, including retargeting, which empowers marketers to engage with visitors even after they’ve left a website, recapturing traffic.

“The crux of digital marketing is the data,” he said. “Everything is interconnected; you’re overlaying all of your digital channels to make sure you’re tracking the information you need to make informed decisions. For example, anytime someone hits our website from LinkedIn, that creates a cookie, which also goes into our database. Same for Twitter.”

Ultimately, these pieces of data help BAFT identify information about their online audience, including their locations, the banks at which they work, and how they found the association online—all important elements in targeting efforts.

“It took maybe six to eight months for us to build audiences up from the different channels we launched to the point where we had enough data to be successful.”

And successful, it was: BAFT’s 2022 Global Annual meeting campaign, which ran for two months, generated an ROI 30 times its initial investment.

“When we run a campaign of this nature, my first goal is to target people where the event is taking place to cover costs upfront,” he said. “Once the spend is covered, then I start tweaking and expanding the campaign, adjusting the impressions, audience, and bid strategies.”

Kramer also starts each campaign with a baseline ad, which he evolves in alignment with the event’s most pressing deadlines and information, such as the last chance for registration.

“We found that strategy worked well with the Global Annual Meeting campaign, because people would see the initial ad, and then you would see them engage with different ads in different places based on their interests,” he said.

BAFT’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Katherine Lee, who worked with Kramer on the campaign, said Kramer’s close relationship with the association’s client data also helped boost overall success. “Aside from managing the campaign on a daily basis, he knows our clients, our prospects, and the region,” Lee said. “That advantage helped him make strategic maneuvers.”

Choosing the right digital marketing tools

BAFT signed up with Feathr, a digital marketing platform, in October 2019. Today, BAFT has about 95,000 contacts in its campaign database, 60,000 of which are reachable globally. Since the beginning of BAFT’s fiscal year on September 1, 2021, the association has generated significant ROI from campaigns for various events, including the Global Annual Meeting.

“The best part is, once you get your core database built, it is very easy to run campaigns on your own,” Kramer said. “If you don’t have a large team, the platform really does allow you to create, launch, and tweak campaigns easily.”

In addition to affordability and ease of use, Kramer said associations should consider customer service when choosing a digital marketing platform of their own.

“Having the support of a team to really demonstrate the platform’s abilities, and then to be able to relate that information to senior managers who are deciding on the spend really does go a long way,” he said.


The team at Feathr—a marketing platform that helps associations serve up highly-targeted ads based on interests and behaviors—thanks Gregory Hawken Kramer, BAFT senior director of data, digital strategy, and governance, for sharing his expertise and experience working with Feathr. For more information on how associations can increase awareness, grow membership, promote events, and create new revenue, visit feathr.co/solutions/associations.

(Handout photo)

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