When I first met Kelli Kelley, I interviewed her on the Walking With Families podcast, that I co-created with the Ronald McDonald of Charlottesville, VA.
What immediately stood out was Kelli’s passion for helping families in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Kelli took her own NICU experience, created a nationally recognized non-profit, Hand to Hold, and is now a thought-leader in this space.
As I got to know Kelli, I began to learn more about her organization and her life’s work and commitment to helping families, who have medically fragile newborn babies in the NICU.
At the time, Kelli was working on raising enough revenue to hire a full-time marketing director. After being a guest on the podcast and then learning about my marketing skills, she asked me if I would assist her in marketing Hand to Hold. She wanted me to help her build the digital platform until she could hire a marketing director.
It was hard for me to say “No” to Kelli and her enthusiasm, especially after my 3-year-old son, Thomas, died from congenital heart disease and complications from his third heart surgery.
I understand the stress and challenges parents face with a critically ill child in the hospital.
Thomas stayed in the hospital for eight months out of the first year of his life. The stress of the long stays in the hospital, while watching my son fight for his life every day, was unbelievable. Every normal day-to-day activity was disrupted.
The only time I have experienced a more stressful time is when he died. Watching my child die, is the most stressful event in my life. The stress of him dying was magnified a million times more, than the stress of our long stays in the hospital.
From my family’s personal experience, I understand the stress parents face from complicated pregnancies, long hospital stays, and losing their child.
I was honored Kelli asked and was grateful to use my marketing skills to help her, so she could help more families.
Improving Hand to Hold’s Marketing
First, I analyzed all of Hand to Hold’s activities across all marketing channels. Next, I identified their audience online to increase their presence and attract more NICU moms, doctors, nurses, and other professionals. Plus, I identified a list of potential new sponsors, who have similar audiences as Hand to Hold.
Hand to Hold was doing so many things well. They had guest bloggers contributing articles and content daily. They were active on social media and had a good following. What they were not doing very well is email marketing.
Over the next 18 months, I applied my marketing knowledge, skills and expertise to grow their online presence plus increase revenue and donations significantly.
Hand to Hold’s Facebook page grew from 14,000 likes to now over 29,000 likes. Traffic to the website skyrocketed to 25,500 visitors per month up from 13,000 visitors when I started working with them.
The biggest difference that I made is with their email marketing. When I first started working with Hand to Hold, their email list was about 1,500 subscribers, and they sent one email every two or three months. Today, their email list is now about 9,000 subscribers and growing daily.
Now, they send a content-based newsletter each week, that I designed, along with several promotional emails each month. Plus, I taught them how to plan the content of each newsletter, make offers, and use the newsletter to engage their audience and drive revenue. Moreover, I taught them how to track their success to ensure the email list is growing and their email efforts are profitable.
Today, the weekly newsletters have an average open rate of 22.5%, up from 12% when they only sent one email newsletter every two months. The donate now button in the newsletter is the most clicked link, followed by parents requesting support.
Leveraging the Platform to Help More NICU Families
The best part, now that the digital platform has been established, donations and revenue are expected to continue to increase. Plus, as the platform continues to grow, Hand to Hold will be able to support more parents throughout their NICU journey. Supporting parents with babies in the NICU is why Hand to Hold exists.
Plus, the weekly email newsletter is now one of the core communication channels with their audience. Email engagement is high with subscribers emailing Kelli each week based on the content in the newsletter.
All in all, since I first started working with Hand to Hold, their online audience has increased and is more engaged.
I’m happy to report, that Hand to Hold hired a full-time marketing director based on the increased revenue from the email marketing and the ever-growing digital platform.
I am excited my skills helped pave the way for the new marketing director to continue to build on Hand to Hold’s platform.
I’m most excited that I was able to help Hand to Hold build a solid foundation that will help Kelli and her team support more families throughout their NICU journey.
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