Marah Studniski is a Provider Marketing Automation Strategist at the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP)/Be The Match®. She’s also a Salesforce Trailblazer and a 2020 Salesforce Marketing Champion. This post is part of our Moment Makers series, which takes a deep dive into how marketers use technology to build data-driven customer experiences that feel natural, relevant, and right on time.

The healthcare industry has been locked in two battles at once over the past six months. Researchers and practitioners across the globe devote energy and resources to treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, they’re exploring new ways to treat patients who were facing serious medical conditions before the pandemic. Staffing shortages, lack of blood/plasma donations, and travel restrictions are just some of the barriers these patients have to overcome to receive life-saving care.

At the NMDP/Be The Match®, we believe everyone has a unique capability to make a difference. We’re probably best known for the work we do to help blood cancer patients find suitable donors for a blood stem cell transplant. But we’re more than matchmakers. We also support a global network of nearly 500 organizations to collect, transport, and deliver potentially life-saving cells to patients who need them. 

Like other healthcare organizations, we’ve had to quickly and frequently modify our operations to continue to deliver therapies to patients and keep donors safe during the pandemic. Every time we change a process, we have to communicate it to all of the centers in our global network.

Early on, our team saw opportunities for B2B marketing automation to help us deliver the right message at the right time to our network partners. Here are two tactics we use to improve our marketing communications.


Cut down on marketing messages to amp up engagement

When the pandemic began in March, we were transitioning our network email communications from our internal Network Announcement System (NAS) to Pardot, a B2B marketing automation platform powered by Salesforce. With many contacts and center types, we had to transition to Pardot in phases, so we used both platforms to deliver communications during the pandemic.

Our first step was changing our messaging cadence. Normally we send around nine NAS emails a week to network partners. But we knew that frequency would overwhelm them and leave critical messages unread. So we limited non-essential communication and switched to a daily email for operational updates. Each message included brief content on a few topics and linked to a COVID-19 webpage with more details. 

As changes became less frequent, we moved from a daily email cadence to twice a week.

The result? Our NAS email open rates grew from 29% to 34%.


Solve your audience’s problems with personalized content

Once we optimized our message frequency, we focused on personalizing our content for network partners who would benefit from it the most.

Two years ago, NMDP/Be The Match launched the Related Donor Services program to help transplant center partners remove potential donation barriers for patients’ family members. 

We knew the pandemic would increase these barriers — for example, travel restrictions make it harder for family members to donate. So we modified the program to make it more accessible, and we used B2B marketing automation features in Pardot to help spread the word.

Whenever an NAS communication mentioned a change to the Related Donor Services program, we sent a follow-up email from Pardot to our transplant center partners. We personalized the content using Pardot’s responsive design features. Each email comes from that partner’s NMDP/Be The Match contact. Email recipients can even reply directly to the message, which is a feature we don’t have in our NAS platform.

This one-to-one messaging approach led to significantly higher email open rates. Our traditional marketing messages have a 32% open rate. The personalized emails have an open rate of nearly 44%.

We’ve also increased traffic to the NMDP/Be The Match website. From March through July 2020, there was a nearly 60% increase in web traffic. Email traffic to the site is up almost three and a half times compared to the five months prior.

But, most importantly, transplant center use of the Related Donor Services program has increased by 123% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March and July 2020, we facilitated more collections of related donors than throughout our entire 2019 fiscal year. 

As the situation continues to evolve, our communications strategy and Pardot adoption will, too. It’s all with the aim of helping more patients get the transplants they need for a second chance at life. Learn how you could help save someone’s life by joining Be The Match Registry®