We’re not looking to make tons of money; we’re looking to spend time with our family and to have the freedom to go and travel and live where we want to live.
Cecilia and Jason Hilkey created their successful online business, Happily Family, after realizing that their feelings of "parenting overwhelm" weren't unique to just them.
Located in the charming small town of Corvallis, Oregon, Cecilia and Jason Hilkey are parents of two energetic daughters and describe themselves as one big “happily family.” That’s not a typo — rather it’s a play on words to express the feeling of connection they have towards every member of the family. It’s also the philosophy that inspired the name of their successful online business.
Two heads are better than one, and that’s definitely the case with this couple. Like two peas in a pod, this inseparable power duo not only teach online parenting classes together but also have taught in the same preschool classroom together. Before launching Happily Family, they also owned a private practice that provided therapy services to children and adults with disabilities.
Parents themselves, the pair know firsthand how difficult it can be for moms and dads to find the time to read the latest parenting books and studies. With years of experience and academic study behind them, Cecilia and Jason share their knowledge to help families across the globe.
When parents started showing up at their preschool classroom simply to be “flies on the wall,” teachers Cecilia and Jason Hilkey knew they had something unique on their hands.
“The parents would come and file papers or dust shelves just to see how we were interacting with the kids,” said Cecilia. The couple were teachers at a progressive school that didn’t use punishments or rewards.
“We got really good at helping kids do what they wanted to do intrinsically and also learn how to work in groups, so they understand things such as, if you hit this other child, it’s going to affect them.”
The demand for their advice quickly grew, so in 2012 they launched their business, Happily Family, along with their first online parenting conference, Education: Next Generation, which featured interviews with 25 experts in brain science, child development and psychology who also believed in the same non-authoritative parenting philosophy.
Cecilia and Jason knew they were meeting a deep need for a lot of people and have since launched a membership site with recorded videos and online coaching sessions. In the past two years, the couple left teaching and committed their full-time focus on the business.
It was the only way to make a big impact. It made us play big, and playing big can be scary.
Grown their email list from 1,091 to over 40,000
Completed five partner launches with 99 affiliates
Delivered over 3,000 information products to parents around the world
Sent 800,000 emails in one month (their current record)
Automated every aspect of their marketing, sales and fulfillment
Achieved a level of financial freedom that allowed them to quit their teaching jobs
Gone viral in the parenting community, reaching people in 216 countries who otherwise don’t have access to this type of parenting advice
Expanded their business so successfully that they were able to buy their dream house in their dream location
Lead Generation with Gated Content
Building your list of potential customers is a critical initial step in business building. The Hilkeys offer valuable content for free in exchange for prospects’ email addresses, which they then use to stay in touch with those prospects. On their site, a call-to-action button, followed by a pop-up light box, encourages leads to enter their email address to receive a free “Calming Plan” PDF worksheet.
After the visitor fills out the form, Ontraport’s email automation sends a welcome email to his or her inbox along with a download link. The new lead’s contact information is saved in the Hilkeys’ contact database inside Ontraport and tagged (depending on what content is downloaded). From there, the new lead receives additional emails over the next several weeks featuring more content specific to their needs and interests.
Trigger-Based Email Marketing Automation
The Hilkeys use the email marketing automation to do much more than stay in touch with their new leads. Using Ontraport’s conditions and settings in their marketing campaigns, they’re able to follow up in more personalized and granular ways depending on whether or not a desired action is completed. For example, if someone opts in for the “Calming Plan” worksheet but doesn’t download it in the initial email, after a few hours a second email goes out with another download link and the subject line: “Did you get it? (So we can sleep).”
Membership Site Functionality
Through their parenting membership site, the Hilkeys package their exclusive advice for busy moms and dads to access anytime, anywhere. Once new members “Join the Tribe,” they’re granted exclusive access to content dripped through self-paced modules, 12 group coaching sessions, an exclusive membership community form, workshops and more.
The Hilkeys focus on providing the best experience for their members, and that means spending time on what really matters. Ontraport’s automation takes care of all the tedious tasks that used to eat up their time, including processing subscription payments, delivering membership login credentials, upgrading membership access levels, showing/hiding content to members based on their access level or stage, and removing access for those whose payment is declined or who canceled.
Conferences are the bread and butter of the networking world but, for many busy parents, the time and travel needed to attend isn’t a possibility. Jason and Cecilia use their extensive network to host online conferences with a panel of speakers and experts to discuss the latest insights in childhood development, psychology, empathy and more.
There’s something exciting about attending a conference — from first buying the tickets to getting gradually teased with new bits of information as the date of the event nears, and the Hilkeys are able to recreate that experience.
Using a product launch strategy for their conference, they create campaigns that build excitement for weeks or months before the release. The event announcement, the series of emails promoting the speakers, a landing page with details selling the tickets, and order page and delivery of tickets are all orchestrated through Ontraport.