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Heifer International transforms their email platform to better engage their constituents


Heifer International wanted to transition from their previous email service provider to a platform that would allow them to build a more effective email marketing program. This would support the organization's vision to drive more donor retention, upgrade one-time donors to sustaining donors, and also drive more renewals in general. Getting there meant expanding the organization's capabilities in email personalization, customization, dynamic content, and analytics. Heifer International chose Salesforce.org—and the Salesforce Marketing Cloud as the email marketing platform—to help deliver on these objectives. 

On the technical side, this migration effort meant ingesting data from multiple sources, enabling automated donor journeys, creating reporting with custom attributes, using AI to improve donor and constituent experiences, and leveraging a flexible data model that allowed for multichannel expansion in the future.

This all needed to be up and running on Salesforce Marketing Cloud within three months before the organization's busy year-end fundraising season.


Salesforce.org identified Merkle as the optimal execution partner to help Heifer International implement the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Merkle executed a smooth migration for Heifer International to position them to achieve their marketing and business goals.

Merkle configured solutions that provided Heifer International with:

  • A globally unique identifier to identify the company’s subscribers and avoid duplicate records
  • A custom, relational data model centered on a primary “subscribers” data extension table, with data relationships to event data that’s updated every 30 minutes
  • Automations to segment users to create journeys using the Journey Builder feature in Salesforce Marketing Cloud
  • Additional data points for use in discovery reporting
  • Einstein Email Recommendations and Behavioral Triggers to allow for predictive modeling as well as abandon cart retargeting


Improved efficiencies and a better constituent experience: By personalizing the constituent journey, Heifer is delivering better email campaigns based on real-time audience insights, trigger-based automations, and true one-to-one marketing.

A greater level of trust in data: With the centralized data model, along with the implementation of the globally unique identifier, Heifer can now trust they aren’t creating duplicate records in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

A single view of the customer: The relational data model was represented in Contact Builder in Salesforce Marketing Cloud, allowing Heifer’s marketing and support teams to look up a subscriber and see that person’s donations, email activity, and current values for 83 data attributes.

Keys to success

  • A custom data model that created data filters allowed for easy segmentation of target audiences for activation.
  • A reporting approach that enabled more visibility to program insights by leveraging a wide range of out-of-the-box and custom reporting.

Discover how we did it. Contact us today.

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