Cloud for Good
Close this search box.

How IDEX Uses Email Marketing to Engage Their Supporters

How IDEX Uses Email Marketing to Engage Their Supporters

 (This blog post is part of the “Apps for Good” series where awesome AppExchange providers guest post about their applications.)


IDEX is a San Francisco based non-profit organization that promotes sustainable solutions to poverty by providing long-term grants and access to resources to locally run organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Like many NPO’s, IDEX leverages technology to help their small staff promote their message and engage their supporters. And, of course, they must do all this while also keeping costs down and maximizing their return. Using the combined power of Salesforce CRM and VerticalResponse for AppExchange, IDEX is able to maintain a successful email marketing program that contributes to a large increase in their online fundraising efforts and supporter engagement. Even better, IDEX is able to take advantage of VerticalResponse’s non-profit program, enabling them to send up to 10,000 emails per month absolutely free (a monthly savings of $120).


IDEX has discovered many benefits to using VerticalResponse in conjunction with their Salesforce account. According to Deborah Goldberg, IDEX’s Communications & Public Outreach Manager, using VR for AppExchange allows her to create beautiful emails even with no graphic design expertise. The interface makes it easy for her to focus on what matters most, messaging and content. Using VR’s segmentation tools enables IDEX to target their campaigns based on specific supporter information as well as being able to tie back all of their email activity to specific Salesforce campaigns. Deborah has also found extreme value utilizing email opt-in forms across the IDEX website, a great tool for growing their email list. IDEX has seen a particularly large lift in email opt-ins by asking supporters for their email addresses in exchange for reports and other valuable content.


When it comes to content for the emails themselves, IDEX takes advantage of VerticalResponse’s robust reporting features to help identify what resonates most with their audience and is able to optimize their messaging accordingly. Because of this, IDEX has developed an email marketing program that consistently drives high engagement and leads to increased donations. Let’s take a look at IDEX’s most recent email newsletter to see what best practices they use to achieve this success.


1) From Label: The most effective from label is a name your recipients recognize, trust, and expect to hear from. IDEX addresses all of these things by including not only the organization’s name in the from label (name recognition), but by also including Deborah’s name, which adds an additional layer of familiarity and personality.

2) Subject Line: The subject line is your chance to grab your readers’ attention and compel them to take the all important step of opening your email. Besides having a compelling hook, though, you also have to keep in mind that many email clients (especially those on mobile phones) will cut off all but the beginning of your subject line. IDEX takes this into account and puts the most crucial information, March News, front and center and then follows with the specific content that their readers will find interesting.

3) Image to Text Ratio: While there is no hard and fast rule for this, it is a good idea to maintain balance between image and text in your emails. Remember, any one of your recipients that doesn’t have images turned on in their email client will be unable to see anything but the text. Don’t risk losing them by making your entire email one large image. IDEX’s newsletter illustrates this concept brilliantly.

4) Events: Just because email is an online medium doesn’t mean you shouldn’t utilize it to take your engagement offline as well. In a great example of how IDEX uses the VR segmentation tools for targeting, they are able to promote events to their local audiences.

5) Content: You’ve heard the expression “Content is King.” Well, in the case of email marketing, this couldn’t be truer. More than anything else, the way to keep your subscribers opening and reading your emails is to fill them with valuable content. IDEX’s March newsletter includes a blog post featuring one of their partners, a photo set of a recent alumni celebration, and a value packed impact report. Notice that all of this content is devoid of a pitch for donations (don’t worry, that comes next). Instead, IDEX recognizes the fact that their supporters have choices when it comes to making contributions, and the organization that engages their audience with great content puts them in a better position to be on the receiving end of those donations.

6) Strong Call to Action Button: You might have been reading the last point about content and saying, “what, are they crazy…where’s the part when we appeal for donations?!” Here it is, and IDEX provides a textbook example of how to do it. Call to action buttons consistently test better than links when trying to get your readers to click through. Want to learn more? Check out these tips for call to action buttons as well as a free tool for building your own.

7) Social Links: In this day and age, it’s pretty rare to find a non-profit who doesn’t have a social networking presence, and for good reason. But what’s the point of putting all that effort into social media if your supporters don’t know you’re there? There is no reason for social media to sit in a separate silo from email marketing. In fact, the two go hand in hand! Take a cue from IDEX and make sure to include links to all the social networks that your organization is active on.

8) Compliance: Certainly not the sexiest aspect of email marketing, compliance is one of the most important. CAN-SPAM requires email marketers to do things like include a physical address and an easy way for recipients to unsubscribe. Don’t worry, though, VerticalResponse takes the stress out of compliance by remembering the details for you. Here, IDEX’s compliance is automatically generated in the email’s footer.


If you’re a non-profit looking for a powerful (and cost effective!) email marketing solution for Salesforce, look no further than VerticalResponse for AppExchange. And if you’re already taking advantage of our product, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share your experiences!


Guest post by Ellery Long. Ellery is the Social Media Manager at VerticalResponse. You can connect with him on Twitter at @EL.


For more information or to connect with IDEX:!/idex


For more information or to connect with VerticalResponse:!/vr4smallbiz