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YMCA of Central Florida: Engaging the community with marketing cloud

Engage with Marketing Cloud

Engaging the community with marketing cloud

The Client

Every community needs a leader. Someone who brings people together. A leader that compels others to act and empowers every individual to be his or her best so that the community can grow stronger and better together. The Central Florida community has the Y.

The YMCA of Central Florida (YMCA-CF) is more than a gym or membership association. The Y is a coalition of men, women and children committed to the idea that the Central Florida community can be better tomorrow than it is today. And together, they will make it that way by advancing the Y’s focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.


The YMCA-CF consists of 18 locations across Florida. Each location serves its neighborhood and members through a variety of services, in addition to a central location providing extra resources and administrative support.

Fractured Communications Systems

Communicating effectively can be difficult when your member and subscriber database is housed in multiple systems. As each location managed their constituents, disparate systems and email platforms, this led to inconsistency in communication and constituent management. Coupled with the branding inconsistencies that multiple systems brought, YMCA-CF was looking for a way to take their marketing to the next level.

“Many of our members take advantage of multiple YMCA locations across the Central Florida region. Managing these members across different systems meant we couldn’t identify insights across these locations, honor the communication and opt-out preferences or synchronize our marketing efforts across the multiple locations. Even something as simple as being able to see that one member engaged with multiple locations was almost impossible,” said William Newlin, Lead Application Developer, YMCA of Central Florida.

The Solution

Marketing Cloud

YMCA-CF chose Cloud for Good as their implementation partner to leverage the knowledge and experience that comes with managing complex projects within the nonprofit sector.

“Implementing Marketing Cloud has allowed our organization to make Sales Cloud our single source of truth across our 18 locations. We can now segment with sophistication using Sales Cloud and communicate and engage with our subscribers through Marketing Cloud. We do this all while maintaining the 360-degree view of our constituents across all 18 locations,” said Dan Humbert, VP Information Technology.

Marketing Cloud Connect

Cloud for Good implemented Marketing Cloud Connect, driving key information from Sales Cloud to Marketing Cloud. System architecture and data model planning was key to ensuring the right information was available in both Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud.

YCMA-CF’s Salesforce instance leverages Person Accounts, creating a unified Account-Contact record for each constituent. Person Accounts create unique functionality—and often present design challenges for system integration. Cloud for Good worked with YMCA-CF’s IT and Marketing teams to design a data model supporting a single-source-of-truth system architecture, while accounting for the complexities of their Salesforce instance.

Email Studio

Email Studio is the content creation and delivery powerhouse of Marketing Cloud. Cloud for Good designed email content for newsletters, program updates, and marketing automation. By leveraging the power of Marketing Cloud and best practices in email strategy, YMCA-CF was able to create unified engagement, retire legacy email systems, and achieve better deliverability. Key strategies included:

  • Customization within Marketing Cloud allowed YMCA-CF to send emails to complex Sales Cloud reports, targeting very specific audiences;
  • Email templates and automation replaced legacy marketing efforts, to make sure the YMCA-CF’s marketing teams didn’t miss a beat;
  • Together, Cloud for Good and YMCA-CF refreshed graphic designs, balancing text and images according to best practices supporting deliverability;
  • Design elements, content, and segmentation worked together to create emails with relevant content specific to subscriber interest;
  • A/B testing supporting testing how messages resonated different audiences, allowing the team to continually improve engagement.

Better Deliverability with Sender Authentication Package

Cloud for Good supported YMCA-CF in Sender Authentication Package (SAP) implementation to promote high deliverability. Key components of SAP include Private Domain authentication, Account Branding, Reply Mail Management, and Private IP warming.

Given YMCA-CF’s send volume, a dedicated sending IP was the right strategy. Rather than sending on a shared IP—on an address with other senders’ emails comingled—emails from the YMCA-CF Marketing Cloud instance send via a dedicated IP. The private IP allows YMCA-CF to better control its sender reputation and subsequent deliverability.

The full benefit of a dedicated IP address requires a carefully-managed warming process. IP Warming includes planning and delivery of a series of targeted sends to the most engaged subscribers. These targeted sends and positive sending history result in a strong reputation and subsequent high email deliverability. In short, smart strategy leads to emails landing in inboxes rather than junk mail.

Journey Builder

With SAP configured and a strong sender reputation in place, YMCA-CF was able to take advantage of the amazing features Marketing Cloud has to offer, including engagement automation with the Journey Builder tool. YMCA-CF is now able to create automated paths for their subscribers based on their actions with the organization.

For YMCA-CF, the highest-priority engagement stream was the One Day Pass journey. Prior Marketing Cloud, constituents would request the one-day pass using a web form with no CRM integration. The constituent would receive a text-only email with a PDF attachment of the One Day Pass. Because this pass was attached to the email, subscribers would have to print out the pass and take it with them to their family center. In addition, the YMCA-CF’s marketing team would manually forward the notification of interest to the corresponding family centers.

With Journey Builder, this process is automated and visitor-friendly. The pass is now represented as a graphic component in the email body, automatically generated using custom personalization and AMPscript—no printing needed! Journey Builder is responsive to specific actions, such as email open or pass marked as used, to send relevant content—such as gentle encouragement use their One Day Pass.


To replace the use of static web forms, the YMCA-CF deployed FormAssembly webforms which integrate into their website and Salesforce. Form submissions are automatically checked against existing Salesforce data and the system can update existing records rather than always creating a new lead every time a form is submitted. This duplicate management strategy is providing YMCA-CF with better data, and ultimately better insights into their engagement with their constituents.

Cloud for Good also created a custom subscription center powered by FormAssembly. This solution supports a unified data model for their 18 locations and provides long-term engagement tracking as memberships end and renew again. Cloud for Good also advised YMCA-CF on the usage of progressive profiling, where they are now able to collect more information about their constituents as they continue to engage with the YMCA-CF family centers.


SIngle-source of Truth for a 360-Degree View of Constituents

Consolidating information and retiring legacy systems helped YMCA-CF gather key insights about constituents in one central location. Integrating Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud streamlined the marketing model, supported on-brand messaging, and provided the path to greater lead conversion and engagement. Information from the website, email communications, and in-person engagement is all centralized in Sales Cloud, creating one single source of truth for constituents.

Analytics are now available from either Marketing Cloud or Sales Cloud. Teams can drill down into email sends to see email performance and link tracking. Detailed information about each subscriber and their interaction can be analyzed via custom Data Extract/File Transfer built by Cloud for Good.

“Having a single-source of truth that’s connected to our marketing automation tool has given us greater insight into the behaviors of our constituents. We’re able to tell where our subscribers are engaging and how they want to be engaged with,” Newlin said. “This has helped our team increase engagement and conserve the valuable time of our staff members.

Better Engagement with Constituents

These best practices helped YMCA-CF achieve incredible rates during their initial pilot period: in the first 30 days, the YMCA sent almost half a million emails to its subscribers. Even better news: their deliverability rate of 94 percent topped the industry standard of 90 percent, delivering timely, relevant information to subscribers’ inboxes.

“While Marketing Cloud has given us the freedom to communicate, Cloud for Good has provided the industry knowledge and product expertise to be meaningful in the way we engage our constituents,” Newlin said. “We couldn’t communicate the way we do without Salesforce and Cloud for Good.”