Dear Moby, what are the different types of email marketing? 


“I currently send out only newsletter emails for my non-profit, but I am curious to know more. Are there different types of email marketing that I can add to my strategy?”


Great question, but first, let’s explore what email marketing is and is not.

What is email marketing? 

Email marketing is the process of connecting to your organization’s audience via email. Email marketing can be used to promote an organization’s mission or services, or it can be used to build relationships with subscribers, donors, and prospects. Having a clean and organized email account structure can be helpful when sending more tailored content to segmented audiences. With that, email marketing can be used to provide more tailored information and announcements bringing awareness to your organization and helping to nurture subscribers toward taking action on your cause, initiatives, or events to the right audience. 

When leveraged thoughtfully, email marketing can be: 

  1. A cost-effective digital marketing approach
  2. A way to improve an organization’s ROI
  3. An opportunity to build relationships with your contacts 

But email marketing should not be used to:

  1. Spam people
  2. Build an audience list for the sake of building a list 
  3. Only manual-send based, but can be used in several automated ways 


The Nonprofit Organization’s Guide to Email Marketing

From lead generation to email segmentation to A/B testing, this guide is a one-stop-shop for bringing your email marketing strategy to the next level.

Now that we know what email marketing is, let’s explore three different types of email marketing that can benefit your organization’s goals.

Types of Email Marketing for Nonprofits

Welcome Home!: Acquisition Emails 

Acquisition emails typically introduce the company and its mission or services. These emails help to set expectations of the content subscribers will receive, and maybe even try to get the recipient to sign up for another newsletter or take another action to support your cause. This email type is sent with the usual goals of acquiring, recruiting, informing, or welcoming new subscribers to your organization’s email listserv.

Acquisition emails encourage movement down the marketing funnel, or as we like to call it, the funnel of engagement. Marketing funnels help to give context and relative value to metrics that build on each other to work toward achieving a goal. When wanting to move a potential subscriber from the top of the funnel in the interest stage toward the bottom of the funnel into the engaged or committed stage, then consistent and relevant information should be communicated.  One common and effective way to do so is to send a few emails to welcome the new subscriber– a welcome series. It is highly encouraged that you have an email welcome series set up for your organization’s e-communication purposes and set expectations from the very beginning to begin building a nurturing and respectable relationship with your subscribers.  

Ms. Popular: Promotional emails

Promotional emails give your team the opportunity to further mission awareness and help your audiences get more familiar with your organization. Examples of this type of email marketing could include newsletters, product promotions, and donation requests. Promotional emails can be sent to a wide variety of people, including current subscribers, donors, community partners, and other stakeholders.

At Whole Whale, we love any chance to promote free resources and products to further aid in a person’s digital learning journey, and the best way we share this information is in a newsletter. For instance, in our November Newsletters, we love to highlight DEI initiatives and remind our audiences of the importance of being inclusive ahead of the holiday season. We share our blog content related to DEI and bring awareness to Whole Whale tools such as the Inclusivity Tool to align our messaging with our team’s educational and product goals.

“Baby Come Back”: Retention Emails 

Retention emails are re-engagement emails, which are messages sent to a donor or supporter who has not been active for a while. The goal of a re-engagement email is to encourage the inactive recipient to get involved again, whether that means making a donation, attending an event, or taking some other action. You can use this type of email marketing to get more information from your audiences by asking them to give feedback about their preferences or by analyzing their response to different engagement opportunities. 

Sending retention emails is a great tactic to help with improving metrics and cleaning out your list. Planning and sending out a routine retention email to gather feedback or to win back subscribers’ engagement benefits an organization’s overall email strategy. Retention emails can even be automated, where all you have to do is “set it up and then leave it,” but of course with routine management check-ins. Check out an example of a retention email asking subscribers for feedback, written with help from our AI Cause Writer below. 

Example (with the help of AI)

Describe the Org/Email you Want 

Email example asking an audience for feedback

GPT3 Response

Subject Line: 

Help Us Improve Our Service



At, we’re always looking for ways to improve our service. That’s why we’re reaching out to our supporters for feedback.

Please take a few minutes to complete our short survey. Your feedback will help us better understand your needs and how we can improve our service. Thank you for your time and input!

Take Our Survey Now

Thank you,

PowerPoetry Team 

blue whale whole whale logo

#MobyTip:  Always remember to utilize a/b testing to optimize your email strategy and discover your audience’s best preferences. This information will help to better segment your audiences and send relevant content to your subscribers.

Optimize your Email Send Strategy 

These are just three common types of email marketing for nonprofits that can help further your cause and improve your digital marketing strategy. Remember that your email strategy will forever be changing based on your organization’s needs, audience behaviors, and brand goals. Paying attention to your email metrics and testing frequently are great ways to improve your overall email strategy. 
Remember that creating a loyal following of people who trust and appreciate your brand is important, but even more important is finding genuine and tailored ways to stay engaged with your lists such as writing helpful blog posts, sending topical newsletters, and offering places for feedback. These are all ways to show your subscribers that you care about them and their needs. Making an effort to build strong relationships with your subscribers can yield better results from your email marketing campaigns. Be sure to check out more of our resources on designing email campaigns, nurturing donors, and audience segmentation all here in our Nonprofit Email Marketing Guide.