Congratulations - you have a small business!
You want to start emailing your customers now...but you don't have an email list. So...start collecting names, with a goal of building your list.
Here's 8 easy ideas:
1) Ask every customer at your register for their address when they check out.
2) Keep a guest book. This works best for restaurants, lodging, and specialty retail.
3) Make it part of your phone script. When you talk customers or potential customers, always close with a request for their email.
4) Run a contest. The simplest kind in a store is a fishbowl where guest leave their business cards to enter a monthly giveaway. Online you can do the same. Everyone who signs up for your email list online is entered in a drawing.
5) Sing up on your home page. Do you have a form on your website asking for email addresses? If not, add one!
6) Everywhere you have a social media profile for your business, you can create posts for people to join your email list.
7) Refer a friend. Create a simple form that contacts can use to refer their friends to your newsletter and invite the friends to opt in. Add it to your emails as well.
8) Put it on paper. What forms do you send to your contacts - packing slips? catalogs? postcards? invoices? Look over all your customer-facing documents and make sure your website and how to join your email newsletter list is noted.
Every interaction with a customer or prospect is a chance to ask them to sign up to receive more information from you. Just be clear that is part of why you are asking for their email address. Let them know what kind of valuable information they can receive for signing up!