Perhaps you've got an email list of less then 1,000 folks, and you're feeling envious of email marketers with lists in the thousands and thousands. Wait a sec, now. A good house list of 200 names is nothing to sneeze at. And if there is sneezing, it is only light sneezing, not the wet, gross kind of sneezing that makes people afraid to shake your hand for a week.
The important part is that you've started. You have an audience interested in your business and a way to interact with them, and now you're thinking creatively about how to expand it. So here are a few ideas to get you started.
You have a website, and you send nice email newsletters. It's time to connect the two, not with actual rope or string but with your signup form. That form lets any visitor to your website instantly become a new member of your subscriber list. Some people even create a special group (called "website subscribers," for example) to help keep track of who's signing up from the website. You can create separate forms for Facebook and Twitter as well, if you'd like to keep track of subscribers from those channels.
Naturally, you'll want to start by making the kind of emails you offer enticing in and of themselves. You might also consider rewarding new subscribers with a special offer -- sign up for our email updates now and receive a free copy of our whitepaper, or 10% off your next visit, or a snowglobe. People like snowglobes.
The people most likely to help you market are the 200 folks already on your list. The social sharing feature makes it easy for recipients to pass your emails on, but sometimes people need a bit more of a push. Consider creating coupons that can be used by multiple people (so send this to your Facebook friends...) or include a note at the top encouraging people to pass your newsletter on to their colleagues on LinkedIn. Forwardees can then sign themselves up for your future emails using the signup link at the bottom of your emails.
To collect email addresses, you have to ask for them. So put a signup pad by the cash register or the front desk. Add an email address field at the bottom of credit card slips. End phone calls by saying, "Hey Bob, why don't we add you to our email list?" (assuming in this example that the person's name is Bob and not Tony or Ron).
You'd be surprised how effective a fish bowl by the cash register can be. Even if you have no email addresses and are starting from scratch. Pretty soon you'll be collecting addresses -- all from loyal customers who are overjoyed at the prospect of getting weekly coupons by email. So take heart, start asking people to sign up, and good things will happen.