There are ethical ways to build an email list of current customers for your small business.
By using an ethically obtained emailing list to communicate with your customers, you will remain in good standing with your current customers.
1. Post Your Email Address
Set up and use your email for your small business. Print it on business cards. Include it with any directory advertisements or print advertisements.
2. Be Email Accessible
Even if your business is service-oriented and does not involve a lot of computer time, dedicate some time each day to check and respond to emails from current customers. Customers who receive prompt replies to their email inquiries will be more responsive to the emails you send to them.
3. Opt-in Mailing List
The easiest way to acquire customers’ email addresses is to include some mailing list sign up sheet by the register, for small businesses that are service-based or retail stores.
When customers are on the phone, or when you engage in person-to-person communication, ask the customer if they would like to be contacted by email.
Give customers an incentive to share their email address and offer a discounted service or raffle off a gift out of email addresses acquired in-house in a given period. This works extremely well at events. If you offer someone the chance to win a free t-shirt or hat, they will give up their email address surprisingly quickly.
6. Do not Solicit for Additional Emails
When contacting current customers in person or by email do not ask for the emails of their friends and family. A lot of larger businesses do this and sell the information. It is not an ethical business practice.
7. Set up a Web Page
Even if your business is incredibly small, and you do see the need for a full website at least set up a web page that has your email address. Or set up a page that has an email form.