An in-house email list has a major advantage over a bought in one: it gives a much higher return. This is due in the main to two factors, the first being that, with the use of email marketing software, any campaign can be targeted and secondly, you start with a relationship right from the beginning.
The question is how to get the email addresses.
First the bad news: if it was easy then everyone would have one. The good news is all that is required is to target your efforts.
Work out where you interface with customers and, just as importantly, potential customers. Whilst this will vary depending on what type of business you have a simple way of looking at it is to view your business as a high street shop.
Most people walking past will ignore your premises as they will be concentrating on their own problems. Some, though, will look into your window, just on the off chance you might have something of interest to them.
If you do involve them they might come in for a browse, looking at what you have on offer or even, perhaps, looking a particular item. They choose a product, place it in their basket, then queue for payment. Once they have paid they walk out with it in a plastic bag.
Later they will peruse the instructions. Things do not necessarily end there as there are often after sales communication. That is the process reduced to basics.
On line sales are identical. Your website is the shop window, the shelves are the graphics, the queue is the ordering process and the counter the payment for the basket. Then the item is posted to them.
At every stage of the procedure you should have some device to encourage them to sign up for your email marketing. A picture of what they are missing, an example of the savings, a comparison of the streamlining of the process if only they will sign. A flyer in the parcel, the incentive for the person on the helpline to get their email address and soon you will have your in-house list.