Everyone I talk to is trying to reduce costs while increasing revenue. One of the best ways to do that is through e-mail marketing, but you have to have a good pool of e-mail addresses before your e-campaigns will be successful. So try to capture e-mail addresses in everything that you do. With this in mind, here are some suggestions:
1. Put a "For More Information" button on your home page. When someone wants more information on your organization, they click this button and can sign up for your e-newsletter. In doing so, you capture their mailing address and e-mail. There is debate on how much information you should require. I am a proponent of requiring only two fields: name and e-mail address. The more you require, the less likely people will sign up. However, you should always give them the opportunity to supply more information, such as their mailing address, performance preferences, etc.
2. Do a product giveaway. Many non-profit advocacy organizations use this technique very well. For example, the Arts Action Fund gives away free decals which are very popular. To receive the free decal, you have to go to the website and register to get one. In the registration process, the Arts Action Fund captures your name and e-mail address.
3. Run a contest in your lobby. Give away something that will attract a crowd. Make them fill out a very quick form which captures their basic information such as name, address and e-mail to register for the contest. Make sure that you ask for an e-mail address as the first question and state that the winner will be notified via e-mail.
4. When you send out an e-blast, run a contest for the people who forward their e-blast on to all of their friends. For every 10 friends they forward the e-blast on to, they will be entered into the contest one time. Make sure they CC you on the forward so that you can count the number of e-mails the e-blast was forwarded to. Then you can capture those e-mail addresses and send them a solicitation of interest. Make sure though that when you send the first e-blast to this group, that you identify who you are in the subject field so you are compliant with the CAN-SPAM laws.
5. Use an email append company. There are companies out there now that if you send them your database, they can return your database with e-mail addresses for those that you were missing. There is a charge of this (usually something like 25 cents per e-mail) but usually it is worth it and the e-mail addresses are accurate.
6. Encourage patrons to sign-up for your e-newsletter or e-blasts by giving discounts or other premiums only to those who are on your e-mail list.
7. Make sure every e-blast that you send out has a forward-to-a-friend link and a way for an individual to sign up for your e-blasts if the e-mail is sent to them. This is a very powerful viral marketing technique, one which allowed Hotmail to become so popular.
There are several other ideas out there, and I would encourage you to talk to you colleagues and see what they are doing.