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3. Start publishing a newsletter. Although it requires quite a bit of work, an interesting newsletter quickly gathers subscribers and increases size of your E-mail database. An additional advantage of having a newsletter versus a simple E-mail announcement service is that you'll be able to submit to multiple newsletter directories on Internet.
4. Continue to allow everyone to access most of content on your site, but also add a "Members only" area that contains articles or other information that is valuable to your visitors. Give out free memberships, but require members to register, reveal their E-mail addresses and allow you to send them an E-mail advertisement every now and then.
This idea is especially suitable if you're eventually planning to charge for some of content you provide. The step from requiring your visitors to register to requiring them to pay is smaller than moving from giving everything for free to fee-based access.
5. Whenever you ask your visitors to give out their E-mail address, remember to offer them possibility to join your opt-in mailing list at same time. Do you have a form on your site that allows visitors to contact webmaster or sales department? Perhaps you have a Tell-A-Friend script that asks for sender's E-mail address and name? Both are excellent opportunities to suggest subscribing to your E-mail announcement list or newsletter to your visitors.
If you want to gather a sizeable list of E-mail addresses from your visitors, you shouldn't be afraid of trying hard to get them. Just keep in mind that there is a fine line between being persuasive and being annoying. Don't cross it.
Lauri Harpf runs the A Promotion Guide website, where he offers free tips on how you can use E-mail, search engines and other methods to promote your site. His site can be found at http://www.apromotionguide.com/