As a website owner, it is very important to “capture” your customers email addresses. It is the most affordable way to keep in touch with your customers. One of the best ways is to publish your own newsletter. You can email it to your customers and also publish it online.
A newsletter can be on any subject relevant to your business and is also a great way to tell your customers about special promotions. In the craft industry, you may want to publish a craft newsletter once a month. Teresa King (when she was well) used to publish a newsletter on www.fazzles.com. It was simple and had many subscribers. She always included a freebie in her newsletter and received wonderful feedback.
Zen Cart and many other shopping carts already have a built in way to send messages to your customers with an opt in and out option.
(In the zen cart admin it is located under TOOLS >> Send Email)
There are also many free scripts online, but these take some knowledge.
Many hosting companies have a built in fantastico software program that will allow you to install a simple mail form, or many other php or cgi based script. You may want to check your hosting panel or menu for fantastico.
Here is a cgi based one:
http://www.2createawebsite.com/enhance/create-newsletter.html (this requires some knowledge of uploading files to your cgi-bin (not required on all servers) Also you need to know what chmod is and how to set special permissions on files.
There are also paid options such as constant contact:
Constant contact is great for anyone serious about their newsletter as it tracks how many times it was opened, the links that were clicked etc. The downfall is the cost is a bit spendy if you have a large list of contacts it may not be worth the added costs.
Tip: If you send out a mailing to your customers, try to always include discounts and freebies. Your members will be much more willing to open your message.