We may not automatically think of an email marketing message, an email newsletter or even a discussion group post that we send as an opportunity to connect on a human level. It's easy to put most of our time and effort into content creation – the "what" of our messages – and not give enough consideration to the "who" of the people we're trying to reach. Here are some simple but effective ways to keep the focus on the individuals behind the in-boxes in order to build relationships and a sense of connection.

Human Connections

Establish a Foundation of Trust and Value

  • Never spam. Ensure that your subscribers truly want to be on your email list by asking them to actively give their consent, and don't do the work for them.
  • State the purpose of your email list and message frequency clearly, and deliver what you promise.
  • Ensure that your subscribers reconfirm that they initiated the subscription request to receive your messages (confirmed opt-in/double opt-in).
  • Send welcome messages to new subscribers confirming expectations, providing help links and initiating the relationship by laying the foundation for future communications.
  • Place one-click unsubscribe links into every message.
  • Protect your subscribers' privacy and data.
  • Provide exclusive incentives such as white papers, useful promotional items or special offers for subscribers.

Form a Sense of Connection with a Professional yet Conversational Tone

  • Look at your subscriber demographics to get a sense of the people on your email list – for example, their roles and organizations – and create a few sample subscribers in your mind based on these demographics when you're developing content.
  • Develop your email draft and read it out loud to check for flow and a colloquial feel. Then ask a colleague for feedback and fine tune it accordingly.
  • Avoid jargon, acronyms, hyperbole and overly promotional verbiage.
  • Keep your messages as short and digestible as possible, add visuals at your discretion and include a clear CTA and an easy way for subscribers to reach you.

Personalize and Engage with Data, List Segmentation and Drip Marketing

  • Give people the opportunity to set their subscriber preferences or create their profile pages at the time they first subscribe. This will give you a sense of the types of messages they want to receive.
  • Consider segmenting your list based on this initial data. Basing your messages on data is key to keeping each subscriber subscribed, active and engaged.
  • Common ways to segment include demographic data, geographic location, personas and level of interaction with previous messages, but one size doesn't fit all so use the parameters that best serve your communication goals.
  • Create completely customized messages based on each subscriber's profile and preferences. LISTSERV Maestro supports personalization and conditional logic, enabling easy creation of custom content blocks.
  • Request permission for personal tracking from subscribers. If granted, you can send a mailing to a mixed group of recipients and gather personal tracking information from those who have given permission and non-identifiable, unique tracking information from those who haven't.
  • Consider drip marketing campaigns, with follow-up messages that are automatically triggered according to a specific subscriber's action, for instance a message click or a visit to your website. This approach helps you deliver the right content at the right time when the subscriber is most receptive to act.

Remember, keeping the people behind the names in your subscriber databases top of mind goes a long way to creating a connection with every message you send. Test what works for your audience, track your results, fine tune your approach and grow your subscriber relationships. Happy emailing!

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LISTSERV 17.0 was released ten months ago, and thousands of organizations are already running the new version. If you haven't upgraded yet, now is the time to jump on board. Let's look at the main reasons for upgrading and the benefits that LISTSERV 17.0 can bring to you and your organization.

New Responsive Web Interface

The web interface was completely overhauled for LISTSERV 17.0. The modern and fully responsive interface supports all types of devices, including tablets and phones, allowing you to manage your lists and your site from anywhere, anytime. The same goes for your subscribers, who can now interact with your messages and access the list archives on the go.

HTML Newsletter and Announcement Builder

The new HTML newsletter and announcement builder lets you create custom, fully responsive HTML newsletters without coding experience. You can use any of the more than 75 built-in newsletter templates as a base and put your own stamp on it. The system offers the easiest way to start sending professional newsletters to your audiences.

Seamless List Archives

The list archives are now completely seamless with no artificial weekly or monthly breaks. The new filtering capabilities and threaded forum view make it easier than ever to follow and locate topics of interest on busy discussion lists. You can even make your list archives appear like a standalone blog using the built-in blog customization tool.

Easy Customization

The site customization feature enables you to tailor the appearance of the web interface and list archives to reflect your organization's graphic profile using simple pulldown menus and input boxes with no HTML or CSS coding. This makes your brand stand out and offers your audience an enhanced user experience with a unified visual profile.

Security and Stability Improvements

Many important changes are not immediately visible, but they're designed to fix bugs, eliminate potential vulnerabilities, improve performance and generally make LISTSERV run better and safer. Upgrading to the latest version ensures that your LISTSERV site is as stable and secure as possible.

For more details about LISTSERV 17.0, visit:

For step-by-step instructions on how to get the new version, visit:

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It's all about communication. And saving time and hassles for your remote teams while keeping your subscribers, stakeholders and partners informed and engaged is a must. We've got you covered with tips and resources to keep your LISTSERV sites and subscriber communications running smoothly. Be sure to check out the short video tutorials on almost any LISTSERV task and share this info with your IT and communication teams.

LISTSERV Resources

We're providing email list software, hosting services and technical support as always and welcome your feedback, questions and suggestions, so get in touch!

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As many of us transition to online work and education, secure, reliable and easy-to-use communication platforms are essential. For more than 20 years, teachers, students, administrators and parents at schools around the world have been using LISTSERV® lists of all kinds through our free NetPals service – sharing knowledge, support and urgent alerts while complementing instruction.

We're here to support school communications during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Check out the ways that schools can benefit from NetPals and share this post or the link with the educators you know so that they can take advantage of free email groups.


Stay safe!

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Do you remember how you used email when you were a student? Did you know that LISTSERV was created and first used in a university setting in 1986 and has been the glue that connects and unites campus communities around the world ever since?

Why? Because it handles all types of internal and external communications from one central LISTSERV site, informing and connecting students, faculty, administrators, alumni, parents and other stakeholders.

The Glue that Connects and Unites Campus Communities

It's not surprising that email lists are still going strong because they're easy to use and provide a secure, ad-free communication space. Universities and other organizations count on LISTSERV for effective, efficient and engaging email newsletters, alerts, announcements, blogs and more. Subscribers can access their LISTSERV list messages conveniently in both their inboxes and the online archives.

Let's take a look at how campuses are keeping their communities connected in this series of snapshots:


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2019 propelled environmental advocacy into major focus, and this complex and urgent issue is sure to command more and more attention and mobilization in this new decade. Communications are critical to the work of environmental organizations around the world. Here are firsthand insights from Moshe Barak, an activist with grassroots NGO HomeLand Guardians, on how important email is to the organization's mission to protect Israel's coastline near Haifa from the effects of natural gas harvesting:

Email Powers Environmental Advocacy and Activism

"Since 2017, we've been using LISTSERV to deliver important messages to our members about various activities, such as demonstrations, protests next to the Prime Minister's home, to name a few – and to share achievements and calls to action for people to join us or support us financially," said activist Moshe Barak.

"It's a vital tool in managing this struggle and our contact with our supporters ... it leaves our time and efforts and energy free from technicalities and admin and focused on the core issues themselves."

Key to the organization's efforts and success is its email list, which grew from a few hundred subscribers when it started, to 78,000 members.

"We have reached thousands of people and motivated them, either for actions, such as attending demonstrations using short-notice alerts or with information distribution on important events and developments," Barak said.

The communications led to major results, including:
  • Organizing two scientific seminars with leading scientists and support from six green organizations

  • Breaking a world record with a surfing protest circle of 992 people, bringing major media attention to the issue

  • Assembling 20,000 people to demonstrate at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and thousands of people to attend presentations all over the country, raising support and creating seeds for people in many other local communities to join HomeLand Guardians' cause
Surfing Protest Circle
A world-record 992-person surfing circle is formed in protest of near-shore natural gas harvesting in Israel
"Other communication tools like social networks have their roles. But they can't replace mailing lists. With the newer tools, you must go to a site or app and check it yourself," said Barak. "Email is more immediate, fast, reliable and it's self-managed, so people can leave the list if they want."

Read more about HomeLand Guardians' advocacy:

Get more email insights and inspiration:

Happy Emailing!

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A new decade brings with it a sense of excitement and reflectiveness. We've seen many developments in social networking, communication and data protection, among others, in the past decade. Yet the need for relevant email communication remains strong.

Vision 2020

We invite you to share in the comments your email marketing and communication highlights, lessons learned, examples, goals for 2020 – anything you'd like!

Here are eight of L-Soft's toplines since 2010:
  • Designing new responsive user interfaces for the LISTSERV product family so you can communicate with your audiences using any device

  • Providing responsive newsletter templates for easy creation of beautiful newsletters to reach people on the go

  • Expanding traditional email discussion lists with new features, including threaded forum and blogging capabilities

  • Incorporating social media sharing with email to spread your messages and grow your audiences

  • Improving email tracking and reporting with features like permission tracking, allowing your subscribers to be in control of their privacy

  • Adding authentication, deliverability, data protection and GDPR tools to support your email communication

  • Celebrating key milestones:

    • 2016: 30 years since L-Soft Founder and CEO Eric Thomas invented LISTSERV

    • 2018: 25 years since Eric's invention of double opt-in subscription, launching permission email as we know it

    • 2019: 25 years of L-Soft being in business – proud to be one of the longest-running email tech companies

  • Most importantly, interacting with, helping and learning from all of you

We're looking forward to helping you reach your audiences in 2020 and for decades to come. Let's stay connected!

Happy 2020s and Happy Emailing!

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Email newsletters are a go-to tool for reaching our audiences with relevant visual, informative communications. Producing high-quality newsletters is a creative, collaborative and sometimes challenging process. Ensuring that your newsletters include must-have elements saves time and provides consistency, issue after issue, allowing you to focus on providing your readers with the most helpful and interesting content.

Let's explore the essentials that every newsletter needs:
Email Newsletters

Placing your organization's logo or banner in place in your newsletter template is one of the easiest ways for your readers to become familiar with your organization and brand. It's a big help to ensure that your subscribers recognize that the newsletter isn't spam and is coming from you, an organization from whom they signed up to receive newsletters.

Sender Information

Adding clear sender information to the footer area of your newsletter template is another way to build trust, brand recognition and interaction with your subscribers. People appreciate being able to easily find the contact information of the sender, including the website, privacy policy and other related resources.

Unsubscribe Link

It's a must for people who have signed up for your newsletter to be able to unsubscribe easily, at any time. Providing a prominent, one-click unsubscribe link in every message that you send is the recommended best practice. It's poor practice to require a login to unsubscribe or to hide the unsubscribe link or place it in a small font. Make unsubscribing an easy experience for people who no longer choose to receive your newsletter, so they'll do so with a positive impression of your organization. A person who unsubscribes just may be the same person who recommends the newsletter to a colleague who could benefit from its relevant content.


Most newsletters include links because they are important bridges to additional knowledge, resources and engagement opportunities on your website. While the links will naturally vary based on your content for each issue, make it a quality-assurance practice to test that all links work for every issue before you send. Double-check that the standing links, including your website, privacy policy and unsubscribe links, work as well to prevent "page not found" errors.

Learn More About LISTSERV Newsletters

LISTSERV provides tools to create custom newsletter templates and also includes existing templates that are ready to use, no HTML coding needed. You'll find these tools on the LISTSERV 17.0 web interface.

Be sure to check out these two video tutorials:

Creating LISTSERV Newsletters

Creating or Modifying LISTSERV Newsletter Templates

You can see samples of LISTSERV newsletters by visiting the demo site. The "Goode" list contains seven examples of creative and flexible ways you can present newsletter content. Additionally, feel free to log in to the demo site and view the entire library of newsletter templates under the "Newsletter Templates" menu to learn how the templates can be easily customized.

Hope these newsletter must-haves are useful – let us know what you think and, as always, get in touch about your email newsletter technology needs or with any feedback or questions. We are here to help!

Thanks and Happy Emailing!

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As you can see, EmailRules has now turned into a blog, using the new "Blog View" feature in LISTSERV 17.0. We hope you enjoy the new format.

Many people are curious and have asked how to use LISTSERV blogs and what the benefits are, so first let's cover some FAQs.

What is a LISTSERV blog?

A LISTSERV blog is a discussion group that has its archive pages presented in the new Blog View mode with a custom stylesheet, which makes it look and feel like a standalone blog. This mode combines the functionality of an email list and a blog.

Any advice for setting up a blog list?

Start the blog list as a moderated discussion group, which allows you to approve all comments before they are posted. If this isn't critical, then the list can be configured as a regular discussion group without moderation. You can then enable Blog View on the List Customization screen. Remember to customize the look of your blog using the customization tool, which allows you to insert your own top banner, color scheme and any social media feeds that you want to embed in your blog.

How do I start with blog publishing?

You can use simply use the HTML editor in the message posting interface to compose your blog posts. Alternatively, you can choose one of the responsive newsletter template as a basis for your LISTSERV blog publishing and modify it by removing any headers and footers as these aren't needed in a blog setting. You can then easily add text and images to make your content lively for your subscribers and readers without having to worry about any HTML coding.

What are the advantages of blogs?

Many! You can embed the blog into your website and tailor it to your brand and graphic profile. You can add sections, for example subscription and search forms, social media sharing icons and embed your own social media feeds. You can get as creative as you wish with the tools that LISTSERV offers.

Your subscribers receive the blog posts immediately when published and can also find the posts online. If your blog is open for public search and viewing, you will reach a wider audience and grow your readership and interactions.

Another major advantage is that your blog list is located on the same site as your other LISTSERV communications. Your blogs complement your regular email groups, newsletters and announcements. You'll have the full set of LISTSERV features at your fingertips for your blog list.

Should comments be allowed?

Most blogs welcome comments. To keep the quality and relevancy of the discussion high, you can set the list up as a moderated discussion group so that you can approve or reject all comments. Alternatively, you can allow confirmed subscribers to comment without moderation. People can reply directly via email to the list address or post comments online on the blog page. Replies are organized as online comments under the main post.

Where can I learn more about LISTSERV blogs?

To learn more about how to enable Blog View and use the blog customization tool, check out the following video tutorial:

LISTSERV Blog View Tutorial

Please share your experiences with LISTSERV blogging! And, as always, let us know your feedback, comments and topic suggestions.

Thanks and Happy Emailing!

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LISTSERV 17.0 launches a new era for mailing lists in our increasingly mobile communication environment. This major LISTSERV release features a responsive web interface, seamless list archives with three viewing modes – classic, forum and blog view – and an HTML newsletter builder with more than 75 responsive HTML newsletter and announcement templates.
We are excited about the new uses of LISTSERV email lists and are planning to convert the EmailRules list to a blog view format shortly. Stay tuned and thank you for being a subscriber!

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It's easy to think of email tracking as strictly the domain of email marketers, for transactional messages. But even if you're not selling or promoting a product, did you know that email tracking can help just about anyone more fully understand and engage their subscribers and get better results?

Get key info on the different levels of tracking, the importance of permission and the useful data reports that tracking provides in our new whitepaper:
We welcome you to let us know your feedback and any questions by emailing us at: [log in to unmask]. Thanks for being a part of the L-Soft and LISTSERV community.

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Hope you had a great year of email in 2018! With 2019 in mind, could you please share which topics would be most helpful to your work with email lists and email marketing in the new year? Examples include tips on managing email lists and email marketing campaigns, articles on data protection and compliance and email authentication and security, and, of course, anything else you'd like to explore.

Please email [log in to unmask] with your suggestions. Thank you!
Did you know that early 2019 will bring a major new version release, LISTSERV 17.0? A newsletter template creator with 46 ready-to-use HTML templates, enabling senders to create fully responsive HTML newsletters without HTML coding experience plus dramatically improved user-friendliness with a single comprehensive list archive and three viewing options to choose from are two of the many helpful features in the upcoming new version.

Be sure to stay on top of all the latest news and developments by subscribing to the LISTSERV at Work newsletter and joining us on your favorite social media platforms:

On behalf of L-Soft staff worldwide, we thank you for being a member of the L-Soft and LISTSERV community and wish you a Happy New Year!

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Interested in building email communication knowledge this back-to-school season? Check out the new weekly #LearnLISTSERV how-to series on social media. Join us on your favorite platform to get helpful tips.

Feel free to share the #LearnLISTSERV series with anyone who wants to expand email know-how, prevent common mistakes or just learn something new!

The weekly tips are also available here:

Any topics you'd like us to cover? We welcome you to be in touch. Thank you for being a part of the L-Soft and LISTSERV community.

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Since May 25th, the GDPR has been in force, affecting all organizations handling the personal data of EU residents and carrying substantial penalties for non-compliance with its strict data protection and other requirements. Among the many tasks, questions, layers and gray areas associated with this sweeping regulation, one of the key dilemmas for email marketers and digital communicators (with homage to Shakespeare) is:

"To track or not to track? That is the question."
Email tracking has clear advantages, of course, starting with generating valuable data that helps you to better engage your audiences and boost your results. Yet given the data protection compliance needs of the GDPR, just how should people use email tracking in the GDPR era, if at all?

If you're sending email campaigns and tracking the results, you are processing the personal data of your subscribers and need to take certain measures to be fully compliant with the GDPR. Check out an expert-authored tip on different email tracking options and what's most appropriate to use in the GDPR era, plus more relevant content in this brand new issue of the LISTSERV at Work newsletter:


Thank you for being a part of the L-Soft and LISTSERV community.

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Email may be the top online activity and sales channel, but all email is not created equal. Strong prior consent from subscribers continues to be the foundation for ethical email communication that gets positive results. This month, permission email as we know it today turns 25.

L-Soft Founder and CEO Eric Thomas invented LISTSERV, the original email list manager, in 1986 and added the subscription confirmation feature, also known as double opt-in, to the version released on March 15th, 1993. This strengthened recipient consent and launched permission email, which remains the industry gold standard.

Informing and empowering subscribers is key. This image shows some of the main hallmarks of permission email. Please feel welcome to share it on social media using the icons below.
Compliance with consent, authentication and data privacy requirements including the EU GDPR, for which enforcement begins May 25th, 2018, is now in major focus for digital marketers and communicators.

Confirmed permission from recipients is fundamental, so keep these three keywords as top priorities:

Explicit: Ask your subscribers to actively give their consent, and don't do the work for them

Specific: State the purpose of the email list clearly, and deliver what you promise

Confirmed: Ensure your subscribers reconfirm that they initiated the subscription request to receive your messages in the future (confirmed opt-in/double opt-in)

Watch one-minute video on key email best practices:

Learn more about new consent, data privacy and authentication requirements:

Read article on permission email::

Thank you for being an EmailRules subscriber and Happy Emailing!

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Dear EmailRules Commmunity,

Permission email and the related handling of subscriber data were in the spotlight in 2017, with legislative and regulatory developments, particularly in the United States, Canada and the European Union. We welcome all changes that strengthen trust and nurture relationships between senders and subscribers.

Thank you for being a part of the LISTSERV community. Warmest wishes for the holiday season and the new year!


Best Regards,

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Dear EmailRules Community,

Earlier this year, when the Federal Trade Commission announced that it was planning a review of the CAN-SPAM Act, many organizations, including L-Soft, submitted public comments on the law, urging the adoption of an opt-in requirement for email marketing. While it's unlikely that much will change regarding the CAN-SPAM Act and its provisions in the near future, L-Soft strongly recommends that everyone follow email marketing best practices, which includes the more responsible opt-in standard for subscriber acquisition.

Read More:

Best Regards,

Jani Kumpula
L-Soft Webmaster

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About This Blog

EmailRules is the first LISTSERV blog in the world. It's a showroom and experiment to combine a blog and a moderated email list. We welcome your interaction – questions, answers, comments, advice, tips, guest articles – anything email related. Feel welcome to read, subscribe and post. We hope you enjoy this blog for email communicators.