The SSO SAML support in LISTSERV improves user authentication by allowing single sign-on integration through the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) protocol. This feature integrates LISTSERV with existing identity providers (IdPs), facilitating a unified login experience and authentication process across multiple platforms.

How it works:

When a user attempts to log in to the LISTSERV web interface, the Service Provider (SP) sends a SAML request to the Identity Provider (IdP) of choice. After the IdP authenticates the user's identity, it sends the SAML assertion back to the SP, containing an attribute that corresponds to the user's email address. This email address will then be used by LISTSERV to generate a login token for the underlying user and grant the user access to the resources.

Other new features and improvements in LISTSERV 17.5 include:
  • Extensive security and accessibility improvements
  • Support for multiple Captcha solutions for an added layer of protection from bots
  • Rate-limiting settings to safeguard the web interface from bots and abuse
  • Support for the one-click unsubscribe mechanism (RFC 8058)
  • Simplified and customizable standalone subscription screens
  • Improved integration and connectivity with LISTSERV Maestro
  • Modernized HTML mail templates and confirmation emails
  • Simplified and modernized list creation templates
  • New versions of Jquery, Jquery-UI and Tablesorter
  • Option to hide X and Y tokens from all URLs for extra security


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Discover how non-profit organizations make a difference worldwide with the "3 Cs": Communication, Collaboration and Connection. Whether providing rare disease support, elevating higher education research or offering community services, communication and collaboration are key. Hear the wisdom of the people behind these organizations driving positive change.

Explore the Impact of Non-Profit Organizations Working for a Better World


Not all support groups are created equal, nor are all of the patients that benefit from them the same. GIST Support International (GSI) has members facing this rare cancer from around the globe – including the United States, United Kingdom, Austria, India, Netherlands, China, Australia, Mexico, Italy, Canada and beyond – to benefit more and more patients.

"GSI (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Support, International) is truly a patient-driven organization, held together by the bonds of our email groups, which serve as our support system. Patients come and go, either because of death or long-term survival, but each and every person who associates with GSI through our LISTSERV discussions leaves a lasting piece of information and history for those who will follow in the future."

Ginger Sawyer
GSI Board Member and Treasurer


Non-Profit NeighborImpact Delivers Shelter, Food, Hope and Opportunity


For more than 30 years, NeighborImpact has been providing people in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties in Oregon with a diversity of services that not only meet basic human needs for food and shelter but enrich lives through access to increased education, skills and hope for the future.

"Our services assist people to become more independent and self-sufficient, recognizing there is a continuum of support that all people need throughout their life. We envision a Central Oregon where residents, regardless of their income status, have hope and optimism and access to community resources that see them through times of need."

Michael Hensley


Look Inside Jisc, a Top Research and Education Community


When it comes to enabling people in UK education and research to engage, connect, collaborate, discuss, share and champion their work, JISCMail is a leader. In the words of one JISCMail list enthusiast: "JISCMail is a jewel in the crown of Jisc services, an essential part of the collaboration infrastructure for the UK higher education, further education and research."

"The discussions, events and research findings in JISCMail's searchable LISTSERV archives are a huge resource for our customers, telling the story of how education and research has changed considerably over the years."

Lisa Vincent


Share Your Thoughts, Experiences and Stories


In today's complex world, climate change, public health, war, human rights, artificial intelligence and many other urgent issues call for reliable, flexible and innovative communication solutions. We appreciate that organizations like yours make a difference every day, and we're here to support your crucial work.

We hope you're inspired by the creative and impactful ways customers, users and subscribers are driving positive change. We would love to hear your thoughts, experiences and stories, even if it's just a short comment.


"LISTSERV and email fulfill a fundamental human need – the need to form communities and share ideas, experiences, joy and pain. People have been doing this for as long as mankind has existed, but LISTSERV removes the barrier of physical distance."

Eric Thomas
L-Soft Founder and CEO

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Email communicators often wonder about benchmarks and how their open, click and conversion metrics stack up against others. But this type of comparison is not particularly useful because average response rates vary so widely across different industries and types of campaigns. Instead, focus on a few key best practices to more effectively engage your unique audiences.

Here are five quick tips to help you do just that:

Improve Your Response Rates

Obtain Subscribers Ethically

When it comes to email marketing, ethical practices are crucial. Always use double opt-in to obtain explicit, prior consent from subscribers. Sending unsolicited email that puts the onus on the recipient to opt out is simply not worth the spam complaints and damage to your organization's reputation – not to mention the potential legal liabilities.

Include easy paths for people to subscribe to your email lists on your website and social channels. Clearly communicate what your list is about, what type of messages the subscriber will receive and how often. Also offer a preference or profile page at signup, allowing your subscribers to specify in detail what types of messages they want to receive. This initial data will serve as a cornerstone for any future segmenting that you do.

For additional encouragement, offer incentives – for example exclusive content, promotional items or discounts – that are not available to non-subscribers. And remember to include refer-a-friend opportunities in all of your communications, which will allow your lists to grow virally.

Learn to Write Successful Subject Lines and Preheaders

Crafting effective subject lines and preheaders is critical for email marketing success. Keep subject lines short and to-the-point (around 5-10 words and fewer than 50 characters). A preheader, which is a line of text at the very top of your message, can be slightly longer (up to 100 characters). Together, make sure that they convey a compelling reason for the subscriber to open your message.

Offer incentives or communicate a sense of urgency without sounding overly promotional. Personalization is also important to engage individual subscribers. What's great about subject lines and preheaders is that they are the easiest aspect of a campaign to test. Take advantage of A/B-split testing and see what resonates best with your target audience. Learn from your mistakes and implement positive outcomes to optimize future campaigns.

Use Segmentation to Increase Relevancy and ROI

Effective email marketing involves segmenting your subscribers into subgroups based on specific criteria. While it may seem logical that anyone who subscribes – and stays subscribed – to your email list is interested in your messages, data-driven specificity is crucial to retain and engage each subscriber. Consider parameters like demographics, geographic location and interaction history to segment your audience.

Prioritize your segmentation efforts based on your organization's goals and objectives. And remember, it's an evolutionary process, and you'll be refining and honing as you go, based on results. Beyond the basics of better open-up and click-through rates and fewer unsubscribes, using segmentation to bring relevant, relationship-building content to your subscribers can also enhance your overall ROI.

Send the Right Content at the Right Time with Triggers

Triggered campaigns are follow-up messages that are automatically sent out in response to specific subscriber behavior. For example, if a subscriber clicks through to your website from a previous campaign and abandons an item in the shopping cart, you can trigger a reminder message to be sent out after a certain amount of time has passed. Similarly, if a subscriber shows interest in a specific type of product, you can trigger future messages about similar products when applicable.

Unlike generic subscriber preferences, triggered campaigns take targeting a step further and provide insights into real-time subscriber interests. This enables you to deliver the right content at the right time when the subscriber is most receptive and likely to engage with you.

Maximize Deliverability by Keeping Your List Clean

Deliverability has become an important concept to ensure that messages are actually delivered to subscribers' inboxes instead of being blocked by ISPs or spam filters. After all, it doesn't matter how compelling your content may be if your subscribers never even receive the messages. Much of deliverability and reputation management revolves around keeping your list clean – meaning, not only deleting invalid email addresses to keep your bounce rate low but pruning subscribers who may no longer be interested in your messages.

Always include an easy one-click unsubscribe link in every message that you send. If subscribers can't easily unsubscribe, they are much more likely to click the "Report as Spam" or "Junk" button in their email clients. Needless to say, this negatively affects your sender reputation with ISPs and can lead to blacklisting. Also make sure that you're complying with key authentication standards like SPF, DKIM and DMARC, which are widely used to confirm that email messages originated from an authorized mail server.

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Successful Email Newsletter

Email newsletters can be one of the most impactful ways of communicating with your audiences, but only if done well. So what makes a good newsletter for optimal engagement? Let's take a look at the building blocks of a successful email newsletter and why each of them is important.


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Key Email List Communication Resources

Explore helpful email communication resources and inspiration for building community, engaging key stakeholders, creating collaborative initiatives and driving positive change for sustainability, education, innovation and many more needs.


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Email Authentication in 2024

Email authentication is a key factor for deliverability and sender reputation. So be ready for the new email authentication and deliverability rules that Gmail and Yahoo will apply in 2024. These rules will require you to use SPF, DKIM and DMARC to ensure that your emails land in your recipients' inboxes. In this article, we'll tell you what SPF, DKIM and DMARC are, why they matter and how to set them up for your domain.


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When it comes to expanding your professional skill set, there are numerous compelling reasons to explore new opportunities. Stand out among your peers, boost your confidence and motivation and even keep your brain healthy and flexible. Check out the free, self-paced Learn LISTSERV and Learn LISTSERV Maestro courses to take advantage of the actionable knowledge and skills you'll gain.

Free Online LISTSERV Email Communication Courses


Let's look into the three key benefits of the LISTSERV® email course:

1. Learn how to reach and motivate your organization's audiences with all types of email communications, from email discussion groups and blogs to newsletters, alerts and other announcements.

2. Gain must-have skills to inform, engage and delight the people behind those organizations, building your subscribers' trust in your communications.

3. Expand your organizational knowledge and boost your IT and communications profile in just 15 minutes max per week, while mastering the pioneering LISTSERV software platform.

Sharpen Your LISTSERV® Skills


Now, let's explore the three key benefits of the LISTSERV® Maestro course:

1. Learn how to create, manage and implement all types of email marketing and outreach campaigns with powerful analytics to maximize the impact and results of your organization's communications.

2. Showcase the value of your organization's content with expert design, flexible templates and custom landing pages.

3. Simplify your communications with easy-to-use profile fields, target groups and subscriber lists to keep you and your multi-user teams collaborating and advancing your goals.

Advance Your LISTSERV® Maestro Skills
Learn LISTSERV Maestro


Bonus Benefits:

  • Access course and training resources to share with your team, new colleagues and end users.
  • Experience email automation in action, as the course runs on the LISTSERV Maestro communication platform. Perhaps you'd like to build your own courses in the future? 😊


Please Share Your Experiences and Questions – Happy Learning!

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Spooky Email Design Tips for Bewitching Communications

Spooky Email Design Tips

Email remains a spellbinding digital communication and marketing channel when done right. Cast trust-spells with double opt-in subscription confirmation and a one-click escape hatch.

Before Weaving Your Email Enchantments, Clarify:

Who's in your spellbound audience?
What secrets lie within your mystical messages?
How will your content serve their desires?

Then Embark on Your Journey with 7 Email Design Spells:

Call in Brand Recognition:
Personalize with magical enchanting signs
Craft Content with Otherworldly Clarity:
Balance space and font size
Enchant Your Audience's Gaze:
Use magical images
Bewitch Recipients to Take Action:
Include a prominent CTA
Summon Social Media Spirits:
Make sharing easy
Embrace Mobile Mysteries:
Create a bewitching mobile experience
Add a Footer to Complete the Spell:
Bring a magic touch to your email's final realm.

Special Formulas for Out of This World Email Impact:

Featured Articles and Tips: A Second Glance

Dark Mode

Dark Mode For Email:
Emerging Trend or Fleeting Fad?


All Treats

All Treats, No Tricks:
Happy Subscribers + Best Results


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See How These Three Solutions Stack Up and Find Your Best Fit

Planning to manage your email lists on-premises? The LISTSERV® platform provides options for any need in a reliable, flexible and secure solution with more than 35 years of worldwide use by organizations of all types. Keep your audiences engaged with discussion groups, email newsletters, announcements and more.

"LISTSERV software helps my organization because it's stable, secure, familiar and well supported. The one piece of server software that I don't have to worry about."

– Adrianne Schutt

LISTSERV Software vs Freeware

Key LISTSERV Advantages

Deployment Flexibility

Configure your LISTSERV site to meet your organization's exact needs. The software can be installed on a range of Windows- and Unix-based operating systems. A hosted cloud service is also available with easy migration between the on-premises and cloud options.
Technical Support

Relax in knowing that L-Soft's expert technical support team is always there to help you with your challenges, no matter how complex. Installation assistance, training and consulting is also available throughout the implementation cycle.
Comprehensive Feature Set

Create and manage all types of email lists, including discussion groups and announcement lists with eye-catching newsletter templates. The Maestro email marketing add-on provides access to in-depth tracking, reporting and analytics.
Enterprise-Level Performance

Rest assured that you'll have the power to create any number of lists with any number of subscribers as your operations grow. Your messages will be delivered easily and smoothly, without bogging down your system, regardless of the size of your lists.
Security and Deliverability

Trust that your software and data will be protected at all times. Your email lists can be open to all or closed and confidential. The built-in virus protection keeps your lists clean, while the deliverability and authentication features ensure that your messages reach their destinations.


Comparison: LISTSERV®, GNU Mailman, and Sympa

GNU Mailman
Platforms Supported
Windows, Unix/Linux
Proprietary software license, either annual or perpetual, with unlimited email lists
The GNU General Public License, free and open-source software
The GNU General Public License, free and open-source software
Technical Support
Dedicated support provided by experienced IT engineers

Installation assistance and consulting services available
Developer and user communities
Developer and user communities
Cloud Option
Also available as a hosted cloud service
No hosted cloud solution available
No hosted cloud solution available
User Resources
Online documentation, video tutorials, tech tips, newsletter, user forums
Online documentation
Online documentation

See the LISTSERV demo to experience the power and capabilities first-hand.


"The L-Soft products are cost-effective and easy to use. They empower users and owners to efficiently share and receive information through ongoing discussion, alerts and newsletters."

– Nicole Ambrose, United Way

LISTSERV Software vs Freeware

A Word About "Freeware"

Times have changed, drastically so, in recent years. Although budgets may be tighter and IT staff not as plentiful, it's important to keep in mind that freeware is never free. While there are solutions that are touted to be "free" – primarily GNU Mailman and Sympa – in fact, using these solutions is more expensive than it used to be. Computer costs are never zero. User support costs are never zero. Person-hours to manage and upgrade applications are certainly never zero.

Simply put, LISTSERV has earned a strong reputation for its 35+ years of reliability, flexibility, quality and security. Get in touch to learn more and find your organization's best fit.


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When it comes to IT applications, it's rare to see one that's been around for almost 40 years. So people's first reactions tend to be quizzical or even stunned. The reason for the longevity is, in some ways, both simple and complex – a confluence of logos, pathos and ethos.

Here are six key reasons why people in all types of organizations keep turning to LISTSERV technology, whether they choose licensed software on-premises or a hosted cloud service.

Bringing People Together

Bringing People Together

Email lists as we know them today began when Eric Thomas invented LISTSERV software in 1986, which automated cumbersome manual list management. It also led to the world's first email groups, securing and ensuring a space for thriving discussions and knowledge exchange.

"My goal was simply to create a tool that would allow mailing lists to prosper while making life easier for subscribers and list owners. It was a simple idea whose success exceeded all my expectations. Sometimes you set about solving a small problem, and later on you realize that you have actually solved a big problem."

– Eric Thomas, LISTSERV Inventor and L-Soft Founder and CEO

Developing More Secure Communications

LISTSERV was the first software to introduce double opt-in, also known as confirmed opt-in. This 1993 invention became the industry best practice for permission email, which it remains to this day. Two years later, LISTSERV introduced the first spam filter in the industry, keeping email lists clean and safeguarding subscribers from spam. In 2001, LISTSERV became the first email list solution to provide built-in anti-virus capabilities to automatically reject and discard virus-infected messages.

"Respect your subscribers and build trust by giving them full control and only sending email messages that they have explicitly requested via double opt-in. This ultimately benefits your sender reputation, subscriber relationships and, in turn, your communications and results."

– Outi Tuomaala, L-Soft Executive VP

Providing Comprehensive Capabilities for All Needs

LISTSERV is a powerful, flexible and scalable enterprise solution for creating and managing email groups, newsletters, discussion forums and, with the Maestro add-on, marketing outreach with advanced analytics. Among its many features and functions, the searchable list archives with classic, forum and blog view options are a highly used goldmine of helpful knowledge, peer support and user tips. This saves time for both list administrators and subscribers, keeping discussions focused on fresh and emerging topics.

"The searchable LISTSERV archives are a huge resource for our customers. The discussions, events and research findings in JISCMail's archives tell the story of how education and research has changed considerably over the years. And the LISTSERV reporting tools allow us to build a picture of how well used and strong the JISCMail service is. We are measured on how much the service is used, and the reporting tools allow us to do this and give us this information quickly."

– Lisa Vincent, Jisc

Building Community

Discussion groups for people with common interests, challenges and goals to share knowledge, get support and learn make a profound impact. Discussion lists are a unique advantage of LISTSERV because they're not seen among other email list solutions.

"GSI is truly a patient-driven organization, held together by the bonds of our email groups, which serve as our support system."

– Ginger Sawyer, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Support International

Keeping Users in Full Control

As LISTSERV is an owned channel, users have full control of their mailing lists. Administrators oversee sites and traffic, and list owners moderate discussions and set guidelines. Users can easily subscribe and unsubscribe to mailing lists, manage their email preferences and participate in group discussions.

"The L-Soft cloud-based list hosting solution is very powerful and easy to use. List management is very easy using the LISTSERV web-based interface."

– Michael Hensley, Chief Information Officer, NeighborImpact

Benefiting from Expert Technical Support

Most of L-Soft's support team members are seasoned experts with decades of experience and are available to help you with your email communication challenges, no matter how complex. The technical team has an established reputation for prompt response times to get your problems solved as quickly as possible.

"LISTSERV software gives us the flexibility to accomplish whatever we need, and the support provided by L-Soft's knowledgeable and very helpful staff – a staff that apparently never sleeps – has been invaluable."

– Karen Reznek, ICORS

LISTSERV has been around for over three decades, and its longevity is a testament to the technology's robust capabilities and scalability to grow along with organizations and groups – and, most of all, its users around the world.

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Simplify Your Communications, So You Can Focus on Your Objectives

When you're working in a non-profit organization (NPO), a non-governmental organization (NGO) or a professional membership association dedicated to positive change, you need a reliable and secure email communication solution to help you reach your target audiences, engage your supporters and advance your mission. We salute organizations like yours that make a difference every day, and we're here to support your crucial work.

"The L-Soft products are cost-effective and easy to use. They empower users and owners to efficiently share and receive information through ongoing discussion, alerts and newsletters."

– Nicole Ambrose, United Way

NPOs and NGOs

Manage Your Digital Messaging and Outreach on One Cloud Platform

  • More Than Just an Email Communication Solution

    ListPlex Maestro DVM is a dedicated virtual machine that combines the industry standard LISTSERV® and LISTSERV Maestro email list products into one integrated solution. You can enjoy the benefits of a cloud-based service without compromising on privacy or compliance.
  • Purpose-Built for Organizations of All Sizes

    The service runs on LISTSERV email list technology and is designed specifically to enable medium- to large-sized organizations leverage the power of email communications to achieve their goals.
  • More Cost-Effective Than Other Email Marketing Solutions

    You get full access to all features and an unlimited contact database, unlike other providers that offer tiered access to advanced features and limit the number of contacts. You can send an unlimited number of monthly emails and only pay for what you actually send.


With ListPlex Maestro DVM, You Can:

Create and Manage
Create and Manage

Discussion lists foster dialogue and collaboration among your stakeholders. LISTSERV is the only professional discussion list provider on the market and offers the flexibility and security you need for your email communication needs.

Design and Deliver
Design and Deliver

Email newsletters inform and persuade your audiences. The user-friendly templates help you create eye-catching messages. The segmentation and personalization features allow you to tailor your messages for stronger engagement.

Track and Measure
Track and Measure

The comprehensive reporting and analytics tools of LISTSERV Maestro allow you to measure the impact of your communications. Monitor your outreach campaigns in real time and optimize your email strategy to boost engagement and improve results.

"LISTSERV software gives us the flexibility to accomplish whatever we need, and the support L-Soft's knowledgeable and very helpful staff – a staff that apparently never sleeps – has been invaluable"

– Karen Reznek, ICORS


Unique Value for Organizations that Make a Difference in Our World

  • Email-Based Communities and Discussion Groups

    Foster knowledge exchange and collaboration within and beyond your organization. Benefit from searchable online archives to ensure valuable information is easily accessible whenever needed and to build a growing body of knowledge for your important initiatives.
  • Branded Newsletters and Outreach Campaigns

    Build strong connections with your stakeholders through customized newsletters and targeted email outreach campaigns. Deliver engaging content, track engagement and generate insightful reports.
  • Scalable and Flexible Deployment Options

    Whether you prefer an on-premises solution or the convenience of cloud hosting, L-Soft offers both deployment options. With the cloud service, you also gain access to a dedicated virtual machine for maximum performance.

LISTSERV technology has been helping people connect, communicate and collaborate since 1986. It empowers your organization to expand its reach and enables your professionals to develop collective knowledge that creates a meaningful impact in the world.

Seize the opportunity to transform and strengthen your communication strategies as you drive global positive change. Contact L-Soft today to learn more, take a demo, try out the solution for free or get a personalized quote, based on your organization's size, requirements and deployment preferences.


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Higher Education
Managing a LISTSERV site for your campus communications? Keep your site and email lists running optimally with easy tips for branding, use cases of LISTSERV features in academia like dynamic query lists and more. Educational and research institutions like yours have relied on LISTSERV for discussion groups, announcements and newsletters for more than 35 years. We're here to help.

Top Tips to Keep Your LISTSERV Lists Running Smoothly

Build Trust with a Customized LISTSERV Site and HTML Templates

Add your logo to your LISTSERV site to enhance the user experience and help list owners customize the look and feel of their email list pages. Make your graphic profile easy for people to recognize by using your organization's style guide. It's easy to copy and paste the exact color code and apply it in the LISTSERV customization interface.

Did you know that you can also build and save your university newsletter and announcement templates in LISTSERV and share them with all your organization's list owners? This will be a very helpful timesaver for many list owners and content creators.

Share Knowledge

Ensure that your LISTSERV email lists run well. Educate and train your key staff – list owners, editors and moderators as well as tech, admin and communications colleagues. Help them configure your organization's LISTSERV lists correctly for high-quality and relevant communications.

Get the Benefits of List Moderation

List moderation can significantly improve the quality of your email list. Double-check who is allowed to send to the list directly and who is not. With moderation, you can prevent irrelevant or unwanted content from reaching your list. Remember to add a bottom banner with a clear unsubscribe link and other key information about your list.

User Examples to Boost Your Communications

Advanced Communications Settings

While regular discussion groups and announcements lists are important for classes, clubs and student organizations, LISTSERV can do a lot more when used together with existing IT infrastructure. Let's look at some examples:

Save Time and Hassles by Using Dynamic Query Lists

A major university in Indiana converted to DQL (Dynamic Query Lists) using a combination of SQL database queries and LDAP/Active Directory queries. By querying data sources in real-time, the data is always up-to-date and a scripted process is no longer needed, saving much time and preventing a lot of maintenance headaches.

LISTSERV can use Dynamic Query Lists (DQL) to fetch recipients from a DBMS or LDAP data source. DQL is useful when the list membership is managed outside of LISTSERV. For example, you might want to mail to employees stored in an LDAP directory or university students registered in a course registration database.

Take Advantage of Your Existing Data Sources with DBMS-Based Lists

A prominent midwestern university uses the DBMS features of LISTSERV Maestro for fetching recipients from university-wide databases, for example, for sending newsletters. The technology helps the university staff meet the business and reporting requirements put forth by the administration.

DBMS-based LISTSERV lists are useful when you need LISTSERV to manage the list membership through the usual LISTSERV subscription management features – opt-in, opt-out, recipient uploads – but you also want to be able to access that list membership through a DBMS interface.

Target Your Communications with Super-Lists and Sub-Lists

A public university in Oklahoma runs LISTSERV, using it for more than 500 lists. They use the sub-lists feature to group all discussion sections into class lists as well as to group students, faculty and staff by department or college (engineering, business, etc.) or any other natural grouping.

Super-Lists and Sub-Lists

Coordinate with Stakeholder Networks

A large California university's Office of the President uses LISTSERV to coordinate a statewide network of 10 campuses and assorted field stations. Most campuses also run LISTSERV locally for their own local needs.

Enjoy the Versatility and Flexibility of LISTSERV Communications

An upstate New York university is invested in LISTSERV and its Maestro add-on. The university uses LISTSERV for discussion and class lists and the Maestro add-on for many of their other mailings, such as the university-wide daily newsletter.

Tracking, Reporting and Analytics with LISTSERV Maestro

Best Practice Essentials

  • Keep your LISTSERV support and maintenance active
  • Make sure that your LISTSERV site is up-to-date
  • Add Maestro to your LISTSERV site for tracking, reporting and analytics
  • Share free LISTSERV resources within your organization

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Amp Up Accessibility and Prevent Pitfalls with These 3 Key Tips
As digital communicators and marketers, of course you want subscribers to appreciate your high-value content and to have a sense of trust in you as a sender. To make sure your messages are effective, accessible and compliant, let's take a look at some simple yet crucial best practices: the plain text alternative, alt text and unsubscribe links.

Plain Text Alternative

First, say hello to one of the newest features of LISTSERV Maestro – the magic wand that eliminates the hassle of creating plain text versions of your email messages. LISTSERV Maestro now automatically generates a plain text alternative from the content of the HTML part, ensuring that all of your subscribers can read your messages, regardless of their email settings and devices. Plain text is the simplest form of content that contains no design elements, such as bold or italicized text, colors or images.

LISTSERV Maestro now automatically generates a plain text alternative

Despite the rise of eye-catching email designs, plain text parts are still an important part of any email marketing strategy and offer several benefits that should not be overlooked.

Why Plain Text Parts Are Still Important

  • HTML messages with a plain text alternative generally offer higher deliverability and are less likely to be flagged as spam
  • Screen readers may yield better results if a plain text alternative is used in conjunction with the HTML
  • Alternative reading devices such as smart watches often use the plain text alternative
  • Some people still prefer plain text messages and view HTML messages as a privacy risk

Alt Text

You might be thinking, "Alt what?" Alt text, short for alternative text, is the text that appears when images don't load properly or for people who use screen readers due to visual impairments. Alternative text is an important part of HTML messages – especially in an era where most email clients no longer automatically load images for privacy reasons – because they allow the viewer to see what the images are supposed to show before enabling them.

Tips to Make Your Alt Text Effective

  • Use descriptive keywords that are relevant to the image
  • Avoid redundant or generic text
  • Include important details, such as a call-to-action or product feature
  • Use bullet points or short paragraphs for longer descriptions

Panoramic view of the historic district of Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden

Example 1: "Panoramic view of the historic district of Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden"

The alt text accurately describes the image and provides relevant information about its location. It's also concise and easy to understand, which is important for people who use screen readers or have other accessibility requirements.

The description may be somewhat generic, but it's still specific to the image that it describes, providing relevant information about the location and content of the image.

Example 2: "Experience the charm of Stockholm: Marvel at the picturesque cityscape and historic Gamla Stan - Visit Now!"

This alt text not only provides a unique and engaging description of the image that highlights the charm and beauty of Stockholm, but it also includes a call-to-action to encourage people to visit the city. The alt text is still descriptive and informative, but it goes beyond a general description to create interest and spur action.

While there is no maximum number of characters allowed for alt text, you should keep it somewhat concise and limit it to 125-150 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

Note that alt text and the plain text alternative work hand in hand. From this example, LISTSERV Maestro would automatically generate a plain text part that looks like this:

Experience the charm of Stockholm: Marvel at the picturesque cityscape and historic Gamla Stan - Visit Now!:
<”[Image Download URL]”>

The image download URL is created automatically by LISTSERV Maestro, so you can see how many recipients clicked to open the image from the automatically generated plain text alternative.

Unsubscribe Link

We know it's hard to say goodbye. But sometimes people don't want to receive any more emails from your company. Maybe they feel overwhelmed or just aren't interested anymore. It's best to give them the opportunity to unsubscribe at their leisure because it allows you to focus on those subscribers who are truly interested in your messages. This way, you can improve your opens, clicks and conversions while maintaining a positive and respectful relationship with your audience. This is where unsubscribe links come into play. Not only do they ensure that you comply with laws and regulations, but they also show that you respect your subscribers' preferences and want to provide them with a positive user experience.

With LISTSERV Maestro 11.0, the unsubscribe URL is now mandatory by default to ensure that you're compliant with all global regulations.

An unsubscribe URL is now mandatory by default in LISTSERV Maestro 11.0

Tips to Make Your Unsubscribe Link Effective

  • Provide clear instructions on how to unsubscribe
  • Make sure that the unsubscribe link or button is easy to find
  • Avoid negative or guilt-inducing wording
  • Make sure that you process all unsubscribe requests immediately

The unsubscribe link or button should be clearly visible and easily accessible in the email. It could be placed at the bottom of the email or in the footer. Clicking on the unsubscribe link should take the user to a page where they can confirm their decision to unsubscribe.

An example of a graphical unsubscribe button

This confirmation page should include a message giving users the option to stay subscribed if they change their mind. Once the user has confirmed their decision to unsubscribe, they should receive a confirmation email informing them that they have been unsubscribed. Finally, the user's email address should be removed from the email list immediately to ensure that they don't receive any further email messages.

An example of a confirmation email after unsubscribing

We should remember that email marketing is a powerful tool that should be used wisely and carefully. Including a plain text alternative, alt text and easy unsubscribe options in your email strategy not only demonstrates your commitment to accessibility and user preferences but also fosters trust and respect from your audience.

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Ahhh, spring! As many of us welcome a time of warmer days, blooming blossoms, new hope, and yes, seasonal cleaning, be sure to spiffy up your tech and strengthen your best practices. After all, you and your audiences deserve the best when it comes to discussion groups, newsletters and email marketing.


Permission Email
Permission Email

Want to grow a loyal audience and boost people's trust in you as a sender? Two words: permission email. How do you get explicit consent before adding subscribers to your email list automatically? LISTSERV has a proven method to do just that.


Discussion Groups
Discussion Groups

Considering email groups and communities for your organization? Go for it and see how powerful discussion groups are – providing members with knowledge, support and a space in which to share and collaborate around just about any topic.


Email Newsletters
Email Newsletters

Looking to take advantage of the impact and popularity of email newsletters? Share updates, news and exclusive content with your subscribers in an easy-to-read and visually appealing package. Invite people to subscribe at multiple touchpoints on your website to build your audiences.


Tracking and Analytics
Tracking and Analytics

Thinking of how to understand and engage your subscribers and broaden your outreach? Even if you're not in an e-commerce organization, email marketing with tracking and analytics is a highly effective way to do just that. LISTSERV Maestro is here to help.


Legal Requirements
Legal Requirements

Making sure you're complying with applicable email marketing regulations and legal requirements worldwide? Activate double opt-in and combine it with the mandatory unsubscribe URL feature in LISTSERV Maestro to avoid spam complaints and maintain a solid sender reputation.


Hybrid Lists
Hybrid Lists

Trying to save time and effort with your email communications? Automatically import your LISTSERV lists into LISTSERV Maestro. Get the best of both worlds with these "hybrid lists" and keep all of your discussion groups, newsletters, email marketing and outreach communications at your fingertips, on one platform.


Hop to it! Behold the power, stability and reach of email communications in an era of fragmented multi-channel environments. Spread the word – tell your teams about LISTSERV Maestro 11.0:

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In this February greeting, L-Soft's Susan Brown Faghani shares five "subscriber love languages" to delight your audiences and build trust.

Our world seems to reflect the oft-used phrase "In good times and bad, for richer or poorer," – albeit outside of wedding vows – but one thing you can rely on is LISTSERV. Let us count the ways that these "subscriber love languages" go straight to the heart of your communications, making them better for it.

Email Love


Unlike the frequently random or off-the-cuff musings on many social media platforms, email messages evoke a vibe of forethought, care and trust. So it's no surprise that organizations of all types turn to LISTSERV for nurturing more respectful and professional connections with their audiences. As they say, "Start as you want to go on."


There's much that's been disrupted, upended or is otherwise topsy-turvy these past three decades. Just remember, LISTSERV has been a steadfast friend and helper for cultivating long-term relationships between senders and subscribers – still going strong and ready to support your communications.


The power of email discussion and support groups is profound. Consider offering LISTSERV groups to provide an outlet for information, help and hope. We're all human, and being able to connect people around the world to discuss and share knowledge – everything from navigating rare cancers to fostering high-level academic collaboration and more – is a unique and much-loved benefit of LISTSERV.


The real people behind your recipient data heartily deserve the red-carpet treatment. Honor their trust by gaining explicit, prior permission using confirmed opt-in subscription and never spamming. Follow data privacy and protection regulations and – using LISTSERV Maestro – avoid GDPR heartaches with anonymous or personal tracking with consent.


Your communication channels are constantly evolving. Keep looking ahead, knowing that LISTSERV is a wise and cost-effective investment that grows along with your needs. Whether this is the first time you're setting up discussion groups, newsletters, blogs and more or you're adding new lists to your LISTSERV site, you'll enjoy a quick and hassle-free experience.

Statista data shows that 4.3 billion people worldwide communicate via email, more than on any other channel. No grand gestures are needed to demonstrate our ongoing love for and appreciation of email... some things are simply made to last.

We're here to support your organization's email communications. Let us know how we can help.


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Take Advantage of New Features, Engagement Metrics and More

Looking to expand your email communication capabilities and do more with email? We've got you covered with the LISTSERV Maestro email marketing add-on. It's available for both in-house and cloud hosting customers – and it isn't just for people in the email marketing business. Let's take a look at the many helpful key features, the solid benefits and the outstanding value that Maestro brings to your existing LISTSERV platform.

Maestro Add-On

A Single Solution for All of Your Communication Needs
Save Time, Money and Hassles

The Maestro add-on integrates fully with your existing LISTSERV site, allowing you to use a single platform for all of your communication needs instead of relying on separate solutions from multiple vendors that aren't compatible with one another. Run your discussion groups and send your email newsletters through an all-in-one hub with a unified technical support channel for any assistance that you may require. Even if you don't have an immediate need for features like advanced target groups, A/B-split testing or job automation, it makes sense to have the tools available for when your needs expand.

A Flexible and Easy-to-Use Subscriber Database
Get Closer to Your Audiences

LISTSERV Maestro features a built-in subscriber database with support for any number and type of profile fields, making it easy to use your subscriber data in new and exciting ways. You can get detailed demographic breakdowns of your subscriber base, send targeted messages to different categories of subscribers, personalize your content and trigger follow-up emails to subscribers based on previous responses. You can also connect to external customer or subscriber databases, allowing you to take full advantage of your existing data sources.

In-Depth Tracking, Reporting and Analytics
Boost Engagement

The step-by-step delivery guide makes it easy to set up your email campaign, and the in-depth analytics give you the information you need to improve the next one. You can track your performance and engagement with real-time reporting. You can also choose exactly what to track – including opens, clicks, conversions and social media shares – while deciding how much personally identifiable information to collect to ensure that you comply with all applicable data protection and privacy laws worldwide.

A Multi-User Platform Tailored to Your Team
Collaborate with Ease

LISTSERV Maestro is a multi-user platform and allows you to assign different roles and responsibilities for your team members, including target group setup, content creation, tracking decisions and testing. Regardless of the size and complexity of your organization, you can share tasks among users, add or limit capabilities and divvy up responsibilities among your team members any way you see fit.

A Solution that Grows with You as Your Needs Expand
Enjoy Peace of Mind

While LISTSERV Maestro contains many advanced features that allow you to run customized and automated large-scale campaigns, the system is also ideal for small-scale newsletters. Regardless of how many subscribers you have, LISTSERV Maestro is licensed according to your delivery capacity needs. You can start small and rest assured that Maestro will keep up as your needs grow.

If any of this sounds intriguing and if you want to get the most out of your investment in LISTSERV, reach out to our knowledgeable staff for guidance and assistance about adding Maestro to your current LISTSERV platform.


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Make It Your Best Year of Communications Yet
Are you up to date on the latest resources to support your email communications? Take a look at this collection of helpful how-tos, timely tips, trusted tutorials and abundant articles. Get know-how, insights and inspiration with these "Top 5" picks from fellow readers and communicators like you.



Tech Tips


LISTSERV tech tips are a perennial top read among email tech professionals. See the most popular topics that users wanted to learn more about.

LISTSERV Maestro Tech Tips

Adding Maestro to your LISTSERV platforms provides useful features, including a subscriber database, engagement metrics and customizable content. These tips help you engage your target audiences.


LISTSERV Video Tutorials

These video tutorials cover many key LISTSERV tasks. Here are five of the most popular ones:

How Do I ...

LISTSERV Maestro Video Tutorials

Are you working with newsletters and email automation? Check out these tutorials:

How Do I ...

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Quick Tips for Eye-Catching, Trust-Building Communications

Email continues to be the world's most widely used and effective marketing channel. Why? One big reason is that if you're doing email marketing right, you're communicating only with people who have signed up for your messages and actually want to hear from you.

Email Design on Your Mind

Start by building trust through confirmed (aka "double") opt-in with a simple one-click unsubscribe mechanism. This sets the tone for positive long-term, engaging relationships and offers possibilities to grow and improve your products, services and content by getting your audience's thoughts.

Before designing your email messages, be sure you're clear about:

Who, What, How and Why?
  • Who are your email message recipients?
  • What is the focus of your message content?
  • How will this message content help your recipients?
  • Why should your recipients click through to your content?

Once you've answered those questions, let's get designing with 8 quick email design tips for a strong start.

Boost Brand Recognition

Tailor your messages by using your logo, fonts and colors so people can quickly identify you as the sender. Check your organization's brand guidelines and graphic assets so that your branding is consistent in every email you send.

Make Your Content an Easy Read

Balance space and font size. Remember, the space between lines is just as important as typeface and size. Choose one font for the header and a different one for the main text and CTAs.

Catch Your Audience's Eyes

Take advantage of the power of visuals. Be sure the image selection approach that you choose fits your overall graphic profile and helps you create the right feel for your brand and your audiences. Stick with the jpg and png formats and add ALT text to each image. The gif format is an excellent choice for animated images that can grab attention, but for static images you will want to stick to jpg or png.

Inspire Recipients to Take Action

Include a prominent call to action (CTA) to show people where to click and act. Craft introductory text to set up your CTA and use persuasive verbs that align with your messaging and audiences. You can hyperlink text and images or provide a CTA button.

Encourage Social Media Sharing

Make sure it's easy for your subscribers to share your article. Place your "share" icons in either the header or footer of your email.

Make the Most of Mobile

Create a mobile-friendly experience for your audiences with optimization. Make sure your content and links are easy to read with your index finger. Check how your email design displays on all major brand devices before hitting the send button.

Don't Underestimate the Footer

Remember, the email message footer is another important element in your email design. In addition to the standard elements required by law or your organization, you can get a little creative and build brand awareness there.

Use a Trusted Email Marketing Solution

LISTSERV® Maestro is designed for maximum flexibility and results. Available as software or a cloud service, LISTSERV Maestro offers a library of responsive newsletter and announcement templates, all of which can be used as-is or customized for your needs without HTML coding.

Related Video Tutorials

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All Treats, No Tricks = Happy Subscribers
+ Best Results All Year Round

Get your marketing messages out worldwide while complying with data privacy and data protection regulations like the EU GDPR. Do it right and avoid scary fines!


Treat your email marketing audiences, no tricks! Get personal tracking consent from subscribers and use anonymous tracking for people who don't give permission.


Remember, there's no room for mischief when it comes to your subscriber communications. Take a magic moment to meditate on the "big three" mantra.


Enjoy all the sweet flavors and colors with your audiences. Customize your email marketing campaigns to perfection with color, fonts, images galore and more!


Watch out, don't spook your audiences! Always use email best practices.


All Treats, No Tricks

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Get Insights from Special Olympics Maryland, Prince George's County

Hear Karen Reznek, who has been managing LISTSERV lists for more than two decades, share how to keep a community engaged and informed. In this interview, the focus is on a group of Special Olympics athletes, parents and coaches. The email tips and best practices Karen – a management team member (tech support) and swim team manager for SOMDPG – discusses are applicable to almost any group.

Q: What does SOMDPG do?

It provides valuable experiences for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as the health benefits of exercise for an often-neglected population.

Q: How did you join SOMDPG?

My daughter had wanted to join the swim team for several years, but I was unable to find a contact who would respond. I resolved to make it much easier for families to find SOMDPG. I joined the management team and offered my services to get the information out there, with contacts who would respond. Eventually, people realized how much easier it was to get information out to team members without coaches having to maintain their own lists of email addresses.

Q: In essence, what does LISTSERV do for you?

It has been extremely useful to have a means of getting information out to our team families. With LISTSERV, it is possible to both send individual team messages, as well as get messages out to the entire local Special Olympics community. Communications are mostly information-based – practice dates, qualifications, requirements, etc., and some are for support as families face challenges or something really good happens to an athlete.

Under normal circumstances, the lists share information on training and competition. Sadly, during the pandemic, they have also been used to share the loss of some of our members. On the upside, they have enabled teammates to keep in touch with each other when in-person training was not possible.

Q: What are the results you enjoy most?

It has been easier to reach people and get information to them. Searchable archives are a huge plus for those who join later in the season or have lost an email with important information. The ability for subscribers to control their subscriptions, the ability to moderate and the master/sub-list option.

Q: Can social media replace your LISTSERV communications?

No. Given Facebook's tendency to curate what is seen on a feed, too much important information would be missed to use it.

Q: How do you organize your LISTSERV lists?

Using one overall list, with the individual lists as sub-lists under that, makes it possible to send general information, fundraising appeals and anything important for the entire community through the top list. Subscribers receive only one copy, instead of one from each team they might be part of.

Basically, there is one master list, so anyone subscribed to a team list will receive posts sent from that list. Under it are lists for each team, including the management team. When a person signs up to do a sport, they or a family member is subscribed to the related list.

LISTSERV Super-Lists and Sub-Lists

Lists are set to reply to sender, and everyone other than the coaches and anyone who needs to get information out quickly is moderated. This prevents the lists from being overwhelmed by people asking the same questions, sending thank you posts, and anything that does not need to be seen by every single subscriber.

Q: Are there any challenges?

Resistance from people who did not understand how helpful email lists – and particularly LISTSERV lists – could be. For example, after my daughter had been on the team for a few years, I changed email addresses. I repeatedly notified the person sending the group emails of this change, to no avail. Because of this, my daughter ended up missing the first few weeks of the next season's practices because they continued to use my old address, and the bounces were ignored. A subscriber being able to change their address themselves, which LISTSERV makes easy, is so much better.

Q: Can communities benefit from email communications today?

I think that email lists are absolutely necessary. Back in the old days, it was necessary for a coach or volunteer to spend hours contacting participants if there was a change that had to go out before the next practice. With an email list, needed information can be distributed in minutes.

Semi-real-time discussions can also take place as long as people regularly check their email. If there are concerns, they can be addressed promptly.

Fundraising – it is very easy to send out appeals to everyone who is subscribed to a team list, making email lists invaluable for non-profits.

Inspired? Explore SOMDPG coaching and other volunteer openings:

Five Ways that LISTSERV Makes Communicating Easier + Better
  • Saves time so volunteers and staff can focus on their core responsibilities
  • Makes it easy to share information with subscribers from a single email list address – no need to manage individual email addresses manually
  • Ensures the right information goes to the right people with super-lists and sub-lists to keep them connected without unnecessary email volume
  • Boosts fundraising campaign outreach, making it easy to inform group members about ongoing activities
  • Builds community through the sharing of challenges and successes by keeping in touch remotely

L-Soft supports Special Olympics Maryland, Prince George's County, with a donation of LISTSERV software since 2011.

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Email newsletters are one of the most effective and widely used ways for organizations like yours to connect with your audiences. LISTSERV has you covered with responsive HTML newsletter and announcement templates. Check out these time-saving best practices that every LISTSERV user needs to know.

Complete Your Newsletter Profile

Save time and streamline the process of creating newsletters, which contain recurring information like contact details and legal compliance information. Enter this information once and you'll never need to think about it again. All of the information on the "Newsletter Profile" screen – which can be accessed through the "Preferences" or the "Newsletter Templates" menu – is pre-populated in your templates, saving you time whenever you send a newsletter and and letting you focus on the important content.

Modify Existing Templates for Your Brand

Use the "Newsletter Template Builder" and its building blocks to create custom newsletters from scratch. To get started you can also modify the default templates in the library to save time. Perhaps you like the layout and design of some of them, but the color scheme isn't right for your organization. Create a copy of the template and make quick changes to the color scheme and branding to fit your needs. Use your organization's style guide to copy and paste the exact color code that you need using the "Base Font", "Header" and "Footer" menus, and you're good to go.

Create Templates for Multiple Purposes

Assess your needs, think ahead and consider what type of communication requirements you have in your organization. You can keep making copies of your templates and change the layout in each one so that you'll have ready-made templates for all needs. A single one-column layout might be appropriate for important announcements, while layout styles that feature two columns, or a even sidebar might work better for regular newsletters.

Create a Mixed Layout Template to Meet Any Need

Create a flexible template as an alternative to creating multiple single-purpose templates to meet any need. Mix up to three different layout styles in one template. For example, you could have a full-width layout at the top, followed by a two-column section and a three-column section. When you create the actual newsletter, each layout block can be repeated independently as many times as you need. You can also omit layout blocks altogether if not needed.

Train Your Content Creators and Communicators

Make sure to educate and train key staff so that they know how they can quickly put together announcements and newsletters in the most effective way. L-Soft offers free video tutorials with step-by-step instructions on how to modify and create HTML templates and how to assemble newsletters for distribution. You can even sign up for a free email course where you get weekly video tutorials directly in your inbox.



Next Steps

Contact sales and customer service to:
  • Make sure that your LISTSERV site is up-to-date and supported
  • Add Maestro to your LISTSERV site for tracking, reporting and analytics

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Shoutout to all university and college students, educators and staff. Here's to a new year of learning, connecting and thriving! We're here to support you with proven tools, tips and technology to keep your academic and administrative communications running at a summa-cum-laude level.

Campus Communications

Here's an "A+ List" of resources to get the semester off to a stellar start:

Check out this free, self-paced online email communications course and bring some shiny new skills to campus and your future career:

Explore how LISTSERV powers colleges and universities, from research collaboration groups to alumni outreach newsletters and campus safety alerts and beyond:

Blogs, Announcements, Newsletters
Alumni, Donor and Parent Outreach:

Newsletters for alumni and parents; announcements for events; fundraising campaigns and donor cultivation requests
Recognition Spotlights:

Announcements about faculty awards; graduate student fellowship updates; faculty and student research publication updates
Campus Safety Alerts:

Public health alerts; pandemic protocol updates; campus safety newsletters

Student Life Announcements:

Schedules for residence hall events and move-in/move-out; financial aid resources; tuition notices; health center alerts
Discussion Forums, Communities
Discussion Forums
Professional Development:

Forums for inter- and cross-departmental curriculum discussions; email groups for campus professional opportunities
Research Collaboration:

Dedicated email groups for research collaboration; discussion groups for innovation competitions; forums for interns to connect with inventors
International Student Communities:

Event announcements for international student organizations; discussion communities for travel abroad
Research Grant Discussions:

Email groups for request for proposal and funding discussions; forums for researchers to share experiences, tips and best practices with students

Explore how LISTSERV in the Cloud, now on Microsoft Azure, makes managing your campus communications a breeze:

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Apis mellifera

Can email groups help sustain our planet? Welcome to the extraordinary story of the BEE-L LISTSERV list. It's the oldest Internet bee list and has spawned many new bee forums and blogs over the years. It has about 1,000 members, who continue to try to work out how to best keep bees – sometimes to save the bees and sometimes to save the world from what we'd all be if we didn't keep bees.

The Beginnings


Bee discussion lists predate the Internet, having been hosted on Bitnet and dial-up platforms. In the 1990s, Professor Edward Southwick, a professor of biology at the State University of New York – whose discoveries led to the concept that individual bees' social group behavior makes a colony deal with cold temperatures very similarly to large vertebrates – started the BEE-L list at the University at Albany as a way for academics to exchange ideas about honeybees and other bees. The list archives go back to that era.

An Evolving Community


BEE-L discussions have evolved from academic to more general bee-related topics, including conservation and management. LISTSERV has proved over many years to be an ideal platform, and eventually the list moved from the university server to being hosted on the L-Soft Community server.

Current members range widely in occupation, experience and interest – from university and government bee scientists to commercial beekeepers, bee magazine writers and editors, hobby beekeepers and interested members of the public. Active list members primarily span the Americas, the UK, Australia and Europe, with a member from China as well.

The list is now administered by Allen Dick, a retired commercial beekeeper currently living in Mexico and Jose Villa, a retired bee scientist living in Colorado.

"We get posts asking simple basic beginner questions and discussions about recent or older research. The tone is generally very civil and many of us know each other by reputation, from meetings and many years on the list. Some BEE-L members visit one another and sometimes make a point of meeting up at conventions."

Allen Dick
BEE-L List Owner

List Guidelines and Best Practices

BEE-L Archives

The list guidelines are simple:
  • Be polite, don't get personal and stay on topic
  • Format your emails properly
  • Don't quote more than a few lines of previous messages

Message content is the responsibility of the writer, and moderators don't edit posts. The restriction on quoting is to keep the archives searchable and non-redundant. Members are encouraged to dig back and research the history of a subject on the list and see the evolution of thought and practices and post new insights or questions.

"The archives are our library, stretching back to the '90s and contain the thoughts of people long gone and recent contributions, all easily browsed using the excellent LISTSERV search engine to search for words, parts of words, sets of words, phrases or authors."

Allen Dick
BEE-L List Owner

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In just 15 minutes a week, you'll gain knowledge and skills about all aspects of LISTSERV, including creating and managing newsletters, discussion forums and more. Powered by the email automation capabilities of LISTSERV Maestro, this course is free and open to all. If you haven't already, check it out and spread the word to your colleagues.


In the words of a couple of course participants:

"I signed up to learn more about the workings of LISTSERV and in general more about the list server universe. I am most appreciative. I am learning quite a bit of the additional capabilities of the software through these tutorials."

"L-Soft (LISTSERV) is already a key tool for me and I would like to learn about all of the capabilities available to me. I feel there are benefits that I am unaware of."


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Sharing communications that resonate with our subscribers is always in season. And so are key best practices and tips that help us do just that, by earning subscriber trust, providing relevant content and growing our audiences.

Perennial Practices

Shine a Light on Building Trust

🌞 Don't keep your subscribers in the dark: Make your list's purpose, frequency and subscriber expectations clear.

🌱 Plant the seeds of trust: Only use double-opt in for list subscriptions. In other words, always ensure that you have specific, prior, explicit permission from people who join your list. And make it simple for them to unsubscribe with one click.

🌈 Show your true colors: Make sure that the "From" line states who you are. This can make or break your subscribers' trust.

"With LISTSERV software, the management and subscription procedures of the email lists are simple and flexible."

Ed Paynter
Sierra Club

Shower Your Audiences with Relevant Content

🌷 Put your best blooms on display: Write, edit, hone and polish your messages. Read them out loud. Use short, action-oriented subject lines that show subscribers there's value in opening the message.

🌲 Cultivate a familiar landscape: Take advantage of easy-to-use HTML templates, which help your readers recognize and remember you. Plus, you'll save time with subsequent mailings.

🌾 Share the harvest: Connect with your subscribers "on all channels" by optimizing your messages for all mobile devices.

🍂 Keep it clean and clear: Keep off-topic messages at bay, especially when it comes to discussion groups. Declutter, prune, repeat, and your content will shine through.

"GSI is truly a patient-driven organization, held together by the bonds of our email groups, which serve as our support system."

Ginger Sawyer
Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Support International

Grow Your Audiences

🐝 Spread your seeds: Make it easy and consider incentives for your recipients to share your content and lists with their networks, near and far.

🏹 Sow success by listening: Check in with your subscribers via quick polls or short surveys from time to time. Ask them to update their profile information as needed. Then you can customize your messages to better match your audiences' needs and preferences.

🌜 Grow from feedback: Get valuable feedback from people who unsubscribe from your list. Adding this to your automated farewell messages can shed some light for future improvements.

🌸 Behold the blossoms: Email is a powerful and the most widely used tool for professional, marketing and customer acquisition communications. Keep nurturing strong subscriber relationships and loyalty and enjoy the bountiful benefits of email best practices for your newsletters, discussion groups and email marketing campaigns.

"Now reaching everyone, or reaching only one group, is simple."

Karen Reznek
List Owner, Special Olympics MD, Prince Georges County

Happy Emailing!

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One of the true power tools we have as email marketers and communicators is A/B-split testing. LISTSERV® Maestro 10.1 provides A/B-split testing with sampling and auto-repeat delivery, to help you provide the most effective messages and personalized email content to your audiences.

In short, you send two or more different versions of a mailing to random splits of your subscribers and compare the response rates to see which version performs better. Voila! Now you have insights to optimize future messages and campaigns. That said, to get the most meaningful data from A/B-split testing, you'll need a bit more thought and planning.

A/B-Split Testing Types

These five tips will help you make the most of your A/B-split testing.

1. Make Sure That You Have Enough Subscribers

A/B-split testing is based on statistics, probability and sampling. The smaller your sample size, the larger the likelihood that random statistical noise can influence the data, making it difficult to reach statistically significant conclusions. So first, make sure that you have enough subscribers to obtain meaningful data.

Case in point: If you only have 100 subscribers and send two variants to 50 subscribers each and get a 30 percent open-up rate from the first variant and a 20 percent open-up rate from the second, you might conclude that the first variant was far more successful. However, those percentages are equivalent to 15 and 10 open-ups respectively – a difference of just 5. This makes it impossible to state with any confidence whether the results are directly attributable to the differences between the two variants or simply statistical noise. So, focus on growing your list of subscribers before you spend serious time on A/B-split testing.

2. Decide What You Want to Test

Once your subscriber database is large enough for A/B-split testing, the next step is to decide exactly what you want to evaluate. Test one aspect of your message at a time, or it'll be impossible to identify which change triggered the improvement in performance among variants. For example, subject lines are commonly tested because they determine whether subscribers will even open the email message. If you don't pull your subscribers in, any compelling content that you may offer is never seen. Time of delivery is another widely used test. Subscribers are more likely to open a message if it arrives on a day and time when they're interested and able to act on it. When it comes to content, you can try a different layout, image, copy or call-to-action. The possibilities are endless.

3. Decide How to Measure Success

When conducting A/B-split testing with an email marketing campaign, you're measuring campaign success in terms of open-ups, click-throughs or conversions. These three metrics are not the same and can give contradictory results. For example, let's say that you work with alumni relations at Goode University and send an email marketing message to 5000 subscribers on a Tuesday morning with these two subject line variants but otherwise identical content:

A/B-Split Example

Variant A:
Not Too Late! Donate by April 1 to the Goode University Scholarship Fund

Variant B:
Make a Difference: Can Goode University Count on Your Support?

One week later, you check your data and find that Variant A had an open-up rate of 24 percent and a click-through rate of 8 percent, compared to an open-up rate of 28 percent and a click-through rate of 12 percent for Variant B. This would make it seem like Variant B was the clear winner. However, then you dig deeper and find that Variant A had a conversion rate of 5 percent, which means that 5 percent of the recipients made a donation while Variant B only had a conversion rate of 3 percent. Why the discrepancy? Perhaps what was happening is that while the subject line of Variant B was more effective in enticing the recipients to open the email and click through to the donation website, its lack of a clear end date for the donation campaign made the need to make an immediate donation appear less urgent.

So, as you can see, it's important to decide which metric to use for evaluating success. In this case, is Variant B more valuable because more recipients viewed the email and clicked through to the donation website, which can lead to a larger number of future donations? Or is Variant A more valuable because it led to a larger number of donations now, even if fewer total recipients bothered to open the email message?

4. Evaluate Whether Your Results Are Statistically Significant

For data to be considered statistically significant, you want to achieve at least a 95 percent confidence level, which means that there is a 95 percent likelihood that the results are due to the actual differences between the two variants. There are mathematical formulas that can be used to calculate whether certain results are statistically significant and the confidence level. Many free A/B-split test significance calculators are also available on the Internet, allowing you to simply input your sample sizes and conversion numbers in a form, which then automatically calculates whether the results are statistically significant.

Let's look at an example:

Variant A was sent to 400 recipients and 40 of them clicked through to the website (10 percent rate).

Variant B was sent to 400 recipients and 52 of them clicked through to the website (13 percent rate).

Are these results statistically significant, meaning that we can conclude that the better results for Variant B are highly likely attributable to the differences between the two variants? No, because the numbers fail to meet the 95 percent confidence level.

On the other hand, let's look at another example:

Variant A was sent to 1600 recipients and 160 of them clicked through to the website (10 percent rate).

Variant B was sent to 1600 recipients and 208 of them clicked through to the website (13 percent rate).

As you can see, the click rates are the same, but in this case because of the larger sample size, the results are statistically significant not just at 95 percent confidence but also at the higher 99 percent confidence level.

5. Be Realistic with Your Expectations

Remember, there are no miracles or magic bullets. Your testing won't reveal a simple tweak that leads to an earth-shattering improvement in campaign performance. Frequently, the data will be inconclusive. Don't let this discourage you. Instead, take an incremental approach. A/B-split testing is a long-term commitment and an ongoing process dedicated to learning about and more closely connecting with your particular – and unique – target audience. Whenever you do find statistically significant results, implement what you learned in your next campaign, then move on to test something else, and build on it.

Pro Tips for A/B-Split Testing

See how LISTSERV Maestro can help your organization:

Happy Testing and Emailing!

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As the month of Valentine's Day wraps up, let's take a moment to appreciate the virtues of email, our enduring go-to for communication and connection.


A Be@utiful Rel@tionship

Email tends to call for added forethought and care. This nurtures better connections and a more respectful and professional image with your recipients. The start of a beautiful relationship? Yes, indeed.

Spre@ding the Love

Not everyone has (or wants!) a Valentine, but more than 4 billion people communicate via email, more than on any other channel. Whether for business or personal messages, its built-in consent, security and unmatchable reach make us keep on choosing it.

Reli@ble + Trusted

Email is independent of any platform or corporation and downright trustworthy – sounds like the total package, right? Yep, email's still the one you can count on.

M@de to L@st

Despite social media, collaboration tools and other platforms competing for our attention, email is still the fave for marketers. Why? Because with its trustworthiness, reliability and results still going strong after all these years, our connection with email is truly made to last.

Peace, Love, Email ❤

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As IT and communications professionals, there's a joy that comes with lifelong learning. We've got you covered with a new professional development opportunity – the just-launched Learn LISTSERV® communications course.

The course is free and open to all. It's designed to make it easy to gain knowledge and skills for creating and managing communications – newsletters, discussion forums, alerts and more – that engage your organization's audiences and build communities.

This online learning opportunity is at your own pace – 15 minutes max per week – so even the busiest professionals can participate. And you'll add a renowned software package to your portfolio, grow as a professional and stand out among your peers.



How Does the Learn LISTSERV Course Work?

📧 Learn how to create any type of email list and manage your LISTSERV communications in this 12-week self-paced course, 15 minutes max per week

👩 Delve into three distinct modules, from the vantage point of subscribers, list owners and site administrators

💡 Receive a short email weekly, with links to short video tutorials on key tasks and topics

🎓 Get a certificate after each module and a diploma upon completion

⭐ Add new IT skills and software to your resume and LinkedIn

We warmly welcome you to spread the word to your colleagues and networks.

Visit the course page and sign up:

Happy Learning! 🎓

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Ensuring your organization's important email messages are seen and acted upon is paramount. Despite a significant drop in spam throughout 2021, nearly half of all email messages are still spam (Statista, 2022). The takeaway? Your recipients may delete or flag non-spam messages, assuming they are spam.

Of course, that's largely out of your control – beyond asking your subscribers to add your sender name to their address books and trusted senders so that they'll actually get your messages. But what about making sure your recipients don't ignore your message? After all, it's one of many striving to surface from the deep blue inbox.

Here's one solid technique for helping your email messages catch your recipients' attention, and it's within your control: Customization.


Every organization wants and needs its emails to stand out for best results. A major strategy to achieve that is to create a sense of familiarity for your brand. This way, your VIPs – aka, subscribers – will instantly recognize and trust your messages.

Customization may sound fancy and complicated, but with the customization features in LISTSERV®, you can easily create a strong and seamless user experience for your audiences. With the focus on getting your email seen by your recipients, start with newsletter or announcement templates. Simply add your colors, logos and design elements using the pulldown menus and input boxes – no HTML or CSS coding needed – and voila! You can also customize your site, lists, web interface and list archives.

Check out these helpful video tutorials and get customizing!

Customization is one of many features covered in the upcoming LISTSERV Email Course – it's free, online and open to all. Ready to dive into all the knowledge you’ll need to work with email, the top channel for professional communications and digital marketing?

Each week you'll learn key tasks to create and manage email newsletters, announcements, discussion groups and communities – and you'll add marketable skills and a new software package to your growing resume.

Stay tuned to this blog, the LISTSERV at Work newsletter and social media for updates and course launch.

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Thank you, dear readers, for joining the celebration of 35 years of LISTSERV this year! The need for and your dedication to communication keeps LISTSERV going strong.

This celebration year, we looked back at the amazing Internet developments, spanning five decades of ingenuity and innovation. This resulted in The Internet and Email History Timeline. What's your most memorable Internet year?

With 2022 in view and forecasts of IT trends all over the map, here are three best practices to support your new year of communicating with your audiences.

Best Practices

1. People

Honor subscribers as the real people they are and go beyond to build their trust.

"My goal was simply to create a tool that would allow mailing lists to prosper while making life easier for subscribers and list owners. It was a simple idea whose success exceeded all my expectations. Sometimes you set about solving a small problem, and later on you realize that you have actually solved a big problem."

Eric Thomas
LISTSERV Inventor and L-Soft Founder and CEO

2. Transparency and Consent

Follow all data privacy and protection regulations using built-in best practices.

"With LISTSERV Maestro, senders have full control over which metrics to track – such as clicks, conversions and social media shares – and the degree of personally identifiable information to collect, making it easier to comply with relevant data privacy and protection laws worldwide, for instance the European Union's GDPR."

Johannes Hubert
L-Soft Senior Applications Programmer

3. Technology

Keep on tracking – the right way – with anonymous tracking or personal tracking with consent.

"With Apple's Mail Privacy Protection, opens continue to lose their value as an accurate email metric. Email marketers are wise to rethink how to best design, track and follow up on their communications for optimal engagement and results."

Outi Tuomaala
L-Soft Executive Vice President

We recently released a new version of LISTSERV Maestro. If you're curious about this email marketing and analytics platform for campaigns, newsletters and more, see the top reasons to add or upgrade to Maestro 10.0.

Wishing you health, joy and a Happy 2022!

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Thankfulness is in focus, as it rightly should be every day, so this month's blog post is dedicated to you, the global LISTSERV® community.


Thank you ... to all of you subscribers, who participate in discussion groups, read newsletters, stay informed via announcement and alert mailings and join communities of support, knowledge, help and hope. You are the reason LISTSERV email lists exist.

"GSI is truly a patient-driven organization, held together by the bonds of our email groups, which serve as our support system."

Ginger Sawyer
Board Member and Treasurer
GSI (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor Support International)

Thank you ... to all of you list owners, who determine the purpose, policies and parameters for the email lists you manage, answer subscribers' questions, implement best practices and manage key day-to-day tasks. You are the reason LISTSERV email lists are still going strong, for 35 years and counting.

"Social media and newer emerging tech replacing LISTSERV? I don't think so."

Melissa Jacobs
List Owner
NYCSLIST, Email Forum for New York City School Librarians

Thank you ... to all of you site administrators, who handle site configurations and customizations, monitor site traffic and perform important functions. You are the reason LISTSERV lists run smoothly.

"We organized two scientific seminars with leading scientists and got support from six green organizations. We broke a world record with the surfing protest circle of 992 people, gathering attention to our struggle."

Moshe Barak
HomeLand Guardians Activist & LISTSERV Administrator Since 1986

Thank you for reading this blog. Please feel welcome to share your LISTSERV stories.

To support you and your colleagues, we are launching a Learn LISTSERV email communications course in 2022. This self-paced online course is free and open to anyone who would like to build LISTSERV knowledge and skills. It covers the three primary roles of subscriber, list owner and site administrator.

Stay tuned, and meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Remember the September introduction of Apple's Mail Privacy Protection (MPP), which generated much buzz and sent many email marketers into panic mode about its impact on open-up tracking? What happens if we take a meditative moment to breathe through the hype and fear – and, instead, forge onward with the best practices and tools to get rich tracking data while respecting your subscribers?

Big Three Mantra for Email Marketers Today

Think of it as the "Big Three" mantra for post-MPP email marketing and communications:

  • Keep on tracking – the right way – with anonymous tracking or personal tracking with consent
  • Set an intention to follow all data privacy and protection regulations using built-in best practices
  • Visualize your subscribers as the real people they are and go beyond to build their trust

You can do all of this – making the most of your communications and meeting the moment in the privacy era – with the newly launched LISTSERV Maestro 10.0 email marketing and analytics software.

Check out these benefits:

  • Ensure Compliance, Honor Subscriber Preferences
  • Take Your Message Design Up a Notch
  • Save Time with File Sharing + Hosted Attachments
  • Send Smartly + Compare Recipient Activities on Mobile vs Other Devices
  • Make Subscriber Management Easier with API + Improved List Management


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Apple's announcement of the upcoming iOS 15 caught many email marketers by surprise and got the Internet buzzing with its introduction of a feature called "Mail Privacy Protection," or MPP, which will give users more data privacy as they interact with their email. But for email marketers who rely on specific metrics from subscribers' actions on their email messages to shape their campaigns, MPP will likely make some tracking data become unreliable. Email tracking metrics are an easy way to measure recipient engagement and send tailored follow-up communications, but email marketers will now need to take more creative measures in order to respect recipients' privacy selections.

Email Tracking

So, what do you need to know about Apple's new MPP? Is the click rate the new open rate? What will you have to change going forward? Rest assured we are here to point you in the right direction with your future email campaigns. While much of this information could apply to any email marketing platform, we will also share specifics for L-Soft customers who are LISTSERV® Maestro users and anyone interested in flexible email tracking options and subscriber best practices. As the launch of LISTSERV Maestro 10.0 may coincide with Apple's iOS 15 autumn release, we have covered all bases and designed the new version with privacy protection in mind.

What is Mail Privacy Protection (MPP)?

Apple's Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) is a new feature of the iOS 15 operating system, which will affect Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads and Mac computers (macOS Monterey). When users update their devices to the new operating system and open their Apple Mail app, they will see a prompt that asks if they would like to protect their mail privacy. If the first option, "Protect Mail Activity," is selected, the user's IP address would be blocked and all mail content would be loaded privately. The second option, "Don't Protect Mail Activity," if selected, will show the user's IP address to trackers and load mail content directly on the device.

Important Considerations

This additional layer of privacy will only affect people who use the Apple Mail app. Metrics will not be impacted for those who use a different mail app, such as Gmail or Outlook. However, it is estimated that the majority of Apple users do use the Apple Mail app. It doesn't matter what type of email address the recipient has (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) because the Apple Mail app allows users to connect to any email account.

What Does This Mean for Email Tracking?

Because most users will likely select "Protect Mail Activity," there will be two main impacts on email tracking. First, IP addresses and location will not be tracked, so Apple Mail users will not have any location insights. Second, as inbox content is downloaded privately by Apple before the user opens a message, open rates will no longer be reliable. In fact, open rates will probably skyrocket because all mail content will be downloaded to a proxy server, which in turn will make email marketing software flag all of the messages as opened and read.

What Can Email Marketers Do?

We have several suggestions for how to successfully conduct your future email campaigns.

1. Reframe your campaigns so that they are not just based on the open rate, or work without it.

Although it's common to send follow-up emails to recipients who opened or did not open a previous email to keep the momentum, email marketers must now get creative. Instead of sending follow-up emails based on the open rate, send follow-up emails to recipients who clicked on specific links. Just because someone opened your email does not mean they were engaged, so click rates can be a much better indicator of how engaging your emails are to your recipients. Going forward, you can analyze which links were clicked to see what your recipients like and don't like about your mailing. In LISTSERV Maestro 10.0, users now have the option to completely disable the open rate metric, if they prefer. This way, they can focus on tracking metrics such as click rates to see which links were the most popular.

2. Keep your lists clean for high subscriber engagement

In anticipation of this new privacy tool release, it's more important than ever to make sure that your subscribers are still interested in being on your list. The goal of all email marketers is to see positive interactions with their messages, and we all know how annoying it can be to receive unwanted email.

As marketers, you can prevent unwanted email by ensuring that your content is relevant and valuable to your subscribers. In addition, make it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe if they desire. If your recipients no longer want to be on your list, it's okay! Although you may reach fewer people going forward, the level of engagement will be higher.

What Are the Impacts of MPP?

As email marketers and communicators, it's important to follow the highest level of ethical standards. It's obviously important for us to follow all laws, but it's also our duty to go beyond what is written in the laws and hold ourselves to even stricter standards. At L-Soft, we have been advocating for best practices for permission-based email marketing for decades. We highly recommend that all of our customers use double opt-in subscription confirmation. That way, it's clear who has actively joined your email list. In addition, our LISTSERV Maestro platform gives marketers the choice of different tracking options for recipients, including anonymous email tracking, depending on the desired level of privacy.

Email Tracking Levels in LISTSERV Maestro

Although this may seem like a step back for email marketers, it's important to view this change from the consumer's perspective. This new feature is a big step forward for U.S. consumers and Internet users in their fight for privacy, and it's important that email marketers respect this societal push. Even though other parts of the world have taken steps toward data privacy, including the European Union's passing of the GDPR, the United States has not yet enacted significant national regulation regarding consumer data privacy. That said, Apple took privacy into its own hands by releasing MPP.

Have any questions about the MPP or the upcoming LISTSERV Maestro 10.0? Subscribe and log in to comment.

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Students are returning to K-12 schools, colleges and universities around the world and now, more than ever, strong communication is a must. Here's a sampling of the many ways LISTSERV® email groups, alerts and newsletters help to keep educators, students, staff, parents and communities connected and in the know.

Powering Education with Email Communication

K-12 Schools

Blogs, Announcements, Newsletters
School Systems to School Staff:

Updates about training and professional development opportunities, policies and procedures; emergency preparedness alerts
Individual Schools to Parents:

Announcements of school events, fundraisers, transportation information; principals' newsletters, graduating class announcements, health and safety alerts
Individual Educators to Students:

Resources for assignments; course materials; Q&A help; referral forms for teacher and peer support
Communities, Discussion Forums
Discussion Forums
School Staff and Parents:

Discussion forums for student groups, graduating classes, sports and other extracurricular activities
School Administration and Staff:

Professional development forums; knowledge and lesson plan sharing, staff support groups
School Systems and Administrators:

Online forums for discussion and collaboration on policies, curriculum, emergency preparedness, staff training and systemwide initiatives

To see more examples of how K-12 schools are using LISTSERV to accomplish their goals, visit:

Colleges and Universities

Blogs, Announcements, Newsletters
Alumni, Donor and Parent Outreach:

Newsletters for alumni and parents; announcements for events; fundraising campaigns and donor cultivation requests
Recognition Spotlights:

Announcements about faculty awards; graduate student fellowship updates; faculty and student research publication updates
Campus Safety Alerts:

Public health alerts; pandemic protocol updates; campus safety newsletters
Student Life Announcements:

Schedules for residence hall events and move-in/move-out; financial aid resources; tuition notices; health center alerts
Discussion Forums, Communities
Discussion Forums
Professional Development:

Forums for inter- and cross-departmental curriculum discussions; email groups for campus professional opportunities
Research Collaboration:

Dedicated email groups for research collaboration; discussion groups for innovation competitions; forums for interns to connect with inventors
International Student Communities:

Event announcements for international student organizations; discussion communities for travel abroad
Research Grant Discussions:

Email groups for request for proposal and funding discussions; forums for researchers to share experiences, tips and best practices with students

To see the top LISTSERV features for universities, including real-life use cases, visit:

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Catching up on reading during the holidays? Feeling reflective or even nostalgic? Whether the season calls for sandals or snow boots, take a virtual step inside the evolution of the Internet.

A Virtual Journey through 50 Years of IT Ingenuity

You'll get a close-up view of the key people and developments that led us to where we are today.

Discover more than 80 curated milestones, illuminating five decades of pivotal innovations that changed our world.

Here's a small sampling:

Ray Tomlinson's 1971 invention of email using the @ sign to separate the username and destination server, "user@host" launched the first email network, ARPANET, housed at the Advanced Research Projects Agency.

LISTSERV@BITNIC hosted email lists as of 1984, but as they became more popular, by 1986 the manual administration required threatened their viability. Eric Thomas, then an engineering student in Paris, invented LISTSERV software to automate mailing lists, and email groups and newsletters as we know them today began.

Tim Berners-Lee of CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research) invented the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989 as a platform for academic research collaboration and knowledge exchange. In 1990, Berners-Lee debuted the first web page and the first web server.

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Did you know that in 1971, Ray Tomlinson invented email using the @ sign to separate the username and destination server, "user@host", making the first networked email system a reality? As a result, people were able to send messages on ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), the network of that time period.

Fast-forward 15 years to Paris, France, and the introduction of BITNET, aka, "Because It's Time Network". Tim Berners-Lee hadn't invented the World Wide Web yet, but people continued communicating, keeping the networks of the mid-1980s busy despite minimal bandwidth. Email lists existed on LISTSERV@BITNIC, but they required manual administration.

With the popularity of mailing lists growing and all lists being administered manually, the process became so slow and cumbersome that it threatened the viability of mailing lists altogether. Eric Thomas, then an engineering student in Paris, was determined to keep mailing lists alive. So he invented LISTSERV software, to automate mailing lists once and for all.

Thomas created the first version of LISTSERV software, dubbed "Revised LISTSERV" at the time, and released it within the same month, June 1986.
In Eric Thomas's words:

"My goal was simply to create a tool that would allow mailing lists to prosper while making life easier for subscribers and list owners. It was a simple idea whose success exceeded all my expectations. Sometimes you set about solving a small problem, and later on you realize that you have actually solved a big problem."
Eric Thomas
From then on, the Internet culture of communications and knowledge exchange has been able to flourish.

Three and a half decades later, LISTSERV® software and its SaaS version are widely used by all types of organizations around the world. In continuous development, additional inventions from Eric Thomas have been added, including the industry's first spam filter, double opt-in subscription confirmation and the first LISTSERV blog, with more new features yet to come.

The evolution of the Internet is a reflection of human ingenuity, determination and a vision of a more connected society. Happy communicating, connecting and collaborating!

Discover More:


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Big news coming from Apple about iOS 15 last week could mean a major pivot for the email marketing industry ... or not.

On June 7th, Apple announced:

"In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user. The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can't be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location."

Open-Up Tracking?

So what does this mean in practice?

With the option of essentially turning off email open-up tracking via Apple's new Mail Privacy Protection, there's potential for a serious impact on email marketing, which relies on data to measure recipient behavior, especially when looking at open rates. This could lead to organizations shifting away from the focus on open rates in favor of other engagement metrics.

Based on the relatively sparse information as of now, Apple's Mail Privacy Protection feature will only affect the open rate – more precisely, any open events that are triggered by invisible so called "spy pixels" embedded in the email message. Click tracking, shares, subscribes and unsubscribes appear to be unaffected.

Whether communicators will stop tracking email open-ups is still an open (pun intended) question. Either way, the upcoming version of the LISTSERV Maestro permission email marketing platform will have them covered. If Apple's Mail Privacy Protection feature becomes widely used and has a significant impact on the quality and usefulness of open rates, LISTSERV Maestro users will have best practices to continue their email marketing and tracking campaigns without relying on open rates.

Could this option in iOS 15 usher in a new era for email marketing? Time will tell but being prepared for any scenario by using LISTSERV Maestro's functionality and features will serve all communicators well.

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As the EU GDPR becomes a "threenager" today, email marketers and communicators around the globe continue to grapple with its requirements. It all boils down to this: If you're sending email campaigns and tracking the results, you are processing the personal data of your subscribers and need to use personal tracking with subscriber consent or anonymous tracking to be fully compliant with the GDPR.

By obtaining personal tracking consent from subscribers and using anonymous tracking for people who don't give permission, you can communicate internationally and enjoy the benefits of in-depth tracking reports and analytics. For subscribers who allow personal tracking, you can send customized follow-up messages and other advanced communications that aren't possible without tracking.


Top 3 Ways to Use Email Tracking

1. View and Click Metrics

Find out how many recipients viewed the email or what percentage of subscribers clicked on a certain link in the email – or compare the results of two versions of an email campaign using A/B-split testing.

2. Demographic Analysis of Subscriber Behavior

See how successful a mailing was among subscribers in one country versus those in another country by measuring each group's clicks on a CTA link.

3. Follow-Up Mailings Based on a Subscriber's Previous Actions

Send a mailing to a group of subscribers. A few days later, send a follow-up mailing to subscribers who viewed the original email and a different follow-up message to those who didn't.

Of course, there are many additional ways to benefit from the rich data that email tracking provides, and you can use the email tracking features in LISTSERV Maestro to create your own versions of these examples.

The big question is which type of tracking to use.

Levels of Tracking

Anonymous Tracking

The purview of the GDPR is the protection of personal data. Any data that is collected in an anonymous fashion doesn't usually count as personal data and does not fall under the GDPR's purview. So naturally, the easiest way to comply with the GDPR is to use anonymous email tracking.

While using anonymous tracking makes it easier to meet GDPR requirements, the disadvantage is that it doesn't allow follow-up mailings and only provides limited demographic analysis.

Personal Tracking with Permission

To be able to take advantage of all the ways to use tracking in the examples above, you'll need to use personal tracking with permission. First, consult with your legal counsel to determine if bundling the consent to tracking into the subscription terms is acceptable. If so, during the subscription process, you must ask for your recipients' consent to track their activities, like views and clicks, if you intend to use personal tracking. The most common way to do this is to include this information in your subscription terms in a detailed fashion, for instance, using the special "Consent to Subscription Terms" profile field type in LISTSERV Maestro.

However, including a consent request for personal tracking in the subscription terms may have an alienating effect on potential subscribers, possibly leading to a lower subscription rate than you might otherwise have.

Separating Consent to Personal Tracking from the Subscription Terms

The simplest way to separate the consent to personal tracking from the subscription terms is to use the permission-based personal tracking feature of LISTSERV Maestro. This type of personal tracking is available when using a LISTSERV Maestro subscriber list in a dataset that has a profile field of the special type "Consent to Personal Tracking".

With this profile field, LISTSERV Maestro queries consent to personal tracking from the user at the time of the subscription, where the user can freely choose whether to give consent. You can then use personal tracking for subscribers who have given consent and anonymous tracking for those who haven't.

The Importance of Trust and Transparency

To build trust and transparency and avoid legal problems, be sure to check your governing data privacy and opt-in legislation and seek explicit prior consent from recipients for your organization to handle and use their personal tracking data. Communicate with your recipients to request consent for personal tracking. Explain why you use tracking. Providing full disclosure and transparency may well result in better engagement because personal tracking allows you to send highly targeted follow-up communication.

Read Whitepaper:
Email Tracking 101

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Spring is here, at least in the northern hemisphere – a season of renewal and connection. Enjoy some garden-inspired tips and best practices to help you nurture strong subscriber relationships and grow your email lists:

How Does Your Subscriber Garden Grow?

🌼 Start with strong roots: Lay out a clear purpose and key guidelines for your email list as well as communicating the expected message frequency.

🌷 Cultivate the landscape for trust: Use double opt-in for subscriptions, always. You'll have specific, prior, explicit permission from all who join your list. Remember to make it easy for people to unsubscribe with one click.

🌸 Show your true colors: Simply put, be sure the "From" line states who you are.

🌼 Put your best blooms on display: Select your words carefully and craft short, succinct subject lines that show how your subscribers will benefit from opening the message.

🌷 Create a beautiful, familiar feel: Use HTML templates for consistent branding and easy recognition, plus time savings across every mailing.

🌸 Prune your lists: Track and analyze subscriber engagement. Use this data to reach out to inactive list members to see if they would still like to receive your messages.

🌼 Spread your seeds: Give your subscribers attractive opportunities to share your content and promote your lists to their contacts.

🌷 Share the harvest: Make sure to optimize your email for mobile devices, including all major brands of smartphones and tablets.

🌸 Remember garden cleanup: Avoid cluttering up your list with irrelevant messages, especially with discussion groups. Rake, sweep, repeat and let your subscribers enjoy the view.

🌼 Grow your knowledge: Ask people who unsubscribe to shed light on how you can do better next time by encouraging feedback in your automated farewell messages.

🌷 Sow success by listening: Encourage subscribers to add their profile information and send periodic surveys. This helps you tailor your messages more closely to their needs and preferences.

🌸 Behold the blossoms: Keep using email best practices and enjoy seeing how your newsletters, discussion groups and email marketing campaigns nurture strong subscriber relationships and loyalty.

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Did you know that LISTSERV® turns 35 this year? The software is one of a few rare applications to survive and thrive in the IT space for that long – that's a lot of love from a lot of customers and users.


So the natural question is why? Some straightforward reasons include:
  • It's the original email list management solution, in continuous development
  • It uses the highest level of confirmed opt-in for subscriptions
  • It reflects subscriber and email list best practices
  • It fosters community through discussion groups
  • It enables email newsletters and announcements
  • It's used by all types and sizes of organizations worldwide
  • It's known for its reliability, scalability and flexibility

But there are also deeper, more human reasons because LISTSERV is a platform for support, knowledge exchange, advocacy, collaboration and more. Simply put, LISTSERV helps people and organizations make the world a little bit (or even a lot) better for one another.

"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."

Moshe Barak
Three-decade LISTSERV Administrator and HomeLand Guardians Environmental Activist

"The information, advice, and support my husband and I received on the Autism LISTSERV list starting in 1994 were invaluable, and a strong contributor to how well our daughter, a part of that community, is doing today."

Karen Reznek
Mother of Abby Reznek, Special Olympics World Games Triple Medalist

See key milestones and best practices:

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This week marks Data Privacy Day. We all know email marketing gets results. It also requires compliance with data privacy and protection regulations like the EU GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act.

In the spirit of Data Privacy Day and a foundation of subscriber trust and respect, here are some key tips for responsible email tracking:

Email Tracking Best Practices

  • Track your communications to learn and improve
  • Track anonymously for compliance and trust
  • Track with explicit prior consent if using personal tracking
  • Turn off tracking when it's not necessary

Permission Email

Did you know that L-Soft's LISTSERV® Maestro is the only email marketing platform enabling personal tracking with consent from subscribers? It's available as on-premises software or a hosted cloud service.

See how LISTSERV Maestro 9.0 can help your organization:

Happy Communicating!

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Thank you for following the EmailRules blog. We wish you a happy, healthy and hopeful 2021!

Wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Hopeful 2021!

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Similar to the Learn LISTSERV tutorials, L-Soft is launching a new "Learn LISTSERV Maestro" series, featuring video tutorials on how to best engage your audiences with the LISTSERV Maestro email marketing platform.

Learn LISTSERV Maestro

Learn LISTSERV Maestro Video Tutorials

New video tutorials will be added weekly, so make sure to bookmark this page:

LISTSERV Maestro Tech Tips

L-Soft also offers a number of LISTSERV Maestro Tech Tips that have been published throughout the years.

For beginner LISTSERV Maestro users, some suggestions include:

For more experienced users, some suggestions include:

Access LISTSERV Maestro help pages:

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Are you curious about or currently using email marketing communications to engage your customers and boost your results? Your subscribers' profile data is key to defining and creating target groups, which in turn help you reach customers with highly relevant messages that they're more likely to act on.

It's easy to think that once target groups are defined, that's that and it makes sense to just keep sending content to each group based on the parameters you've established, such as recent purchases, location or specific website activity. But did you know that you can create flexible target groups for which you can change the criteria on the fly for each mailing, to more closely connect with your customers?
Target Groups

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A setting called dark mode has been a rising trend in operating systems and user interfaces for several years. It allows you to invert the colors of an application to display content using light text on a dark background instead of the traditional dark text on a light background. Now several email clients have started adopting dark mode as an option as well. Let's take a look at how dark mode affects HTML email and how to optimize your newsletters and announcements for this new mode.
Dark Mode
Many common email clients, including Outlook, Gmail, Apple Mail and Yahoo Mail, all support dark mode in one form or another. Some, for instance Yahoo Mail, offer a dark mode theme but won't forcibly invert your existing colors if you have a light template. However, there are others, for example Outlook and Gmail, that will unless you're already using dark colors. These email clients are essentially enforcing their own dark mode styling by overriding your colors, which can cause problems if you're not anticipating this.

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Licensed software or cloud hosting? That is the question. If you want to run your own email discussion lists, newsletters, announcement lists and blogs, you have the choice of either licensing LISTSERV and running the software in-house on your own servers or hosting your email lists in the cloud on L-Soft's servers. There are advantages to either option, and the right choice comes down to your unique requirements and circumstances.

Software or the Cloud

Benefits of LISTSERV as Software

When LISTSERV (and its related email marketing and analytics solution, LISTSERV Maestro) are installed in-house, you are responsible for maintaining both the software and the servers that it runs on. This is usually the most cost-effective choice if your organization has IT resources and staff, large workloads or other specialized requirements, such as the need to integrate LISTSERV with in-house databases or LDAP servers.

With the software option, you only pay the cost of the license and an optional fee for technical support. You can create as many email lists as your license type allows. You can also send as many messages to your subscribers as you want without any delivery charges.

Key advantages:

  • More Economical Long-Term: Licensing the software is usually more cost-effective in the long run, although the upfront cost of a license is higher. You can create as many lists and send as many messages as you want without additional delivery fees.
  • Maximum Flexibility: The software option allows you to configure your LISTSERV site to meet your organization's exact needs. L-Soft's technical support, training and consulting teams are always available for help if you need it.
  • Full Control: Running the software in-house gives you complete control of your operations, including the operating system and software environment. This is especially vital for organizations with complex change management policies.
  • Database Integration: An in-house setup makes it easier for you to take advantage of existing databases for dynamic and personalized mailings. You can also use databases and LDAP servers for authenticating credentials and user logins, which is especially helpful within large and complex organizations.
  • High Security: If you're operating in a high-security environment, keeping LISTSERV on site, together with your existing databases, LDAP and Active Directory servers, makes it easier to ensure that your entire email communication system and data are secure.

Benefits of LISTSERV in the Cloud

When your organization uses the cloud solutions (known as ListPlex and ListPlex Maestro respectively), LISTSERV and LISTSERV Maestro are hosted on L-Soft's servers, and L-Soft takes care of running the service and delivering your mail. You can have your own dedicated domain name as if you were running LISTSERV in-house. Hosting is usually the more cost-effective option for organizations with limited IT resources, smaller workloads and few specialized requirements.

With the hosted option, you pay a one-time setup charge, an annual service fee and delivery charges based on how many email messages you send to your subscribers. Full technical support is always included with the cloud service.

Key advantages:

  • Lower Upfront Costs: The cloud service and your email lists are quick to set up, and the upfront costs are lower. However, hosting can be less cost-effective in the long run, especially if you have a large workload and send a lot of messages.
  • Fewer Resources Required: There's no need for any special hardware, IT staff, installation or setup. L-Soft's professional technical support services are always available for help and advice to keep your email lists running smoothly.
  • Minimal Learning Curve: L-Soft configures the service and creates all of the lists for you based on your requirements, so you don't need to spend time learning how to properly configure your server and set up your email lists.
  • Automatic Upgrades: Hosting servers are automatically upgraded whenever new versions are released so you can be sure that you're always running the newest versions of LISTSERV and LISTSERV Maestro and benefiting from the latest features and fixes.
  • High Performance: L-Soft's hosting servers are engineered for maximum uptime, reliability and scalability. Your email is delivered from dedicated servers, especially tuned for this purpose, using the latest email deliverability and authentication standards.

Next Steps

Whichever option you choose, keep in mind that your email lists can always be migrated from L-Soft's servers and taken in-house or vice-versa with minimal effort and disruption if your circumstances and requirements were to change. The highest investment protection is guaranteed with either the software or the cloud option.

Find Your Optimal Email List Solution:

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Running a city, county or town is no small feat in the best of times. Now, local leaders are facing an intensifying pandemic and daunting return-to-school decisions on top of the everyday functions of their governments. Communication with citizens and coordination among agencies are more important than ever. Because just about everyone uses email, it's no surprise that municipalities are counting on email lists to keep their residents informed and their operations within and across agencies and departments running smoothly. With email discussion groups, newsletters, announcements and alerts, the possibilities are endless.

Email City

Here are a few of the many ways local government entities can use opt-in email announcements and alerts:

  • A city or local government posting a subscription link on its website for news, updates, discussion forums and other communications that their city offers for its citizens. These email lists enable city officials to announce virtual town hall meetings and citizen task forces so that people can get involved and to keep everyone informed in times of crisis.
  • County boards of education alerting all their respective school system administrators to an important public health (or other) policy change that needs to be disseminated immediately to their schools' students and parents.
  • Local transportation agencies providing traffic and transit delay alerts, which citizens can access on their mobile devices.

Email discussion groups help cities, counties and towns engage citizens, for instance:

  • Municipalities offering issue-based email discussion forums, fostering valuable community dialogue and perspective on important matters. Council members and relevant agency staff can participate in the discussion and gather important citizen input.
  • Public health officers hosting a discussion or a Q & A forum to assess the knowledge needs and provide a transparent channel for communication around a pandemic.
  • Task forces that focus on specific issues or challenges inviting residents to provide public comment on draft policies and opportunities to assist with solutions to any given need – for example, environmental concerns, police-community relations and public school reopenings. Municipalities can easily launch additional email discussion forums as new needs emerge.

Using email newsletters, local governments can create a strong presence while sharing need-to-know information and building stronger connections with citizens, such as:

  • A mayor or city council chair sending a weekly or monthly newsletter roundup of important news, opportunities for people to get involved, surveys and support resources.
  • The city's parks and recreation department sharing ways people can help, like the clean-up and replanting of a neglected neighborhood park, as well as useful information, such as tips for cleaner air and COVID-19 protocols for local hiking and biking trails.
  • The county school system superintendent sending customized newsletters, targeted to key groups such as parents, administrators and the public at large, to keep everyone updated and involved.

Strong communication, with the help of email list technology, has a major impact on the sense of connectedness and quality of life in all types of localities. Citizens who are informed and involved feel safer and happier and more motivated to support their local governments.

Enjoy your visit to "Email City" for more inspiration and feel free to share this resource with colleagues and friends who work in municipal government, public schools and other relevant entities:

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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.