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.