The world of email marketing changed much when Eric Thomas, an engineering student in Paris pioneered Listserv in 1986. Listserv automated the management of email lists and allowed list owners to create templates and customize replies to subscribers based on specific commands. In 1987, database functions were added which allowed users to search the database. Listserv was also very ethical; giving the subscriber the right to unsubscribe anytime. By 2001, it had surpassed over 100M subscribers and managed over 170,000 email lists. Up until 1993, it was released as a freeware and even now, could still be downloaded free for a maximum of 10 lists with up to 500 subscribers.
L Soft, the company founded by Eric Thomas, released the paid version that included more management tools. Through the years, it incorporated email tracking, customized reporting, built-in antivirus capability, analytics, email marketing, hosting, and integration with emerging social media platforms, especially on content creation; all the while respecting privacy and the freedom of choice.
However, other entities were not as stringent and by 2008, spam plagued the online world reaching an all-time high of 92.6% of email worldwide. Despite tighter controls on permissions, the worldwide scam rate was still at an appalling 59.8% two years ago. Just how big is this? As reported by the Radicati Group the volume of spam and unwanted email has risen to 32 Billion email users globally. Just imagine, the distress and anxiety over receiving these annoyances; and the fear that these carry with it malware that can retrieve confidential personal information.
With an eye to take the lead in email marketing while keeping it safe, ethical, as well as more responsive and profitable, Listserv reinvented itself with new features over 30 years after its initial launch – or 25 years after it introduced permission email.
“Successful mass communication is ethical: It comes from a sender-subscriber relationship based on strong prior consent. Eric Thomas, L-Soft’s CEO, invented automated subscription confirmation to prevent unreliable email addresses from being added to an email list. This also protects the list and its subscribers from fraudulent subscriptions and puts permission in the hands of the recipient, where it belongs.” — Outi Tuomaala, L-Soft’s EVP ( in Newswire)
Currently, Listserv, Listserv Lite, Listserv Free, and Listserv Maestro can be downloaded from the site. Apart from the email list software, L-Soft products include email hosting (ListPlex®), and email marketing (Maestro Add-On). Competitive Features of Listserv include:
- Integrated Virus protection
- Double opt-in support
- Automatic email handling
- Web integration
- Support for all list types
- Automatic Bounce Handling
- Security options
- Message posting
- Message scheduling
- Content Analysis
- Newsletter Template Gallery
- Customizable Mail templates and styles
- Attachment and content filter
- Subscriber activity reports
- CSV reports
- List reports
- Moderation sharing
- Full RSS support and others that increase engagement.
Because of the backlash from users complaining about the incessant deluge of unwanted mail, digital marketers are now more compliant about requesting consent and observing data privacy; including the user’s right to prevent the sale of any information to a third. Consent is now a primary gateway especially in the age of fraud, phishing, and other cyber crimes. Listserv is now at the forefront of all these cautioning users to:
- be explicit about subscriber opt-in
- set specific expectations about content that will be received
- confirm that the subscription was initiated by the subscriber and
- reassure subscribers that they can opt-out anytime.