How to Create a Listserv for Your Business

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There are certain words in the English language that start out as brands but end up being used to describe a common item. The word Kleenex is like this–many people use Kleenex to talk about any kind of facial tissue in a generic way, but in reality, it’s a specific brand.

That’s exactly how the word Listserv works.  Depending on who you’re talking to, Listserv is used to refer to both the brand by L-Soft, as well as a generic email list.

The company that makes the brand Listserv started in 1986 and was the first program to automate the administration of email lists. It’s still available today with modern and updated features. 

Options for Setting up a Listserv in Your Business

There are several ways to go about setting up a Listserv in your business.

  1. You can use the branded Listserv software–there are several options to choose from.
  2. You can set up a group email on Gmail for free if you have a limited amount of group emails you need to send.
  3. You can use one of the many types of auto-responder software on the market–like AWeber, Get Response, and Active Campaign

Let’s take a brief look at each option.

Using the Listserv Software

Listserv has several versions of its software available for purchase and a free version for small groups and hobby email lists that aren’t set up to make a profit.

If you aren’t sure which type of software will work for your business or if you want to give Listserv a try you can download a trial copy.

Sending to Groups Using Gmail

This little-known feature of Gmail allows you to send emails from small to medium size groups of people. Free Gmail is a good choice if you are using it for inter-organization communication.

If you want to use groups to send to people outside of your organization you will need a paid Google Groups account.

To use the basic group send function in your Gmail account follow these steps:

  1. Go to https://contacts.google.com/ while you are logged into your Google account
  2. Select your contacts by hovering over the name and clicking the checkbox that appears
  3. Click the labels icon that’s above the list of contacts
  4. Click the create label button that’s at the bottom of the drop-down menu
  5. Name your mailing list by typing in the label you want to use; you’ll use this label when you want to send an email to this group
  6. Press the OK button to save

Once you have your list set up, you can simply use the name of your list in the “To” section (where you normally type an email address) of the same Gmail account you set up the group in. This will allow you to send to the group you’ve set up.

If you frequently sent out very similar emails you avoid repetitive tasks by using Gmail Canned Responses

Using a Commercial Cloud-Based Autoresponder Software

If you have a small business that relies on email communication to gain trust with clients, if you need automation features that send emails based on people’s behavior on your website, or if you are not super tech-savvy and need a more robust solution than Gmail, then cloud-based autoresponders may be your best choice.

There are many of these types of services on the market today–with brands like Constant Contact, Active Campaign, and Aweber all performing well. In order to use one of these services, all you need to do is upload your email list directly to the service, then you can send real-time broadcast messages or scheduled emails to that list.

All of these types of services also offer autoresponder lists which allow you to send a series of emails in a predetermined sequence. So, you can have a form on your website that collects people’s email addresses and people can get a series of emails sent to them based on the form that they filled out. If you do this well, it can automate much of your sales process for you.

The Bottom Line

Creating a functional email list that can reach your potential customers and allow you to communicate effectively within your organization is an important tool in any business.

The three options listed above cover the needs of most businesses and will allow you to set up a group email list that can help your business succeed.