Filter by Category Filter by Category

The best Listserv alternative

Did you know that more than half of all emails sent land in the spam folder? And even if your emails are getting through, the best open rate you can reasonably expect is around 15 to 25%. No wonder some people are claiming the end of email!

Fair enough, claims the end of email might be on the excessive side. It’s still a popular way to keep in touch, but for building a community-based discussion group or promoting events? Not so much. In this post, we’ll explore the features and benefits you can enjoy with a listserv alternative.

What is listserv?

Listserv is a mailing list management platform. The concept is quite simple. A listserv is an email discussion group with a list of member addresses. Whenever a member of the group sends an email to the group address, all other members receive it too. It’s kind of like a forum in that it enables online discussions but, as you can probably imagine, having a chat via email isn’t very efficient in the age of instant messaging.

What are the benefits of group email lists?

The beauty of group mailing lists is their simplicity. To participate, members only need to provide an email address. They don’t need to download any software, and it doesn’t matter what sort of computer they’re using. 

Lots of organisations, such as sports clubs, membership clubs, activist groups, and charities rely on email for promoting events and keeping members informed. Modern listservs allow for some level of customisation to accommodate such requirements. 

What about the drawbacks?

Listservs are one of the internet’s earliest innovations. But while they served us well for years, they’re a dated approach to online engagement. Most listservs are also text-based, so they don’t even support pictures or videos. The fact emails usually go unopened means they’re pretty low in the engagement department too. 

If, for example, you’re promoting a webinar or any other event, people are much more likely to remember if they receive a push notification rather than an email that might go unseen or get forgotten about. Fortunately, now we have instant messengers, social media, and a wealth of other options at our fingertips.

Engage your community in a mobile-first world

Although a listserv is supposed to facilitate discussions between group members, the reality is admins tend to end up being the only ones doing the talking. To build an engaged community, you need to bring members together under a common goal or purpose and enable real-time discussion. That’s why you need instant messaging. 

  • Customise the user experience: Every target audience has different preferences and needs, just as every organisation has its own way of doing things. You can’t expect to engage members if you’re not offering a unique yet familiar experience that accommodates these needs.
  • New listserv alternatives are highly customisable. Firstly, they support a far wider range of content formats, such as pictures and videos. Secondly, you can provide a branded experience that’s truly your own.
  • Provide a modern way to keep in touch: When did you last receive an email from a friend? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably been a while. After all, there are faster and more efficient ways to keep in touch.
  • Today, people usually rely on social media or instant messaging. Thanks to faster internet speeds, they’re also more likely to engage with live-streamed video too. And, a lot of the time, they’ll be doing all these things on the small screen.
  • Get real-time feedback: Most emails don’t just go unanswered – they also go unseen. Any meaningful discussion tends to get lost in all the back and forth, which can make it difficult if you want to offer customer support via your community.
  • These days, more than ever, you must be there for your customers during their time of need. If their questions or feedback go unanswered, customer loyalty will take a hit. That’s why you need a community which revolves around instant messaging and real-time activity feeds.
  • Monetise your community: Sure, you can use email to promote the latest products and special offers, but there are more effective ways to advertise. And a community that revolves around live discussions offers lots more monetisation opportunities.

When you have a community app that offers a familiar social networking experience, albeit one that’s branded to your organisation, people will be ready to buy from you. You might also add paid subscription tiers, premium live events, or even sell products directly to your community.

A listserv gives you the basic foundations of an online discussion group, but there are plenty of better ways. With a modern social networking experience that works great on the small screen, you’re always there for your members.

Simplify community management

Managing a big mailing list can be time-consuming . It might not seem like a big deal when you only have a few dozen members, but once you reach hundreds or even thousands, you’ll have your work cut out. Sure, you can take a lot of the workload off your shoulders with automated mailing list management, but you’ll also want to take the time to engage your members in meaningful discussion.

Here are some ways you can make your life as a community manager easier:

  • Stay informed with analytics: Every online activity leaves a trail of data. You can use this data to monitor the health and behaviour of your community. With a modern community experience, you can monitor so much more than email open rates and clicks.
  • Understanding your community helps you find opportunities for improvement and address any problems quickly. Analytics keep you in the loop by revealing the most active members, recent posts, and the most popular content.
  • Be available anywhere, anytime: Most people spend a lot more time on their phones than using a computer. Because of this, lengthy email newsletters aren’t as effective as they once were.
  • The average smartphone owner now spends almost two and a half hours per day in front of the small screen, and around half that time is spent on social media. Simply put, that’s where your customers are, so that’s where you need to be too. Listserv isn’t really geared up for mobile, hence the need for a community app.
  • Keep your content in one place: Content created by your community members is the fuel that drives today’s businesses, so it makes sense to have an easy way to keep track of all that content.
  • Having a content library where you can easily access and manage everything you and your community members have published will certainly make things easier. It’s also useful to have a system for automatically scheduling posts and sending notifications via email or push notification.
  • A good listserv alternative should provide everything you need to customise, engage, monetise, and manage your community. And, since we’re talking about building branded communities exclusive to your organisation, you’ll also want complete security, privacy, and ownership over your information.

How to create your own Listserv alternative

If you want to grow your business and engage your subscribers on any meaningful basis, you’ll need something more sophisticated than Listserv. There are lots of alternatives in group email list software, such as Mailman, Gaggle Mail, and Google Groups, but none of them are any substitute for having a full-fledged community platform. Often, these solutions are at their best when you use them together with a community forum or mobile app. 

Final words

To boost customer engagement and drive revenue in today’s era of constant distraction, you need to think beyond subscribers. Instead, you need to create a sense of community powered by real-time feedback and a modern, user-friendly experience. 

Here’s a recap of the main things you need to think about when choosing a listserv alternative:

  • Provide a modern, mobile-first community experience
  • Monetise your community with integrated payments
  • Keep track of your community with member analytics

Disciple provides a modern alternative to email management software that helps you build a community your subscribers will love. Talk to us today to learn more!


Seb Abecasis in
5 min read

See how Disciple can fit your business needs

Seb Abecasis in Community building
Seb Abecasis in
Community building

See how a Disciple community
can fit your business needs

See how a Disciple community can fit your business needs

Download our Content Ideas Starter Kit

More Resources

Create Your Own Forum with Our Easy-to-Use Software

Read more

Industry Leading Community Software

Read more

The Only Community Platform You Need

Read more
Community Stories

We’ve built beautiful apps for over 700 communities and helped them to engage over 2 million members. Find out how businesses like yours have used the Disciple platform to supercharge their communities!