Permission Email Is Thriving at 30, Launched by Double Opt-In Invention in LISTSERV® Software

The Revolutionary Technology Is as Important as Ever for Trusted Email Communications

Every day, people actively subscribe to email groups, newsletters and marketing campaigns on their own terms thanks to the world's first subscription confirmation feature, called double opt-in or confirmed opt-in, originally implemented in LISTSERV.

This groundbreaking innovation, requiring people to actively sign up to an email list and then to explicitly confirm their subscription, was first released in the March 1993 version of the LISTSERV email list management software, invented by Eric Thomas, L-Soft Founder and CEO. The double opt-in function continues to bolster consent and safeguard email list subscribers worldwide.

30 Years of Double Opt-In

How Double Opt-In Works

Person subscribes to sender's email communications
Sender sends confirmation link
Person confirms subscription by clicking link

Why Double Opt-In Is Important

  • Builds trust with subscribers, improves engagement, reduces complaints and unsubscribes
  • Verifies explicit consent as required by GDPR and other data and privacy regulations
  • Improves deliverability and sender reputation by ensuring valid and active email addresses

Did You Know?

Although spam continues to decline, unwanted messages still arise, and even familiar senders may get false spam alerts if not using subscriber best practices.

"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," said Outi Tuomaala, L-Soft Executive VP. "This ultimately benefits your sender reputation, subscriber relationships and, in turn, your communications and results."

Ensure Subscribers' Consent, Even If Not Legally Required

  • Ask for explicit consent, don't assume it
  • State the purpose of your email list and deliver what you promise
  • Use confirmed opt-in/double opt-in to ensure subscribers actively confirm subscription requests

Tip: While it's not mandatory for all email communications, for example, a transactional email or a message in the context of an existing business relationship, it's a safer and better practice to ensure that recipients have confirmed that they want to receive your communications. It doesn't cost you anything and helps you establish a positive relationship with customers and minimize the risk of complaints or unsubscribes.

The Path to Permission Email

2023: Double opt-in subscription confirmation remains the industry best practice for email groups, newsletters and email marketing communications

2018: The EU GDPR requires explicit and verifiable consent before sending email communications, ushering in new global data privacy laws and practices

1999: Seth Godin coins the term "Permission Marketing"

1993: Email subscription confirmation/double opt-in is added to LISTSERV software, a first

1986: Eric Thomas invents LISTSERV, the first software to automate email list management, starting email group communication as we know it today

The Path to Permission Email