Pundits have been proclaiming the decline of email marketing ever since social media started picking up steam. 

Then late last year, the predictions came in about a resurgence of email marketing in 2016 — and Louis CK is just one example of how those predictions were dead on. 

No Social Media Required

The two days following July 4 were like an extension of the holiday weekend's festivities for Louis CK fans in the Boston area. Two surprise shows were announced – one on July 5 and one on July 6 — but if you weren't on the popular comedian's email list, you didn't stand much chance of getting a ticket. 

CK's first show at Boston's Paradise Rock Club alerted fans via email to go to the venue to purchase tickets, so it took a little over two hours for the show to sell out. Tickets to Wednesday's surprise show at the Somerville Theater were gone within roughly five minutes, according to local fans who missed out. 

None of these shows were announced on social media by anyone at CK's camp — and they didn't need to be. Two sold-out shows in two days using nothing but email marketing? That's pretty impressive. 

Exclusivity Breeds Adoption

Of course, CK has a huge fan base, but he didn't cultivate relationships with them via social media. In fact, CK recently left Twitter, telling Rolling Stone: "It's too instant, I don't think the speed helps dialogue." 

It was a move that might have seemed crazy to some, but perhaps not to the fans who, as Rolling Stone reported, "pestered him for only plugging his material." 

Even die-hard fans are turned off by endless "marketing." What social followers want from celebrities and brands now is a personal connection — marketing that's authentic, human and based on mutual interests

CK couldn't seem to do that on Twitter, so he abandoned it. Meanwhile, his emails — which frequently fall into the "TL;DR" (too long; didn't read) category — are obviously hitting their mark, and getting results. 

Learning Opportunities

But it's not that surprising. In fact, it's brilliant. 

CK doesn't need to be active on social media — because his fans are. Each surprise event gets shouted out by everyone lucky enough to score tickets. When jealous fans ask how they can be "in the know" the answer is simple: Join the email list. 

Something most brands and businesses work hard to achieve, often annoying website visitors with email capture pop-ups, CK manages easily with a little word of mouth and a fanbase driven by FOMO (fear of missing out). 

The Benefit of Mastering One Platform

You could say it's FOMO that drives brands to jump onto every social channel into existence in the hopes of getting consumers' attention. Many brands, and especially smaller businesses, make the mistake of thinking they need to be everywhere. The truth is, it's better to engage on one platform — or a few — extremely well, than to haphazardly attempt to engage on too many. 

And email can still be one of those platforms as long as you follow a few best practices: 

  • Post when your audience wants you to. Mailing list management services like MailChimp provide analytics so you can see when your mail is having the biggest impact, who is opening/not opening, etc.
  • Make subject lines enticing. Just as you would the title of a blog post, or the text associated with an image or video
  • Make sure there's a payoff. Know your followers and give them what they want, whether that's discounts, special events, a particular type of content — and be "human" about it 
  • Be sure email templates are responsive, since email views via mobile devices continue to grow

Connecting online is less about the channels used than about how you use them. Email is still a valid channel, and just like other social channels, it continues to evolve. Keep up with the changes, and you can use email marketing to bring your business greater success — and that's no joke. 

fa-solid fa-hand-paper Learn how you can join our contributor community.