3 Things Louis C.K. Taught Me About Effective Email Marketing

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Hello friend guy lady or other,

A little over a month ago, I joined Louis C.K.’s mailing list to purchase an episode of “Horace and Pete,” as well as to receive the occasional update/announcement.

By the way, in case you’re curious; that was the first line in the very first email I received from Louis C.K.

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Hello friend guy lady or other,

Here’s another one:

Hi there people and dogs who watch tv.

What I love about these greetings is that on the surface they’re funny, but also a subtle and clever commentary on the bureaucratic nature of mass marketing emails.

Email Marketing Tips From a Comedic Genius

Having opted in to one or two email lists in the past, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for; the typical cold, corporate email nervously written by an underpaid, over-caffienated intern.

So many emails start with “Hi ~Insert First Name~” or “Hey ~Insert First Name~,” and yell at you to click something NOW with all sorts of unwarranted exclamation. It’s easy to become desensitized. They’re cold, lifeless, and make you want to delete them.

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Herein lies the genius of Louis C.K.’s emails.

They’re smart, sincere, funny, but most importantly; make you wanna do and buy stuff.

Reading these emails has inspired me to revisit some important marketing fundamentals that I think are lost on far too many brands these days.

Whether you’re a solo freelancer, a small business, or a large corporation with a fully-stocked marketing department, there are lessons to be learned here.

The Importance of the Double-Opt In

Email list building 101: quality trumps quantity. The use of a double-opt in means you want your email recipients to be engaged. You’re not going to waste time delivering email content to those who aren’t interested.

Here’s the double opt-in message I received:

Thanks for subscribing to the Louis C.K. email list. I swear I will not bother you now that I have your email.

I think this is a great tongue-in-cheek way to let you know you’re probably going to receive some more emails in the future (and if you’re a huge Louis C.K. fan like I am, you’re probably not going to mind).


Since I first signed up, I’ve received about an email a week from Louis C.K. and I’ve really looked forward to them.

There’s an honest, conversational tone to the writing. In the message below, he acknowledges both some critical and positive responses he’d been receiving in a straightforward, refreshing manner:

I know that some of you on this list don’t want to get this email every week. And I know that some of you really like getting this email every week. I know this because I get emails from both of you. Some people write me and they say “Hey, you promised not to write me all the time. This is REALLY unfair! This is SPAM!” and some of you write me to say “Hey man. I love getting these emails. And thanks for reminding me about the show this week.” Also, whenever we delay the email for a while, to see if maybe people will come out of habit to watch the show, some do. But not many. And then I send out the email and boom. There’s an explosion of sales on the new episode and even the old ones. And the explosion reverberates though the week.  So.  I’m gonna keep sending the emails.

He addresses critics and fans alike with honesty and respect, all while setting an important expectation: you’re gonna keep getting these emails.

Know Thy Audience

The first rule of marketing: define your audience.

In a recent email, Louis C.K. goes on the Trump offensive; and as someone who considers themselves to be within the realm of Louis C.K.’s target audience, I found it both hilarious and poignant.

Another hilarious example of Louis C.K. knowing his audience and injecting humor into an otherwise procedural email message can be seen in the communications I received after forgetting and having to reset my password:

You’re an idiot. Give us your email address, and we’ll send you a new [password].

And here’s the email I received a moment later:

Apparently you forgot your password? Ok, so here’s your new one, stupid:

PASSWORD: stupid.p8o6p

Here’s the login page in case you forgot that too:…

(Did you read that in his voice, too?)

I mean, c’mon; when’s the last time a password reset email made you laugh out loud?

Share Your Learns

Let’s hear some of your own examples of great email marketing. Are there some tactics you’ve experimented with in your own email campaigns that have worked out well, or not so well? Let us know!

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About Brian Glassman

Brian Glassman is a freelance designer, front-end web developer, and marketing professional in the Greater Chicago area. When he’s not going the extra mile for clients, you can find him listening to (loud) rock music, enjoying a craft beer, or nerding out on his gaming PC. Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram


Leave a Comment



  1. Email law in Canada does not allow for us to cold email.

  2. sandra rodriguez says:

    i’m a real fan of louie ck…..havent subscribed but i really related to your point….

    i agree with you about louie’s genius….

  3. I’m glad you brought this up. Louis brilliantly pulls this off and I look forward to his emails, though haven’t had time to read them lately. It’s quite a feat to make someone actually want to read an email newsletter from first to last word. Note that I’ve purchased every video he’s put on his site, except for the Horace and Pete series which I’m going to go buy right now! Thanks for the reminder and look me up if you come to Denver. Tons of great loud rock shows and craft beer on every block.

  4. I’m so glad to see this article here! I really LOVED his emails too, I think they’re brilliant.


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