My company Fedora helps people start their own online school.

Like any other web product, we have a percentage of people that successfully sign up for an account and people that abandon our website.

We spend a lot of time trying to understand the second segment — what is different about the people that are NOT signing up for our product?

As it turns out, potential teachers with any kind of online marketing pedigree — even something as simple as a blog or an email list, would sign up instantaneously.

But educators less well-versed with these channels were hesitant:

“I would love to build a school on my own site — but doing my own marketing is too difficult. I wouldn’t even know where to start”

“But Ankur… I don’t have an e-mail list. How can I get my first 10 students?”

But see… this is where they are wrong. Everyone already has an e-mail list.

All they need is the know on how to access it.


Step 1: Enter LinkedIn.

My LinkedIn profile has been largely unmaintained since 2009. I log in every few weeks and indiscriminately accept all my requests.

The result? I now have 715 people that somewhat give a shit about me.

Here’s the clincher though – LinkedIn makes it easy to export your contacts. Like… stupidly easy.

Hit the Keep in Touch menu item under the Connections drop-down. Then, find the Settings icon in the top right to get to this page:

linkedin

 

And just like that, I now have a CSV file of every single contacts e-mail address.


Step 2: Mailchimp

You can easily sign up for a free account on mailchimp.com that should be sufficient for this email.

Navigate to the Lists section of their impeccably designed admin panel and choose the Import List button and upload the CSV you just generated.

mailchimp

Mailchimp does all the work for you here and automatically matches the first name, last name and email address.

I chose to Skip the other columns and boom — I now have a 712 person mailing list ready to be used.


This strategy is stupidly effective.

The beauty of this approach is how highly targeted this list is to people that CARE about you.

In online marketing, that is as powerful a hook as you are ever going to get.

Here is an (anonymized with my name) e-mail template that an instructor of ours used to get over 100 free signups to his school:

template

And the applications are limitless.

Looking for a new job? Chances are one of your Linkedin contacts knows exactly the right opportunity.

Raising money for Alzheimers research? This approach is a lot more effective than updating your Facebook status 7 times a day.

Trying to find a worthy beneficiary for Nigerian royalty money? Done, done and done.*

As long as you promise to remove my email from this experiment, I’d love to hear how it works out for you on Twitter.


P.S. Based on frequent requests from our instructors, I’m starting an email list on actionable online marketing hacks. Here’s the link if you want in.

*Like any other growth tactic, this has the potential for abuse. Ultimately, I can’t teach anyone to not be a shitty person.

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