How I made £1000+ worth of Uber Rides from one email

(This was originally published on samuelwood.co in 2016)

The problem

I was up one night scheming and thinking of ways to take over the world (as you do). I snapped back into reality and thought about the different ways I could add value to different targeted audiences.

The Audience

I wanted to reach the millennial audience. University students… Students at my university specifically as I can relate to the needs and wants of this audience intimately.

If only I could email every single person at my university…

Hm. It seems far fetched but if I treat this as a solvable problem how would I logically go about doing this?

(I feel like a lot of people don’t actually pursue their hard questions and dismiss them too easily, but that’s another post for another time.)

At my university we all have a code assigned to ourselves for our email addresses e.g. BCA321@university.com, I wonder how they are generated 🤔

For next few hours I worked on cracking the code and finally reverse engineered all the possible combinations of emails for students at my university (over one million in an excel sheet lol).

Next I had to filter out the emails that were not correct as email providers block people sending out messages to lists when above 5% of the email addresses are not valid.

I loaded all the permutations and combinations of the emails into an application that pings the mailbox to see if the email exists (without sending anything to the emails), I then rattled down the 1million+ emails into the 30,000 real ones.

After a quick google search, I found this is roughly the number of students that are currently enrolled at my university so I knew I was on the right track.

Now I had the emails for every single student at my university, the next hurdle was to find the most efficient (cheapest) way to contact them. I considered Mailchimp but their pricing tiers get really expensive really quickly so that was out of the question. I found a way to send emails using Amazon SES which is 100x cheaper than Mailchimp per email. Cool.

I’ll skip some steps here as it gets really geeky very quickly so let me fast forward.

The Offer

The thing to think about next was what I could offer to the students that:

  1. ) Wouldn’t take education and convincing of the value.
  2. ) That was cheap as students are generally broke.
  3. ) That was a win-win for me and the students.

(My universities emails are boring and never resonate with students).

Timing

Uber recently moved to Leicester the prior week and of course they’ve been offering the first ride free for some time now. Perfect.

I next changed my Uber promo code to ‘Uber*insert uni name*Ride’ and prepared an email.

I added a little bit of student banter in the email. Crossed my fingers and waited.

Boom.

The Results.

skr skrr 🚗💨

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