Future London Academy is an executive school for creatives that seeks to erase borders between professional communities from different countries and provide knowledge and inspiration to make the world better.
Together with his co-founder Ekaterina Solomeina, academy director Mohammed Saiful Hussain has spent the past eight years helping 500+ companies learn the latest tools and practices from the best professionals in the industry through offline and online learning experiences, including visits and meetings with the most brilliant innovators and top creative agencies in London.
Future London Academy uses ActiveCampaign and Thinkific to manage their courses and customers, allowing them to track the full customer journey and make more data-driven decisions on their marketing strategy and future course content.
Read on to learn how they pivoted their business model in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, leveraging customer experience automation (CXA) to deliver the right learning content to each customer and providing a hyper relevant customer experience that drives growth.
Transitioning from all-in-one solutions to CXA
Future London Academy started as a passion project for Ekaterina and Mo. While Ekaterina managed the product and design side, Mo was focused on marketing and selling their new business venture.
At first Mo did everything from his email inbox and manually entered customer information into a Google Sheet. But as Future London Academy’s reach grew, Mo was soon managing thousands of contacts without the help of automation—costing him too much time and effort. It was time for a better solution.
He first tried a free Campaign Monitor subscription that allowed him to send a limited number of emails per day. But as Future London Academy’s audience continued to grow, he needed a way to communicate meaningfully with a vast contact base about a variety of course offerings. Limited email marketing wasn’t enough.
On a suggestion from a friend, he tried HubSpot’s all-in-one platform next. HubSpot offered a more robust feature set but made him pay for features he didn’t want or need, and it quickly became too expensive for a growing business.
Looking for an affordable solution that gave him the flexibility to communicate with his audience in the way that made sense for his business and let him pay only for the features he would use, Mo found the right fit with ActiveCampaign’s customer experience automation (CXA) platform.
“In the beginning with any business, it’s always about how do you use the tools that are out there, trying to be as efficient as possible and not spend crazy money for extra features you’re not even using,” Mo says. “We switched to ActiveCampaign, which provides the same features, and the transition was easy. And now we have the ease of building off of that.”
Pivoting from in-person to online learning experiences
With ActiveCampaign, Mo was able to communicate with his audience more frequently, going from sending a newsletter once every month or quarter, to twice a week. ActiveCampaign also allowed him to ensure the communications he was sending were relevant to each contact, relying on lists, tags, and custom fields to target contacts with appropriate content based on their interests, job title, and lifecycle stage.
“We had experimented with different course concepts so that different parts of the world could join. ActiveCampaign gave us the tools we needed to be able to communicate with that audience at scale,” says Mo.
When COVID-19 hit in 2020 and Mo and Ekaterina had to quickly pivot the business, ActiveCampaign also made the transition easy.
While the plan was always to package their course content into online products they could deliver digitally to their international audience, they had to do this sooner rather than later.
The first step was to find a platform to host their course offerings.
“We had to quickly find a platform that would allow us to sell online. We did some research and Thinkific’s looked like the best out there, was reasonably priced, and everything was connected to ActiveCampaign, so we could just run with it.”
They built out their course content in Thinkific. Then, they used ActiveCampaign’s integration with Thinkific to pull contact name, email, country, phone number, and course enrolled into ActiveCampaign whenever a new contact created an account. They also used ActiveCampaign site tracking to understand what actions contacts were taking on their website and on their Thinkific course website and stored that information in ActiveCampaign as well.
With all this information in ActiveCampaign, Mo can automatically create and add new deals to the right pipeline in ActiveCampaign’s CRM, where he gets a complete view of how many people have signed up for a course, who they are, how they’re interacting with their website and course content, and how much revenue they’re worth.
With their Thinkific integration in place, Mo and Ekaterina considered what content would drive interest in their online courses. They packaged relevant videos, articles, and podcasts into automated nurture flows for their roster of upcoming courses and started driving registrations.
“You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars in advertising to get people to come. If you use the automations in the right way, you can start building your audience,” Mo says.
1:1 customer experiences at scale
Future London Academy has been able to grow through this pivot by using ActiveCampaign to deliver content that is tailored to each individual throughout their entire customer journey.
How do they do this? It starts with the information that is pulled into ActiveCampaign from Thinkific. With all their contact data in one place, they can use ActiveCampaign’s powerful automation to send each contact through a unique flow based on the course that interests them.
When a new contact comes into ActiveCampaign, they’re automatically added to an email list that corresponds to their course of interest and sent down an automated path that nurtures them toward a purchase. If they’ve already purchased the course, they’re put into another automation that encourages them to complete the course, shares information they need for any live course components (such as a live webinar), and delivers a certificate upon completion.
Contacts are tagged based on the courses they’ve completed, which white papers they’ve downloaded, where they came from, and whether they’re in a leadership position, allowing Mo and his team to communicate as if on a 1:1 basis with each customer.
“By using ActiveCampaign’s Contacts search function, you have all this rich information and we used it to build a segment of alumni by tagging people who have already paid,” says Mo.
When their communications feel like 1:1 interactions and are tailored to where a contact is at in their customer journey, they can provide better customer experiences that drive growth.
What growth looks like for Future London Academy
The quick pivot to online learning was an experiment that worked. Since introducing online versions of their courses, Future London Academy has used ActiveCampaign to grow their audience by 80% and improve course enrollment and completion rates. They’ve also added new team members to streamline their business processes and help keep up with demand.
Mo says they want to continue to experiment and iterate with their marketing and sales to learn what sticks. He plans to introduce an affiliate marketing program soon.
If you would like to explore the platform that Future London Academy uses every day to deliver the right content to each individual at every point in their customer journey, try ActiveCampaign free today.