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Covid-19 Is a Great Marketer

Add little friction in your product to reduce churn


One of the few cases when adding friction is a good thing is when users are about to cancel their subscription.

Instead of letting them cancel with one click, use this opportunity to make them stay.

Adding an offboarding flow to your cancellation process will help you save some of the churning users and collect qualitative feedback from the rest.

Then offer

  • Offer 50% discount for a month to squeeze little more
  • Downgrading to a lower pricing plan
  • Subscription pause
  • Offer extra training to help them get more value out of the product – if they didn’t get the value they expected


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What COVID-19 teaches you about marketing for indie businesses


1. Go to market with a defined, narrow niche in mind.

Corona started off with a small niche in Wuhan, China.

Here’s what their persona definition must have looked like: “Adults above the age of 30 living in Wuhan, China who recently visited a wet market near the Wuhan Institute of Virology”

The virus has obviously diversified beyond this, but more on that later…

Remember, the riches are in the niches.

2. Don’t be explicit

The best marketing is implicit. It provides value to your prospects without being too pushy 🎙️

How do you think the Coronavirus reached global brand recognition? By being implicit.

About 80% of infections are asymptomatic. If everyone who got the virus was symptomatic, more people would rest at home and the virus would have no chance to spread.

Implicit messaging > Explicit pushing.

3. Segment your customers ➗

Segmentation will give you insights.

Look at Coronavirus. It started off with a small niche in Wuhan, but now it has grown its customer base all over the world.

Some of its target market was high-converting, places like Italy for example.

Some don’t seem to care about its product, places like Sweden.

Coronavirus recognizes this and doubles down on the segments that care about its product, it serves them more of itself.

Meanwhile, segments of its customers like Sweden remain underserved.

Identify your highest converting customers, find lookalikes, and double down on those.

4. Build and exploit viral loops

How do you leverage your current customers to get more? Referrals, and viral loops.

The coronavirus blitzscaled its growth by building virality into the product. It had an R0 between 2-3. That means, every customer referred coronavirus to 2-3 people on average… and so on… and so on. That’s exponential growth! 🚀

5. Create a cult brand

This one may be controversial, but that’s the point.

All cults(and cult brands) have rituals associated with them.

The virus created a cult of people who wash hands, wear masks, stay at home, and blindly trust science. These people will dismiss contradictory evidence and are strong brand advocates. The ultimate cult branding campaign!

Do this with your marketing strategy, create a cult of loyal followers AND disbelievers, both help your cause.

6. Rapid iteration: test, learn, adapt

Coronavirus was evolving its product and its marketing. It kept its “Number of Cases” KPI in mind and wasn’t paying attention to anything else.

Coronavirus mutated its product based on the market’s needs.

It wasn’t fixating on growth channels too.

Sometimes it spread asymptomatically, sometimes it didn’t.

Sometimes it spread from surfaces, sometimes it didn’t.

It tested different methods and doubled down on what worked best.

Growth is all about testing 🎯

Okay, those were 6 lessons from the coronavirus. Now here’s one mistake the Coronavirus made:

❌ Focusing on vanity metrics

It made “Number of cases” its KPI. This meant it only optimized for customers acquired, but never did anything to activate and retain them for longer.

Despite having many people sign up for a 14-day free trial, only a small percentage stayed back.

Only focus on metrics that are closely related to revenue. Don’t optimize for vanity, as corona did.


Set up brand alerts for your product


This sounds really simple, but… a good tip: set up social alerts for your products.

It’s a simple tip, but one that can seriously help you in your marketing endeavors.


  • Add human touch to your product features announcements. When you ship & announce a feature update for your SaaS, include a shout out to the person who requested it. (Tweet it)
  • Ads are awesome when done right. Scalability is amazing when you stumble upon a profitable campaign 🙂 (Tweet it)
  • Marketing and Engineering are mom and dad. Two sides of the same coin. While it’s true that depending on the type of business the proportions change, you’ll still need both. (Tweet it)
  • Marketing isn’t just about distribution (IH, Reddit, PH, etc.), it’s also about what to build, what not to build, what it does, what’s it for, and for whom? (Tweet it)
  • Offboarding is just another aspect of optimizing your retention. (Tweet it)
  • What to do you do when you’re asked for a longer trial? Use it as an opportunity to talk to them. “Sure, you can have a longer trial if you’re able to jump on a 15-min call to talk about how you’re finding the product so far”. That conversation will be really valuable. (Tweet it)
  • When selling online courses, don’t hesitate to create bundles, it sells like crazy. (Tweet it)

Worth Reading

  1. This essay talks about the brilliant campaign that caused you and the rest of the planet to buy a diamond engagement ring when you’re getting married
  2. ”Our donuts make you skinny” — reframe your value proposition and turn negatives into positives

  3. How to write great Pre-headers for emails

  4. Forget the funnel: Set growth loops

Like this Marketing Goodness? Get the next issue directly in your email inbox. Check advertising options and connect on Twitter and Linkedin.

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