11 Key Takeaways From Canva’s Growth Strategy That Can Grow Your Freelance Graphic Design Business

By Christopher Benitez September 19, 2021

How to achieve the best results in any field?

It’s easy (the answer, not actually achieving the results), all you have to do is to see who is already best in that field and analyze what were the steps in their journey.

Canva’s success is well known.

However, how they achieved their success is somehow a mystery.

Well, not anymore.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a marketer or someone who is thinking about starting a business.

These tops from Canva’s growth strategy will help you to grow your freelance graphic design business.

Overview

  • Their focus is on explaining Canva’s features in simple terms. However, they don’t explain the process itself.
  • Simplicity is the main feature of their website. Canva is easy to use and everyone can register in a matter of seconds.

What Is Canva?

Canva is a free graphic design platform and a publishing tool for creating great designs.

It is a simplified version of Photoshop if you like. For example, you are able to create flyers, business cards, upload photos and use Canva’s templates.

Over the years, Canva became one of the fastest-growing platforms and not without a good reason.

Apart from their business model, the founders of Canva had to rely on something essential in terms of visibility.

Their idea was to create a marketing strategy that would capitalize on the lack of graphic design tools.

There was a huge market, with an average person refusing to become an illustrator but with the need to design things.

Creators of Canva had two goals:

To create traffic and convert their audience into customers.

Keep reading to find out about the most interesting steps in their journey.

1. The Home Page – Selling Is Unnecessary

The creators of Canva made an interesting choice – to show the simplicity of their product by making their presentation simple.

There is little information about what exactly is Canva. On the other hand, there are various messages about the things that Canva can do.

When you’re on Canva’s home page, there are two main messages you’ll receive:

  • You can create designs very quickly.
  • Canva is easy to use.

Users can register immediately and use the product. There are design ideas that will inspire a typical user and push them to start making their own design.

In other words, the sales pitch has already happened before. There is no need for selling Canva on the home page.

2. Product Page –  We Have the Edge

Another great feature of Canva’s website is its product page. They have managed to present a strong value proposition:

Canva, your secret weapon for stunning design

This statement alone captures the user’s attention and explains the essence of the product. You are able to understand the benefits even if you are not familiar with the product.

If you don’t know what Canva is or how it can help you, this single sentence will answer your concerns.

Apart from that, it shows why it’s better than its competition. This is a short and effective way of showing the value and the outcome of the product you’re selling.

3. Messaging Hierarchy – How to Tell a Story

Every website wants to tell a compelling story.

This is an old marketing trick.

If you want to sell things you need a smooth narrative that’s wrapped around them. On a website, the information needs to be presented in the right order.

This is where the messaging hierarchy comes in. There are 3 important elements of a successful messaging hierarchy:

  • The message (what you communicate)
  • The order (when you communicate)
  • The layout (where you communicate)

When it comes to Canva, they have used this strategy to quickly convert their users into customers.

There is no guide on how to design things because you are able to try it yourself in a matter of seconds and learn as you go.

They emphasized the benefits and features such as saving time and money. Their product is simple, user-friendly, and will deliver.

The only thing you need to worry about is what kind of plan you want in the Pricing section.

You get 30 days of free trial which is more than enough for you to try different features and learn how to create design.

This leads me to the next takeaway, the design.

4. Design – You Are Free to Be Creative

Canva has many colors and shapes.

This type of design is not a coincidence.

They wanted to communicate creativity, freedom of expression, and having fun which are the exact values you would expect to find in a person who wants to use this platform.

However, instead of using one image followed by descriptions for features and benefits, they have used 6 images in two rows. This is not a coincidence.

Even though it’s generally distracting to have too many elements with the same purpose, it worked for them.

The reason it worked is that images/designs are the essence of their product. Their users are already accustomed to this form of expression.

If you are in the process of starting a graphic design business, the lesson from this takeaway is to keep your presentation related to the product you’re selling by using the same “language”.

For example, you would expect to hear an ad about a music app rather than read hundreds of sentences.

This leads me to ads.

5. Simple Ads – Just Do It!

Just like with previous strategies, the ads that Canva uses are pretty simple. Again,they are focused on the practical side of your needs – how to do x.

For example, you need to create a business card. Your search query is “how to make a business card”.

The ad from Canva will have this in its headline. This could be very similar to your search query.

The next information is that you can create your own card in 3 easy steps. It says DIY which means it will be fast and cheap.

The third information is a wide selection of templates followed by more tools and photos that you can use for editing. Finally, you can download it easily.

The last thing is a 30 days trial. Again, the transition is just perfect and conversion is guaranteed.

6. Social Media Ads – Images and Copy

Another field where Canva is superior is social media.

They have experimented with many different features when it comes to social media ads.

However, they have managed to perfect two things: images and copy.

The best way to understand their method is to look at it as combining forces.

They want to convey a single message through both of those channels: It doesn’t matter who you are, you can design anything you want easily!

7. Powerful Images

Since social media are predominantly visual and serve to attract attention, ad imagery is the most important part of a social media ad.

Why?

Well, think about memes for a second. They are almost self-explanatory, meaning you are able to grasp the meaning in seconds. Images are simply powerful.

For example, there are so many t-shirt designs that you can use. They are convenient, easy to make, and most importantly, they attract attention. 

Canva’s social media ads have remarkable images with a clear value proposition – a particular task that can be performed.

For example, you want to create a logo for your business. Their ad will show you an example of a logo and a short text.

Again, everything about Canva is colorful and friendly. You have a feeling that creating a logo will not be a task but a game.

8. Amazing Copy

There is no marketing without a copy, i.e. without carefully written words. Again, the copy supplements their images. Words are fun and to the point.

You have the information that using Canva is easy and can help you create everything you need.

This means that Canva’s ad tells you that a job you want to perform is possible within their platform.

They are showing the benefits by pointing out the images themselves.

Then, they tell you about templates and other features that you can use.

SEO Strategy – Backlinks and Structure

Digital marketing is unthinkable without good SEO.

Canva really implemented some of the best SEO practices in their growth strategy.

They have clearly invested a lot of time and effort into creating strategies that clearly paid off.

It was estimated that Canva has more than 5 million people visiting its website on a monthly basis in the US.

I will give you a short overview of the SEO practices that Canva implemented.

Of course, there is much more to be learned about Canva’s SEO, outreach, and content growth.

There are two main methods that give Canva a competitive advantage when it comes to SEO: Backlinks and impeccable structure.

9. Backlinks

Backlinks or inbound links are simply links from one website (page) to another website (page).

You want more backlinks since the more you have the better will be your organic search engine ranking.

Clearly, Canva invested a lot into their backlinks in terms of resources and getting external links to their website.

For example, they started their blog in Novembar 2014 and already had more than 2000 links in that month!

This is an incredible result.

The number of guest posts and authority websites they got in just a month after launching gave them brand awareness and powerful exposure.

Their website traffic exploded. 

10. Blog Structure – Simplicity Is Powerful

Canva’s blog structure follows the same logic as their message hierarchy that I’ve already covered.

Again, their blog conveys a simple and powerful message – with Canva, you can achieve your design goals.

Their blog page emphasizes their main product – Canva Pro and the many types of its uses. You can read about design, marketing, branding, and photography.

The purpose of Canva’s articles is to show you how easy it is to use the product for creating designs. The main topic or the essence of their articles is how you can create designs.

For example, when you read an article about marketing-related issues, there is no in-depth analysis of marketing but again, the focus is on design.

This shows that their blog content strategy is inside an awareness and conversion stage. 

This leads me to my final Canva takeaway – the structure of their articles.

11. Article Structure – Less Is More!

In this section, I will talk about their ultimate secret – the minimalism that pushes the reader into the role of the consumer.

Their articles are focused on the practical side of the matter.

Every article has one goal – to achieve signups.

There is always a call to action button for signing up a new customer. This is a common practice for blogs oriented on conversions.

Most of their articles are informational pieces called advertorials. These are the types of content that promote a product by turning readers into customers.

Canva’s articles are written with a clear structure in mind.

Again, you are unable to find a thorough analysis of Canva or how to create those designs.

However, the lack of explanation is exactly what pushes the reader to try it.

As a reader, you learn that using Canva is easy and can help you to accomplish your goal.

You see a template and a call to action. You want to learn more but there is nothing.

You have to try it yourself.

This strategy would’ve been wrong for a platform that doesn’t have a free trial.

However, Canva can have this strong approach because readers don’t have much to lose.

They are already interested in finding out what the product is about.

Now It’s Your Turn

These were the 11 key takeaways from Canva’s growth strategy.

I hope you’ve learned from this article and that these tips can help you grow your freelance graphic design business.

If there are things that I missed or you want to know more about some specific steps of Canva’s journey, please let me know in the comments below.

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Christopher Benitez

Christopher Jan Benitez is a professional freelance writer who provides small businesses and startups with content that aims to grow their engagement and conversion with their audience. To learn more about Christopher, you can follow him on Twitter.

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