Turning Fans into Advocates: Canva's Winning Approach


Allene Yue

If you go back just several years, you’ll remember that it used to be WAY harder to whip up a design on command. What changed? For me, the first game-changing platform that comes to mind is Canva.

So how exactly did this tiny startup transform into a multi-billion-dollar unicorn? They’re not only smart about what target market they decided to capture, but they also do a pretty solid job of keeping their users active and eager for more. Let’s dive further into what innovative strategies Canva puts into place to attract and keep users like me engaged.

Mastering WOM

First, it’s good to note that Canva is lucky in that their value proposition perfectly compliments having a social media and word of mouth strategy. Here’s what I mean.

As someone who loves using Canva to create marketing graphics, I fall right into Canva’s primary target segment — amateur designers with a need to create lovely content. And for me, where do these designs usually end up? Up onto Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog sites, and the list goes on and on. So when the average user sees these designs scattered everywhere across social media, they’ll wonder about, ask about it, and eventually discover Canva. As a result, the amount of word of mouth Canva has floating around is insanely high.

But your company doesn’t necessarily need to have a similar value prop to Canva to be successful on the social media and WOM front. Canva’s marketing strategies give people things to talk about - and that’s what truly makes it work. For one, their content marketing is unparalleled, with tons and tons of articles breaking down different features, uses, and ideas to avoid intimidating Canva newcomers and to give older users more tools and ideas to try. Even their educational content is split up to target their different segments, from businesses, to nonprofits, to teachers and students.

Imagine being a teacher trying to find a simple way to create fun presentations for your students. Nothing works for you — Powerpoint is too boring and too hard to use, and Google Slides is a bit too limited in scope for your taste. But then you come across Canva and discover that you can come up with a fun, unique presentation in less than an hour. And thanks to all the content on their website, it’s even easier for you to navigate. Wouldn’t this be such a breath of relief? Wouldn’t you want to share this resource with some of your other fellow educators? And wouldn’t it be easy to direct them to Canva’s teachers and students content page? THERE. That’s exactly how word of mouth spreads.

On top of all that, Canva’s email game is on point. Using creative email campaigns, Canva nudges users to complete unfinished designs (similar to abandoned cart emails), invites users to participate in challenges (another great way to spread WOM), and suggests design ideas that play into trends and relevant festivities. And this is great not only for conversion, but also for retention. This type of marketing gets people addicted to your product. They won’t just use it — they’ll be active advocates for it.


  • Give people something to talk about — Canva spread WOM using social media, exciting challenges, and honestly just having a great product.
  • Segment your marketing content — Canva catered their educational content and email topics to specific target segments for better personalization.
  • And finally, find ways to make your product addicting — With all of Canva’s exciting features, tools, and content marketing, it’s hard to not want to stay.

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