How Canva balances experimentation and personalisation at scale

Design and creative platform tapped Optimizely to power personalisaiton across the platform

Online design platform, Canva, favoured by Pinterest fans, designers and creatives of all stripes, has made its mark in a short space of time, counting over 20 million monthly active users in 190 countries with a market valuation of A$4.7 billion.

But success has a way of bringing with it new challenges. In Canva’s case, it’s how to personalise experiences for diverse users while creating levers that give it scope for experimentation, and keeping an eye firmly on future growth and optimisation across the platform.

Canva head of brand and marketing, Zach Kitschke, explained to CMO when it's building a new experimentation program “it’s vital that the foundations are in place so we are in a position to scale effectively all the while embracing the agile nature of a startup culture”.

The design and creative platform tapped experimentation platform, Optimizely, to run its testing, personalisation and analytics program, integrating seamlessly with Canva’s wider tech stack including Amplitude, Braze, Google Analytics and Segment.

Kitschke said personalisation is incredibly important. To achieve this, it’s started leveraging this capability within its own site, although it’s yet to start personalising experiences on landing pages. The plan is to expand the scope from simple A/B testing to delivering highly contextual, tailored experiences for users.

“When we're building a new experimentation program, it’s vital that the foundations are in place so we are in a position to scale effectively, while embracing the agile nature of a start-up culture,” he said.

Canva put its eggs in the Optimizely basket primarily because of the experimentation smarts, as Kitschke said it’s important to be able to see what works, for which users and what locations and with what projects. Added to this are the collaborative features that enables teams to capture ideas, prioritise projects and manage experiments all within the platform.

Since Canva has started using Optimizely, Kitschke said, it’s significantly increased the testing velocity and improved collaboration and autonomy between teams and this has fostered a more data-driven experimentation culture at Canva.

"Some of our early wins demonstrate the importance of contextual experiences in increasing conversion rates," he said. “This has enabled the wider business to understand the value of experimentation.”

Optimizely managing director APAC, Simon McDonald, said Optimizely’s test-and-learn tool can improve the customer experience across all digital assets for Canva. For Canva, it’s all part of the experimentation roadmap and executing its marketing strategy to achieve the end-goal of personalisation at scale, even when the scale is millions of customers across the globe.

As Kitschke explained it, Canva’s marketing strategy is multi-faceted, with teams working to increase brand awareness to new users, optimise key landing pages and bring more value to its existing community.

“Essentially, our mission is to become the most loved and used design platform in the world,” he added.

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