Canva’s CMO Zach Kitschke talks taking the Australian design platform’s user base global

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Like other companies, Canva has been in growth mode recently, looking to scoop up new audiences to grow the Australian design platform’s user base. Notably, headlines from The Information and Barron’s dance around Canva possibly going public in the coming years, but no concrete timeline has been announced. 

In the meantime, the focus is expanding the Australian-based company to other markets around the world, like India, Germany, Japan and Europe, according to Zach Kitschke, CMO at Canva. 

“We’ve made some huge strides there over the past few years, but 170 million [Canva users] is just a drop in the ocean of the total population around the world,” he said. 

Canva has also been prioritizing its artificial intelligence capabilities, which has become the industry’s latest obsession. On this episode of the Digiday Podcast, we caught up with Kitschke to talk about Canva’s marketing strategy, global growth initiative and plans for AI.

Below are highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

How a bigger audience impacts marketing strategy

In the early days, obviously, getting the word out and telling the story, we needed to be really scrappy. We definitely didn’t have marketing budget or anything like that back then. It was a lot of earned PR and content, a lot of social, building community and things like that. Over time, that gathered steam. We also invested really heavily in organic strategies — SEO and getting the rich content that’s inside Canva out there and discoverable become a huge lever. Then, a few years in, we started to add in performance marketing. The last few years, brand [marketing] as well. So, I’d say we really focused on building that funnel from, from the bottom up.

Embedding AI internally 

We’ve really integrated AI quickly into our product and that’s been a guiding philosophy for us. There’s lots of cool stuff emerging, but it’s only as relevant as it is useful for people. So our whole approach has been how do we, as quickly as possible, take the new technology and really embed it into existing workflows. In our marketing, we’re still talking about the value and benefits and use cases that Canva is known for. But you’ll see tools and features featured as part of that. That’s been really critical for us. At the end of the day, it’s about making the product and user experience better and more delightful, and showing that.

Playing the long game with Google’s crumbling cookie

I’m not really nervous. We’ve seen [Google’s crumbling third-party cookie] coming, obviously, for a long time now. Ultimately, our philosophy around our community and how we think about the platform is very user-centric. Ultimately, anything that protects the user at the end of the day is the right thing. We’ve really built our marketing strategy and measurement infrastructure and optimization with that in mind.

Canva’s possible IPO 

We don’t have any concrete timelines or plans in that regard. So at the end of the day, we have that really clear North Star for Canva’s long-term impact and the impact we want the product and platform to have. That’s been the thing that’s guided us the whole way along. And of course, if we’re focusing on building a great product and really solving those pain points for people, the business results have followed as well. So that’s really what continues to guide us.

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