Inside Look


Tuesday January 26 2021

8 Growth Strategies Used By Canva, Pinterest and Bukalapak


Written by Alex Holderness

March 28, 2017

We’ve been exploring people, culture and tech here in Australia on our daily blog. If you’re looking for your next dream role with 100+ of Australia’s top companies doing amazing things in tech, check out The Martec.

Last night, as part of a regular series of events, Canva opened their doors to talk growth.

If you’re not familiar with Canva i’m going to assume you’re not a big fan of graphic design. Suffice it to say they are particularly well positioned to talk growth strategies. Just check out this chart from CEO Melanie Perkins; since launching in 2012,  there are now no fewer than 19 million designs being produced on their platform every single month.

Canva Growth Chart
The Growth Talks Series kicked off with an impressive line up:

Melanie Perkins – CEO of Canva

Casey Winters – Growth Advisor at Greylock Partners, Former Growth Lead at Pinterest

Andrianes Pinantoan – Head of Growth at Canva

Willix Halim – COO of, Former SVP of Growth at Freelancer

And arguably an equally impressive food selection. #ChefPerks

Canva Chef
The room was packed, with around 150 people in attendance. Here are just a few of the standout lessons from what was an incredibly insightful night:

Conversion optimisation is king. Put simply, if your page did not make a visitor click, you failed. The role of every page on your site should be to move the customer on to the next page. People tend to focus on the homepage, but that’s not always the place where the most traffic goes. Interestingly, Pinterest found that more traffic landed on individual users’ boards than the homepage, so they shifted their focus there.

Stick with your opportunities. Instead of spreading your efforts over multiple areas to improve conversion, find the opportunity with the greatest potential then continue to develop and polish it. Pinterest would do 15 iterations in a year of any one area of their site, and subsequently moved conversion from 3 to 17 to 50 per cent in some areas. These iterations could be anything from tiny visual and text changes right through to adding a completely personalised landing page that changes depending on how that customer arrived.

Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. To this day, word of mouth is one of Canva’s most successful acquisition strategies, bringing in 50 per cent of traffic. And guess what – it’s absolutely free. By solving a problem that people care about or offering a freemium version of the platform that is of great value, Canva generates the sort of goodwill from their customers that simply cannot be bought. They have hundreds of tweets, blogs, videos and emails from existing customers telling their friends to join – marketing gold dust.

Have a single focus. Many of the speakers on the night spoke about the impact of working in ‘squads’ – independent product teams that each work towards a specific KPI.

Whether it’s a ‘buy’ team focussed on reducing shopping cart abandonment, a ‘product team’ launching the site in 100 languages, or a ‘traffic’ team solely focused on raw visitor numbers, each squad has a single clear goal to work towards. Outside of the squads, every single member of the company then works towards one company metric – growth. This provides people with the autonomy of working in small start-up like teams, while allowing the organisation to retain the feel of a big family. Everybody’s shoulder is at the wheel, growing the company together.  

Don’t underestimate speed. is also well known for its novel marketing and branding strategy in Indonesia, which have helped it to achieve stunning hyper-growth – 3000% in the last two years. When dealing with almost exponential traffic growth, one factor came up time and time again – speed. The team saw a huge difference when bringing speed load times down from 0.4 seconds to 0.1 seconds. Now we can’t all get it that fast, but it’s a significant lever for SEO, and worth spending some time testing.

Understand what your users are coming for. Head of Growth, Andrianes built his whole strategy based on the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) framework. This growth strategy has resulted in the small matter of 25x growth over the last two years. It’s all about understanding where your users are coming from. Why did they arrive at your product? What is the problem are they trying to solve or job they are trying to complete with the help of your offering?

There’s a great post on Medium about it here.

Learn to love all data. Data is still king. The fact remains that it’s very hard to do any of the above without collecting data. The devil really can be found in the detail when it comes to growth. Whether it’s your SEO, advertising, purchasing patterns, pages with high bounce; it’s all in the data, and sometimes it just takes some digging to find the buried treasure.

Finally, All of the ideas have merit, they all work –  but the timing may not be right for you. Here’s the thing, what works for a company doing $50M in revenue doesn’t work for a company doing $500K in revenue.

So take a step back, think about exactly where you are in the process, and employ the tactics that will work best for you.

Each week we share fresh insights on people, tech and culture in Australia. Sign up today or drop your name and email below.


Written by Alex Holderness

March 28, 2017

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