A Real Case Study That Will Make You Want To Invest in Content Marketing

Content Marketing Case study

Last updated on December 30th, 2021

“This post is a part of our Content Salad series, where we invite industry experts to share their knowledge. The content marketing case study of Canva, a leading graphic-design tool website, is offered to give you a glimpse of the thought process of leaders in the industry and a chance to learn from the best

Kavita Yadav is the India Growth Lead for Canva, one of the most popular free graphic-design tool websites. An IIT Alumna, she is passionate about using analytics in different areas which cover Business Strategy, Marketing, and SEO.

“Content is king!” How many times have you heard this?

And how many times have you come across a beautiful blog with awesome content but sadly, no traffic? If you run such a blog or are planning to invest into content marketing, but afraid of failing, then see this graph.

Traffic insights of canva

Canva’s blog traffic in six months. Relieved? 🙂

Well, it is obviously not easy to replicate the same success but at the same time it is not impossible if you formulate the right strategy and follow it dedicatedly. Canva did the same. Andrianes (Canva growth head) made a strategy that was executed by Anna (Canva’s blog lead). They explain how Canva’s blog grew to 1 million monthly visits by making some changes and using the power of content marketing. The blog section at Canva was launched in 2014, and since then, the blog got 2,457,779 sessions. On an average it was around 409,000 a month. Earlier, traffic from social media used to be the major contributor of the overall traffic. Once the strategy was moved to content marketing, Canva saw a huge boost in organic traffic and in august 2015, organic traffic surpassed social media traffic. During the month of January 2016, there were 1 million visits on the blog!

How did Canva do it? Or more importantly, how can you do it?It makes for an extremely interesting content marketing case study. Canva realized the power of research in making a successful content strategy. What do you do when you start a blog? Start looking for an awesome WordPress theme or installing GA, Mailchimp, looking for some good writers & designers.

Most people do the same but jump right in without proper research. Well this case study is more valuable to those who get some traffic and want to take their blog to the next level. Paying Attention to SEO, Back to basic SEO is dead, right? This is as true as “Elon musk is Batman” and “Trump is an alien”.

Every time a CEO rejects to get their site follow SEO strategies, a little panda dies. You cannot deny how important SEO is, and if you do, there is a big chance you’ll lose.

The traffic on search engines stays for long. It doesn’t pop up like soda and get down. Once you start ranking for a specific keyword, it is there to stay.

This is not applicable to any other strategy you follow. Whether it is Paid Adverts or social media, the moment you pause the campaigns, the traffic vanishes. But that is not the case for SEO.

This does not mean that you don’t write viral content, as they are a nice way of giving your blog a push, but they will give you spikes instead of constant sustainable traffic for the long run.

Social media spike

Organic traffic Yes, SEO takes time. Good things take time, right? Stick to SEO for better search engine rankings and long term and stable traffic.

Here is how you do it (Step by Step):

1. Search for articles published by your competitors:

See what they are writing. Understand who is your target audience. Canva was lucky here as anyone from an about to marry couple (who wants a wedding card design) to a tech blogger (who wants a banner for a blog post) were their audience. If your audience is specific, see what they will like to read. For example, if you have made a tool for developers, see what kind of content developers are searching for. Selling a b2b tool? Target CEOs, CTOs, and decision makers. You have to understand your target audience.

2. Search for the relevant phrases and keywords:

You don’t want to write an article which no one is looking for! So: Make sure the article has a target keyword which is well searched. Use keyword tools like Google keyword planner and keywordtool.io to find out searches your keyword has. Once your finalize the keyword and topic, make sure to target similar 3-5 keywords around the main keyword. This will help you gain additional traffic. Also, I have seen the main keyword not getting ranked but these smaller and easy keywords start gaining traffic easily.

3. Write SEO Optimized Article:

Ensure that your content is detailed and worth reading. If you think any article is not worth it, delete and redirect, improve it. Do not write it for search engines but make sure it has at least some mention of the keyword you are targeting. Canva blog already had a good number of articles published. So they went on to clean it up as a part of their content audit. Here is how they did it: Made a list of all their published articles. If there were multiple articles on same or similar topic, they were combined into one long and detailed article. Improved existing article by adding more content, deleting poor quality content, and making it SEO optimized. Changed the slug to keyword optimized one. Made sure to redirect old URLs (Do remember 301ing).Here is an impact of the above exercise on one of their articles:

Amazing! Isn’t it? There were many such examples that lead to an increase in overall traffic. Keeping A Check On Publishing Frequency The team at Canva ensured that at least one article was published every working day. Getting articles published daily is a tough task which the team was able to do perfectly.

Here is how they did it all: All articles publications were scheduled at least 6 weeks in advance. Earlier, they were doing it max 3 weeks in advance, which used to end up in hassles. During that time, if an article did not go the way they wanted, there used to be no backup available.

Now with 6 weeks advance schedule, they have plenty of time for managing tasks. A checklist was created to sort out the editorial process. This helped in maintaining consistency across all articles published on site.

Below are a few points of the checklist:

  • Keep the number of words between the headline and the first image to 150 words (Images are important!).
  • Ensure that the paragraphs are not too long.
  • Make sure you use hashtags and number subheading correctly.
  • Make sure images are displayed properly & have right alt text.
  • Ensure that the article has relevant internal links.
  • Make sure all links are working properly.

They set a process of hiring new writers on board. Canva has a very good team of writers. The process not only included hiring, but also reviewing of existing writers. They kept adding new writers and kept reviewing the ones already on board.

You can consider hiring freelance writers or an agency. If a blog is able to get articles published at fixed intervals, it really helps in creating a set loyal audience around it. It can bring good traffic from social media and newsletters. Also, a regularly updated blog is considered a good sign by search engines and you might end up ranking right after the article is published (yes, without even building a single backlink! Google loves fresh content 😉 )

Content calendar template of Canva

Canva’s content calendar Feel free to use project management tools to manage your work. It not only improves your efficiency but also gives you visibility. If you don’t want to go for some paid project tool, then you can use Google’s free tools.

Using Awesome Graphics! The writers at Canva ensured that they used top notch graphics. They curated the best graphics and added them to the articles. This resulted in endless pins from Pinterest. The traffic from Pinterest was so huge that, at some point, it surpassed Twitter! If you don’t believe words then see for yourself:

Canva Pinterest traffic

Images are the key ingredient for the traffic they are getting from Pinterest. Eye catching banners help a lot in getting attention from users, especially from social media. Graphics like below are bound to increase your user engagement. And the best part is, you don’t need a designer for this. You can create these graphics easily at Canva.

Source: Sharpe & Associate Inc.

All these efforts mentioned above look very common and there is no rocket science behind it. But let’s accept it, we forget the basics and keep finding that new shiny object, that one new thing which can boost up the traffic of the site.  And it never happens because we miss the basics. What you can do? Don’t forget the importance of content marketing and have a content marketing plan. Many of you might get overwhelmed by the number of things you need to do to increase traffic to you blog. Yes, this is quite a task, but you don’t need to do it all at once. Take it step by step, one thing at a time. I hope you got enough motivation by reading this content marketing case study of Canva and are all pumped to invest into content marketing.

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