Canva builds 360-degree customer view with Fivetran

Online design platform uses Fivetran to empower employees with the data insights they need to optimize marketing spend and grow the business

“Fivetran helps us recognize what’s working and influences how we optimize the opportunities we uncover. It makes us agile and more responsive to customer needs. Most importantly, though, is that we’re able to deliver this agility without requiring engineering resources.” — Greg Roodt, Head of Data Platforms, Canva

Key results:

  • Enables 360-degree view of customers across Canva and third-party platforms
  • Empowers data-backed decision making across the business
  • Fivetran saves Canva over $200,000 per year in engineering costs
  • Fivetran data gives Canva’s marketing team the ability to optimize marketing and advertising spend

Data Stack:

The Situation

Canva’s online design and publishing tool was built to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere.

As a scaleup company, Canva is under pressure to grow its customer base through three distinct service levels—free, pro and enterprise.

Sales, marketing and engagement teams need to identify targets, understand their behavior, and deliver the right message at the right time on the right platform. Success depends on a 360-degree view of the customer across Canva’s digital properties and third-party platforms such as Google, Facebook and other social media and SaaS tools.

The Problem  

From his first day on the job, Greg Roodt, Head of Data Platforms at Canva, sought to empower employees across the company with the data insights they need to improve customer engagement. The problem, he decided, wasn’t access. Anyone with the proper credentials could go on Facebook, Google or Braze (the company’s email marketing tool) and pull engagement reports to inform strategy and raise returns.

The problem, he discovered, was a lack of comparison insight. There was no way to analyze Facebook data against Google data or any other platform – but building a point-to-point architecture to pull data into competing platforms would be messy and expensive to maintain.

Instead, Greg decided to build a hub-and-spoke data pipeline to pull everything into a central data warehouse. Teams could then manipulate the data in a way that creates relevant, actionable insights. Greg commandeered three people from the engineering team and put them to work building custom integrations from Braze, AppsFlyer and Apple App Store.

It took the team three months to create, test and roll out these three initial connectors. “They are excellent engineers,” Greg says. “But it took so long because they had to slog through confusing and outdated API documentation, set up the infrastructure in AWS, create a monitoring mechanism and make sure it all worked as intended.”

Build it and they will come—while the custom-built solution functioned as intended, people wanted more. Greg remembers a meeting with the marketing team when someone showed a slide requesting connectors to 25 other data sources. Considering the length of time building just three connectors required, Greg realized he needed to find a purpose-built solution that could scale with the company’s growing data analytics needs.

The Solution

Greg jumped into the data integration community to get a sense of the market. He kept hearing about Fivetran and how easy it was to set up connectors to popular marketing, sales and engagement platforms. He dove a little deeper into message boards and talked to current users, asking about the reliability of Fivetran’s extensive library of hundreds of connectors. After a few weeks of discovery, he was convinced.

“It was obvious Fivetran was the right choice based on ease of implementation and the diversity of connectors that people said just worked,” Greg says. “I quickly created a one-page business use case for the CMO, and the next day we were off and running. I think we had our first connector working by the end of the week.”

Today, Canva uses Fivetran to pull marketing and sales analytics from dozens of marketing, sales and engagement platforms in the cloud to the company’s data platform managed by Snowflake. Insights derived through the company’s business intelligence tools, Looker and Mode Analytics, allow marketers to make the necessary tweaks in engagement and optimize results.

Pulling in data from across the marketing stack — social, email, search, digital advertising, social engagement, etc., enables comparison of campaign performance between platforms. Additionally, this aggregate information from Fivetran’s Google Adwords, Bing and iTunes connectors can be combined with first-party data from various Canva digital properties. The information is then analyzed to provide a complete, 360-degree view of the customer.

According to Greg, adding connectors is easy. He encourages product owners to initiate the connections themselves since they are most familiar with the platforms and their data analytics needs. Occasionally, someone requests a connection not found in the Fivetran library. In that case, the user simply creates a Jira ticket for an engineer to gather the API documentation and credentials, and a custom connector is created within a few days.

The Outcome

Greg credits Fivetran with enabling a true 360-degree view of the customer and the business. Key stakeholders know precisely who is engaging with Canva’s digital properties and how they get there through the marketing and sales pipeline. These powerful insights optimize marketing and advertising spend, allowing the company to be more efficient with customer acquisition and retention.

“Ultimately, Fivetran allows us to make better business decisions,” Greg says. “It helps us recognize what’s working and influences how we optimize the opportunities we uncover. It makes us agile and more responsive to customer needs. Most importantly, though, is that we’re able to deliver this agility without requiring engineering resources. Most platform owners can get the data they need through self-service.”

Greg plans to continue expanding Canva’s data analytics capabilities through Fivetran by funneling data back to the company’s sales, marketing and engagement platforms—enriching the insights even further. In the meantime, stakeholders across the organization will increase their understanding of customer behavior with additional connectors and reap the operational benefits.

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