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Look Out — Canva Joins the Office Suite Wars | Vol 101

Free Content

Welcome to Volume 101. 

In an industry as broad and agile as SaaS, there are breaking news stories every half hour — or at least, that’s how it seems. Some brand is always coming out with some unprecedented solution to some pervasive problem. The industry moves fast.

Still, every once in a while there’s a truly “breaking” development that makes you stop and do this: 

Well, that’s what we’re leading with this week.

As we approach the final quarter of 2022, major SaaS players are rolling out some big money moves as the industry continues to navigate uncharted territory. We should expect more M&A talk, aggressive marketing campaigns, and major product changes  like the one Canva unveiled yesterday…

Before we dive into today’s stories, here’s a peek at what’s to come in this issue:

  • Canva sets its sights on the massive market share of Google, Microsoft, and Adobe 
  • How exposure virality helped Calendly gain over 818M all-time backlinks
  • Whiteboard Friday with Ross: Creating a content engine that drives revenue

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🔥Hot Off the Press: Canva Reveals Their Strategy to Take on Google, Microsoft, and Adobe🔥

Now when I say hot off the press, what I really mean is scorching.

Yesterday afternoon, Canva officially announced it’s hungry for market share and is starting with a sample from all the major players in the content creation and design space. 

Well, actually, Canva announced the unveiling of The Canva Visual Worksuite, but they are essentially the same thing. In the biggest move since its 2013 inception, the design software giant is rolling out a suite full of flashy new tools. Stop me if any of these sound familiar:  

Canva Docs: A document creation and editing tool 

Canva Websites: A web-building tool 

Canva Whiteboards: An async visual collaboration tool 

Canva Presentations: A slide creation and video production tool

Now, this is definitely a simplified view of these tools. Each of them combines the functionality of tools like Google Docs, Squarespace, Miro, and Powerpoint with Canva’s powerful design functionality. There’s definite value in having all these functions in one place as opposed to moving between different providers. 

Still, there’s no denying that Canva has put targets on quite a few backs in the industry. 

What this Means for the SaaS Market 

This part’s pretty simple. 

If you’re Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Miro, or any of the hundred single-use case platforms in the creative niche, Canva has just declared war. They’ve combined the main value proposition of some staple SaaS tools with a new layer of feature-rich functionality.

Now, Google and Microsoft may not be overly concerned about this — they’ve got the resources, user base, and clout to weather this kind of competition. 

But for Adobe, Miro, Squarespace, and the rest, this is some serious cause for concern. 

As established as these brands are, there’s no denying that Canva’s arsenal of new tools makes them a serious threat to steal users away from each of them. 

For marketers who aren’t caught in the crossfire, the rollout of Canva’s Visual Worksuite is a must-follow. However it plays out, we’ll get a front-row seat into the strategies used by an aggressively-expanding Unicorn as it takes on other titans of the industry. 

This is something we’re definitely going to cover moving forward. 

Stay tuned. 


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How exposure virality has helped Calendly gain over 800M all-time backlinks

If there’s one thing that can unite all SaaS departments under one banner, it’s this: 

Scheduling meetings sucks. 

It sucks so much that, after a particularly bad experience in 2013, Tope Awotona decided to empty all of his savings into the creation of a meeting scheduling platform. That product is Calendly. 

Almost a decade since its inception, this simple SaaS tool has built up quite the resume: 

  • 10 million users and a presence in 50,000 companies
  • A $350 million Series B funding round led by OpenView Venture Partners
  • A $3 billion overall valuation in 2022
  • The #21 spot on this year’s Forbes Cloud 100 List
  • De facto status as the top meeting scheduler software 
  • A total of 811 million backlinks earned over all time

Calendly was able to achieve this level of success by following a tried and true strategy of the 2010s: product-led growth.

The PLG strategy, first identified and coined in the mid-2010s by OpenView Partners, has contributed immensely to the growth of the SaaS industry over the last decade. Companies like Zoom, Slack, and Zapier have all flourished by letting their superior products drive acquisition, conversion, and expansion of their customer bases. Free trials and freemium offers are the bread and butter of this growth strategy. 

Freemium turns out to be the perfect product experience for a link-based, shareable product like Calendly. Why? Because the very function of Calendly involves current users sharing a link to the tool with their network, leading to new user discovery. This process of actively sharing the tool is known as exposure virality (another OpenView term), and it’s the secret sauce to Calendly’s growth and massive backlink network. 

Take a look for yourself:


What Does Product-Led Marketing Look Like?

This exposure virality is all well and good but it’s difficult to see where marketing fits into the picture. 

Well, you’re in luck. This week’s premium case study is all about how Calendly’s marketing team feeds off that viral growth to scale their freemium user base into paid accounts at the enterprise level. We investigate how Calendly:

  • Designed their web content to function as a supplementary user conversion engine
  • Amassed over 818 million total referrals through their baked-in backlink feature
  • Used LinkedIn content to activate and scale their power user base of SDRs 

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Creating a Content Engine That Drives Revenue

Does your marketing budget jiggle jiggle when you need it to fold?

Well, the issue might be that your marketing strategy isn’t resulting in material benefits to your bottom line. There’s too much money going out and not enough coming back in. 

Simply put: Your content is not driving revenue. That means it’s time for you to update that engine. 

Well, you’re in luck, because last week Ross dropped some knowledge on just that topic for Moz’s most recent Whiteboard Friday:

Find out how Ross iterates Research, Creation, Distribution, and Optimization to turn content engines into revenue-generating machines!


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This week’s offering of Brain Food is served up by this recent Twitter post from Sparktoro’s VP of Marketing, Amanda Natividad:

As someone who got into content creation because of an insatiable appetite for fiction — this one really hits home. 

Good writing appeals to emotion and these emotions are some of the most powerful behavioral motivators out there. This is true regardless of whether that writing is from a Stephen King novel or a branded ebook from a SaaS company.

Stoke frustrations about current clunky tools and outdated systems.

(Temporarily) Feed anxieties regarding productivity and falling behind the competition.

Generate curiosity at the prospect of completing daily tasks more efficiently.

Instill confidence about your tool’s ability to ease those fears and frustrations.

Put in the work to understand the emotional context of your ICP’s pain points and make them the central character in your brand’s story — you’ll both like the way it ends. 


How I earned 1,400+ backlinks from 374 high DR sites with a single piece of content by Jeremy Moser




Honey, there’s no time — Feng Suave

This week’s round-up is brought to you by Ethan Crump while Jessica gets some well-deserved PTO !

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