Man bending over backwards typing on giant keyboard
Anton Vierietin/iStock

Delighting customers in ways that weren't possible before


Christine Itwaru, Principal Strategist at Pendo, explores the synergy between AI and customer-centric approaches, highlighting ways to delight users and drive business expansion with a case study on Canva.

4th Sep 2023

AI is fundamentally transforming how we work and create. That, at least, is the message that has been bombarding our feeds and inboxes ever since the launch of ChatGPT, and it’s a message that shows no signs of abating. 

There’s a reason for that. AI in the business world feels impactful in a way that makes it rise above other product trends. From how we create content to how we plan product roadmaps to even how we write code, these new tools are empowering us to be more creative, and build better, faster. They also put product teams specifically in a prime position to drive even more product-led growth—and radically improve the customer experience in the process.

Delighting customers in ways that weren’t possible before

Let’s take a step back and think about which product-led growth strategies work best. Putting your product at the centre of your sales, marketing, and customer-success motions is often easier said than done, but if you want to succeed, it’s worth bearing several core principles in mind. Are you providing customers a free version of your product and getting them to “aha” moments as soon as possible so that converting to paid feels like the natural next step? Are you delighting them in surprising ways to make your product “sticky”? What elements of virality have you built into your product? How about actual usability? Is your user experience best-in-class? 

Putting your product at the centre of your sales, marketing, and customer-success motions is often easier said than done.

The answers to these and other questions about your product’s fundamentals will tell you a lot about your product-led growth plan and how well it’s working. Now, leveraging AI can help strengthen every pillar of your PLG strategy. 

Powering the form and content of presentations with AI

For an example of AI-powered product-led growth, let’s look at Canva, the popular app for creating slide decks, social media graphics, and other creative assets with ease. Canva recently debuted a new AI-powered feature called Magic Design. With this feature, users can now receive quick and convenient help not only with generating the look and layout of slide decks, but with crafting the content of those decks as well. 

This functionality not only drives a best-in-class user experience, it’s an obvious value-add given the current macroeconomic conditions. At a moment when employee headcounts are frozen or shrinking and teams have to find new ways to be more efficient, this kind of feature becomes particularly appealing and gets users value, fast. In other words, it’s a great way to drive product-led growth. 

Building choice into your upsell strategy

Canva also takes a creative approach to converting users from free to paid on these AI-powered features which other businesses would do well to consider. Traditionally, companies have driven paid conversions by strictly limiting the features available on their “freemium” product version and imposing hard paywalls on other offerings. 

Traditionally, companies have driven paid conversions by strictly limiting the features available on their “freemium” product version.

Canva, on the other hand, takes a more accommodating, flexible approach. For example, if a user decides they want to export and share a deck that they used Magic Design to create, they have a number of options for doing so—and only some of them involve paying. Rather than stop users in their tracks and leave them no choice but to give up that credit card number, Canva offers users a choice. If someone does not want to pay, that user can share the deck with others free of charge, but with watermarks appearing on the images. Alternatively, a user can pay a one-time fee in order to share non-watermarked images in the deck, or sign up for Canva’s paid pro plan and be able to access their entire image library watermark-free on an ongoing basis. 

Canva trusts users to choose the path forward that works for them. In doing so, it delights both those who prefer to remain free users and those who choose a paid option. For the latter especially, the lack of pressure to sign up goes a long way towards making conversion to paid feel like the natural next step, as opposed to one they have no choice but to take. 

Making collaboration synonymous with virality

Canva also leverages the nature of its product to drive successful PLG. After all, the types of assets it assists users in creating (slides, social media graphics) are types meant to be shared. Canva is betting that Magic Design is the kind of feature that gets users excited and eager to evangelise. That’s why they make their tool easy for fostering collaboration with workplace colleagues and friends, and build in easy prompts for sharing links and inviting new users to the platform. For Canva, driving collaboration is driving virality. 

With AI technology evolving with each passing day, no one knows exactly what the future holds in the long term. For the foreseeable future, however, AI will not replace human creativity, but complement and augment it. That’s as true for product-led growth as any other area. AI will not be reinventing the PLG wheel, but it can make time-tested principles for success even easier to implement. 

Are you interested in learning more about CX technology? Browse our Brand Directory of 100+ customer experience technology providers.

Replies (0)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

There are currently no replies, be the first to post a reply.