When most people think about social media they immediately jump to Facebook or Twitter. However, some of the best companies are looking at social media in a different way. They are spending time figuring out how they can leverage social behaviors with their audience to meet their goals. Autodesk is doing just that. Rather than only focusing on social networks, they are taking social integration to a new level. They are building it into core decision points in their prospect lifecycle. Figuring out how to deeply integrate social elements into a company’s products, services, and business processes is where the most innovative companies are moving and Autodesk is certainly leading the charge in their industry.
Who the heck is Autodesk?
Have you ever wondered how those amazingly realistic graphics are created in video games, how complicated special effects are generated for movies or how the animated movies our kids have come to love were created? Chances are there is an Autodesk software product behind it.
Autodesk, Inc. is a market leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, including AutoCAD®, Autodesk® Revit® and Autodesk 3ds Max®. With more than $2 billion dollars in annual revenue and 12 million registered users, Autodesk caters to a variety of industries, including manufacturing, architecture, construction, and media and entertainment. Their software enables users to design, visualize, and simulate their ideas before they’re ever built or created.
Due to the power and complexity of Autodesk’s software, a user license can be a significant investment, making software trials a critical component of a customer’s purchasing decision. In fact, data showed that prospects were twice as likely to purchase Autodesk products if they had used the software at least three times during a 30-day trial period.
But with millions of online visitors every week looking for software trials, Autodesk knew it needed to provide an engaging experience for trial users — one that rewarded and encouraged them to leverage the robust features and functionality of the product. If Autodesk could somehow increase usage during the trial period, they knew they could convert more users into paying customers.
The Autodesk team led by Dawn Wolfe, Senior Digital Marketing Manager and Andy Mott, Manager of In Trial Marketing, came up with a test using their 3DS Max product. This product is used by game designers to create many of the amazing video games we love and by movie special effects designers to add the special touches to movies like the Academy award winning Hugo and Transformers.
Leveraging The Behavior Platform by Badgeville, Autodesk built powerful Game Mechanics in UndiscoveredTerritory, a new software experience for Autodesk® 3dsMax® 2013 trial users. Autodesk wanted to give their potential customers a guided, more engaging experience, enabling them to fully experience the benefits and key differentiators 3ds Max. They leveraged gamification within in-trial marketing to give customers a clear learning path and a way to really see and feel how the software works and can help them. They have created an experience (the trial is contextualized within a “race against time” narrative) and a reason to experience it (participants compete against their peers to earn the most points and win an Autodesk® Entertainment Creation Suite).
Autodesk identified and configured the key behaviors it wanted to drive with smart gamification elements, then designed a series of Missions to guide users through the various features of 3ds Max. At the heart of these missions is the learning track that walks a user through activities where they interact with the product and learn how to use it. Rich data sets as starter files and detailed tutorials with instructions on how to do the tasks and how to use the software are included. “Players” are rewarded with points and achievement badges for completing missions or specific behaviors. They can also share their achievements on Facebook and Twitter to earn additional points. A leaderboard shows trial users how they rank against their peers and ultimately who wins the game.
Sounds fun, right? But what happened? Autodesk showed that the gamified trial had the highest increase in engagement during a trial than any other campaign designed to date. In fact, it led to a 54% increase in trial usage over the lifetime of the campaign. Considering the software retails for over $3600 per license and we know that an increase in trial usage correlates to an increase in the likelihood to buy, this should have a nice long tail ROI.
One nice thing about the software industry is that they have the ability to integrate calls to action right within the product. Autodesk has a buy now option within their trial package which can be evaluated for a further indicator of purchase intent. The Undiscovered Territory User Experience drove a 15% increase in buy clicks within the software.
This wouldn’t be a post I’d written if we didn’t get right to bottom line, though. The big question is what impact did this have on revenue? In fact, it was a big one. Initial data shows a 29% increase in channel revenue per trial start. This means that not only is the Undiscovered Territory experience driving a higher conversion rate, it is also driving higher than average revenues for each new client which could mean that they are purchasing their more expensive software suite or they could be purchasing several licenses.
The Autodesk team also received the 2012 Forrester Groundswell Award for “Spreading” which recognizes excellence in effective use of social media to advance an organizational or business goal.
One of Autodesk’s challenges is that a large volume of their software is sold through value-added reseller network which adds a delay in measuring bottom-line impact. However, there are several core metrics that would help to drive the message home.
Cost Metrics – Did gamification decrease costs in the following categories?
- Cost per Trial User
- Cost per Engagement (each login to the trial)
- Cost per Lead
- Cost per Customer Acquired
- Cost per AutoDesk community user (their on-site user community)
Revenue Impact – How do these revenue metrics compared to other users?
- Average Revenue Per Customer
- Average # of Licenses Per New Customer
- Average # of Suite Licenses Per Customer
- Total Revenue Generated
- Upgrade Rate (Percentage of Users that upgrade to the current software version over a 3 year period)
- Average Months to Next Upgrade (How long does it take for them to upgrade after there is a new release)
- 24/36 Month Customer Value
Ultimately, the goal is to compare these metrics against those who did NOT use the Undiscovered Territory trial so that Autodesk can measure improvements or declines. One thing to keep in mind is that the lifecycle of a customer is very long for Autodesk, customers retain for several years, if not decades. Further, their product is not a SaaS product, therefore how often a user upgrades and the time it takes them to upgrade after a new release are very important elements for future revenue growth. While the historical Autodesk data shows that using a trial 3 times increases likelihood to buy two-fold, they may find that in the Undiscovered Territory trial version the same usage increases likelihood to buy by 4 or 5 times. Further, they may find that this new group of customers actually upgrades faster than previous groups. This type of data is very insightful for the executive team and the marketing team for short term and long term decision making. Keep up the great work Autodesk!
What are your thoughts on gamification? Have you tried it? Got any great examples to show? Join the conversation and leave a comment in the comments section.
Want more on measuring social media? Get step-by-step instructions including hands on exercises in my book How to Measure Social Media: A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing and Assessing Social Media ROI
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