Company background: At Anaplan, we enable decisive action in dynamic conditions, turning complexity into clarity and alignment, and turning change into advantage.
Contact: Aaron White
Title: Groups Program Manager, Community
Related URLs: https://community.anaplan.com
Kudos Category: Top Line Growth All Star
1. What were your goals for your digital engagement platform implementation?
While the Anaplan Community enjoys a high level of buy-in throughout most of the organization, the question has continued to arise: “I know there’s a lot of good stuff on the Community, but how does it impact my customer? What is the value to me?” Aside from anecdotal evidence, we haven’t fully been able to articulate that value historically, so as we made our way through FY21, we dug deep into available data so that we could provide tangible answers to that question.
Some helpful context: our Community is tied via single sign-on (Okta) to several post-sale properties, one of which is our events platform (Bevy)—meaning that to attend an event we host, one must have an account and be logged in. In the same way, we don’t gate content, but we do require login to interact (comment, kudo, post, etc.). In short, the only reason to log in to the Anaplan Community is to engage somehow.
2. What were your focus areas and tactics to meet those goals?
Working with Khoros Community Analytics, events data from Bevy, and our company Salesforce records, we took a close look at two specific areas of influence: events and engaged visits.
Rather than focus on all events, we focused specifically on the effects of our large, Community-wide event series, titled Anaplan Live! This event series predates the pandemic, with five fully-virtual 3-4 hour events completed between March 2019 and March 2020. The format of the event is to bring in Anaplan experts (employees, customers, and partners alike) to focus on specific programs or platform features/functions in panel discussions and seminars that help our end users and model builders learn how to do more with Anaplan. As has now become common for virtual events, we have always offered full chat support for attendee interaction and speaker Q&A.
Now well into FY22, these events continue. Since March 2020, we’ve hosted a sixth full Anaplan Live! event, four smaller (1-2 hour) Anaplan Live! Spotlight events, and have a full schedule of them on the way for the rest of the year—the next one comprises the largest segment of our annual customer mini-conference in June, now a combined event: DigitalCPX + Anaplan Live!. All of these events now take place on Bevy’s Virtual Conferences platform with the post-event experience in customized spaces within the Community itself.
To evaluate the influence of these events, we aligned with our Marketing team on their influence attribution calculations, essentially looking at whether someone attended an event, whether they were connected to an opportunity in Salesforce, and whether that opportunity resulted in new or increased business with Anaplan closely following the event.
Similarly, we wanted to begin the process of better understanding the impact of Community activity on customer spend, so we began researching what we now call the Community Value Metric. This was an exercise in tying Community accounts to customer accounts in Salesforce, and then comparing time periods where there was login activity on those Community accounts with time periods where there was renewal or expand activity on the corresponding Salesforce accounts.
3. Tell us about the results. Please list the top-line sales revenue/ROI metrics achieved due to your digital technology. Highlight the impact to your executive leadership team and other quantifiable business results.
The results were dramatic enough that we are not able to fully unpack them here, as we’ve been asked not to share certain numbers outside the company. What we discovered has kicked off a “road show” with internal stakeholders across all parts of the organization in order to begin to articulate the message about community value—which has largely been met so far with great support and approval.
When the Anaplan Live! event series began in 2019 (then called User Groups Live!), we were able to use our events influence calculation to attribute $2.2 million of influence to our first four events collectively (leading to our winning the 2020 Khoros Kudos award for Top Line Growth All Star).
As mentioned above, in 2020 we hosted two more of these events—and hurdled our previous numbers by a large margin. Using the same calculations, we can attribute more than $7.3 million of influence to just these two events, bringing the event series total to more than $9.5 million.
This so far does not include the more than 80 other events our Community hosted throughout the year.
Even more exciting than our events numbers was the result of our research into engaged visits for our Community Value Metric. When we began looking at the business impact of customers who log in to the Community versus remaining disengaged, we found that where there was Community login activity (and thus engagement, as outlined above), customers spent (on average) 62% more as where there was no Community activity. Further, in our calculations, the YoY change from FY20 to FY21 where there was no Community activity remained flat; however, where there was Community activity, the amount of spend increased 23% from FY20 to FY21.
While we fully understand there are many reasons why a customer chooses to spend what they spend, or why some of these numbers may change (or not) year over year as they’ve done, it still remains clear that a customer who engages with the Anaplan Community and its members derives significantly more value from their experience with the platform than someone who is attempting to use it alone.
As this year progresses, we will continue to dive even deeper into these engaging Community behaviors at a more granular level to investigate the individual value of specific activities, such as posting in the forums or joining a Group. Given what we’ve found so far, we are very excited to see what else we can learn!
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