How Autodesk Drives Marketing Success – Even in a Pandemic – With Better Performance Management

Autodesk is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. They make software for people who make things. If you’ve ever driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper, used a smartphone, or watched a great film, chances are you’ve experienced what millions of customers are doing with Autodesk’s software.

The Problem: Hit With the Pain Point Trifecta

Marketers executing in siloes. Poor tracking of marketing spend. Poor spend tracking feeds an inability to relate spend to performance. 

Autodesk was suffering from a classic pain point trifecta that marketers struggle with. There was limited visibility into spend or performance, both of which are needed to truly drive and measure success.

Allocadia was pivotal – it was the focal point around which we could really initiate our marketing performance management program.

Zoe Marquardt, Marketing Planning & Operations Manager, Autodesk

The Solution: Marketing Performance Management is the Answer to All Problems

While the pain points Autodesk marketers suffered from weren’t unique, the organization was unique in their choice to tackle all those issues at once and head-on by launching a marketing performance management (MPM) program with Allocadia. 

It’s a sizable project for any company, and especially for one of Autodesk’s scale. Implementing an MPM program creates waves of change throughout the marketing organization:

  • Marketing Operations looks to automate previously manual processes
  • Budget owners are focused on translating their spreadsheets and finally seeing which areas they have more or less to spend
  • Marketing leaders gravitate to reporting and how they can actually make changes mid-plan based on their new insights

Allocadia has opened a lot of doors that were closed to Autodesk. There is more visibility into marketing tactics and they’ve instated a quarterly planning process across the organization. But what’s pivotal is the review of the quarterly plan at a steering level to show marketing’s alignment between high-level strategy and program tactics. As Zoe puts it “unless you’re confident in the overall plan, it’s difficult if not impossible to understand if your tactics happen to be performing well or if your strategy is driving the success.” Without being able to answer that question, it’s difficult to tweak your strategy because there is no feedback loop. 

Autodesk is planning and setting expectations for the future quarter almost entirely within Allocadia – it’s a central repository for all their tactics and ideas. All of the marketers set their expectations for execution and spend based on info from Allocadia about their current quarter. The goal is that after marketing plans have been executed, Autodesk can go back and validate if expectations are being met. They’re able to plan, and track how successful their marketing strategy is based on the concrete information Allocadia provides as a feedback loop. It’s a central source of information that unites and aligns the marketing organization at Autodesk. 

Autodesk also has a cross-functional group that meets regularly to oversee marketing plans as well as design and set requirements for their MPM dashboard – a central hub for marketers to look at campaign performance. They’re focused on aligning the marketing organization around these top-level insights. 

What Does Performance Management Mean to Autodesk?

Marketers can now go to the MPM dashboard for the bigger picture and then drill down and look deeper at other metrics that helped create the overall performance view. 

Allocadia is a critical piece of the reporting puzzle because the Allocadia ID connects all of the data in their data lake that is then fed into Power BI for the MPM dashboard. But the Allocadia ID also provides the flexibility for Autodesk to go into other platforms like their finance tool or Adobe Analytics and find a common denominator to pull tactical reports. It creates a consistent view, no matter which platform marketers are looking in. Making hierarchies and processes consistent was crucial to achieving that level of consistency, and is an ongoing process to maintain a holistic view. 

The consistency is helped by how Autodesk integrated Allocadia into the rest of their tech stack. Everything kicks off in Allocadia with marketers outlining their plans and when it’s time to put a plan in motion, they simply click the execution button in the Allocadia details panel and that kicks off the project in Salesforce using a custom marketing orchestration tool. A campaign is created in Salesforce with the Allocadia ID attached. From Salesforce, the Allocadia ID flows out to other platforms like Marketo or Adobe depending on the activity. The Allocadia ID acts as the umbrella for the entire operational orchestration and is used to tie all the various actions across platforms that go into executing a tactic together so Autodesk can confidently match investment and performance data. 

Measuring What Was Previously Intangible

With all of their ambitions and hard work of launching a MPM program and Allocadia at the same time, Autodesk expected results. 

Comparing themselves to where they were before those two major programs to now, Autodesk can see they’ve made significant gains across strategic realization alignment, better organized campaigns and tactics, and visibility into spend. Allocadia was instrumental in clarifying and getting visibility into spend management. What seems like one simple area unlocks the ability to measure spend against performance, evaluate the effectiveness of marketing’s strategy, and see the impact of marketing’s successful tactics. 

Prior to Allocadia, essentially no global spend was clearly attributed to campaigns. Now, Autodesk can attribute 86% of marketing spend to specific campaigns. Understanding this allows Autodesk to compare campaign metrics, their successes, and know where to invest further and which programs just aren’t working. 

I can see multiple dimensions on a single dollar with Allocadia.

Zoe Marquardt, Marketing Planning & Operations Manager, Autodesk

Reacting with Agility in a Pandemic

When something unexpected happened, like COVID-19, Autodesk already had a solid foundation in place, so it was easy to quickly pivot investments and plans to support people that needed it such as small businesses. In Zoe’s experience, pipeline is the first and often default metric that marketers use to plan their activities. While day-to-day marketing does need to produce results, marketing can’t forget about things like lifetime value or brand perception. The problem is accounting for important programs that are separate from the pipeline conversation.

Using Allocadia, Autodesk was able to define and group the set of marketing activities they executed as part of their COVID support. It gave them a view into their whole efforts, rather than each group doing their own thing. It also allowed them to differentiate between COVID efforts and pipeline efforts, so when it’s time to compare campaign metrics, Autodesk knows exactly which spend to measure against which metrics. Ultimately it is important to know if both types of programs are successful, but their success is being measured against very different goals. 

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