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How software company used case studies to land leads

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StudioGPU sells software targeted at professional animators, media and entertainment companies, architects and engineers. Its $3,999 flagship program, MachStudio Pro, allows users to create real-time 3-D computer graphics for film, architectural visualizations and engineering and design projects. StudioGPU plays in a crowded field, with competitors that are well known in the industry.

Getting the word out about the product, said Andrew Baum, VP-marketing, is definitely a challenge. “We have to be very resourceful creating demand because, as a startup, we have a very limited budget,” Baum said. “It’s a professional piece of software that’s expensive, but we decided to create a full-featured version that people could download for a trial.”

Getting people to come to the site and actually download the software was half the battle, Baum said. To drive traffic, Baum and his team came up with a case study placement program, which entailed writing independent and objective case studies about some of its most innovative customers and placing them in industry magazines, such as 3D World and Digital Production, and on popular graphic design websites such as CGSociety.org, CGW.com and digitalcontentproducer.com.

Baum said he concentrates on case studies rather than reviews because he doesn’t want to appear as though he is buying a good review. “We already have great customers who are willing to share since it’s good promotion for them, too. It puts them out there as being on the leading edge,” he said.

Once the case studies are placed, StudioGPU also puts out media releases as well as sending out links to the case studies on the company’s Facebook Like page and tweeting it from its Twitter account.

So far, StudioGPU has done 10 cases studies over a year. Baum has found editorial placement for five of those case studies. For example, one appeared on CGSociety.org, the website of the Society of Digital Artists. That article, about a Paris-based studio that created an animated 3-D movie using the company’s software, brought an “incredible” amount of traffic to the site, Baum said, providing “about 100,000 clicks.”

“There was a link to our site at the end of the case study, and I was able, using Google Analytics, to watch the traffic coming directly to our site,” he said.

Overall, the case study strategy provides a return on investment that is “hundreds if not thousands of times greater than traditional advertising or trade shows. With case studies, I get many more leads for a much, much smaller cost,” he said.

The most important statistic, however, is the number of actual software downloads, Baum said. “When a case study gets picked up [on a website], the number of downloads doubles and sometimes triples,” he said. “The stories provide credibility to our software because people can see what others are actually doing with it. The case study placements, because they’re usually retweeted and reposted on Facebook, keep our promotions going for weeks.”

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