In the world of gaming, Electronic Arts (EA) has always been a powerhouse, delivering iconic titles like FIFA and Need For Speed. But what if I told you that the success of SimCity5, one of their popular gems, was propelled into the stratosphere through the magic of data-driven design and A/B testing? Today, we're delving into the extraordinary story of how EA Sports generated millions in revenue with Data-Driven Design.
Picture yourself as a Data Analyst at Electronic Arts, part of the The Maxis digital marketing team entrusted with promoting the highly anticipated SimCity5. The game is poised to be a hit, but there's a nagging challenge - the pre-order numbers aren't meeting the company's forecasted numbers.
Faced with this challenge, the team decided to introduce a promotional offer aimed at boosting pre-orders for the SimCity game on SimCity.com. This offer was prominently featured as a banner at the top of the pre-order page and was also integrated into the advertising creatives used in paid media campaigns. Despite this prominent placement, which ensured that the promotion reached a wide audience of potential buyers, the Maxis team was surprised to find that it didn't yield the anticipated increase in SimCity pre-orders.
Some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) rooted in design features and layouts, laying the foundation for their A/B testing strategy:
1. Pre-Order Conversion Rate for Different Designs/Layouts
2. Revenue Per User (RPU) by Design/Layout
3. Total Pre-Order Numbers by Design/Layout
4. User Engagement Metrics by Design/Layout
5. Design/Layout Impact on ROI
The Maxis team had an idea. They thought that if they changed where the "buy now" button was on the page and how they showed the special offer, more people might buy the game on SimCity.com. This could lead to more money coming in from SimCity.com. This was their guess or idea.
But to measure these KPIs effectively we need A/B testing. This methodology involves dividing your audience into two groups: the "Control group" (Group A), which experiences the existing version, and the experimental group (Group B), where you implement the changes you want to test.
The Maxis team start by pitting the original SimCity pre-order landing page against several variations, each presenting the promotional offer in a different way. Each variation corresponds to a hypothesis aimed at influencing the customer conversion rate, relying on factors such as placement, color, and the display of the offer. Interestingly, one of the variations defies conventional wisdom—it doesn't feature an offer on the page at all.
What happens next shocks the entire digital marketing team. The variation with no offer messaging whatsoever drives a staggering 43.4% more purchases.
“We found that the variations with the promotional offer actually performed worse than just a clean version of the page. This was really surprising to us, but it had a pretty significant impact,” Burk said.
The impact of this discovery is monumental. SimCity5 goes on to sell a whopping 1.1 million copies in the first two weeks of its launch, a truly impressive feat. The key takeaway here is that having the best offer isn't the sole determinant of success; it's about knowing and applying the best practices.
The tale of SimCity5's meteoric rise through Data-Driven Design and A/B testing is a testament to the power of data in today's digital landscape. It's a reminder that assumptions can be shattered, and conventional wisdom challenged when data guides the way. In this instance, understanding customer behavior and preferences trumped conventional wisdom, leading to unprecedented success.
As businesses like Electronic Arts continue to leverage the power of data, we can only anticipate more groundbreaking success stories in the world of gaming and beyond. So, the next time you embark on a marketing endeavor, remember - it's not always about the offer, but rather the insights that drive exceptional results.
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