How Brands Meet Evolving Customer Expectations with Creative Automation

Did you throw out your creative plan this year? You weren’t alone. 

Of course, scrapping a campaign at a moment’s notice is nothing new, but entire year-long creative plans went out the window in one fell swoop once the pandemic hit. Campaigns have paused and assets have been discarded, but one part of marketing plans that has remained is the urgency to deliver thoughtful creative work that meets customer needs. 

Research by Ebiquity shows brands that increase spending during a recession achieve market share gains averaging 1.6 percentage points during the first two years of a recovery. Winning brands aren’t going silent. 

Most of all, what customers want from brands is transparency, product information, and available services. Tell audiences about new curbside pickup or what you’re doing to make deliveries safer. Think of how you are removing friction and easing customers’ worry and then speak about it, because not only are they listening, but they’re also paying attention to those who haven’t gotten it right.

Aside from finding the right story angle for customers, many marketing and in-house creative teams are struggling to produce enough new assets and push them quickly out the door, especially as they adjust to remote work. Here are some of the most common challenges brand-side creative teams face during these times and how creative automation can help overcome them.

Creating for an E-Commerce-First World

If traditional in-store brand campaigns are on hold, businesses need to drive customers to shop online instead. Creative messaging and product images must be updated to reflect this change so brands can meet different audiences while staying true to their core messaging. But above all, brands must remember to be conscientious of the current climate. Right now isn’t the time to run ads and content where people are socializing outside, coming together in groups, or even just working in the office. Brands need to find a way to represent the new normal, both visually and in copy, and make those updates to live campaigns quickly.

Brands with national or global operations need to be equipped not just for the national or global stage but for local markets and local retailers. Each country has its own e-commerce ecosystem that requires customized creative, visuals, and messaging. Now, individual counties also have varying guidelines as a result of coronavirus. The challenge is to be able to distribute these assets fast enough and empower markets without letting them go off-script or off-brand.

Remote In-House Teams Need New Tools for Collaboration

With creative teams (both internal and external) operating fully remotely, many are struggling to bring everyone together to come up with ideas, produce, and effectively launch creative fast enough. The new normal is forcing rapid digital transformation throughout organizations, which is positively impacting creative production. Much like the ad buying platform book of the 2010s was for media teams, creative automation is emerging as a solution for creative teams to improve current workflows while saving time and resources.

Brands that are succeeding in organizing their remote work effectively have centralized creative production in the cloud. It unifies team collaboration and communication as everything happens in real time. Marketers can move the review and approval process from back-and-forth emails to the software for easier approvals. Designers can even make changes to live creative, which is updated instantly in campaigns, encouraging creative agility.

The Role of Creative Automation

Creative automation can help innovative brands ameliorate bogged-down workflows, slow production times, and the monotonous tasks associated with content scaling. This new category of software changes the way brands digitally advertise by having software perform repetition for high-volume design or creative production functions.

From generating creative variants on demand to enabling creativity features and animation tools that create unique, brand-specific templates, creative automation allows teams to worry less about the processes and focus on what they do best.

Brands that use software to automate and scale are the ones that are able to get ahead with their creative production, leaving them more time to spend on ideation and creative variety. In practice, it means that they’re able to make changes to existing creative faster, get more done with the same resources, and bring remote teams together for an agile response during this critical time.

Brands that are quick to adapt their production approach today will remain ahead of the game once we return to more normal times. Crisis or not, the world is continuing to evolve to digital. Brands that are backed by speed and flexibility will be able to launch more content that resonates with their customers. With more relevant content, brands can reach and activate the right audience and ultimately out-market competitors.

Miha Mikek is CEO and founder of Celtra.

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