I’ve conducted a variety of evaluations across several types of tech platforms and know that it takes collective buy-in from cross-departmental leads within an organization to ensure implementation success and adoption of any new tool.
As a marketer in these evaluations, my first go-tos are my partners in technical product and finance. These partners will give me sign-off of technical and monetary feasibility for the assessment.
I need to make a case and have buy-in from those partners for any new tool I am looking to invest on behalf of my company.
In reflecting back on these evaluations, which were for a variety of digital marketing platforms including email, SMS, and social, my hindsight is that the involvement of my partners in creative is just as important.
Marketing and creative work as primary partners in the day-to-day marketing operations, but for some reason it hasn’t always been the case when considering new marketing technology.
In any evaluation I conduct, I typically kick-off with a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) outline. In the past, the creative team was unfortunately assigned as “informed” when it comes to things like evaluations for analytics platforms, ESPs, site merchandising tools, and other marketing technology.
When I advised a client on a recent ESP evaluation, the importance of the creative team became much more clear. Every marketer should include creative as a consultant or a decision maker in the martech decision process.
Marketing campaigns and calendars are planned in collaboration with the creative team and while they may not be the end users of an ESP.
The creative team is responsible for bringing marketing stories to life through the customer-facing assets they produce. A business decision for new marketing technology may impact the manner in which those assets are displayed to the customer.
For example, when I began to integrate UGC by way of feeds on the brand site and email, it required a review of dynamic grid templates, updating from rectangle to square to accommodate an Instagram height and width ratio.
As a marketer, I’m driven by numbers and results. My partners in creative also want to drive those numbers, but have found they approach assessment in a different way to support a new initiative.
When exploring a new digital marketing tool, I’ve found it helpful to share the other like-minded brands who have adopted.
Creative directors I’ve worked with have taken a deeper look into creative execution of those brands and how assets like email templates could be created without sacrificing branded visual elements like font or image variable height.
For example, when I introduced personalized product recommendations into an email strategy, my creative director was able to assess the need to alter the image crop for product images to address unnecessary white space in product grids within the email creative.
The tech teams are typically asking about flexible API capabilities, while marketers like myself are focused on functionality to execute and measure results.
However, there are great questions I’ve heard asked that came up too late in an evaluation due to the right people not being in the room.
A creative asked about things like image layering capabilities, type set and kerning, all important design features, which would be valuable in understanding adjustments and potential impacts to branding within assets.
I’m often reminded that my friends in creative don’t always speak the same marketing lingo I do. When discussing a technical implementation of a new marketing tool, specs to share with the creative team may not be concrete until assets are due to be delivered.
Ensuring that the creative team is familiar with the timeline and changes to asset format and new capabilities can alleviate that portion of a migration. I suggest requesting a creative focused demo with the vendors you are leaning towards in your evaluation.
This way, they can learn the capabilities and orient their creative approaches to things like thinking modular with email templates and understand potential limitations such as personalized text over images.
These things require strategic thinking and time to prepare, which is why I suggest asking your prospective vendors to allow access to a sandbox account so the creative and marketing teams can experiment with new concepts.
I have seen full blown digital asset management systems implemented across several months ignored due to challenges affecting the creative process that were not considered on the front end. Not using a tool to its full capabilities is one of the biggest risks and further highlights the cross-functional buy-in.
At one of the companies I worked with, the creative director stalled and essentially halted the adoption of a digital asset management tool due to bugs and issues with upload and download times of image files and because the UI was not familiar for the team of graphic designers who were intended to have a unified content library to access.
This was an unfortunate example of wasted efforts that may have been prevented if all stakeholders had input on requirements.
I’m a believer of using data and tech to create a personalized experience for customers. I have been fortunate to have collaborative partners in creative who were able to understand the objective of things like content segmentation and 1:1 product recommendations.
While assets like email using personalization are often designed using modules, a consulted creative group can produce innovative and dynamic templates to which I would not have been able to draw up if I tried!
Testing in new templates proposed by the creative team is something I enjoy because it fosters trust and collaboration between teams. Introducing personalized product recommendations into email design may limit some design elements like crop or placement, which I know from experience are important for overall design.
Buy-in from your creative lead can be valuable for the evaluation process and beyond. I have found that the collaboration between marketing and creative teams produces a solid strategy and final execution of assets your customers experience.
The sooner marketing heads involve creative leads in a marketing tool evaluations, the more confidence leadership groups within retail organizations can accurately assess investment of funds, time and resources.
Monica Deretich is a proven leader specializing in strategic data-driven marketing, focusing on the customer experience within B2C ecommerce. She brings over a decade of experience focusing on CRM, including specialization within email, mobile, SMS, social media, retargeting and direct mail marketing.
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