Please don’t fill new channels with bad creative

TechStyle Fashion Group’s pandemic pivot might be considered rare in a world when marketers say most ads are lackluster and repetitive.

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For nearly a year, marketers have operated in a pandemic world where digital channels are all they’ve got. But saying you’re going to tap new channels and then actually delivering results there depends on just how strong your content game is. But just how quickly must you get strong?

“Almost overnight,” said Aubrie Richey, vice president of customer acquisition and media at TechStyle Fashion Group. “We had to rapidly adapt to understand how to get the perfect photo, social media ad or commercial from home, all with the added challenge of developing relatable marketing content for a consumer base experiencing altered life experiences in response to the pandemic.”

TechStyle,  which manages fashion brands like JustFab, FabKids and Savage X Fenty, the inclusive lingerie line designed by music icon Rihanna, had already invested in five in-house production studios. Each was staffed by professional photographers and creatives that drove out content across more than 20 channels and networks, developed TV and social media campaigns and supported their flagship web destinations.

But now the company found itself sending production equipment to influencers and brand ambassadors so they could build their own “mini-studios” at home. This way, they could keep up with campaign imagery for monthly new product drops and other promotions, Richey said.

“Our brands began leaning into our vast libraries of influencer-generated content, and ensuring that our influencers had the equipment needed to develop their own content,” Richey stated.

She added, “Our brands rethought core campaigns and key holidays, shifting messaging to be more resonant to consumers who may be adopting a Zoom holiday celebration or more low-key family gatherings. We found that these shifts in strategy resonated with consumers across brands, and that by developing relatable marketing content we were actually strengthening our consumer base.”

Can we be more … creative?

The downside of the sudden influx of channels to consider during COVID-19 is just how much content is needed to fill those gaps. But many marketers say the demand has not been met with worthy creative. In fact, you might say the opposite is happening.

Nearly 69% of the 250 marketers recently surveyed by creative automation provider Celtra say ads are far too repetitive. In fact, 63% concluded that “very few brands are doing creative ads right now.” 

But TechStyle has committed itself to being one of those few.

For its JustFab brand, Richey said the company adapted to consumers dwindling interest in workplace and street styles in favor of more quarantine-appropriate athletic wear and loungewear. Its FabKids brands focused on the adjustments parents and children were making for remote learning.

“Each of our brands had to take a reflective look at how to adopt their various marketing strategies to their respective ‘new’ consumers,” she said.

The FabKids content team began recruiting parents to shoot the content of their children in home environments, reflecting the changes to everyday life that families were experiencing. As a direct result of these new strategies, TechStyle launched 25% more ads in 2020 than the preceding year.

And not only were there more ads, but they resonated with consumers’ lives, Richey said.

Nurturing what’s next

Relevance isn’t just about the content, though. It’s also about where the content is seen.

Celtra’s survey found 73% of marketers use Facebook and/or Instagram “the most to engage with their customers.” This was followed by email, at 55%, and 35% through Twitter.

Only 12% of marketers said they use TikTok the most, which is at least an indication that brands with similar audiences are seeing opportunities to expand through that channel. The main takeaway is that brands should keep looking and be ready to pounce if there’s a good match.

For TechStyle, they have made TikTok a priority this year by launching an initiative they call the “#techtokstyle challenge.”

“Our teams saw a gap in TechStyle’s social media presence, and have created a new virtual challenge to grow and scale our presence on TikTok,” said Richey. The challenge asks employees “to express their brand pride and get involved with the content creation process, all while creating relatable ads for our members.”

Here’s hoping they can pack that all in to 15 seconds or less.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

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Getting off on the right foot with DAM

Taking the first steps to kick off, or refine, your digital asset management program.

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“It’s critically important to start the process before you even look at a piece of technology.” Advice on getting started with digital asset management from founder of The Codified DAM Consultant, Mark Davey.

He was speaking on a recent episode of MarTech Live about getting started on the DAM journey the right way. The data model and the information architecture needs to be right — or as right as possible: “It’s an iterative process,” he said, “like mowing the grass. You’ve got to keep doing it, keep refining it, keep looking at the people, the processes and the systems to make those things work.

Call for librarians. There’s a role in enterprise DAM systems for librarians, Davey said. “The thing about librarians is, they love to share to knowledge in a way that’s understandable, a bit like a teacher. Sadly, there aren’t enough librarians doing the taxonomy and vocabulary work. They tend to end up being keyword taggers. Keywords are an important part of this, but we’re talking about information, knowledge and information being distributed in a format that everybody can understand — and then serve up curated experiences using that knowledge.

“For me,” he went on, “librarians and information architects are a must have.”

Watch all the 2020 episodes of MarTech Live here.

Best practices. Davey went on to talk about best practices for getting started. “Step one is gap analysis, using people, process, information and systems. Where are your people? What are the technical capabilities of your people? Is [your DAM] ad hoc, is it incipient, is it formative, is it operational, is it optimal? You can do a self-assessment on that.”

Davey referred to the DAM Maturity Model, something he had some past involvement with. “It helps you gauge where you are on that spectrum.”

As an enterprise consultant, he tries to identify pain-points. “How long are they searching for content, how many different systems do they have to use, how frustrated are they, and when do they just give it to the agency?” Metrics like these can form a basis for understanding ROI on a DAM investment.

Davey’s consultancy recently performed an assessment for a large pharmaceutical organization which involved surveying some 12,000 people about gaps in the business about gaps in the content lifecycle. After the assessment and gap analysis comes a resource audit: “How many tools, systems and processes are in effect for the lifecycle of content; and at the same time you’re starting to think about the governance around the data model. Then you start to build use-case scenarios.” If a vendor is not able to fulfill requirements identified in use-case scenarios, “they’re not going to help you for the long journey.”

Why we care. All marketing is essentially content marketing, and content marketing can’t be done efficiently if content assets (which today means primarily digital assets) aren’t effectively managed.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

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Sitecore announces headless CMS offering

Experience Edge offers hybrid headless capabilities.

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Sitecore, the CMS and e-commerce platform, has announced the launch of Sitecore Experience Edge, a new platform for headless content delivery at scale. The platform’s content creation capabilities will be accessible to marketers as well as developers. The headless content delivery will be available in early 2021.

Two options will be available initially, Experience Edge for Sitecore Content Hub and Experience Edge for Sitecore Experience Manager (XM). The former allows headless content delivery to any channel through APIs, with the content managed by marketers, and tools for content lifecycle management. The latter offers XM customers to publish static website content as well as deliver headless content. Content management is again accessible to marketers.

Headless and hybrid. Headless CMS — so-called because it lacks a content delivery component (the head) — allows the front-end (basically, any channel) to request content from a content hub through APIs. It’s viewed as advantageous to brands and organizations seeking to push content across many channels rather than just feed it to a website.

When headless capabilities are combined with user-friendly content management tools, the result is often called “hybrid headless.” Jose Santa Ana, Product Marketing Director for Sitecore AI and Content Hub, confirmed that it would be accurate to describe Experience Edge as a hybrid solution.

“First, it does offer coding-free content management (with the full content planning, collaboration, and management capabilities) for marketers, but requires front-end coding for publishing of the content and building the experience,” he told us. “Secondly, for Sitecore Experience Edge for Experience Manager (XM), it’s hybrid because the underlying XM content management solution can be deployed on-premises, while the delivery layer is deployed as SaaS.”

The two options. We asked Santa Ana why Sitecore was offering the two distinct Experience Edge services. ““he two offerings address two different use cases, which can translate to two different groups of customers,” he explained. “Sitecore Experience Edge for Sitecore Content Hub allows marketers and business users to manage the content while developers build the presentation/front-end separately.

“Sitecore Experience Edge for Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) allows marketers and business users to control both the content and the presentation/experience composition layers, while removing the burden of content deployment, infrastructure setup, and scaling.”

Why we care. As digital marketing evolves rapidly from the model of creating web-sites and web-pages and publishing content designed for them, headless CMS — and especially hybrid headless — will increasingly be seen as a route to delivering channel-agnostic content as channels continue to multiply.

 

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

 

 

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