How Retailers Can Tap Into Automation to Drive Design Excellence Across the Funnel

People are overwhelmed. The pandemic has changed the world. Supply chain disruptions are turning short trips to the store into mini-adventures and starting to cause worry about gifts for the holiday season. So the last thing shoppers need is to be bombarded with endless and oftentimes generic brand messages and ads in their social feeds and across the web. But that’s what’s happening.

A single visit to your retail site, or a simple purchase, and now there’s an avalanche in their inbox and a flurry of ads that follow them around the web. It’s no wonder that 66 percent of shoppers find brand creative assets to be repetitive, and 44 percent of consumers are annoyed by ads they’ve seen too many times, according to a recent Celtra survey. Retailers, you need to do more in those moments.

Shoppers love a promotion, but they also love their brand stories. So how do you bring brand advertising into your promotions and conversion advertising? How can you make every impression a brand impression? It’s one thing to simply turn parts of your product catalogs into creative assets, it’s another to make sure every asset is as on-brand and on-message as your brand campaigns. Retailers simply can’t produce and refresh advertising content fast enough. And if you’re trying today, you’re likely putting enormous pressure on your in-house team to deliver work that’s hard for even the largest digital agencies in the world to support.

Brand consistency and design excellence can help retailers drive revenue. It’s why you’ve invested so much into brand and design already. People are more likely to trust and buy from companies with well-designed brands, ads and experiences. Yet, retail brands are often only able to invest in design craft for awareness and upper-funnel campaigns. Lower-funnel activities, such as acquisition and retargeting campaigns, have had to contend with simple product images that do little to inspire the shopper. When it comes to digital marketing, most of your brand impressions are paid impressions. You need to let your personality shine through in each and every asset you run.

How can retailers bridge the creative gap between their current production resources and the assets needed to succeed in digital advertising? How can retailers make every conversion moment a brand moment?

Retail marketing organizations should consider adding creative automation to the mix. More than half of marketers (51 percent) are planning on scaling their Q4 campaigns with creative automation or new technology. By leaning on new software and solutions in their marketing stack, creative teams can cut back on manual and repetitive tasks such as versioning, re-sizing and localization for brand and performance campaigns.

Creative automation brings previously siloed teams back together to scale design excellence and content variety. It allows retail marketing teams to create flexible, brand-safe templates and organize variant information such as headlines, calls to action, product catalogs and promotions into content feeds. By connecting the design templates to feeds, the software will then automatically generate all the assets needed.

Automation in creative production holds multiple benefits for retail marketers:

  • Performance Branding: Be careful that your performance ads aren’t hurting your brand image. Product ads with white backgrounds can communicate the wrong message and turn off your prospects. Look to carry over strong visual elements from brand and consideration campaigns into performance. And keep your branding consistent. You’ve invested in brand and design, don’t sacrifice that investment in conversion moments.
  • Design Excellence: Brand consistency is critical to winning trust in digital marketing. With automation, you can govern your brand across thousands of assets as they all follow the rules and guidelines set by your brand, design and creative operations leaders. Brands can easily duplicate awareness assets and tweak them to use in lower-funnel campaigns.
  • Cultural Agility: Shoppers want messages they can relate to. Retailers need to be able to react to cultural events the moment they happen. If a brand video goes viral on TikTok today, you need to be able to turn it into a deployable set of campaign assets by tomorrow to ride the wave of the 15-second fame.
  • Content Variety: Shoppers want different storytelling approaches. With automation, marketers aren’t limited by time or resources. They can run as many variants of a design or a message as they want.
  • Testing: Automation allows designers to produce assets faster, which is critical for testing. Retail marketers can finally feed their testing plans with a library of elements to find what works best for every audience. They can duplicate existing templates or create new designs to test different approaches to increase return on ad spend. They can also make changes on-the-fly to avoid ad fatigue.

It’s tough to break through as a brand today, but people still crave well-crafted content. In fact, the same Celtra survey found that ​​consumers want to be known by brands and receive personalized offers, with more than half of respondents (51 percent) finding creative assets with relevant offers to be the most memorable. Retailers that tap into automation for deploying high-profile digital campaigns will have no problem catching — and keeping — the eyes of shoppers.

Eli Chapman is the chief marketing officer at Celtra, cloud-based, self-service software for automating creative production.

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