5 trends transforming creative operations

by The Smartsheet Team

Even in the best of times, the subjective nature of creative work and hard-to-define goals make managing creative operations a challenge. Today’s creative work teams, however, face an ever-changing landscape that complicates the situation even more. The pandemic disrupted nearly every industry, and messaging and goals had to change. In some cases, entire marketing strategies had to be reimagined.

To help their companies stay relevant, marketing leaders need to be attuned to the shifting needs of customers. This includes staying on top of market trends that affect how their customers are served content — and how that content is produced. These five trends are shaping how shared services teams create and deliver at speed in an ever-changing marketplace.

1. Digital content consumption 

The pandemic sent more consumers to digital platforms, resulting in a 10% increase in consumption from March to July 2020, according to a study from IAB on 2020/21 COVID Impact on Advertising. With 3.8 billion social media users worldwide scattered across channels, marketers have a large and eager audience.

The IAB study found that while total ad spending decreased by 8% in 2020, investment in digital marketing increased by 6%. According to the report, paid search will grow by 26% and social media will grow by 25%. Traditional channels, such as TV, radio and print, will be down more than 30%.

While digital channels are the place to be, coordination of efforts is key. More than a quarter of marketers said that the creation of ad messages on their websites, mobile apps and video advertising were siloed at their organizations, reports eMarketer

Billboards in a city

2. Personalization at scale

A one-size-fits-all approach to marketing is no longer an option. Not only will it waste time with off-target campaigns; it runs the risk of losing potential customers for good. Today’s customers have come to expect the buying journey to be tailored to them. For example, they want companies to remember previous purchases, make relevant suggestions, and craft offers just for them. 

Done right, personalization can increase customer engagement and loyalty. It also benefits the organization. Personalization can reduce customer acquisition costs by as much as half, increase revenue by up to 15%, and boost the efficiency of marketing spend by as much as 30%, according to a report by McKinsey

While many companies have started the process with a few channels, many struggle to take the marketing tactic to scale across customer touchpoints. The tools are available; what’s missing is a unified approach within an organization to put processes and practices on the same page.  

Personalization requires acting on behavioral data. It’s about collecting data through activities like purchases, online browsing, and social media posts, and setting triggers for actions. These triggers need to be tested and once it’s proven to be successful, it should become a business rule that is shared across departments with the marketing team empowered to act on the signals. 

Personalization also requires more creative assets, such as custom messaging for stages in the buying journey and targeted messages for all of your different customer personas. Your teams will use data to design the assets, but the volume will increase. A digital asset management tool that connects with the can provide transparency and help you stay organized.  

3. Distributed teams

Today’s marketing team is probably not in the same building and maybe not in the same time zone. The prevalence of remote and hybrid working arrangements — combined with a reliance on vendors and agencies — can lead to siloed work.

A platform like Smartsheet for Marketing that gives the team end-to-end visibility into the creative process can foster alignment, collaboration, and accountability. Not only can creatives and project managers see all of the work in one place, they can use automation to distribute proofs and capture all feedback and approvals in one place — no matter where stakeholders are.  

Smartsheet card view

4. Increased complexity of omnichannel marketing

According to research from McKinsey, more than half of customers engage with three to five channels during each buying journey. In addition to personalization, customers expect consistency—an omnichannel experience across all of a brand’s channels.

Implementing an effective strategy can be difficult when teams are siloed or lack a singular vision. Nonetheless, it’s important. Companies that take a cohesive marketing approach can improve customer satisfaction.

To ensure brand consistency across channels, marketers need transparency during planning and implementation of advertising. With a single source of truth, from planning, to creation, to digital asset management and distribution, organizations can build narratives across channels to tell consistent brand stories. 

5. Rapidly shifting campaigns 

During COVID-19, the needs of consumers changed drastically. Marketers who weren’t able to shift their messaging ran the risk of being irrelevant or—worse—insensitive. To stay relevant, marketers need ways to meet the moment and their customers’ most current needs. 

However, just 23% of executives believe the speed at which they gain accurate insights is very strong, according to the Digital Trends 2021 report from Econsultancy and Adobe

By sharing the insights in real time in a centralized platform, organizations can tap into the information they need to quickly pivot campaigns for a fast-changing environment. Marketers can collect data on effective campaigns as well as those that fell short. They can also respond to market feedback in real time.

By understanding the trends, marketing leaders can be better informed while designing plans for the future. Meeting customers where they’re at is how you continue to build relationships going forward. 

Learn more about how Smartsheet for Marketing can help you and your team deliver the right creative at the right time.