As working from home becomes the norm for many marketers, brands will require automated and modern systems, in order to collaborate efficiently in the office and remotely. Marketing Week talks to Simon Ward, CEO and founder of Inspired Thinking Group (ITG), whose multichannel system CanopyCloud is helping companies save time and money while still keeping control of their brand.
What is CanopyCloud and how did it come about?
Simon Ward (SW): CanopyCloud is an intelligent modular multichannel system built to ‘Simplify, Automate and Create’ marketing campaigns.
We’ve been developing the technology for over 10 years, after it became clear that marketers needed to be liberated from a world of siloed data, and a fragmented and dispersed marketing community. Internal marketers, agencies and suppliers were working to the same goals but not working in harmony.
Technology can solve these challenges if it is simple to use and achieves high adoption rates.
What do brands and marketers miss out on if they don’t adopt a system like this?
SW: Too often stakeholders in a particular campaign are working off siloed data contained in legacy systems that do not communicate.
An automated and joined-up approach – using a solution that delivers intuitive workflow, automation and omnichannel deployment tools – means brands can react in real-time and improve their speed to market. A promotion can be devised, planned, approved and executed within a few hours or days rather than weeks or months.
For example, with CanopyCloud Virgin Media has seen a 250% increase in ROI from automating and deploying more than 300 million personalised messages; and Renault has achieved a 98% reduction in planning time across its network thanks to automation.
The Co-op has used our system to consolidate its brand identity across 26 business units, reducing its marketers’ workload by more than 60%.
What has stopped brands from investing as much as they perhaps should have in marketing technology and digital transformation?
SW: This remains a complicated area for brands. The number of channels and opportunities to engage with consumers has exploded over the years and companies have cobbled together martech and adtech ecosystems. They have invested in platforms to solve specific problems, but often these have not delivered the return on investment they expected.
The Covid-19 crisis has prompted many companies to look again at their marketing systems, especially as office-based working is unlikely to return to how it was before.
Brand owners are realising they need technology that brings together all the strands of their global marketing operations, so campaigns can be managed and deployed effectively – wherever people are based around the world.
Has the global move to more remote working increased the need for marketing automation?
SW: Definitely. Brands using CanopyCloud are telling us that up to 40% of their employees will not return to the office full-time, as it’s now been proven that they can be as efficient and productive working from home.
The reality for most organisations is that they will need to adopt a hybrid approach to working, and marketing automation is vital to ensure that model works effectively.
Any system must be built for people working from home – as CanopyCloud is – so users are confident about using it to manage their day, which often means approving and signing off projects at different times to avoid errors and delays.
I believe we will become a society where people work their eight or nine-hour days over 12 hours. They will take breaks when their input is not needed and receive reminders when their involvement is required to drive campaigns to market quicker, control spend and manage agencies and other suppliers.
This is one way that automation can also benefit marketers’ wellbeing and improve their work-life balance.
How does automated technology such as CanopyCloud have a positive effect on brands’ local and regional marketing strategies?
SW: Global businesses need the freedom to run local promotions, but they also need to be confident that their brand assets are being managed properly around the world.
For example, in the automotive sector dealerships are their own businesses and want to run local campaigns. They are using their own CRM systems but promoting under the banner of the global brand, which needs to retain control of how its assets are used.
On a worldwide level, campaign and brand assets must be translated for local markets and adapted for the specific channels that work best in a particular country, without breaking international brand guidelines.
This level of co-operation is particularly important when a brand is making its way in an emerging country where a collaborative approach to working and campaign management can reduce the potential risks.
What are the cost and time savings possible?
SW: If brands invest in a single, infinitely configurable and game-changing platform like CanopyCloud, which manages everything from campaign planning and asset creation to personalised deployment and real-time reporting, the return on investment can be significant.
Puma’s European operation, for example, covers many channels, languages and activities, and it managed a 33% reduction in cost per asset by driving automation across its European creative production.
But automation is not just about saving time and money.
For many companies it is also about brand control and compliance and making sure every promotion and piece of content is on-brand. Approval loops can be created before important decisions are taken, to ensure everyone who needs to be involved actually is.
For example, Heineken uses CanopyCloud to ensure 100% brand compliance across 180 countries and 28 languages – replacing more than 10,000 approval emails.
Do you feel that increased automation will have an effect on the creativity of marketing departments?
SW: By its very nature creativity comes from people’s own ideas and group thinking, but technology has an important role to play.
It can help marketing teams, their agencies and suppliers collaborate around great ideas as well as testing campaign creatives locally and globally.
Automation ultimately provides marketers with additional time to be creative because their whole operation is more efficient and joined up.
Having an intelligent multichannel system also enables the creative elements of any campaign to be adapted and changed in real time if circumstances change.
Which other brands are currently using CanopyCloud? What benefits have they seen?
SW: I have already mentioned some of our renowned clients, such as Virgin Media, Heineken, Renault and Co-op, and there are other success stories.
For example, Clarks wanted to update its technology with a system that gives its global teams access to on-brand marketing assets. It achieved huge savings by replacing inefficient email briefings and excessive amend cycles with collaborative and tailored workflows. The brand is also automating content to get its campaigns to market quicker.
Another brand to use the system is Dixons Carphone, which has improved how its internal marketing teams communicate. Local marketers can now view, customise, download and print ticketing and point-of-sale material in-store. A dynamic template takes a feed from space planning data which ensures consistency across the company’s retail estate and that 99.9% of decisions are right the first time.
In the first six months of Dixons Carphone using the system, 1,748 hours were saved with financial savings of £366,000.