No brand is static. Its business priorities and goals are always evolving. Its technological and channel capabilities are evolving. And its audience and competitors are evolving. One of the ways to stay appropriately positioned in the midst of all of those evolving factors is to do regular digital marketing redesigns.
But what does a good redesign process look like, and who should be involved? We’ll answer those questions and more, but let’s first talk about…
When You Should Do a Digital Marketing Redesign
At the channel level, the short answer is that brands should be constantly improving their designs. The digital environments we have available to us are constantly evolving, allowing for better user experiences. So, keeping a relatively consistent cadence for updates is important to keep up with the market.
Those ongoing efforts are often punctuated by routine audits that then set priorities until the next audit. Many of our clients set standard timeframes for those audits, such as quarterly or twice annually. To drive those audits, we often ask our clients:
At the brand level, wider digital marketing redesigns are often triggered by major new brand campaigns, rebranding efforts, and—as is probably most often the case—website redesigns. Typically, a brand will launch a refreshed website every 2 years. That may include an overall brand update or it may just be refinements to UX and the functionality of the site. Regardless of the extent, this should trigger redesigns of creative across your digital marketing channels.
A word of caution: While it’s smart to add seasonal elements and messaging to your digital marketing campaigns to align them with your major selling seasons, it’s wise to avoid doing major redesign projects that would overlap with one of your peak seasons.
The Potential Scope of a Redesign
Depending on channel needs and overall brand changes, consider these elements:
Whatever changes you make, be sure to extend those updates to your transactional and triggered programs—which is much easier to do if you have a modular architecture and other advanced build systems in place. Often brands begin their redesign journey by focusing on their promotional or business-as-usual (BAU) campaigns, but then neglect to cascade those same updates to other programs. Remember, your customers and subscribers are still receiving those communications, and you want to ensure the voice and visual treatment is consistent, regardless of program type or channel.
Who to Involve in Redesigns
Because redesigns affect the brand widely, they should always be a collaborative effort. Internally, redesign teams should include representation from creative, development, strategy, analytics, and—perhaps most importantly, brand teams. Our experience is that a smaller team with department and team leads is the best at driving redesign efforts, as it maximizes representation, while keeping the team from becoming too unwieldy.
Organization leadership should also be involved, especially early on. Make sure you’re on the same page and get feedback regularly to ensure ongoing alignment.
In a healthy process, everyone should feel comfortable giving their input, expressing their current frustrations, and dreaming up new ideas. Many perspectives will lead to a better and more well-rounded output, and everyone involved will be more invested when the redesign is launched. Hold each lead accountable to get their part done and be a sounding board for others throughout the process.
External voices are also critical. Chief among those should be your customers—including both your current customers and any aspirational customers. Outside agencies and consultants can also provide valuable external viewpoints.
Elements of a Solid Redesign Process
Over the course of helping our clients with dozens of redesigns in recent years, here are the components that make up a redesign process that’s the most likely to be successful with as little drama as possible.
Dedicate substantial time. A redesign is a major project that requires significant time. Not only is the scope of work typically substantial, but time is necessary for all of the collaboration, iteration, and feedback that’s needed to get a successful outcome. Your roadmap should account for all of that and not feel rushed. Based on our client experiences, a major redesign generally takes about 3 months.
Take a cross-channel approach. Because you want to have a cohesive look and feel across all of your channels, you’ll want to take all of them into consideration when making changes and updates. Your email, web, app, SMS, social, and other channels are all cousins. You want to make sure that at the end of a redesign that they still all act and look like they’re part of the same family.
Don’t skimp on discovery. Resist the temptation to jump ahead to solutions. Start with a solid discovery process. Set up time with different groups within your organization, including brand, strategy, analytics, line of business leaders, and others. You want to get as many perspectives as possible, so you can not only appreciate the full range of concerns and potential opportunities, but also see the repetition of issues and themes so you can identify the common goals behind all the perspectives. Sending out a questionnaire ahead of time is a great way to enter discovery conversations with momentum.
Don’t skimp on brainstorming either. Similarly, resist the temptation to spend a lot of time developing any single solution or approach early on, as that can crowd out other ideas. Start with a blank page. Brainstorm, doodle, be inspired. Focus on big, innovative ideas. Spend time bouncing ideas off each other, writing on (virtual and physical) sticky notes and white boards, and talking through your end goal. Creative brainstorming is at the root of all good design.
Test to verify improvements. It’s inevitable along the way that you’ll have disagreements and competing ideas. That’s great. Let your customers and subscribers settle these disputes by A/B testing these elements. As a bonus, some early testing can help prove out the value of the redesign effort and build excitement and momentum. And testing later in the redesign can ensure that your new ideas collectively perform better than your existing designs.
The level of effort to correct a big mistake versus making the investment in a pragmatic iterative approach that includes testing can be quite dramatic. Save yourself a lot of potential pain by having feedback mechanisms at every touchpoint that you redesign and proactively monitor what is working as part of an agile design approach.
Provide regular status updates and reviews. As you progress, provide weekly status updates of where the project is at. These updates should allow for open discussions about developments and roadblocks along the way.
When we’re working on redesign with our clients, we schedule milestone updates after each project phase, which might be divided up into deliverables based on level of effort (i.e., quick wins vs. bigger lifts) and the rollout across the various channels or lines of business. This lets us show and discuss our progress, and set the direction for the next phase, especially if any pivoting is needed.
Sustain buy-in. You want the full entire group of diverse perspectives you’ve assembled to stay invested throughout the process. However, sometimes that doesn’t happen. Regardless if it’s a single individual or small team that end up leading the process, it is essential to ensure the entire extended team loves the path forward and has confidence in it, otherwise things will fall apart later. In our experience, maintaining alignment between the marketing and brand teams is the most critical.
Document style changes. Once the redesign is in a good spot, start updating or creating a style guide—whether it’s a PDF or online guide. Establishing a style guide ensures all parties have a single source of truth to pull information from. It also institutionalizes this brand knowledge, protecting the organization from the turnover of brand managers and other key staff.
Train your broader team on the changes. Mirroring the discovery sessions at the beginning of your redesign process, training sessions at the end of the process allow you to communicate the changes to everyone who needs to know, including agency partners. With our clients, we typically host workshops that bring everyone together to go over the new design, style guide, governance, and the process on how things will work in their build process. We explain what’s new and, just as importantly, what’s staying as-is.
Regular digital marketing redesigns are critical to keeping your brand fresh and aligned with your customers and your business goals and aspirations. Make sure you invest the appropriate amount of time and energy in them to get the best results.
Need help redesigning your digital marketing campaigns? Oracle Marketing Consulting has more than 500 of the leading marketing minds ready to help you to achieve more with the leading marketing cloud, including Creative Services teams that can help you refresh your designs and reimagine your customer experiences.
Talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or reach out to us at CXMconsulting_ww@Oracle.com.
Lauren Gannon is Vice President of Agency Services, Oracle Marketing Consulting.
Scott Multer is Executive Creative Director, Oracle Marketing Consulting.
Nick Cantu is the Creative Director for Creative Services at Oracle Marketing Consulting. He has over 14 years of creative consulting experience, with the past 9 years dedicated to data-driven email marketing. His approach focuses on the end-user, building relevant and engaging messages that drive results.
Katie Anderson is Senior Designer for Creative Services, Oracle Marketing Consulting.
Elizabeth (Liz) Thomas is Senior Art Director for Creative Services at Oracle Marketing Consulting. She is an experienced lead with a demonstrated history of working in the email marketing industry. She is skilled in setting up email architecture systems, spearheading email creative audits and analyses, leading client presentations, managing projects/timelines, and has a passion for fostering client relationships. Liz has supported a breadth of high-profile clients in achieving their email goals through streamlined design systems, industry best practices, strategy, segmentation, and automation.