Stensul’s biggest takeaways from Henry Stewart’s DAM and CreativeOps Events

There was plenty to gain from three days of virtual Henry Stewart events.

Virtual events in the COVID-19 era are beginning to feel more and more normal — or something close to normal, anyway. We were thrilled to virtually present at Henry Stewart’s Festival of DAM and Festival of Creative Operations events this year, and take part in some excellent conversations about how solution providers and team leaders can best navigate business operations in a remote world.

The first two event days were spent at Henry Stewart’s Festival of DAM which tackled, well, all things Digital Asset Management. DAM is a term used to refer to both the practice of managing digital assets and the technology built to facilitate this process. DAM systems serve users both as a library (a safe place to organize and store files) and a core processor for media files and their metadata.

Session topics at the Festival of DAM ranged from the difficulties presented by months in isolation to AI and automation, and we were honored to lead the discussion about why organizations should look for an email creation platform that works seamlessly with their existing DAM.

Why you need an email creation platform as well as a DAM

The world has changed rapidly this year. Email was already important pre-pandemic, but now email is a driving communication force more than ever. It drives the most ROI across marketing channels, and is without a doubt the most effective digital channel. Potential customers are three times more likely to convert via email than social and five times more likely to receive an organization’s message when reading an email, as opposed to a social post. When someone is reading their email, they usually show up ready to engage with things, whereas social is often conducive to mindless scrolling or “tuning things out.”

Despite the indisputable importance of email marketing, midsize companies tend to have 1-5 people on the production team with limited bandwidth for strategy or the ability to make efficient last minute-changes. You need to be able to send on-brand, ADA compliant, timely emails in today’s market: You need a DAM and an email creation platform built for integration.

Thankfully, “integration” doesn’t have to mean “needs actual software development” anymore. Creation solutions like stensul are built for integration with your ESP, and can grab images right from your DAM so you don’t have to continually use Photoshop in the interim.  Without an email creation solution, team members will have to pull assets from their DAM, then apply brand image governance rules and ADA regulations to each individual asset before importing it into the ESP. Visual assets might be shared through email or Slack if not every team member has access to the DAM. This takes far too much time and allows for risky margins of error. Using an email creation platform as part of your martech stack saves hours of additional design time, ensures that brand and ADA regulations are automatically applied to visual assets, and puts guardrails in place so only the appropriate team members are able to edit assets within the platform.

A streamlined tech stack = a more agile solution = an email creation program that’s appropriately adaptable for whatever the world throws at your organization.

Creative operations in uncertain times

Day three of the Henry Stewart event week brought us to the Festival of Creative Operations. Now, we know that as an email creation provider we can sound a bit biased when we harp on the importance of strong email campaigns, but don’t just take our word for it: Keith McLeod, Executive Director of Marketing Operations at The New York Times, echoed our emphasis on the importance of a strong email operation, reporting that the publication is “always innovating when it comes to our email campaigns, specifically.”

We also took a look at how enterprise operations should approach collaboration in order to find efficiencies in their email creation process. Communication is a huge efficiency factor: Before every new email campaign, the internal comms process should be clear and direct. Instead of searching for assets and information in email or Slack channels, communication should be streamlined through your email creation platform, and every team member should understand exactly what their role is in the creation process of each email to avoid confusion, time delays, and some team members taking on more work than necessary. The stronger the communication, the more efficient and agile teams can be.

With any martech solution, it’s ultimately important to keep ease of adoption in mind. As our own Mike Zusel said in his session, “If people don’t use it, it doesn’t matter what features are actually there.”

Productivity lessons from a pandemic

Last but certainly not least, we’d like to leave you with some of our favorite pieces of food for thought from the Optimizing Productivity in 2021 – Learnings from 2020 (so far) panel that we sat on.

Mike Zusel mentioned the importance of agility again: “No one could have predicted this major digital pivot, and we all had to adapt quickly.”

Another excellent takeaway came from Nick Fitzsimmons, Sr. Director of Sales Solutions at Celtra, who reminded viewers to “lead with empathy.” Remind folks to take PTO, even when they’re working remotely and even if they’re not actually able to travel.

Lindsey Hawkins, Group Business Director at ICP, reminded leaders to be intentional with your meetings, and review roles and responsibilities so any remote work confusions or misunderstandings don’t impede your progress.

In order to work effectively and prioritize in the current environment, we recommend always taking a step back before diving in. Define your objectives and expectations — this sort of communication is more important than ever when working. Find tech that improves processes, and dictate how you use which tech channels, what belongs where. What warrants an internal email vs. a Slack message, for example?

You can never be too clear with communication, but streamlining internal comms processes is more essential than ever to making sure every team member is functioning to the best of their ability with the tools they need to succeed in a constantly changing environment. We look forward to implementing these takeaways and seeing what next year’s Henry Stewart events have in store (maybe they’ll even be in person)!