How Shutterstock Drives Brand Storytelling Via Visual Design: Q&A

From small businesses to global brands, marketers across the world are looking for the best way to bring their story to life and creative assets are the heart of these messages.

Matt Cowley, vice president, ecommerce marketing, Shutterstock, discusses the role of creative assets and visuals in todays brand storytelling processOpens a new window . He also talks about Shutterstocks strategy to increase paid downloads and revenue year-on-year (YoY).

In this exclusive MarTalk Buzz interview, Cowley puts the spotlight on the process of generating a great campaign for marketers who wish to tell the brand story effectively. He also addresses the challenges marketers and brands face while running orchestrated marketing campaignsOpens a new window across multiple channels.

Key takeaways from this Q&A on driving brand storytelling:

Here are the highlights of our conversation with Matt Cowley on driving brand storytelling via visual design:

Can you tell us about the role of creative assets and visuals in todays business arena?

The role of a creative is to tell a story, and in todays visually driven media landscape, images and videos are an absolute requirement for brands to stand out. The need for this type of creative content across various formats is not changing anytime soon. According to eMarketer, 50% of marketers use an average of 3-4 channels for every marketing campaign.

While the channels and methods for which we communicate continue to increase, marketers are consistently challenged with tighter budgets, shorter deadlines, and overwhelming options. From small businesses to global brands, marketers across the world are looking for the best way to bring their story to life and creative assets are the heart of these messages.



What strategy did Shutterstock adopt to increase paid downloads and revenue YoY?


When looking at YoY revenue, our video and music products have had a strong impact both on our price per download as well as revenue in both enterprise and in e-commerce. Additionally, in 2020, there will be a particularly strong focus on our enterprise offering to drive growth. We have already started to make changes to better serve this audience. We have improved our go-to-market strategy and our focus on providing strategic solutions to our customers.

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In todays omni-channel world, if brands are not creative, then they start to dwindle because consumers and the customers expectations are so high. What are your top 3 tips for brands to tell their brand story effectively?


Thanks to digitally native millennials and Gen-Z, brands need to create more content than ever to keep up. While the amount of successful creative is greater than it has ever been, the quantity of ineffective creative is orders of magnitude higher. If your brands creative is not up to snuff, all the ad-tech in the world will not help you.

To add to this, consumer expectations are higher than ever before, and getting higher. We now have an entire generation who has consumed so much content that they intuitively understand what good visual design looks like. Given this landscape, it is crucial for brands to leverage content that is fresh, relevant to their audiences, and able to deliver on their performance to stay ahead.

1. Fresh images: In a world where the shelf life of some images is just 24 hours, consumer expectations have become increasingly on demand. Selecting fresh content is imperative for brands to keep their audiences engaged and coming back for more, especially those looking to master social media.
2. Relevant to your audience: Marketers do not just need a wide selection of content; they also need it to be the right content for their target audience. At Shutterstock, we have customers around the globe searching through thousands of images, videos, and music every single day. These customers are now, more than ever, looking for imagery that accurately reflects the world around them. Selecting images that show localized differences is the best way to connect with your customers and paint an authentic picture.
3. Measure performance: Once the image selections have been made, it’s crucial for brands to measure their performance. These insights will help inform future campaigns and ultimately drive performance.

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The process of generating a great campaign is to collaborate across channels. What are the pain points and opportunities for marketers to deliver seamless campaigns?


One major challenge constantly faced by marketers is limited bandwidth in terms of time and resources. Spending hours looking for the right asset is just not an option. Speed and agility are key to operating an efficient and integrated campaign, and having tools and assets integrated into your workflow that enable real-time collaboration helps streamline the process.

Another major pain point in creating and delivering a marketing campaign involves ensuring compliance. Teams must quickly create content that does not infringe on trademarks or improperly uses licenses. Compliance is a big-ticket item that can eat at a companys bottom line, so working with trusted providers can help protect against losses.

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What lessons do marketers need to learn from Shutterstocks Creative Trends 2020Opens a new window report to make cost-efficient and effective data-driven decisions?


Shutterstock customers look for millions of images, videos, and music tracks every day, using keywords to power their searches. This breadth and depth of this data can help inform marketers on global trends that will influence creative direction and design aesthetics. Armed with these insights, marketers and creatives can prepare for the year ahead with a guide to whats trending as they conceptualize their own campaigns to ultimately drive better performance.

What challenges did you face in activating unified data to run orchestrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels? How did you address those challenges?

As a global enterprise business that operates in over 150 countries, our marketing stack is uniquely complicated. Not only do we span time zones, but we also sell to both eCommerce and enterprise customers. This poses a variety of challenges, so we rely on an ecosystem of tools to help run these marketing campaigns across multiple channels, platforms, and countries.

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What top trends are you tracking in customer experience for 2020, keeping in mind the Shutterstock consumers mindset?


Shutterstocks customers include designers, art directors, marketers, filmmakers, advertisers, bloggers, media organizations and businesses who are tasked with creating content that will stand out in a world full of distractions. We have a trove of download and search behavior data from customers using our platform. This data informs us of trends and evolving content needs of our customers. We put these trends into interactive reports, Creative and Color Trends every year to act as a guide for our customers, and their customers as well. In addition to this, we understand the pressure our customers are under to deliver creative, so we continuously gather feedback through research and client relationships, as well as look at market trends, to ensure the customer experience is the best it can be.

Thank you for sharing your insights on how to tell a brands story effectively. We hope to talk to you soon!

About Matt CowleyOpens a new window :

Matthew Cowley is the VP of ecommerce marketing at Shutterstock where he leads the company’s global eCommerce marketing organization. He is responsible for an extensive team that spans growth marketing, CRM, SEM, SEO, content marketing, creative, marketing analytics, marketing operations, and conversion rate optimization. With over 19 years of global consumer finance and B2B SaaS experience across the customer lifecycle, Matthew has extensive expertise driving revenue and efficiency across channels and through the funnel.

About ShutterstockOpens a new window :

Shutterstock, Inc. (NYSE: SSTK), directly and through its group subsidiaries, is a leading global provider of high-quality licensed photographs, vectors, illustrations, videos and music to businesses, marketing agencies and media organizations around the world. Working with its growing community of over 1 million contributors, Shutterstock adds hundreds of thousands of images each week, and currently has more than 310 million images and more than 17 million video clips available.

About MarTalk Buzz:

MarTalk Buzz is an interview series where marketing leaders and marketing technology companies that are making a difference, connect with us and share their stories. Join us as we talk to them about their product journeys, insights on the categories they serve, what works for them, and some bonus pro-tips.

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