How businesses can accelerate content creation for hungry consumers.


Customers have a sweet tooth. Satisfy every one.


Everyone loves chocolate. And your consumers can't get enough. They not only want it, they want it in combinations, packages, and volumes you've never dealt with before.

Businesses that figure out how to offer this kind of experience stand out from the pack. They lead with design — emphasizing the look and feel of their experiences. And they ensure that every element of their brand works and blends with the ones around it. When you think of businesses like this, think Apple. Think Nike. Think Coca-Cola. This design-led emphasis helps your customers create an emotional bond with your brand. This makes them much less likely to switch brands when making purchase decisions.

In our previously released report, Achieving Deliciousness: Adapting to an Increasingly Content-Hungry World, we compared content to chocolate to show the kinds of information that consumers find engaging. Now the question is: How can your team design and create enough content to meet the needs of your consumers faster than ever? In other words, how can you make more chocolate with the factory you already have?

We've gathered insights from Adobe experts, drawn examples from successful businesses, and gone right to your peers. We've surveyed more than 285 businesses globally to understand how they are keeping up with design and other content demands, while still offering a great customer experience.

So, put on your hard hat and let's go behind the scenes of the chocolate factory.


"The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration"


A Sweet Experience

Whip up a great customer experience with the content to match.

There are bags of cocoa, barrels of sugar, and boxes of nuts. Next to them are machines waiting for ingredients. The factory is ready to make its chocolaty goodness — but more than it's ever made before.


Your chocolate is good. Do your customers agree?

of SMB's we surveyed rank themselves a 10 out of 10 for their overall customer experience.

As Jerry Gregoire of Dell Computers once said, "The customer experience is the next competitive battleground."

It was true when he said it in the ‘90s, and it's just as true today as customer expectations have only risen. And the attention that was devoted to supply-chain management back then should be directed to content supply management today. Because there are more ways than ever for your customers to interact with you. Which means more opportunities to succeed — or to burn the batch of chocolate.

In Achieving Deliciousness, we wrote about how consumers engage with content. They might be watching TV, working on their laptop, and browsing on their phone — all at the same time. And to them, this isn't a "multichannel" or "cross-channel" experience. It's life. It's normal. They expect a seamless experience all the time, and they don't care how hard it is for brands to deliver it. And this expectation isn't just from your customers — it's what your employees, colleagues, and partners expect, too.

When we asked small and medium-sized businesses to grade themselves on the quality of the customer experience they offer, 10 percent gave themselves a 10 out of 10. Looking at it another way, 90 percent of companies we asked don't think their customer experience is as good as it could be.

Why the customer experience matters.


Marketing researcher Craig Borowski put it well when he wrote in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article:

"A consumer's impression of a brand is like a mosaic. It's made up of many individual touchpoints. When a consumer is faced with a big decision, say abandoning a known brand for its competitor, the overall mosaic impression is often what convinces them to stay"

Your business has a lot of customer touchpoints to manage. And if these touchpoints don't present the overall picture your customers expect, they move on. So it's time for you to take a step back and audit the experience your team is creating, and how it's being delivered to your customers and employees. Is it relevant? Consistent? Personalized? Does it tie together, clarify, and enhance the story you want to be telling with your brand? If it doesn't, you're not using design as an advantage.

Watch IdealSpot discuss the importance of offering personal customer experiences ›


How you can shape that experience.


It's important to get a real pulse of what your customers think. Don't just guess or rely on whatever worked in the past. Lean on your marketing analyst and customer experience teams to share the data.

Mature design-led companies break down barriers between design and the customer experience. Their executives support connecting their data analysts and content creators to improve collaboration. When companies have a design focus that starts from the top, the chances of offering a top-notch customer experience increases.

Follow the recipe.

of SMB's we surveyed currently don’t have
a marketing content strategy in place.

One way or another, you need to create more content. The way to tackle this need is to have a plan. This may sound pretty basic, but according to our survey, 63 percent of small and medium businesses don't have a content strategy in place.

That's still a pretty high number considering the 72 percent who recognize that more content is needed today.

Why the recipe matters.


If you don't have a plan, it's much harder to prioritize. If your business is like ours, then requests are coming from every corner of the company. It doesn't take long before requests and project briefs far outnumber the hands you have to fill them. Designers, producers, and other creative team members can quickly find themselves mired in negotiations, explanations, and frustrations as they try to prioritize on the fly. Instead of a strategic approach to creating content, your operational model devolves into supporting the squeakiest wheels or requests from the highest paid person in the room. Neither is a strategy for success — and neither results in your business offering a "level 10" customer experience.

Offering that top-notch experience comes from long-term planning. Thinking strategically from one end of the sales funnel to the other. IDC put it another way, "Content marketing innovators are shifting their focus from content creation to planning the overall experience the audience will have as it interacts with the content." (IDC, The Content Marketing Supply Chain: Meeting the Demand for Content Marketing at Scale)


How you can create your own recipe.


Watch Ten Tips for Making Ideas Happen ›

Take a step back from the factory floor long enough to figure out where time and resources are best spent. If you are in that 63 percent that doesn't have a clear content strategy, it's time to make one.

If you already have a strategy in place, it should be reassessed often. In a presentation called Ten Tips for Making Ideas Happen, Adobe Behance founder Scott Belsky devoted these four tips to organizing and executing your work:

  1. Communicate your priorities.
    See that your team knows which projects deserve the most time and energy.
  2. Be proactive about the things you care about.
    Set aside time to work on one or two initiatives that interest you.
  3. Make the most out of your meetings.
    Make sure people leave meetings with specific assignments to complete.
  4. Find out what's working and do it better.
    Know what's really working, and then improve it through constant analysis.

As your marketing teams are creating content strategies, make sure you have your creative team involved in the process early to ensure a design perspective is considered from the outset. Too often they're brought in after the brainstorming meeting is over.

Download the report Ten Tips for Making Ideas Happen ›

Crank the factory up to 11.


of SMB's we surveyed believe more content is needed this year than last.

Because customers are interacting with your brand on more channels, you have to design and create more content than ever before. And the pace is picking up. In our survey, 72 percent of the small and medium businesses we questioned indicated that more content is needed this year than last year.

It's easy to see why. Imagine that your business is a chocolate factory and each marketing channel is a potential doorway into it. Your customers have so many ways to enter — from your website, your retail store, your apps, your emails, or your brand pages on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. That's a lot of doorways. Your challenge is to use great design to tie the collective experience together. To make them consistent, relevant, and personalized. That takes a lot of work, countless design assets, and multiple versions.

You need to have the right teams in place to handle this load. In a large enterprise, you may have multiple teams creating content in silos. Organize your people, processes, and technology to allow collaboration, so content can easily be used in several channels.

Why maximum production matters.

It's simple — to keep up with the demand, you have to create more content. But if you're like a lot of businesses, your budget hasn't changed drastically, and neither has the size of your team. In other words, you need a way to make more content with the resources you already have.

You need to not only make more content, but of course, it also needs to be delicious. Your audience expects content that is authentic and engaging. The experience needs to be compelling, appealing, and seamless, picking up where the last channel left off.


How to crank up the factory.


To create the additional content with the resources you have today is going to come down to working — as the saying goes — smarter, not harder. Find ways to get more use out of the content you're currently creating. And efficiently share the content that already exists with other teams, rather than having to create the same content from scratch.

The best way for SMBs to do this is through content synchronization. Have all of your assets live in a cloud repository, so all designers and other content creators can access and use the same assets —such as brand guidelines, color swatches, and logos — from that central location. When an asset needs to change, your team knows where it is, permissions are set regarding who can change it, and the change is made universally.

The design team at Uber faced the challenges of growing fast and struggling to keep their brand tight and consistent. Watch this video to see how they were able to use tools that connected their designers and assets across the organization.

Read our report about creating change in your business ›

Increasing Production

Break silos and employ shortcuts that increase creative output.

The ingredients have come together, stirred into a thick pool of steaming chocolate. The contents are poured into a humming machine, pushing the chocolate mix through twisting pipes and churning belts. Production is now in full swing.


Speed up your conveyer belt.


Businesses know they need to create more content to present the experience their customers expect. Some have put a content marketing strategy in place. This is a good start, but it doesn't mean that other challenges have disappeared.

We asked the businesses we surveyed to rank their greatest challenges in creating great content. The most common responses were overall time commitment, budget, and staffing constraints, as well as the investment required to create content for various devices.

The challenge then becomes learning how to create more content for more channels and devices with the same time constraints, people, and budget resources that you have today.


Why the right tools and processes matter.


Even with a plan in place for design prioritization, you still need some help turning a to-do list into projects that you'll actually execute. Think about what's getting in your way.

We've already talked about collaboration issues. If your creative and marketing teams are not all working from the same set of assets in a single system, then you're likely wasting time hunting or recreating them.

For example, your creative team, web team, social media practitioners, and mobile team will all be working with the assets for a campaign. It doesn't take much for a campaign to become unwieldy as it crosses into different teams, channels, and geographically distanced offices.

And think about the approval process. Approvers need to be able to easily see — or even interact with — the right assets. They want to be able to share and approve whether they're at the office or on the go, so it helps to use mobile.

Watch more about Creative Cloud collaboration ›

How you can increase production.


See how Media24 inspired the hottest looks ›

Invest in tools that help you save time, steps, and any work that may be redundant. Take for instance, the experience of global publisher Media24. By storing their style guides centrally, their creative teams had easy access to graphics, fonts, and other elements — saving production time. Read Media24's full story.

The use of mobile is another way to collaborate and create more efficiently. Open and share assets at any time — in a client meeting or on the road — not just when you're sitting at your desk. Similarly, mobile flexibility allows approvals to happen when you are separated from your team by time and distance. Think of the hours, and even days, that can be saved when an approval process goes mobile. For a great example of this, watch how global communication group Havas keeps their designers connected and their creative work consistent.

Using the right tools and technology will save time. Each instance will seem like small savings — seconds here, minutes there — but when you add them all up, you've given your designers more hours, days, and weeks to create additional content and experiment with new channels.

Your chocolate is great. Now add more varieties.

Small and medium businesses we surveyed said they want to spend more of their time making new content.

would make social media posts
would spend time making an app
would create short videos or interactive demos

As consumers engage with you in more ways and more places than ever before, you want to create the content that you need, for every device and every channel. Based on our survey, enterprises know what types of additional creative they'd like to produce. But few are able to diversify — and many feel bogged down in longer tenured channels like email and newsletters.

For instance, 66 percent of SMB respondents would like to invest more time in creating social media posts. Fifty percent would like to spend time making a maturity app. Forty-eight percent would like to create more short videos or interactive demos. The bottom line is this -- the majority of businesses are not making the kind of content they want to create.

Why content variety matters.

We gave the example earlier of entrances into your chocolate factory. But if you're unable to create diverse and new kinds of content, you're nailing those doors shut. Customers will find the experience they want somewhere else, so it's crucial to invest in multiple channels and add new ones.


How you can create more content variety.


By creating and sticking to a content plan, and streamlining your workflows, you'll create the time you need to experiment with new and diverse types of content. What worked last year, last quarter, or last week may not be what works today.

As you design and create new content — whether it's a new app, a new website layout, or something completely different — it's important to know when a change is working. Testing your designs can help you find out. Solutions that allow you to A/B and multivariate test in fast and efficient ways can help you determine which designs your customers respond to — so you can make the best decisions.

As a small business, you likely recruit outside agencies and contractors to design and create content. Asset repositories, mobile routing, and approvals will reduce the churn between you and your third parties by giving them access to your assets, style guide, fonts, and other templates that you can alter and sync for them. This collaboration allows you to increase the volume and variety of designs as well as the channels that you choose to work with.

Keep the factory up and running.

of SMB's we surveyed are slowed down by version control issues.

Businesses lose a lot of time recreating content that could otherwise be repurposed. Additionally, as more people contribute to a project with extra eyes, hands, and opinions, the more you're at risk for version control nightmares. In fact, 56 percent of those we surveyed said that asset version control is a factor in slowing the content creation process. If most companies struggle with version control now, imagine what it will be like when more content is needed for even more channels.


Why organization matters.


Data from our survey shows that companies that rate themselves as a "10" in the customer experiences they offer, spend twice as much time managing their creative assets as everyone else. Being organized actually opens up more opportunity for creativity. As you design for more channels, the importance of organizing assets grows as well.

Organizing assets and storing them centrally can definitely be a time-consuming investment, but it keeps businesses from churning on low-impact content, or duplicating work that's already done.

How you can operate more efficiently.


Creativity is the name of the Game at FOX sports ›

Clean up your workflows. Have a plan for how you'll organize, share, and use assets between teams and individuals across your company.

Take for instance, FOX Sports. As a large, global media company, they are constantly creating content that has common elements — scores for an afternoon slate of games, for example. The template for a box score may be the same, but they need to swap out logos and other elements for each new instance. They use libraries as a place to store style guides, typographic information, color palettes, and consistent user interface elements on their websites and apps. As their creative team in one office is making changes, an office on the other side of the United States can see the changes in real time using the common elements.

Watch our video for more details on the way FOX Sports completely transformed their workflows.

New Flavors

Understand and create content for mobile and other new channels.

From milk to dark, or white to fudge, chocolate already comes in a lot of varieties. But, pair it with other ingredients and it becomes supreme and sublime: peanut butter, salted caramel, coconut, and pistachio. And just when you think you've tasted it all, a new combo comes around — chocolate and potato chip, or bacon, or Parmesan — and it reinvents the classic all over again.


Mobile is the bon-bon du jour.

of SMB's we surveyed say they’ll produce more mobile app content next year than they will have this year.

According to a recent study, 90 percent of people's mobile time is spent in mobile apps. The businesses we surveyed recognize that mobile is a strategically important channel. When we asked which channels they wanted to create more content for, 76 percent responded with mobile apps. Similarly, when we asked what channels will they create more content for in 2016 than 2015, 71 percent said they would create more mobile apps.

Now here's where things get interesting. When we asked what channels bring the most value, only 38 percent said mobile apps are showing value. So there's a clear gap between knowing that you need to invest in mobile and the ROI you can expect in the short term.


Why mobile matters.


Businesses want to create more mobile experiences, but they're struggling to design them in an effective way. The lack of value that SMBs are seeing from mobile apps has made them cautious about investing in design resources for apps.

Much of the challenge resides in the format. With so many different screens and surfaces, mobile apps, mobile websites, and operating systems, the task of building content for mobile can be overwhelming for your team. But, these are the challenges that successful mobile marketing businesses are learning to solve.

How you can improve your mobile content.


One obvious way to produce more mobile app content is to make it easier for your designers to create. You need to provide tools that allow them to quickly prototype experiences for different screen sizes and devices. Prototyping is important because it takes the mobile concept from brainstorming and sticky notes on the white board into reality. Onto a real device. And into a hand. Good prototyping tools will give you a sense of how a mobile app works and feels on different device types.

There are also tools available that help designers actually publish mobile apps — beyond simply prototyping. Give them the capability to build mobile apps, and even manage and improve them after launch. Putting this ability into the hands of marketing and creative teams helps to break down the silos that slow the production of mobile app content.

Your investment in mobile is not just in creation tools, but also analytics and testing solutions as well. Ask your marketing analytics manager to help you bake testing into your content strategy.

See how Audi's website and mobile app drive more business ›


Try serving chocolate in new ways.

of SMBs are making content for wearables today.

Mobile is not the only new channel that’s growing. There are even newer opportunities like wearables, the Internet of things, and the growth of “gamification” (that is, incorporating games into the customer experience). Currently 6% of SMBs produce content for wearables. In the next 3 years, 24% of SMBs will produce content for wearables (this is a +18% increase). Meanwhile, content created for desktops will drop 10 percent in the next three years.


Why trying new varieties matters.


Desktop content is decreasing, but not going away. The other side of that coin shows that new content types are being added. You need to have the tools in place — so your team can efficiently create content for multiple channels as well as the ability to experiment with new forms of media.

How to serve the new varieties.


Don't spend time resizing and reformatting the same file over and over. Invest in tools that help you create, share, and publish cross-device content in an efficient way.

Also, be open to the newest and seemingly insignificant opportunities. Tomorrow they may blow up, and you'll find yourself behind the curve. Companies that barely got around to Facebook and Twitter now find themselves playing catch up with Instagram and Snapchat. So, you need to budget a certain percentage of production time and resources to continuously test content for new media and channels.

And then there are games. Pokémon GO made quite the splash. Now businesses are thinking about creating their own augmented reality games. That's fine, but now they'll look like a copycat instead of an innovator.

The bottom line is you need to take care of your fundamental needs — but do it faster and more efficiently. And then keep experimenting. Try new channels. And explore new strategies in existing channels. Customers remember ingenuity. They expect the companies they use to innovate — or they quickly leave them behind.



Amazing chocolate keeps them coming back.

Let's finish where we started — with a design-led customer experience. Customers aren't concerned with the difficulty or expertise that it takes to present them with an amazing experience. They just want the amazing experience.

To give them that kind of experience requires being consistent and organized in all of your channels. To do that, you need a content marketing strategy. This strategy will help design and creative teams prioritize the work that comes to them, and allow them time to budget for innovation.

This strategy should also include an investment in tools and systems that will help teams design and collaborate more efficiently. In particular, they'll have the time to experiment, and understand new and growing opportunities like mobile, wearables, and games.

Your content marketing strategy and efficient workflows can bring your factory into the mobile age and create amazing customer experiences that will make your chocolate the kind people line up to consume.

If you've found these insights useful, we can keep the conversation going.

Let's connect
Turn design into your competitive advantage ›