Business challenge

Images can make or break a marketing campaign—and finding the best can be a time-consuming process. How can digital agencies like Look Listen speed up the process and make time for value-added work?


Look Listen is enhancing its IBM® Watson® Marketing solutions by integrating them with Shutterstock’s image library—helping marketers to find the optimal images for their campaigns in minutes.



access to millions of high-quality images, videos, music tracks and cinemagraphs


marketers to rapidly find creative content for engagement-driving campaigns

Up to 10%

monthly time-saving will help Look Listen deliver more value-added services

Business challenge story

Great images stand out

Look Listen—a leading digital agency with offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Denver, Colorado—knows that the battle for the customer’s attention is won or lost in seconds.

“As consumers, we’re bombarded by emails daily,” begins Donna Crafton Montgomery, Managing Director at Look Listen Denver. “On average, we see that people spend about two seconds looking at the contents of an email before they decide to engage with it or delete it. Compelling, relevant images play a key role in capturing people’s attention. Similarly, images that don’t resonate are one of the fastest ways to lose your audience.”

Because images matter, Look Listen aims to select the best for each of its campaigns. In the past, the company relied on time-consuming, manual processes to curate images—reducing the number of project hours available for other value-added activities.

“Sourcing images seems like a simple process on the surface, but it can consume significant time and resources,” comments Montgomery. “For example, if a client asked us to use images from their own library for a campaign, we’d first need to review the files to confirm they were suitable and met requirements such as licensing, resolution, size and aspect ratio. And because our clients were uploading files directly to our digital marketing platform, we also had to ensure the files were named and tagged according to industry best practices.”

If Look Listen discovered that a client’s images were unsuitable for use in digital campaigns, the company had to source images from third-party providers. In some cases, this unanticipated extra work required projects to be re-scoped.

“Every extra hour we spend on managing, reviewing and tagging images is an hour we can’t spend on setting up an additional marketing program or delving deeper into our campaign data for new insights,” Montgomery adds. “To solve the challenge, we wanted a faster and more cost-effective way to deploy high-quality, high-impact images in our digital campaigns.”

Our journey with IBM and Shutterstock is just beginning, and we’re confident the solution will give us the capabilities we need to deliver more personalized customer engagements.

Donna Crafton Montgomery, Managing Director, Look Listen Denver

Transformation story

Getting the visuals right—faster

To achieve its goals, Look Listen decided to enhance its IBM Watson Campaign Automation customer engagement platform with a solution powered by IBM Watson Content Hub and Shutterstock.

A cloud-based content management system (CMS), IBM Watson Content Hub enables businesses to automate time-consuming aspects of the content management process. The platform integrates seamlessly with Shutterstock, enabling marketers to use cognitive search to quickly find the optimal visuals for their campaigns from a library of millions of high-quality images.

“We’ve used IBM Watson Campaign Automation to drive our digital marketing processes for a number of years now, and we really appreciate the ease with which it enables us to create, deploy and measure the results of personalized campaigns,” says Montgomery. “When IBM told us about IBM Watson Content Hub and Shutterstock, we immediately recognized its potential to streamline our approach in curating images—a vital stage in the campaign design process.”

The combined IBM Watson Content Hub and Shutterstock offering will enable Look Listen to add professional stock images into its campaigns in minutes. Because the images are curated by Shutterstock and surfaced by IBM Watson, Look Listen can free its team from the burden of repetitive searching and tagging tasks.

Montgomery comments: “With IBM Watson Content Hub and Shutterstock, we know that we can support a comprehensive range of digital marketing requirements without the cost of engaging a third-party image provider or the lead time of sifting through the client’s own images. In fact, we also plan to enable our clients to search the Shutterstock library themselves, which will make it easier than ever to deliver campaigns with the look and feel they want.”

The IBM and Shutterstock offering includes support for animated cinemagraphs—enabling Look Listen to add a new dimension to its email campaigns.

“Whether or not we decide to use an animation in a campaign depends on a variety of factors, but on the whole we see that campaigns with cinemagraphs have significantly higher conversion rates than those without them. We plan to leverage Shutterstock’s wide collection of cinemegraphs to create eye-catching animated GIFs for our email campaigns and display the original video versions of the cinemegraphs on our campaign landing pages.”

Look Listen is currently demoing the solution, and plans to roll it out to select customers soon.

“We’re extremely excited to be one of the first digital agencies to explore the IBM and Shutterstock platform,” adds Montgomery. “We already have clients in mind who would be a perfect fit for the solution when it moves into production.”

Results story

Saving time, delivering results

With digital marketing expertise from IBM and a world-leading image library from Shutterstock, Look Listen is confident that it will free up even more time to focus on delivering value for its clients.

“At the moment, finding the right images for our campaigns can take up a significant portion of our project hours—but that’s all set to change,” says Montgomery. “We really like to push the boundaries in terms of our email campaigns, and with Shutterstock we know that we can pull in images that will look great across all of our templates: from hero images to thumbnails. Based on what we’ve seen so far, we think that the IBM and Shutterstock solution will help reduce our monthly workload by up to 10 percent. We can then leverage those extra hours to focus on strategic tasks and help our clients achieve their marketing goals.”

Look Listen also sees potential to integrate the IBM Watson Content Hub and Shutterstock platform into its programmatic marketing operations.

“We often run campaigns across multiple channels, including paid media such as display advertising,” explains Montgomery. “In the future, our IBM solutions will help us deliver consistent, omni-channel experiences. For example, we might start the campaign by sending a message to a segment of our audience in IBM Watson Campaign Automation. Depending on how those customers respond, a few days later we might decide to re-target people who read the message with a display ad.

“Using IBM Watson Content Hub and Shutterstock, we can ensure we’re showing those customers the same images they saw in the email, which will help to capture their attention, and hopefully encourage them to convert. Better still, when a customer clicks through we can take them to an IBM Watson Campaign Automation landing page that’s dynamically customized with the same images they’ve been seeing throughout the campaign—offering them a seamless, consistent experience across the entire journey.”

Looking to the future, Look Listen plans to harness artificial intelligence (AI) from IBM Watson to identify ways to make its campaigns even better.

“We think IBM Watson has the potential to reveal deeper insights into what drives people to interact with our campaigns and the enhancements we can make to ensure our messages resonate,” comments Montgomery. “Moving ahead, our aim is to use AI to build the clearest possible picture of our audience—and solutions like IBM Watson will play a vital role in that achieving that goal.”

She concludes: “The better we understand the audience for a campaign, the more effectively we can help our clients to tailor their outreach. Our journey with IBM and Shutterstock is just beginning, and we’re confident the solution will give us the capabilities we need to deliver more personalized customer engagements.”

Look Listen logo

Look Listen

With offices in Atlanta, Georgia, and Denver, Colorado, Look Listen is a leading digital agency with centers of excellence in marketing automation, performance media and brand experience. Servicing a range of industries including financial services, consumer technology, retail, and healthcare, Look Listen specializes in email strategy and development, digital media and custom and platform development.

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