by David Gorman
In our latest Opal Quarterly Showcase, I was thrilled to host a conversation with Angelic Crippen, a project manager for the creative and brand marketing teams at women’s clothing retailer INTERMIX. In an organization that relies on omnichannel marketing, Angelic and her teams use Opal to manage the planning, creation, and approval of content for web, email, social, and paid advertising.
Read on for our Q&A, with specific examples of how Angelic and her team have customized Opal to bring visibility, flexibility, and accountability to INTERMIX—saving 15-20 hours per week and increasing on-time campaign launches by 95%. (Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.)
Q: Thanks so much for joining us. Can you share a little about your role at INTERMIX and what you do there?
A: I’m the project manager for creative and brand marketing operations here at INTERMIX, and I’ve been with the company for about three and a half years. My team serves as the central hub for supporting cross-functional teams by aligning on the process and systems for all creative development of our content. We use Opal primarily for our omnichannel marketing and content management.
Q: Great! Why did you start using Opal in the first place? Can you tell us a little bit about the challenges you were facing?
A: When I started at INTERMIX, one of my first tasks was to connect with all the teams and talk through the challenges and roadblocks we were having cross-functionally. And there was consensus across the board that we needed to streamline our workflows and our approvals, and provide more visibility to all the channels. We didn’t have one source of truth. Instead, we used multiple systems, and that brought a lot of disconnects because there was so often missing or inaccurate information.
The way we approved and managed content was done in so many different ways that it became difficult to have accountability for changes. And because we work in such a fast-paced environment, it was difficult to get the leadership that was responsible for approvals in one place to look at content and meet our aggressive timelines. We came up with ad-hoc ways to make it work, but it was not the most effective.
So really, the disconnect in working cross-functionally was the biggest challenge at the time. We needed a tool that could bring these different areas together and give us the visibility, organization, and accountability that we needed.
Q: What’s the after state for you? How has Opal impacted those challenges and helped make the team more effective?
A: It’s completely night and day. When we first started using Opal, we sat down and mapped out our current workflow and married it to how we wanted the platform to look and act. It’s very streamlined and specific and clean-cut—there are no gray areas with how to get content into the system and get approvals.
Now we are able to give the teams exactly what they need, and everything is organized so that we can function in the way we need to function. Like the chat and activity functionality—that’s my go-to in all cases, because it’s just the facts about everything happening within a project, down to the time and date of when action is happening.
And Opal has the flexibility we needed in terms of customizing the labels and managing our projects and tiers of content in different ways. And we have the accountability we need in terms of approvals and visibility.
Q: Can you share an example of a challenge you used to encounter, that isn’t really happening anymore?
A: It was always difficult for senior leaders to connect with us when we needed to get something approved. And if I don’t have something approved, it impacts different teams later. When we hand off work late, then deadlines are late, and it causes all kinds of impacts.
Our leaders are constantly in meetings, and rarely at their desktops. So in order to get approvals, we would print out our content and creative and hang it up on the walls. We would wait outside of meetings and follow our leaders along to get them to look at and approve creative.
The mobile application for Opal truly helped, because they could do approvals in meetings or between meetings, and we’re not chasing them down the hallways with a bunch of paper. It’s streamlined the approval process by giving leaders the context they need to feel comfortable approving assets. And, of course, once we became remote due to covid, it’s been an absolute lifesaver.
Q: How do you approach having different teams working in Opal?
A: I’d guess we have about 40 percent of our teams working in Opal—editorial, copywriters, designers, site merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing ops, and the leadership team for approvals. We’re a very omnichannel-based company, so having everyone in the same platform and seeing the same creative at the right times has improved our ability to pivot, make updates, and make changes. It’s given that clear visibility for everyone to see, and has improved our ability to work cross-functionally.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve been able to achieve more impact for customers who interact with your brand across different channels?
A: Absolutely. One of the challenges we’ve faced, which many companies do, is making sure that messaging is consistent across channels and knowing what the content looks like holistically.
With Opal and its different views, we can see what content looks like for the week or for the month. Channel managers can make sure we’re using the right assets and consistent imagery and copy. Opal has been extremely helpful in that way.
Q: Do you find that your team uses Opal individually, or do you bring it up in team meetings for creative reviews and such?
A: Both ways. We incorporate Opal in everything we do. Now that we’re virtual, we can sit down with a team and go through shared content on the screen. And I tend to incorporate Opal links as a directive for everything. I get a lot of questions all day, and if someone asks, ‘hey, where is XYZ?’—instead of giving them the answer, I send them the Opal link and tell them which content slot to look at. I find that it helps people to use the platform more.
If we have a random request come in, we start by asking, “Is it in Opal?” We really view Opal as our one source of truth when building our content, so I try to incorporate it in everything I do. And other teams use it that way, too—for example, our web ops team will look into Opal to learn what’s happening that week.
Q: With so many different groups and teams working in Opal, how have you approached customization?
A: The customization part has been incredibly helpful. Since we designed our Opal workflows to align with how we work outside of the platform, it’s really helped keep the synergy between the two. We get momentum and the ability to execute by having those workflows synced.
And having such strong representation across teams working in Opal is critical. That’s the only way we can constantly be in connection with them while working on a piece of content. We know, for instance, if we’re working on an email and there are updates to the product flats, our merchandising team is in Opal and can see if an item is sold out and can take action on it. We’re working in real-time and taking action in real-time.
It’s hard to communicate like that via email, because a lot of that context will get lost. But in the Opal platform, when those messages are tied to a specific piece of content, we know exactly what’s being updated and changed.
Q: Any pro tips that you want to share with people who are a little newer to Opal?
A: Definitely utilize the chat and activity, which is my favorite function. It’s a saving grace, because not only can you watch what’s happening in real-time—there’s accountability because the dates and times are captured there. Even when conversations are happening outside of Opal on Slack or Zoom, I add those notes to the chat and activity log to keep my own record in one place.
Q: Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us! It was great to learn how you and your teams are putting Opal to use.
A: Of course, thanks for having me!