Adobe : How Cru brought its global marketing under a single umbrella

How Cru brought its global marketing under one umbrella

With over 19,000 employees working in nearly 200 countries, Cru is one of the largest and most complex umbrella organizations in the world. Its hugely popular campaigns and programs range from the annual NFL Superbowl Breakfast, to global initiatives such as FamilyLife Seminars, to student campus events.

This is a transformative time for Cru. More than 70 years after its founding, the organization is rethinking its approach to digital marketing by using Adobe to speak to its global audience in a more consistent and personal way. With Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager, Cru unites digital marketing and websites under one umbrella, while improving audience data privacy and security.

“We use many pathways to reach people, from our conferences around the world to the Ministry of Active Athletes,” says John Wilcox, Cru Marketing Operations Team Leader. “It was impossible to achieve consistency in all of these activities prior to working with Adobe, and while we still have Work to do the benefits of unifying our marketing on one undeniable platform.”

Bring clarity to complex landscapes

Cru began its digital transformation in 2014. Its teams on the ground still run local campaigns and initiatives in silos at the time and use software like Excel and MailChimp to send out marketing emails. While these programs cater to Cru’s basic needs, the teams had no way of tracking their performance or improving engagement, let alone delivering a consistent look and feel for the brand.

Adding to the sense of urgency was Wilcox’s desire to improve governance and privacy across Cru customer data. With its users increasingly preferring digital channels, whether it’s via email to its old members or SMS and social platforms to students, Cru needed to consolidate its data into a single platform for greater control and transparency.

Complicating matters further is the fact that Cru operates under different names around the world. On top of striving for consistency between marketing campaigns, the organization needed to redesign its website so that in-country teams could create consistent versions tailored to their audience.

“Looking back at our marketing in 2014, the show was full of silos and complexity,” Wilcox says. “We’ve grown and reached more people than ever before, but we needed to clarify our approach. That’s where Adobe comes in.”

Building a strong and consistent brand

Cru was an early adopter of Adobe’s campaign when it implemented the solution in 2016, building on its previous investment in Adobe Experience Manager. Three years later, Wilcox and his team have seen a gradual change in the volume and quality of messages Cru sends to his worldwide audiences.

From half a million marketing emails in 2016, Cru now sends between 5 and 8 million emails to its customers and prospects each month. Equally important to Wilcox, the opening and delivery rates of marketing emails rose across the organization, resulting in more donations.

Crucially, Adobe Campaign Cru helps drive successful re-engagement campaigns, a key pillar of its commitment to building long-term connections with customers. One 2021 email campaign achieved a 14 percent re-engagement rate, inspiring 42,000 people to reconnect with the brand after more than six months of inactivity.

Today Cru’s focus is on simplifying and integrating campaigns across teams to ensure relevance and avoid redundant messaging. By measuring how many emails and SMS customers receive each month and tracking whether they receive the same information multiple times, the Wilcox team can better coordinate their campaigns.

“Excessive messaging can really hurt a brand, but it’s a common problem when you have multiple teams trying to reach the same audience,” Wilcox says. “The Adobe campaign helps us dismantle our marketing silos so that we avoid stepping on each other’s toes and compromising the quality of our customers’ experience.”

In parallel, Cru uses Adobe Experience Manager sites to build its global and regional sites. Cru has created nearly 100 websites on Adobe, generating nearly 3 million pageviews per month, and more local teams are set to migrate sites to Adobe Experience Manager soon.

For Adobe Experience Manager product manager Alex Bateman, the holy grail is moving every Cru website to the cloud, with Adobe Experience Manager as the central foundation that ties them all together. He and his team are now implementing Adobe Experience Manager Cloud Service to bring this vision to life.

“This transition will not happen overnight as we encourage each team to migrate at their own pace, but I am confident this is just the beginning of a long and productive journey on the cloud,” says Pittman.

A data-driven future

Wilcox and Bateman agree that Cru’s next step is to drive more data-driven decision making and customer experiences. Drawing on information from Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager, Cru marketers will gain deeper insight into customers that will help them modernize their approach and reach audiences in an increasingly targeted manner.

Cru also distances itself from personalization based on third-party cookies, a practice that is on the verge of extinction and offers only superficial levels of customer visibility. Instead, it promotes more friendly data value sharing that inspires visitors to create Cru profiles and willingly share their information, in exchange for experiences that provide real value.

“Our target audience has matured, their needs have matured, and our approach to marketing has matured in response to these changes,” Wilcox says. “The best of all is that our teams are past the early adoption phase of our new Adobe solutions and are beginning to explore our investment to its full potential.”


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