How much time do you waste searching for things on your server, or chasing team members for files they’ve stashed on their desktop or own devices? And do you ever struggle to know which version to use, as there are more than one?
These are just a handful of the issues that can come up when you’re an organization which creates, shares and stores digital assets. While it may not be too much of an issue when you’re just starting out in business, as the team grows and your bank of assets also grows, these problems will only increase. For larger companies, who have thousands of assets to manage, finding an effective solution is vital.
Add content marketing into the mix and suddenly the volume of digital assets will soar even more quickly – and they aren’t called ‘assets’ for nothing, we’re talking about all the things you need for your business to be successful.
So, what’s the best way to store and manage them?
Digital Asset Management
Digital assets is a term that can be used to describe everything from documents, to images, graphics, presentations, PDF files, video clips, audio files and anything in between. In the beginning, most companies will give little thought to how they are going to manage these things, the result being that files end up being saved in a number of different ways, and with no real plan in place for what will happen over time.
Often assets will be stored on a server, using applications such as Dropbox or Google Drive, or rely on third party task management software. But inconsistencies can easily start to creep in, if there’s no overarching system.
For any company, but especially one that uses content marketing, having an efficient, central place to store and retrieve assets is essential – and that’s where Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions come in.
What is a DAM solution?
DAM software is basically a form of digital library that provides a central place in the cloud for storing digital assets. However, far from being simply a place to save things, a great DAM system will offer much, much more.
The Content Marketing Institute sums it up neatly as“…a DAM helps you reach more customers, on more platforms, with more targeted content, so that you can be more effective at making sales.”
As this type of system is cloud based, it means it can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. Another benefit is that it makes finding and distributing files really easy. The software will automatically categorize and tag files based on all sorts of information. This removes a lot of the manual labor traditionally involved in searching for something you need, or messing about sending large files.
Another advantage is that customers and stakeholders can be invited to use your DAM, encouraging a consistent brand feel, but with you retaining control over which assets they see and when.
Why use one?
A DAM solution can greatly benefit any company and for organizations that have reached a certain size, it could prove invaluable. However, one issue is that they can be quite pricey, which means they’re often out of the reach of start-ups and smaller companies.
The main advantages of such a system are that they are easy to use, can support your workflows and will help save you time. Other reasons you may choose to use one, including:
- Knowing which file to use – it’s very easy to accidentally use the wrong version of a file if there are multiple options to choose from. Depending on the situation that could have potentially serious consequences. Being 100% confident you have the latest version is important and having to double check will only waste time.
- Preserving metadata and keeping it up to date – this is a critical part of DAM, as it’s how your assets can be organized, categorized and found. It is data that gives information about other data and it’s what will allow you to search and find what you need quickly and easily.
- Knowing what you’ve got – if you don’t know what you’ve got then how can you make the most of it and spot other opportunities? You need to know what content exists and where to find it, especially as your content library continues to grow. Without a system, it will become increasingly difficult to take an overview, the more content you create.
- Keeping names uniform – if there is no naming system in place, then everyone will end up using different styles of names, which only adds to the difficulty when you’re trying to find anything.
Support for marketing teams
A great DAM solution will also have many benefits that will specifically help a marketing team and its associated activity.
- Content marketing – it will support all stages of the content marketing process, from the creation of content, through to its management, storage and distribution. It will also work alongside existing marketing automation software and bring together all the elements you need to create effective workflows.
- Distribution – you can use it to automatically serve up content in different formats for different channels and it will make planning content alongside your buyer personas far easier, helping you increase your volume – and fast!
- Version control – The final version of any asset will be easily accessible, which makes creative collaboration very easy, while allowing you to see who has updated it and maintaining security so nothing is ever lost.
- Branding changes – and here’s a biggie. What would happen if you decided to make a change, for example to your company logo, web address or Twitter handle? In the past, this would have been a major headache for marketing but with DAM software you’re able to pinpoint all the locations the asset is being used and to automatically update it.
Choosing a DAM solution
Before choosing which solution is going to be best for your business, it is always wise to start with an assessment of your current assets and processes. Here are some key questions to think about:
- What do you want to achieve by using a DAM?
- What type of assets do you currently have?
- Where are they held?
- Who has access to them?
- Who controls this access?
- How are they cataloged?
- How sensitive are the assets?
Next, you need to work out how you will use it:
- Who will be involved with the assets?
- What will the processes be?
- How will you manage the metadata?
- How will the tools work with new and existing workflows?
There are many solutions out there, with some of the most popular being Canto, CELUM and WebDAM. Check out this blog by Capterra for a full run down, including a handy search function to help you refine the list based on your individual requirements.
Most solutions will offer a free trial and it’s also worth asking around in your peer group for recommendations too. Ensure any solution you choose will work alongside your existing marketing automation software before you commit yourself to anything.
In the meantime, see what you can do to start improving and streamlining your current processes. Here are some top tips to get you started:
- Spend some time thinking about the assets you hold and figuring out what the best process is going to be for your organization
- Develop a naming convention that everyone is required to use
- Make one person responsible for checking and chasing everyone up to ensure they stick to the plan (including how you name, catalog and tag your assets)
- Have a plan for version control, so there are never any issues with the wrong one being used
- Consider taking it one step further and having a ‘digital librarian’ in charge of managing all your assets
- Think about the future and what task management system could help you in achieving your company goals
There are so many reasons that DAM solutions are a hot topic right now in content marketing circles and when you consider the benefits it’s easy to see why. From aiding creative collaboration, to providing a clear content review and approval process, promoting positive brand management, helping with version control and taking the hassle out of major brand changes…the list goes on.
But even if you can’t afford an all-singing-all-dancing solution right now, it’s always a good idea to have a plan and there are steps you can take to improve what you’re doing now. Think about your current processes and what needs to happen as your digital asset bank grows. Make it clear how assets are to be dealt with and make sure everyone is aware of it and fully engaged. Then forge a new level of best practice that will benefit the whole organization.