The Marketer's Guide to Digital Asset Management


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Monday, April 4, 2022

Digital asset management will help marketers get the most value from creative assets and ensure files can be searched easily.

Article 10 Minutes
The Marketer's Guide to Digital Asset Management

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer, and those in the industry know that they rely on a constant stream of creative assets being made for each and every campaign. With 74% of marketers admitting to using visuals in over 70% of their content, according to Venngage, it can be difficult to keep track of your media assets and know exactly where they are when you need to return to them.

This is where digital asset management (DAM) comes in. Read our comprehensive guide that covers DAM in depth for marketers and explores the following topics:

  1. What is digital asset management?
  2. How does DAM work?
  3. What are digital assets?
  4. 4 digital asset management benefits
  5. How digital asset management workflows can improve the creative process
  6. Creating a digital asset management strategy

What is digital asset management?

Digital asset management is both a business process and technology that creates a centralized system for organizing digital media assets.

In its simplest form, DAM is a secure resource and hub for collecting, storing and managing content. It helps businesses perform operations on data files in a structured way, helping teams access, edit and share files as and when they need.

So why is digital asset management important, and why should businesses invest in this type of software application?

By keeping everything in one place, DAM helps asset owners and other administrators ensure brand consistency, while also boosting their campaign productivity.

The digital media boom has created an influx of digital content over the years, including:

  • Images and graphics
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Audio files

With DAM software, you can organize everything in the right format, add textual information and streamline digital asset management workflows to ensure you’re getting the most out of your content.

It’s also important to understand the difference between digital asset management and content management. While both are systems that manage content, a content management system (CMS) is lacking in its media abilities. A CMS can technically store images, videos and audio, but searching, sharing and permission settings are limited.

A CMS is ideal for managing content on your website, but a DAM system can be used to manage content across your entire organization, with easy distribution across multiple channels.

How does DAM work?

A digital asset management system works by creating an accessible library function for users, while also making it easy to add and process metadata for media files. One of the biggest problems facing marketers today is the overwhelming amount of digital content being produced. Finding them again is a challenge, leading to a great deal of content wastage and files being recreated when they already exist.

A DAM system has easy searching facilities, done by metadata and tags, such as file name, author, creation date and more. Core process services are also available with DAM software, including manipulation, security and integration with other tools.

What are digital assets?

There are lots of different types of digital assets, from photos, videos and audio files right through to graphics, presentations and design files. In order to turn these seemingly everyday marketing elements into digital assets, they need to have three properties:

  • Be owned by the organization
  • Provide value to the company
  • Be searchable and discoverable

Once you’ve implemented a system that ensures your digital files go through this process automatically, you’ll find you have the basics of DAM in place. Then, you can fine tune aspects of it to provide value in a challenging environment and make the most of digital asset creation.

4 digital asset management benefits

The State of Digital Asset Management report, published by Demand Metric, reported that 51% of marketers waste time and money producing or recreating assets, and many of these files go unused because team members don’t know they exist or can’t find them.

By having a centralized – and standardized – way of organizing digital assets, you can save your business time and money.

There are many digital asset management benefits that can come from having the right software. Here are four of the main advantages that could transform your campaigns:

1. Better organization and collaboration

One of the main features of a digital asset management system is being able to add rich metadata, which helps marketers quickly search for specific files. On top of this, there’s also folder taxonomy to ensure proper classification and categorization of assets.

Taxonomy creates a hierarchical structure and uses controlled vocabulary to make the search process simple and seamless. By doing this, you can remove traditional silos, encourage collaboration between different teams and eliminate the doubling up of work.

2. DAM integrates well with other MarTech tools

While DAM and CMS are two very different systems, the good news is that together, both systems actually work in harmony to create consistent messaging for campaigns.

Learn more: The Modern Marketer's Guide to MarTech

3. Ensures better brand consistency

DAM software helps creatives and marketing teams keep track of the assets they create, and this is where the benefits go far beyond time and money savings. Keeping track of assets also builds consistency in your brand – this includes your brand identity and your brand messaging.

Demand Metric also found that over half of employees turn to Google to search for their own company’s logo. Not only is this a waste of time, but there’s no way to govern which logo versions are being used by team members.

4. Streamline digital management workflows

Marketers are under pressure to create more assets than ever before. Yet few brands have any streamlined processes in place to support marketers in content generation. With digital management workflows, teams can digitize and automate tasks that take up the most time. This is one of the features of a digital asset management system that makes it so valuable to time-poor, resource-stretched businesses. 

How digital asset management workflows can improve the creative process

From lack of transparency over assets to clunky processes that eat up creative thinking time, there are many ways that manual processes can hold marketers back. Research shows that creatives spend just 40% of their working day on creating or conceptualizing. The other 60% of their day is taken up by admin tasks, such as meetings, emails and lengthy review processes.

DAM workflows standardize the filing, naming and retrieval of assets, while automating non-creative tasks to make life easier, and unlock your team’s creative potential.

For instance, when a designer uploads a new image to the system, a digital asset management workflow can be programmed so files are automatically flagged for approval. Any rejected designs are sent back to the designer, without the need for time-consuming meetings or phone calls.

After assets are approved, the system can also save you time by adding relevant metadata and automatically storing it in the right place. This ensures that other team members can find these files easily in the future.

When choosing the right digital asset management software for your needs, consider automation for things like artwork approvals, task lists, reminders, task reassignment, team delegation and any features that can help you eliminate the need for manual processing.

Creating a digital asset management strategy

Setting up a DAM process flow can seem daunting, but breaking it down into individual steps will make it more manageable. Once you’ve established the system, all the digital files that are subsequently created can be transformed into digital assets efficiently. Then, you’ll have a digital asset library that is searchable for future campaigns, allowing you to find files to be reworked without any difficulty.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to set up an effective DAM strategy.

1. Audit your digital files

The first task to tackle when implementing a DAM strategy is to establish exactly what you’ve got. This means carrying out an audit of all your digital files to ascertain which ones will become useful creative and media assets once they’ve been organized and incorporated into the DAM system. To prevent them from languishing in a folder, unused, answer the following questions:

  • Where are these assets being stored at present?
  • Do you have any software in place to manage them?
  • Who is responsible for DAM?
  • Are employees aware these files exist?
  • Are the files labeled using metadata?

Make a note of all the answers to these questions and you’ll find that they change as you complete subsequent steps in the process. What you’ll probably discover as well is that you’re not starting from zero. Even if you don’t have the most efficient DAM system or elements of it could be automated, the chances are there’s some sort of process in place, no matter how rudimentary.

2. Establish objectives and create a plan

Now that you know what you’re working with, you can think about what you want to achieve and establish business objectives for your digital assets. With these in mind, start to create a plan for your DAM process flow that addresses gaps in your current system. Keep this manageable by considering the following:

  • What are the most immediate issues that need addressing and how could they be fixed?
  • What is a realistic timeline for achieving your objectives?
  • Who will have responsibility for carrying out these tasks?
  • What resources will they need to facilitate this role?

Make sure your plan is properly documented in a clear and concise manner and distributed to everyone involved. Ensure all parties know and understand their responsibilities to avoid delays or unnecessary overlaps affecting your efficiency. Reference your editorial and campaign calendars against your DAM implementation plan to ensure there’s nothing that will disrupt delivery.

3. Choose your DAM software and tools

Achieving the goal of establishing a DAM system that runs efficiently means using software and other tools to automate key processes. This will cut down on the labor required to carry out straightforward tasks such as naming, tagging and categorizing files so that they’re searchable. There are many options available, so it’s important to know how to choose a digital asset management system that works for your team. Some of the things to keep in mind when making a decision are:

  • How many team members will require access?
  • Does the software allow you to add more employee access accounts if your company grows?
  • Is the DAM software based in the cloud or on-premises? Discuss this with the IT department

4. Establish labeling conventions

The biggest shift in your team’s working behavior after implementing an effective DAM strategy will be from finding digital assets to searching for them. That’s because the former suggests a random approach to locating files, while the latter describes a systematic process with more guaranteed results.

In order to achieve this, you must establish labeling conventions to differentiate each and every file easily. This should include naming, tagging and categorizing in a way that the software can replicate so your DAM process is automated. Some of the elements that can inform your labeling include:

  • Name of the campaign
  • Type of asset
  • Date of creation
  • Serial number
  • Department the asset’s associated with
  • Product line

5. Roll out your DAM process

It’s vital that your entire team is on board with your new strategy in order for it to provide the most value. The benefits of an efficient DAM system will soon become clear, but it’s important to roll out the implementation in phases, ensuring everyone understands the changes and how to make the most of them. You should create documents to demonstrate the process and offer training to staff, as well as rectifying any issues that arise as you introduce the system to different departments.

For help on getting the most out of your DAM software and organizing assets in a way that’s easy for multiple users, read our latest guide: 6 Simple Ways to Organize Your Digital Assets

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