By Jill Talvensaari published April 28, 2016

The DAM Truth: All You Need to Know About Digital Asset Management

digital-asset-management

When it comes to storing and sharing creative assets, does your organization use Dropbox or Box accounts? Google Drives or Sky Drives? Adobe Creative Cloud accounts, back-up hard drives, or file-sharing systems? Or some combination of these options?

When you hear about digital asset management (DAM) systems, do you think, “With all our media storage options, why would we ever need a DAM?”

If you produce volumes of marketing content and deliver it to different audiences across different channels, it’s worth finding out why. While DAMs offer the same benefits as cloud-based and other sharing and storage services, the best DAMs deliver much more.

What is a DAM?

A digital asset management system is a centralized repository in which organizations can efficiently store, organize, manage, access, and distribute large numbers of digital assets such as images, graphics, layouts, PDF files, documents, web pages, video clips, social media posts, and audio files.

How does a DAM enable effective content marketing?

A robust DAM offers benefits that span the content life cycle – from creation to management to distribution to storage – so it can help your organization master the challenges of modern content marketing.

A DAM acts as a single source of truth for your marketing organization. It brings together people, processes, and data to make many essential content marketing workflows – including creative collaboration, content review and approval, brand management, version control, and license management – more streamlined and efficient.

A DAM system acts as a single source of truth for your marketing organization says @MoxieMktg Click To Tweet

By allowing your team to create content once and then customize it for delivery across multiple media channels, a DAM helps you reach more customers on more platforms with more targeted content so that you can be more effective at making sales.

And the best DAMs can interface with your existing marketing automation solutions to provide a single view into all of your marketing data, analytics, and resources.

Benefits of a DAM

Here are some of the key benefits of DAM solutions for content marketers:

  • By making internal processes more efficient and enhancing team collaboration, a DAM frees staff to spend more time on the core creative work that brings in revenue.
  • By making it easy for team members to access the digital assets they need, a DAM speeds review, approval, and delivery of final files to get content to market faster, giving you an edge over your competition.
  • By offering permissions-based access to digital content as well as digital rights-management controls, a DAM helps avoid common problems such as publication of outdated, off-brand, or unlicensed creative assets. This helps improve the quality of your brand communication to protect brand investments and even mitigate business risk.
  • By giving authorized users quick, easy access to the files anytime, anywhere, a DAM eliminates time-intensive, costly file searches and recreation of missing assets.
  • A DAM eliminates the need for staff to post and deliver files to multiple locations. In addition, it eliminates the costly errors and inefficiencies caused by different versions of the same file in multiple places.
  • A DAM can be integrated with your marketing resource management (MRM), product information management (PIM), content management system (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM), or other marketing automation solutions. It acts as a single source of truth that helps you better manage projects, allocate resources, personalize and target content, and understand which assets are performing best across different channels.
  • A DAM makes it significantly faster and easier to repurpose content across devices and platforms, opening up possibilities for new revenue streams. For example, some agencies make asset distribution a profit center by charging for every upload or download.
  • Agencies can use a DAM to create secure, private web-portal sites customized for individual clients, partners, or teams.
  • A DAM can help the sales team centralize proposals so that the entire team can easily review and collaborate. Efficient digital asset management also can be a value-added service that can help win business.
  • The best DAMs also track the traffic for timely reporting and, if applicable, client billing.

Calculating the ROI

While DAM solutions have a wealth of benefits for content marketers, there’s no denying that DAM represents a substantial investment. First, there are the software licensing fees. (Contrary to popular belief, most open-source DAM solutions have licensing fees, too.) Second, DAM solutions include other up-front expenses for things like storage servers, staff training, and IT support.

Given the expense, your DAM solution needs to deliver maximum ROI. But if you’re part of a large organization that creates, manages, delivers, and archives many thousands of digital assets every year, the ROI of a DAM can be significant.

To find out the return for your organization, use this DAM ROI calculator. Plug in these estimates to get an idea of your total annual return:

  • Number of assets you create and duplicate, with associated costs
  • Time you spend searching for assets, with associated costs
  • Number of assets you distribute, with associated costs
  • Additional work and revenue streams you could gain, with associated revenues

Top 10 questions to ask before you adopt a DAM

Now that you have calculated your potential DAM ROI, here are some important questions to answer before you consult with solution vendors or systems integrators about adopting a DAM.

  1. Overall requirements – What types of file formats must it support, what volume of content does it need to handle, and what types of capabilities must it have (security features, job tracking, remote proofing, etc.)?
  1. Integration – How will the DAM integrate with the software tools and workflow solutions already in place so that you can make the most of your existing IT investments? Can it interface with your marketing resource management, product information management, content management, or customer relationship management systems to provide a single view into all your data, projects, and marketing campaign results?
  1. Hardware and network infrastructure – Are your hardware platform and network infrastructure robust enough to handle the DAM software and data transfer needs? If not, what will upgrades cost?
  1. Disaster recovery – How will you ensure the security of your digital assets in the event of a system failure or another catastrophic event?
  1. User licensing and privileges – How many people will use the system and what access do you want to permit? What types of user authentication will be required? Do you want your system to offer a variety of access levels for granting and restricting access to file formats, delivery methods, groups of assets, and administrative functionality?
  1. Vendor selection – Who will be the key stakeholders in charge of the vendor selection process? How will they manage vendor consultations and the RFP process?
  1. Implementation management – Which stakeholders will manage the system implementation with the vendor from start to finish? How will the stakeholders work together?
  1. Internal adoption – How will you avoid resistance to adoption and get your whole organization on board with using the software?
  1. Training – What’s your plan? How can you ensure that key employees are thoroughly trained on the software so you always have experts on staff, not just on call?
  1. Support requirements –Do you need phone support vs. email support? What’s your expectation for response times and escalation processes?

Conclusion

Acquiring a DAM system requires significant up-front work to ensure that it meets your brand’s needs – from your volume of content and existing internal programs to your implementation requirements and ongoing support. However, it’s worth the effort because a DAM can make a significant impact on your content investment. For additional guidance in preparing to adopt a DAM, download Essential DAM Implementation: A New Project Guide and Toolkit by Lauren Philson.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Editor’s note: IO Integration is a Content Marketing Institute benefactor, which is a paid supporter of our website and content creation activities.

Author: Jill Talvensaari

Jill Talvensaari is marketing vice president at IO Integration, a leading marketing technology provider that helps the world’s top brands automate and personalize customer experiences. She lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Silicon Valley with her family, two dogs and two cats. Jill holds degrees in Econometrics and Cognitive Science from UCSD, and an MBA from Seattle University. Follow Jill on Twitter @moxiemktg.

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  • jshemenski

    We introduced a DAM at Harvard Medical School this past year and it has increased our visual storytelling capabilities 10-fold. I’m a huge advocate for them and feel they’re often overlooked. Thanks for the post and keeping this on people’s minds.

    • IO Integration

      I can only imagine how much this has improved your ability to find the right image at the right moment. Thanks for sharing a real world example of intangible value, like storytelling and content abilities increasing exponentially, that DAM brings to an organization like yours!