Many companies producing great content at a consistent pace soon face a predicament — they have so much content that they:
- Don’t know or remember everything they have
- Can’t track down content assets efficiently
- Struggle to collaborate with others involved in the process
- Aren’t leveraging existing content for reuse
Enter digital asset management (DAM), one of the hottest subjects in content marketing this year. Digital asset management is all about how you manage your broad portfolio of content assets — from the way assets are annotated, cataloged, and stored to methods of retrieval and distribution. DAM technology solutions automate many aspects of the process, meaning your team can use and reuse content more efficiently, while minimizing errors and inconsistency.
Don’t mistake it, however, for a simply super-organized filing system. Set up properly, a DAM tool is less like a card catalog and more like a dynamic storage and delivery system.A DAM tool is less a card catalog & more a dynamic storage & delivery system says @cmcphillips Click To Tweet
For many, DAM entails a mix of free and low-cost options (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive, and Excel) pieced together into a makeshift solution. Once you’ve reached a certain scale, however, an enterprise-worthy system is needed — both for continued growth and increased efficiency.
The DAM Truth: All You Need to Know About Digital Asset Management
Making the case for DAM software
DAM software offers much more than storage; it automates tagging, storage, and retrieval, meaning that when team members and clients request articles, images, logos, and other pieces of content, the software saves time by removing much of the manual, hunt-until-you-stumble-upon-it efforts. For example, your solution can automatically tag your content by year, topic, event, and content type (white paper vs. blog post, visual storytelling vs. analytics) based on the taxonomy and systems your company puts into place.
Finding a particular asset or collection of assets by date, type, or topic (or some combination) takes seconds. And because DAM tools impose a system on your asset-storage methods, it forces each member of your team to fall into line (once they see how efficiently DAM technology works, they’ll be willing accomplices).
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It’s important to realize, however, that using a DAM technology isn’t as simple as buying the software and running out of the starting gate. Using DAM means you’ve committed to organizing and tagging your content in a predictable, consistent way. As Jake Athey, director of marketing at Widen, explains, “At the rate marketers are creating content today, many organizations have a Big Content problem. They need a central source to not just manage all that content, but also a system that will automatically serve up content to each channel, device and user.”Organizations need systems that automatically serve #content to each channel, device & user says @jakeathey Click To Tweet
Making your company’s content available to your organization (not just the marketing or editorial departments) increases brand visibility and consistency. All of those five-minute interruptions (e.g., “Is this the latest artwork for the event in October?”) are avoided. Plus, the software allows you to see how each asset is being used and by whom.
DAM software also offers much-needed consistency. What if your company is going through a rebranding and a logo change? DAM software pinpoints all of the locations across your website, email, editorial, sales, PR, and media (among others) where that asset is used and automatically updates it. A few years ago, Content Marketing Institute founder, Joe Pulizzi, changed his Twitter handle. Oh, the time we could have saved by using a DAM tool to hunt down all the spots where the old handle was used.
DAM solutions make your content more accessible for curation and reuse. For organizations with vast libraries of content, DAM technology can surface existing, evergreen content to be repurposed into something else.
Finally, DAM software helps with the less visible but critically important area of protecting your content assets in the event of a technology failure or data loss. It also lets you archive outdated content, preventing it from being used while keeping it visible as a reference to those with access.DAM software protects your #content assets in the event of a technology failure or data loss says @cmcphillips Click To Tweet
Not only do these changes make for more efficient processes and fewer headaches internally, they also offer a keener view of the customer journey. You can combine the data from multiple points (e.g., social, website) to better identify patterns across all content types and be proactive about future content development and delivery.
The Content Marketing Book of Answers: Managing Your Content
Before choosing a DAM solution
Make sure your team is committed to using metadata. Metadata is data about your content that describes what it is (think: categories and tags in blog posts). Content marketers use metadata to make content more easily discovered by your target audience and, in the case of DAM, help create connected content collections and identify future content needs.
Locate your allies and influencers. Investing in DAM is about much more than buying the technology; it also requires a commitment to modular and adaptable content. Athey says three key people will help push your DAM initiative forward:
- Internal marketing influencer – Whether it is your chief marketing officer or head of content, you need someone who is ultimately responsible for the success of digital asset management.
- Change agent – This is the person on the ground, pushing the process forward. This person may be a designer or other creative responsible for visual assets or a member of your content team. Larger organizations may even opt for a consultant to push the process forward.
- Marketing technologist – This individual sees the big picture of what systems and processes you need to support customer experience, because DAM is just one piece of the puzzle.
Consider a digital librarian. Few organizations have a digital librarian on staff, but Athey believes the role will become more common as digital transformation takes hold and content libraries become more vast and complex.
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DAM technology trigger events
Companies tend to invest in digital-asset-management solutions when they face one of these triggers:
- Rebranding – Updating all of your identity materials and related assets is a massive headache during a rebrand. With a DAM tool, something like a logo change automatically cascades those revisions through all content assets that use the old logo.
- Merger/acquisition – If it’s true content marketing is an asset, a merger or acquisition is the perfect time to get a handle on what you have, as well as determine how you’ll leverage existing assets into new projects.
- Leadership change – Investing in a DAM tool usually comes after a company has committed to structured content, a transformation that often comes about with a change in leadership.
- Digital transformation – As organizations embrace digital as a source of innovation and growth, adopting a DAM strategy is a critical step.
DAM inside a high-capacity content team
For an organization like St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which relies heavily on user-generated content, having a system to collect, categorize, and tag images; track image usage; and measure the engagement and conversions of each piece of content is imperative to its mission.
St. Baldrick’s Foundation started in 1999 when a group of friends shaved their heads in solidarity with children who had lost their hair in chemo treatments, and in doing so raised money to fight childhood cancer. In 2015, the organization raised almost $37 million through a fundraising model based on head-shaving events all over the country.
These events generate tens of thousands of photos each year — assets the St. Baldrick’s marketing team can repurpose for digital and print messaging.
“We love using volunteer images from events because it gets people excited when they see themselves up on our Facebook page,” explains Kathleen Ruddy, chief executive officer of St. Baldrick’s Foundation. She says that in the past, some participants emailed their photos, others sent a link to Dropbox, and still others posted directly to sites like Flickr.
St. Baldrick’s needed a way to streamline its UGC with a simple upload process sent to all event organizers. Its tool helps filter photos by location, date, and, where appropriate, content topic. Plus, it has a robust permissions feature to ensure that photos are stored securely.
“We have no shortage of stories to tell or information to share. Now we’re honing in on best practices and building a foundation that’s ready for the future,” Ruddy says.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute