A comparison in functionality: DAM vs. other marketing technologies
In Part 1 of this series, we examined the cost considerations between the top digital asset management systems and other popular marketing technologies.
Now, we’d like to focus our attention on functionality — specifically how understanding the functionality of a DAM system, as well as other necessary marketing technologies, can be a springboard to more efficient, successful content marketing.
What we’ve found is that, typically, it’s not a “one or the other,” type of solution. Instead, it’s about finding the right DAM software that meets your needs, along with marketing technologies that round out your content marketing initiatives.
What we’ll also see is that by integrating all the right marketing applications, an organization can often SAVE money because they’re streamlining processes — making it possible for team members to focus on content creation and engagement (the good stuff), instead of getting stuck in redundant time-consuming tasks (the yucky stuff).
In this article, we’re not going to be talking about specific vendors. Instead, we’re going to stick with discussing functionality. For top-rated DAM and marketing technologies vendors, please refer to Part 1 of the series.
Common features of general marketing technologies
Let’s begin our discussion with marketing technologies that are not DAM-centric.
There are almost 2,000 vendors covering approximately 40 categories of marketing activities, projects and tasks. The following breakdown demonstrates some of the common functions, many of which you are probably familiar with. As you read on, ask yourself whether you’re currently using a solution that’s streamlining your process — that’s actually enjoyable to use — or if you’re working with a poor solution, or no solution at all …
Content and experience development
Technologies in this category help teams handle email and video marketing management. It also includes SEO tools and applications that assist with content marketing campaigns, customer experience management, and marketing automation.
Social relationships and community engagement
Under this segment, you’ll find social media engagement and profile management, phone call campaign management, social listening, online event and webinar presentation, reputation management, influencer relations, as well as customer experiences and relationships.
Advertising and promotion
This category of marketing technology includes mobile marketing platforms, search advertising tools, social media promotions solutions, display ad technology, as well as native and content marketing software.
Data and analytics
Within this group, solutions include campaign performance and measurement, data enhancement, web and mobile marketing analytics.
Campaign and content management
These solutions campaign management tasks like talent management, team collaboration, product and service management, budgeting and finance issues, workflow processes, and vendor relations.
E-Commerce and sales
Whether you’re doing business through an online marketplace, your own website, via a physical store — or a combination of all three — you’ll need tools for e-commerce and sales. Within this category are technologies for retail and geo-targeted marketing, affiliate marketing and relations, channel partner promotions, sales automation, and merchant account management.
Each marketing technology listed above is like a spoke in a wheel. You’ll probably need to utilize more than one of them to satisfy all of your content marketing needs. But digital asset management is the hub of the wheel — or as we like to call it, the content marketing hub. In other words, your DAM system is at the center of helping all other marketing technologies function like well-oiled machines.
On that note, let’s talk about DAM …
The characteristics of robust DAM software
There are specific factors that set a DAM system apart from other marketing technologies. This is mainly because DAM’s focus is narrow, yet goes deep into managing visual content and content marketing campaigns.
To begin, let’s define DAM before looking at some of the problems it solves. Of course, we’ll also examine of the functionality a digital asset management system has to offer.
What is digital asset management?
A robust DAM system can easily store, organize, manage, share and track high volumes of visual content — all from one central repository. With a robust DAM system, like the Widen Collective, there’s also opportunity for in-depth analytics like asset and collection tracking, Google Analytics tracking and more. In essence, digital asset management gives you control over all your assets, and makes it possible for authorized team members to find what they need easily — on their own.
If you’re a little bit further along in considering a DAM system, you’re probably currently working with visual content (digital assets) in several different locations including Dropbox, YouSendIt, WeTransfer and other file sharing/syncing tools. But at some point, as you may have already noticed, these become insufficient — sometimes glaringly so — because these tools tend to lack the core competencies of a true DAM system, which include advanced search, metadata and user governance.
The dilemma: pre-DAM problems …
Does dealing with multiple projects at one time sound familiar?
As you know, it’s quite possible that all of them fall on your plate, in some way, shape or form. And if you’re on a team of 10 or more people, each with one or two dozen projects on their plate, you likely have digital assets scattered on various hard drives, local or cloud-based networks, team members’ local drives, etc. And if you’re a national or international company, you’ll also have to factor in teams that are located in different continents — not to mention freelancers, contractors, vendors, all struggling to find the visual content they need. Quite often, team members don’t even know what the file name is, where it is, or even what their coworkers are working on.
Because of this, assets that already exist are often recreated because it’s easier to make them again as opposed to finding them in “the void.”
Not an effective use of anyone’s time, but this scenario is all too common in our digital age. If this sounds similar to your situation, that explains why you’re looking at the possibility of implementing a digital asset management system into your organization.
It’s important to note that the above-mentioned “mayhem” is not a reflection on the quality, or size of your team. The digital asset dilemma is a common problem organizations face before they transition to a DAM system.
So, how do we take our visual content and content marketing efforts from …
DAM software can unravel years of “digital asset knots,” and streamline your processes. This is true whether you’re handling thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of assets. The result? A more efficient, effective team. DAM can even keep multiple brands cohesive and consistent across different platforms, countries — and languages.
Here are a few of the major functions of a DAM system that make this possible …
- Metadata: the language of your DAM system: Metadata is essentially the language of your DAM. It defines and describes your visual content. Each and every metadata field is completely searchable, so populating these in a way that users understand and agree with will make it easier for them to actually find assets — which in turn will make it more likely that they become regular users of your DAM software.
- Search: Performing a search in you DAM is very similar to a typical Google search we might make on any given day. You go to Google with a keyword phrase in mind to see what’s out there, as you don’t know the URL you’re ultimately going to land on. The process is the same within DAM, where you search with a keyword in mind or from pre-defined categories in order to see what relevant digital assets are available to you.
Good questions to ask yourself when thinking about search functionality include:
- How will you tag digital assets to ensure users find what they need?
- How do your users prefer to search?
- Are you using a controlled vocabulary and free-form text fields?
- User governance: In a nutshell, user governance within a digital asset management system can be defined as ensuring your visual content is being used by the right people in the right way …
Governance, roles and permissions:
We’re often asked how to provide the right amount of access in an organization’s DAM. The short answer is to learn what each user group needs in order to do their job effectively, and in turn create what are called “user roles” based on these findings. Each user role is granted access to the visual content they need as well as the appropriate level of clearance, referred to as “permissions,” so they may handle the assets appropriately within their role.
Permissions could include tasks like view only, edit, upload, share, etc. This allows the DAM admin of a robust system to have an immense amount of control, which is beneficial to the user — but also to the DAM admin because there’s a peace of mind associated with administering the right level of governance, so an admin knows the right digital assets are being viewed by the right people, and being used in the right way.
What else can digital asset management do?
- DAM software can generate a distinct code for each piece of visual content, for ease in identification and assessing performance
- DAM enables users to design, implement and manage each asset, which streamlines the workflow process
- Store, track and retrieve multiple versions of the same asset — so you’ll never lose changes
- It allows you to create metadata fields and categories to describe content, improving SEO
- Digital asset management allows you to index content and locate assets via metadata, making search quick and accurate
- Advanced features enable you to define the methods of sharing and hyperlinking, giving you more control over distribution
- DAM includes batch functions, allowing you to automate designated actions when managing large groups of content assets
- Embed codes allow you to use the same code for an image anywhere the image is located — on one web page or 100 affiliate sites. When you update the asset in your DAM system, the image is automatically updated everywhere the code is located
- All of this adds up to more time to create engaging, relevant content!
The Advantages of Investing in Both
By now it’s probably clear that you can’t invest only in DAM technology, or solely in other marketing technologies, and expect to achieve all of your marketing goals.
What DAM solutions do so well — because of its focused functionality — is help you manage and share your visual content effectively and efficiently. As your content marketing hub, DAM is your central source of truth where all of your visual content lives.
Considering the demands and challenges you face as a marketer, you can no longer simply place a folder on your desktop and expect to have a full range of functions available to achieve your marketing goals. Used in tandem with complimentary marketing technologies, DAM provides a rich, long-term solution for your content marketing efforts. And with the advent of integrations, it’s easier than ever to use digital asset management and marketing technology seamlessly together, without breaking a sweat.
How to choose the best digital asset management software for your organization
When it’s time to consider investing in DAM software, it’s essential to dedicate sufficient time and resources when looking at vendors. The steps for evaluating a DAM solution are similar to the process involved with other technology purchases:
1) Clearly establish goals and define expectations
2) Identify basic needs and mission-critical functions
3) Explore integration and implementation options within your existing technology landscape
4) Consider deployment, such as premise-based versus hosted service (DAM SaaS).
5) Assess customization options
6) Select a vendor based on the ability to meet your team’s needs as they pertain to:
- The typical asset volume, size and format that you generate
- The number of users and administrators you need to include
- Tools for automating redundant tasks within your workflow
- Cataloging features
- Access for remote users, if necessary
- Collaboration tools to communicate with team members
- Central repository details and permissions
- Quality of customer support for both set-up and ongoing, as well as the ability to handle feature requests and service issues
- A DAM vendor’s openness to needs unique to your organization, team and workflow
In other words, be diligent. Educate yourself about DAM. Talk with team members to understand their needs BEFORE making a DAM decision. As you do your homework in analyzing the features and benefits of various digital asset management solutions, it’s important to keep in mind that the option you choose should streamline workflow, result in more transparent processes, and align closely with your business objectives.
Thank you for visiting DigitalAssetManagement.com. We hope this article gives you some insight into the functionality of a DAM system, and the complimentary marketing technologies you’ll need for successful content marketing.
Feel free to get in touch with us anytime. We’re always happy to help in any way we can.