Digital Asset Management and the Role It Plays in Marketing

Digital Asset Management System
Getty Images / Thomas Barwick

Our marketing departments are wearing many hats and the last thing we have time for is having to hunt down assets that have been finalized and approved. We need them at our fingertips, accessible and with the ability to sort quickly, that's where Digital Asset Management or DAM comes in.

How many times have you heard the following within the walls of your own marketing department?

  • Where is the article we wrote about our service benefits?
  • Can you help me find the banner ad that we used for our most popular B2B service?
  • Can you call Agency A and ask them to resend that finalized file? I can't find it.
  • Let me forward you the email with the final and approved version.

Are you struggling with the following issues within your organization?

  • Brand control and the lack of it.
    You have multiple versions logos, templates, letterhead, and taglines that have been outdated and abandoned, but yet are still being used. You cannot get your arms around the organization and uniform the brand due to the variations that do not only exist but are in use. You cringe every time you see the materials that are being created in other departments because you know that the uniformity of the brand within your organization is an area that needs a great deal of attention. Due to the lack of control of the messages being presented to the public, your brand message is watered down and not packing the punch that it needs to. What if you had a way to store all authorized photos, articles, stories, images, and brand assets in digital formats, electronic format, and even print, would that make your life and your marketing team's life easier?
  • Multiple vendors and agencies that create assets for your company.
    It's not uncommon to work with multiple vendors and agencies. We have agencies that we work with for specific channels, and you will even find companies that have different agencies for different departments. How do you keep them on the same page? Are they all aware of mandatory verbiage and overall brand guidelines
    Let's be honest, most of you would say no. Utilizing a digital asset management system can help you assist them by providing a centralized location where they can retrieve assets that you want to use in new campaigns. You can also post assets from previous campaigns so that your vendors can view them and use them as guides to stay within the "look and feel" that has been previously created and approved.
  • Inability to quickly repurpose content when necessary.
    You are sure a recent article was written on the topic you want to cover, but for the life of you, you can't find it. You'd love to use that article to repurpose into an email or a social media post, but without it, you are starting from scratch. This will not only take time, but it will require money, and we all know that our marketing departments are typically working on shoestring budgets. What if you could log into a centralized location and find every banner ad that was used, every article that was not only written but approved, as well as all brochures centered on a specific service? You get the point. Using a digital asset management system allows us to not only locate content that can be repurposed but keeps in the forefront what we do have and perhaps what we lack when it comes to our content marketing.

If you are like my team and me, you are experiencing the above challenges, and I'm surprised that you haven't left this article and started your own search on digital asset management systems. Most marketers, when you mention digital asset management, are unsure of whether they need it. It's one more tool and one more expense, but when you start talking about the challenges most marketing departments are facing, and how a digital asset management system can help, their eyes light up, and they quickly understand the need and how using a DAM system can help them save time and money.

Think of it this way; a digital asset management system can help you tell the complete story and create a stronger impression that makes your brand proud.

Now, with that being said, I'm glad you did stick around because I want to share some tips, guidelines, and suggestions that can help you select the right digital management system.

What to Look for in a Digital Asset Management System?

Selecting the right system is extremely important, but even beyond that, a digital asset management system is only as good as you and your team is at storing, annotating, cataloging, and how you retrieve and distribute those assets. While the right digital asset management system will help in automating a lot of the process, you are still responsible on how up to date and clean you keep and manage the assets that you store.

A digital asset management system is not a hands-off implementation; it must include the following in order to achieve success:

  1. People
  2. Identified and Socialized Process
  3. The Right Technology
  4. The Right Information

Think of it as your dynamic storage and delivery system. Obviously, there are many systems that are free and/or low-cost that can be used including:

Now, with that being said, the above systems were not created to automate the DAM process, so you will need to makeshift and piece it together in order for it to serve as a true digital asset management system. Finding the perfect system for your organization will help with growth and efficiency, so don't skimp on the research and investigation process that helps you identify the right solution for you.

A few basic guidelines for selecting the right digital asset management system for your organization include:

  • Scalability: It's important to take into consideration where your company is and what your needs are today, but even beyond that, you have to take into consideration your organization's growth plans; for example, how many users will you have and will your users include internal usage or will you want to provide external usage to agencies and vendors?
  • System Integration: Are there system integrations that are important, for example, do you want it to integrate with your website, content management system or other content management tools?
  • Hosting Options: Will you host the platform on the premises or will you use a cloud-based provider? Will you have individuals outside the organization that needs to access the system? You will need to take this into consideration and determine what works best for you and your team as well as what your IT department suggests based on security and organizational needs.
  • Accessibility and Mobile Support: How will assets be accessed and distributed? Will you allow assets to be uploaded via mobile devices, for example, new photos or videos? These are key in identifying the right system. Are they important to you and your organization?
  • Usability Features: Remember that your system will only be used if it's efficient and brings value to the team, so identify the needs you have within your department. For example, are thumbnails important? Do you need an easy way to see the visual asset before opening it? What search features do you need? At the minimum, I would suggest being able to catalog and search via date, type, subjects, annotation, tags, categories, etc.
  • File Formats and Storage: Identify what file formats you will want to catalog within the system and ensure that whatever system you select supports these file formats easily. You also want to keep in mind the storage space that you will need and whether your digital asset system will serve as your asset repository. If so, space will be necessary to evaluate.

As you look at digital asset management systems, keep in mind that the idea behind the system is to streamline the organization with your marketing assets, and help with efficiency and finding the assets that you require when you need them. You'll need to keep it organized and cataloged in a predictable and consistent way. I'd suggest appointing an administrator that can ensure that their system is understood by users and used according to the process that has been identified during the implementation process.

Cost of Digital Asset Management System

The cost will vary on how many users, how much storage, and hosting options. Perception is that digital asset management systems are expensive, but it’s really your requirements that can drive the price up. You can find a small digital asset management system for $25 per month, but as you add options and customizations cost can rise and hit the six-figure market quickly. Start your research and find three systems to evaluate, but only evaluate those that are within your budget. Be honest with the vendor on your budget constraints and most of them will be able to help you find a solution that works for you and your organization.