By Tony Rems, Chief Technology Officer, Hero Digital
In our modern marketing landscape, content creation moves at a dizzying pace. This often leads to assets being spread randomly across shared drives, desktops, and cloud storage. Poor asset organization can cause inconsistencies, bottlenecks, and unnecessary duplication of effort, all of which add pressure to marketers already strapped for time.
This widespread side effect to the proliferation of content means that Digital Asset Management (DAM) has become a huge priority for digital marketers, especially in asset-heavy or highly-regulated industries like retail, media, and healthcare. Modern marketplace solutions have gotten simultaneously more technically advanced and more user-friendly but moving to a DAM system still requires careful planning and groundwork.
Here’s how to successfully prepare for DAM implementation.
Set your objectives
You can’t create a DAM strategy without first defining your goals. What you aim to get out of your DAM depends on the challenges you want it to solve. Is content creation your biggest bottleneck, or is finding assets the major project time sink? Do you have a harder time assembling and delivering digital assets across channels, or are you more concerned with amplifying content and optimizing performance? You might start by identifying key objectives like the following:
- Improved discoverability – DAM systems can help reduce the spread of assets across shared drives; establishing consistent naming or tagging conventions simplifies finding assets.
- Version control – Accessing the right version of a logo, image, or other asset is effortless with DAM.
- Rendition creation – A good DAM can automatically create thumbnails and all of the different sizes and types of an asset that are required, saving designers a huge amount of time.
- Workflow – The workflow around content creation, approval, publishing, and usage becomes less difficult to track and manage post-DAM implementation.
- Metadata – Assets often have inconsistent or missing metadata that impacts discoverability. While a DAM doesn’t necessarily fix this issue, workflows can be used to enforce tagging during the asset management process.
- Digital Rights Management – An invaluable feature of a DAM is the ability to track licensed assets and what assets have expired or may require renewal.
- Asset creation – Remember that DAMs are for managing, not creating, assets. However, a DAM can streamline the creation process and ensure that when an asset is changed all instances of its usage are updated.
Get ready for DAM
Once you defined the outcome you want from your DAM implementation, the next step is to begin organizing your assets, your taxonomy, and your metadata needs. While a DAM can bolster governance around metadata, it can’t automatically create a taxonomy that is a good fit for your organization. Plus, a DAM can’t reference metadata that doesn’t already exist. It’s key to think about how assets are used and what metadata will drive your requirements and success. Here are a few steps to prepare for implementation:
- Take inventory – Assemble a document of all your owned assets that you need to migrate to the DAM system. Do any patterns inform your taxonomy, such as department, product line, geography, etc.? Do the assets have existing naming conventions that imply certain metadata and enable discoverability?
- Assess your metadata – Examine how consistently your current metadata is applied. If you have little or no metadata, decide whether to add metadata prior to or after DAM import. Either way is okay, but it’s best to apply metadata to your assets in one phase, not haphazardly on both ends.
- Clean house – This is an opportunity to eliminate assets that haven’t been used in years or are no longer on brand. Eliminating before migrating to a new DAM creates a clean starting point and minimizes overwhelm.
- Plan for naming and metadata – Importing all assets into your CMS will likely result in a solution that doesn’t meet your goals. Instead, determine the gap between current naming conventions and metadata and your ideal system moving forward. You can also do this in a phased process by building an inventory and assigning new naming conventions and metadata by asset priority into a spreadsheet that informs the import process. This step sets up the DAM’s taxonomy prior to import.
- Update linked assets – If you use design applications extensively and need to link to digital assets that are seemingly ever-changing, update your documents to point to assets in the DAM rather than using local versions of assets from the desktop. Since this process can be time-consuming, update top priority assets first, then build a roadmap for updating other documents as required.
Implement in phases
When implementing your DAM, don’t bite off more than you can chew. A phased process tends to be more successful than trying to do everything at once. Start by focusing on your top priority assets and projects in order to get familiar with the tools and optimize for productivity and usability. As you learn about how the tools work for you, you can make changes to your subsequent processes to help establish your DAM as the single source of truth within asset and content management.
The power of DAM
When implemented successfully, a DAM can have a powerful impact on time savings, energy, and effort for your digital marketing team. In a world where content continues to be king, increasing content velocity by minimizing roadblocks can boost your bottom line and bring your company into the modern generation of digital asset management.
Tony Rems is the Chief Technology Officer at Sitecore Gold Partner Hero Digital, the independent customer experience agency that grows brands through a relentless focus on the customer and iconic experiences that deliver results like Western Digital, Sephora, and Salesforce. You can follow Hero on LinkedIn and Twitter.