Connecting the DAM dots

Colorful, abstract image.

As content continues to fuel customer experiences, asset management has become a business necessity. A digital asset management (DAM) system plays a pivotal role. DAMs are no longer mere repositories to protect and store digital assets. Rather, DAMs have grown into robust, multidimensional engines used to search, collaborate, manage, and optimize for any channel.

Importantly, digital asset management has become central to businesses looking to achieve content velocity, which is the ability to create and deliver relevant, personal, timely experiences across channels and at scale. This allows companies to move from asset creation to monetization as quickly as possible.

At a time when employees are physically separated from one another — and when customers can’t interact with businesses in person — the DAM is the connective tissue across the company and is vital to the health of an organization.

Below we take a deeper look at how digital asset management makes content velocity possible and how you can use it to maintain business continuity during unprecedented times.

Speeding the content cycle for business continuity

Despite the rise of predictive digital technologies, time is still a very real factor in delivering customer experiences that earn ROI. At scale, every second it takes for employees to search for, edit, or store an asset adds up to overhead costs. To achieve content velocity, businesses need to eliminate inefficiencies in every part of the content cycle, from creation to publication.

Automated workflows in modern DAMs are one way to shave off extra minutes. For instance, automated workflows can add team members to projects and assign them roles so assets don’t become stuck or lost. An automatic workflow could assign your creative director the task of short-listing photos from a recent shoot. Then your designers will receive notification for photo editing as soon as the task is complete.

Microservices add even more power to the mix, bringing in artificial intelligence (AI) to automate time-intensive tasks like bulk asset creation, personalization, and rendering across channels.

In today’s landscape of distributed teams, cloud-based digital asset management is vital. Companies with stakeholders spread out across locations need their assets in the cloud so the right people can have access — including partner organizations as well as employees. Modern DAMs make it easy to give everybody the right level of access. Per IDC, companies that use these DAMs can launch campaigns 20 percent faster than those that don’t. These same companies are 47 percent faster at creating new assets and 84 percent faster at rendering existing assets.

Teams also spend a huge amount of time adapting creative assets for the right channels, be it editing for aspect ratio, video length, color, written content, or any number of other factors. With modern DAMs, editing capabilities are built right in, making channel-specific changes nearly instantaneous. This link between efficient content creation and smooth publication across channels is fundamental to achieving content velocity.

Flowing the right content across every channel

Today’s digital customer journeys go far beyond the web. For every channel marketers have mastered, a new one seems to pop up – augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), wearables, voice assistants, and connected cars, to name a few. Emerging media enriches customer experiences, but it poses some practical challenges to asset management as well as the ability to deliver personalized content necessary to stay competitive in an experience-centric future.

With modern digital asset management, marketers can adapt assets from one central location and publish them across every channel. Because customer behavior changes depending on where they interact with a brand, content needs to be able to adjust, too. To deliver a holistic customer experience, marketers need to be able to tailor content as needed while also staying true to brand and campaign standards. A DAM can help streamline your approach to omnichannel customer experiences by automatically pushing the right assets to the right channels and altering them as needed.

One of the ways this happens is through content atomization. A modern DAM can help you adapt your assets — cropping, color, length, and so forth — but content atomization takes it a step further by breaking each part of your content down to its channel-agnostic pieces, such as copy blocks, images, or videos. Then it automatically reconfigures content depending on the needs of the channel.

Crafting unique experiences — automatically

But customers also expect experiences that are personalized to them and not just customized to the channel. In fact, 94 percent of marketers rate personalization as “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important.”

Modern DAMs can help marketers take a smarter, more efficient content velocity approach that makes better personalization possible and creates unique experiences. For example, say you want to leverage a former campaign, but with new images and copy. With your DAM, you can easily repurpose existing assets and automatically personalize all your content so no two customer experiences are alike_._

Making personalization fast and manageable depends entirely on data. As Adobe director of product marketing Kevin Lindsay says, “Content needs to have some smartness to it so data can do something with it.” From finding assets quickly to delivering customized experiences, the data associated with each of your assets — or metadata — is a critical component of the modern DAM. When you bring metadata and audience data together, you get the traction you need to automate personalized experiences.

For example, in a U.S.-only campaign, your DAM could combine the geographic location of your customers (audience data) with tagged images of all 50 states (metadata) to deliver the most relevant experience to each customer. As Lindsay states, “The DAM is where data becomes an important part of content. Data informs the content and what it’s supposed to do, and what purpose it’s supposed to serve.”

This is why tagging each asset with the right metadata is so important. Without it, there’s no way to automatically find the right assets.

Setting yourself up for DAM success

Building out the roles and processes around your DAM will help you get the most out of your technology. Kristina Halvorson, content strategy expert, entrepreneur, and founder of content strategy agency Brain Traffic, defines content strategy as “planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.” With the multitude of factors that go into creating customer experiences, it pays to have a solid plan in place.

According to Adobe Senior Business Consultant and Content Strategist Elise Hahn, a holistic content strategy encompasses four core practices:

The four practices of a content strategy.

User experience: Most often considered a field unto itself, user experience governs the presentation of content — how it appears visually. As the next step after information architecture, it plays a big role in the overall customer experience. In the world of UX, it makes sense to have a single, unified DAM where teams can easily access assets to build out the visual interfaces that live at the core of every customer experience.

User experience roles include UX/UI specialist, content designer, information architect, interaction designer, front-end developer, digital experience strategist, and content strategist.

Content architecture: Roles within content architecture ensure that content moves through your ecosystem seamlessly and as planned. Content architects are more than DAM strategists or library scientists — they are the linchpin between marketing and engineering. In order to have a holistic view of content within an organization, content architects need systems like DAM to act as the reliable yet adaptable home for a company’s full set of assets.

Content architecture roles include content architect, library scientist, taxonomist, metadata specialist, information architect, marketing technology specialist, and content strategist.

Editorial strategy & content marketing: On the editorial end is creative — all of the decisions made before and throughout content creation. The content marketing end is all about distribution — building a relationship with customer via content. Both sides need the single source of truth that a DAM can offer in order to plan, create, and deliver consistent, on-brand customer experiences.

Editorial strategy and content marketing roles include copywriter, branding expert, content lead, technical writer, graphic designer, video producer, SEO and SEM strategist, multichannel marketer, campaign manager, social media manager, email marketing, direct marketing, SEM specialist, industry marketer, and content strategist.

Content strategy connects these four practice areas operationally, ensuring a holistic, effective, and efficient approach to content throughout an organization. As the technology that lives at the center of it all, digital asset management gives teams a solid content foundation from which to deliver top-notch experiences.

Get to know the different ways your teams will interact with your DAM

Your DAM is your single source of truth, but it can appear in many different ways to many different types of users. Because of how valuable assets are — especially once that are rigorously organized within a DAM — most organizations don’t give just anyone an all-access pass. Depending on the use case, DAM interfaces and capabilities can change so that every team member can get just what they need, without ever compromising assets.

At a high level are two main types of users: power users and light users.

Power users are those in charge of your DAM system. Their roles involve a high degree of strategy, specialized knowledge, and technical capabilities. Whether their title is asset manager, librarian, or taxonomist, they have full access to the DAM and are responsible for maintaining its integrity. They are specially trained to ensure the DAM runs efficiently and effectively, whether it’s automatically applying metadata, creating rules for version control, or verifying compliance. With control over a company’s full assets, individual or small groups of power users can empower a wider set of light users to use the DAM in the way that makes sense for their roles.

However, in any given organization, most people who touch the DAM are considered light users. From your marketing department to partner organizations and beyond, the bulk of DAM users will fall into this category. Modern DAM systems make it easy to build separate interfaces, like a marketing hub or brand portal, depending on your users’ needs. You can even connect your DAM system to existing solutions, like email marketing software, so all your assets are available at the click of a button. This makes it easy for light users to directly access your most up-to-date, compliant assets.

Get a DAM you can optimize for your specific organization

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to digital asset management. Every organization is unique, with specific requirements that dictate how best to handle your assets and content. With a modern DAM system, you can customize features to better serve your specific business needs and optimize for overall content velocity. Custom, automatic workflows, for example, can help prevent content-related tasks from falling by the wayside. Microservices help you use ready-made or custom automations to save time and energy. And when you’re able to track how your assets are used, you can not only evaluate performance and ROI, but also constantly improve the experiences you deliver.

Taking a little time to configure your DAM up front pays off big dividends when your processes and content are flowing smoothly. But perhaps the most exciting side effect of a DAM is that it gives creative teams some of their time back. With the time saved, everyone can focus on creating the amazing experiences that will keep your business moving forward, and count on your DAM to do the rest.