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You’re Not Ready for a DAM (Unless You Do This First)

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You're Not Ready for a DAM (Unless You Do This First)


With the amount of content organizations produce – and the sheer volume of multimedia assets and formats – it’s time to consider a digital asset management system. A DAM can increase production efficiency, enhance cross-team operability, and improve marketing productivity and performance.

Marketers spend over 60% of their time retrieving information or restructuring lost assets and other low-value tasks. Implementing a DAM system may be the best way to reclaim that wasted time.

Yet, two operational challenges often stand in the way of effective implementation. The first is identifying the content processes the DAM should help facilitate. It’s often an overlooked consideration, particularly for businesses without a structured content process or governance strategy.

The second challenge arises in detailing the organizational criteria for a DAM system before completing the complex and time-consuming selection process. How will it be used? Where does it fit in the content workflow? If you don’t have those answers, it’s like shopping for a car without knowing if it will be used to haul bricks or compete in a street race.

If you don’t know your #content processes and organization criteria, it’s hard to make the right DAM system choice, says @joderama via @CMIContent @Aprimo. Click To Tweet

These obstacles – on top of requirements like securing budget approval and executive buy-in, and managing implementation, configuration, and integration – can make the very thought of working with a DAM system too intimidating to consider. But with a little advanced planning and a focused approach, you can lower some of those barriers and speed up your path to realizing the benefits these systems can offer.

Clearing the content tech confusion

At their simplest, DAM systems are used by enterprises to store, organize, and retrieve digital media assets for efficient use across all stages of the content creation lifecycle. They also enable effective governance of those assets by managing the digital rights, access permissions, and other standards established for creating and applying content across all functions of the organization.

Used in tandem with a web content management system (WCM) and/or other marketing automation technology (like email management systems and social media publishing suites), a DAM can make it easier for content creators to locate brand assets like photos, audio and video footage, animations, and other graphics, track changes as they move through production, and ensure they are properly sized, formatted, and tagged for use on chosen distribution platforms and channels.

While definitive statistics on content marketer adoption of DAM systems are hard to come by, it’s logical to assume they are underused, given that CMI’s B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022 research found only 49% of marketers say their company uses a content management system (CMS).

Only 49% of #B2B marketers say their company uses a #content management system according to @CMIContent #research via @joderama. Click To Tweet

Yet, CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose thinks this finding may indicate a fundamental content tech misperception that a DAM system and a CMS are interchangeable: “Companies say they don’t have a CMS. They do – at least when it comes to a system to manage content on their website (e.g., Drupal, WordPress). The confusion occurs because the term ‘content management system’ has become synonymous with digital assets management (DAM).”

While the two technologies have overlapping functions, neither can do the job effectively unless the enterprise aligns on the functions each system facilitates, who will use each, and how each can be used to its potential.

“A website CMS or social media tool typically manages media assets from their finalized state through publication and measurement. Yet, they provide little consistency in how content gets handled across various formats. In contrast, a DAM system is going to provide full process efficiency from the spark of ideation through creation, production, and multi-platform publication, as well as when and where the asset will ultimately be archived for future reuse and repurposing,” Robert says.

As I mentioned, managing those operational considerations is often the biggest challenge when adding any new technology to your content stack. Fortunately, Robert’s exercise below might just save you a world of hurt and hassle.


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Right preparation begets increased productivity

To select the right DAM system, you need to know which teams will use it, how they’re going to use it, and what they’ll use it for. That’s a lot of details and variations to sort through, and this is where many organizations trip up before they really get started.

Furthermore, no DAM system will function optimally right out of the box. It must be configured to accommodate your use cases, governance decisions, and team workflows. So, before you begin the purchase process, you need a clear view of the operational considerations and preparation involved to deliver a fully functioning system for your organization.

A DAM system won’t function optimally out of the box. It must be configured to your use cases, governance, and workflow, says @joderama via @CMIContent @Aprimo. Click To Tweet

Here are a few questions to answer:

  • What content materials are required to produce each type of asset (e.g., product descriptions, company boilerplate, images, audio, video, graphics, interactive features)?
  • What strategic purpose(s) will be served by the assets? Internal, external, both?
  • What are the file formats? What internal and external resources and expertise are used to produce them?
  • How will each asset be accessed, processed, and routed? Where might additions or exceptions exist?
  • Should tasks happen concurrently or simultaneously?
  • Who will be accountable for each task? Who else will be involved?
  • What permissions, approvals, and other governance standards are needed before the asset can be published?

It’s enough to make any content manager’s head spin. And all that comes before you even think about the technical considerations, like how asset files will be named, categorized, tagged, stored, and managed for efficient use across teams and functions.

Inventory your operations in 2 steps

To stop your head from spinning, Robert suggests a streamlined operations management approach he uses with his consulting clients. Map the people and processes to produce one type of content for one purpose or part of the customer journey. The insights and information generated can help guide your DAM decision-making process and later expand to accommodate additional content types and purposes once you’ve purchased and are ready to implement a system.

Understand your #DAM needs with this exercise from @Robert_Rose: Map the people and processes to produce one type of #content for one purpose via @joderama @CMIContent @Aprimo. Click To Tweet

The two parts to this exercise are:

  • Content lifecycle mapping: This ordered list outlines the critical steps and tasks to take a piece of content from ideation to execution. It provides a high-level view of this content type’s workflow as it’s routed through the development lifecycle and details who takes charge of the task at each stage.
  • Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed mapping: This responsibility assignment matrix (aka RACI matrix) identifies all the team members (internal and external) involved in each of the tasks as the leader or a collaborator. It visualizes how team resources are allocated so you can set clear responsibilities around asset management and identify potential areas for restructuring workflow for greater efficiency.

Let’s walk through the process.

Step 1: Identify key points and processes of your workflow

Outline all the tasks involved in creating a type of content. This example illustrates the workflow for a thought leadership e-book. Don’t worry about any special features or add-on tasks that apply under certain circumstances. Focus only on the tasks that typically are involved.

Click to enlarge

The template encompasses six stages – ideation, planning, creation, production, activation, and measurement. Fill in the main tasks for each stage. Use “who” and “what” tags in the template to determine whether to list the person responsible for managing that task (who) or noting the specific actions and considerations (what) before the content can move into the next stage. This breakdown details the stage-based questions to answer for our thought leadership e-book example:

  • Content ideation: Who generates topics and ideas for the e-book? Who submits the ideas for approval? Does an approved idea align with a content goal? Who collects viable ideas and prepares them to enter the planning process?
  • Planning: Where are viable ideas collected for consideration and prioritization? How are accepted ideas prioritized and approved for assignment?
  • Creation: Who provides the assignment to the creator? What resources are needed to execute it? Who manages the related creation processes (e.g., editing, acquiring permissions, design and layout, final review/approval)? Who shepherds the resulting assets into production?
  • Production: How does production receive the content? What steps turn them into a publication-ready asset (i.e., how you’ll incorporate your e-book into a content marketing campaign)? Who delivers the final campaign assets to the team members involved in activation?
  • Activation: How is the e-book added to the publishing schedule? What else is involved in activating it? Who else needs to be informed when it’s activated in-market?
  • Measurement: What steps are taken to track, analyze, and report performance? What else needs to happen (e.g., archived for later repurposing by whom and where it is stored)?

You should repeat this process for every type of content produced – and all the assets and campaigns it might be applied to throughout your brand’s content experience. But detailing the workflow for even just one type of asset can surface the answers and information necessary to research, consider, and compare potential DAM solutions.

Step 2: Identify roles and responsibilities

Now that you have an overview of the tasks and routing details, you can zoom in on the people who make it happen.

For our e-book example, we’ll use a RACI template (like the sample shown below) to note all the team members who play a role at any stage in the outlined content lifecycle, as well as those who become involved when that content is used for other functions in the enterprise.

This Forbes article provides more detail on RACI charts and how to use them. But for our purposes, the main thing to know is that roles are divided into four categories:

  • Responsible: These team members do the hands-on work – e.g., writing, editing, or designing the e-book, collecting assets and routing them to the appropriate point person, managing production schedules and deadlines, tracking and reporting performance data, etc. At least one person must be listed as responsible for each task, though anyone who actively contributes to that task should be included, too.
  • Accountable: This is the one team member who answers for the proper completion of each task or deliverable. They ensure all prerequisite tasks, standards, and requirements are met. They determine and delegate responsibilities; and deliver any final approvals Note that while only one person should be listed as accountable at each stage, that person may also play a role in other tasks throughout the process.
  • Consulted: These are the subject matter experts, advisory board members, or other parties who may contribute to or collaborate on tasks but don’t hold responsibility for their execution or how they are managed. For example, if a writer regularly consults with a brand team member to ensure they’ve accurately reflected key brand details in the e-book, the branding expert would be listed as a consultant.
  • Informed: If anyone else needs to be looped in on project status or notified when the e-book has been launched into the market (e.g., a sales team contact, a sponsor, an executive stakeholder), list them.

As Robert explains, the columns refer to how common purpose-driven content types created for a specific asset (e.g., an about-our-company-and-products section of copy featured in e-books) might be mapped and managed for other uses (i.e., for thought leadership content marketing efforts, inclusion in a story for marketing, sales sheet, repackaged for ad-hoc needs).

Click to enlarge

As a bonus, working through this process also helps reveal hidden redundancies and resource deficits that can be addressed to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your content operations.

For example, you could identify a role overloaded with responsibilities and accountability at certain stages of production that, if rebalanced, could help clear recurring bottlenecks. Or you could discover the workflow doesn’t account for the delivery of an asset to other functional departments that could be resolved by a simple workflow update to ensure smoother cross-team alignment.

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Putting it all together

Mapping these roles and responsibilities across all the functions enterprise-wide helps ensure all the critical players are involved in your DAM decision-making conversations. When combined with the insights collected in the content lifecycle template, you have a high-level understanding of the operational needs to account for when you’re ready to evaluate and compare potential DAM solutions.

For a more comprehensive audit of your content operations, add details for all other content types in these templates. But even if you only have time to work through this abbreviated process, you’ll come away with a solid plan for turning your DAM dreams into an achievable reality.

 

Want to learn how to balance, manage, and scale great content experiences across all your essential platforms and channels? Join us at ContentTECH Summit this March in San Diego. Browse the schedule or register today.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results

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How A Non-Marketing Content Approach Produced Award-Winning Results

Matt Hartley is not a marketer.

And yet, he is a 2022 B2C Content Marketer of the Year finalist.

Though seemingly incongruous, it’s not. Companies don’t all approach content (or marketing) with the same organizational structure.

Matt leads editorial strategy for TD Bank Group as a senior manager in the corporate and public affairs department. Under his leadership, TD Stories took home top honors for Best Content Marketing Program in Financial Services and earned finalist mentions for Best Content Marketing Launch and Financial Services Publication in the 2022 Content Marketing Awards.

Those results prove that department, title, and reporting structure don’t matter if the content works.

“We tell stories aligned with (the company’s) communication goals. We’re not necessarily looking to sell something. It is about brand building, thought leadership, financial literacy,” Matt explains.

Here’s how a non-marketer finalist for Content Marketer of the Year built an award-winning program.

If the #Content works, details like reporting structure, title, and department don’t matter, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Launching the newsroom

In 2018, Matt joined TD as a content strategist. He was hired partly because of his background in reporting and creating new content products. Matt had worked as a technology reporter at The Globe and Mail and the National Post. He also created the Financial Post Tech Desk, a home for Canadian and international tech news, and was the founding editor of the Post’s arcade video-game news site.

TD leadership had recognized the shifting media landscape. They saw fewer earned media opportunities and turned to Matt to help scale a TD-owned channel called TD Newsroom.

While TD Newsroom aligned with the external communications goals, it ended up with an internal audience – less than 10% of visitors came to the site from outside the bank.

Turning the content program inside out

TD Newsroom’s importance grew when the pandemic hit in 2020, making some forms of traditional customer outreach impossible. No longer just another tool in the communication toolbox, TD Newsroom became pivotal.

“Creating our own content and being able to distribute it became crucially important to us,” Matt says.

The TD Newsroom team focused on creating branded service journalism (content intended to help customers), and traffic to the site increased substantially. Topics such as banking tasks you can carry out online, budgeting for income impacted by COVID, and planning an emergency fund took center stage.

That was the beginning of the TD Newsroom evolution.

“We were rethinking how we did content and where the customer was in their journey,” Matt says. The team also doubled down on data-driven content and refined its content strategy.

In 2021, TD Stories debuted. “It places the customer at the center of the story. It tells stories that resonate with customers and colleagues,” Matt says.

The site’s tagline – “Enriching lives one story at a time” – reflects this mission.

TD Stories organizes content around five pillars (as shown in the site navigation in the screenshot above):

  • Your Money features financial tips and advice.
  • Innovation highlights new technologies to create more personalized banking experiences.
  • Community features stories about TD’s involvement in the communities where it operates and where its employees live.
  • Colleagues tells the stories of employees.
  • Insights features thought leadership from the bank’s executives.

TD Stories places the customer at the center of the story, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada, via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Making everything count

“We’re a small but mighty team within corporate affairs. It’s a flat team – everyone brings ideas to the table. It really wouldn’t work if it wasn’t as cohesive as it is,” Matt says.

The digital content team also functions a little like an agency. In corporate affairs, they work with relationship managers for categories such as personal banking, insurance, US banking, etc., as well as product, partnership, and philanthropic managers.

“We work with them to create the stories. We may pitch to them, asking for a subject matter expert to help us tell a story, etc.,” Matt explains. “We could not exist in a vacuum.”

He oversees a digital content team that includes a data-driven strategy role that has been critical in the TD Stories evolution. That added focus has helped the team in its content development.

For example, the bank’s editorial calendar revolves around repeating deadlines and patterns. Deadlines for retirement plan contributions and income tax returns occur during the same period every year. And each spring, more people begin house hunting.

With TD’s digital content team amping up the content measurement strategy, Matt and team can analyze how well those yearly content pieces perform. They also can better understand what people are searching for, so they can refine and improve the next content iterations.

“We can take those moments and make those moments fresh,” Matt explains. “We can ensure the customer gets the best and most accurate information possible.”

The metrics reflect the team’s dedication to excellence. In 2021, traffic to TD Stories grew more than 125% year-over-year. Almost all the traffic (98%) comes from external sources, including 25% from organic Google searches.

Knowing the real goal

“At the end of the day, the content is not the end goal. The goal is to help educate the customer and help them feel more informed and financially confident. When you keep that in mind, the actual structure of a story or every sentence is a means to an end,” Matt says.

Educating the customer is the goal – story and sentence structure are the means to that end, says @thehartleyTO of @TDnews_Canada via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

That’s part of the secret science of brand journalism. As Matt explains: “Take the objectives of the business and marry them with stories that the customers find engaging and useful.”

And that’s an award-winning formula regardless of department name, title, or organizational structure.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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