Digital Asset Management: The Complete Non-Boring Guide For Marketers

Digital asset management guide for marketers header. Have you ever searched endlessly for that one elusive marketing asset? Maybe it’s a new version of a logo your coworker needs to add to your redesigned website, or a chart for a presentation that you literally need RIGHT NOW. You decide to go on a hunt for that treasured asset. One that leads you through tangled webs of randomly named files, images, videos, you name it. They’re EVERYWHERE: in emails, Google Drive, Dropbox, your company’s server, your personal folders, your coworker’s folders… Treasure map with a magnifying glass and treasure chest Before you know it, it’s been two hours, and you’re totally frustrated. You missed the opportunity to update your marketing materials before that presentation. Your coworker is still waiting for that file. You still have no idea where it is. Everyone involved is stressed out. Fortunately, there’s a solution to help you keep your internal assets organized, accessible, and easily shareable with digital asset management. What the heck IS digital asset management, and how can it help you finally get all of your files straight? Let’s dig into it together.

What the Heck is Digital Asset Management, and How Can It Make Your Life Less Frustrating?

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Treasure map with the treasure chest open with asset icon

What the Heck is Digital Asset Management?

Digital asset management (DAM) is simply the process of storing and categorizing digital files, so they’re easy to access whenever you need them. DAM can also refer to the software used to manage digital assets. Digital asset management definition. In other words, you can create your own DAM process to organize your digital assets, or you can use a DAM tool to help you get there. You could say both are good DAM options. Just so we’re clear… what are some examples of digital assets? Digital assets are all the different types of content you store digitally. If you’re a marketer, digital assets are an essential part of your business. They might include:
  • Logos
  • Graphics
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Spreadsheets
  • Newsletters
  • White papers
  • Brochures

Digital assets are all the different types of content you store digitally.

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8 examples of digital assets for marketers

Why Does Digital Asset Management Matter, Anyway?

Why should you care about digital asset management? Because DAM will revolutionize the way you work. Organized marketers are 397% more likely to be successful. That’s HUGE. When you successfully manage your digital assets, you’ll gain that success and solve some of your most frustrating marketing problems. Problems like:
  • Not being able to find the assets you’re looking for.
  • Trying to identify files with names that make no sense.
  • Having to create the same assets over and over again.
  • Wasting hours searching through assets to find the right one to share.
  • Sharing the wrong version of a file that’s out-of-date.
Check all that apply to determine if you need DAM as a solution. With the help of digital asset management, you’ll slay all of those problems and replace them with real, lasting DAM solutions. It’ll feel AWESOME.
  • You’ll find all of the assets you need, when you need them, in one place. No more wasted hours spent searching multiple locations for files that seem to have disappeared into thin air. All your assets will finally be managed in one place.
  • Searching will be simple with new file naming conventions. When your file is named “011520_XYZ,” it’s impossible to know what it is without taking the time to click on it. Correctly naming files with DAM is a game-changer. When all of your assets have consistent names, you can organize, categorize, and search them in a snap.
  • You’ll reuse assets instead of always creating new ones. When you can clearly see which assets already exist, you can easily reuse them as needed — instead of losing them and having to create new ones to replace them.
  • You’ll easily share digital assets, and make your team happy. Now, instead of responding to “Can you find this file for me?” with “Give me a few hours,” you’ll find and share files in just seconds. You and your team can collaborate quickly, and everyone will stay happy and productive.
  • You’ll maintain brand consistency. If you create and share files between multiple teams or locations, you know how hard it can be to keep EVERYTHING on-brand. When your assets are organized, you can easily check for consistency, and make sure everyone has access to the right assets.
How DAM will revolutionize the way you work Back to the Top

10 Wins You’ll Achieve With Digital Asset Management

You’ve audited your content. You’ve added up the cost. You’ve found the perfect tool and approved it with your stakeholders. You’ve found your muse, renamed your files, and fancied up those folders. Now, it’s time to sit back and soak up all the rich rewards of your new DAM process. You’re well on your way to winning with digital asset management.
  1. Manage all of your assets in one place. You can easily see, organize, and search for the files you need, exactly when you need them.
  2. Make collaboration seamless. Your team members can easily communicate the asset they need, get access to it fast, and stay happy.
  3. Shorten production timelines. Your team will complete work more quickly instead of spending hours looking for assets.
  4. Search and find assets in a snap. You can get back to what matters rather than wasting time searching.
  5. Reuse assets as needed. You don’t always have to create new assets from scratch when the old ones get lost in the shuffle.
  6. Cut extra effort and save costs. You can put $30,000 or more per year back into your company instead of letting it go to waste.
  7. Share assets easily. Cross-functional teams, departments, and locations can easily send assets back and forth.
  8. Maintain brand consistency. Your marketing team can keep every version of every asset on-brand — without the risk of publishing something that’s not.
  9. Improve your ROI. You can deliver a measurable result by completing work more quickly and streamlining your asset searches.
  10. Control access to your assets. The right stakeholders, customers, or clients see the right assets at the right time.
10 wins you'll achieve with digital asset management

Common Features of DAM Platforms

Most software options that are designed for businesses include some kind of file storage option. This could include the ability to attach documents to client accounts or help individuals access a web-based content library.

Most software options that are designed for businesses include some kind of file storage option.

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These integrated file management solutions are pretty primitive compared to the functionality you will get from a full-fledged DAM platform. You also might be thinking… Why can’t I just use OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive? These tools do help overcome hurdles to file sharing, but they don’t provide in-depth features like advanced search capabilities and version control. Which, in turn, don’t really solve the problems companies face when trying to improve ROI on their assets and breakdown silos. Here are some common functionalities of DAM software solutions.

Ability to Manage Metadata

Much like metadata provided to search engines, DAM metadata is information that provides details about the asset’s contents. Metadata can describe many different details about the file, including who owns it, who has rights to access the file, keywords associated with the document, etc.

Ability to Track and Record Version History

How many times have you encountered a document saved as Sales_Slide_Deck_Final_Final2_Final-FOR-REAL Faux final copy of a document. Or something similar. There’s nothing more frustrating, as a marketing team member, to think this is the final revision just to have another stakeholder come in and make additional changes — totally messing up the naming convention you had going. As a non-marketing team member, it's also frustrating trying to find a document and encountering that each designer has a different way of naming their files, or finding that they haven’t bothered to upload it to the shared drive, and the asset is saved on their desktop. One of the major strengths of digital asset management software is that it syncs changes in real-time, while also keeping reversion history and the ability to revert back if needed.

Digital asset management software syncs changes in real-time, while also keeping reversion history and the ability to revert back.

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Advanced Search Capabilities

A cloud storage solution, like Dropbox, is usually limited to retrieving files based on searching for the document’s title. Honestly, who can remember the name of that document from last year? With custom metadata, keywords, categories, and more, you can make sure that the right files will always show up — regardless if you know the file name or not.

Security and Customer Usage Rights

Let’s say you want some people to have full editing access to certain documents and not others, or certain images are reserved for the use of specific departments. DAM software sets clear details about which departments can access and edit each document. Back to the Top

Download Our Digital Asset Management Template Bundle

Before we dive into the depths of DAM, download our helpful digital asset management bundle. It’s a collection of three actionable templates created by marketers, for marketers, and made to expedite your journey to DAM success.
  • Take stock of the assets you already have with the Content Audit Template.
  • Easily name your assets with the File Naming Convention Template.
  • Create organized folders for your assets with the File Folder Structure Template.

How to Easily Get Started With DAM

Now that you know WHY digital asset management matters, it’s time to figure out what your own DAM process could look like. What exactly do you need to start implementing DAM? We have six starting points that’ll help you successfully get your marketing assets in order. Begin with these steps to start building your own DAM process.

1. Audit the Content You Already Have

By taking stock of the assets you have, you’ll better understand how you should structure your new DAM system and which files will need to be updated. We included a Content Audit Template in our bundle to help you easily audit your assets. Download it — if you haven’t already! Before you implement a digital asset management tool, you’ll want to get a better understanding of what content you already have. This helps you clear out outdated content, gives you a laundry list of things that need to be updated, and an idea of how to structure the metadata for your new DAM platform. In the content upgrade above, you’ll find a Content Audit Template Spreadsheet. Content audit template spreadsheet. Here’s how you use it. Begin filling out the columns. Add the title of the document, who produced it, who it was produced form, etc. Here’s what it will look like as you start. DAM content audit spreadsheet. As you start your DAM content audit, be on the lookout for the following items:
  1. Is the asset professional looking and on-brand?
  2. Is it supporting your business objectives?
  3. Does it need to be updated in anyway?

2. Add Up the Cost of All That Wasted Time (Hint: It’s Expensive)

Digital assets are often duplicated or re-created due to the inability of users to find what they need. This wastes precious time and resources.

Digital assets are often duplicated or re-created due to the inability of users to find what they need.

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Here’s how to calculate the cost of duplicating work. Say you have 5,000 assets and 5% of them, on average, are re-created or duplicated due to inefficient file storage. This means that every year, approximately 250 resources are unnecessarily duplicated. Now, let’s say that your designer’s salary broken down to an hourly wage is about $25/hour and it takes them approximately 2 hours to re-create assets. This amounts to $12,500 lost per year. Calculate cost of duplicating assets.

3. Reduce Time Wasted Searching for Documents

Team members spend a huge amount of time each day searching for information. When they can’t find what they’re looking for, they interrupt someone else to help them, which wastes additional resources. Here’s how to calculate those costs. Say you have 20 users who need to find assets and it takes them 10 minutes per day trying to find what they’re looking for. This means the team spends approximately 16 hours per week looking for things. This is 832 hours per year or about 41 hours per person per year. That’s a full week of work wasted every year. Now, let’s say that the average hourly wage of that team of 20 is $20/hour. This amounts to $16,640 lost per year. Calculate the cost of the time wasted searching for lost documents. With just these two things alone, the example company will save over $29,000/year. That’s not to mention the additional productivity created through time-saving.

4. Check in with your stakeholders

If your company is planning on implementing a new DAM process, it’ll likely be used by other people and teams across your organization. In addition to sharing the cost above with essential stakeholders, check in with them to determine a DAM solution that works for everybody. Start with people like the Head of Technology and Head of Finance.

5. Start researching DAM tools

If you’re looking for a tool to help you implement DAM, start researching different DAM providers and scheduling demos to test out those tools. We’ll highlight a few of those later in this blog. In the meantime, this DAM software comparison is a great starting point.

6. Take your file naming to the next level

When you create a file naming convention for your marketing assets, you’ll make them easy to find and organize whenever you need them. That saves you a TON of time. See how to develop your own naming structure — and how to make sure your team follows it. Definition of a marketing file name convention.

7. Spruce up your marketing asset folders

We know what you’re thinking; creating a bunch of new folders for your files from scratch sounds… honestly… BORING. Having those nice, clear, simple folders to house all of your assets will make you feel surprisingly accomplished. Guess what? We’ve made it way easier for you to create those folders with our Folder Structure Template (it’s also part of our bundle). It’s a collection of pre-made folders that’ll get you organized even faster. An example of a basic folder structure.

DAM in Action: 3 Digital Asset Management Examples

Recommended Reading: The Best Way to Organize Marketing Assets With Simple Folder Structures Need an idea of exactly HOW digital asset management might look for certain marketing teams? Here are 3 before-and-after use cases of DAM software in action.

1. Agencies

Before DAM: Agency marketers juggle a lot of clients--and a ton of files for each of those clients. Time is money, but there’s no quick way to find and distribute the right versions of those assets to the right people. After DAM: With functional file naming and organizing, agency marketers always know where to find each asset for each client. Less time wasted searching for files means shorter production timelines and money saved. What agencies look like after DAM.

2. Colleges and Universities

Before DAM: Marketers in higher ed need to create materials for many departments at once while maintaining overall brand consistency. A catalog of hundreds of photos and videos is needed to connect with students, staff, and alumni, but is nearly impossible to manage. After DAM: With one place to store their entire collection of assets, marketers can easily divide them among folders for each department or campaign. And because they’re so easy to sort and share across departments, the assets stay totally on-brand. What colleges and universities look like after DAM.

3. In-House Marketing Teams

Before DAM: Marketers at tech companies can experience frustrating silos between teams. The latest assets can get lost in the shuffle between marketing, sales, and support teams, and customers can be misled by inaccurate versions of files. After DAM: Sharing assets internally between teams is a breeze, so everyone has access to the latest product photos or marketing collateral. Because they’re used more effectively, these assets help marketers boost their ROI. What tech companies look like after DAM.

How To Dig Deeper Into Digital Asset Management Vendors

At this point, you might be thinking that using a DAM tool sounds like a pretty great option. After all, it’s basically a software-based shortcut to finding, organizing, and storing all of your assets.

DAM is basically a software-based shortcut to finding, organizing, and storing all of your assets.

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But how do you know which DAM solutions are out there? And where do you find out how each of them can help you better manage your digital assets? We already did all the hard work for you. You might already know that CoSchedule’s Asset Organizer is one solution that can help get your entire collection of marketing assets organized in no time. But if you’d like to compare more DAM solutions, check out the in-depth roundup of DAM platforms below. It’ll help you decide which options might work best for your team. Recommended Reading: The Ultimate List of Top Digital Asset Management (DAM) Software Platforms

Questions to Ask DAM Vendors

Choosing a DAM software is a big deal. There are a ton of things to think about and it can get a little overwhelming. Understanding your requirements and what features each DAM service provides can help the process run smoothly. Here are some items to make sure you check off in the early, exploratory stages.

DAM UX Questions

  • How does the tool enable teams to accomplish their work?
  • Regarding user adoption, is it intuitive to find what you’re looking for?
  • Does the software offer a familiar and useful search experience?

DAM File Type Questions

  • What file types does the system support?
  • Do all file types have previews?

DAM User Questions

  • How many users are included?
  • Does the system limit the number of each type of user you can have?
  • Does the provider charge for additional users? If so, how much?

DAM Storage Questions

  • How much storage in included standard?
  • Can we add more as needed?
  • What is the cost of adding additional storage capabilities?
  • How does the system handle version history?

DAM Metadata Questions

  • Can we add customized metadata?
  • What type of metadata is standard?
  • Does metadata reside in the asset file?
  • How do search methods and capabilities work?

DAM Onboarding Questions

  • Do you provide training and support?
  • What channels do you provide support?
  • Will we have a specific support contact?

How CoSchedule Can Help You Do DAM (and Do It Well)

Just one more thing before we send you off on your DAM journey. If you’re still looking for just the right digital asset management tool for your marketing team, we’ve got one right here. CoSchedule’s built-in Asset Organizer lets you:
  • Manage all of your assets in a single library
  • Quickly find and securely share files
  • Ensure you’re always using the latest versions
  • Create custom tags to organize your files
Check it out and see how it can make managing your digital assets 10x LESS frustrating and 10x MORE rewarding. Get a demo or get started free today! Leah DeKrey was a contributing author to this updated and republished post, which was republished on July 6, 2020.
About the Author

LaRissa Hendricks is an expert in product marketing strategy and copywriting with 10+ years of experience. She was recently the Product Marketing Strategist at CoSchedule. She’s also an experimental baker, a diehard Minnesota Twins fan, and cat mom to a cheeky orange tabby named Ernie.