The Buyer’s Guide to the Best DAM Software for Small Businesses

Free cloud storage drives like Google Drive or Dropbox can be sufficient for small businesses to store digital files and brand collateral for a few years, but they can’t scale with your business.  

As your business expands to include multiple teams and accumulates hundreds and thousands, these tools will only add to the confusion and inefficiency instead of mitigating it. 

So, you might want to consider upgrading to a digital asset management platform for your business. 

In this article, we’ll go over a few tell-tale signs indicating you must switch to a digital asset management solution, explain what a digital asset management solution is, and the features it must have. 

    Signs you need to switch to a digital asset management solution

    Here are some indications that you are prepared to make the switch to digital asset management solutions:

    • Your asset library is a chaotic mess. 
    • Your team members waste time or become frustrated while searching for assets.
    • Your designers are inundated with asset requests and project reviews, leaving them with little or no time for their design work.
    • You frequently sort through outdated content or verify which version of an asset to use.
    • You can't track which assets are shared with whom and when.
    • You face difficulties maintaining brand consistency and ensuring that everyone who utilizes your assets is doing so accurately.
    • Your digital projects are consistently delayed because you must wait for the design team to double-check and authorize collateral.
    • You are working on digital projects in various applications and experiencing difficulty keeping everyone on the same page.

    What is a digital asset management solution?

    A digital asset management (DAM) solution is a software solution that helps organizations store, organize, retrieve, share, and distribute digital assets online. 

    They also offer features such as version control, metadata management, workflow management, and access control to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to specific files.

    Important features to look for while evaluating a DAM solution

    If you’re dealing with tons of creative materials and adding new projects to your roster without a proper digital asset management system in place, you’re going to run into serious issues as tools like Google Drive won’t be enough to manage your needs. 

    For starters, monitoring assets and receiving client input can become increasingly laborious. Feedback is bound to slip through the cracks, and revisions will increase. 

    This will ultimately harm your team’s productivity, hinder collaboration, and cause delays in project completion. And the best way to avoid these unfortunate scenarios is to switch to a DAM system. Here’s what a great DAM solution must do for you:

    Save time 

    Ask any marketer what’s the #1 activity that hampers their productivity, and they’ll say it’s searching for assets. (We know you’ve searched for your company’s logo on Google).

    But a DAM (Digital Asset Management) system should make this process more efficient by making it easier for your teams to efficiently categorize files into collections, label them, and sort and search for assets based on various criteria such as tags, custom fields, and dates. 

    These features will help enhance productivity especially for large-scale brands and agencies managing numerous clients, campaigns, and creative assets.

    Take the case of Lesser Evil, a snack brand. Their team approves many creatives every month, so they had to comb through endless email threads to find the assets they were searching for. 

    This resulted in huge inefficiencies and product delays for Lesser Evil. But once they incorporated Artwork Flow, a brand asset management solution and project management software, they could find their assets easily and complete projects on time. Check out their case study here.  

    Reduce asset wastage

    According to a Demand Metric study, nearly half of all marketers and creatives believe that their company wastes funds producing new assets that go unused because people don’t know they exist or can’t find them. 

    But a good DAM system should eliminate this problem. It should have features that allow all brand files, regardless of format, to be stored in one location and enables teams to categorize, tag, and organize assets for effortless retrieval.

    Additionally, it must offer filtered searches and in-document searches, among other features, to give users numerous ways to locate the precise asset they require.

    For instance, Artwork Flow allows you to search creatives by name, by date, or even by just using the project details entered into metadata fields like the product, brand, category, variant, etc.

    Eliminate the need for multiple tools

    Numerous agencies and marketers frequently waste valuable time by downloading and uploading assets across multiple tools. 

    But a DAM system must eliminate the need for multiple single-purpose products that require separate subscriptions and ensure team members don’t waste time switching between different tools. They must also guarantee that assets are never misplaced or duplicated erroneously.

    For instance, DAM systems like Artwork Flow even allow you to manage every phase of the creative workflow from within its platform. It allows you to start a project directly from its asset library, proof it, archive it, and share it with your team. 

    Add tags automatically 

    If you’re utilizing intelligent DAM software,  you don’t have to spend hours manually adding tags to brand assets. 

    The software should be able to extract metadata automatically and utilize AI to add the right tags to your assets. Additionally, it can recognize objects from various product lines within a single image file. 

    This is a significant time-saver for eCommerce companies with multiple product lines with many different product SKUs. 

    Furthermore, AI technology becomes increasingly precise over time by learning from the tags selected by your team. So, the precision with which it adds tags will increase automatically.

    Streamline your creative workflows 

    Throughout their development process, creative assets often go through various stages that require client approval.

    A good DAM system must enable users to track the status of assets, client feedback, revisions, and the next steps in a workflow to make this process easier.

    It must also offer flexibility, allowing for the assignment of new users, reassigning tasks, and adjusting priorities, all while ensuring that no asset is lost in the process and the revision is completed on time. 

    Artwork Flow has a workflow feature that allows you to split your project into stages and assign tasks to your team. It also sends automatic follow-ups and deadline reminders, so your team completes the project on time.    

    An example of an organization that utilized these features to reduce its time to market by streamlining workflows is Forest Essentials

    Forest Essentials is a global skincare brand with numerous SKUs. Their team tracked approvals and handled reviews through emails. This caused a lot of frustration and led to product launch delays. 

    However, after they switched to Artwork Flow, they created a standardized approval process and reduced artwork approval delays by 60% by cutting down the time spent on follow-ups. 

    For a detailed account of Forest Essentials' challenges and how Artwork Flow helped solve them, check out our case study here

    Improve collaboration with internal and external stakeholders

    Emailing files back and forth can be impractical when managing a large volume of assets. 

    A DAM system will help replace these endless email threads and provide a secure means for internal and external asset sharing while keeping all feedback attached to each asset within the system. 

    This will enhance collaboration and minimize time-to-market for critical campaigns. Moreover, sharing files within a DAM platform will eliminate the need for external users to have additional software to view assets.

    Jones Dairy Farm is renowned as a premier meat products manufacturer, distinguished by its unmatched reputation for producing exceptional quality goods. 

    They create a large number of brand assets on a regular basis and their design and asset development process was overly complicated. It consisted of a convoluted series of emails, countless iterations, frustrating rework, and ineffective version control. 

    This process not only incurred high operating costs but also failed to deliver satisfactory results. 

    But with the introduction of Artwork Flow’s asset management Jones’ Diary was able to see a 50% increase in project completion rates and 75% increase in efficiency as they could eliminate convoluted methods of communication. 

    Check out the full case study here to understand how Artwork Flow helped Jones’ Diary to improve efficiency and collaborate better with their team members.  

    Maintain brand consistency 

    Maintaining consistent branding across various projects, assets, and campaigns is crucial for agencies that work with multiple brands. 

    A DAM system will assist with this by storing all necessary files, including brand guidelines, logos, creative briefs, and more, in a centralized location, so team members can use them when they start creating assets.

    It will also restrict access to legacy files to avoid the accidental publication of outdated content or imagery and show the asset’s latest version. 

    Some DAMs even can create templates for other users. Designers can specify which design elements can be altered, such as fonts, images, and text fields. For instance, a design team could create a template that enables copywriters to add text while preventing any design elements or placement changes.

    Access control 

    Although the purpose of a DAM system is to provide complete transparency to your processes, it should also not give all parties unrestricted access to files. 

    The system should allow you to tailor permissions based on the user, asset, or project. It should also enable you to set access expiration dates for shared links or files and share file access only to specific email ids. 

    Wrapping up 

    Now that you’ve learnt what a digital asset management system can do, it’s evident that a DAM system is a secure and expandable method to manage and distribute assets, track your asset performance, and ensure conformity with brand standards and compliance requirements.

    But the catch is that choosing a DAM system is hard because most solutions are expensive. However, Artwork Flow has a Pro plan for small businesses and offers all the features you’ll need to streamline your workflow. You can get started immediately or try the tool for 7-days before you decide to pay. 

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