The Benefits of Using a DAM with your CMS

Posted / 01 May, 2018

Author / The Enginess Team

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Effective digital transformation is about leveraging technology solutions to make your business better. Content management systems and digital asset management systems are a valuable pair when implemented properly.

For many enterprises there will never be a single software solution.

Effective digital transformation and business process management (BPM) is about leveraging multiple technical solutions so they work well together to make your business better.

It’s about finding the right combination for your business needs.

That said, some pieces of software go together better than others.

Content management systems and digital asset management systems (CMS and DAM, respectively) are a valuable pair when implemented properly.

Since most organizations already have a CMS in place for (at least) their website management, this article will cover our top 6 reasons to add a DAM to your CMS.


1. DAM keep your assets straight

If you’re a WordPress user, your media library probably looks something like this:


Wordpress media files

It’s difficult to navigate and difficult to find assets in when you’re looking for them.

Inevitably, it means different assets get used in different places as people get frustrated and just re-upload the thing they need but can’t find (e.g. logo.png and logo2.png).

Second, this media library situation and limited tagging makes it difficult to search for an asset when you want one, and difficult to get a sense of your asset universe.

A DAM can link with your CMS to make it much easier to find and deploy the right asset when you need it.


2. A CMS is great a publishing but bad at storage

Your CMS is a great tool to make it simple for non-technical users to publish content online.

And it’s a great platform to design and format your online environment so it reflects

your brand and drives the behaviour and metrics that you want.

But it’s not so good at storing digital assets, which are accumulated at a staggering rate for organizations practising even a basic inbound/content marketing strategy.

For instance, let’s say you’re running a blog to drive organic web traffic. For every blog post, you will likely generate/produce the following assets:

  • The copy of the blog post
  • A CTA at the end of the blog post
  • A cover image for the blog post
  • The blog post headline
  • Images and diagrams within the blog post.

There are also things like custom social share images (i.e. images that show up when you share on something like Facebook) that need to be created to each platform’s specs.

It quickly becomes untenable to manually store these in a basic CMS media library.

A DAM attaches rich metadata to each of these assets, which makes it easy to search and find related assets when you need them later.

What’s more, many businesses need to generate non-marketing assets on a daily basis as well — assets that need to be controlled, deployed, and version-controlled. This is much easier with a DAM than with a CMS alone.


3. DAM enables dynamic asset deployment

A basic tenet of marketing is speaking to your audience about their specific pain.

But the challenge that companies run into is that while websites might be dynamic, webpages are static.

That is, if a company has a web page about their features, whatever features they choose to talk about is essentially static. No matter who lands on that page is going to see the same thing.

This leads to one of two things happening:

  1. The company uses generic assets that appeal a little bit to everyone, or
  2. The company uses specific assets to appeal to a specific audience, alienating everyone outside that target group.

Some companies can do this without consequence: their audience profile is narrow enough that they don’t need to tailor their content.

A company selling commodity flour to industrial bakeries of 400+ employees, for example, probably doesn’t need to change its messaging much.

But those examples are few and far between.

For the rest of us, the answer is dynamic content.

Dynamic content is when content on a page switches out depending on what a company knows about a visitor.

A simple example might be a landing page specific to a city, perhaps loading a picture of the corresponding city’s skyline in the background.

A more complex example might be capturing lead information and then serving relevant content to that lead on subsequent visits. For example, if a user lands on your page and fills out a form telling you they work in the furniture business, then you might serve them website call-outs when they come back all about your work with furniture companies.

Not every DAM will have this functionality. But a key part of dynamic content is having your content organized so it can be served at a moment’s notice.

A CMS is a great start here. For example, you may use blog post tagging and categories for some simple dynamism. But anything more granular will likely leave a CMS reeling.

That’s where a DAM comes in. By using robust metadata structures, you can build specific audience profiles that automatically pull the relevant content up when and where it’s needed.


4. DAM can help create a single source of truth

We’ve talked a little bit about duplication of assets earlier.

But this problem goes much deeper than logos and files being uploaded more than once.

Imagine, for instance, you’re Asos.com, the behemoth clothing site. You have millions of unique items. Each of those has a description, images, video, and more to promote it. You also have variations of each item, both across colors and across sizes (e.g. one T-shirt in blue and green, in sizes XS-XL).

Keeping it all straight is exceedingly difficult.

A SQL database will work for storing the underlying data, but creating a way for that database to be accessed by non-dev teams and that data to be leveraged by everyone from regional supply managers to social media marketers is the requirement of a DAM.

A DAM means assets can be uploaded, tagged, and tracked for future promotion easily, without sacrificing the usability provided by a CMS and without having many fingers poking into the underlying database.


5. A DAM vastly increase your rate of publication

Keeping up the ferocious rate of content production needed by organizations to remain competitive in organic search is both time-consuming and expensive.

A DAM deployed with a CMS can make your life easier.

We know the benefits of a CMS – rapid, code-free production and publication of content from anyone, anywhere in the organization, anywhere in the world.

A DAM helps organize and categorize those assets. This helps improve the rate of production in a few key ways.

First, it means the right assets can be found quickly and reused again and again. For instance, if you have a sign-off CTA for your blog, you can save that as a template in your DAM and deploy it whenever you need it.

Second, it means your producers don’t need to repeatedly create new messaging for the same purpose. They can reuse creative assets and copy in new and interesting ways. For instance, say you’re running an email marketing campaign. If you have all your email hero images saved, once you’ve sent a few dozen emails, you can start to reuse your images.

Third, it means you are much better positioned to repurpose content wholesale. For instance, republishing blog posts or turning ebooks into reports and whitepapers.

This sort of work all helps improve your net content production rate, enabling faster, more effective, and cheaper content without sacrificing quality.


6. DAM helps you leverage your institutional memory

Lastly, every organization has a large amount of information about themselves stored in an institutional memory. Processes, systems, ways of working, messaging – it’s all stored in emails, conversations, and “templates” (e.g. copying an old version of something and adding new info).

This information is valuable to organizations because frankly, it’s how things actually get done.

But it also presents significant challenges. Figuring out a way to use this information productively is difficult because it is distributed through multiple systems, and second, often exists in people’s heads.

A CMS/DAM combination can help solve this problem.

First, a DAM ensures that internal assets that are needed to drive business processes forward are actually stored.

Second, a CMS empowers employees to document the systems they use to do their jobs, rather than saving them locally as notes on their computer or in email/instant message chains.

By presenting a way for users to easily create documentation to help them do their jobs and creating a way for said documentation to be easily searchable by others, organizations can begin formalizing informal process without completely overhauling how people do their jobs.


Summary

DAM/CMS systems go well together because they solve related but slightly different problems.

A CMS makes publishing easy, but it doesn’t enable users and organizations to track and organize the assets they publish easily.

A DAM doesn’t do much for publishing, but it gives organizations the ability to add metadata to every asset and build robust, searchable databases for every asset a business creates.

Combined, these software suites create many symbiotic benefits:

  • Assets are easy to find and easy to deploy.
  • CMS media libraries can be ignored, since they regularly lead to asset confusion  and misuse.
  • Assets, once organized, can be deployed dynamically for specific audiences.
  • DAMs create a single source of truth while still enabling clean databases to be maintained and users keep the functionality to publish themselves (via the CMS)
  • Rate of publication increases by easily reusing creative assets, messaging, templates, and content.
  • DAMs document and leverage your institutional memory effectively.

When it comes to software, problems can occur when you throw more than one acronym into the mix. But the benefits you receive when joining CMS and DAM systems make the effort worthwhile.

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