We’ve talked about the importance of bringing together physical and digital content in a unified environment here in the RevBase blog. We’ve also discussed the importance of a repository: a database as the structure for managing all marketing assets. Now we’ll dive into the functions and activities available to users of a marketing asset management system.
A primary function of marketing asset management is (no surprise) the management of assets. This typically means one or more content managers have access rights that enable them to add, edit, and manage the hundreds or thousands of marketing assets within the system. These users – who tend to be marketing managers, coordinators, and creative staff members – need an optimized interface to work with assets in the marketing asset management system.
Users need to manage marketing assets from their desktop, and increasingly, a tablet or even a phone – particularly today, with marketing in many cases an almost ‘round-the-clock activity. Marketers need the ability to update assets anywhere, anytime. This means mobile device support is essential. But in most cases, users are working in desktop environments – creating, reviewing, and sharing a wide variety of documents.
A primary service of marketing asset management is the ability to quickly add content in different quantities: one file or multiple files at a time. Indeed, the ability to upload content in batches is an important function. The second thing is being able to search the accumulated assets in the repository quickly and easily, to find the asset that needs an update. Again, this is where the power of the database allows users to search, filter, and quickly isolate the two or 20 assets needed for a particular task.
Version control – including the ability to see not only the current version of a piece of content but all previous versions as well – is important for content managers. Marketers also need to access the draft copy, project plans, creative briefs, and other supporting documents associated with the finished asset. This means the marketing asset management system can manage the entire collection of files that comprise each marketing deliverable.
Marketing asset management solves a number of problems traditionally associated with directories, folders, shared drives, and yes, versions. Look at this this way: in the absence of a repository and a searchable interface to that repository, all most marketers have are folders and files they can name. That’s not a very robust environment for managing items.
In marketing asset management systems, the highest volume of searches, downloads, and other activities are done by people we refer to as “visitors.” Examples include sales reps, distributors, customers, and prospects: anyone needing access to marketing assets.
Let’s identify the actions the marketing asset management system needs to make available or can make available to these users. But first, it’s worth pointing out that marketers generally want to restrict certain activities, actions, and functions to particular audiences.
A marketing team may want some but not all sales reps to be able to order certain materials. Or want some but not all distributors to be able to comment on selected marketing programs. They might want reps, but not vendors, to be able to get a permanent link to an item for use in presentations. And want the marketing department to see versions of an asset but not make them available to the sales team.
The first step in all this is to determine which actions and functions should be available by audience. In most cases, when visitors interact with a marketing asset management system, they’re searching, navigating, and downloading. They want to grab the appropriate digital asset and use it.
However, a marketing asset management system typically has a wide range of additional actions that can be enabled. One prominent example is emailing assets directly from the system.
In the absence of a marketing asset management system, sales reps end up having versions of digital files on their desktop, which they typically email as attachments. A marketing asset management system makes this more efficient, accurate, and brand-compliant, by allowing reps to dispatch emails right from the system. That way, they’re always sending the latest and greatest file – and gaining tracking of access to it.
Marketers want to encourage sales reps to email digital content to customers and prospects, but it should always be the appropriate content. This should include an ability to email assets in a number of modes.
Obviously, attachments are what most people are familiar with, but users should be able to email links as well. Why? Because very often, assets are large and file sizes exceed what recipients’ systems can receive. When sending a link to an asset in email, the marketing asset management system should allow that link to be tracked, so a sales rep can tell if a prospect or customer accessed the asset she or he emailed.
Another common activity, of course, is ordering. We talked about uniting digital and physical items. If physical items are involved, marketers often want to enable users to add orderable items to a shopping cart and then place an order in accordance with whatever ordering rules are appropriate for the organization.
Once marketers enable ordering through the marketing asset management system, they generally enable order status. This means sales reps can see the status of orders: whether they’ve been printed and when they’ll arrive – and get tracking information (the latter is often particularly important when reps are heading to an event and need to make sure all their materials get there on time). In these cases, they hopefully place their orders days in advance and see, right in the system, that the material has been dispatched to the hotel or conference site.
Another important marketing asset management system function: allowing input from the field. Once again, the marketing department often wants to set up appropriate and relevant constraints around this function. Some departments want to encourage comments from the field, and others only want to encourage feedback on particular programs or assets. The ability to have generalized or specific mechanisms that let sales reps and others communicate back to the marketing department about materials is a common requirement.
In some cases, a related activity within the marketing asset management system is discussions. If an organization is built around its online presence, many people may be comfortable commenting, asking questions, gathering suggestions, learning how to use an asset, finding out where it has been successful, and so on. This may happen in an online forum or threaded discussion within the system. Feedback of this nature often gives the marketing department insight into what real-world users want to know about.
A marketing asset management function sales reps and distributors often find very helpful is permanent links to one or more assets within the system. When the marketing team updates assets, sales reps know a link they’ve used before will automatically deliver the most recent version. A classic example is a price sheet where sales reps have a static link that can be included in email or letters and used again and again as prices change. Users know the link always resolves to the most up-to-date version of the price sheet.
These days, marketing asset management administrators need features that might be unique or proprietary to their sales process. These requests may revolve around notifications. A marketing asset management system will routinely email notifications to users, letting them know something has been updated, new items are available, and so on.
In some cases, these messages need to be organized and configured for specific audiences. The marketing asset management system should allow the marketing department to respond to these types of unique notification requests.
To download our complimentary white paper, “10 Signs You Need Marketing Asset Management,” click here.