Technology has dramatically shifted the research and selection process by customers, who now expect a fast response and relevant content delivered, how they want it and at every stage of the sales engagement process. In return, organizations of all kinds are creating digital content at an exponential rate, realizing there is a major opportunity in this new “always on” world to use these digital assets to deliver revenue.
However, creating a wealth of content is one thing; making the most of these digital assets as part of the revenue-generation process is another. This is resulting in the rise of the “asset-focused mindset,” as organizations of all kinds build digital content into the very core of their sales and marketing strategies rather than as an after-process.
An integral part of this is ensuring that employees — especially those who have contact with customers in one way or another — have simple and easy access to the latest content and messaging. This not only helps to ensure that employees are up to date with the latest products or services, but are also in line with any compliance or regulatory requirements.
According to a November 2014 Forrester Research report, “digital asset management (DAM) solutions must effectively support both the increase in the amount of content with more scalable solutions, the ability to manage complexities like different content types (e.g., 3D and CGI for product packaging), and better integration with various systems (e.g., CRM and customer services tools, WCM, and eCommerce).”
Who’s minding your content?
The reality is that many organizations lack clear insight into what digital assets exist, nor who is creating, approving, accessing or distributing that content. This is not surprising, since many businesses have a legacy of multiple systems and are over-reliant on the likes of email and file share servers. While these mechanisms are fine for the purposes for which they were designed, they lack the transparency, workflows and archiving on which effective digital asset management depends.
So how do organizations overcome the challenges around digital asset creation and sharing? Here are five proven best practices:
Provide one up-to-date source. Ensure everyone has centralized access to current, accurate content through a single content repository that manages digital sales and marketing assets. Have in place a process or system that automatically ‘retires’ any content that has become redundant across the entire organization, so that there is no risk of it being accidentally accessed or shared by employees.
Make content easier to find. Unless a system is easy and highly intuitive to use, people will find another way to access content. Focus on design, so that content is easy to find (but without overwhelming staff with too many choices) and also focused around the market and its needs (not products and part numbers).
Access content on the fly. It’s important to help staff adapt content in real-time, so they can respond to conversations (whether one-to-one or via a broader medium, such as social media) without having to go back to HQ for guidance. Getting as many pre-approved content components in place in advance — including any associated rights management, brand guidelines or compliance requirements — will help employees to “self serve” in a dynamic, rapid way.
Understand customer personas and deliver the right content at every stage. This requires closer collaboration between sales and marketing to better understand the customer engagement process and the content needed at each point in the purchasing decision process. An efficient sales process will not only identify what stage of the buying cycle each customer is at, but will trigger the right information to prompt the next step.
Monitor content access. Whether customers or employees, tracking who is accessing what content helps to highlight what is — or isn’t — working, which can contribute to future planning processes (for instance: “we need more sales pack like that one”, or “let’s not bother with datasheets, no-one is downloading them.”) Monitoring content usage will also help to support return-on-investment analysis.
With dependency on digital communications exploding, the need to manage digital assets has never been more important. For the organizations that embrace this shift by adopting the right approaches, content becomes a driver in the sales revenue generation process.
Hassan Kotob is CEO and chairman of North Plains Systems, a global digital asset management (DAM) company.