There’s a lot that goes into the decision to invest in new software. Who will use it? What do you need it to do? How much will it cost? How long will it take to set up? And so much more. In fact, the average Software as a Service (SaaS) sales cycle typically ranges between three to six months — and that doesn’t include a company’s initial internal research and discovery phase. In addition, the way teams buy software has changed.
Today, savvy consumers don’t want to be sold to. They do more research up front — before they even speak to someone at a software company. But you know that. That’s what you’re doing now. You’re on a quest to find the best digital asset management (DAM) software out there. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you with your search for the best DAM solution.
Since all software is not created equal, this guide covers five things to look for in order to find the best DAM solution for your organization. So let’s get started.
Start the search for the best DAM system
If you’re looking to find the best DAM software, then you likely already know what DAM is and why you need it. But there’s a lot to consider when selecting the right platform for your company. With so many options available, it’s important to understand your team’s requirements and how your new technology will fit into your entire digital ecosystem.
To get started, we recommend that you:
1. Identify your team's needs
The best DAM solution is the one that meets your team’s needs. So it’s important to know what those needs are, both for the short- and long-term. Assembling a marketing technology team can help uncover the needs of a wide range of users. Coming to a decision as a team also helps with long-term buy-in because it gives multiple stakeholders the opportunity to provide input.
One important person that is often overlooked in this process is the system administrator. The DAM system admin will actually use the tool the most. Understanding how the new technology will fit into their workflow can be a huge factor in determining success.
2. Outline use cases
Understanding your team’s needs should help with the next step — surfacing use cases. Detailing specific outcomes that you need the software to accomplish will help you evaluate how different vendors address your specific needs. Some common DAM system use cases are:
- Organize content in one system
- Integrate your martech stack
- Consolidate redundant tools
- Ensure brand consistency by
- Publish brand-approved content
- Repurpose your best-performing content
- Monitor content effectiveness
- Minimize the risk of content rights
- Streamline content workflow
- Launch products faster
- Expand into new e-commerce channels
The more detail you can provide for each use case, the better each vendor will be able to demonstrate how their solution rises to the challenge — so be specific.
3. List the must-have capabilities
Your use cases will also help define your must-have capabilities. The features you require will likely range from basic (content organization) to company specific (must integrate with a key technology in the content workflow). Outlining your processes could be a great exercise to help capture all of the capabilities that your DAM solution must have. Common DAM features include:
- Metadata mapping
- Robust search functionality
- Ability to support multiple file formats
- Asset-level analytics
- In-app image conversions
- Configurable permissioning structures
- No-code automation options
- An open API to support any integration
Tying together your must-have features and use cases will help narrow down the best DAM systems for your needs.
4. Compare digital asset management features
When it comes to understanding the DAM capabilities a vendor offers, it’s important to see these features in action. Just because they’re offered, doesn’t mean they’ll accomplish what you need them to. All DAM software can provide value, the important thing to confirm whether or not the value each system offers is what you and your team need to do your best work.
To compare the software features of each system, you could include them in the use cases sent to each vendor during the request for proposal (RFP) process. Then each vendor can be scored based on how closely their functionality meets the needs of each use case.
You might also want to consider listing capabilities by their level of necessity. For example, some might be must-haves while others are just nice-to-have. Current customers could also draw attention to features you didn’t even know you needed. Looking at customer review sites as part of your research will likely highlight how others are using the tools you’re evaluating.
5. Choose the best DAM system for your needs
While the actual selection of the best DAM solution for your needs might feel daunting, don’t worry. Doing your research, understanding what your teams need, and evaluating your vendor options consistently will help guide your decision-making process. Here are some other questions that can help inform your decision as well.
Once you’ve selected a system, make sure to set realistic expectations for implementation. If you’re searching for an enterprise solution, there will be workflows to consider and change management to navigate. Dedicating a team and ample time to this endeavor will save resources, patience, and money in the long run.
Helpful digital asset management resources
There are many research options to include in your search. You can watch industry or vendor webinars, or attend conferences on DAM and marketing technology (martech). You can read case studies, articles, and white papers. Or you can talk to DAM experts — and your peer network — about the solutions they recommend.
Since we’ve found that you can never really have too many resources when it comes to making the right investment, here are a few more tools to help in your search for the best DAM:
- The DAM Evaluation Toolkit: Through a series of checklists, exercises, and templates, this hands-on resource walks you through the DAM evaluation process. It offers an easy-to-follow approach to identifying your desired features and functionality, and finding the solution that meets your needs.
- An Intro to the Five Foundations of Digital Asset Management: This article outlines the essential elements of an effective DAM system: governance, metadata and taxonomy, automatic processing, analytics, and create once publish everywhere (COPE). Organizations that master these concepts are able to meet their DAM goals, and achieve the greatest return on their investment.
- Justifying Digital Asset Management: This guide outlines what DAM is and why it’s a worthy business investment. It explains how major brands use this technology to scale their content operations and power their digital experiences. And it offers ways to calculate and justify the value of DAM to your organization.
- DAM case studies: Often, the best way to understand what you want and need from a technology solution is to learn by example. Our library of customer case stories is full of real and relatable ways to use DAM systems to manage content, foster collaboration, and streamline workflows.
- Analyst reviews: There are numerous industry analysts that help businesses find the best martech solutions for their needs. Forrester, Gartner, Real Story Group, and the Codified DAM Consultant™ all provide valuable, authoritative, and current market intelligence. Whether you take advantage of their free materials, paid reports, or consulting services, they can be a trusted resource — or even partner — in your DAM search.
A DAM platform that works for one organization may not be right for another. You likely started searching for an asset management solution because you’re wrestling with specific business problems. Whatever they might be — brand consistency, content management, or workflow issues — keep your unique pain points, needs, and wants at the forefront of your search. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, the goal here is to find the best DAM software for your organization.
Knowing that all systems won’t work for every team, we’ll start by saying that Widen is not the best DAM system for every single organization. But, built for pros by the pros, Widen is a powerful and versatile solution — and we’re just as focused on the right fit as you are.
We want to ensure that every Widen customer is set up for success. That’s why we established our very own criteria, which we use to evaluate how or if we match an organization’s needs. Have a look. If you find yourself nodding your head yes, Widen could be the best DAM system for you!
- You need a true DAM system
We are an actual DAM system (and more). Some marketing technology vendors label themselves as DAM software, when they are actually file-sharing tools with extra bells and whistles. The Codified DAM Consultant™ outlines 10 core characteristics that are required to be a certified DAM vendor — which Widen is. We take DAM beyond these core requirements with functionality that delivers more for your marketing, product, creative, sales, and content operations.
- You are interested in integrating DAM with other martech tools
Widen can be integrated with other software platforms you already use to extend the value of your digital assets and optimize workflows. We offer a range of out-of-the-box integrations, as well as custom integrations using our API. And for those seeking product information management (PIM) capabilities, Widen has a combined DAM and PIM solution. This flexibility allows you to build a digital ecosystem that’s right for you.
- You want a partner, not only a tool
While Widen is a self-service platform, we want to be part of your team as your content needs evolve. We see our client relationships as partnerships that begin with the very first contact with our advisor team. We are just as committed to your long-term success as you are, and pride ourselves on outstanding, empathetic customer service and support.
- You want a solution with a proven track record
Widen has been recognized for its innovation and industry leadership throughout our 25+ year tenure in the DAM space. Recent awards include being named a “Leader” in the Forrester Wave™: Digital Asset Management For Customer Experience, Q1 2022 report, receiving the 2022 Top Rated Award from TrustRadius, listed as a 2022 SIIA CODiE finalist for best digital asset management platform, and included on the 2021 Capterra Shortlist. We’re also regularly recognized by our customers as a leader across G2 review categories. And we are proud of our net promoter score (NPS), which measures customer experience and loyalty. In the enterprise software industry, the average NPS score is 36, and we are currently at 45! Pair this with a high employee retention rate and we believe we’re on the right track.
If you’re ready to take a look at Widen, that’s great! We have a few options for you. You can watch an on-demand demo, explore our free trial, or set up a personalized demo with a Widen advisor. And if you’re not quite ready yet, that’s OK too. We’ll be here when you are. We’re happy to help you assess your needs and determine which DAM system is best for you (even if it isn’t ours).
Note: This article was originally published in September 2020 and has been updated to remain current.