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DAM Analytics: A Smarter Approach to Creative Marketing

This feature article has been contributed by Libby Maurer, product manager at Widen

Of all the stressors that keep digital marketers up at night, data is in a class of its own. Today, there is an expectation that every decision should be “data-driven.” Even content itself, crafted through a creative and often haphazard process, is supposed to obey the cold reason of metrics. Can intuition and sparks of inspiration exist in a kingdom ruled by analytics?

I would argue that digital asset management (DAM) analytics can actually liberate creativity rather than suppress it. By asking the right questions of assets, we can test our gut instincts and take greater risks, knowing that data will either validate or invalidate our ideas. Simply put, DAM analytics empower us to experiment, see the results and produce better content.

To fuel this creative cycle, we ask questions like:

  • Where are assets being used outside the DAM?
  • Who uses these assets?
  • How many times are assets downloaded, viewed, shared and repurposed? In other words, how do they perform?

To illustrate how these questions can reconcile creativity and data, I will share some real-life examples from my employer. The aim here is to explore how marketers ultimately use data to make better marketing decisions.

1. Which Videos Do Travel Agents Actually Like?

In March 2015, a large cruise line introduced a new brand that offers cruises that last over 9 days and focus on local, authentic experiences. A production manager at the company found that the brand was such a new concept people had a hard time capturing the vision. So, she produced a video for the sales team to use across its marketing channels to educate and raise awareness.

The video received a cold reception. It was over a minute longer than the cruise line’s past videos, and rather than focusing on one aspect of the cruise (e.g. dining), the clip covered the entire experience. “Anecdotally,” said the product manager, “I heard that nobody wanted to use the video. So I thought, forget it, we’re not making any more of these.”

However, when she reviewed analytics on the video’s share links and embed codes, she found that the video had been viewed more than 1,000 times, outperforming all of the company’s traditional video content. Over a three-month period, daily shares and views climbed 30 percent, meaning that video was being used more and more frequently. The production manager’s analytics on “intended use” showed that the sales team had been using the video in their presentations.

“For my role it’s critical that I have this kind of information,” said the production manager. “It tells me a couple things: One, our teams are getting the right kind of content. I know this because they’re sharing the video over and over again. Two, it tells me where it’s been viewed from so I can feed that information back to our marketing team. Three, it validates that this type of content is effective so I can budget for more of it in the future.”

DAM analytics revealed that the video experiment worked, and data proved that the production team should invest more resources and creative energy into these unconventional videos.

2. Look for Patterns in Winning Assets

At a firm that designs and manufactures workplace furniture, one DAM administrator ensures that creative assets are stored and searchable in the company’s DAM site. Marketing teams produce creative content for each product line (desks, seating, tables, etc.) and then the DAM admin uploads and categorizes the assets. The marketing teams weren’t sure how these assets performed.

So, the DAM admin built an analytics dashboard for each product line. They allowed marketing managers to see how often their creative assets are downloaded, viewed, shared and repurposed. As the DAM admin explains, the dashboards “…help them measure the use of brochures, product photography and installation videos—and then drive decisions about what and how much new content to create.”

The key is that company’s marketing managers analyze the highest performing content. Is there a pattern? What distinguishes the winning photo from nine other photos of the same product?

“For instance, let’s say we have ten environmental product shots and we want to know which ones people gravitate toward,” said the DAM admin. “Maybe nine of them are shown on a bare floor and one has a rug. If we see that the image with the rug is viewed, shared, downloaded most frequently, we know there’s something about that rug people are drawn to and we should think about making more like it. That’s where the value is.”

Analytics shape each iteration of content at this firm. The marketing teams can focus on creative strategies that have proven their effectiveness.

3. Analyze Your Marketing Channels

At top universities, recruiting the next generation of student athletes is a year-round effort. To find new talent, one athletics department at a U.S. university launched a recruiting website for its 29 sports teams. Backed by a WordPress CMS, the site features videos and images stored in the college’s DAM system. Through an integration with WordPress, the DAM administrator is able to search assets and then add them to the CMS or embed them on the recruiting website.

Because video assets are served directly from the DAM system, the admin can generate analytics on when content was viewed and where it was viewed from. As she explains, “We can review the analytics associated with the embedded videos. At a high level, too, we can review who is looking at the videos, where they are looking from and continue to study how the end user is consuming our content. It helps us understand what content is engaging our audience and what content may need to be changed.”

Thus, in addition to getting feedback on individual assets, the team can evaluate the recruiting site as a distribution channel. Is it attracting the right types of visitors? Does it have good geographical reach? Does content perform better on one page versus another? Are they attracting visitors interested in a variety of different sports? The site, and its diversity of teams, give the athletics department ample space to experiment.

The Bottom Line: DAM Analytics Lead to Better Content

On the internet, content creators are removed from their audience. Standup comedians get cheers or boos; DJs energize the crowd or don’t; teachers read their students’ faces; but digital marketers have to measure their performance by indirect means. And that is why digital asset management analytics are so crucial.

Managing hundreds or thousands of pieces of content, it’s too easy to repeat our mistakes. It’s frustrating to conduct dozens of experiments without ever seeing the results. Analytics speak on behalf of our stakeholders and audience members to guide us toward better content.

To be effective marketers, we need intuition and sparks of inspiration – and we need DAM analytics to unveil the impact of our creative choices. To sleep more peacefully at night, make use of all the data that is hidden in your DAM system, just waiting to be tapped.


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