A tidal wave of content is diluting the web, social media and physical spaces, making the job of a marketer much more difficult. Decent content is now as easy to ignore as awful content. Just as Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart parody the 24-hour news cycle, the “omnichannel,” “real time,” “engaging,” “targeted” and “viral” content world is now mocked by websites like Clickhole and TrapCrunch. Only outstanding writing, videos and images will have an impact.

Getting people to care about your content doesn't come down to just the act of distribution -- it's about the full life of communications, from creation to preservation. That’s why I believe digital asset management (DAM) plays such a crucial role in marketing. It’s not just about simplification or saving time -- it’s about delivering an experience worth talking about.

Delivering What Matters

Content is central to the customer experience, but as the pressure to publish gets stronger, the quality of content goes down. 

When people visit your website and read a blog post that bores them to death with buzzwords and product pitches, that’s a bad customer experience. When people read a blog post and feel entertained, inspired and grateful, that’s a great experience. We need more of the latter. From the awe inspired by Red Bull’s space jump and GoPro’s Instagram feed, to the hilarity of Dollar Shave Club’s intro video and Adobe’s Click, Baby, Click!, to HubSpot’s blog and Buffer’s social media advice, brands finally get that experiences have to be designed for the living, not a zombie who “consumes” content. Marketers just need tools to accomplish this.

Content is, ultimately, a container of information. To measure content by volume and frequency is the equivalent of judging a spelling bee based on how many words the contestants try to spell. It's the message within content that matters, and people will give a DAM about your brand when you publish information that matters.

DAM helps marketers avoid the missteps that lead to bad web content and helps them publish information worth publishing. Consider that great inventions, music, artwork and virtually all creative endeavors rely on randomness and bursts of insight. Unlike accounting, which has a linear rules-based approach, marketers rely on some degree of chaos to produce extraordinary work. DAM brings order to the necessary chaos. It’s a hub where people contribute, organize, collaborate, share, track and analyze all sorts of content, which serves as the main interface between a company and its customers in a digital world. Content answers the demands and questions of the people your company serves.

Make DAM Your Creative Lab

When you imagine a modern company that people can find online, on social media, at storefronts and even on printed materials, you start to see how quality can bomb. Every spot is different. The funky video that makes people laugh on YouTube is unavailable at the storefront because who in the world is going to set up flat screens and play that over and over again? Likewise, an informative brochure that a sales associate hands out would be completely out of place on social media. Same brand. Related messages. Completely different context and delivery methods.

Marketers create, refine, test and question content in DAM before it goes out to these channels and becomes part of the customer experience. If you sell bikes and produce bike photos that your dealers can use for marketing, your DAM would let them download the photos of their choice. You’d then learn what they like based on what they download, what they post to social, how they use the content and how audience members respond to it. In this example, you let the dealers take the content and personalize it for their customers because they know best. You control brand consistency and make better content based on how people interact with the experience.

Learning Opportunities

DAM is the engine behind the simple premise that if people like something, you ought to make more stuff like it. DAM is an answer to marketing organizations and content strategies that fail to connect means to ends -- a tool for the marketer who thinks, “We have to produce something!” and fails to realize that something is hurting the customer experience because he can’t really see what’s being made and how it’s used.

As one DAM user told me, DAM provides “the single source of truth.” It is the laboratory where through rigorous experimentation, the initial act of becoming a publisher (yes, that is what marketing has become) produces an ongoing cycle of creativity, collaboration and refinement that gives marketers knowledge of what partners and customers want. It’s one lab where all your marketers hang out and take their risks.

In a world where most content falls flat, the marketers with the best chance of winning have a system that concentrates all energy towards creating, managing, distributing and preserving outstanding material.

I’m a DAM fanatic because I want to live in a world where the internet is the world’s greatest forum of communication -- not a content junkyard riddled with marketing mishaps. Begin to see content, and your DAM, as a way to serve people -- not a means to generate metrics -- and your customer experience will transform.

Title image by Or Hiltch (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC 2.0 license