In this guest article Widen Enterprises CEO, Matthew Gonnering, argues that customers have a lot to learn from (and demand of) SaaS software vendors.

SaaS providers have access to metrics that validate current Digital Asset Management (DAM) strategies in addition to identifying areas for increasing the return on the investment in the technology. If you're not getting this data or if you've not being paying attention to it, it's time to sit up in your chair.

We probably have baseball and The Sporting News to thank for the proliferation of statistics in all sports. Yet, Mark Twain once said there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Of course, he was speaking about to the persuasive power of numbers and about how people will either promote or ignore statistics based entirely on whether or not they support a position. This “truth” is the reason many baseball arguments have never been settled.

100% of Humans Love Statistics

That's probably not true, but let me tell you something. Statistics are not going away. An entire industry of sports fantasy leagues is now flourishing because somebody found a way to get people to “compete” using statistics. It seems a fondness for these numbers is human nature.

You compare your stats to everyone else’s to find out where you stand. Marketers and creative folks are no different. They want to know how they compare to others, including their use of digital asset management (DAM). We are well down the path of being able to begin providing this kind of information and have it be meaningful.

SaaS Providers Have More Stats

As a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider, we are in the unique position of having access to an aggregation of all of our customer’s data. We know we have more than 50,000 users from 120 different countries. We see the amount of downloads taking place for digital content. We see what content is being used and repurposed. We see how much data is being consumed.

We are literally sitting on a goldmine of data. It should be no surprise that marketing or brand managers would be interested in knowing what that data says. It behooves us to be constantly looking at it and to create ways to show our clients what they and others are doing while maintaining customer privacy within our strict security.

Stats Make DAM Sense

The majority of organizations invest in digital asset management solutions to improve interaction with their branded materials to maximize the investments made in the creation of images, videos, audio, creative files and other marketing materials.

While each customer will use DAM and judge its overall effectiveness differently, enough common threads exist which can be standardized and measured in ratios, similar to financial statements.

We picked the following four ratios that we feel are most important to digital asset management.

  1. Digital asset activity ratio
  2. Repurposing ratio
  3. User activity ratio
  4. Digital asset consumption ratio

Digital Asset Activity Ratio

A comparison between the quantity of files that have been ordered and the amount of files stored in the application. This ratio provides insight into the relationship between download activity and all the digital assets stored in the application. For example, a low number for this ratio could mean that a marketing department may need to look at assets with high activity, compared to low activity. For instance, lifestyle images may have higher activity than static product shots. If so, marketing can shift their spending on creating assets.

Repurposing Ratio

A comparison between the active digital assets and the quantity of files ordered. This provides insight into the amount of content repurposing that is taking place over a period of time. Repurposing continues to be a key component of digital asset management value.

A high number indicates that the same digital assets are being ordered by various users over a specific time period. A low number may point to a small set of users rarely ordering the same files over a given time period. Either way, this ratio speaks to activity that may call for an adjustment on spending priorities. A change in the number over time also gives you instant feedback whether adjustments you make are working.

User Activity Ratio

A comparison between the total number of logins and the quantity of users that have logged in provides information about visitation frequency. This metric also provides insight into how frequently users visit to browse or check back on new branded materials.

These ratios provide confirmation of whether DAM is working in the specific areas of relieving a resources drain by internal staff and increasing brand reach. If the number is low, action should be taken to promote the system’s use internally. It may involve a decision to include more training, focus on other types of digital assets, or change the way a client’s users are interacting with the system.

Digital Asset Consumption Ratio

Comparing the quantity of files ordered to the users that logged into the system provides information on the amount of data being consumed by each user over a specific time period.

This ratio speaks to the original reason for DAM implementation. As mentioned earlier, the reasons vary from company to company. If a company wants to use DAM as a mass distribution tool, they will want to watch this ratio to make sure it is being used properly. If the numbers are low, the DAM application is being treated more as an archive than a “heavy use” application and could be addressed with more internal promotion of DAM.

Additional interpretations of all of these DAM ratios will continue to be developed. But right now, the numbers can be compared (vs. the average & medians) against historical activity within the same system or against historical activity across the entire customer base of the SaaS provider or even against the use of DAM by the provider itself.

Demand More of Your SaaS

A SaaS provider should easily be able to supply its natural expertise on how to read and what to do with these ratios. For example, a user may be interacting with the system five times a month and in that month, he or she downloaded approximately ten files and of those ten files, half are being repurposed a hundred times. There is significant value in knowing this and what it means.

Regularly sharing and discussing information like this, in and of itself, should be a SaaS best practice. The ability to do so is a wonderful example of the most important “S” in SaaS – the service “S”. It is a major distinction between SaaS and installed DAM software.

Installed providers don’t have the same kind of control over as much data because systems are deployed at individual sites. An installed provider doesn’t automatically set things up to retrieve all of this data from their deployment sites and pull it back in so it can be analyzed. Why? Because doing so can be a pretty significant and costly project. It is a lot of rigmarole that, in many cases gets skipped -- not so with SaaS.