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5 signs your marketing teams needs online proofing

7 min read
Mike Puterbaugh

The proliferation of digital marketing channels has rapidly increased the demand for content from marketing teams. In addition, marketing cycles have shortened dramatically. As a result,  marketers need to produce more high quality content in less time. And each piece of content needs review at least once before approval and release.

This means that the process of reviewing and approving content is more important than ever.

Marketing teams have traditionally relied on email and/or hard copy printouts to manage the review of marketing content. There’s little debate that these methods don’t scale in relation to the amount of work being requested, but it’s the most common approach still used today.   

According to the 2017 In House Creative Industry Report, 71% of those surveyed don’t use a dedicated online proofing application to collaborate or collect/track feedback.

If that sounds familiar, keep reading, you may connect some dots of your own. Here are five leading indicators that your marketing team could benefit from online proofing.   

What we'll cover

Missed Deadlines - But Why?  

It’d be easy to point to “missed deadlines” as the number one reason to consider an online proofing solution, however it’s more helpful to look at symptoms of what causes those missed deadlines.  For example…

1. Lack of feedback from stakeholders.

For designers and project managers alike, prompt feedback is what keeps the review process moving along toward improvements and decisions. The average employee receives over 120 emails per day.  This clear case of email overload presents a challenge - how can team members efficiently review colleagues feedback, ensuring comments are seen, and duplicate (or conflicting) feedback is avoided?    

No issue with timely feedback?  Great.  How about the quality of the feedback, as it relates to keeping proofs moving along?   

2. Too much ambiguous and ineffective feedback.

Feedback that lacks context and specificity usually requires additional email and hallway conversations for clarification.This constant context-switching (from creative to email and back again) slows down projects and can introduce errors along the way.    

How an online proofing system can help to improve the process of collecting, and quality of, feedback: Online proofing systems can make it easier for your team members to provide timely, effective feedback. Reviewers are provided a secure link to proofs, with integrated annotation and commenting tools, and then able to markup content and designs, while providing specific, context-rich comments, as well as engaging other users on their feedback.

This feedback becomes action items, keeping proofs moving along.   

Providing a method for effective feedback is often online proofing's most tangible and immediate benefit.  Without it, you could also be experiencing other symptoms of missed deadlines such as…

3. Version sprawl.

A weak process for collecting feedback can create ripple effects throughout the delivery process. One of these ripple effects is version sprawl - the churning out of new versions for feedback that wasn’t supported or challenged (or in most cases, even seen by other team members). Pretty soon, every project has a version numbered in double digits.

How online proofing can help cut down on version sprawl:  
Online proofing not only improves the quality of feedback being provided, it also catalogs the feedback across versions. Specifically, online proofing systems help manage versions as they are created, as well as provides a comparison tool to view versions side by side, a proof-positive way to ensure changes are being made. This can drastically cut down on versions required for project completion.    

The ineffective collection and management and feedback can have big impacts on timely delivery of new creative content.  But what about the challenges that can cause re-work, after you’ve met a deadline?  Are those situations even worse than missing a deadline?  Beyond common spelling errors that can wreck an ad or design, there are other signs that your marketing team needs online proofing, such as...  

4. Compliance is an everyday requirement.

For many industries, marketing content frequently needs to meet strict compliance requirements. These can be both internally and externally mandated and can include, but not be limited to the following:

  • Brand compliance  
  • Disclosures
  • Comparative claims
  • Special offers
  • Substantiation
  • Sweepstakes and contests
  • Marketing to children
  • Collection and use of marketing data

The risks of noncompliance can be significant - customer confidence lost financial penalties, and legal liabilities. to name a few.  This is all before any re-work, often an unrecoverable cost in the agency world, is required.  

Learn how to further improve content review and approval with a copy of our free ebook "The Definitive Guide to Online Proofing"

ebook-guide to online proofingeBook: The Definitive Guide to Online Proofing

Learn how to solve daily production roadblocks and manual tasks to get creative work into finished stages with online proofing.

Download ebook


This isn’t only about getting the right stakeholders involved, but also requires proof-positive, probative information on the review process for these materials.

How online proofing systems can help teams to achieve marketing compliance: An effective online proofing system can help marketing teams demonstrate the control they have over their review and approval process in a few, integrated ways.  First, all comments are logged and archived, tied to specific versions of each proof.  Second, the teams associated with each project are notified regularly (daily, hourly or instantly) of all new feedback, keeping everyone on the same page. Also, many enterprise-grade online proofing systems support rigorous roles-based access control, which can limit which team members can see particular proofs, and what they can do with them.  

Most of the signs so far have to deal with intra-organizational processes that online proofing can help optimize, such as centralizing feedback, managing versions and helping with compliance requirements.

There are other signs that go beyond the office walls, such as...

5. Lack of Coordination with External Teams. 

If your creative process includes external team members (partners, vendors, clients or agencies, for example), coordinating with them can pose challenges in keeping marketing projects moving.  Your vendor might use Skype and you use Slack.  You rely on Basecamp, they use Asana.  It’s not just technology, it’s also their processes that might be different.  

When adding in more people to a process, a solid tactic is to reduce the variables across those team members. Specific to online proofing, this means ensuring everyone is reviewing the right content at the right time, and with the right information.    

How online proofing can help streamline the review and approval process with external teams: When it comes to collaborating with external teams, online proofing systems can help reduce the variables which may cause project bottlenecks.  By providing a consistent presentation of the content being reviewed, you’re guaranteed that everyone is reviewing the right asset, regardless of their location or device. It also ensures that everyone has the same guidance, in this case past versions and their comments, to understand how you reached the current state.  

Often, the most obvious areas for improvement are marked by signs which are right in front of us every day. If any of these examples are causing you and your marketing team to miss deadlines or produce less-than-stellar creative content, try Ziflow out today and start improving your creative review and approval process.  

Learn how to further improve content review and approval with a copy of our free ebook "The Definitive Guide to Online Proofing".

eBook: The Definitive Guide to Online Proofing

Learn how to solve daily production roadblocks and manual tasks to get creative work into finished stages with online proofing.

Download ebook

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