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Intake forms: Bring content into your creative production workflows (without email)

10 min read
Katie Oberthaler

One of the biggest hurdles that brands and agencies face is the most efficient way to incorporate external collaborators into their creative production and marketing workflows.

What we'll cover


So much creative content comes from outside the organization that needs to be approved internally prior to use: creative briefs, new project requests, product designs, logo usage, social media content, and much more.

The problem? Clients, brand partners, freelancers, and other contractors sending you this creative content all have their own preferred method and workflow for sharing and modifying files, from email attachments and FTP sites to PDF markups and physical printing and sticky notes.

For creative teams, collecting, routing, and managing all these external files alongside internal creative production workflows is, to put it lightly, a logistical nightmare.

Whether you’re a Creative Director, Studio Manager or Project Manager whose inbox is ground control between freelancers you’ve hired and internal stakeholders or a Brand Manager juggling daily project requests, being sure that external content is seen, routed, and acted upon is a full-time job of constant forwarding and continual follow-ups.

Your inbox probably looks something like this:

Phone, gmail, mail and safari icons with notifications inbox

Yikes! That’s often a significant threat to project delivery timelines. Without a way to connect external collaboration to internal project workflows, creative teams:

  • Experience delays to project kickoff because submitters don’t know who to send requests to and internal teams because they don’t have access to the right files
  • Lose project delivery time waiting for people to check email and notifications and take action
  • Are stuck using email to send feedback and manage revisions with partners
  • Can’t easily enforce deadlines and collaborative steps with internal teams and external collaborators

Up until now, there hasn’t been a simple, standard way for creative teams and agencies to ensure that they are capturing external marketing assets and requests and enforcing the right approval controls on that content.

Enter intake forms--a new innovation that allow you to customize external collaboration to your internal creative production process. So, that’s the “why” - let’s look at the “what”.

What Are Intake Forms?

Intake forms are web-accessible forms that can be shared with external collaborators and enable them to directly submit content to your team or company for review.

Collaborators can use the form to send files and context about the content into your organization’s existing marketing review process. Any type of content that you’re collaborating on with partners outside of your organization can be submitted using the form: Designs, creative briefs, new versions of existing project files, logos, product mockups, videos, etc.

Intake forms of Ziflow's online proofing collaboration platform

Ok, so it’s just another web form, right?

Here’s the advantage: Unlike other web forms that might route submitted content to someone’s inbox or enable file sharing, intake forms automatically add content into the right internal review and approval workflows and proofing environment.

  • When content is submitted, intake forms:
  • Turn the file into a content proof and shares it with the right internal experts for review.
  • Trigger a related workflow that assigns a full suite of review roles, stages, timelines, and reminders based on the file type and submitted.:

Here’s an example of how a simple intake form submission can kick-start a detailed internal workflow and different review stages for the entire production process.

This infrastructure simplifies content submissions by getting it out of email inbox, but it also jumpstarts marketing projects by initiating the right review stages and creating a space where both internal teams and external partners can use to manage real-time feedback, revisions, versions, reminders, project status, and approval.

Intake Forms 3 Ways to Bring Content From Clients into Your Creative Production Workflows (Without Using Email)


No more waiting around for email responses and confirmation that action has been taken, and then guessing who should see the file next. The rules, deadlines, and tasks for external content projects can all be pre-set at the point of submission from your partners and clients.

Learn more about configuring intake forms by watching our latest webinar: "Intake Forms: Online Proofing's Newest Innovation"

Webinar - Intake FormsWebinar: Intake Forms--Online Proofing's Newest Innovation

Get three examples of how to use online forms to simplify and streamline marketing project kick-of and review. 

Watch webinar


Benefits of Using Intake Forms

Allow outside collaborators to initiate projects with one click

For external partners, submitting content to your team and then ensuring it was received and acted upon is as simple as submitting a file. Plus, as the campaign or design process progresses, collaborators can use the same intake form to send updated content or new versions directly into your team’s existing production workflow.

Decrease the gap between new project requests and actual project kickoff

Intake forms eliminate all of the manual information gathering and workflow management that often delay project kickoff. Submitters don’t need to know the entire review flow to submit content--they don’t even need to know who to submit it to in order to initiate the process. Because project requests are captured alongside submitter data (date, time, type, requestor), internal teams also have the full context they need about a project to get on actual creative production right away.

Reduce Project Delivery Timelines

Intake forms instantly creating a collaboration space that both internal and external partners can use to collaborate on project iterations, comments, changes, and confirmation of task completion. By taking the email inbox out of the collaboration equation, creative teams can eliminate time wasted on manual routing, email management, version management and comparison, and follow-up throughout the production process.

Instead of losing critical production time waiting around for everyone to confirm that changes have been made, creative teams and collaborators have that information about real-time project status on hand, the moment it’s available.

Manage Many Kinds of Project Requests from One System

Intake forms enable creative teams to apply the exact right process to every piece of content--every time--no matter its format or origin outside of the organization. Because routing can be defined by who uploaded the file and what types of requests were made, creative teams gain the flexibility to concurrently automate and manage many different types of external requests using the same tools.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how intake forms can be used in real-life marketing operation scenarios.

Example: Accepting New Client Creative Briefs & Project Requests

Take a very common scenario: A marketing/design agency needs a standardized way to accept creative briefs for client project requests and initiate faster project kick-off with the right internal team (digital, design, video, etc.) depending on the type of creative brief.

With intake forms, an agency can capture both the actual files or text description and all the context about the request in one place.

This form might look long and scary, but the submitted information can be used to:

  • Intelligently route the brief and all of the project information to the right stakeholder as a proof.
  • Add identified stakeholders as reviewers or decision-makers.
  • Assign project client schedules as review deadlines/stages.
Design agency brief - intake form of ziflow input data

Furthermore, clients could continue to use this type of form to re-submit new content or versions if more information or content is needed to start a project. If the design team finds they need additional clarification or client branding assets before initial design comps can be created from the creative brief, the client can use the same form to send over the content instead of emailing it over.

Internally, a dashboard view of new requests that come from intake forms and their status can quickly provide internal colleagues with an overview of new and real-time project priorities for internal workers.

Example: Managing Co-Branded Content from Licensees or Brand Partners

We also work with a number of brand teams that oversee numerous product families and licensing out product designs to other branding partners across the globe. Often, these partners need quick approval on licensed designs, logos, and products, especially for use in social media and video content.

For branding teams managing such a huge portfolio, keeping up with partner content submissions that arrive in numerous formats, at all hours of the day from different time zones, to different points of contact in the company--and hitting approval deadlines--just isn’t feasible. Plus, the group(s) of internal teams that need to see and approve branding varies depending on the product or brand.

With intake forms, specific submission forms and workflows can be set up for each brand, campaign, or partner type. Licensing experts can be assured that the right internal routing, review, and approval occurs for every brand asset, every time, without getting involved in the weeds of daily email communication between all stakeholders.

Ziflow partner intake form screenshot - upload files and provide necessary data


Once submitted, form fields and status changes on the content can:

  • Route and assign content to different team members and departments for review.
  • Share comments, markups, and decisions checklists with both partners and brand approvers and provide clear instruction as to why their submission do or don’t meet branding guidelines.
  • Confirms to partners when final versions have been approved for use.

For busy branding teams that need to juggling faster review with control and consistency of global branding, intake forms can drastically reduce the back-and-forth that eats away at request timelines.

Example: Sending Studio Output to Traffic Project Managers

Another typical project roadblock we often see: The artwork hand-off between studio creatives who are creating content for client campaigns and traffic/studio managers handling all of the project and client management responsibilities for those projects.

Often, project handoff lags due to the studio not knowing who should receive new artwork or other drafts, or Traffic Managers don’t have the context about the content they’re receiving (what version it is, which project it relates to, who created the content, creation date, etc.)

Intake forms can help completely eliminate the confusion and manual follow-up for both creatives and studio/traffic managers as creative work flows from draft to review steps. By capturing the right project information during artwork submission and applying the right project management workflow to every new asset created by the studio, a consistency of process can be enforced with minimal oversight by both the traffic and creative teams.

Intake form of Ziflow - Artwork for review showcase

As a result:

  • Creative directors, designers, copywriters, and other content creators don’t need to know the entire project flow in order submit work. They can send work for review and then immediately move onto the next creative task without getting bogged down in project management.


  • Studio managers have access to all of the files they need and project information to move projects forward. Because different intake forms can be set up for different client projects, traffic managers save several steps in the task and project management. Dashboards can also show all of the proofs initiated by intake forms and their current status at any time, giving managers a real-time snapshot into overall project load.

Project Intake Doesn’t Need to be a Burden

Facilitating external collaboration and new client requests doesn’t need to be a parallel workstream that handicaps internal project kickoff and delivery. By using intake forms to connect external assets and requests to end-to-end internal production workflows, considerable time can be saved during the content creation, revision, and review process to meet delivery times faster.

These are just a few ways that creative teams can use intake forms to streamline the internal-external collaboration process with freelancers, clients, brand partners, and other partners. The customizable nature of intake form workflow means they can be tailored to work for all your collaboration scenarios or project requests.

Ready to Try It? We’ll Build You a Free Intake Form Today

Want to see how intake forms can work for your client collaboration? Click here to send us a current client intake asset or project kick-off form, and we’ll build you a custom Ziflow intake form that you can use to test out the submission and workflow process with your own creative assets.

Create my intake form.

Learn more about configuring intake forms by watching our latest webinar: "Intake Forms: Online Proofing's Newest Innovation"

Webinar: Intake Forms--Online Proofing's Newest Innovation

Get three examples of how to use online forms to simplify and streamline marketing project kick-of and review.

Read more

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