As creative marketing teams launch more and more integrated omnichannel campaigns, the internal tools used to produce, review, and launch these campaigns can vary significantly.
Even as traditional methods begin to hold up the creative production process, the battle to stop team members from implementing their own bespoke solutions, or to give up storing files in their personal cloud storage drives continues.
In this case, let’s consider the review and approval process for creative content.
Even if you clearly show the ROI of using one system in place of several different content review and approval tools - that doesn’t guarantee that your team members will actually use it. Implementing an online proofing system could present itself as one more system they’ll have to use in their daily workflows.
How do you ease the transition? Here are three ways to start updating ineffective legacy content production methods:
Step 1. Bring Everyone’s Content Together
One of the biggest reasons that creative teams end up with a disjointed web of tools is that each content type requires its own technology universe: writers are using Microsoft files or Google Docs to draft copy. Designers are creating mock-ups in InDesign or Photoshop. Social media content is generated in native systems that don’t easily connect to other desktop or cloud-based systems.
Each team is generating and storing content either natively in these systems or within a self-contained file storage method. That’s all fine at the very start of the project, but it leads to serious roadblocks when trying to share files among teams or stakeholders.
Very few content proofing methods can easily capture and distribute all of copy, design, video, audio and social content formats a team is creating. As a result, team members default to the systems and methods they can control and use without re-learning or re-working their daily workflow.
Bridging the gap between each team’s day-to-day content systems and the overall project workflow is paramount to changing employee’s preferences for content distribution and storage. To do so, use a proofing system that can capture and distribute all media types and doesn’t require your creative team members to spend manual time on file extracting, sharing, and versioning in a totally separate system.
Step 2. Put Robots to Work; Embrace Automation
Like file storage and sharing, the review process should also be centralized for groups to work effectively with each other.
Typically, sending a full project proof requires additional work to be done combining many different files or updated versions into a totally new mockup, compiling files into zip drives for download, and then, usually, emailing them as attachments.
Email isn’t antiquated per se, but it does automatically create separate feedback streams that can only be shared with the dreaded reply-all. Without a centralized review system that works for both creative teams and project stakeholders, teams will default to using email to conduct review steps because it’s fast, personalized, and familiar to everyone.
Breaking free from email chains begins with offering one system where the actual work of reviewing content, commenting and making decisions can occur, and where the history of changes can be easily referenced over time.
Step 3. Demonstrate an Easy Way to Combat “Version Sprawl”
Multiple review cycles generate an endless amount of project and file versions. During the active project lifecycle, tracking and distributing current versions is a distributed task among teams and systems. A lot of time is wasted trying to figure out which version is current, which file contains requested changes, and who has actually seen the most current version.
Current methods fall short: File folders require everyone to use the same naming convention and storage solution (and actually put all version in the folder in the first place) but don’t always provide context around documents until you open and scan the document for expected updates. Email chains and chat can provide that context, but only after scrolling through a wall of text. It’s possible for creative teams to start working on one version, only to realize they didn’t receive complete or critical feedback on a previous version.
To reduce your team’s reliance on these bifurcated methods and the tendency to pass the buck when it comes to version control, content versioning needs to live in one system. More importantly, it should live in the same environment where reviewing and proofing is conducted. This provides a full history of changes, a full list of versions, and a clear view into the decision making and thought processes that went into creating those versions.
Even if team members continue to store files natively on their computers, providing them with one tool that can capture many content files, automate review tasks and manage accessible versioning will help reduce the number of disjointed legacy tools and methods.
These are just three examples of how you can work with your team to break free of legacy review and approval tools for the sake of efficiency. For more examples, check out our ebook, “The Business Case for Online Proofing.” There you'll find more background on why online proofing is an immediate benefit to creative marketing teams of all sizes.