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Choosing a DAM for Higher Education: 5 Key Tips

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

6 min read

Choosing a DAM for Higher Education: 5 Key Tips

When it comes down to it, choosing a DAM for higher education institutes can be a daunting task. Finding and implementing a solution that truly fits your needs is imperative to your success. We break down 5 key steps for schools to follow when searching for a DAM solution.

Higher education institutes have the difficult task of marketing to an audience about arguably the most important and emotional decision of their lives. Whether they’re attending school for the first time, or heading back to improve their skill set, selecting a school is often knitted tightly with an individual’s educational values and personal goals.

In this competitive market, colleges and universities across the world compete for all levels of funding and to gain the attention of prospective new students. But, to stay ahead in this industry, organizations need to optimize their marketing strategies and messaging to create long-lasting connections with potential students.

Why Higher Education Institutes Need a DAM

Building emotional connections through marketing today requires the use of powerful visuals to grab the attention of prospective students, and this leads to an accumulation of digital files. Without managing these digital files, your organization can experience several challenges that will ultimately hinder your marketing efforts, and reduce the effectiveness of campaigns.

Many schools store their marketing and promotional content across departments, which can cause bottlenecks due to IT departments or digital teams being solely responsible for filling requests for the entire institution. Other, often smaller-sized schools, hold each department individually responsible for storing, managing, finding, and sharing assets. With this storage strategy, staff often spend excessive amounts of time searching for content that is stored on individual hard drives, and, in some cases, is never found.

Even when your assets are systematically managed on hard drives, local files, or even an outdated digital asset management (DAM) system, there's often uncertainty about which versions are the most up-to-date and who has permission to use which assets for what purpose. This becomes a bigger problem when schools have tens of thousands of faculty members, staff, students, and partners with various needs, rights, and access levels. Without a permissions & controls structure, all groups potentially have access to assets that they shouldn’t be using. For many institutions with multiple users, providing access to the most current assets becomes a very sticky problem.

Choosing a DAM for Higher Education - 5 Tips for Success

As colleges start creating overwhelming amounts of content, they often start looking for a digital asset management solution but quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the process of choosing a DAM vendor.

After working with other organizations that have suffered similar pains, we wanted to share these 5 tips that will make choosing a DAM for your higher education institute much easier:

1. Learn the needs of your future users

When you’re dealing with an organization that’s made up of dozens of departments, offices, and groups and hundreds of individual users, it makes sense to systematically map out all potential uses and understand which permission levels are needed. Typically, marketing teams handle the “management” of the DAM and require admin access and training to make the most of the DAM system. Other individual academic departments and university offices will require more controlled permissions that ensure they use the most up-to-date assets.

Some schools also benefit from allowing public access to the DAM system, encouraging individuals to upload images from campus events and fundraisers, or downloading the school’s logo and other brand material. When choosing a DAM you need to ensure all of these functions are accounted for from the start.

The University of Windsor achieved major success with a MediaValet DAM that's used daily by almost 40 people. Read more about it here.

2. Hold meetings dedicated to planning a DAM initiative

Holding a series of planning meetings that define and strategize on the DAM initiative is the best way to ensure that all users are accounted for. Although it can be near impossible to meet with every possible DAM user, in the past our customers have nominated representatives from each department and/or location to represent them on a DAM committee to ensure their needs are heard and tended to. This process provides an informed understanding of the needs of everyone across the entire school and allows you to set up your DAM in a way that will accommodate everyone.

The University of Wollongong laid out a list of requirements that led them to choose a MediaValet DAM, since implementation, their initiatives have gone from strength to strength. Read more about it here.

3. Build a list of requirements

When planning a DAM initiative, it’s best to write out and prioritize a list of technology, security, and user interface requirements.

Universities and colleges vary widely in structure, so not every school will be using the DAM solution in the same way. For large institutions, it may be necessary to choose a DAM that’s cloud-based and can provide access to public users in addition to department representatives, with relevant permissions for each group. Some other schools won’t need public access but will require all departments and offices to have the same high-level access. Each scenario is completely dependent on each school’s strategy and workflow.

When you start with a clear list of requirements, you'll more likely select a DAM that will work over the long haul. It also doesn’t hurt to structure your list in a hierarchy, so you know which items should hold more weight in the decision-making process.

4. Consider the cloud

The cloud is taking over, but some organizations are nervous to pick up this growing trend. There are often many fears that come with adopting a cloud-based solution – number one being security and number two being ownership. Won’t assets stored in the cloud be more susceptible to piracy? And does a school set itself up for asset loss by turning control over to an outside vendor?

There are a number of concerns regarding the cloud, but lots of organizations in higher education are making the switch and suggesting others do the same.

Emory University uses a MediaValet DAM to keep up with the demands of its 40 schools, academic units, and healthcare partners, without compromising on security. Read more about it here.

5. Schedule a DAM demo

Finally, every one of our customers in higher education (and other industries) has felt that they benefited from demoing several DAM solutions. This is not just because a demo will allow you to “try before you buy,” which is certainly one component, but because DAM vendors function incredibly differently.

Sitting through a demo will not only give you a sense of the product but will also give you a sense of the company that will be on the other end of your new tech solution. This is the group that will be there when you need additional services when a new group of users needs training, and when you need help with your metadata structure. Not only will a demo allow you to get a sense of the product itself, but it will also help determine whether the company and its style of customer service is a fit for your organization.

In higher education, where securing future students depends on making deep and lasting connections, each and every marketing, advertising, and outreach campaign has to get it right. By taking the time to implement a well-thought-out DAM solution, your organization can keep your brand consistent across campus campaigns and ensure your audience only comes into contact with approved and up-to-date visual products.

Want to know more about whether MediaValet is the right DAM for you? Get a demo here to find out!

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