The Advantages of Digital Content Management

Catalogers thrive on change and competition. Undoubtedly, all of us grapple with pressures to increase productivity, reach more customers more efficiently and, ultimately, boost revenues. By adopting new technologies, such as digital content management tools, traditional catalogers are finding that they literally can revolutionize their business.

The built-in productivity and efficiencies of digital content management enable catalogers to take advantage of cross-sell and upsell opportunities, bring new products to market quickly and generate new revenue streams.

Digital content management creates new opportunities. We are only on the brink of changes being brought about by rapidly evolving electronic capabilities, including the Internet, XML, customer relationship management tools, e-commerce and continually increasing bandwidth. Successful catalog companies quickly learned how to leverage their existing digital assets such as images, copy, logos and product offers to get their products and messages out to broader audience across multiple media.

That is where digital content management comes into play. It provides the product and content hub for a multichannel publishing and marketing strategy.

To turn digital assets into revenue streams, catalogers need tools that help them execute strategies to support their business. Key strategies include:

· Synchronize campaigns: Coordinate publishing and marketing efforts across multiple media, re-purposing assets for print catalogs, Web catalogs, e-mail campaigns, wireless and other media.

· Target more niche markets: Leverage one-to-one publishing tools to develop regional catalogs, customer-specific catalogs to deliver accurate, up-to-date information to the right target audience.

· Take advantage of new revenue opportunities: Quickly locate and re-purpose assets to publish catalogs, Web offers and brochures to go to market quickly with new campaigns.

Catalogers are finding built-in limitations to managing product and creative databases as Quark pages. Primarily, it is difficult to mount the kind of campaigns that will increase revenue and drive business through multiple channels, including catalogs, e-commerce sites and stores.

Synchronized campaigns. Print catalogs continue to drive consumers and businesses to Web sites and to promote purchases on the Web. But catalogers need to implement technologies that will support cross-media publishing. Digital content management systems provide a single source of data for synchronizing information across print, Web, CD-ROM and other media.

When a digital content management system is implemented, product data (such as pricing, specifications, fact sheets from business systems or Excel files) and digital assets (such as Quark pages, digital photographs, copy, logos) from a variety of sources are managed in a central location for use in multiple publishing channels.

Because a single set of assets is linked to brochures, catalogs, Web pages or e-mail, accurate pricing, consistent copy and branding are enforced. Last-minute updates are easily accommodated, extending deadlines and ensuring accuracy.

Managing a single data repository is key to efficiently re-purposing assets for print, Web, wireless or other media while also ensuring corporate standards are met to present consistent branding and messaging across all media.

Targeting niche markets. Digital content management solutions provide tools for automating planning and production to cost-effectively produce regional, specialty or custom catalogs and Web pages.

One example is space analysis or square inch reporting. These help identify the most successful offers and develop plans based on those reports. Another is automated page spraying to generate annual catalogs or multiple custom catalogs. This feature selects assets from the database and paginates based on predetermined rules — turning a labor-intensive process into an automatic one.

Because content management systems also store metadata (information about the data) along with each asset, catalogers can track a wealth of information about each asset in the database.

Metadata can be used to attach detailed information to assets to ensure that the right assets are selected for each publishing channel. For example, metadata can be used to select the specific products or product presentations for one-to-one publishing campaigns.

Because data is stored as discrete elements, it is easily grouped and organized in any number of ways to create new or complementary messages.

Faster time to market. The key to getting to market faster is being able to quickly locate and reuse existing assets. Content management provides secure access to corporate assets so no time is lost searching for files across systems and department, or worse, redoing work that is lost.

Content management systems often automate and streamline tasks that are traditionally labor-intensive. Capabilities include:

· Products, vendors and brands are flagged for automatic indexing.

· Rules are defined for automatic data extraction for page composition and electronic layout.

· Whiteboarding tools let product marketers and merchandisers electronically create rough layouts with links to the database to quickly take new offers from concept to publication without duplicating any efforts.

· Vendors and suppliers with remote access can submit product information electronically, eliminating extra work and streamlining approval cycles to quickly launch new products across all channels.

Digital content management should be a strategic component for every cataloger. It extends their marketing reach through synchronizing print and Web campaigns, generate new revenue through targeted campaigns, create cross-sell and upsell campaigns and bring products to market faster by automating the production process.

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