Getting Started with DAM: A New Chapter for Acquia

Just like most other software rollouts, implementing Acquia DAM (especially in the middle of a website redesign and migration) isn’t something you do all at once; it’s a process that occurs over time.

If you remember when we last spoke, I was knee deep in Google Drive, Slack, my email inbox and half a dozen other places trying to update our site to reflect two new leadership hires. So when Acquia’s development team told me we were going to be implementing our new digital asset management (DAM) system on our own site, I damn near cried tears of joy.

As a content guy, I feel like I’ve been waiting for this my whole professional life.

What We Tackled First: The Blog

Just like most other software rollouts, implementing a DAM (especially in the middle of redesign and migration) isn’t something you do all at once; it’s a process that occurs over time. And at Acquia, we decided turn the DAM on our blog first, then move on getting other areas of our site under its control. The reason for this was twofold:

  1. Our previous blog strategy was the more content, the merrier, but we realized that this doesn’t work well for us. The thought of having to put all of our existing blog content — including photos, videos, graphics, gifs, logos, etc — into the DAM forced us take a hard look and determine if that content was truly serving us or simply taking up space.
  2. Tackling the blog first was the equivalent of eating the frog. We had a clear sense of which ebooks, white papers and datasheets were consistently delivering value and conversions, but when it came to blog posts, we our reach was relatively flat and unimpressive. Prioritizing blog posts caused us to take a closer look.

After setting the blog as our DAM target, it was time to get to work. We performed a manual content audit (yay spreadsheets!) to decide which posts we needed to keep, which posts needed to be updated, and which needed to be purged. [Note: One thing I felt relatively certain about was that we’d be able to trim the number of blog author pages from the 418 (that’s correct—four hundred eighteen) we discovered in our content audit. Please send me a note if you can beat that so I can laugh at/with you.] We kept a list of current employees from Acquia HR handy, as well as a current product list to help us cross-reference for blog authors and topics that would still be considered relevant for the updated site.

Acquia’s DAM Challenge

“Best practices” are called best practices for a reason, and our old “bad habits” came back to haunt us when it was time to move some of our more interesting blog posts to the DAM. Our team has always done a really good job of using videos, photos, images and graphics to help illustrate their points in blog posts, but we haven’t been as disciplined when it came to being consistent with how we name, where we store or how we size those images.

So when it was time to bring those images into the DAM and move things into Drupal 8, things got a bit … tricky. Needless to say there was a lot of “right click … save image as” going on.

Now that the assets are part of the DAM, we won’t have to deal with this in the future, but the workarounds that our team had to develop probably cost us an average of 30 minutes per post on blog posts that were already technically complete (and paid for) — and the time can really add up, even if you get into a groove and are able to knock out a big chunk of posts at a time.

But it’s gotta be done at some point, and ostensibly the cost of your billable hours is only going to rise, so the sooner you do it the less painful it will be.

And unfortunately, this isn’t one of those tasks that you can hand off to an intern or entry-level employee; in fact, we ended up hiring a contractor to assist with the process so we could speed the process up.

You need someone who has solid knowledge of the organization, high-level critical thinking skills and the ability to think visually as well as verbally so that they can assign meaningful images to posts. Even finding the right contractor can often take a bit of trial and error, so give yourself some time if you decide to go that route.

DAM Blog Timing and Results

All-in-all, the blog content audit process took us around a month to gather information and formulate our strategy, and another six months to perform the audit and determine who does what. The process of overhauling our website identified the need for hiring one new leadership position within our department and two new support positions for the digital marketing team. Our new site featured the top 100 blog posts at first (we eventually moved over 266 of 550 posts—all manually), and now hosts 108 blog author pages, and feedback from within and outside the organization is that the blog is much more targeted, effective and on message.

The Awesomeness of DAM

So what’s been the best part so far of getting started with the DAM at Acquia? I’ll go into this more next time, but let me give you a little taste. For the first time, the content department can be strategic equals. Here’s what I mean: It transforms us from being a production department that follows through on content orders to a department that provides true content strategy to our other teams, giving guidance on the best ways to use the DAM to reap the greatest benefit.

More on that *and* specifics on DAM taxonomy, approvals and other deets coming up soon.

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