Digital assets management is a key skill to master when launching and growing a business. Imagine: you start a small business, completing as much as possible in-house, and perhaps hire a range of freelancers for your different marketing needs. At first, it’s easy to manage different systems, programmes, tools, and passwords. Then, as your business starts to grow, systems need to get streamlined, digital presence optimised, and marketing strategised.
However, you have around fifteen different passwords for various systems, some freelancers own access and run your marketing platforms. Your once simple website has become a spider web of external pages, and you’re trying to figure out how your domain name links to your hosting service — which links to cloud share, which links to your email service, which links to your subdomains, which links to your SEO rating. And who has the password to Business Manager? What?!
Without streamlined systems, back-end online infrastructure can become a nightmare. Many companies start with do-it-yourself, and as they scale they don’t have a structure organised to support their online systems. Read on to find out how to create an organised digital assets management system and learn the solutions to the most common challenges.
How to create a scalable digital assets management system
To create a scalable digital assets management system, let’s first unpack what do we mean with digital assets. Digital assets are digitally stored content, including all online marketing and the systems used to promote a business. Think of websites, social media, emails, advertising – and all of the back-end systems and tools that support online marketing.
A business should have access and ownership to all digital assets, independently from the freelancer or agency who helped to set them up and market. It’s necessary to have full control over everything, in case anything needs to be changed: If the business moves from freelancers to an agency, or changes suppliers, or hires someone internally, they can then be sure to have ownership and access of all assets and data.
The most common, and usually the first step when a business starts an online presence, is creating a website.
Organising your website
When it comes to websites, these are the key systems you need to know about:
- Domain name – this is the name of your website, e.g. www.name.com. It’s common to buy these outright with a separate party domain. Some companies may require more than one domain e.g. for a different country www.name.uk or www.name.au
- Hosting service – the hosting space is a service that allows websites to go live online. The hosting company hosts the website, and users can then access it by typing in the web address (the domain name) online, the hosting service then connects to the server the website is hosted on.
- Cloudflare – a free service that sits between the domain and hosting space. It’s a content delivery network, with a server physically located somewhere in the world which helps to distribute the speed of the web information. It holds information along the way so that all is speeded up between the time the user inputs the domain, to when the content is loaded.
- Content management system – this is the system used to create and build your website. The most commonly used ones are WordPress, WIX and Squarespace.
Often, an agency or freelancer will set up the domain name, hosting service and content management system on your behalf. This means that a business doesn’t actually have access to all of these systems and they will have to reach out to someone to get the details.
It also means that the company may not even have ownership of these systems at all, as they sit in the hands of the agency. As the business grows, they may decide to hire a new supplier, but if the agency who set up everything initially has ownership of the domain name or hosting service, then things can get very difficult very quickly.
For example, It’s common to change hosting service, or need a better faster one, but if the agency who set it up holds the ownership, it can be very complex to change it.
Caution: Sometimes agencies or freelancers, especially web services, do not always guide the client on the best assets management systems and disposing of assets in the most efficient way, so it’s important to become aware of the ownership of the assets set up on your behalf.
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Less is more: only one login needed
It’s also important to keep track of what everyone does on your corporate website, especially as you grow. So, how to do this?
Create one login, and then create different user access after this. Think of these as secondary logins that sit behind the main one. The company, agency, freelancer, or supplier will then be able to understand who did what and why. This also avoids back-end mistakes ,which can cause a front-end disaster.
For example, if a business hires someone to write blog posts, that person doesn’t need full access to manage everything for the website, as one accidental wrong click could result in the front-end layout being skewed, or pages becoming unresponsive to load.
Tip: WordPress as the best solution for small-medium size companies. WordPress offers a simple solution with a plugin to create different user profiles. A website built on WordPress is a software, it’s open source, you own it and can change it as you want, or hire a developer to do so. Content Management Systems such as SquareSpace and WIX are cloud-based, meaning that you do not own it.
One core website to rule them all
Website management becomes problematic when there’s more than one core website. It’s common for companies to create different websites as they branch into new areas of business e.g. one for the company, one for a product, one for member access. The back-end becomes very messy, especially if the domains and hosting services are coming from different suppliers, or created by different agencies.
A great solution is to create a core website on WordPress, and then subdomains for different sites e.g. a customer area, a shop, a blog. This strategy is also great for SEO, as all traffic comes and is kept in the same place and all links in together.
WordPress also allows for multi-sites and multi installations in the same ‘panel’, through which suppliers or content creators can manage different sites, content, or templates. It helps to keep it simple and everything in one place as much as possible. WordPress for the win!
What Are Third Party Services Digital Assets?
Okay, so you’ve got ownership rights and full access to your domain name, hosting service and have one main login set up on WordPress. Now it’s time to scale up your digital marketing tools and strategies.
These are the main ones you need to know about:
- Social Media Accounts – Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc
- Business Manager – Facebook tool that helps manage your business and where ads are created and managed
- Google Suite – A set of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products. Gmail, Google Analytics, and a range of others.
- Hotjar – a tool that reviews the online behaviour of web users, to help improve websites user experience and performance/ conversation rates.
Third party services allow you to gather key data for digital marketing. Examples are Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. If these accounts are set up by external suppliers who nestle them in their own multiple clients accounts, then your business does not own this data, meaning that can be easily lost or hard to access.
For example, if a Google advertisement account was managed by the agency they employed to create and run the ads, but the company wished to do other ads with another supplier, they would be unable to take ownership of the account and lose the data that had already been attributed to the account.
Tip: LinkedIn also offers tracking with their ‘Insight Tag’, which is excellent for B2B companies, as data can be extracted as to what kind of professionals from what industries are visiting what websites. Same goes for live chats and chatbots – analytics can be pulled from everywhere, but if you don’t have ownership of your core web or third party accounts, you will cease to have access to the data if you switch supplier.
I’m not a coder – Help!
If you’re not a website coder or digital marketing expert, code-y jargon like hard coded tags and plugins, can easily fly over your head and be dismissed. Yet it’s very important to make sure these are all installed correctly, otherwise, data and analytics can end up skewed. And what’s the point of having data if it’s wrong? Answer: There’s no point.
The gist of it is, there’s a piece of code called ‘tag’. This tag is ‘hard-coded’ or implemented back in, or a plugin is used to manage it. Many developers and suppliers have a preferred method to implement the tag, which sometimes can make a coding mess!
Caution: The most common mistake, so common in fact that it’s incorrect almost 80% of the time, is that Google Analytics is installed twice, which means all of the metrics can be wrong, as it pulls through the double interaction. This is usually due to a web developer installing it with code, and a marketer installing it with a plug-in. Uh oh! Incorrect analytics are (almost) as useless as no analytics. Most web developers will be able to check if the code is clean and everything is set up and good to go – just the once!
Tip: The best way to implement all of the tags is with Google Tag Manager as it looks after it all (perfect!). If you need to change anything, it’s all easily done through the one system. We couldn’t recommend this one more highly!
Simple streamlining made easy
The overall key here for streamline ease, for all of the services, is to create multiple users and give access with different levels of interaction to users. Simply put: create one owner managed account then multiple users with various permission levels delegated to the other users.
For example, Google has several tools to improve marketing, track user experiences and improve conversions. But the trick is, you only need one Google account to activate all of these services, not a different password for each one. Have one master account on Google, in which you can then access all of the services.
The most common services of Google are:
- Search Console for SEO and tracking,
- Ad Words,
- Optimize and Optimize 360 for web user experience and A/B testing by splitting traffic between two pages,
- Tag Manager
- My Business.
That’s a lot of! The key takeaway here is that you only need one main user for all of these services, and then can create different users from there.
Wherever possible, try not to continue opening accounts, especially as email verification is usually required and all ideally would come through to the company’s email, not various supplier emails. Keep everything in one account, nicely organised, and share accesses from there. Got it?
Tip: Using password manager software is the smartest choice for security and streamlined service management, such as Keeper or LastPass. These password managers allow for sharing functions and are highly secure.
Digital assets management: emails and CRM
Digital assets management is also a tool to organize your email marketing and CRM. Your email provider is commonly included in the hosting service that you first sign up with. This means that it holds the same limitations, as if you have to migrate from one of another, it can become very problematic.
Tip: Have a separate hosting service for your website as you do your emails so that you can change them easily if necessary. We recommend Google Suite.
When it comes to email marketing, creating lead-gen pipelines, sending users on different customer journeys which can all be automated based on the strategy, ActiveCampaign and Hubspot are the ways to go. The first for small companies, the second for larger ones. Again, as per all software, create one main account and then separate users to manage the various aspects.
When you want to do digital marketing you should be able to act quickly, in case something needs to be changed or amended. Setting yourself up autonomously for all of the systems takes longer at the start, but long term it’s better as it means you have complete access, ownership and control over all of your digital assets.
The key takeaway
Throughout the setting up process, ensure you have all access to all digital assets with your own billing system for each other, otherwise agencies or freelancers may bill you after they have set up everything, even if some services were unnecessary, and then you also don’t have ownership of the asset to move it to a new supplier if you choose to, or need to as you scale and grow.