In today's digital world, marketers manage thousands of images and videos. These digital assets consist of a variety of file types, from JPG and TIF to PNG, GIF, RAW, MPEG, MP4, and many others. Marketers use these digital files for e-books, whitepapers, infographics, social media, webpages, and other branded materials. Finding the right version of the right file—right when you need it—is key for staying productive, and that's why digital media libraries have become essential.

When files are shared with colleagues and partners, it becomes even more important to put a systematic approach to file management in place. Without an organized digital filing system, organizations run the risk of lost productivity or the possibility of lawsuits resulting from poor digital rights management (DRM).

A digital media library, or digital asset management (DAM) system, can empower creative teams to establish effective user access permissions throughout the creative process, and ensure that all files fully support their associated restrictions.

Although file-sharing and storage systems such as Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox have their place, they aren't designed for advanced cataloging or detailed insight into licensing information, expiration dates, and the applying of terms and conditions. They also lack features for visualizing brand assets in a way that upholds branding guidelines and supports better marketing workflows.

What's the best way to manage your marketing materials? Here are five best-practices to consider.

1. Set up a taxonomy for easy searching

The primary benefit of using DAM is the ability to structure and categorize your digital image collection. In general, a good starting point is to look at your website structure to obtain inspiration for the hierarchy, keywords, and tags relevant to your organization's content.

Taxonomies should always be structured with the user's needs in mind, and will therefore be different for every organization. For example, an institution of higher education might structure its taxonomy based on various colleges or departments.

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Leslie Weller is director of marketing for digital asset management firm Canto, which helps marketers, brand managers, product managers, and content managers make better use of massive amounts of digital content.

LinkedIn: Leslie Weller

Twitter: @Leslie_Weller