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DAM vs. CMS or Why You Need Both?

In the tech world, some solutions seem indeed similar to you, especially if you’re unfamiliar with at least one of them. This is exactly the situation with Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Content Management System (CMS). DAM and CMS are the two systems that manage digital content, but do this in different ways.

And if you cannot distinguish between the two tools, you obviously won’t know when to apply each. You’ll also never succeed in incorporating DAM and CMS effectively into your workflow.

In reality, DAM and CMS are the tools that complement each other. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each, and you’ll get a great chance to improve your company’s performance. So let’s check the discrepancies between the two systems in detail and get the most out of each...

Any common ground?

DAM and CMS are two entirely separate systems, but they still have a few points of convergence. And we need to define these similarities in the first place to be able to comprehend the differences afterward:

  • Both tools work with digital content - which is the first and foremost resemblance between DAM and CMS.
  • Both solutions were developed for teamwork. Although you can use DAM and CMS as an individual user, most of its features are designed to prove useful for teams.
  • Both DAM and CMS aim at improving the workflow and, thereby, increase your team’s productivity.

Understanding the difference...

Despite the similarities between the tools, DAM and CMS still differ substantially, and you as a skilled marketer shouldn’t ignore this fact. You won’t be able to use any of these to their fullest extent if you cannot discern the difference between the solutions. For this very reason, let’s check 5 basic points where CMS stands in sharp contrast to DAM:

1) Purpose

Hubspot, a credible marketing source, defines a Content Management System as a software application allowing users to build and manage a website with little or no knowledge in programming. Speaking in plain language, CMS is about creating and modifying web content - the text and pages on your website. WordPress, Ghost.io, and Adobe Experience Manager are among a few most famous examples of CMS.

By its definition, Digital Asset Management is the process of storing, organizing and retrieving digital files, as well as managing the rights and permissions needed to perform these actions. To put it simply, DAM aims at storing, organizing, and sharing your assets. This solution is a so-called content hub from where you can manage and distribute your files.

2) Users

Speaking of users, CMS is designed just for a part of the marketing team. As long as this tool mainly deals with web content, web designers, content editors, marketers, and copywriters are those who usually work with it.

Plus, as you’ve probably noticed from the definition, CMS is adapted to non-technical audiences. This is one of the CMS core particularities. Most marketers, designers, and copywriters don’t have any technical background. And as one of them, you won’t worry about disrupting the code when working with CMS.

In contrast to CMS, DAM solution can be used by the whole team - big or small. The tool perfectly suits one team within the firm or the whole company plus its external parties. DAM also doesn’t differentiate by the department your team works in. While CMS is for marketers only, DAM as a media library will be useful for developers, QC, support managers, and so on. Users with no or limited technical knowledge can use it too.

In these circumstances, implementing digital asset management for marketers becomes a huge boon as it rapidly enhances their ability to use CMS. DAM + CMS combo allows marketers to access marketing assets on the fly, significantly increasing teams' efficiency.

3) Functionality

All the features in CMS evolve around developing content for your website and blog. You can add/edit/delete content within the CMS - both text and media, change the information and website structure.

CMS is ideal for blogging! As a rule, it has all the features you would need to write, publish, and update your blog posts. Write and save your drafts; experiment with the fonts and visuals; integrate your posts with the most famous social media. Also, don’t forget about built-in SEO tools - use them to add tags, links, adapt meta titles, and improve navigation.

Solutions like WordPress will impress you with lots of additional and unique features. For example, it has a distraction-free writing mode where the app blocks emails, social media, and status updates. Other interesting features include previewing your writing and creating multi-page posts.

The promotion of digital content and analytics are among the central CMS features too. As a marketer, you’ll get to know your website traffic and be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

DAM functionality is a whole other story. Here we turn to file storage, organization, sharing, and collaboration. The tool will serve you as a centralized media library where you place your assets and never lose them again. It's also a great tool in case you plan to scale up your content production.

With DAM, your file searches become a piece of cake for you. You can filter your assets in a minute by using metadata like titles, dates, or formats. And no need to spend hours manually checking each and every folder. Or you may use a bit of magic - and benefit from AI-empowered search, seeking your files by color or content.

To maximize your efficiency, DAM also provides secure sharing, collaboration, and backups. For example, in Pics.io, we have customizable public websites where you can place your materials and share the links to partners, clients, or freelancers... And don’t worry about the security of your data - the users won’t access more assets than you allowed them to.

As a professional, you’ll also never get past DAM exclusive collaboration opportunities. These vary from uploading revisions to your files (instead of creating duplicates) to leaving comments and updating your teammates on the changes.

Make your life even easier and connect your task management software to a business communication platform you use. This will make your workflow go smoother, regardless of whether you choose CMS or DAM.

4) Scope

The difference in scope is also striking. With CMS, the scope refers to all the content visible on the website and blog. It also covers any unpublished materials which are yet waiting for release. These could be your documents, images, videos, the homepage, and blog posts.

As for DAM, the situation is more complex. DAM services don’t limit to your website but can empower sales and marketing of the whole organization. Its scope is wider than in CMS and covers any assets your company aims to save. These could be old demos with your clients, the brand kit, or marketing leftovers.

How will it drive your sales and marketing? Easily! Let’s imagine you’re up to a new marketing campaign. And instead of creating the presentations, templates, etc., you go through your older workpieces and save yours and your designer’s time. Or your partner asks you for a logo again. And instead of searching for it each time, you just provide them with the ready-made link to the website with brand materials.

Read how to combine your sales and marketing content here.

5) Types of files

CMS is primarily designed for text-based documents, plus videos and images, which are used to enhance the content material. Visuals, audios, and videos are stored somewhat chaotically - in separate archives and with limited search capabilities.

In turn, DAM is a repository where more diverse types of files are stored. The solution likely supports all files and available formats, including MS Office files, PDFs, traditional images (JPEG, PNG, and GIF) and videos (AVI and MP4). You can add more professional formats too, whether it’s Sketch, Adobe XD, or a page layout file. The list of supported formats is indeed exhaustive!

Your CMS won’t do without DAM...

As you see, CMS works perfectly with text-heavy documents, but as soon as you need to add some media, you’ll notice its limitations. The system becomes messy, tricky, and disorganized because it’s not developed for storage and file management.

Let’s imagine you’re a content manager preparing a blog post about the integration of your app with a new service. You need your partner’s logo, so you write the marketing team. Then you wait until they reply to you, find the right version in their CMS library (or upload the logo if it’s absent), and finally share it with you. You’re lucky if they send you the image in the right size and resolution.

Now let’s take the same scenario, but imagine your company has a DAM integration. You need your partner’s logo - you open the storage, filter the search by keywords like your partner’s name or logo, and get what you want in no time. And have no doubts that the logo will be updated and relevant.

I won’t ramble on savings in time, resources, or efficiency here. You’ll decide it on your own. But I will recommend you consider DAM if you want to improve your workflow and performance.

So, what solution to choose?

CMS and DAM are indeed different as night and day, and it’s impossible to name one exclusive solution for everyone. Your company should choose depending on its specific needs.

But should it always be either-or? Why not combine the benefits of both systems, especially if you know that these perfectly complement each other? In case you venture to integrate your CMS with DAM, here’s how your team will win:

  • Use of a centralized content hub where you’ll store all marketing-related materials, plus leftovers. The docs and media you edit in CMS will be automatically transferred to DAM as well.
  • Improved file organization: use file and folder organization for your assets where every file has its own place;
  • Better access to files - search your assets by keywords, dates, colors, etc.
  • Reuse of media materials. Needless to say, if you can find your assets in a flash, you can use and reuse them regularly. And thus, increase the value.
  • Advanced sharing in case you need to share your files with partners, clients, or freelancers.
  • Collaboration with all team members within a single solution.
  • Use of authorized and updated materials. Thanks to versioning, you’ll use the most updated photo design or company’s presentation. In DAM, the most updated version automatically becomes the first.
  • Brand consistency owing to customizable templates and the brand kit at hand.

… And to make a long story short, if you already have CMS, it’s high time to back it up with DAM! Let’s start by booking a demo in Pics.io.

Pics.io Team
Welcome to Pics.io blog, where you'll get useful tips, resources & best practices on how digital asset management can help your business to manage & distribute digital content on top of cloud storage.