10 best approval software for marketing and creative teams 

Marketing is all about staying on top of the latest trends, responding to developments, and keeping the content that you produce unique, fresh and current. As a result, it requires an efficient team of individuals working collaboratively to create the best content possible. 

Each new asset should be reviewed and approved by at least several people. Incorporating the input of all the stakeholders involved will keep content unique and of high quality. However, managing these feedback loops is not easy. 

This is where online approval software can help. These tools will replace your time-consuming and nerve-wracking email ping pong with a streamlined process.  

What is approval software? 

Approval workflow software is a type of online proofing tool that helps managers and creative teams oversee and automate this final step in content creation workflows. 

Before a new marketing asset can be released to your audience, it needs approval from different stakeholders, such as managers, colleagues, or clients. 

By making requesting approval a standardized step in the asset creation workflow, you can ensure that every text, design, or video you publish is on-brand and mistake-free. 

Approval software simplifies the review and approval step for new content by establishing a more efficient and organized workflow. 

What is an approval process?

An approval process covers everything that may be created in an organization – from multimedia assets to written content or even elements that have been redesigned. When using workflow approval software, creators can upload a finished asset and submit it to all stakeholders for approval. 

Stakeholders access the document using the same cloud-based software and either suggest changes or give their approval online. You can also adapt these steps for document review, multimedia content, marketing resources, and redesign materials. 

What are the main features of approval software? 

Approval software is designed to make teams’ approval processes simpler and more efficient. The tool makes it easier for creators to submit their work as it only requires to upload a file to the cloud-based platform. 

Review approval tools make collaborative work seamless with features like: 

  • A centralized platform to upload and access files
  • A clear structure for housing files in projects and folders 
  • Multiple review steps for different reviewer groups
  • The ability for users to leave and discuss comments and annotations directly on files
  • A formal way for the reviewer to submit their decision
  • An integrated to-do list 
  • A tool to assign due dates
  • Automatic reminders for reviewers
  • Clear file versioning

What are the benefits of using approval software? 

According to some fascinating research by The McKinsey Global Institute, workers spend around 13 hours checking their inbox and communicating via email every single week, on average. This represents almost a third (around 28%) of the time that they spend at work.

For any skeptics who are still wondering why their current email-based approval workflows should be shifted to online proofing processes, these six key benefits of approval management software will be convincing. 

  1. You can improve your quality control and ensure consistent and high-quality content.
  2. It saves a lot of time as each asset will require fewer review rounds. 
  3. You can reduce misunderstandings, as the comments provided by other people will be clearer and easier to understand. This will eliminate fragmentation in your team and guarantee that everyone’s contributions are heard and considered.
  4. No feedback will get lost or overlooked. 
  5. It provides teams with more transparency – not just at the final approval stage, but throughout the entire review and approval process
  6. If an individual is off work, colleagues can easily jump in. 

10 approval software solutions to simplify your workflows 

Now that you’ve seen why your email approval processes need updating, we recommend some of the top cloud-based document approval process software available today. With this round-up of approval tools, you can easily identify the best approval workflow software for your business. 

1. Filestage – review and approval software

Filestage simplifies the content review and approval process for everyone involved. This online proofing software makes it easy to share, discuss and approve files such as PDFs, videos, and images with colleagues or external partners. 

All invited reviewers can leave comments and annotations directly on the file and discuss changes with each other in real time. This makes collaboration simple, fast, and stress-free.   

Filestage’s centralized platform allows project managers to organize the review process with different stakeholder groups while always keeping track of a file’s status. This way, Filestage creates a software approval process which saves time, ensures transparency, and reduces misunderstandings during the entire process. 

Filestage dashboard overview

2. ProofHub – online approval system

ProofHub is an online document approval system that is designed to assist with the project management of creative workflows. This collaborative tool is intended for a wide variety of users and can be scaled up or down to suit the size of the business. 

The software is designed to make communication easier across teams and invested parties. ProofHub provides users with an integrated group chat function, automated online workflows, and discussion boards as well as the capability to create their own boards for each project. It can also assist remote workers away from their desks, as the software can be accessed via any device using an Android or iOS operating system. 

proofhub

3. Approval Studio – artwork approval software

Approval Studio is a tool that is specifically designed to help teams that create labels, graphics, and branded artwork. This software enables teams to better organize their workflow by assigning specific tasks to each team member, based on the requirements outlined in the review requests. 

Through this tool, teams can capitalize on each other’s strengths and insights to create new artwork. 

With Approval Studio, annotations and discussions can take place in real time, allowing the team to work together on the same document. Additionally, it provides clear status tracking and version control tools to ensure thorough management of creative workflows. 

approval studio

4. WebProof –workflow Software and Proofing Tools

WebProof is a piece of online proofing and approval software that is ideal for projects that have multiple contributors or editors from more than one department.  

The software serves as a centralized, online location where contributors can upload their work, and reviewers can easily drag and drop comments on specific areas of the project.

WebProof is designed for graphic businesses and creative teams as well as more complex documents produced by magazines and newspapers. 

For such publications, the approval process can be especially complicated, and require an ongoing series of reviews and amendments from different stakeholders.

WebProof

5. Integrify – low-code approval process solution

Integrify is a versatile piece of approval management software, offering a low-code tool that can be applied to any business processes. This software then collects and stores the historical data of your previous approval workflows in order to create an audit with all information about the approval. 

Integrify is used for workflow management across all business areas, such as Information Technology, Human Resources, Finance, Sales, Marketing, and other types of services.

Integrify
Source: softwareadvice.com

6. Kissflow – end-to-end workflow software

Kissflow is a no-code online approval platform that allows teams to automate their processes, create project boards, manage their workflow, and collaborate on the approval process. 

The tool offers businesses to create powerful apps, processes, or case boards all natively integrated and flexible! This means they can design custom apps, or install pre-built apps to modernize, automate, and digitize their business with minimal coding. 

Kissflow

7. Frevvo – visualized forms and workflows 

Frevvo‘s approval workflows enable users to create highly visual, automated forms and workflows. This software works by combining pre-made workflow designs with point-and-click wizard tools. 

With Frevvo, businesses can automate their everyday approval processes in record time. This helps you enable your employees, roll out business processes and initiatives more quickly, and over-deliver on customer service.

Frevvo
Source: qmetrics.com

8. Process.st – a one-click approval workflow 

Process.st allows you to create standardized approval processes using customized, automated approval workflow templates. Users can grant quick one-click approvals, build customized task management lists, and create approval checklists for each workflow.

They offer the simplest way to manage recurring workflows for teams by stimulating them to create workflow templates, run multiple instances of the same workflow, and track progress and collaborate.

process.st
Source: softwareadvice.com

9. Approval Donkey – approval management software 

Approval Donkey allows users to submit and approve requests that have been submitted through email, apps or online forms. Then, through this centralized location, the approval requests can be gathered and converted into digital, automated workflows. 

With Approval Donkey, users can improve their teamwork, get faster online approvals, and automate their accounting.

Approval Donkey
Source: softwaresuggest.com

10. ApprovalMax – create bill and purchase order approvals 

ApprovalMax is a cloud-based tool designed for small and medium-sized businesses. With it, users can create approval workflow solutions for their accounting and business finance needs. 

Besides setting up approval workflows and getting faster approvals on their financial documents, users can also get automated audit trails and set up adjustable reports tailored for their business.

ApprovalMax
Source: tmtaccounting.co.uk

Example of an approval process managed with approval software 

Once you have implemented your choice of approval process software into your workflow, you will notice an almost immediate uptake in efficiency. 

This process works well for a wide variety of different marketing materials, including for projects such as establishing an automated social media approval process and improving the approval processes of artwork and design

In order to ensure that the transition to digital approvals is undertaken as smoothly as possible, we outline an example of an online approval workflow below. 

1. Share your assets with the reviewers

Once the creator of the asset has finished the first draft, it can be uploaded to the software platform. Then, reviewers can be provided with access to the asset. 

With Filestage, users can upload the asset in a specific project folder and then invite reviewers to the new document via an online invitation.

Top tip: Once you have invited reviewers, set a deadline for their feedback. This helps minimize hold-ups in the process.

Dashboard 2 with design files

2. Reviewers leave and discuss feedback 

With Filestage, reviewers can leave their comments directly on the file, whether it’s a text document, video, image or audio file. Additionally, reviewers can discuss their feedback with each other in real-time in the comment section. 

Top tip: Annotation features help reviewers to make their feedback even clearer, e.g. by framing the section where the logo should be added.  

Design file

3. Editor adapts the asset and uploads the new version

After the first review round, the content editor usually implements the requested changes.

With Filestage, the editor can easily upload the new version of the asset to the platform, ready for a second review.   

Top tip: Automatic versioning features in online approval software ensure that everyone has a clear overview of the progress of the asset. 

4. Reviewers leave additional feedback or approve the asset

With Filestage, reviewers will automatically be notified that there is a new version ready for review. Then, they can either leave comments and request additional changes or, if they are satisfied with the second version, give their approval to the file with just one click.

Top tip: If you are the editor, add a comment to the new version that summarizes the changes that have been made. This will make it easier for the reviewers to make their decision. 

Team-only comment

5. The approved asset can be moved to the next step in the review process

With Filestage, if your approval process consists of multiple review steps for different stakeholders, you can use the drag and drop function to move the approved asset to the next review step. The next round of reviewers will be notified automatically once they are invited to the review step.   

Top tip: Plan who should review and approve your asset in advance. That way, you will have a structured approval process in place and ready for the asset.

Dashboard with multiple review steps

6. Final approval and publication

After the asset has received final approvals from all stakeholders, the approval process is finished. The asset can now be published or shared.

Some parts of this workflow may be familiar as you may be using written forms or emails to achieve something similar. However, the use of online approval software is essential for any business strategy that requires collaborative work. 

As you can see in the example above, an automated, online system makes it infinitely easier to not only provide feedback but take action on it too. These highly efficient approval processes save teams considerable time while also enabling them to improve content.

All content approved

5 tips for creating efficient digital approval workflows 

In recent years, there has been an influx of new studies about digital work and efficiency. In fact, according to a recent survey by FlexJobs, 51% of professionals reported that they worked more productively when using digital platforms to work remotely. 

As you can see, there are many benefits to be gained from investing in digital approval workflows. To reap as many rewards as possible from your new approval workflows, these are our 5 top tips:

1. Give reviewers clear instructions 

Ensure that every reviewer knows exactly what is expected of them. It also helps to share background information about the content if reviewers were not involved in the creation process. But most importantly, you need to give reviewers details about the type, extent and nature of the feedback that they should provide.

2. Assign clear deadlines for each file 

According to a piece by Psychology it Better, the benefits of assigning deadlines include encouraging a team to rely more on intuition, improving the outcomes of negotiation, and keeping a team more organized across the board.

You can achieve these benefits by simply adding a due date for each file in each review step. Reviewers will automatically receive reminders from the tool when each due date is approaching. This clarity about deadlines is also beneficial for reviewers since it helps them structure their work. 

3. Set up review steps for different stakeholder groups 

Creating separate review steps for different stakeholder groups helps you structure your approval workflow and makes it easier to manage. Plus, each reviewer group can focus on specific criteria based on their expertise, which means that feedback will be clearer and more precise. Also, review rounds with less people can be completed faster.

For example, if you are creating a visual asset to promote a product, the different stakeholder groups could include:  

  • The marketing team (to check the text, slogan and design)
  • The product team (to check if the listed product facts are correct)
  • The brand manager (to check for brand consistency)

4. Think about the right timing

Will you need certain reviewers to leave their feedback before others? It’s important to think of the order in which you want your reviewer groups to check your content. For example, before sending the work to a client, you may wish to have your internal team review and edit the document first. 

5. Automate manual tasks 

In a study conducted by SmartSheet, nearly 60 percent of participants estimated that they could save six or more hours a week if the repetitive aspects of their jobs were automated.

Approval workflow tools offer multiple features that help automate repetitive tasks. For example, instead of manually sending emails to all reviewers, you just need to add their email addresses to the right review step. Then, all further information can be sent to them through automatically generated emails. 

Automation also works for due dates, new comments, mentions, approvals or request changes. In the tools settings, you can decide if and how often project collaborators and reviewers get automatically notified about any changes to a file. 

Ready to improve your approval process? 

Hopefully this outline of approval software helps you get started with updating any time-wasting email-based processes. By using an automated approval workflow, you can finally start maximizing your team’s talents and creative contributions to thrive your company’s marketing strategy. 

If you want to see how Filestage can help you set up an effective approval process, make sure to start a free trial →

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