client proofing software

Why client proofing software is the future for agencies

What do you want out of agency life? If you’re anything like me, you want to create work you’re proud of and have fun while you’re doing it. That’s what I wanted when I started my career at an ad agency. 

But there’s a point in every project where fatigue starts to set in. And it’s usually around the time that you share your work with the client for feedback.

Suddenly, the fun and excitement you felt at the start is replaced with:

  • Frustration over how long your clients take to share feedback
  • Despair over the amount of time you’re spending in meetings
  • Pressure to create the best work possible in a fast-shrinking timeframe

At the end of last year, Filestage surveyed 250+ advertising and marketing professionals about their feedback and approval experiences.

Here are the top three things we learned about the client proofing process – plus insights and on how online proofing software can help.

1. Stop chasing feedback, start hitting your deadlines

Advertising and marketing agencies waste a huge amount of time chasing feedback on their work. But by switching from email to a purpose-built client proofing tool like Filestage, you can save one day per person, per month for everyone in your creative review process.

4 in 5 account managers get delayed feedback from stakeholders

Our Year In Review report found that 80% of account managers received delayed feedback from their clients over the last year. And if you’ve worked in an agency for more than five minutes, you probably won’t be at all surprised by this figure.

But are your clients really to blame? With basic communication tools like email, giving feedback takes up a huge chunk of time. And for one reason or another, it’s rarely at the top of anyone’s list.

Here’s what our report revealed about the experience of giving feedback for marketers:

  • 64% took screenshots to give feedback on visuals
  • 19% wrote out timecodes to give feedback on videos
  • 36% didn’t know where to find at least one piece of work
  • 17% admit to not knowing the best method for sharing feedback

3 in 5 project managers waste time chasing feedback

There’s only so long you can wait around for feedback. After all, the final delivery deadline is set in stone. Eventually, there comes a point where you have to start chasing your clients.

Let the passive aggressive emails begin!

Our report found that 62% of project managers chased clients for feedback on their work in 2021. This process can be hugely manual and frustrating, often requiring custom spreadsheets to try and keep track of who’s approved what.

But the longer the client proofing process takes, the more time there is for things to go wrong. In fact, our report showed that:

  • 21% received feedback on an old version of a file
  • 18% lost track of who had approved a piece of work
  • 11% published mistakes because important review steps were skipped
  • 8% canceled projects because files weren’t approved in time

Client proofing software saves agencies one day per person, per month

Our Year In Review report compared the time spent managing feedback with email and Filestage’s client proofing tool. And based on 250+ advertising and marketing professionals, we found that Filestage saves one day per person, per month for everyone in your proofing process – that includes your clients!

Project dashboard with agency workflow

Here are a few ways online proofing tools save you time:

  • Collect and discuss feedback right on top of your content
  • Set due dates and send automated reminders to reviewers
  • Share and compare new versions within the same platform

This means less time bouncing between email and chat, and more time creating your best work.

“Filestage has reduced our team’s daily email inbox by roughly 25-30%, so we can focus on other important tasks for the day.”

Rain Balares, INCA Lead, GroupM

Learn more about online proofing in this video:

2. Less time in meetings, more time being creative

On average, executives spend around 23 hours per week in meetings. If you’re a project or account manager, that may sound about right. For designers, creatives, and other studio roles, it’s probably a lot less. But regardless of which department you sit (or stand) in, I’m sure there’s one thing we can all agree on.

Meetings suck! 

44% of creatives get conflicting and unclear feedback from their clients

When you’re reviewing creative work over email, getting the feedback to land in your inbox is only half the battle. Next comes the great untangling.

Open conflicts.

Undiscussed disagreements.

Utterly unintelligible comments.

As Oddity’s UX Director, Marcel Martin, says about life before Filestage, “Our project managers were very busy looking through, summarizing, and preparing asynchronous feedback. This process was time-consuming, unsatisfying, and unfortunately often included misunderstandings.”

For one reason or another, clients rarely take the time to consolidate their feedback. So it’s your job to piece the puzzle together, work out where they’re aligned, and point out where they aren’t.

In most cases, that means calling a meeting.

71% of project managers arrange meetings to clarify feedback

In agencies, project managers are the guardians of creative resource and champions of billability. Which makes meetings about feedback a frustrating and inefficient thorn in their side.

Here are a few reasons why meetings are so common in the client proofing process:

  • Files and feedback are separated so it’s difficult for clients to explain exactly what they mean
  • Comments are shared in different email chains so there’s no transparency between clients
  • Clients forget what they said about previous versions and end up contradicting previous comments

Luckily, the right client proofing software can solve all these problems and more.

Teams using Filestage’s client proofing software see a 28% reduction in “unnecessary meetings” vs. email

At Filestage, we love helping agencies save time and effort throughout the client proofing process. And according to our Year In Review report, our client proofing tool also helps teams spend 28% less time in unnecessary meetings.

As Publicis Health’s Medical Director, Sarah Chen, says, “Filestage makes things easy. Everyone’s comments are clear and in the same place so that the agency and clients can work more collaboratively.”

collect feedback from your reviewers

Here are a few ways Filestage makes your clients’ feedback clearer:

  • Tap anywhere to create markers and add comments on top of your work (even videos)
  • Highlight text or draw annotations to make feedback clearer
  • Compare versions and comments side by side to see what’s changed
  • Attach references to comments to give extra context
  • Tag other people to get on the same page in real time

“Filestage helps us to nourish the working relationship we have with our clients.”

Sarah Chen, Medical Director at Publicis Health

3. Goodbye overtime, hello better work

When I first started working in an ad agency, unpaid overtime was expected. And I can’t imagine much has changed in the last decade. But by being a little more productive and communicating more effectively, agencies can free up the focus time they need to create their best work.

73% of agency staff work more than their contracted hours

Shocking, but sadly true. Our Year In Review report found that almost 3 in 4 people in agencies work more than their contracted hours.

And I get it. Sometimes an exciting pitch comes along and it’s all hands on deck. If you win, it’ll be the account that takes your business (or portfolio) to the next level. But in too many agencies, working late is an everyday occurrence. There are two big reasons for this: manual tasks and rework.

Here are some of the ways agencies regularly waste time in these areas:

  • Adding all your work to a slideshow to make it look presentable for the client
  • Re-uploading and sharing content with the client because the transfer link timed out
  • Tracking what’s been shared and approved in a spreadsheet
  • Copy and pasting feedback from different email chains into one document
  • Scrapping a whole review round because the team misinterpreted the feedback
  • Canceling an entire project because the client didn’t approve it in time

90% of project managers could produce better work if they spent less time managing feedback

Like I said at the top, if you’re working in an agency, you want to create work you’re proud of and have fun while you’re doing it.

So when 90% of project managers tell you there’s a way you can help them produce better work, it’s time to take notice.

And if that’s not reason enough, 67% say they’d feel happier at work if they spent less time managing feedback.

By automating these processes and setting up a centralized and transparent client proofing process, agencies can enjoy a brighter, more productive, and more profitable future.

Client proofing software halves creative development time so agencies can focus on delivering their best work

Barcelona and LA-based agency, SLAPS, uses Filestage to review hundreds of social posts with their clients. By switching from email and WhatsApp to a dedicated client proofing tool, they cut their design time in half and freed up more time for quality and social engagement.

Founder and Creative Director, Sébastien Vandecasteele, says, “Working on social media, we have people both client and agency side. We’ve got a copywriter, social manager, and designer – and on the client side we have 2-3 people in the feedback process. Filestage gives us a place where everyone can easily interact with each other and give feedback.”

Compare versions_ poster

Here are nine more benefits of online proofing for graphic designers and agencies:

  1. Upload all your designs and versions in one place
  2. Collect feedback right on top of your creative
  3. Discuss feedback directly with reviewers
  4. Tick off comments while creating the next version
  5. Compare versions side by side to check what’s changed
  6. Approve designs or request changes in one click
  7. Invite internal and external reviewers to give feedback
  8. Set due dates to keep design reviews moving forwards
  9. Review videos, designs, images, documents, and more

“Thanks to Filestage, our review and approval process is easy, fast, and transparent from the beginning to the end. Now we have more time for the tasks we really enjoy.”

Marcel Martin, UX Director at Oddity

What is client proofing?

Client proofing is the process of collecting feedback and iterating on creative content until you get approval. This process can be used for everything from images and documents to videos and websites.

If your client is a creative director or brand manager, they may give subjective feedback on your work, like the visuals or copy. For other clients, like legal specialists and product managers, client proofing is all about checking the accuracy of your work.

By setting up a consistent client proofing process that includes all the right people, you can be confident that everything you create will be accurate and high quality.

What is client proofing software?

Client proofing software is a cloud-based tool for managing feedback between creatives and clients. You can upload content, invite clients to add comments, discuss feedback in real time, and share new versions – all in one place. Then, when they’re happy, your clients can give approval with one click.

How do you review creative work with clients?

You can review creative work with clients by using a client proofing tool like Filestage. You can upload any file formats that you need your clients to review and send them a link. Then they can open it, add feedback in context, and request changes so you know they’re done.

Once everyone’s done adding feedback, you can dive in and see everyone’s comments in one place, with markers to point out exactly what they’re talking about. If you need to discuss anything, you can reply there and then. Otherwise, you can get to work and share a new version when you’re ready. 

Which agencies use client proofing software?

Client proofing software is used by a wide range of creative and media agencies, including GroupM, Publicis Health, Liganova, Oddity, and CAMAO. By using Filestage, GroupM managed to cut their daily email inbox by 25-30%, while Publicis Health was able to nourish better relationships with their clients.

Final thoughts

Thank you for reading my two cents on the importance of client proofing software for agencies. I know agencies are rarely at the forefront when it comes to tech and software – my team was still using desk phones when I left in 2018. But from where I’m sitting, feedback management is a problem that’s crying out to be solved.

If you’d like to hear more about Filestage or want to try it out with your team, request a free trial here →

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