All you need to know about online proofing for agencies in 2022

The most important goal for agencies is keeping the client happy. 

To make sure your service and deliverables fulfill all of your client’s requirements and expectations, you need to ask for feedback. Otherwise, the client might be disappointed, which will have a negative impact on your partnership and your profits. 

Therefore, in this article, we’ll be explaining how online proofing helps agencies manage feedback, keep their clients happy, and build great long-term relationships. 

Why do agencies need online proofing? 

Asking for regular and thorough client feedback is, without a doubt, the best way to secure their satisfaction.  

But, managing clients’ feedback can bring up some challenges:

  • You have to consolidate input from multiple channels 
  • You receive unclear comments that leads to misunderstandings 
  • You don’t receive feedback in time and the project gets delayed 

Here’s how online proofing helps agencies to solve this and other challenges:

benefits fo online proofing for agencies

Share files with clients 

A cloud-based platform allows marketing agencies to upload and share files with clients in a centralized location. No need for long and complicated email threads! 

Get feedback all in one place 

Since all reviewers leave their comments in the same file, online proofing removes the need to collect and consolidate input from multiple channels. This also allows reviewers to discuss feedback with each other, clarify questions, and get full transparency. 

Set up a clear process  

Agencies can set up a clear and transparent review process for everyone involved. Clients have an opportunity to give feedback and internal colleagues can easily react to it.   

Ensure quality and brand compliance 

Through this close collaboration and exchange between agency and client, online proofing helps minimize errors, ensures high quality and brand compliance of every content piece. 

Streamline communication and collaboration  

The platform bundles all communications around a specific file or project in one place. This prevents miscommunication, reduces the number of required review rounds, makes sure no feedback gets lost and makes collaboration much easier and more efficient.   

What is an online proofing tool? 

Online proofing software is a cloud-based platform where users can upload, share, comment, discuss and approve multiple different file types. 

Within an agency, proofing tools are used by multiple team members, including project managers, marketing managers, designers, video editors, illustrators, photographers, and so on.

Through its project overview and workflow automation, this tool gives all of the project’s contributors a clearer understanding of the project’s requirements and its progress.  

The main benefits of a review process are:  

  • It enables ad agencies to collect and manage comments on files, all in one place. 
  • It maintains an efficient workflow, minimizing the amount of time spent gathering and applying feedback.
  • It gives the entire review process more transparency, both for clients and creative teams alike. 
  • It streamlines collaboration and gives the entire team clear deadlines.

Common use cases of online proofing in agencies 

Agencies can use review and approval platforms across a huge range of different projects. After all, any project that involves client work can benefit from a structured review and approval process. 

The most common use cases include: 

Text 

Share Word documents or PDFs, to get feedback on briefings, contracts, or presentations. That way, you can ensure that any written text is mistake-free, adheres to the brand’s tone of voice and everyone is on the same page. 

Leave feedback on documents

Images and designs 

Creative teams and graphic designers can use online proofing to get feedback on images, designs, infographics, 3D models, 2D design drawings, or interactive banners. 

Give feedback on designs

Videos 

In video proofing, the most misunderstandings can happen. Therefore, to give clear and precise feedback, you need to be able to leave timestamped comments and annotations directly on the spot. 

Add comments to videos

Audio 

Creative teams and clients can both leave very precise feedback in each frame of the audio clip. This makes an otherwise complex editing process accurate and efficient.

Add comments to audio files

Websites

Reviewing live websites with an online proofing solution allows you and your clients to add comments with full context on any element, like headlines, menus, images, videos, or the layout. This makes website changes or redesigns much quicker. 

Give feedback on live websites

What does a typical review and approval process look like? 

The online proofing process for agencies can be standardized by following these steps: 

1. Upload the file 

Once the creator has finished their first draft of the file, they upload it onto the online proofing platform and add it to the relevant folder.

2. Share the document with the client  

Now the agency member can invite the client to review the document. This is done via email or by sharing a review link, which takes them directly to the shared file. To view the file, clients don’t even need their own account or login for the platform. 

Invite reviewers to leave feedback

3. Receive feedback 

The client can leave their feedback directly on the file, in the form of comments, highlights or annotations. Once they have submitted their review decision or left a comment, the agency will automatically receive a notification.

timestamped comments on video

4. Make required edits 

The editor of the file can then go through the comments, reply in case anything is unclear and make the requested changes and improvements. 

5. Get more feedback or the final approval 

Now the document is re-uploaded to the platform as a new version, and a second review round starts. The client reviews the file again and either leaves more feedback or clicks on the approve button if they’re happy with it. 

Get approvals from clients

Following this standardized review process will be a huge help for the creative and marketing teams in your agency. It enables them to make changes to the project with precision and confidence. And, from the client’s perspective, they will receive a service that is precisely tailored to meet their needs. 

The five best online proofing tools for agencies 

Now that you know why your agency needs a review and approval platform, it’s time to find the best fit for you, your team, and your clients. 

To help you with your search, we’ve listed five of the best online proofing software solutions for agencies. 

Filestage

Manage all your files in one place

Filestage is an online proofing software that helps marketing agencies to share work with clients, to get clear and precise feedback and approvals on time. 

Features: 

  • Easy file-sharing of different types: images, videos, documents, audios, websites, HTML files
  • Leave comments and annotations 
  • Submit review decisions
  • Automatic version control
  • Compare versions of a file
  • Real-time collaboration and communication
  • Due dates and reminders 
  • Role-based permissions 

Benefits:

  • Set up consistent review processes with multiple review steps. 
  • Reviewers use Filestage for free and don’t need an account. 
  • Leave timestamped comments on video and audio files. 
  • Discuss requested changes in the comment section in real time. 
  • Upload files from Google Drive, Dropbox, or your computer.   
  • High security standards that keep your files safe. 

Approval Studio

Approval Studio

Approval Studio is a digital review and approval tool, with annotation tools that are designed to enhance a wide range of artwork projects, particularly label and product packaging design. 

Pros:

  • Offers a range of creative media collaboration tools, ideally suited to the nature of agency work. These include multi-user comment profiles, and a digital task workflow. 
  • Third party integrations with tools like Slack and Adobe Creative Cloud.
  • Full version control, through automatically updating artwork cycles and a sophisticated search function. 
  • Compare previous versions of files at a glance. 

Cons: 

  • The tool is less suited to non-creative projects.
  • Works with a limited range of file types.

QuickReviewer

QuickReviewer

QuickReviewer is a drag-and-drop proofing tool, which has been designed to suit the workflows of creative teams and agencies. It offers users a variety of collaboration tools, plus intuitive document management software. 

Pros:

  • Reviewers can access the file via both desktop and mobile. 
  • Users can make edits, give centralized feedback and leave comments in real time. 
  • QuickReviewer offers a range of mark-up tools, including commenting, highlighting, pinpointing and drawing.
  • The tool allows video editors to lock two different video timelines together, so they can watch both versions in sync, comparing the two versions directly.

Cons: 

  • Limited size for file uploads. 
  • Limited third party integrations. 
  • No drawing or shape tool, making annotations more difficult. 

Pastel

Pastel - design feedback tools

Pastel is a digital feedback tool, which is best suited to the workflows of website creation projects. It is a popular tool amongst website designers and developers, particularly as an aid to marketing agencies. 

Pros:

  • A range of collaboration tools, including comment, highlighting and markup tools. 
  • Pastel allows marketing agencies to make edits and updates to files in real time. 
  • Reviews of Pastel have praised its simple, easy-to-use interface.
  • The software is especially designed for website creators, and the collaborative work of website developers. 

Cons: 

  • Inability to mark projects as ‘in progress’ or ‘completed’.
  • Pastel’s annual support and maintenance packages come at an additional cost.
  • Users cannot customize the software.

ProofHub

Proofhub

ProofHub is a collaborative project management and online proofing platform. 

Pros:

  • The tool includes in-built Kanban boards, allowing users to distribute work and track its progress. 
  • ProofHub’s dashboard also features a Gantt Chart, to keep the project’s timeline clear and well-organized. 
  • The tool allows the project manager to give users role-based access and editing restrictions. 
  • ProofHub also has its own internal direct messaging tool, which is perfect for large creative agencies with multiple departments. 

Cons: 

  • Users have reported difficulty managing notifications. 
  • The mobile app is far more limited than the desktop version.

What are the key features to look for in online proofing software? 

Each different piece of software comes with its own unique set of tools and aids to the workflows of creative agencies. 

So, when looking for the best feedback tool for your agency, it is imperative that you prioritize these features of proofing tools:

key features of online proofing software for agencies

Review steps for internal and external reviews 

Your review tool should enable you to create a customizable review process with multiple review steps. This allows you to separate different stakeholders, for example, internal and external reviewers. 

Annotation and comment features 

Your proofing tool should have annotation and comment features. The combination of both of these – one freehand drawing or shapes and the other a comment box – will make it easy for reviewers to leave clear, precise, and actionable feedback on any file type.  

Easy access for reviewers

Reviewers, especially if they are clients, will not want to spend hours figuring out how to access the platform. So, choose a tool that offers simple access, best without login, and an intuitive user interface. 

Security 

Your clients trust your agency to handle all the company information they share with you with the highest confidence. Therefore, you should choose a tool with high-security standards to ensure that all of your uploaded files are stored safely and securely, with minimal risk of hacking or data breaches. 

Automations and integrations 

For seamless integration with your current workflow, you should choose an online proofing tool that can be connected and synced up with your existing software applications. 

Conclusion 

Online proofing is a process that brings big benefits across the board. 

For the client, it allows them to give feedback fast and easily, and feel involved and supported by your agency. 

For your creative and marketing teams, enjoy higher levels of client satisfaction, and take pride in knowing that their work is well-organized, efficient, and consistently successful.

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