Definition of Online Proofing
Online proofing describes the review and approval process of creative assets with the help of online proofing tools, often also referred to as review and approval software.
Depending on the marketing asset, usually the design team, content writers and marketers work together to finish a project within tight deadlines – every marketer knows that cross-functional collaboration is the main source of most bottlenecks.
And as if that were not enough, company-wide decision-makers might also need to give their approval before the assets can be published.
Online proofing provides a feasible option to streamline the entire workflow, as all marketing assets can be reviewed and approved on one single platform instead of chasing after lengthy email chains.
Who Uses Online Proofing?
What roles and functions use online proofing within an organization?
- The marketing team or project managers have a clear overview of the entire project, including all milestones.
- Designers or copywriters get faster feedback, leading to a faster completion time.
- Marketers, designers and copywriters can collaborate in real-time.
- Your clients can comment without registering on the platform, leading to smoother collaboration and a faster turnaround.
To summarize, when using an online proofing software, your company will be able to create high-quality assets at a much faster pace, as online proofing increases the efficiency of all stakeholders involved.
The following section outlines the different key benefits online proofing has to offer.
Key Benefits of Online Proofing
Reduce project completion time
Centralized and transparent feedback
How Does Online Proofing Work?
Let’s look at how to use online proofing to streamline and optimize your review and approval workflow.
Step 1: Organize the process
Make sure that all marketing content, whether it is images, videos, written content or even bigger projects such as marketing campaigns or website designs, will be uploaded to your online proofing tool.
Further, as project manager you need to ensure that all roles and responsibilities are clear for all stakeholders involved.
After you have distributed the tasks, the projects become traceable, as everybody can track the progress of each project on their dashboard, so that minor tasks will not just disappear.
A good proofing tool allows its users to view the progress of every project in one single place.
Step 2: Content creators upload design draft
Between step 1 and step 2, the content creation phase takes place. This is mostly done by the content creators, but might involve some further communication from the marketing function in case any questions arise.
The communication between the marketing function and content creators should be visible to all stakeholders involved to avoid redundant clarifications, which happens all too often when emails or messengers are being used. Therefore, make sure that all communication takes place in the proofing tool – from start to finish.
Once the first draft is finished, designers, copywriters or agencies can upload marketing assets to gather feedback.
There is no need to write emails to all stakeholders involved, as a capable online proofing tool automatically informs all registered users when a new asset has been uploaded.
Step 3: Gather feedback
Your team or your clients can add comments to all file types and mark precisely, what changes need to be made. If you work with external stakeholders, you can just send out a link, which allows them to make comments in the browser.
Stakeholders can view and add annotations or approve files when they are complete – even when they are on their mobile devices.
Feedback should not only be gathered on the marketing asset itself but also on the required format and marketing compliance guidelines.
If the content creators still have questions, they can further clarify what is needed through the collaboration features of your online proofing tool.
Step 4: Content creators make revisions
Based on the feedback collected, content creators need to make revisions within predefined deadlines. It is important that reviewers are precise as possible in order to get the desired results.
The outcome of stage 4 largely depends on how well the feedback was communicated in step 3. To work effectively, reviewers need to be as precise as possible and content creators need to make sure everything is understood.
Depending on the task, the revision stage can take hours until a couple of days, which could endanger a project, if deadlines are already tight from the get-go.
Once content creators have made their revisions, the second draft will be uploaded. Step 2 to step 4 will be repeated until there is no need for revisions anymore.
Step 5: Get approval
Once all decision-makers agree on the changes made, the asset in question receives a timestamped and documented approval from all stakeholders involved.
It is important that all proofs are documented and saved in a centralized and customizable platform, as content creators can quickly look up some information instead of digging through tons of email chains.
After the approval process you can publish your marketing assets and dedicate yourself to new tasks.
Online Proofing Comes With These Benefits
Your marketing team will obtain tangible benefits from employing online proofing software:
If you have ever been in charge of a creative project, you know that time is a very scarce resource. Even if everything goes smooth, your deadline will still be tight.
Therefore, you cannot afford to lose valuable time during the review and approval process. Usually, long email chains remain unanswered and you need to spend a lot of time and effort just to chase after the approvers.
Online proofing makes the difference when it comes to working more efficiently, saving time and completing each project faster.
Centralize all your projects
Once there is an important project coming up, minor tasks, such as updating website content or changing outdated with new images just disappear. The new project takes all your attention and you do not find a way to organize yourself.
A centralized platform can help you keep track of all your projects. Your project dashboard gives you a bird’s eye view on all outstanding tasks, so you will never forget them anymore.
Further, by centralizing your creative content, comments, annotations and approvals are easily trackable by all decision-makers involved. Therefore, when you centralize your projects, you avoid a lot of problems associated with lengthy and confusing email chains.
No matter if it is your company logo, a particular type of phrasing which needs to be added or certain visual guidelines to be implemented – compliance guidelines can be confusing, overwhelming and just hard to follow.
Therefore, online proofing helps ensure your company’s compliance guidelines and therefore improves the quality of your output – no matter if you produce images, written or video content.
Online proofing has a further side effect: As it facilitates the process of discussing, collaborating and approving marketing assets, the net result is that the produced assets are much better.
Why? Because multiple people can share their opinions and thoughts during the initial and later stages.
What Should You Look for When Deciding on Online Proofing Software?
Review and Annotation Functionality
A good online proofing tool needs to have ample review and annotation features.The interface should be intuitive and let users finish the review and approval process within just a few clicks.
This is also important in case you work with external stakeholders, who have never used the software before. Guiding them through all steps would be too burdensome. Instead, the software should be self-explanatory.
A good online approval software should also have project management capabilities. This means, you should be able to customize projects and workflows to separate internal and external reviews but still move files between review steps.
Further, it is necessary to have functioning collaboration features to create multiple teams for an optimized review process.
Supported File Types
It can be more than annoying if you invested in an online proofing tool only to find out that certain file types are not supported. Even if your marketing team currently does not produce certain marketing assets such as videos, you should make sure to be well prepared for the future.>
If your marketing team produces confidential content, you need to make sure that the online proofing service provider you use has established an enterprise solution with high security standards.
High security standards prevent leakages and ensure a secure communication between your teammates and external partners through the online proofing tool.
Integrations enable the platform to be used with other tools, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Even if you currently do not see the need to integrate other tools, sooner or later the time will come when you combine all software solutions onto one single platform.
Integration capabilities are also helpful when your customer insists on using certain tools.
If the pricing structure of an online proofing tool is purely based on the number of registered accounts, the software will become too expensive once your company is growing.
Therefore, make sure the pricing structure of the software is flexible and can adapt to your changing needs.