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The Essential Guide to Choosing the Right Online Proofing Tools

Features of Online proofing software

Good collaboration and communication are the cornerstones of effective digital marketing as businesses compete to remain relevant and cutting edge. Not many people have heard of online proofing (sometimes referred to as ‘Digital Asset Management’ or DAM), but it’s an important part of many digital marketing processes. With lots of online proofing tools in the marketplace, how can you make the right choice for your organization?

In this Aproove guide, we explore the main considerations you should take into account when choosing online proofing tools. We hope that this provides you with some key insights into how to make that decision!

Tell me more about Online Proofing…

But before we dive straight into the detail of choosing the best online proofing software, we need to understand what online proofing actually means. Online proofing refers to the process of collaborative review and approval of digital content across documents, designs, images and videos. It is the virtual version of traditional paper-based review methods that often involve email versions of designs, where successive rounds of redlines and comments are added, one after another. These paper-based methods, although prone to error, have been the norm for many years. From a marketing team’s perspective, it’s slow, error-prone and downright inefficient.

Key Features to Look for in Online Proofing Tools

Ease of Use and Accessibility

Ease of use might seem like an obvious thing to seek out in any online proofing tool, but it’s easily overlooked. Common-sense solutions such as accessible interfaces, uncomplicated navigation and very little ‘learning curve’ are desirable whenever and wherever possible. This applies especially to reviewers and commenters who need to work from a variety of devices in different locations, which is more important than ever now that so many of us work remotely.

Collaborative Capabilities

It’s vital in successful online proofing that teams collaborate smoothly. Instead of causing friction and stress in the process, a tool should provide a seamless and comfortable experience for internal teams, clients, and other stakeholders. Features that enable effective collaboration include real-time commenting, @mentions, annotation tools and version tracking.

Integration with Existing Workflows

To be considered good enough, an online proofing tool should also sync with your current workflow as well as your other important tools and apps, such as project management software and applications for file storage and design. This is vital to maintaining a seamless integration and eliminating an upheaval or change of process for your team.

Customization Options

Each project is different, and your chosen online proofing software should reflect this by offering options that will fit the way you want to work. That could mean custom workflows, permissions, user roles and more.

choose the right Online proofing tool

File Format Compatibility

Different projects will have different required file formats and online proofing tools should be flexible enough to be able to handle many file types. Is your team creating images, videos, PDFs, documents, or other forms of digital content that your team needs to proof? The tool should be able to work with whatever your team creates.

Security and Compliance

Safeguarding sensitive information is imperative for any business. Make sure the online proofing software you chose follows the security standards, e.g. it uses encryption, keeps the option of secure user authentication or complies with data protection regulations. Check if your Online Proofing provider is SOC2 or ISO-27001 compliant.

Workflow Automation

Focusing on efficiency is important, so look for online proofing software that has workflow automation features and capabilities: automatic notifications, task assignments and approvals can help to speed up the review process, creating efficiency that can dramatically reduce turnaround times and increase productivity.


As you scale your business, your business proofing needs will also scale. It’s important to choose an online proofing tool that is able to grow with your organization. Doing so ensures that your tool remains effective and is ready to adapt as project requirements change over time.

Exploring industry-specific needs when it comes to Online Proofing

As for online proofing software, one-size-fits-all is rarely the best option: all industries vary and evolve and, as they do, they develop their own voice, workflow, way of collaborating with others and the unique demands of their projects.

Marketing: Streamlining Campaign Collaboration

Depending on the campaign, marketing teams could collaborate on hundreds of assets, with dozens of timelines and thousands of edits. Online Proofing tools for marketing teams need to be designed for collaborative proofing between copywriters, project managers, creatives and clients with real-time commenting, version history and configurable approval workflows. Whether it’s for social media, ad copy or any other type of promotional content, marketing materials need to be pixel perfect.

Tools need to be subjected to agile reviewing processes. Integration with marketing automation tools and project management tools improves all aspects of coordination, so that marketing teams can deliver on tight schedules and maintain brand integrity.

Design: Fostering Creativity and Precision

Design projects require both creativity and accuracy, so online proofing tools for design teams should allow you to provide detailed comments or annotate the proof, and also compare versions. High-resolution image support and compatibility with different design file formats are additional must-have features. Integrations with design software and cloud storage services can also reduce time spent on file-sharing and ensure that a creative vision from designers is retained.

Advertising: Enhancing Collaboration Across Campaigns

Advertising agencies are often busy juggling multiple campaigns at the same time. Therefore, online proofing for advertising campaigns must be collaborative both among the agency (internal collaboration) and with external partners such as clients. Robust features like easy-to-share secure files, customisable approval workflows, and multimedia content (eg, video ads) support end-to-end advertising workflows. As an added bonus, integrating with project management and client relationship management systems can keep advertising teams on track, allowing them to manage deadlines and achieve their campaigns’ objectives while captivating their target audiences.

Content Creation: Managing Diverse Media Assets

With regards to content making, different types media files involved are articles, blog post, images and videos. Content creation teams needs an online proofing software that supports multiple different types of files and offer convenient collaboration features to writers, editors, multimedia creators and professional reviewers. Custom workflows, flexible options to give feedback with details, also the text documents changes track features are important to keep editorial standards.

Regulatory Compliance Industries: Ensuring Security and Accountability

Some industries – financial services, insurance, healthcare, legal – have very robust regulatory frameworks under which they need to operate, so online proofing tools in these industries need to meet certain security, compliance and audit requirements. For example, encryption, two-factor secure authentication for users and audit trails are important features in the online proofing system to ensure the security of sensitive information. The online proofing software also allows a business to set up granular user roles and permissions so that only the right set of users can see and/or approve a document. For example, the CFO may not need to see the design files, but only the financial report created by the designer. Another way to ensure a secure and compliant workflow is to make the online proofing work with document management systems and other technology solutions that enable the storage of the information in the cloud but in a secure manner.

E-commerce and Retail: Streamlining Product Visuals and Descriptions

Product images and descriptions form the core of many e-commerce and retail branding and marketing efforts. Since photos and videos are often the dominant force when deciding which products to buy, product pages must easily and flawlessly upload images, videos and descriptions. Retail online proofing software should also offer annotation and real-time commenting to allow product managers, marketers and creative teams to communicate in real time on what can sometimes be a daunting task. Modern creative collaboration doesn’t end after the initial approval of a catalogue or website. We need to consider e-commerce integration with product information management systems so that product content can be updated across numerous channels and platforms.

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So what next?

Deciding on an online proofing tool for your team can be a key decision in ensuring that your team works well together and maximises their productivity. Take into account ease of use, collaborative abilities, integration options and file format compatibility when choosing the online proofing tool that’s right for you.

However, you should remember that the ultimate success of any online proofing software remains largely determined by the degree to which it fits your organisation’s specific needs and existing workflows. Make the most of free demo sessions (you can book your one with Aproove here!) and consume case studies on users’ experience to get the feel of the product and also to receive genuine feedback. By implementing online proofing tools, your marketing team can collaborate efficiently, deliver projects faster, and deliver superior results on your digital marketing.

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