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7 Top Creative Approval Software Platforms For Agencies

Investing in the right platform is not just about meeting today’s needs; it’s about securing a prosperous future for your agency. Efficiency gains, better communication, and improved client satisfaction are just a few of the long-term benefits involved with adopting top creative approval software.

David Pondell

9

min read

Jul 2, 2024

Introduction to Creative Approval Software Platforms

Life in an agency is no walk in the park. You're racing against tight deadlines to deliver stellar creative work, juggling internal and external teams, and striving to keep your clients happy and informed. Despite everything you’re handling at once, seeing everything come together flawlessly at the end can make all the hustle worth it—especially if you get to celebrate all the hard work over a margarita.

If you’re finding you or your team are spending too much time on the process, you owe it to yourself to find technologies that can help you free up time. One way to save time is by evaluating creative approval software, or tools that manage the lifecycle of creative assets from initial concept to final approval. Different from enterprise resource management (ERP) platforms like Workamajig, catch-all project management platforms like Asana, or agency time-tracking software like Hive, creative approval software platforms are laser-focused on the collection of stakeholder feedback across versions, enabling teams to upload, share, review, and approve creative content in a single spot. 

7 Top Creative Approval Software Platforms For Agencies

In the dynamic world of agencies, where various stakeholders and clients need to see progress, leave comments, and approve stages, the best approval workflow software can be a game-changer. Creative approval software platforms streamline the complex process of moving creative projects from start to finish. These tools not only help in maintaining workflow efficiency but also ensure timely feedback, reducing the chances of errors or last-minute changes. And the best part? The best approval software platforms plug right into your existing tools so you can supercharge your existing workflow.

Why is a Creative Workflow Platform Important?

The primary reason a creative workflow platform is essential is that it offers a structured process for managing creative tasks, providing a seamless flow so that everyone who needs to have a say remains aligned with the project goals and timelines. 

With features like automated approval stages and externally shareable links for creative feedback and approval, you can maintain high standards and exceed client expectations—making your agency more effective and competitive.

What Are the Best Creative Review Platforms for Agencies?

Choosing the best content approval software is critical as it will help you streamline workflows, enhance team productivity, and ensure that creative content is up to the mark before going live. Check out the complete list of top creative workflow platforms below so that you can understand each software’s benefits and drawbacks and choose the tool that will work best for your team.

1. StreamWork

StreamWork is designed to cater to the intricate needs of agencies and marketing teams, and sets itself apart as a full-suite creative workflow with customizable approval processes, collaboration tools, and real-time feedback capabilities. Individual freelancers to large institutions with thousands of users rely on StreamWork to simplify the way they work. Users highlight that the solution is a highly-intuitive and easy-to-use workflow product with full project management capabilities, robust integrations, and powerful creative approval chains. StreamWork offers a free plan, and paid plans starting at $20 per user/ per month. 

2. Wrike

Wrike is a task management, enterprise resource management, and customer relationship management platform. It includes features like task assignment, real-time collaboration, and in-depth analytics. Wrike is a solid fit for teams looking for a robust solution to replace or kickstart their agency set-up. With its ticketing based approach, teams often leverage an internal project manager to implement and run Wrike. Creative approvals are one of many features available in Wrike, versus its core focus. Users say Wrike has powerful features and custom reports but some say the software is complex and the interface feels cluttered. Wrike’s Business plan starts at $24.80 per user, per month.

3. Workfront

Founded in 2001, Workfront is an incumbent in the project management space and is a credible option for agencies needing to focus heavily on managing complex project workflows.  It boasts detailed reporting and resource management, helping agencies track progress, deadlines, and team performance. While approval workflows are not the central focus of Workfront, they are an option within the platform. Users say Workfront integrates well with other tools but that the platform has a steep learning curve and can be overly complex for new users. Workfront pricing is available via their sales team.

4. Filestage

Filestage offers an organized platform for discussing and approving creative content. Its strength lies in its efficiency, offering a transparent process for reviewing creative content at various stages of development. Somewhat similar in appearance to a Trello board, Filestage focuses on content review with limited approval workflow functionality. Users like Filetage's feedback tools but believe it lacks customization options to cater to varied project requirements. Filestage pricing varies, with their most popular plan costing $249/month.

5. Ziflow

Ziflow is a dedicated creative review and approval tool for artwork and content proofing. It provides feedback and annotation offerings but lacks collaborative project management and campaign management functionalities. Users share that while Ziflow offers a wide range of features, the platform interface can be clunky and can involve a learning curve to get started. Ziflow pricing varies, with their most popular Pro plan costing $399 per month.

6. GoVisually

GoVisually boosts a simple interface for artwork and proof feedback. Its interface allows for simple mark-up of files and a single view of proof status. GoVisually falls short in that it doesn’t offer collaborative project management functionality, so while it’s easy to share out files for review, collaboration permissions and controls within the platform are limited. GoVisually offers basic approval functionality without the option to set-up workflows or chains of reviews. GoVisually’s Pro plan is available for $40 per user, per month.

7. Markup.io

Markup.io allows you to upload a creative file, drop in comments and share for review. Their interface is simple and straightforward, and a solid fit for individual freelancers or small teams. Markup.io’s features are limited in that they do not offer approval workflows, campaign management or project management. Markup.io’s paid plans start at $25 per month.

By leveraging any of these top creative review platforms, agencies can enhance their creative workflows while ensuring that projects are completed on time and to the highest quality standards. The right tool not only improves efficiency but also fosters a collaborative environment where creativity can truly flourish.

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How to Select the Right Creative Approval Software?

Selecting the best approval software is crucial for ensuring smooth and efficient workflows within your agency. With so many options available, it's essential to narrow down your choices. Here, we explore the key considerations you should keep in mind when selecting the perfect content approval software for your team:

Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Approval Software

  • Consider your agency's needs: First and foremost, identify the specific needs of your agency. Are you looking for robust approval workflow software that allows for chains of dynamic approvals, or do you require a simpler tool focused solely on commenting? Evaluating these needs will help you pinpoint the functionalities that are non-negotiable for your workflow. Factor in your team's size, the complexity of your projects, and the volume of creative content you handle.

  • Cost vs. functionality: Balancing budget with the necessary features is a delicate task. While some platforms may appear costly, they often come packed with advanced features that save you time and enhance productivity, making them a worthwhile investment in the long run. Conversely, if you're operating on a tighter budget, look for approval software that provides core features at a reasonable price point to start, and you can always graduate to more advanced features in time as your budget, company, and scope grows.

  • Ease of use and Integration: Ease of use is another critical factor when evaluating the best creative review platforms for your agency. Your team will be more likely to embrace new software if it's user-friendly and comes with a minimal learning curve. Choose platforms that offer intuitive interfaces and have robust customer support and training materials available. 

By keeping these considerations in mind, you will be well on your way to selecting the best approval software for your team that is perfectly suited to your agency's needs.

What Features Should You Look For in Approval Software?

When selecting the best approval workflow software for your agency, it's crucial to know which features will empower your team and streamline your processes. Here are some key functionalities to look for:

Collaboration Tools

The backbone of any effective approval software is its ability to foster seamless collaboration. Look for platforms that allow for real-time communication and annotations directly on creative assets. Whether or not the platform offers integrations with top communication tools like Slack can also be beneficial, as this will help keep feedback in one place and accessible to all stakeholders.

Review and Approval Workflows

The review and feedback stage is critical for producing high-quality creative work. Select software that provides structured and easy-to-navigate review processes, including options for multiple rounds of feedback and approval routing. Look for features such as dynamic approval routing with multiple stages (not just a single “Approved” button), ability to share out review links to clients and vendors, threaded comments directly on creative, and automated notifications to ensure swift and transparent communication.

Version Control and Audit Trails

Managing multiple versions of creative assets can be a logistical nightmare without automated version control and management. The best creative review platforms offer robust version control, allowing team members to track changes, revert to previous versions, and maintain an organized audit trail. This not only ensures accountability but also makes it easier to manage client expectations. Further, it ensures errors are reduced and brand guideline requirements don't go amiss.

Campaign Management

When evaluating creative approval software, look for platforms that allow for easy campaign and folder set-up, simple options for inviting in internal and external team members to collaborate, and end-to-end task management for campaigns. It’s especially a plus if you can store and manage campaign briefs in the platform so that all team members are on the same page about what’s being created for each client, what deadlines are upcoming, and why certain campaign objectives need to be met.

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Are There Any Free Content Approval Software Options?

When you're starting out or managing tight budgets, free content approval software can be a lifesaver. Several platforms offer basic versions of their software at no cost, allowing you to experience the core features and functionalities. These free versions often provide essential tools like simple review and feedback mechanisms.

While premium software often boasts advanced features, there are viable free options available with limited features and storage that can help streamline your creative approval process without breaking the bank. Notable names in the free approval software category include StreamWork, Markup.io and Google Workspace, each offering various degrees of utility for content or document approvals.

Comparison with Paid Versions

For smaller teams or those just starting, the feature limitations in free plans may be an acceptable trade-off. However, for agencies handling larger volumes of content or needing more refined control mechanisms, investing in a paid version can prove beneficial in the long run.

Furthermore, free versions might also have user or project limitations, potentially slowing down your workflow if your team expands. For example, they may cap the number of projects or storage space, which can become a constraint as your project requirements grow. Ultimately, whether you opt for free or paid content approval software depends on your specific needs and resources, and what you’re looking to achieve as an agency. Free approval software can act as a starting point for significantly enhancing your workflow management if you operate within its constraints. 

The Value of Investing in the Right Approval Platform

Imagine delivering your projects on time, with every little detail perfectly in place, impressing your clients and establishing your reputation as an industry leader. That’s the power of a well-chosen creative approval platform.

Investing in the right platform is not just about meeting today’s needs; it’s about securing a prosperous future for your agency. Efficiency gains, better communication, and improved client satisfaction are just a few of the long-term benefits involved with adopting top creative approval software. In an industry where deadlines are tight and quality is non-negotiable, having a seamless approval workflow will give your agency a competitive edge—and not to mention, make you look great in front of your clients! 

Take the Next Step with StreamWork

Creative feedback and approval with StreamWork

Radically simplify client reviews and transform your creative project management with StreamWork. Our easy-to-use platform is designed with agencies in mind, offering streamlined workflows and seamless feedback directly on videos, images, PDFs, presentations and more. Dive into a future where your creative processes are smoother and your are clients happier. Try StreamWork free today at www.streamwork.com

Author

David Pondell

David is a Sales Account Executive and Platform Specialist at StreamWork. David has extensive experience working with organizations of all sizes to implement seamless creative workflows that drive results and exceed client expectations.

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