Leveraging those differences to maximize the potential of your network is where strategy comes in. Sadly, many digital signage initiatives are never deployed because they don't ladder to any strategy at all, and many that are deployed fall short in meeting the business’ goals.
We know it’s tempting to start by buying the latest and greatest digital screens. It happens all the time. For the greatest probability of success, though, you first need to develop a digital signage strategy to determine what devices you really need. Then you need a digital signage content strategy before you deploy any of it. Let’s take a look at both of these.
Why the uniqueness of digital signage as a medium affects your strategies
Compared to paper-based signage—the simplest case—digital signage doesn’t limit you to one message per canvas. You don’t have to worry about the cost and bother of printing and redistributing new signage every few months.
Digital signage enables delivering multiple messages on one canvas at the same time. You can address multiple business objectives—like promotions, brand reinforcement, entertainment, and more—all on the same screen. But the uniqueness and versatility of digital signage as a medium means you have to change how you approach your content, how you plan your calendars and campaigns. All this demands building a sound content strategy.
Digital signage strategy starts with business objectives
An overall digital signage strategy doesn’t start with content any more than it starts with hardware—or at least it shouldn’t. It starts with examining your business objectives and the reasons for considering a digital signage initiative in the first place.
Consider what you want to achieve for each area in which you anticipate deploying screens. You may want to:
Improve profitability by increasing sales of high margin add-ons
Enhancing the safety of employees
Reduce employee turnover and improve morale
Enhance the guest experience and build customer brand loyalty
There are a whole set of environmental characteristics that will inform what is the right content for a particular location and screen. Among these are traffic flow, dwell time, average frequency of visitors, and how often content that needs to be refreshed.
These characteristics will inform not only your content strategy but your selection of digital signage devices. Will you need a large enough screen for all to see, or a smaller touchscreen device for a more personal, interactive experience? Which location is best for which type of customer or user interaction?
When, where, and what are your viewers looking for?
Your digital signage content strategy should marry business objectives with the characteristics of your audiences. Because each screen is individually addressable and can have its own unique intent and audience, your strategy lets you fine tune the type and format of content to match each location, audience, and business intent. For each area or individual screen, do you want to:
Inform or educate viewers?
Promote your products and special offers?
Inspire viewers with a pure, non-promotional experience?
Entertain them while they wait?
Tell your brand story and reinforce customer/employee loyalty?
Or a combination of some or all of the above?
A retailer, for example, may originally want 90 percent promotional content for a particular screen. However, based on traffic flow and demographics, the actual audience in that location is more in discovery mode. They aren’t sure what they are interested in, but they’ll know it when they see it—they are looking to be inspired. A screen in such an area is the last place to emphasize product promotions or offers. Instead, your strategy might be to dial back the promotional content and focus on helpful or inspirational content instead.
Consider some other examples of meeting both business and audience objectives with the right content strategy:
Does the audience at this particular screen or kiosk know exactly what they want? The strategy should be to avoid overly complicated or over-produced content—it isn’t always about brand building—and get right down to the promotion in a clear, concise message.
What about screens for persons who must wait in a line—whether they are shoppers, amusement park goers, or restaurant patrons? Consider delivering amusing or entertaining content, anything that can divert their attention from the queue. Remember you already have this audience’s business—you just want to keep it by making their wait as pleasant as possible.
Most organizations have a good idea about what they want to achieve, as well as their audiences’ motivators and pain points. The audience’s objectives will depend on where they are, what mindset they are in, how long they're going to be there, and so on. The key to success is to identify the overlap between your business objective and those of your audience, then build a digital signage content strategy that marries addresses this overlap to deliver on both.
A digital signage content strategy must meet your business’ and your audiences’ objectives—or else
In summary, before you start thinking of buying digital signage hardware, you need to have a content strategy so that all of those individual screens will contribute towards specific business objectives. And before that, you need to identify those objectives and how the overall digital signage initiative addresses those objectives. If you don’t, you could find you’ve spent a lot of money on equipment and content creation that isn’t engaging its viewers and isn’t delivering a ROI.
Building and executing on a digital signage strategy isn’t a one-off project, it’s a program that requires you to budget for it, operate it, and create and manage devices and content over the long term. That’s why it’s so important to start with a sound strategy before buying or building anything. Your strategy should also document how you will measure success—a entire topic on its own—so you know its effectiveness without question.
Yes, your strategy will undoubtedly change, as your business objectives change. But at least when the CEO asks you to “Show me what the content strategy is,” you can show definitively which audience intents you are addressing with which content types and on which devices. And isn’t it always easier to justify an infrastructure project when you can prove it is meeting the business’ goals?
Next time, we’ll dig into various content types that lend themselves to an engaging digital signage experience as well as best practices for implementing them. In the meantime, we invite you to connect with us onLinkedIn and Twitter. Better yet, contact us to find out how Reflect Systems and its products and solutions—including our ReflectView digital signage platform—can help ensure you get the best possible ROI from your digital signage network and your content.