We have all seen electronic signage. Often found in public spaces such as stadiums, transportation systems, and NYC’s infamous Times Square, electronic signs are used to display information along with advertisements on an LCD, LED, or another digital monitor. These digital displays are networked together and centrally managed with the aim of catching the attention of targeted audiences.
Digital signage is considered a sub-segment of electronic signage and when you come across this specific term, it generally refers to private spaces such as retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. While digital signage is used on a private, as opposed to public, scale, it actually serves the same objective—to provide marketing and advertising to in-store customers—and it’s managed centrally via a computerized network that the business owner controls.
When this eye-catching technology is displayed in retail stores of any industry, customers become influenced to consider and also buy products and services that they might not otherwise have known about. In this sense, digital signage is a powerful marketing and advertising tool that can alert your in-store shoppers to items, as well as promotional deals you may be running, in order to incentivize additional spending.
Truly understanding digital signage, however, will require more than hearing its basic definition that we’ve just described. If you would like to go beyond the definition and get a solid understanding of how digital signage can strengthen the branding and sales at your store, then keep reading so that you will thoroughly understand how to get the most out of your in-store digital signage.
Before we delve into the display-side of digital signage that your customers will see and interact with at your retail store, let’s first take a look at what you, the business owner, will be responsible for behind the scenes.
As mentioned above, electronic signage including digital displays within a retail store or private business space are managed centrally within a computer system. When you invest in digital signage, you will receive the software necessary to create and control the content that will be displayed on your in-store signs. Depending on the provider that you go with, the software will either be cloud-based or stored locally on your computer, but most importantly, once you open it, you will see a comprehensive dashboard that includes the numerical ordering of your physical in-store displays, as well as a numerical ordering of the content that can and will be sent to those screens.
If you just bought your digital signage set-up, however, there won’t be any content within the software. You will have to create your content, devise how it will be displayed, i.e. static images, rotating graphics, timed videos, etc., and finally you will have to assign the content to the in-store displays of your choosing. Try not to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of having to create your own in-store digital content. There are work-arounds and any digital signage software worth its salt will come with attractive templates to build on, which we’ll address a bit further in this article. The most important aspect to understand right now is that the digital signage software should provide you with easy, centralized organization of your content that you can manage from your computer.
Empowering you to be the master-builder in control of this content, you can implement smart choices. For example, you can send your new COVID-19 in-store rules to the digital sign at the front of your store so that entering customers know to wear their facemasks. The digital sign behind the deli counter can project meal options with pictures and prices. Do you have a customers-only restroom? Display a digital sign over the door so that no matter where in your store your customer is standing, they’ll be able to see it. These displays don’t have to be static and strictly informative either. You can rotate the content so that every display alerts your customers to deals, discounts, and special promotions while also serving its primary purpose. Are you operating a hair salon? Rotate into your displays the latest trends in cuts and colors to inspire your customers to try an adventurous look!
The main takeaway to understand here is that you will be able to organize and assign the digital content to your displays easily. You can even choose the times of day, days of the week, and special holidays that certain content is displayed so that your in-store digital signage always stays fresh, relevant, and educational.
EASY CONTENT CREATION
Above, we touched upon how the most helpful digital signage software will come with pre-designed templates that you can choose, work with, and build upon so that you don’t feel in over your head while you attempt to create the actual content that will be displayed on your signs. Let’s take a look at this back-end aspect so that you have a full understanding of the possibilities. (See our guide for 15 digital signage tips.)
Nine times out of ten, or perhaps we should say ninety-nine times out of one hundred, the digital signage providers on the market today haven’t been developed solely for your specific industry. While it would be fantastic if a provider was focused strictly on autobody repair shop digital signage, for example, it simply isn’t the case. Most providers are serving as many industries as possible, which is why you’ll want to peruse their library of images and also their pre-made templates to be sure that they will come with the right digital content for your unique store. Do you own a tattoo parlor? Take a moment prior to purchasing anything and make certain that the digital signage provider offers images, graphics, photos, and templates of tattoo-related content. While you will certainly be able to import your own photos—a great option if you really are running a tattoo parlor and want to display your artists’ prior work—you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised after investing in a provider and discover that you’ll have to hire a professional graphic designer.
The most important features to look out for when shopping around for the best digital signage software are industry-appropriate templates and library images, user-friendly widgets, drag-and-drop functionality, easy text insertion—as well as easy ways to change colors, fonts, background gradations, etc.—and automatic resizing intuition so that the software’s intelligence is properly communicating with your in-store signs no matter what the display dimensions are.
Once you find the right digital signage software, building your digital content should be fun and quick, and centrally managing your digital displays should be easy whether you are using your office or home computer, or even your smart phone. For this reason, it would be smarter to invest in a fully-functional cloud-based provider so that you don’t have to sit in front of only one computer just to switch your signage up. Are you currently researching which digital signage provider to go with? If they don’t offer technical support, content strategists, and customer service 24 / 7, then keep looking. The best software on the market shouldn’t require the constant support of a tech genius, but let’s face it, you’re going to want a real human available to you if and when you run into a problem, even if that problem is face-palm simple, like you can’t find the “create” button on your screen even though it’s right there and would probably bite you if it could. Hey, it happens, and the provider should be one phone call away if it does.
Lastly, in terms of easy content creation, there are some digital signage providers that also offer webinars that are tailored to walk you through the various functions of your software so that you get the most out of your investment. At the same time, however, there are many providers who do not offer this added bonus feature. If you want the biggest bang for your buck, choose a provider that puts out up-to-the-minute technological webinars that will keep your in-store signage cutting-edge. The provider should also regularly offer additional templates at no extra charge, and the software updates required to “grab” these new templates should be easy and automatic.
Now that you understand the back-end purpose and functionality of your digital signage—and what you will be responsible for behind the scenes—let’s take a look at the front-end, otherwise known as your physical in-store digital signs and how the content displayed there will boost sales and enhance the in-store shopping experience for everyone who comes into your business.
First things first, if you haven’t already, you will need to invest in the actual monitors that will be hung around your store. This is the hardware aspect of your digital signage setup. These screens are often LCD, LED, or some other digital technology, and the provider should offer you various hardware choices when you invest in the software. The digital signage monitors should also come with a master remote control, too, but this isn’t always necessary if your back-end is comprehensive.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand here is that if you do not purchase your hardware monitors from the same digital signage provider that you bought your software from, you are going to have to be extra thorough in your compatibility research. The last thing you’ll want is to find out that there’s a communication error. Ever watch a movie on a TV screen with incompatible aspect ratio? It’s irritating, and that’s putting it mildly. You don’t want to discover that part of your beautiful content is being cut off, especially if informative text is partially missing.
Assuming that your hardware and software are compatible and communicating flawlessly, we can finally address the truly fun stuff regarding your in-store digital signage! And that’s the fact that you now have easy advertising capabilities in place!
But smart, effective, and attractive advertising doesn’t implement itself. You’re going to have to come up with a content strategy in order to ensure that your digital signage properly translates into direct sales. It’s crucial to understand how to get the most out of your digital signage investment, so let’s take a look at the key elements that matter most.
If your customers are squinting, you’re doing it wrong
If your feet are size nine, you will never consider buying a size eight shoe, no matter how trendy or affordable the style. If you’re interested in moving, you probably aren’t going to look at a studio apartment if you’ve been living in a house with family members. Why? It’s because size matters, and the same principle is true for your digital signage.
You put thought into your content when you created it on the backend, but it’s imperative to double and triple check that your content is size appropriate. First, ask yourself, how large—or small—are your in-store monitors? Did you attempt to cram too much text into a single graphic? Does it look too small when displayed? Let’s say the text size is displayed great, but the image itself rotates to the next too fast. Ask yourself, will your customers have time to absorb the information that’s displayed? Or do they have too much time? You don’t want your rotating signage to be slow and boring, either.
In order to make sure that your signage is perfect, put yourself in your customers shoes. Walk through your store. Are you squinting so that you can see the content? Consult with your employees to get their impression, too. It could take some trial and error, but it’s worth it, because if your digital signs aren’t attention-grabbing, informative, and sensical in terms of their in-store placement, then you won’t be able to maximize your investment.
If your customers aren’t looking, you’re doing it wrong
Have you ever heard the expression “content is king”? We’re willing to bet you have and there’s a reason for that. It’s tried and true. It doesn’t matter how well-built a mobile app is on the back-end, if it’s ugly and hard to navigate, people won’t use it. Same goes for magazine covers. If a magazine doesn’t feature an interesting model, celebrity, or prominent figure on its cover, along with attention-grabbing headlines and article hooks, no one is going to pick it up to see what’s inside. The same rule will apply to your digital signage and the fastest way to know if your content is working or not hinges solely upon your customers’ behavior while they’re in your store.
Are they looking at it? If you notice your customers are walking through your store but they never glance up at your digital signs, then you have a problem. Ask yourself, are your signs hung too high? Too low? Are the sightlines obstructed by in-store product pillars? If so, make adjustments and consult your employees for their feedback in this department.
However, if the actual placement of your digital signs is fine, but your customers still aren’t looking at them—and we mean long, lingering, magnetized looks!—then you have a content problem. You may have to go back to the drawing board, and when you do, these are the critical factors to keep in mind:
• The content should be aligned to your target audience, so be sure that the displays are highly relevant to their interests and lifestyle.
• Make sure your content offers variety in terms of rotating information, high-def images, video, and your current promotions, and remember videos and gently moving graphics tend to perform better.
• Curate content that integrates your store’s unique brand and be sure that your branding comes with your latest promotion as well as a memorable slogan, otherwise known as strong marketing. A pet retailer, for example, should include a graphic of their branded logo with an endearing pet image and a catch-phrase that encapsulates the heart-and-soul behind their company, such as “When you purchase cat treats, we send 10% to big cat animal rescue!”
If your customers aren’t splurging, you’re doing it wrong
While digital signs are a dynamic way to display menu boards, wayfinding maps, and store-relevant branding, you will be missing out on generating substantial revenue if you aren’t also using your in-store signs to alert your customer to time-sensitive deals, discounts, freebies, and also your customer loyalty rewards program if you have one.
Your in-store digital signage could be one of the most effective tools for monetizing your marketing efforts. Be sure to integrate the following into your rotating content:
• Coupon codes
• Manufacturer deals
• Current offers and promotions
• Sign-up reminder for your loyalty rewards program
You can even sell ad space on your screens for an additional revenue stream. This strategy is highly effective when implemented at gyms and fitness centers or any business where there won’t be a conflict of interest. For example, a gas station convenience store could sell ad space to a local autobody repair shop, because it’s relevant but not in competition.
Remember, if your customers aren’t asking your sales staff about the deals that are displayed on your in-store digital signs, then you’re doing it wrong and you’ll need to make adjustments on the back-end. Keep your eyes on your customers’ behavior. They are the litmus of whether or not your signage is effective. If you make adjustments accordingly, you’ll find the sweet spot in no time, and you’ll see a healthy boost in store revenue, which is the ultimate litmus for ROI.
Are you currently shopping around for a digital signage provider to connect you with the software, hardware, and strategies that we went over throughout this article?
FasTrax Digital Signage can help your business market and advertise products & services in-store while your customers browse, which will make your store stand out on the block. Our specialists are ready and able to demonstrate how FasTrax Digital Signage can transform your retail store into an interactive experience that organizes and engages customers as they become acquainted with all that your store has to offer.