Imagine erecting a digital sign that also tracks traffic volume and links that traffic to actual visitors to your store. That’s how IKEA used its digital signage in Russia, according to Digital Signage Today.
Think of retail innovators like H&M using a voice interactive mirror, located at the flagship store in New York’s Times Square. The device asks passersby if they’d like to take a selfie. Selfies get transposed on a digital magazine cover that the customer can transfer to their phone via QR code, taking personalized customer interactions to a new level.
Or think of smart cities like Milwaukee, which plans to install digital kiosks to support public transportation streetcar lines. The signs will provide curated local content and give riders and visitors information about connections, wayfinding and other helpful information.
Digital signage has become both more sophisticated and more accessible for businesses of all sizes.
Is this too complicated for a small business?
Your digital signage plans need not be as complex as those described above. If you want to reach customers in new ways, or if you have customers who find themselves sitting in your waiting room, lobby or bar, there’s likely a digital signage plan that can work for you.
As customers wait, they are likely staring at their phones. The goal is to alleviate their boredom as they pass the time, steering them to a digital destination you provide. Digital signs can add another sales channel to your marketing mix. Creating customized promotions to these spaces is an opportunity to talk directly to your target audience.
And for your employees, digital signs quickly convey internal communications, everything from emergency messages to details about company initiatives.
How can digital signs boost your business?
Make it easier to adapt to changing conditions and business needs. With digital signs, retailers can post promotions that take advantage of weather changes, like selling umbrellas during a rainstorm. On slow days, signs can promote short-term sales to draw customers. For public health, signs can reflect local regulations that affect store hours and occupancy limits, or promote curbside pickup of orders.
It’s a way to reach loyal patrons. On-site visitors to a business tend to be return customers. This loyalty can be encouraged by explaining new promotions or less well-known services that your business provides.
Tell customers about promotions as they come into your store Let people know what’s on sale, when you’re having a special event or about any guest who’s making a personal appearance.
What’s needed for a digital signage system?
The four key components of a digital signage system are hardware, software, connection and content.
- Hardware. This includes the physical components of the system: the displays, kiosks, monitors, etc.
- Software. Software enables the loading and playing of content for broadcast on the hardware.
- Connection. Fiber and cabling are how the hardware and software talk to each other and how content is broadcast to viewers. This may include hardwire connections, Wi-Fi, mobile or a combination of all three. Proper connections enable communication with devices across regions and allow A/V feeds to transmit smoothly across all channels.
- Content. This is the messaging displayed on digital signs. You need to think about content and design. This can be as interactive and complex as the H&M selfies discussed above or as simple as a sign directing visitors to open parking spots. Content may include custom programming or syndicated content geared to your sector, such as health and wellness content delivered to a doctor’s waiting room.
How to get started
To launch a digital signage program, first define exactly what your organization needs from it. What are your goals? What is your budget? What purpose must the signs fulfill—sales, information, customer engagement, infotainment, a mix of all those things? Can your current communications infrastructure run the program seamlessly? How often will you update content, and how simple is that to do? Where will your content come from? Will it be custom content created internally, outsourced, or purchased from a content syndicate?
Digital signage is another expression of brand, just as important as face-to-face customer interactions and any of your digital marketing programs. They all work together to express who you are to your customers. Once the program is launched, you’ll need to track its success and plan for growth. What results must you see to make the time and expense of the program worthwhile? How will you measure those results? If the program is successful, how scalable is it? Will it be easy to add components and locations to the system? Make sure that the system can adapt as your needs as a business change.