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Your Critical Digital Signage Planning Checklist

September 12, 2017
Jeff Johnson, Digital Signage Advisor

As you think about the often-advertised benefits of digital signage, you may be eager to adopt this technology to create a new, exciting point of engagement with your customers.

Well-designed digital signage is powerful. Signs can be augmented in real time to adapt to changing factors, ranging from new sales to changing customer behavior. It serves as another digital outlet for interacting with an audience, and it can uplift the entire brand experience for customers.

For digital signage to be successful and drive positive ROI, there are seven specific components you need to consider.

Digital signage is a form of branding and should be driven by a strategy.

Digital Signage Planning Checklist

Here are the seven components you must consider when preparing for this technology.

1. Objectives

Signs can be used for many different purposes. They could be customer-facing or designed to assist employees. They could advertise sales or support customer service. You will need to decide which objectives you want the solution to accomplish.In other words, what do you want the sign to do?

Some options include:

  • Sell a product or service
  • Promote add-on products or services
  • Advertise a promotion
  • Direct people to a location
  • Promote your brand
  • Encourage attendance at an event

If you don’t start with an objective for the sign, it will be difficult to complete the next six steps.

Your objective defines your focus and how your will achieve the goals of your digital signs.

2. Content

Once you know your sign’s objective, the content can be planned.

Is the purpose of your sign to entertain your customers? In some cases, the display simply needs to play a program of some sort, such as a sporting event or news channel. This video entertainment is indeed a form of content.

Does your content need to answer questions? Digital signs can take the place of a salesperson in certain situations. For example, if the item on your shelf is particularly complex, a digital sign placed nearby can serve to explain details about the item. Further, if that sign is interactive, your customer can make selections to learn more just like navigating a website.

Content for a digital sign is essentially marketing content. Conduct a creative brief to help your marketing team, designers, or content agency understand exactly what you determined the sign should accomplish.Every digital sign has parameters to work with. The size and scale of the display matters, and its location and orientation will affect how it is used, how visible it is to consumers and/or employees, and how likely it is to receive ideal engagement.

Remember that its location in a business environment is as much a part of digital signage design as its digital imagery.

Digital signage content can be as simple or complex as you wish it to be. Typically, a graphic designer can manage simple to medium-complex content. An interactive designer or a designer with experience with motion graphics and/or website design are great candidates for complex design.

Your digital signage software will likely have some built-in templates that can help to bring your design to life.

3. Design

Designing your digital signage solution has several component parts. For example, will your displays be indoor or outdoor? If they’re outdoor, how will they be protected from the weather and damage, and how will they be secured against theft or vandalism?

Considering where your display will best achieve its objective is a key component to the success of your solution. At times designs are a simple mount to a wall, and other times very complex and sophisticated, like multiple screens or video walls.

Refer to your objectives to help define the scope of your design. And work with a professional to ensure that you’ve thought of everything in this critical planning stage.

4. Software

Digital signage will require some form of content management system in an on-premises or cloud-based software solution. These solutions are becoming easier and easier to use – almost to a fault. Just like a printed sign, digital signage content can become too busy for your audience to consume. Thankfully, however, changing content is easier since the content is deployed from a central office location, often from your marketing department.

5. Hardware

While it may seem simple to mount a large screen that connects to a player with some cables that plug in, wait…which cable plugs in where?

If you’re not a technology guru, it’s definitely okay to ask for help with this part.

Digital signage is made up of screens/displays, players, cables, mounts, software or video subscriptions. They may also include Internet, kiosks, weather-proofing, beacons, recognition capability, and so on. From simple to complex, you want to make sure the component parts are up for the job they have to do.

Consumer- or Commercial-Grade?

There’s a lot of discussion about the differences between consumer-grade screens that you buy online or at your local big box store, and the commercial-grade screens purchased from a digital signage partner. The differences between the two is like comparing a household oven and a restaurant oven. The restaurant oven is on continually. And, if it stops working, the restaurant suffers.

So, when considering your hardware, think first about the question:

What is the impact of a screen that stops working?

6. Connectivity

Your need to be connected to the Internet is determined by your content and how that content is delivered to your screens. Connectivity will also be determined by your available Internet service and the requirements of your content.

This is listed as a separate and integral consideration, however, because it’s an area where many people experience challenges.

7. Optimization

Measurement is the only way to know if your digital signage is meeting your objectives and generating a positive ROI. However, the beauty of this marketing tool is that you can test many different components to build content and displays that help you realize the significant benefits you desire.

Your software may have metrics built in. For example, you may want to know gender statistics, dwell time, traffic patterns and flow, or real-time interactions. These measurements will help you optimize your content to fit the needs of your audience, and deliver the result you seek.

In summary, when you keep these seven considerations in mind, you’ll be off to a great start to launch a digital signage strategy that makes an immediate impact and drives strong returns for your business.

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