Digital Signage: The Basics You Need to Know
Organizations of every size and in various industries are turning to digital signage software as a tool to help them achieve their goals. From corporate establishments to healthcare facilities, from tourist attractions to event venues, from educational institutions to public spaces, using digital signage creates the ability to deepen the conversation and share important information with the targeted audience.
Once considered a cool, next generation, “techy” item that was helpful but not at all necessary or expected digital signage has grown in popularity so that now they are indispensable for accomplishing certain tasks. Companies, no matter the size or budget, can typically benefit from using digital signage to engage their employees, patients, visitors or students. While new technology may seem daunting it doesn’t need to be.
To use digital signage software successfully, users must lay the groundwork by starting with these basics.
A well-formed plan.
Making an investment into any new technology without a thorough strategy on how to use it sets you up to not see a high rate of return (ROI). The stakeholders responsible for the decision need to hammer out exactly what they want the signage to address and accomplish. It’s possible to use the system for more than one purpose, but each task needs to be included in the plan from the beginning. Knowing your objectives helps you purchase the best digital signage system for your needs instead of getting more, or less, than you need. Also decide what success looks like with your new software. Is it to lower the costs of sharing important information? Do you want to increase the quality of your communication? Will it be used to expand sales and promote new product rollouts? Taking the time to decide the purpose of your digital signage and to determine the metrics for measuring its success are essential basic steps for implementing such a system.
Then you need to think about…
Relevant, valuable content.
What message are you trying to convey to your audience? And who is the audience? These two questions drive your entire content strategy and guide you to the type of content you need, the voice you need to use, and the way to lay the content out most effectively. One of the best features of digital signage software is the choices of how to share the content to make it engaging and even interactive so the audience pays attention to it and uses it. Don’t be intimidated and think creatively on how to display your content for maximum impact. Set up a content calendar to stay organized and set up some key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success.
The right software.
Once you’ve decided on the types of content you’re going to use and the audience you’ll be targeting, it’s time to choose your Content Management System (CMS). A CMS provides the ability to schedule your content and deliver your message to media players. Putting a CMS in place is essential in sharing your content effectively via digital signage software.
Media players and/or devices.
Another basic component of using digital signage is implementing your media players/devices. A rich experience for the end user will be the difference between them being engaged with your signage, or it (and your message) fading into the background. A media player is a PC or appliance that pushes the content to the display. The player software handles visual rendering of the messages and feeds in a content playlist and distributes it to one or more screens. Look for those that provide the scalability you need for your messages to stay relevant.
A display screen.
One of the biggest advantages digital signage offers over other modes of communication is the enhanced sensory experience of crisp images and succinct charts. You enjoy multiple options for screens to use with your digital signage software. Screens that are wall-mounted or contained within a kiosk in a variety of sizes make it possible to fit digital signage almost anywhere, inside or outdoors. Your signage can be interactive touchscreens for tasks like providing wayfinding, menu boards, accessing an events calendar and more. Single screens aren’t the only way to go. It’s possible and makes an enormous impact to arrange several screens together and network them into a video wall.
Installing and securing your digital signage software and display screens is an important step. This includes all the mounts for the display screen as well as the cabling, network connections, and other components that enable the messages to travel from the content server to the media players to the displays. An internet connection is also essential for many functions of digital signage such as showing live web pages, social media feeds, real time data feeds, breaking news, and more. Planning for the proper infrastructure is just as important as the rest of the materials you’ll be using to make your digital signage strategy a successful venture.
Company leaders need to pay close attention to the basics when they are planning to invest in a digital signage software initiative. When considering a digital signage provider, it’s important to find a company that can provide an end-to-end solution for all aspects of a deployment. For example, many AV and IT digital resellers don’t have the in-house resources to support all aspects of a digital signage deployment. The same is true for many digital signage and hardware manufacturers. They all support digital signage parts and pieces, but not the project as a whole; software, hardware, training, content and even system management if needed.
By addressing your content, the CMS system you will use to share it, the display screen and infrastructure, your organization is proactively setting itself up to reap a high ROI on the digital signage investment. Doing this can decrease costs and increase strong communication and engagement to the audience you’re trying to reach.