Looking for a new way to promote your small business? Digital signage offers new territory and endless ways to advertise.
Investing in digital signage can seem daunting, as it’s more expensive than other types of signage and promotion. Trust me, though — the investment is worth it.
During my career in marketing, I watched as digital signage secured its place as one of the most innovative and flexible forms of advertisement currently available. I’ve also been exposed to some seriously cutting-edge uses.
As long as you’re someone with information or a message to spread, digital signage is worth looking into.
What is Digital Signage?
Digital signage is any kind of installation or display of content for advertising and informational purposes. Simply put, it’s a sign on a screen using technologies such as LCD and LED.
Digital signage is everywhere these days. It’s so ubiquitous that you may not have even noticed its increased popularity. Some common places you might run into digital signage are:
- Bus and train stations
- Gate information at airports
- Mall and museum directories
- Fast-food drive-thrus
- Movie theaters
- Location-specific information, such as public weather notices
- Self-ordering kiosks
Digital signage is gaining traction in our lives and within the business realm, evolving from a reactive system that distributes content to an intricate arrangement of connections, interactions, and real-time acquisitions.
There are endless uses for digital signage. This type of advertising or informational display is efficient because, rather than installing a completely new sign, you can easily change what the current one is displaying. If used correctly, there are tons of digital signage benefits for your small business.
But how do digital signs work?
What is Digital Signage Hardware?
Digital signage hardware refers to the tangible components of digital signage. Among many features, these can include:
- Payment devices
The nature of digital signage means that it’s highly customizable. Screens come in an array of sizes, resolutions, and brightness levels. You can also choose between features, including LCD/LED flat panels, projection screens, and interactive touchscreens.
Then, you’ll likely connect your digital display systems to media players. These contain the operating systems and software you need to run digital signage content. You can display your digital signage on walls or other obviously visible areas using external mounts or specialized brackets.
That said, not all digital signage displays require an external media player. You can also implement digital signage using all-in-one displays with their own embedded processor and infrastructure.
The hardware network continues beyond there, though. Other additions to consider are environmental sensors, user input consoles (for interactive signage), printers, modems, security enclosures, and audio streaming devices.
Many types of digital signage are interactive, such as multi-touch displays for self-checkout. Other interactive modalities include motion sensors, computer vision for scanning gender/age, and RFID readers. All of these instances can help businesses engage with their customers more meaningfully.
What is Digital Signage Software?
Digital signage software is what enables visual components to be displayed on electronic signs.
It isn’t easy to give a simple and comprehensive definition of digital signage software because countless vendors are offering different capabilities and suitabilities. However, there are some common themes across digital signage software solutions:
- Option to incorporate interactive functionality
- Ability to integrate third-party services
- Analytics-based data collection
- Multimedia format selection
- Options for designs, layouts, and storyboarding
It may be simplest to define digital signage software according to its primary functions: content creation, distribution, device management, and performance measurement.
Software is the area of digital signage that’s constantly changing and evolving today. Interactivity is rapidly progressing beyond touch quality into speech recognition, demographic-based interactions, gesture recognition, and other, more visual-based modes.
This uprise in new forms of interactivity secures human-machine interaction’s place as a quickly-evolving avenue of promotion and marketing.
But how does digital signage software actually work?
Currently, most solutions exist as content management systems (CMS) with an interface where users can upload and manage their content. When they’re finished, the content is distributed to the media player.
CMSs are likely to remain relevant, but current trends suggest future solutions connecting and retrieving content from a new variety of third-party sources, both locally and on the cloud. As such, the scope of available content will expand.
Some examples of these third-party sources include Microsoft Excel, CMSs like AirTable and Directus, social media, and data sources accessible via APIs.
Benefits of Digital Signage
Digital signage has many benefits for businesses, often unmatched by traditional marketing materials. Here are some key advantages:
Increased Customer Engagement
Digital signage is visually stimulating, making it easy to attract new and increased engagement among potential customers.
Our brains can process visual information much faster than we process text (hence why so many textbooks have seemingly-useless photos!). Using digital signage to market allows you to advertise with imagery first, sure to capture more attention than blocks of text.
Easy Content Updates
We all know that content can become outdated quickly.
Digital signage allows businesses to easily update their messages at a moment’s notice, saving time and money. Updating what used to take weeks or months can now be done in minutes.
Improved Brand Awareness
Digital signage can help drive brand awareness and customer loyalty, especially with interactive elements. With digital signage, customers can engage with your brand in ways a traditional sign could never offer. Therefore, your marketing is more likely to be memorable.
Plus, branding through digital signage is often easier than other, more traditional marketing avenues. Because all your communications are powered through one central content manager, you can change the displays on multiple signs simultaneously.
Rather than investing in an expensive design team, digital signage systems offer a cost-effective way to add content, from videos to PowerPoint slides. Additionally, you can access media files from your network folder for even more convenience.
With templated designs and automated updates, anyone with the necessary user account permissions can create attractive messages quickly. Approval processes are simple — that way, multiple people can easily contribute.
Attract New Customers
Digital signage can be a powerful marketing tool to exponentially increase your reach and saturate the market with your unique messaging.
By placing screens in busy areas, you’ll communicate with an unbounded audience that would be impossible to achieve through traditional print runs or email lists. Moreover, digital signs are incredibly versatile – from single large displays, video walls, and touchscreens to small monitors, tablets, and smartphones – you can create customized messages that accurately align with multiple locations or demographics.
This ease of reach is a surefire way to attract new customers.
Examples of Digital Signage
If you’re looking for inspiration or still need clarification about where digital signage is in the real world, here are a few examples.
Promotional material, such as special offers and discounts, often involves digital signage. Think about when you walk through a department store. Competing kiosks will often utilize digital signage to draw attention to a booth that would be otherwise near-identical to all others.
Not only can you highlight limited-time deals that drive customers in the door, but you can also change these messages quickly when something new pops up. The efficiency and visual appeal of digital signage makes it a compelling avenue for this type of advertising.
Service offerings can be displayed through digital signage for similar reasons to promotional material.
Think about the lobby of a doctor’s office. What would take up an entire bulletin board can now be condensed down to a few images or videos that quickly say what services are offered and how they can help you. As such, more people are likely to engage with the signage.
For multi-level organizations, such as universities or large corporations with hundreds of departments, digital signage is essential for providing concise information to visitors without overwhelming them with too much text at once.
Almost all directories in metropolitan parts of the United States today utilize digital signage. This is because it’s easy and efficient to change the display along with developments in the area.
Emergency messages, such as the ones we drive by on interstates, are commonly displayed through digital signage. Whether it’s a natural disaster or other unexpected problem, digital signage is the fastest way to alert as many people as possible in an area.
City governments can easily update all of their signs from one central interface so that critical information is developed in a highly efficient manner.
What better way to break up the monotony of a long day than with an encouraging phrase? Digital signage makes it easy to create multiple messages and display them quickly at once.
While this type of digital signage can happen on a screen, one of the most common instances is retro-style LED light signs with quirky and uplifting sayings. This is a common fixture in trendy bars and other recreational spaces.
We’re surrounded by digital signage every day, but as you can see, there’s so much more to its capabilities than simply displaying ads or logos. It’s an incredibly versatile tool that can be used to amplify your unique message to any audience!
We’re all familiar with the concept of an interactive game – but did you know that digital signage also allows us to make these games accessible in public spaces? In fact, interactive games are one of the most popular uses for digital signage.
Take a museum or zoo, for example. What if, instead of traditional plaques indicating the species of animals and artifacts, we could create interactive games that allow visitors to learn more about their surroundings? By combining visuals with audio, you can create a unique and extra-engaging experience through digital signage.
This type of gaming also allows businesses to drive traffic toward key messages while entertaining customers simultaneously. Whether it’s a promotional game or simply a way to encourage viewers to stay a bit longer, interactive games are one of the most fun uses for digital signage.
Maps & Schedules
This is one of the most practical uses of digital signage.
Instead of having to hunt down a paper map or timetable on public transit, people can now get an up-close and accurate view of the route they need to take on a digital signage display.
Digital maps even come with zoom features that allow viewers to get a more detailed look at their surroundings. These digital maps are also often interactive – for example, allowing users to click on individual stops, which then show the detailed schedule information for that location.
Social Media Streams
No matter your industry, social media is becoming an increasingly important part of digital marketing. What better way to showcase this than with a live stream on sizeable digital signage displays?
This type of display can be used in many different ways – from displaying customer reviews and tweets to a live feed of hashtags related to the company. This will give viewers the impression that your business is up-to-date with the latest trends and technology, thus piquing their curiosity.
Digital signage also gives you greater flexibility in creative designs, allowing you to integrate visuals such as videos or GIFs into your display.
Digital signage is a handy tool for promoting your brand, products, services, or events and driving awareness among customers quickly and cost-effectively.
With its versatile design options and ability to reach an unlimited audience through interactive elements, it’s no wonder it has become such a popular choice among businesses.
If you want to draw attention and create a memorable experience for your small business, digital signage is the perfect solution.
But before purchasing a system, check out this article on mistakes to avoid with digital signage. A little more research never hurts.
Thanks for reading, and until next time! If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment.