By Sean Matthews
President of Visix, Inc.
Digital signage is so much more than just a push system — in a world where people are constantly interacting with devices to give them on-the-spot information, you need to do more than just attract their attention — you want them to the act on, and interact with, the information you give them. When this happens, your audience naturally integrates what they see on your screens with their normal routines and your messages become part of their world. It also gives you the ability to measure how effective your communications are, and tweak things to increase engagement.
A recent Gallup report shows that 70 percent of US workers feel “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their workplace. The same poll says that companies with workers that do feel engaged have over 20 percent higher productivity and profitability, significantly lower absenteeism and employee turnover, and fewer quality defects and safety incidents.
Design is certainly important when trying to attract people’ s attention in an information-rich world, but there are other tricks as well.
One of these is to think about what information people might need as they pass your screens, and include it to attract them. We’ve found the number one attractors are date, time and weather — everybody wants to know these things, and putting them on your screens gets people to look at your messages. Varying the content is also key — most of your audience passes by your screens many times a week, and if you don’t keep the content fresh, they will simply tune it out — it becomes background.
Use long tail campaigns instead of just one-off messages. People love a good story, and any sense of narrative they can get from your campaign will make them want to watch to see what happens next. This is what “going viral” is — something has captured not only people’s attention, but their imagination as well. So, they want to see what happens in the next chapter. But it doesn’t have to be a full-blown story. It could be something as simple as a character or mascot that changes a little bit each time, or gets into different situations. Think of Ronald McDonald, or the Travelocity gnome. We tune in because we want to see what is happening with these characters. The idea is to increase message saturation by showing the same basic information (sign up for benefits, or participate in the blood drive) in different ways. This increases dwell time — how long people spend looking at your messages.
And, yes, design is very important. You have to design differently for digital signage than for print. There’s been a lot written about how conveying information with images is more effective than text, how photography attracts more than simple graphics, how using movement and sound can increase dwell time, but tailoring different designs for different screens is something else to think about.
Get the right message to the right people at the right time. You may not want to show floor safety announcements on screens in the back office, or publish messages for Atlanta staff in your Denver headquarters. Also, think about where the messages are being displayed, and how long people typically spend there. Someone who waits in the lobby for three minutes has a different experience with your signage than someone rushing past in a corridor on their way to a meeting. They should have different content, tailored to their experience in the actual physical space your messages appear in.
ROI is essential for any good digital signage plan. The whole reason you are sending out messages is to get people to do something, so you have to be able to measure success. There are lots of ways to do this — from bitly links and QR tags that take people to a website on their mobile device, to limited time giveaways (Sign up for the Fun Run by 5 p.m. on Friday, and use the code “Happy Feet,” to receive your free t-shirt). The idea is that they see something on the screen, and then they take an action that you can track. This allows you to measure how effective your signage is. Did you actually see an increase in traffic to your intranet during the promotion? How many people followed your company on Twitter during the Town Hall?
And, of course, if you have interactive touchscreens, people are automatically interacting with your messages as they navigate the display. You can also build in tracking tools into maps and directories, or include the same QR tags, links or SMS options that you would on non-interactive signs.
So, digital signage is not just a greener way to throw information at your audience. It’s a way to involve them, with measurable benefits to both companies and employees.
Author Sean Matthews will be presenting a free on-floor workshop at CorpComm Expo 2015 entitled, “Motivating Your Audience to Act With Creative Engagement?” on Thursday, Oct. 1st from 1:45-2:15pm at the Georgia World Congress Center. For more information about CorpComm Expo, or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn more about digital communications technologies and strategies go to http://www.corpcommexpo.com.
Sean Matthews is a 21-year veteran of the visual communications industry. Since 2004, he has guided Visix through a comprehensive corporate reorganization, including growth relocations and name change, establishing field offices, outsourcing non-essential activities, introducing a suite of new products and services, growing revenues by more than 471 percent and tripling the number of employees to provide better products and services.