Benefits of digital signage
Before we talk about analyzing the effectiveness of your unit's digital signage efforts, let’s review the real-world benefits.
When considering the monetary investment in your signage, it’s important to factor in the cost savings as well. If taken advantage of properly, the benefits of increased outreach and awareness for your marketing initiatives will offset the costs.
Digital signage allows for eye-catching, attention-grabbing installations. Whether it’s a still image, dynamic content, or video, digital displays attract a visitor's attention with vibrant colors and compelling visual information. With the ability to use touch interfaces, as well as the design flexibility that digital signage offers, you can create a variety of configurations to generate the type of engagement your unit desires. With recent advancements, digital kiosks can take visitor inputs in a highly engaging and personalized fashion.
Statistics show that digital signage drives greater outreach, engagement, and recall rates, and is highly effective in motivating onlookers to take action when compared to traditional media. Digital signs:
- Reach more customers than internet videos
- Increase visual impressions
- Lead to higher recall rates
- Have more impact on a viewer’s action
A 2010 study by Arbitron found that 70 percent of Americans had seen a digital video display in the previous month, versus 43 percent who had seen videos on the internet or 41 percent who had seen videos on Facebook. Of the 70 percent who recalled seeing a digital display, 47 percent specifically recalled seeing that promotional piece
Another study found that of those who saw a digital billboard, 55 percent could recall the specific message or brand.
In a study that compared static ads with digital ads, although both asked the same number of users to go to the help desk to receive a free tote bag, only six people who saw the static ad claimed the free bag, compared to 610 people who saw the digital ad.
Value and flexibility
Digital signage provides far greater value than analog installations such as posters, flyers, billboards, or signs. You can deliver a range of messages depending on your business priorities, alternating them as often as you need rather than being stuck with costly and time-consuming updates to printed materials. Digital content is substantially more agile and engaging, and is easy to replace.
Better resource allocation
Digital displays can generate substantial savings in personnel costs, allowing you to re-assign some repeated tasks, reducing human error, as well as immediately fixing any typos or inaccuracies.
Measuring effectiveness and success: ROO and ROI
While digital signage brings many benefits to your marketing efforts, its success needs to be measured in meaningful business outcomes. There are two ways to measure the success of your digital signage:
- Return on objectives (ROO)—setting a goal and then measuring your success against that goal.
- Return on investment (ROI)—calculating the end results of your investment
ROO is not usually related to money, instead measuring things like brand awareness, recognition, retention and customer experience. Compared to web-based marketing, which has strong tools such as analytics, digital signage presents a greater challenge in measuring success.
ROI and ROO are closely intertwined. For example, digital signs used for wayfinding may not appear to lead directly to measurable outcomes; however, by freeing up time previously spent providing directions to customers, staff are now available to perform other tasks instead. Thus, the wayfinding system indirectly leads to a measurable outcome.
Another, more subjective form of ROI—which may be just as important—is measuring positive feedback from visitors, staff, and students before and after installation of digital signage. This can help you determine the impact of the investment and if it is meeting your objectives. Even observing people can answer questions such as how long do customers spend in front of a digital sign?
A more involved type of ROI measurement involves conducting surveys or interviews and recording people's responses. Did they notice the digital signs? Did they find them helpful?
When thinking about ROI it is also important to consider the timeframe. Often the ROI in technology needs to be looked at from a longer-term point of view and total cost of ownership (TCO).
Measuring foot traffic
Measuring and analyzing foot traffic is useful for understanding where and how often visitors enter a specific location. The amount of foot traffic in a given location is an important metric in determining the best and most effective locations for your digital signage. The frequency (numbers per hour) and pace (speed of travel) can be vital in making prudent decisions about where to place your signs. Are visitors walking by the sign, or waiting in line?
Before placing a digital sign, study the foot traffic in the area during different times of the day and the week. Main level signs may be more suitable for marketing campaigns and announcements, whereas upper floors might be geared toward services or information kiosks.
Typically, locations with higher amounts of foot traffic tend to yield the best results for return on your communications objectives. Every building or residence hall has a popular area where foot traffic is at peak volume.
However, large foot traffic numbers don't necessarily guarantee success, especially where pace numbers are high (people walking by quickly). Highly sought-after areas usually have high foot traffic volume but slow pace (people waiting in line). Calls to action which the viewer can easily act on with a cell phone or physically (e.g., “Pick up your free gift bag at the info booth.”) are highly effective in a high-volume, slow-pace scenario.
Tools for tracking foot traffic
Newer advanced technology allows us to establish detailed measurements. For example, by integrating the Internet of Things, optical/lasers, and electronic sensors, you can measure foot traffic or interactive touch screen responses. Data from sensors and cameras connected to a WiFi network can be saved and studied to determine the highest traffic times.
Three different electronic solutions are commonly used to measure foot traffic:
Thermal sensors measure foot traffic by detecting body heat. These sensors are placed on the top of a doorway or mounted to a wall/ceiling, and they work by capturing the heat signature of a person as they walk through. These devices offer the most flexibility in measuring and analyzing foot traffic data. Unlike other solutions, thermal sensors don’t capture any information that can personally identify guests, making them a great option for organizations that want to protect the privacy of their visitors.
Breakbeam sensors use infrared to detect motion. These devices are installed on either side of a doorway or hallway, pointing at each other to create an invisible beam. When someone walks through the doorway, that beam is broken, triggering the sensor to count the visitor. Breakbeams are far more affordable than other sensor-based devices but do not provide as much useful data. Breakbeams are also prone to inaccurate data collection when there is heavy foot traffic. Breakbeam door sensors are the most affordable sensors on the market, but depending on the sensor, installation may cost more than the sensor itself.
WiFi and Bluetooth-
WiFi technology can be used to count and analyze foot traffic, but can count only visitors who log into the location’s network. Bluetooth has similar limitations in that it may not be the most accurate people counter because it can only count visitors who have enabled Bluetooth on their mobile devices.
Commercially available foot traffic measuring devices:
Density is an advanced people-counting sensor designed to track foot traffic. The sensors use computer vision, depth-sensing technology, and an onboard processor to determine the speed, direction, and movement of a person through a specific location. They are designed to handle complex human behavior including group collisions, bi-directional movement, lines, and lingering, and track each person anonymously. Density can email users a regular foot traffic report that includes measurements such as activity change percentage and busiest hours. The device is less than four inches wide and is designed to be wall mounted or above doorways.
Pros: Highly advanced foot traffic measurement and analysis.
Cons: Expensive (Aprox. $1,700 for hardware and software).
Similar to Density IO, V-Count uses sensor-based technology, but boasts a more advanced stereoscopic solution. The unit’s bi-directional feature can anonymously count people entering and exiting at the same time, and reports these numbers separately. Moreover, by subtracting exiting from entering count, you can get a clearer picture of what locations are most occupied, along with peak hours for visitor traffic.
Pros: Highly advanced foot traffic measurement and analysis, plus exit counts.
Traf-Sys offers both wired and wireless people-counting systems, including door counters, horizontal sensors, thermal imaging sensors, data controllers, and other accessories.
Pros: Several different people counting solutions available.
Cons: Some devices are very expensive.
Smart Counter offers a number of self-contained infrared people counters, which vary in price and capability. These devices can be easily purchased through retail outlets such as Amazon.
Cons: Limited data analysis compared to sensor-based solutions.
Creating effective digital signage
Determine your audience
When deciding on your target audience, think about your immediate goal for the digital signage system. For example, do you want to:
- Improve awareness about your unit and its mission?
- Improve awareness about university-wide campaigns?
- Drive traffic to specific locations in your unit (i.e., provide navigation)?
- Inform viewers about building rules or policies?
- Drive traffic toward specific events?
- Provide an interactive kiosk or menu?
Have clear objectives
Each organization has unique goals and therefore unique requirements for what they expect in terms of return on an investment in new technology, products, or processes. First, determine your definition of “return.” Is it increased brand awareness? Or does it mean increased efficiency yielding time saved for staff? Your objectives for digital signs may vary throughout your organization. For example, some signs may be used to keep staff informed, while others may be used to help students.
Make your digital signage work for you
Consider these five factors as you develop your digital signage.
1. Create compelling content.
People are so overwhelmed with content and information in today’s digital world that we’ve developed the skills to easily tune out information that is meaningless to us. Create great content that your audience and visitors want to see.
2. Use calls-to-action.
Now that you’ve captured visitors’ attention with your great content, ask them to do something—for example, leave a review on Google or your social media page. Make it easy by including a QR code they can scan to take them directly to the review page. Or ask them to take photos of something in your unit and share on social media using a dedicated campaign hashtag.
3. Integrate with the brand.
Your digital signage is an extension of your brand. Be consistent with your branding, colors, fonts, and voice to give your visitors a consistent experience. Depending on your unit and what types of technology you already have, brainstorm ways that you can integrate the digital signage technology to give your visitors an immersive experience.
4. Choose the size and position of your signs strategically.
Size, shape, and positioning of your digital signage are all important aspects of your digital signage strategy. Bigger is not always better, however—choosing too small of a screen can be an issue if you try to display too much information on it at once. Consider environmental factors as well. Make sure your signs won’t be in the sun or directly under a light that could cause a glare.
5. Share interesting information.
If you have fun facts about your products or brand, this is a great place to share them. Depending on where your signs are located, including interesting information can keep bored viewers entertained or help a long wait in line feel shorter. You can also use this opportunity to educate your visitors about your unit as a whole.
Measuring foot traffic