Guest Post: Debbie DeWitt, Visix
You’ve spent untold resources – both time and money – getting your digital signage system up and running. But is it working? Do people look at your screens?
One way to tell is with good ROI measurements in place. But there are a few surefire ways to attract and engage viewers, even before organizing such plans.
Use Eye Candy
The amount of visual stimulation these days is staggering, so you have a lot to compete with. Grabbing people’s attention amidst all the background clutter is the first step to getting them to read your messages.
1. Design Beautiful Content
Use images whenever possible to reinforce your message, and use high-definition and interesting pictures whenever possible. And photos are better than graphics – studies show people respond to actual images of real people and places more than they do to graphics. The days of using clip art are long past. Choose designs and graphics to support your message, not the other way around.
Other things that catch people’s attention include:
- Motion – Try video or just a slow pan across an image (the “Ken Burns effect”). The human brain is hardwired to detect and respond to movement. A study by Intel some years ago says that content with motion or animation gets five times the views of static messages.
- Numbers – English majors may know that you’re supposed to spell out numbers of 10 or below, but use digits anyway. They stand out from the words surrounding them and are more memorable. They also take up less space in your message – “7” is 1 character, while “seven” is 5. And the current trend of making almost everything some kind of list has trained people to stop and look at them – they see the message has, say, 6 items on it, and think “Well, that’s not too much. I can spare a moment to look.”
- Color – Complimentary colors (meaning colors directly opposite each other in the color spectrum) don’t work as effectively on digital signage as analogous color schemes do. Choose a main color to use and then use colors closely related to it as accents. And only use those accents to highlight important information.
- Contrast – Use a dark background with light text, or a light background with dark text. You want high contrast so the words of your message stand out, and can be seen from a distance.
2. Use Visual Hooks
Lure people into looking at your messages by supplying them with other information they want. Show the date and time, current weather and forecasts, event schedules, social media feeds or breaking news on a moving ticker. As they come to rely on your signs for this everyday information, they’ll get in the habit of looking at your screens all the time, so they’ll also see your important announcements.
Keep It Fresh
Having the same messages up day in and day out will make people start to ignore them – they’ll just become part of the background. Keep things varied to keep viewers interested.
3. Show Something New
Have a steady stream of new content ready at all times, and make sure there’s something new going up on your displays frequently. Create a system for gathering and creating new content, and schedule it so there’s new stuff going up on screen twice a week at the very least.
Maybe you have some messages, like safety reminders, that always need to be in rotation. The solution is easy – change the presentation while keeping the content the same. When designing messages you know will be up for a long time, come up with two or three different designs using different colors or images and rotate them.
Be sure that outdated information is scheduled to drop off your playlists automatically once it’s no longer relevant. Continuing to advertise the company picnic that happened two weeks ago makes it look like you’re asleep at the wheel, and undermines the credibility of your digital signage.
4. Change Layouts
Moving things around on screen is a great way to catch the eye of passers-by. Even if your playlist isn’t changing, moving messages around on screen can trick viewers into believing their seeing something new, so they pay attention.
Make your screen layouts fun and creative, but also logical and easy to follow. For people in the Western world, where texts are written left to right, the left side of the screen seems more important than the right side, and people naturally look at the left side of the screen first. So, things on the left seem emphasized or accentuated. Try a larger content zone on the left, with smaller zones on the right. This will create a layout that seems well-balanced to Western audiences.
5. Limit Playlists
Limit your playlists. Your audience is most likely either moving from one place to another, or sitting in a breakroom or dining area for only a short while. Keep the playlist short – this allows your messages to be repeated more often, so your audience can see and absorb your message over time.
If you have 60 messages in your rotation, displaying for 10 seconds each, that means it takes a full 10 minutes for a message to repeat. That’s way too long. Better to have 20 items in the playlist, and change some out each day. You can also use dayparting in your schedule to show different messages at different times.
You don’t just want your audience to see your messages – you want them to react to them in some way. Making sure that messages have some sort of action people need to take is a great way to tell if they are paying attention.
6. Calls to Action
Include clear directions in your messages, so viewers know how to get more info, or take the next step, or give feedback. If they react the way you ask them to, then you know they have read and understood the info. This is a simple way to do quick ROI.
Include a QR tag or short URL to drive people to a dedicated webpage, survey or social media page set up for your campaign. You can also advertise special offers for shops, cafés, bookstores, etc. on your displays, with some a memorable code word or phrase that can only be known if someone saw it on your screens. Be creative, and get people interacting with your content.
With just a bit of planning, you can be sure that people are looking at, and internalizing, the well-crafted messages you’re putting on your digital signs.