Guest Post: Irfan Khan, Skykit
Picture this: You’re the proprietor of a grocery store, and you’ve just installed your first digital signage system.
You’ve been careful to do everything right.
You did extensive research into what type of display would be right for your business, taking into account everything from cost to viewing angles.
You chose a content platform that makes sense for you: simple to work with and able to coordinate your content across all your screens.
You’ve put thought into placing the signs where they’ll be most visible and readable for the greatest number of people.
You’ve even created eye-catching and on-brand content, perhaps using some useful tips.
You watch with pride as the displays blink to life on the morning of their debut.
But a week passes, and then two, and you’re not seeing the kind of results you were expecting. What went wrong? You followed the whole checklist, right?
Well… maybe not.
Did you remember to include a call to action?
Lacking a call to action, or including one that’s poorly worded, can render a digital signage system pretty much useless.
A call to action directs customers to give a certain response to the message on screen.
This can be anything from downloading an app, to picking up a coupon, to signing up for an event, to engaging with you on social media, to taking advantage of a deal.
It’s a command to take a specific, discrete action.
By tracking the level of response to calls to action, and which sorts of calls get the greatest response, owners of digital signage networks can determine how effective their signage is and how to make it even more effective.
In other words, they are absolutely essential. Below, you’ll find tips for creating compelling calls to action:
Creating an Effective Call to Action
1. Consider the Audience
Different demographics will find certain methods of action more appealing.
Take QR code usage, for example. Across age groups, 64 percent of scanners were male. The disparity was greatest in the 55+ age group, with 71 percent of scanners being male. However, that age group makes up only 15 percent of all people using QR codes. People between the age of 25 and 44 were most likely to scan a QR code.
Another example: paperless coupons, distributed by email or found on the Internet. Women are only slightly more likely to use them than men. They’re most popular among those aged 35-44, though people aged from 18 all the way up to 64 are all fairly likely to use them.
You should be able to find statistics for other common methods of action online, and common sense is a valuable tool here as well.
Vary your action based on what demographic you wish to target — or, with broad appeals, try to choose a method with the highest engagement rate across demographics.
2. Enable and Incentivize Action
If your viewers don’t understand how to act, or if acting is difficult, they won’t act.
That’s elementary, but worth pointing out.
Make sure that the exact steps a viewer needs to follow to take action are clearly and thoroughly listed on the screen.
If the screen is advertising a sale on a specific item, tell them where in the store the item is located. If the action is connecting on Instagram, give the exact username. If there’s a contest, either list the steps required to enter, or give the general idea and display a link where people can find further details.
Make it as easy for your viewers as possible.
One of the greatest advantages of digital signage is how it enables instant interaction, so take advantage of that by making the call to action something that can be done immediately, such as tapping their phone to a tag to have content uploaded, texting a keyword to a certain number, or watching an interactive presentation in order to receive a discount code.
Also, make sure the benefit to following the call to advantage is obvious — list it right there with the action to be taken. “Text (keyword) to (number) and get 20% off any item!”
3. A Second Purpose
Your call to action doesn’t have to serve just one purpose — in fact, if you can have a secondary purpose, go for it!
For example, perhaps your primary purpose is to get viewers to enter a contest by tweeting at the store’s Twitter account.
Your secondary purpose would be getting people to engage with your social media, in hopes that they’ll continue engaging there in the future.
Even if your primary message isn’t one that require a certain action, you can include one anyway. For example, if you’re announcing an event, you can direct viewers to an online calendar so they can view other upcoming events.
The main caveat here: Don’t add too many steps.
Everyone’s lazy at heart, and if people have to jump through three or four hoops to receive a certain benefit, they will probably decide it’s not worth it.
4. Choose Your Words
- Action verbs: Avoid passive language, such as “can be found” or “is available.” Instead, pick action verbs that convey your call to action forcefully. Don’t suggest—command. Act now! Find it here! Visit today!
- Trigger words: Certain words are more likely to catch eyes than others. You can find lists of powerful marketing words online, but here’s a few to get you started: You (makes the customer feel directly engaged), free (speaks for itself!), save (everyone loves savings), easy (customers are less likely to take action if it means work for them), and new (novelty is compelling).
- Keep it short: The same rules you’d follow for making a compelling slide presentation apply here: the fewer words you can use to convey your message, the better. Depending on where your sign is located, your customers may be breezing past it with only the briefest glance, and they won’t slow down to read a paragraph-long chunk of text. Write and rewrite until it’s as short as possible (while still containing all necessary information), and make sure the message is on-screen long enough to be read.
- Keep it simple: Prefer language that is clear and straightforward. I know you’ve been just burning to use the word “susurrating,” but this isn’t the time or the place. Write like you’re scripting a comic book, with snappy, short, action-oriented words. Use a tool such as this to estimate the message’s reading level and ensure accessibility to people with lower literacy.
- Copy edit: On a recent trip to a store, I spotted a sign that read “CLEARANCE PRICE AS MAKRED.” I laughed, mockingly shared the sign on social media, and did not look at the items on clearance. A typo is off-putting and makes you look silly, so make sure to copy-edit. Also, check that all the information you include is accurate.
5. Make it Visible
If the call to action is the most important part of your slide, treat it as such.
Make it larger or a different color than other elements (aside from the headline).
You may wish to offset it with a border.
You can take this too far, of course. Don’t confuse contrasting with clashing: yellow and red, vivid green and purple, or a riot of neon will just hurt your customer’s eyes and be difficult to read. Flashing or animated elements are tacky and distract from your message.
Don’t sacrifice good design in the name of catching eyes.
If you include a QR code, make sure it’s large enough to easily scan from wherever the viewer is standing. If you include a URL, make sure that is readable as well.
6. Create Urgency
Limited-time offers are the most compelling.
How many times have you been watching an infomercial, giggling at the ridiculousness of the product on offer, and been a little tempted once they reached the “Call now and get all these extra things!” part?
Put that principle to work in your call to action.
Perhaps the first 50 customers to take advantage of an offer get a bonus item or extra 10 percent off. Maybe the special coupon is only available for the next 36 hours. The contest ends tomorrow!
You get the idea.
Don’t go overboard, though. If every single deal is “Act now or you’ll never see it again!” customers will become annoyed with the manufactured scarcity.
Let’s recap. A call to action is the most important thing on your digital displays.
A good call to action will be appropriate for your audience, straightforward to execute, drive engagement on more than one level, be carefully written and easy to spot, and create a sense of urgency in viewers.
Responses should help you evaluate your digital signage network’s efficacy and create better content in the future.
Act now! Go and write better calls to action today!
Here’s a call to action for you: In the comments, share the last call to action (besides this one) that you followed. Or, share this article on social media.
Irfan Khan is the CEO of Skykit, a digital signage platform built on Google Chrome. Visit their blog to learn more about digital signage and retail trends.