So you want to move into the land of digital signage. You’ve seen the benefits and you want a piece of it. The next step is to choose a digital signage software that is simple to use, makes sense, and gives you peace of mind moving forward.
And as digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising, (or network digital advertising, or digital signage) begins to grow, so do the many software options available to users.
Depending on what you are doing with your digital display, you’ll need a software that responds to what you need. In a word, the software you choose will be the deciding factor in how you deliver your message to the masses. Your message needs to be effective, for without an effective message, you’re digital campaign will fall flat on its face.
Let’s take a deep dive into what attributes and levels of performance you should be looking for in digital signage software so you can make an educated decision when it comes time to buy.
1) Software Performance
There are two things to consider when looking at the performance of a software:
a. Can it meet the increasing demands of your customer?
b. Will it successfully deliver reliable video, images and other media to your screen?
If you need to target a specific audience at a specific time, your software provider has to have targeting capabilities built within the product so that it can launch specific content, based on the data it receives.
A great example of this is from the most popular fast food chain in the world, McDonald’s.
McDonald’s uses digital software in their outdoor menu boards that monitors the temperature outside. When it’s cold or damp out, the menus will respond by recommending hot chili or coffee.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it may launch content about chilled sodas or frozen custard when it’s 90 degrees outside in the middle of August.
Digital signage software that is tailored to meet the demands of the consumer can radically increase the performance of any digital marketing campaign.
In retail, the same notion applies. Walmart, much like McDonalds, monitors data based on weather. It also monitors what kinds of products are in demand during the changing seasons.
The retail giant has been acting on connections between weather and store sales for some time now, responding with store-level merchandising and hyperlocal digital advertising.
When heavy rain is expected in a specific zip code, the umbrellas come out.
When snow is expected in a different zip code, the snow shovels come out.
If you have a customer base that changes like the weather, having this kind of targeting capability is a must for the software you choose.
2) Network Performance and Delivery
They say performance is everything and in the digital signage industry, this is certainly true.
Because if you have great software but a lousy network to carry it, you’ve essentially got nothing.
The network you choose to integrate with your software needs to deliver attribution data without incident.
Attribution data is proof that your content was delivered to the right audience at the right time, with specific buying behaviors stored for future analysis. I’ll share more on that in a moment, but for now, let’s stick with network performance and delivery.
Why delivery is so crucial:
Many digital campaigns today don’t just start on the big screen and stay on the big screen. With mobile phones becoming a big part of who we are, many digital campaigns rely on the transferability of data from digital displays to smartphones.
When advertisers create a campaign for specific products, they need to target the buyers of those specific products where they are. Thanks to nearly two-thirds of American’s being mobile phone users, the consumer is accessible practically anywhere at any time.
Best Buy figured this out when they discovered they had lost over a billion dollars in 2012, thanks to a surge in online purchases to competitors like Amazon.
Instead of taking the billion dollar blow, the big box retailer fought back by offering ‘special’ alerts on consumer’s smartphones. Customers were offered a discounted price if they purchased in-store and picked up in-store.
In a 2015 report, Best Buy indicated that up to four percent of their online traffic resulted in dead-end sales because they didn’t have the inventory needed in their distribution centers. The inventory, however, was available at other stores 80% of the time. By offering ship-to options from other stores, their sales increased significantly.
With a strong, reliable network that allows for assured data delivery, users can rest knowing their consumers are being offered options of what they need when they need it.
3) Advanced Performance
Digital signage doesn’t need to be a stand-alone marketing campaign with mere rotation of images and text. When digital signage was born, this certainly was the case, but that was thirty years ago, and there is so much more out there.
If you want to incorporate live social news feeds, interactive media, or touchscreen capabilities, you need advanced performance software. The software’s ability to integrate with third-party data providers is key.
But let’s take it a step further…
Imagine a software that allows your customers to “feel” the power of a digital sign.
Apolosophy Shampoo, a high-end line of hair care products in Sweden used advanced hardware and software in a mind-blowing digital signage campaign when they decided to put sensors in a digital sign on a subway platform in Stockholm that would respond when the subway rolled in.
As the train pulled up to the platform, the sensors in the sign were activated and the digital image of a woman would come alive as her hair was blown out of place.
Her hair gets blown, your mind gets blown. It all works out.
4) Customer Service Based
When determining which digital software you plan on going with, consider a company where customer service is a priority. You’re likely to have a lot of questions that require thorough answers and explanation.
Some offer potential buyers a three-page questionnaire so they can thoroughly understand what it is they want to accomplish with their marketing campaign.
From that questionnaire, they are able to determine what it is they want to accomplish with their digital signage. Once they figure that out, they can recommend what kind of hardware and software is needed.
That’s customer service.
Most businesses or organizations approaching companies that provide digital hardware or software don’t understand the process, so it’s crucial to find someone that’s willing to give you the time to help you understand it.
5) Cloud-Based or On-Premise?
There are two primary kinds of digital software available to you:
– Cloud-Based Digital Signage Software
– On-Premise Digital Signage Software
Here is the difference between the two:
Cloud-based digital signage software is an “invisible” solution. There are no servers (of your own) required. All of your information is stored in the cloud.
In a nutshell, your commercial grade digital display screen sits in your store and the information fed to it comes directly from the CMS. This means the cloud hosts the content and handles any software updates for you.
On-premise digital signage software requires you still have a commercial grade screen in your store, only the information delivered to it comes from a computer in a back room, or back at corporate HQ, and it’s sent to each store location individually.
In this case, you host the software and handle your own software updates.
So which one do you need?
It’s difficult to find a company that shouldn’t go with a cloud-based solution.
Companies want software that updates automatically, requires no maintenance, offers support, and doesn’t need server racks in their back room. Most companies also look for digital signage software that has little to no learning curve, drag-and-drop capabilities, and offers different templates to work from.
This also means they want to lessen the IT load, which would make the cloud-based software the best option for them.
Determining which digital signage software is best doesn’t have to be difficult. All it has to be is something that fits your needs and your budget.
While the price point is different for any given software, what you spend shouldn’t be the deciding factor. Functionality should.
Ask yourself these questions:
What is the message you want to convey?
Do you need your audience to interact?
Do you require advanced options to support a social media feed or other interactive media?
Do you have a third party data provider that you need to integrate?
Once you answer these defining questions, look into a few different options and ask questions. Remember, this is your campaign. Understanding the solution you choose is the first step to a dynamic digital signage.