By Alan Buterbaugh
Sr. Vice President, Content Engineering, Wireless Ronin Technologies
Don't let the attraction of shiny digital technology lead you to abandon your strategic marketing habits. Digital marketing is just like any other marketing — it's a tool to help you achieve your business objectives.
By spending a few hours upfront developing an in-store digital content strategy, you'll save time on the backend changing your hardware installation when it doesn't work or trying to justify more funding for a failed initiative.
In-store digital marketing success starts with strategy. It dictates which types of digital devices you should use, where they should be located in the store, and how often the content should be updated. Strategy provides the stable foundation on which you apply your ever-changing communication objectives. Together, they help you define the most appropriate content and technology design.
We've broken down the strategy development process into five simple steps:
- Step 1: Identify business objectives
- Step 2: Create an audience profile
- Step 3: Identify content assets
- Step 4: Consider timing
- Step 5: Identify how you'll measure impact
Start thinking about, and documenting, your in-store digital content strategy. This initial planning will be critical in establishing the technical framework and workflow definitions for your digital network. Then you'll be ready to effectively handle the day-to-day business requirements that define your dynamic and very fluid communications objectives. The result is a system and methodology that supports your unique business environment and delivers the contextual content required to produce meaningful results.
Step 1: Identify business objectives
The first step to developing content strategy is to identify what you're trying to achieve. Typically, business objectives are part of an overall marketing strategy; digital signage is another marketing tool to help you reach your goals.
Your objectives may fall under one or more of these categories:
- Operational Efficiency - Objectives designed to address things like cost, speed to market and in-store sales effectiveness.
- Offer Management - Objectives related to promotions and sales.
- Customer Engagement - Objectives designed to help you connect more effectively with your customers.
Step 2: Create an audience profile
The next step is to consider your audience. To meet your objectives, who do you need to reach? All customers, a specific segment of customers, or maybe employees? What do you know about this audience?
It helps to create a profile so you understand your target's motivations, needs and technology usage. Here are some important factors to consider in building a profile:
- Demographics - What are your audience's age, income level, education and cultural background? These can influence your messages and choice of device.
- Customer Purchase Path/Employee Workflow - How your audience moves through the purchase path and about your store can help you determine where to locate digital displays. Similarly, if your objectives are around training sales associates or equipping them with digital information, consider their workflow. A quick analysis can help you discover when and where technology could be most beneficial for employees.
Step 3: Identify content assets
While it's too early in the process to develop actual content, knowing what type of assets are available is important because it will impact your technology design and budget.
The building blocks of digital content are typically product-related assets, such as images, video and product data. But your highest-value, highest-impact resource is real-time, customer-related data — such as the customer's transaction history, location and social media posts about you. Integrating this data allows you to create personalized or contextually relevant messages that are more likely to be noticed, read and acted on.
Step 4: Consider timing
Timing encompasses many facets of digital marketing, such as content length, message timing and update frequency:
- Content length - What's an appropriate content length? For an animated display, the loop should be based on your audience's average dwell time, which will differ by audiences and needs. For an interactive application, the user determines how long to spend at each segment, but you need to consider how many segments are needed to meet your objective.
- Message timing - Another consideration is time of day and/or day of the week. If your customers shop differently or purchase different products based on specific days or time periods, you may want to consider a dayparting strategy, in which you deliver messages during precise time or day slots.
- Update frequency - How often you update your content will depend on your objectives and audience. For digital displays, a basic method to determine frequency is based on how often the average viewer sees the screen. For interactive applications, which often integrate real-time data such as available inventory or pricing, content will change as the data changes.
Step 5: Identify how you'll measure impact
Measurement is important for two reasons. One, it can help you demonstrate success, which is typically needed to ensure ongoing funding for your initiative. Two, it can help you understand which content resonates with the customer and which content needs refining to improve future digital initiatives.
Depending on your objectives, your measurements may be quantitative or qualitative:
- Quantitative Measurement - Measuring return on investment is typically used with business objectives related to operational efficiency and offer management, because there are cost savings or increased sales involved. Not only do you measure if the objective was met, such as increased sales lift, you also measure the return on your investment over a specific time period.
- Qualitative Measurement - Return on objective measurement enables you to prove campaign impact when it's not possible or feasible to tie it directly to sales. ROO is often used with customer engagement objectives, such as increasing brand awareness, retaining loyalty program members or increasing social media engagement.
You may not be able to tie these accomplishments directly to your bottom line, but you know they're moving you in the right direction.
(This article is excerpted from the Wireless Ronin Technologies white paper "Success Starts with Strategy: A 5-Step Guide to Develop Your In-Store Digital Content Strategy." Click here to download the complete, more in-depth version of this white paper, including case studies from QSR brands Chester's International and KFC.)
Learn more about digital signage content management.