5 pitfalls to avoid when deploying digital signage
By Kris Konrath, director of marketing, Convergent
It takes a cohesive team and a good plan to launch and maintain a successful digital signage network. It's not too difficult to deploy a pilot and have it run for a few months, but developing a scalable and sustainable program to hit business goals is something different.
After implementing more than 200 networks, we've fallen down a few holes and tripped over some bumps. But you don't have to. Just listen to what we've learned about these five big pitfalls to avoid when implementing and running your digital signage network.
One note: we're going to assume that you're starting with a clear set of business objectives in mind. Failing to establish strategy – the "why" behind a solution – is one of the biggest stumbling blocks we see, but it's also one of the most talked-about, so we're going to discuss others that don't get as much attention, but also can be real project-killers.
Pitfall 1: Neglecting to assemble the right team
Digital signage often begins as the brainchild of one or two people. But once you get the ball rolling, it's important to pull together the right people to make sure you're considering everything that's necessary to develop an effective solution. That involves understanding how to organize, plan and deploy a network and sustain it over a period of years.
The collective knowledge and experience of the team working on a digital signage deployment is critical. If a key party isn't invited, the project will likely suffer setbacks. Common thought is that adding more people to the process can slow things down. While that may be true, it's better to have everyone necessary to the deployment moving in lock-step from the beginning. For example, we've seen plenty of projects started by marketing without involving IT, or vice-versa, turn sideways at the end. Those projects typically go straight to the graveyard.
When creating a digital signage solution, many aspects of it are connected in a complex web of both strategic and tactical elements, and development isn't always a straight line. If an organization doesn't involve the right expertise or share the right information up front, a deployment won't necessarily go well.
Building consensus among team members is critical. Each person needs to understand and agree on the business objectives behind the digital signage solution and how it will impact different functions. And just as important, your project must have a team lead - the one person or department that owns the project.
Pitfall 2: Misjudging the time it takes to plan
A team may want to move ahead quickly on a program. However, allowing enough time to plan and build a network is critical. We've seen companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment just to have it sit on a shelf because they weren't ready to deploy it. While there's no cut-and-dried rule on the time it takes to plan and develop a program, three to six months isn't uncommon.
In addition to guiding a digital signage implementation, a project plan should include time for a team to build acceptance for and communicate about a solution. Team members in sync with each other and the project are your best evangelists, so the more buy-in they can create in the planning stage, the better.
Pitfall 3: Failing to establish metrics
One of the most critical steps in digital signage programs is often overlooked: measuring their effectiveness. If it looks good and feels good, then the assumption is it must be working. However, without measurement, there is no clear picture of whether a solution is contributing to results. Lack of clarity leads to doubt and doubt leads to questioning the solution and the investment.
What business objectives did you set for your program? Increased sales, greater awareness of new products or higher margin transactions? Or do you have other results in mind? With a retail program, for example, metrics can include sales data, increases in foot traffic, message retention, engagements per visit and participation in loyalty programs. Measurements don't have to be sexy, but they need to paint a picture of a program's ROI.
Pitfall 4: Testing technology, not impact
Your organization is putting a lot on the line for a digital signage program. Team members – and their reputations - also are invested in it. No one wants to waste time and money on an implementation that doesn't work. That's where pilots come in.
Testing is a big part of a digital signage implementation, and for good reason. Proving that the signage works is critical. But too many organizations just want to do pilots for a gut check, and instead, they're most effective when more thought is put into the reason for them. Pilots need to test the right thing, and it's not technology. Instead, well-crafted pilots measure whether or not a digital signage solution is doing what it's supposed to: meeting business objectives.
A pilot, like digital signage in general, needs to have purpose. Whatever is important to your organization, measure it not just in your fully implemented program, but while you test it, too.
Pitfall 5: Underestimating content needs
Here's a surprising fact: initial and ongoing content development sucks up about 60 percent of the budget for a digital signage program. What's also surprising is the amount of resources many companies put into content after launch.
Once your solution is up and running, the majority of day-to-day work revolves around content. And like all marketing, there needs to be sufficient time spent on the strategy, development, approval and management of it.
Content is driven by your audience and your strategy: what your audience expects, how often they see it and what you want to have happen should dictate the direction of your content, calls to action and how often it's refreshed. Develop a solid content plan to chart out requirements for a rolling 12 months and make sure you have enough people assigned to develop it. Underestimating the resources you need leads to stale content, and when that happens, digital signs become just so much wallpaper instead of valuable engagement and sales tools.
Of course, each digital signage implementation is different and comes with its own potential issues. But based on our experience, if you avoid the five pitfalls above, your organization will be well on the way to a successful digital signage program.
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