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10 Digital Signage Design Experiments to Run

Don’t just chuck up a digital signage display and hope it works - measure success with these 10 experiments instead.

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Conversion optimization of marketing channels such as websites have become all the rage over the past few years. Of course with a website, tests are easy to implement, measure and change. You can throw up a new button and change its color without much expertise. To test results, all you need is a dashboard like Google Analytics, which is free and easy to implement.

So when it comes to another medium, say digital signage, how easy and important are these tests to run? Truth is, with any offline medium, you’re taking a bit of a gamble on the content you show. Get it wrong and your viewers switch off. The display becomes white noise, much like TV or internet ads that lose the viewer’s interest at a rapid pace.

So rather than putting up a digital signage playlist, leaving it for a few months and hoping it works, spend a couple of days or weeks testing the below. Learn quickly, iterate fast and create better digital signage displays based on research.

1. Try different copy headlines

As we know from advertising, copy can make or break a piece of content. On the web, there are tons of great examples where just changing one word made a huge different to a campaign, like the time Barack Obama changed his call to action text from “Sign Up” to “Learn More” and received millions of dollars more in funding. On digital signage, try different words, formats, lengths and actions. Also think about the visual clutter around your headline. If you take more away from the page, is your message more effective?

2. Measure size

As a rough guide, when using text on digital signage, a 20-point font can be seen from 7 feet away, whereas a 100-point font can be seen from 26 feet away. However, each audience and screen is different and testing the size of your copy could help you to gain more traction. This could be as simple as getting a group of people (who haven’t seen the screen before) to look at it for 10 seconds, then tell you as much of the wording as they can remember reading. Then, change the size of the font and try again. This will help you to strike the balance between getting your entire message on screen and ensuring your audience can read and retain it.

3. Effect call-to-actions

In all digital signage displays, clear visibility is key. That’s why most studies recommend using Sans Serif fonts, which show up well on any screen. One of the easiest ways to run a design experiment on copy is to test two call-to-actions. Say you have a digital menu board and you want to find out how many customers are actually reading it. You could create a unique call-to-action for two weeks using an offer code, then change test a different one for the second. All you would need to do is count up how many times that unique code was used each week and you’d have a pretty sound measuring board for which one did best. Then, you can roll that out across all of your displays to see higher traction.

4. Mix color palettes

Other digital signage experiments tend to lean towards contrasting color palettes as being the most effective way of getting your message remembered. This is logical; if your text stands out against the background, naturally it’s going to be easier to read. But don’t take our word for it. Here you could also use two different color palettes to test two offers or call-to-actions and see which one your audience seems most likely to go for.

5. Test speed

In ScreenCloud Signage, you can set how long you want each piece of content to play for. As a guide, a piece of content that plays for eight seconds or less seems to capture the attention of passers-by the most. However, this can differ between different types of content. Video and animation take longer for the brain to process. In high footfall, the message may also be more difficult to see. Test the speed length by creating two identical playlists and setting all of the content in one to play for a short duration (perhaps 10 seconds per piece), then the latter to play for longer - perhaps 30 seconds. Then you could ask for customer feedback, try a unique offer code and see how it gets used, or simply do a recall test where you ask groups to feed back exactly what they remember seeing. It’ll quickly become clear whether a long or short playlist works better for your audience.

6. Leverage different forms of media

As well as testing individual pieces of content, you could also test different forms of media. For example, when your digital menu board is interspersed with live news feeds, are people most likely to order your specialty items? If you play twice as many social media feeds with your handle showing, do you get a significant boost in followers? In the ScreenCloud App Store, there are 50 different apps to choose from. Sometimes, the most engaging form of content is not the one you think. Test adding or removing content on a weekly basis and then see if it affects sales or even the number of comments about your signage.

7. Test playlist length

As well as the speed at which content is shown, you can also test the length of your playlist. Is it better to repeat four pieces of content every 20 minutes, or should you have an hour’s playlist that you play once, on the hour every hour? Some creative ways to test this is to setup a camera or smartphone to record who stops by your screen when you use a short playlist vs who stops by when you use a long one (privacy permitting). You could also do a recall test on short messages vs longer ones and see where offers or information are better retained.

8. Trial ads vs information

When it comes to using ads, it seems like a no-brainer to intersperse ads with information. But to what ratio? If you show one piece of company information against five or six pieces of salient content, how many are going to remember it? Alternatively, if you show the important information every third piece of content, is it going to become boring? Test where and how often to place your key information within the playlist. For example, if you add directions to your bathrooms every three pieces of content, do you noticeably get asked less about where they are? Or if you include your own ad against four or five pieces of genuinely useful or entertaining content, are people more receptive to your digital screens? Balancing content types between informative, self-promotional or entertaining could help make your digital signs much more effective.

9. Order content differently

As well as the type of content shown, you can also test the order. If you place a piece of content “first,” is it more effective than if you place it in the middle? Obviously, this is relative to the audience in question as they may view or walk past the screens at different times. However, where you place your content could make a key difference in contrast to the rest of your content. For example, does a key piece of information in between two social media feeds have more effect than if it’s placed first? These types of tests will tell you what your “attention grabbing” content is and as a result, where to place your must-see pieces of content.

10. Test orientation

This test is slightly more difficult to implement as it would involve having two screens positioned differently on the wall (or moving a screen). However, if you do have the chance, test whether portrait or landscape screens better resonate with your audience. Perhaps you test a portrait screen in one area and a landscape screen in another and see how this changes sales at point of purchase. You could also see if audiences are able to retain messaging better if viewed in a portrait or landscape design.

The reason many don’t test their displays is because it’s always been notoriously difficult to change content on digital screens. Once a CD was burned or a USB setup, changing a button or headline seemed like far too much trouble. And we totally get it. But with a digital signage CMS like ScreenCloud Signage, testing new copy, playlists or speeds is incredibly easy. Simply log into the dashboard, delete a slide in a click, and upload a new one in seconds.

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