Digital signage has proven to be an effective communication tool because of how captivating it is and how you can easily update it.
With a few clicks, a business can change its advertising strategy to reach its target audience better.
But such a positive feature also poses a major problem…
The burning issue for many businesses today is determining how frequently they should update their signage. To answer this, we will need to look at three vital factors of advertising and how they affect signage.
Industry considerations refer to factors that influence the niche in which your business operates. For example, signage updates will vary depending on whether you’re in the retail or restaurant business.
In the restaurant industry, updating signage is uncommon because it’s often better to keep your digital menu boards consistent—unless you’re reviewing prices or advertising limited-time offers (read more on this).
This is to help customers identify with their preferences right away by building familiarity. Not only does this let them know that they’ve chosen the right order, but it also makes them feel right at home.
On the other hand, the retail industry is ever-evolving, and therefore, a business has to evolve right along with it to know what the consumer market wants.
If you’re still using signage you put up in 2016, it might look a bit odd and out of place. Especially if it refers to a product that made sense at the time—say having a three-month sale for a special pair of jeans that were fashionable 3 years ago.
Such signage hardly stirs any interest today. For retail, it’s all about what’s new and exciting!
Retailers also have to consider seasonal shopping. During Christmas, retail stores usually focus their advertisements on the thousands of shoppers rushing to buy Christmas gifts for their loved ones.
While on Thanksgiving, the advertisements tend to hone in on Thanksgiving bonanzas. It only makes sense that they update their signages according to these holidays.
As for digital signage, where non-retail companies or enterprises are involved, it’s a whole different ballgame.
Let’s take a classic example of a law firm. Most consumers are aware that law firms deal with legal issues from the word go, and their signage is more for internal communications.
Keeping their signage consistent can hardly affect their drive for new clients. What might change is HR updates and news about employee successes.
For example, the only time a lawyer wins a big case or a new articling student will be joining the team.
The human mind loves to familiarize itself with certain patterns. As such, marketing strategists have explored this familiarity to influence our purchasing behavior. There are two psychological considerations incorporated in digital signages used to influence a consumer’s decision to buy something. These are as follows:
The Mere-Exposure Effect
The mere exposure effect is a widespread mental phenomenon experienced by nearly everyone on the planet.
And it’s pretty simple:
When you listen to a song the first time around, you might not be invested in it. Heck, you might even hate it!
Surprisingly, when you listen to it over and over again, it slowly grows on you, and you eventually find it irresistible.
Digital signage kind of works the same way.
When a passerby sees your signage over and over, they gradually gain interest and would like to know what it’s all about. This is why changing your signage too early at times might make it forgettable.
As a matter of fact, the mere exposure effect is what birthed the famous marketing principle of ‘the rule of three.’
This rule, written by Dr. Herbert Krugman in the 1970s, summarizes the effects of advertising into three basic thought processes that are still applicable today.
According to Krugman, a business needs to ensure that an advertisement is viewed at least three times by a consumer before it is taken down.
As Krugman notes, the first time a person sees signage, they ask themselves: ‘What is this?’
During this first exposure, their brain is trying to do is simply process what they have just seen.
On the second exposure, the consumer now begins to analyze the signage on a deeper level.
What is this all about because I remember seeing it before?
And by the third exposure, they have fully understood the message.
In some special cases, a customer might have even decided to buy a product before walking into your store!
Bear in mind, however, that the third exposure also signifies the tipping point where the consumer begins to lose interest.
This means that if the consumer has viewed your ad at least 4-5 times without any action, then it’s high time you updated your signage.
Heuristics is the ability of a person to decide based on their immediate desires without considering the consequences. For example, most people will make an impulsive buy when they see an advertisement about a certain product.
Ideally, this is what good signage is supposed to do!
The human brain tends to look for mental shortcuts to conserve precious time and energy. That’s why the mere act of seeing digital signage—even if you viewed it on a subconscious level—can make you want to buy a certain product three months down the line.
Your brain is just trying to make things easier for you:
The catch is that this is only possible if your signage makes a mental imprint on the consumer.
This is why some businesses will design very appealing signage and leave it running for more than six months!
It’s no surprise that money plays a critical role in advertising.
One of the downsides of replacing or updating digital signage is that it can prove too costly for a small business, especially if searching for a brand-new design.
A total redesign is usually more expensive due to the high costs of creative input and labor.
Conversely, if the design only focuses on a few amendments, it might be within its budget.
That said, you should not ignore the fact that a new design could be what your company needs to improve its customer reach.
As the saying goes, ‘it takes money to make money.’
So, when it comes to updating signage, always make sure you have surplus cash within your budget to cover any expenses that will arise. Secondly, always go for quality signage compared to cheaper alternatives because quality advertisements will always have a better engagement with your target audience.
Once all these—as well as your industry considerations—have been factored in, then you can make the decision on whether or not to update your signage.