As an evolving medium, digital signage is an advertising strategy that incorporates graphics, photos, videos, and other multimedia to market to an audience. From in-store screens to restaurant menu boards to campus wayfinding maps to trade show booth displays, digital signage is being used just about everywhere.

Voice-activated devices, touchscreen displays, and fully interactive signage are on the rise thanks to advancements in digital signage technology. The possibilities are expanding, and with new developments on the horizon, soon digital signage will become a linked digital communications platform for whichever businesses install it. Exciting!

Both B2C and B2B companies benefit from upgrading to digital signage. Financial institutions, educational organizations, and healthcare facilities have also gotten in on the action. No matter what type of company you run or which industry your business falls within, you can increase customer engagement and grow your business with digital signage. But that's why you're here, right?

You've come to the right place! FTx has got you covered! We've compiled the most useful digital signage tips to give you a leg up. Starting with graphic design tips--that's right, you don't have to hire a graphic designer to display professional-looking digital content--in this blog we will go over aesthetics, placement, partnerships, and engagement, after which we'll take a look at the best, user-friendly software options for you--yes, you!--to get started.

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Contrast & Legibility

Digital signage exists to convey messages, which means that your primary goal when designing content for your displays should be to create easy-to-read graphics. Focus on using colors that contrast one another and a clear, bold font for your text. One of the main reasons to use contrasting colors in your designs is to grab attention. The human eye loves contrast. Make sure your font color and the background color behind it highly contrast if you want to make a memorable impact on your audience. And try not to use more than two fonts per graphic. Too many fonts can become distracting, causing the eye to glaze over and not retain the message.

3x5 Rule

Also known as the 3x5 text rule, this tip has everything to do with the layout presentation of text on your digital signage content. This can either be three lines of text where each line holds no more than five words, or five lines of text where each line holds no more than three words. When you abide by this rule, your audience will be able to read the displayed messages quickly and easily because your graphics will always look succinct. But don't overdo it. If you've scheduled a playlist of graphics and other multimedia content to rotate, don't put your 3x5-rule graphics back-to-back.

F-Shaped Pattern

Who has time to actually read? Back in 2006, Jakob Nielsen sought to answer that question after he had observed the shortening attention span of website readers. Nielsen is a software consultant and has researched software and web applications usability for decades. In an experiment designed to study how people read online content, Nielsen discovered an F-shape reading pattern was consistent across all 232 of his test subjects. Meaning, users glanced down one vertical line and swept their eyes horizontally to the right in two places as they worked their way down a web page or application. This "scanning" happened within seconds, and the readers only stopped to really read when a portion of the content truly piqued their interest. Good digital signage content design will prevent, and not promote, F-shaped reading patterns, especially when contrasting colors and the 3x5 rule are used. 

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Digital Signage Near the POS

When in-store marketing evolved from traditional printed signs to digital signage, retailers suddenly discovered that instead of advertising a single message per sign, they could market as many messages as they wanted. When one printed sign was replaced by a digital display, they were able to transform one in-store ad into multiple ads rotating on the same digital screen. Digital signage is capable of informing customers about exponentially more products, special sales, and other purchasing incentives than traditional printed signs ever could. Location is everything, and when you place digital signage at the POS, you can encourage last-minute impulse purchasing. Create content for low-risk, inexpensive items and display these messages near the checkout aisles. You can even create upselling and cross selling content to boost sales as your in-store customers journey towards the POS. 

Digital Signage in the Cafeteria

You don't have to run a restaurant to get in on using digital signage for your menu boards. Does your company offer employees a cafeteria with breakfast, lunch, and other meal options? With digital signage, you can inform your employees of the daily specials and prices, as well as announce birthdays, employee of the month, and RSVP protocols for upcoming company-wide events. If digital signage is installed in the breakroom of your warehouse, for example, you could display digital content regarding training, safety, and certification opportunities. Educational institutions are upgrading to digital signage for their cafeterias, cafes, and lounges to passively advertise to their students about campus events and other important dates.

Digital Signage at the Trade Show

Digital signage displays can really grab attention at trade shows. Businesses that exhibit at trade shows are all too aware of how expensive traditional printed signs can be, especially if they alter their sign content for each show. While there are some materials you might always have to print, like business cards, catalogs, fliers, and other take-away items, the signage you display doesn't have to be among them. The best part about using digital signage at trade shows is that it can draw in prospective customers from across the arena. When developing trade show digital content, think about the layout of your booth and how the average customer might meander through. How can the digital signage placement and content enhance your customers' experience and lead to sales? The displayed content can actually serve as a placeholder salesman until one of your agents is available, so be sure to include appropriate messaging that gets customers interested in sticking around.       

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Call to Action

Don't forget to include clear CTAs in your digital signage content messaging. While CTAs might not be relevant or necessary for every graphic, image, photo, and video, if you want your customers to take certain actions, you better make sure they have all the information they need to do so. If you offer a loyalty rewards program at your retail store, including the sign-up link is not going to be an effective CTA when it comes to digital signage. Instead, the CTA could be to sign up with the sales staff to receive 20% off today's purchases. Maybe you want customers to join your email newsletter subscriber list, which is easier to click-and-enroll into from your Instagram profile. Your in-store digital signage CTA could direct shoppers to find you on IG. The bottom line is that you can call your customers to take any action, so long as the action steps are clear and concise when presented on your digital displays.

Appointment Queue

Don't let the DMV give queues a bad name! People generally like seeing their names inch up a screen as they wait for their turn in line! It helps them understand how much longer the wait could be and gives them time to consider what else they might do, say, or buy once it's their turn. Using digital signage to display an appointment queue can be beneficial for service-based businesses such as computer help desks, urgent care medical facilities, and of course quick serve delis. Even hair salons, barber shops, and tattoo parlors have started using digital signage for their appointment and walk-in queues. The best part is that with digital signage, you can intermittently display other content advertising your services, products you might also sell, and other informative content.

Strategic Partnerships

What's as good if not better than using digital signage to communicate with your customers? Using digital signage to earn additional income! We're talking about selling ad spots to other local, non-competing businesses! This method works particularly well in gyms and fitness centers that have digital screens installed all throughout their location to entertain their members. While a bulk of these usually display TV channels, you can dedicate a portion of your digital signage to your paid partners. Reach out to local CPAs, attorneys, dentists, and other professional offices that might be interested in beginning a strategic partnership with you. You can even trade ad space if other businesses also have digital signage at their locations.

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Use a Design Tool

Now that you have a sense of how to create clear content, where to place your digital screens, and what to include in your messaging, you're probably wondering what graphic design software you should use. We understand that you would rather invest in user-friendly software that will give you Photoshop-caliber results without actually requiring you to go anywhere near Photoshop. You want an easy software solution that gets the job done without any headaches and gives you professional-looking content. Well, you're in luck! There are many software solution providers on the market today that you can use to get started. But not all of them are free and not all of them will integrate seamlessly with your digital signage system. We recommend FTx AdPro for all of your digital signage content creation. AdPro can be deployed with the click of a button to FTx Digital Signage for the ultimate content solution.

Pre-Designed Templates

If you're running a business, you simply don't have time to futz around trying to create stunning visual content for your digital signage. The smartest graphic design software made for non-graphic designers will come with pre-designed templates that you can edit, make a few adjustments if need be, and export directly to your content scheduler within your digital signage software. FTx AdPro takes the guesswork out of creating ads for all of your marketing and advertising campaigns. AdPro's large assortment of ready-made templates are completely customizable and designed for every industry under the sun. The extent of what you'll have to do to transform the template into digital content perfect for your business is change the text and photos or background and add your branded logo. 

Pre-Made Social Media Dimensions

So long as you're creating attention-grabbing digital content, why not export graphics you can use on your social media sites as well? In addition to your digital signs, the content you create using FTx AdPro can be used on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social media platform you use! When you present uniform branding both in-store and online, you help to solidify your company's brand in the minds of consumers. We're currently working on the software that would deploy your designs directly to social media. In the meantime, simply download your designs as .JPG, .PNG, and .PDF file formats, then upload them to your social media feed. When customers see the same ads, especially with your company logo, in multiple places, they will experience consistent brand messaging.

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Digital signage can benefit your B2B business just as much as it does a B2C business. This unique advertising medium is being embraced by all! If you don't yet have digital signage at your business and would like to take the first step in upgrading from traditional to digital signs, FTx Digital Signage Solutions is a one-stop-shop that can have you up-and-running in no time. Our digital signage system comes with AdPro at no additional cost. Contact us today to find out what FTx Solutions can do for you!