You could be ticking a lot of the boxes for programming the in-branch content for your digital signage systems and still not get it right.
Your programming can’t solely be about what media assets were available, or what’s easy to produce. It should be about what’s relevant, and what messages and visuals will earn and hold the much-demanded attention of your existing and prospective customers.
1. Think Audience
First, understand that you are “programming” a network a bit like TV executives plan out their network schedules. They tune the content and timing to many shifting variables, like time of day, region, viewer profile and season.
A similar mindset should apply in your programming plan. Only digital signage allows you to target messages to much tighter customer segments than TV networks. Customer demographic profiles change in almost any bank by time of day, and weekday versus weekend. Different profiles often mean different needs and different interests.
Optimized programming is also going to vary by locale – influenced by things like income brackets, primary employment base, customers’ propensity to buy a given product and primary language. Hedging your messaging bets with English and Hispanic messaging on the screens might seem clever, but what if the branch’s customer base is 74% Korean? What if messaging tends to differ by geography, such as urban, suburban and rural?
Sounds complicated, right? But a great digital signage software and management solution is built around matching up data attributes, making complex, granular targeting and scheduling of messages efficient and easy.
Here’s a real-world example of how that plays out: One of our regional bank clients manages more than one million possible programming options across its digital signage network, and does that with less than one full-time equivalent resources.
The bank makes that happen by using an advanced CMS, which allows a combination of intelligent rules-based playlist creation, data-driven message creation and an online visualizer tool to maintain complete control over what is playing, where and why.
2. Cause And Effect
What are you trying to make happen in a branch through your screen messaging? What’s the cause, or event, and what are you hoping will be the effect?
That’s a great foundation for developing programming that directly addresses not only your marketing priorities, but the interests of consumers.
Loan growth may be a big strategic marketing driver for your company. Content that connects the dots for customers on what’s available and how to get started is powerful, and measureable.
One of our clients saw double-digit results from simple, hyper-local messaging that suggested how many customers at that branch were eligible for a loan, and a payment discount. It finished with an elemental call to action, suggesting to branch visitors: “Just ask and we’ll explain how.”
3. Be Careful About ABC or APATT
Driving ROI should be central to your programming plan, but an ABC marketing strategy – or Always Be Closing – should not be the dominant personality of the programming. Nobody likes to be constantly sold to.
The same goes for content that is All Product, All The Time (APATT).
So mix it up. Strike a balance between calls to action and messaging that drives other goals.
Bank marketers have told Financial Brand in surveys that boosting awareness of digital banking channels, like online and mobile, cross-selling and improving share of wallet, are all big priorities.
Digital is great for that because motion graphics can show consumers what and how, and in the case of mobile, even activate downloads through URLs or proximity tools like QR code scans or NFC taps at or near displays. But ensure that interactivity is meaningful and valuable. Don’t make the oft-repeated mistake of adding tech sizzle that has no real substance.
Screens are also very efficient tools for building and strengthening the brand, by bringing selected and edited elements of national and regional broadcasting ads into the branch. The branch represents those last steps in the awareness and decision path, and for consumers, seeing elements of a campaign when they’re in a branch can trigger that big moment when a customer says, “Yeah, I wanted to ask about your …”
In our own surveys, we’ve found the majority of bank marketers make bank messaging 75% or more of their programming, though only half do any kind of localization, relying on national or regional programming.
Populating a programming schedule and keeping it steadily fresh is a challenge, and one of the tools used to address that is syndicated content. Several companies – both traditional news-gathering organizations and innovative start-ups – package up news, weather, finance, sports and other information that can be added and automatically updated within programming schedules.
But automated content shouldn’t be seen as an answer to a fresh material problem. What you put on screens should matter, and the team planning programming needs to think through what matters to customers when they are in a branch.
Chances are, syndicated programming on personal finance issues will have much more relevance to people when they’re in branches, and may stimulate questions and new business.
4. Remember Community
Mobile devices have put cameras in everyone’s hands, 24/7. Social media has provided a platform to post all the pictures, and a means to say just about anything, anytime, via tools like Twitter.
Social media is a powerful content engine for bankers, but needs a lot of care and control to work well. Brands have learned the hard way about the fire hose effect of Tweets and photo streams, when stuff comes in and finds its way to screens unfiltered and unchecked.
But there are good ways to mine this river of content and use it across networks, through curation by bank social media teams that already invest time taking the public pulse as it relates to the brand.
Instead of national photos from a bank-sponsored community initiative, how about photos and tweets curated by community? How about thank yous for jobs well done at the branch.
Carefully managed, it can be brilliant, and there’s a pile of research showing that consumers care about and respect what their peers have to say.
5. Innovate, Not Emulate
So what can you learn from how other banks approach programming?
Some things, certainly. Be inspired. Recognize great creative. Watch how they time things, and the choreography of messages.
But by and large, forget what you’ve seen and do your own thing. Develop your programming around what makes sense in your banking center environments, in different positions and at different moments.
First, your bank and its customer profile are different. They just are. Second, there is lots of room for innovation and better approaches than what’s already out there.
Today’s connected consumers are never more than a click or tap away from whatever news, score or forecast they need. We need to get people’s eyes off of their smartphone screens and looking at what’s on branch screens. There is opportunity to do and use content that’s engaging and interactive, and delivers on tangible marketing and sales needs.
You’ll also see a lot of programming on digital signs that has been segmented into multiple content zones, emulating 24-hour news channels. At times, there’s so much happening on a screen that consumers don’t even know where to look first. So they don’t.
Creating a flashy news channel in a bank won’t drive loans, acquire customers or deal with the old saw about reducing perceived waiting times (people will look at their phones if they’re stuck in a line).
As a bank marketer, you’re far better off addressing customer interests with timed and targeted messaging, driving your brand and doing the things that reinforce to customers why they come there.
6. Make It Matter
We’re all unique. We all have different interests. You’ll find people who say they love seeing the weather report in their branch. You’ll get people who don’t want screens pushing bank loans on them, even though static posters seem OK. So no programming model is going to satisfy all customers.
But what’s clear – not only in digital signage but any medium – is that having audiences for your messages is not a right. You have to do the thinking and work to earn the attention, awareness, recall and actions.
There is a bigger opportunity here, for banks to develop their own branded content that can be used on screens of all sizes. Cheap and ubiquitous web technology has enabled businesses to be media publishers.
Through content creation, brands can engage directly with an audience rather than relying on intermediary media channels. If you publish and spread great content, customers will come to you.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, an organization that provides research and education on content marketing, “93% of marketing professionals create, or plan to create content marketing as part of their overall programs in the next year.”
Media spending is shifting. For example, almost half of all US marketers have decreased their print ad budgets over the last three years, much of that owing to a move to social media and custom publishing. Screens in branches should be a big part of any custom publishing efforts – not only because of the size and the moment, but the ability to drive awareness and activate other custom publishing and social media activities.
7. Remember The Dynamics
What your customers want to see owes in part to where they are and what they are doing.
For example, messaging on screens facing the sidewalk, mall concourse or parking lot should be about attracting people and driving awareness. You’re trying to pull people in or make a brand impression with consumers who are on the move.
It’s not the same message when they’re inside, and the message may be different based on where they are in a branch, what they’re doing, and how long they dwell.
For example, screens facing people in the teller line-up – telling those people about alternatives to being in that line – are powerful. It’s not normally the moment or place to be doing new customer marketing, since the majority of people in that line-up already are customers.
Think as well about timing. People don’t look at screens in retail settings the way they look at the screens on their office desk or in their living rooms at home. They don’t so much watch as they glance.
8. It’s Not Just The Big Screens
The large displays and video walls increasingly seen in branches are just one type of screen and one messaging channel. We’re moving quickly to a world of screens everywhere – on your phone, your tablet, your watches … maybe even your glasses.
Messaging to the big screens is just part of the mix, and there’s lots of talk and activity around the idea of omni-channel messaging. There are parallels in campaigns across various mediums, which leads to synergy across mediums and channels.
Omni-publishing also just makes sense. Marketing activities, resources and budgets for different mediums have long been in silos, but technology – particularly web-based services – are making it easy and efficient to produce content once and publish it across multiple digital mediums.
The Bottom Line
This is a unique medium. It looks like TV, but it’s not.
The most successful retail banking digital signage networks are those that leverage the assets and great thinking of the broader bank marketing effort, but then fine-tune the messages and programming approach for the unique environment and dynamics of branches.