Walk into the typical branch, and all too often, this is what people see:
- A digital screen in a reception area playing a morning news show or afternoon weather report.
- A wall of digital signs all displaying the same message – and sometimes, one that’s out-of-date.
- A kiosk with a blank screen or an error message.
In short, digital signage is not doing the job it could be.
According to a research paper from Accenture, branches play three critical roles in the new world of banking:
- Digital Ambassador — Educating those who haven’t yet embraced electronic banking.
- Advisory Hub — Offering complex products, long-term financial planning and other specialized services.
- Problem-Solver — Providing service, support and problem resolution to customers.
Are the screens in your branches filling those roles and positively impacting business? Are they successfully educating people, promoting value-added services and helping open more accounts? If not, a digital signage reset may be in order, both to improve today’s results and to prepare for tomorrow.
Financial marketers who need to update their approach to digital signage should start by reevaluating the following five elements of their programs: media strategy, content, measurement, screen placement and technology.
1. Media Strategy
One of the first steps to get more out of an existing installation is to re-evaluate media strategy… or start by establishing one if you haven’t already. Too many times, digital signage is installed with no real plan or purpose. A comprehensive media strategy that defines objectives for a program is often missing when it should be the cornerstone.
Media strategy defines the what, how and — most importantly — the why of a digital signage program. It should include clear business objectives, desired results and expected return on investment. It also needs to take customer expectations into account. Those considerations, in turn, should dictate how digital signage is used, where it’s placed, how customers will engage with it, what kind of content will drive objectives and how it will be measured.
On-screen content goes hand-in-hand with media strategy. Take full advantage of each customer or potential customer visit by carefully planning and frequently refreshing digital signage content.
Content should dovetail with marketing programs, seasons and campaigns, audiences and the changing environment in which it will be seen. To that last point, as branches transform both physically and functionally, signage should play an important role as an educational tool about digital banking and similar self-service tools. The branch of tomorrow is increasingly becoming more like retail showrooms, with wall displays and kiosks, rather than a proliferation of transactional tellers to help and teach customers.
How are you measuring the effectiveness of your digital signage system? Most financial institutions seem to think if it looks good and feels good, then it must be working. Wrong.
Establishing metrics for signage is the only way to know whether it’s contributing real results. Metrics should be tied to objectives and will vary from one institution to another. Common measurements for financial institutions include:
- Product Awareness — Do customers know more about products and services?
- Product Uplift – Is that awareness translating into sales?
- Customer Engagement – Are customers using in-store kiosks or being helped by associates armed with sales assist tablets? How does that relate to sales?
4. Screen Placement
Digital signage is not TV. People aren’t parked on couches waiting to be entertained. Screen placement needs to be as strategic as content; instead, much of the thinking about screen location in branches appears to focus on convenience. The prevailing wisdom seems to be, “We put the screens where there was available wall space.” Pragmatic? Absolutely. Appropriate? Probably not.
Consider where people stand and wait versus areas they simply walk by. Do customers breeze past screens in the lobby with barely a glance at them – and then get in the teller line or wait in a reception area with no screens in sight? Or are there customers in queues who could get what they need through self-serve kiosks? Like all the other elements of your program, strategy should come into play with screen placement. If screens are located in less-than-optimal places, move them.
Digital signage platforms are more robust than ever, and banks can enhance installations by incorporating newer technologies into them, such as fully realized video walls, tablets, beacons and live data feeds. But remember: If a beautiful flat panel display only shows the same information as small displays, you need to go back and rethink your content, not just the technology.
Starting over with a new digital signage system is the ultimate reset. Technology changes fast, and there could be more effective ways to execute your strategy and meet business objectives than when your initial signage system was first installed. But don’t go to that extreme unless you’ve already tackled the issues above and still aren’t satisfied — only then might a complete revamp be in order.
Delivering a Brand-Consistent Experience
Branch transformation initiatives aim to create the kind of experience that resonates with Millennials, and they don’t visit branches in-person very often. These projects are a way to re-brand an institution, and the strategy, content and technology of a digital signage program work together to shape that experience. What does you financial institution want people to think and feel when they leave the branch? What role can signage play to enhance or detract from that experience? Those are questions that need answers.
A well-designed and thoughtfully implemented digital signage goes a long way towards creating a brand-consistent experience when people do come calling. More to the point, it could encourage them to visit more often, and that’s a behavioral transformation that would make all the effort involved with a branch transformation project worthwhile.
Kris Konrath is director of marketing at Convergent. Kris brings his understanding of both sales and marketing strategy to design successful programs that are helping to create brand awareness, increase demand and drive sales for the Atlanta-based digital signage company. He has 12 years of marketing and communications experience with technology companies from start-ups to the Fortune 500.