3 elements to keep in mind when selecting a CMS
When selecting a digital signage system, you have to consider a variety of moving parts. It's not as simple as selecting a device, plugged it in and letting it run. You have to consider what type of display to buy, what type of software to buy, how to product content and how to manage the content. Content management can be especially challenging, since you need to pick the right system that balances ease of use with strategic depth.
That being said, you can make the process a bit easier by knowing your communication goals, developing a strategy to reach your audience and using intelligent tools.
Know your communication goals
Knowing your communication goals is key for success. You need to be able to clearly define what you expect the content management system to accomplish and how you expect to use it. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, laid out a few criteria MIT used when looking for a CMS.
"First, the system needed to be web accessible from a multitude of devices," Lou Graham, manager of A/V services at MIT, said in an interview. "Second, the scheduling tools needed to be robust and flexible, enabling our users to fine-tune display schedules to meet their needs. Finally, it needed to allow for multiple types of content formats including still images, video, custom background graphics and web-based content."
When examining a CMS, you need to make sure that it lines up with your communication goals and practices, especially since many companies design their CMS for certain verticals, according to Ellyce Kelly, a client relationship manager at Visix.
"There has been a fair amount of vertical market specialization in the digital signage industry," she said. "Some companies will not outwardly admit it, but their products are best suited for a specific vertical like quick serve restaurants, point of sale , flight information display or transportation and may not meet the needs of someone responsible for corporate or campus communications."
Reach your audience
In order to communicate effectively with your audience, you need to have a firm idea of who they are, and how they consume information. This can help you determine what type of CMS you need. For example, if you are only pushing content to lobbies or break rooms, you might only need an on-premise CMS. If you are using displays to attract distracted consumers, you might also consider a CMS that allows you to deliver key hooks, such as social media feeds or stock market updates.
"More creative screen designs utilize auto-updating hooks to draw viewers into the real message the company is trying to convey," Kelly said. "These data feeds to not require any content curation involvement from the user."
Because most audiences are on the move, you might want to consider a CMS that can quickly run through messages on multiple screens to reinforce information.
"If the signs are strategically positioned in hallway intersections, elevator bays and break rooms, communicators increase the likelihood the target will see their message," Kelly said. "We recommend that no more than seven messages, running seven seconds each, be scheduled in a playlist. Even at seven seconds, you might only deliver one message to a passerby."
You should also consider how large your audience is and how many displays you have to manage to see if you need an on-premises system or a cloud based platform.
"Buyers need to think long and hard about on-premise versus cloud deployments," Kelly said. "The typical digital signage user will adopt a technology for 3-5 years before outgrowing their initial choice and looking for something to meet their current needs. Cloud subscriptions with add-on features can be costly over time."
Use intelligent tools
It can be a lot of work to develop and update content to reach an increasingly distracted customer base. Simply managing your digital signage system can soak up a lot of time and resources. One way to help reduce this workload is by selecting a CMS with intelligent data mapping. This feature allows companies to automate content management elements such as scheduling, and react to key indicators.
"Without this feature you are going to be forced to create compelling content almost daily or use subscription content that might be somewhat relevant to what you want to display," Kelly said. "Intelligent data mapping tools can deliver event schedules, key performance indicators and other onscreen 'if-then' variables without the content creator having to do any creative work. This can dramatically reduce workload while providing timely and compelling visuals that impact the audiences you are trying to influence."
You want to make sure to pick a system that not only delivers the right messages but also saves you time in the long run. by Bradley Cooper
Image via iStock.com