Choosing a CMS
A Content Management System (CMS) for digital signage is widely understood as a software application that assigns scheduled content to one or more displays.
CMS not only puts content in front of customers taking advantage of the best time for ROI (also known as dayparting, an effective targeting strategy); in fact, it is the backend platform (often overlooked as it won’t be seen by your audience) that you, or your team, will resort to whenever content needs to be added or updated.
A clear, realistic definition of expectations regarding advertising results and ROI will provide a basepoint from which to improve. This element can incorporate goals from each and every business standpoint — as long as they are impacted by digital signage — such as pursuing new audiences (changing the location or the time of day at which the ad is displayed will reach different audiences).
The fundamental elements that should be present when choosing any Content Management System, and which will impact the choice the most, are establishing goals, knowing your company (to accurately predict/assess needs) and understanding costs.
From the moment you have a goal to achieve you start to envision ways to ace that goal. When it comes to Digital Signage, knowing what you are looking for expedites and facilitates the decision process to make the right choice for your company (it goes without saying that each company will have specific needs which will require different solutions), due to the overabundance of CMS suppliers, each answering a particular concern better than the rest.
You need to know what is happening inside the company — meaning you need to understand what you are selling (the product), why (your USP – Unique Selling Proposition) and to whom (your customer base or target audience), which will come in handy when deciding specifics (such as where you want your ad to be seen, since location influences the audience you’ll reach), in order to maximize ROI. Regarding the product, there are many variables that are interesting to consider, since they may prove to be surprising. For instance, if you find that customers are discovering additional uses for a particular product (and if there is some investment applied in doing this, the results can be very rewarding), you may be able to expand your customer base to include those that only need the product for one of the many uses it has, thus increasing sales with a single product. And the best is the ability to target ads to resonate with particular (current or potential) customers.
In sum, you need to know the product, the company and the customer in order to maximize your ads’ Return On Investment.
The third aspect to consider — which will generally lead the choice — is cost. The costs (hidden, obvious, one time, monthly, yearly, etc) can go up particularly fast when it comes to a CMS. Considering current network size, future planned / aspirational size, the number of screens and their location, for instance, will all impact cost. Thinking about where you want your company to be within 1, 2 or 5 years will also have an impact over the choice, since there are systems more closed off than others, hindering the transition process from one CMS to the next; and it is also important to consider the probable revenue that the ads will bring — highlighting the importance of knowing your audience and their characteristics. This will allow for a better targeting, which is the ultimate barrier when it comes to maximizing an ad campaign’s ROI.
From this analysis you should expect to bring up the (actual) company size, the intended number of ads (per week or month) to display, and it might help clarifying why your ads still fall short from the expected ROI. The field of expertise of the team that will be working on the CMS platform should also impact the choice, since different roles will prioritize different characteristics — while a graphic designer might value layout readability and customizability the most, a copywriter may appreciate ease of content management the most.
Choosing the wrong CMS may prove to be an expensive mistake, however, choosing the right one can lead to an invaluable business and technology asset for your organization.