How to draw in retail customers with signage

In today’s fast-paced retail environment, it can be difficult for retailers to connect with their customers who have their heads buried in their phones.

Mobile marketers are also getting smarter, as they deliver targeted mobile ads using beacon technology to directly appeal to customers. Not to mention all the outdoor billboards and displays that compete for user attention. For brick and mortar retailers, this can be a major challenge.

Retailers can get the upper hand, however, by using signage to attract customers, specifically signage deployed on windows.

Why use window signage?

When many users think of signage, they might imagine a basic LCD display to put up a few advertisements. However, digital signage includes many different selections, including window digital signage mounted on LED frames.

“There is a diverse selection of options available which do so much more than traditional static signage. Digital displays can more easily capture the attention of customers, even under direct sunlight, and simple, efficient content management means retailers can keep their displays updated and eye-catching.

Direct printing versus cut-out vinyl graphics

Today’s post will discuss the pros and cons of direct printing versus vinyl overlays for rigid signs. Common rigid signs include aluminum signs, rigid plastic signs, and acrylic signs. We’ll compare each method to help you decide which is best for you. As a rule of thumb, vinyl overlay works best as temporary signage. Direct printing best suites permanent, high-resolution signage.

What is a Vinyl Overlay?

A vinyl overlay is a vinyl sheet with either a printed design or solid color, adhered to a rigid material. These overlays offer a cheaper alternative to smaller sign shops who often can’t afford large, flatbed printers.

Vinyl Overlay Advantages

Vinyl overlays work best for temporary signs. The ease of removing and replacing the overlay makes them ideal in scenarios where information constantly changes. For example, an exterior aluminum sign outlining store hours or parking regulations benefits from the advantage of simply printing a new vinyl overlay and replacing the old one. Removing and replacing vinyl overlays requires a razor blade, cleaner, non-abrasive brush, etc. After removing residue from the rigid portion of the sign, update the sign for only the cost of printing new vinyl overlay. That makes vinyl overlays a versatile, semi-permanent solution for a variety of uses and situations.

Vinyl Overlay Disadvantages

Installation and Removal

The overlay’s versatility also creates some disadvantages. Anyone who has installed a sticker or decal of any type knows it’s easy to run into issues during application. That could mean tearing the material when removing its backing or unwanted bubbles and lines during application. There’s also the risk of damaging corners or edges from handling, which leads to peeling and weakens the adhesive. Considering all of this, working with vinyl overlay can mean a lot of headaches.

That said, carefully following installation instructions can help prevent air bubbles or pockets. Doing so will require some sweat equity and a knowledge of appropriate tools and cleaners to use. Keep in mind, some of the rigid materials used for displaying the vinyl overlay may not be strong enough to withstand the vigorous scrubbing needed for removing residue, and may scuff or scratch when replacing new vinyl overlays.

Peeling Possibility

An exterior sign using a vinyl overlay may not hold up against weather and the elements. Over time, the adhesive will weaken and the overlay will begin to peel off, significantly diminishing the quality of your sign. Another scenario is intentional damage or removal of the vinyl overlay by passersby that deface the sign. Much like any externally placed sticker or decal, this risk will always be present. A person or group of people determined to deface, damage or destroy signage only need to peel up a corner and remove the vinyl all together. While this disadvantage pertains to vinyl overlay, where someone intends intentional damage, any sign faces the risk of vandalism.

What is Direct Printing?

Direct printing means that the sign manufacturer prints your design or logo directly onto the surface of the sign. This print method is standard when printing on non-rigid materials such as vinyl banners, and is considered a superior method over vinyl overlay for creating rigid signs. At Signs.com direct print comes standard on all of our products, with the exception of our vinyl lettering and wall graphics, and our aluminum signs. Though we do not offer signage that incorporates vinyl overlays, we do offer clear vinyl signage that can be placed on a variety of substrates. Clear window decals can give the effect of a vinyl overlay, as well as our backlit decals and vinyl lettering.

Direct Printing Advantages

Direct printing offers a number of advantages over vinyl overlay. Primarily, with no layer in between the substrate and the design, direct printing offers vivid, crisp reproduction of text and images. While vinyl overlays can reproduce high resolution image (assuming the original file is a high resolution or vector image) it won’t be as sharp or vibrant as direct printing.

Another advantage is the durability of the ink and the sign. Signs.com prints with UV inks that provide a durable, fade and scratch resistant finish to your sign. These inks are rated for outdoor use and can last for years with proper sign care and maintenance. That means more protection against loss of adhesion or peeling since this method cures the ink directly onto the surface. However, even direct surface printing is susceptible to scratching and other damage caused by sharp objects or intentional abuse.

How to drive engagement with outdoor signs

Your customers are exposed to hundreds of ads a day between TV, Radio, browsing the web and their commutes to and from work. So what kind of ads do you need to create to really get their attention? We’ll work to answer that exact question in our latest series called “The Effectiveness of Signage,” where we cover the do’s and don’ts of sign advertising.

Our First Experiment

On our drives to work every morning, we see all sorts of signs. There are yard signs for political campaigns, security systems, realtors and so much more. Along the busier roads, there are signs plastered all over telephone poles and crosswalks. Then there are the sign spinners. Those guys or girls who hold signs and dance like their life depends on it. We’ve all seen them, but does all that boogying really work? So, we wanted to find out. We decided to test a few signs of our own served to oncoming traffic in the city, with the simple invitation, “Hoot if you see this sign.”

Our ultimate goal was to see whether a person being present with the sign made a real difference in completed calls to action. The results might surprise you!

Too Long, Didn’t Read

Here are some of the nuggets we’ve pulled out of our findings you can take advantage of right now. We’ll go over the specifics of how we arrived at these recommendations throughout the rest of the article:

  • Signs get noticed despite repeated studies claiming we’re blind to ads.
  • Using a person boosts engagement: if it is appropriate for your business, try having someone stand out by the sign to help attract customers—the human element will drive a greater response rate than just having a sign posted.
  • Use color contrast.
  • Make your message short and clear for drivers passing by to read.
  • If you want to get more people to respond to your sign, make your call to action (CTA) as easy as possible (low-involvement) to eliminate barriers. (keep your message simple)
  • Give oncoming drivers enough time to react to your sign.
  • Location matters—make your sign as visible as possible. Place your sign in a well-trafficked area when possible.

What This Means for You

One of the more obvious takeaways is that people notice signs while driving! Whether they pay attention or not relies heavily on design, copy, and size. As long as the text was legible, the design didn’t make a major difference, as long as it didn’t get too crazy. Plenty of people saw our signs but for whatever reason, didn’t complete the CTAs. Maybe they were just reluctant to honk or wave; maybe they absent-mindedly read the sign. What was interesting is the place at which most drivers would complete the call to action.

Are you interested in increasing your business traffic with signage? We are the go to guys for favourable signage materials and hardware.