interior of a shop

The year is now 2015, the very same year Marty McFly traveled to in Back to the Future Part II. While we aren’t using flying cars yet and the fashion sense in our timeline hasn’t quite evolved to the level depicted in Hill Valley, we do now have hoverboards and our digital signage implementations have far exceeded those from McFly’s timeline.

In our 2015, there are more affordable TVs and powerful media players than ever before. Modern customers expect a digitally-infused experience wherever they are, and that includes within your business.

Check out how these innovative small businesses are using digital signage to drive sales, engage their customers, and enhance their in-venue experience all without breaking the bank!

1. Ice Cream Lab
Nitrogen-cooled ice cream in Beverly Hills, California
Example: Use digital call-to-actions to engage your customers

Ice Cream Lab digital signage

Ice Cream Lab first made headlines in 2013 when they unveiled their signature nitrogen ice cream, which was quickly named “the next thing in ice cream”. In the years since, the business has expanded to new locations and is now facing a cadre of competitors looking to get in on the liquid-cooled action.

To stay ahead of their competition, Ice Cream Lab engages with its millennial customer base on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Fostering organic conversations with your customers on social media isn’t easy though, as most millennials aren’t receptive to spammy attention from business accounts. Ice Cream Lab solves this by flipping the equation, encouraging its customer base to engage with @LAIceCreamLab first.

Using call-to-action images on their digital display like the one below, customers are incentivized to share their experience. Posts tagged with Ice Cream Lab’s social media handles are instantly streamed to the digital signage display using Enplug’s Twitter Wall app. Ice Cream Lab then replies to each user, building a loyal customer base.

Ice Cream Lab social wall

2. American Junkie
Popular sports bars in California and Arizona
Example: Share info about happy hours and upcoming special events

Are you effectively sharing information about your business with your customers? American Junkie (or as locals call it – “Junkies”) is, using digital signage. Being a sports bar, Junkies has screens covering every mountable wall surface. Most screens show sports games, but a few in key placements between sports screens and above the bar are reserved for sharing information about happy hours, special events, and bands or DJs that will be performing live.

The only way a current customer will come back for your happy hour or live band is if they know about it. How are you sharing your information?

American Junkie digital signage

3. CREAM (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me)
Gourmet ice cream sandwiches in California, Nevada, and expanding
Examples: entertain your customers, run competitions, use digital menus

CREAM opened its first location in Berkeley, California in 2010. Since then, it’s been a tear-away success not only because of its delicious cookies and ice cream, but also because of extremely savvy digital marketing. They’re doing so well that I couldn’t pick just one lesson, and have to share all three:

Entertain your customers while in line

CREAM is known for having a long line during hot afternoons, when everybody in the area is turning to frozen ice cream and cold cookies for respite. While customers are willing to brave the lines for the sugary benefit, why not make their stay a little more pleasant? CREAM does this by showing graphics on their digital signage which prompt customers to share “how they have fun while waiting in line” on Twitter. By hashtagging #CREAMNATION, the post will show instantly on the live Twitter feed. It’s also free marketing for CREAM!

digital signage advertisements

Run competitions

Want more people to share your business with their social networks? Given them a chance to win something. CREAM encourages customers to share photos of their ice cream sandwiches on Instagram and tag each photo with #CREAMNATION so that it shows up instantly on the live Instagram wall. On the 15th of every month, CREAM picks a winner to receive a plethora of prizes, including enough cash for several more ice cream sandwiches! So after tweeting at CREAM about how you have fun while waiting in line, why not also Instagram your picture of the delicious ice cream sandwich you just picked up?

Digital Menus

CREAM has expanded from one location in 2010 to 14 in 2015, and more are surely on the way. How do you manage menu boards in 14 locations when you used to only have to worry about one? Go digital, my friend. Digital menus make it easy to update in bulk without manual effort. They’re also brighter, more fun, and better engage the millennial audience.

Need tips on how to set up digital menus? Check out our digital menu guide.

cream digital menu boards

4. La Taqueria
Award-winning burritos in San Francisco, California
Example: Feature your Yelp reviews to encourage more reviews

Yelp is a powerful deciding factor for your customers. 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. What are you doing to increase your Yelp reviews?

La Taqueria, which recently beat out 67,000 other businesses to be crowned the home of America’s Best Burrito, is thriving on Yelp with over 2,000 reviews and an average rating of 4 stars.

How are they doing it? Well first, their burritos have rocked for over 40 years. More recently though, their Yelp reviews spiked after they chose to feature them on a digital signage screen placed prominently next to their menus. Customers are extra incentivized to review the restaurant because they know there’s a chance that their feedback will end up on the big screen, influencing their peers and the business owner more than your average Yelp review. La Taqueria’s social media increase was so large that we authored a case study detailing it.

La Taqueria digital signage yelp

5. I Love Sweetea
Delicious boba in Los Angeles, California
Example: Feature your customers on your screens

Want attention from your customers? Make sure to show them attention first. I Love Sweetea is a boba shop making waves in Los Angeles by doing exactly that.

Using a beautiful digital signage display, Sweetea features customers both on Instagram and on custom graphics alongside discounts and special offers. Young customers such as the two below love the attention and are sure to return, and other customers are more likely to take advantage of the discounts their peers are posing next to.

sweetea digital signage

6. Emporium Thai
10 epic levels of spiciness near UCLA in Westwood, California
Example: Engage with your customers and community

Emporium Thai draws customers in from hours away to test their mettle against the 10 levels of spicy. Being located in a college town like Westwood, how do they manage such a large footprint? The owner engages heavily with the Los Angeles community, making a name for his business.

The restaurant features a live Twitter and Instagram wall on one of their displays, powered by Enplug’s Instagram Wall app. Emporium Thai uses the display to feature photos of celebrities like Timothy Olyphant stopping by, and to engage with local influencers like DigitalLA, TechZulu and Jason Okuma on the TwitterSphere.

Bonus: Emporium Thai has digital marketing down – they also do an incredible job of informing customers about special offers from their business, including free delivery, catering, and a mobile app all via digital signage!

Emporium Thai digital signage

7. Taps Social House and Kitchen
The best gastropub in San Francisco, California
Examples: sports discussion screen

Taps SF digital signage

Taps SF opened in 2014 and took San Francisco by storm. It’s now a premier spot to watch the game, make sure to arrive early on game day!

The best part of watching the game at Taps? The hilarious #TapsSF streaming instantly on the giant TV between the two other giant TVs playing the game. Everybody in the bar tweets and posts photos on Instagram using Taps’ social tags, sharing their thoughts (good and bad) about the game.

While it’s enough of a reason that the customers love it, Taps is also reaping the benefits of massive word-of-mouth referrals. Every tweet shared to the big screen about the game like the one below is a tweet shared with hundreds of followers (and potential customers!).

Taps SF social media

8. Churros Calientes
Organic and environmentally friendly churros in Los Angeles, California
Example: Showcase your product using beautiful Instagram images

It’s every business’ dream to have their customers organically sharing their product with their friends. Considering that 50% of purchase decisions are influenced by word-of-mouth, word-of-mouth marketing can make-or-break a business.

To spread awareness and drive foot-traffic, Churros Calientes fuels viral sharing of their churros mixed with chocolate, nutella, ice cream, gelato, strawberries, and more. Photos customers take on Instagram and tag with the business name #ChurrosCalientes are instantly streamed to a beautiful large display near the cash register, providing instant gratification for users as a reward for sharing the sugary goodness with their friends and followers.

With over 2,600 photos tagged with to their business to date (compared with 940 Yelp reviews), it seems to be working! Who wouldn’t want to see a delicious churro like the one below in their Instagram feed? Brb, I need a sugar break.

Churros Calientes Instagram