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  • Writer's pictureMark van Vuuren

Embrace WiFi marketing to engage on-site customers more effectively

Using a smartphone to access the Internet is nothing new, but it was not so long ago that public Internet was pay-by-the-minute or hour. Today, Starbucks has become a nearly universal go-to for free Internet that doesn’t use up a smartphone’s data plan.

In 2022, if a restaurant, retailer, hotel, stadium, transportation hub or even bank doesn’t offer free guest internet, it is losing customers to another venue that does. Worse, the business loses the many powerful marketing opportunities that guest WiFi offers.

Once a customer logs on to guest WiFi, a relationship is born that gives brick-and-mortar companies the same ability to target customers and analyze their behavior that online businesses enjoy.

Businesses that operate both online and in physical locations use WiFi to create a shared experience that allows customers to move between e-commerce and in-person shopping easily. This connection can turn the “liability” of brick-and-mortar to an advantage in customer engagement and sales over online-only businesses.

What is WiFi marketing?

Where many businesses provide free WiFi without a login requirement or hand out passwords – sometimes valid only for specific amounts of time online – wise companies ask for email address, telephone number, and other information to create a unique and device-specific user account.

Gathering social media profiles for login is often possible, but after Facebook’s privacy revelations customers are much less likely to use their Facebook accounts on WiFi networks. Merely asking can be a “turn-off” for some potential users and is unnecessary besides.

Using WiFi-generated information, businesses can effectively target their customers even when they are not logged in to the network, using email, text, and other means. Information collected based on their movement and behavior while using the network provides plentiful opportunities for targeting and retargeting.

How does WiFi marketing work?

WiFi marketing targets specific customers with e-mails, text messages, and push notifications based on their on-site habits, where they visit within a location, demographics, and other metrics. Big data analysis turns the vast amount of information collected into good profiles and actionable information about customers.

Messages can be launched at any time, such as moments after the customer enters or leaves the location. Special promotions can be sent to drive targeted customer traffic whenever desired. Customers can also be asked to complete a satisfaction survey after leaving.

Here are just a few best practices to unleash marketing capabilities over WiFi:

  • Guest WiFi services should be promoted by using signs, already registered e-mail addresses, postal mailings such as bill stuffers, mentions in advertising, or whatever else is available. Also, staff should promote guest WiFi to their customers.

  • An on-site reward program should be created to provide an incentive for customers to provide their personal information when accessing WiFi. A special offer or a discount can generate interest in using the service.

  • The WiFi landing page is a valuable branding tool. It is the first thing the customer sees after sign-in. The look and feel of the WiFi landing page should be aligned with the corporate branding, while the content should be tailored for each location.

  • Customers should be encouraged to sign in using whatever means seems best to them. Multiple options should be provided on the WiFi landing page to provide customers with maximum flexibility.

  • Customers should be able to express their communication preferences when accessing WiFi. Customers should never be spammed by too many messages. The number of messages sent to customers should be established so as not to bother them.

  • “Thank You” messages should be sent after the customer leaves the location, perhaps including an incentive for returning.

  • WiFi analytics should be used to monitor the performance of a marketing campaign, including the ability to drive on-site traffic.

Benefits for businesses

WiFi marketing can dramatically improve the ability of companies to understand and influence their customers. The corporate brand becomes more important and more engaging because companies can communicate more efficiently and more specifically with them as individuals.

Data analysis will answer questions that today are impossible to ask effectively. Businesses can target messages based on a customer’s return history or their behavior when they were last in the location. Tracking customer foot traffic allows exceptional promotions to be sent, based on customers’ most recent interests.

All the demographic and visit history information collected can also become part of the growing CRM system.

Benefits for customers

Customers benefit by receiving messages targeted to their interests and preference. They can be contacted with messages tailored to their habits, and such personalization enhances customer engagement, loyalty, and the importance of corporate brand. Customers develop a more positive feeling for the brand as they receive information personalized for the individual.

Getting started with a WiFi marketing solution

The best and most flexible WiFi marketing solutions ride atop existing WiFi networks and hardware. Using existing access points preserves that investment and also demands a cloud-based approach. When a user logs on to the network, they are directed to a cloud-based splash screen for login and registration.

Cloud-based WiFi marketing solutions are most straightforward to implement, as they are available globally and managed centrally in just one place. They can also be easily integrated with other business and data analysis applications.

Setting up the WiFi marketing solution is neither difficult nor time-consuming. Essential features can be running within days, although most customers implement advanced features – such as customer location tracking within a location – over time. The WiFi marketing solution is a big data application that can work with existing business analytics and management tools.

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