Already offer your customers free Wi-Fi? Here’s how to turn that into a strategic advantage.

- 16th Sep 2016


In today’s digital world, free Wi-Fi has become an assumed part of the package at any location where customers spend more than a few minutes. Whether at hotels, cafés, venues, or malls, customers increasingly value Wi-Fi availability, and services like Yelp and Airbnb even allow their users to filter options without it.

Companies across the board have listened. They invest quite a bit of money in this infrastructure for a number of reasons, typically including:

  • Keeping customers happy. Companies want to provide a rich and consistent brand experience for their customers across all of their digital touchpoints.
  • Staying competitive. Free Wi-Fi has evolved into such an industry standard that many invest in it simply to keep up.
  • Analytics and insights. Companies can use it to understand who is on the network (by location) and what their general behaviors are.

These all tie back into business goals in obvious and intangible ways. For instance, keeping your customers happy of course drives revenue, but it is tough to quantify just how much happiness that free Wi-Fi means for your business in dollars.

Surprisingly, there are strategic advantages that you can boil down to numbers and figures. By leveraging your existing Wi-Fi, you can:

  • Monetize.

Companies that drive high numbers of visitors can deliver a sponsored Wi-Fi experience to their customers (in exchange for free Wi-Fi), provided that they have an ad team or ad management partner able to convert impressions into revenue.

  • Acquire customers.

Wi-Fi can provide companies a unique opportunity to acquire high-value customers and build up their loyalty database. New technologies allow companies to recognize customers via Wi-Fi as they enter locations and re-engage with them when they return with insights on that customer’s behaviors and the ability to deliver a personalized experience.

  • Engage customers.

Unlike acquisition, customer engagement is the ability to deliver a brand experience on-demand based on rules and triggers while at a location. The typical use case is via a BLE beacon, which prompts the brand’s app to display a promotion, highlight something in the vicinity, or encourage the customer to pay with their mobile device at checkout.  Wi-Fi infrastructure can be used to accomplish this objective as well. It should works both with the brand’s existing app as well as with any smartphone discovered on the wireless network, without the need for beacons. This approach is particularly effective for venues, retailers, museums, parks and high-footprint locations where services can vary across zones (such as a food court at the mall.)

  • Enhance your social clout.

If your brand encourages social conversations or sharing, Wi-Fi can be a key tool to onboard customers via their social IDs. Companies that typically deploy this strategy include stadiums and sporting events, as well as retailers and quick-service restaurants.

To maximize the effectiveness of any of these approaches, it’s critical to minimize the friction in the onboarding process. Minimizing the data required to opt-in reduces the resistance from customers who don’t necessarily want to provide detailed information for a quick 5-minute usage of your service. This addresses more users and offers the ability to learn about the customer over time instead of all at once. It’s also crucial to ensure that the onboarding process, landing page and content discovered is intuitive and beneficial. It’s a value-exchange, after all.

And of course, a holistic, inclusive approach works best — one that isn’t limited to your Wi-Fi opportunities but that also factors in the existing ways you’re already working hard to reach your customers.Proximity MX by July Systems takes an all-of-the-above approach –it works whether via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or mobile geo-fence, and whether or not customers have downloaded your app or are just enjoying your free Wi-Fi. It helps you maximize the return on your existing Wi-Fi investment and gain the strategic advantages WiFi can offer– in measurable, business-oriented numbers.

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