5 ways free customer Wi-Fi can boost your business

The above excerpt is from the JiWire December 2012 Insight Report.

Free Internet connection has become a staple requirement to attract and retain customers. But why, and what innovative techniques ensure that provision of a free service will create customer loyalty and attract more business?

Before we examine how free customer Wi-Fi provisioning will help increase business and customer loyalty, it is important to have an overall view of how free Wi-Fi works. Once you understand the process, you can quickly see the weaknesses and evolve your offering to ensure maximum return on outlets supplying a free Wi-Fi service.

The free Wi-Fi offering

Statistics tell us that free Wi-Fi is great for attracting potential customers.

In addition, the December 2012 JiWire Statistics reported that

  • 80 per cent of mobile consumers are influenced by the availability of in-store Wi-Fi.
  • The top four activities shoppers use their mobile devices for while in a store are focused on enhancing their shopping experience.
  • Women are using mobile in stores more than men to find the best deal.

The majority of free Wi-Fi, involves the user obtaining a 30 minute Internet connection in exchange for the completion of an online (cloud-based) form. Most users will fill in the form with bogus details in order to prevent their email and phones being inundated with unrequested marketing offers. So the question is how can retail outlets, remain competitive by offering this free service whilst still benefiting their business?

Minimum orders please

Free Wi-Fi has almost become a de facto standard for many retail outlets, so much so that there really is no competitive advantage apart from keeping up with the competition.

To try and distinguish themselves and gain some benefit, many drink and food outlets have gone one step further and provide 'free' unlimited Wi-Fi in exchange for a minimum purchase.

Free advertising

The hotel industry capitalises on its free Wi-Fi offer by connecting users to a default home page depicting the hotel and some of the latest offers available.

A few savvy retailers have already implemented their in-store page which displays current offers and promotions on the log-on portal to their Wi-Fi.

Make customers "like" you

Instead of using a cloud registration form for Internet log-in, several outlets use a service that enables users to connect to the Internet using their social media log-ins such as their Facebook log-in.

These services, can, in return for free Wi-Fi provision, give your Facebook page/Twitter page a brand new 'like' or follower.

Having a customer become, for example, your Facebook follower is one of the most powerful marketing techniques available to a business.

As soon a customer likes your page, this 'like' is broadcast to all their friends. Many of which are likely to be in the same demographic (i.e. age, location, economic wealth) that appreciates your outlet's particular offerings.

Once a user has liked your Facebook business page, your business now has the capability to broadcast to and analyse your customer Facebook profiles. As a result any future promotions that you may post in your business page will then be broadcast to every customer who has liked your page and you can tailor your marketing and advertising to that person.

Wi-Fi promotions

Another technique is to provide free Wi-Fi in exchange for customers to share or re-tweet an offer or promotion. For example the owner of one coffee shop regularly asked Monday's Wi-Fi visitors to share the message "Remember tomorrow is Turkey Tuesday, half price on all Turkey sandwiches".

This sharing technique has been particularly useful in the pro

motion of charities and community events sponsored by business.The average user has around 130 Facebook friends, that's 130 more people who could see your promotion or post.

Assuming you've posted something of high relevance or high quality that content could potentially be re-tweeted again to be seen by another 130 friends. Due to the ease of sharing ensure that your shared content is of a high quality or else your business will run the risk of negative publicity.

Wi-Fi customer analytics

A key benefit of using a social Wi-Fi is the data you can monitor, several social Wi-Fi services can track; who goes in, what time they go in, how often they go in, how long they're on the internet for and more modern systems can track the user's in-store location. From the data analysis and interpretation you'll uncover all kinds of information about consumer behaviour.

For example by looking at the who you'll discover what kind of person your marketing materials and products attract, by combining that data with the timing of their visit you can look for trends and anticipate rushes.

And the analytics don't stop there. Wi-Fi data can also be used to determine where consumers go and spend most time in a shopping centre or large store.

If users are spending a large amount of time outside a stand you know that the stand is either; interesting marketing that catches the eye or confusing but intriguing.

Similarly couple the location data with the who data and see where certain types of shoppers like to linger and cater that area more specifically to them.

Conclusion

Free Wi-Fi offerings can either disrupt or greatly benefit your retail outlets. Having a well-thought out Wi-Fi implementation will provide your business with free instant advertising, free ongoing advertising, attract other customers with the same demographic profile as an existing customer, and even attract a minimum spend within a store.

Modern technologies and services give your customers a chance to give instant feedback, which means that your business can do away with expensive mystery shopper reports. Similarly, the level of consumer data provided by users using your Wi-Fi system costs as much as the Wi-Fi and benefits the consumer at the same time.

Free Wi-Fi needn't be a service offered just to keep up with the rest of the high-street, use it as a tool to help your business and your customers' experience.

For more in the retail series see:-

How online retail can save high street stores

Using technology to win customer loyalty