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Public WiFi winds of change blow in personalised mobile marketing opportunities

High Street venue owners’ marketing departments could be missing valuable revenue generating opportunities by failing to initiate WiFi-enabled personalised marketing initiatives.

Many, including retailers, cafes and fast food restaurants have to date accepted WiFi as a “nice to have” service, for simply allowing their customers the convenience of accessing the Internet and Social Media while on their premises. And, of course, most WiFi in Public locations is provided by the major Network Operators at either heavily discounted rates, or free.

This means they own the infrastructure including the Access Points, Cabling, Controllers and Routers. However, more often than not these services are designed around the operators’ own particular requirements rather than venue owners. Typically, operators view venue WiFi as an efficient way of relieving congested 3G networks, reducing churn, and for enabling users to consume their particular brand of content while on the venue owners’ premises.

But what many marketing departments may not know is there is no reason why they should not be able to gain access to valuable WiFi captured marketing data about their visitors and customers when using their venues. It’s just that for commercial reasons Network Operators don’t tend to actively promote this. Nevertheless, things are about to change over the coming months as a range of new WiFi-enabled customer analytics, engagement, loyalty and mobile payments applications make venue WiFi much more compelling to venue owners from a mobile marketing perspective.

While continuing to offer in-store Public WiFi they should now seriously consider owning and maximising their infrastructure to increase revenue generation by leveraging the increasing choice of WiFi-enabled customer analytics, engagement, loyalty and mobile payments applications coming to market.

The Market Developments driving this change are:-

  • Marketing Initiatives

WiFi Analytics – Using anonymous WiFi Data is helping Venue owners understand what their customers do in their venue, allowing them to make informed decisions. All smartphones, with WiFi enabled, send anonymised signals to instore WiFi access points Venues can use this information to analyse how customers move through stores, how long they stay in each department and how regularly they visit. The raw data can also be used to measure conversion rates, how loyal customers are, how many people walk by and how many come in, across all outlets. This information can be invaluable in providing hard data, on which to take key decisions about store layouts, staffing levels, and of course, the effectiveness of individual promotions.

Customer Engagement – Retailers know everything that their customers do on their web pages and everything that they do within their App, however they don’t currently know when customers are in their physical stores, except when they present a loyalty or credit card on their way out.

To understand when customers are instore and to make best use of the above marketing tools, marketers need to use an approach which gains explicit permission from customers for entering into marketing relationships. This can be done via the T&C’s that are used for sign up in return for accessing free WiFi. Customer mobile numbers should also be validated as part of the initial registration process to enable the ideal vehicle for future marketing communications with them.

The right WiFi system will be able to send marketers, via an API link, notifications in real time when a customer enters a store. This gives the ability to see what else is relevant about this customer from previous visits, from web logs, from App data or from transaction and loyalty data. It can then be immediately decided if sending a promotional or loyalty message is appropriate, knowing that the customer is in a particular store - even which department they are in.

  • Mobile Payments

Mobile Payments, such as Apple Pay and ZAPP enable Smartphones to be used instead of contactless credit cards. Phase 2 of these launches will see Retailers using staff held tablets to take payments anywhere in a store (as seen in Apple stores today). Suddenly transactions will be reliant on a high availability, secure WiFi Network, with nothing to do with Public WiFi.

  • Operational benefits

Once such a high quality WiFi Infrastructure is in place many other systems can take advantage of it:- Why have fixed telephones with wires? WiFi calling will allow all fixed phones and their wiring to be replaced.

CCTV Cameras can be located wherever needed, without wiring and monitoring equipment, such as Fridge Temperatures, can be WiFi rather than wired.

In summary, High Street venue owners should take over control of and own their WiFi infrastructure. While offering in-store Public WiFi, they should maximise the infrastructure in place to cost-effectively deploy an array of customer facing mobile marketing, engagement, loyalty, payments and operational applications.

This can only be good for business and customers while creating clear ROI on WiFi investment.

Graham Cove is Business Development Director of Synaptix Technologies (opens in new tab)

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