Is your WiFi a marketing issue?

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Until recently, your guest WiFi was a matter for IT. But now it has become an increasingly important marketing tool. Danielle McGowan of Orbiss tells us more.

If your business regularly gives customers its WiFi password, you’re missing an important marketing opportunity.

For most location-based businesses – for example, shops, cafes and anywhere with a waiting area – giving customers some kind of free WiFi is simply expected. For hotels, surveys show a reliable internet connection is a factor in nearly 70% of booking decisions – more influential than free cocktails or stunning views. Guests want to be able to scroll through social media updates and keep in touch with family.

But the choices you make about how you manage this WiFi can have real implications for the way you find potential customers, gain important insights into what they need, and communicate with them in future.

Joined up thinking

One of the most important new techniques to turn your internet connection into a marketing tool is Social WiFi – like our new system, Orbiss Connect – which lets customers connect using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even Google Plus.

It’s something customers are used to doing, and they no longer have to ask for a password or create one of their own. It’s convenient for them, and for you. But that’s not the reason it’s so important.

For businesses who hope customers will visit and “like” a Facebook page, or share their experiences online, this is obviously a complete Godsend. And there’s more.

Gaining customer insights

When customers share their social media profiles with you, the data you receive gives you a greater understanding of your clientele.

Knowing that a customer has a birthday coming up or an anniversary is the perfect opportunity for a personalised offer, and people will respond to it because it’s actually relevant to them.

Through the analytics you can reward loyal customers who have visited often and catch up with those who haven’t been in for a while.

To an IT colleague, it’s an interesting technical solution. To a marketer, it’s an essential data collection tool.

Increasing lifetime value

Smart use of your WiFi portal to make targeted offers – at just the right time – also gives you the opportunity to turn small customers into bigger ones. Bars can tempt drinkers to stay for dinner, hotels can tempt diners to stay the night… and guests to try the spa.

For shops, it’s easy to keep former customers in the loop when they’re running a sale – or maybe a ‘hurry, last few…’ message on the WiFi login portal nudges someone towards buying an extra item they weren’t planning on.

It’s a great way to sell last-minute availability if you’ve had a cancellation, too.

And naturally, because your digital marketing is joined up, your social and email marketing can keep customers coming back – much easier when you know what they like.

Marketers must lead

Many companies end up writing off their guest WiFi as nothing more than a necessary IT expense. But by changing perspective and understanding WiFi as a marketing opportunity, you can begin to get a positive return on that investment.

Naturally, it’s important to make sure the technical side is covered. Your connection needs to be reliable, guests need to be kept well away from your private business data, and you need to be able to restrict what your customers view (whether it’s unsuitable or – worse – your competitors’ websites).

But ultimately, your WiFi is no longer just an IT issue. A social WiFi approach like Orbiss Connect can help you manage all the technical aspects – but with marketing leading the way.