WiFi is going to turn into an emerging marketing asset. Businesses will incorporate in their WiFi networks the ability to monitor where their visitors are and use this real time location data to engage with their customers. This is evident from a report about Wi-Fi Analytics which expects the Wi-Fi analytics market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 29.54% by 2022. The survey findings on Wi-Fi usage from Hong Kong Wireless Technology Industry Association showed almost half (49.3%) of the Hong Kongers use free Wi-Fi public hotspots to connect the Internet.
There are over 17,000 free hotspots in the city under the government initiative, Wi-Fi.HK. In major shopping malls and retailers especially those targeting overseas travellers, free WiFi is becoming the means of engagement and mobile and wireless payment, where the mall operators and retailers, through its WiFi service, can tell who is staying where, what interests who and push promotional offers to the potential segments. Customers already expect free, fast, secure WiFi wherever they go. But the benefits aren’t just one-sided. A survey reveals that almost 62% of establishments that offer free WiFi find that the customers stay longer, and 50% of them report that the customers actually spend more money there.
WiFi marketing can take positive relationship with customer one step further, as the WiFi network creates a bridge that can allow information to flow in both directions. For example, if a customer visits your restaurant for the second time in a month, his device’s indoor location services can alert your network, which can automatically text him a coupon he can use on his order, right now. The customer receives a 20% discount on his lunch, which makes him not only happy but also more likely to return. Conversely, if a customer hasn’t visited in awhile, the WiFi marketing software can reach out to him with a special offer or newsletter, enticing him to come back.
Currently, the biggest advantage of a WiFi analytics platform is its integration. The analytics platform can be layered on-top of any existing WiFi infrastructure, saving businesses both time and money. Whilst this is cost effective – no doubt, it still involves the purchasing of two different products from two different vendors. The software analytics layer that sits at the WiFi infrastructure needs to be purchased separately as a subscription or a SaaS model.
Technology has made connection with customers easy through public network these days, but customer stickiness will not increase by simply providing them with plain network access, whilst providing relevant and useful information as well as ads through authentication an effective means of improving customer experience.
Retailers can compose their desired pages flexibly and with ease. When customers log into the network, the data that’s captured by that exchange can be used to send them targeted messages and offers that will build their brand loyalty. WeChat, facebook, SMS, built-in VIP account, company specific sign-on apps, fast-lane single logon, App authentication can be set as the multiple means of authentication. Data mining for more insights through customer’s online behaviour is the prime feature for latest generation of portal systems.
Rise of the Wi-Fi Intelligent portal
An intelligent portal with network access portal scenarios, can customise and expand a traditional network to turn it into a platform for direct customer interaction and provided customers with real-time needs or preferred contents and services to boost customer loyalty.
Wi-Fi marketing with intelligent tracking is not new. A decade ago, some intelligent tracking solutions involved attaching WiFi tags to assets and reporting their locations to backend databases. This kind of asset tracking never really took off because of issues with system costs and authentication page customization. But with advances in WiFi intelligent tracking solutions, this is soon the new trend in the market. The position of any asset can instantly be tracked in real-time. Retailers can gather insights including venue busy spots and times, as well as routes and past traffic of visitors and create graphics of distribution of people and heat map tracking.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Philip Yu is the General Manager of H3C Hong Kong and Macau, responsible for expanding H3C’s business growth in Hong Kong and Macau through overall strategic planning, business and sales development. Philip has joined New H3C Group since 2006, spanning a variety of leading product marketing and sales roles across network security, hyper-convergence and cloud computing technology and more. He has solid experience in product management, sales and marketing, and operation management. Besides, he has forward-looking sensibility about technology and insights on the development trend of the IT industry.
Philip holds a Master of Science (MS), Digital Communication and Media. Multimedia from the University of Bath and a Bachelor of Science, Computer Technology/ Computer Systems Technology from Northwestern Polytechnical University.