How To Use A Captive WiFi Portal To Market Your Business

If you’re the owner or operator of a restaurant-style business, coffee shop, QSR, small brewery or hospitality business, have you ever wondered how to use a captive WiFi portal to your advantage?

It’s a great question, and more and more smart business owners like you are using guest WiFi to acquire, engage and grow customer loyalty.

What Is A WiFi Captive Portal?

A captive WiFi portal is the web page or microsite you are automatically directed to when you sign on to a free WiFi network. As a consumer, you’ll see them in lots of different situations: when you log onto WiFi at your local coffee shop or waiting for a flight at the airport, for example. 

You usually need to give the business that provides WiFi an email address or zip code to be able to connect to the network.

Why Your Business Should Use A WiFi Captive Portal For WiFi Access

1. Security

As with any WiFi, you’ll want to protect users potential against security breaches and hacking. As hackers become more sophisticated, many are setting up fake WiFi networks in public places to steal data from people using public WiFi networks. 

A captive portal adds another layer of security: your customers know they are using your WiFi, and they are not accidentally logging onto a different network. Meanwhile, a WiFi captive portal also protects your business from illegal use of your network.

"GoGoGuest is an easy solution that encourages good guest behavior. A purchase for every hour of use. Everyone is happy.

2. Identify And Protect Your Business

You’ll want to monitor how your customers use your guest WiFi and make sure they aren’t doing anything illegal, or that’s against your rules of use. A captive WiFi portal will make it easier to identify and track any potential misappropriation of the internet at your location(s).

3. Monitor And Control WiFi Bandwidth

Most of your customers will be using WiFi to do work, make video calls or scroll the web or social media. As a business owner or operator, you’ll be happy to let them do this. But your WiFi isn’t meant to support very significant usage or things like heavy streaming, gaming or big downloads. You’ll want to restrict how much bandwidth each customer can use so that you maintain the speed of your WiFi. A captive portal will help you monitor and control usage.

Graph of a journey where a customer joins WiFi, opts-in to list, engages and becames a loyal customer with a Guest WiFi policy

4.Create Awareness About Your Business

Using your captive portal, you’ll be able to market different aspects of your business to your customers. Customers are both attentive and receptive when they’re trying to access the internet, and they will be willing to look at what you share rather than scrolling by. 

For example, you might want to promote an upcoming event or share a new menu item with your customers. You could also use your captive portal to promote your loyalty program – the possibilities are endless.

5. Scope of Monetization

Some businesses want to monetize WiFi. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing this if you want to explore this option for your business. However, you should take time to consider if it makes sense. Your audience, the type of business you run, how long your customers spend in store, what they spend, what your competition offers and other factors will all influence your decision. For some businesses monetizing WiFi works really well. For others, it doesn’t. 

If you opt to offer free WiFi, we suggest you still capture active contact details or first party data in return for letting customers use your network. You could also consider offering your customers packages if they need significant bandwidth or want to use WiFi for a particularly long time. You can also sell ad space to selected partners. You can do this – and more – through your captive portal.

Top 6 Benefits Of WiFi Captive Portals

A guest WiFi captive portal that requires a purchase from a guest before joining helps restaurant-style businesses establish clear guidelines and a WiFi policy. It’ll also mean your front-of-house team aren’t required to walk around asking people to buy another cookie or get a refill of their favorite drink to make sure you’re generating sales.

As a consumer, in pre-pandemic times, we all found ourselves in the situation of walking into our favorite coffee house or restaurant for lunch, only to find every table occupied with remote workers and students all spread out in their laptops, not consuming or buying anything.

A guest WiFi captive portal that requires a purchase before using your fast, free and secure Internet encourages a change in behavior from your guests. It also allows your front-of-house team to focus on delivering outstanding service and products. Setting up a guest WiFi captive portal associated with a purchase is super easy! We launched our product in 2016 and have been refining and improving it ever since.

1. Request Some Information

Requesting information like an email address, a Zip Code or even an opt-in to SMS messages from a guest in exchange for the use of your guest WiFi amenity is not new. This technology has been around since the 90s, although back then, captive portals were not as brand focused. Today, most WiFi captive portals are 100% about your brand. 

With the right captive portal solution, your brand can highlight new offerings, products, events and your eCommerce channels (if you have one). It’s a great way to introduce other parts of your business and brand casually.

GoGoGuest captive portals make it super easy for your guests to opt-in and opt-out. 

And guess what? Those who decide to listen and learn about what your business and brand have to offer are the customers worth your attention and energy. They’ll lift you up, in the same way you lift them every day.

A young women holding a cup of coffee while reading her laptop in a coffee shop

2. Automate Your Welcome Message

Don’t be afraid to say hello. When a customer permits you to contact them through email or SMS, it is okay to reach out.  

You’ll find this is the beauty of a guest WiFi captive portal with built-in marketing automation. Your marketing team can design and create a welcome series that introduces your business and brand to each customer. A welcome series can cover these topics: 

  • How to connect with your brand across different channels 
  • What your brand stands for 
  • Different channels of engagement through products, events and subscriptions

The welcome series will provide your marketing and customer teams with insights that will help personalize your campaigns by content and timing. Personalization helps drive deeper engagement by 74%. More engaged customers are likely to continue buying from your business and brand by 6x more!

3. Segmentation Tools Are Your Best Friend

As your active consumer profiles or subscribers grow and engage with your brand more, GoGoGuest learns more from a combination of personal profile identifiers that your customers provide. Here are some examples.

  • Location
  • Preferred email client
  • Device
  • Time zone
  • Frequency of visit

If GoGoGuest is integrated with your POS system, we can also query most products purchased, average order every visit, total lifetime purchase value and more.

A solution like GoGoGuest will help your marketing and customer teams segment or organize your extensive list of customers into different groups based on their preferences. The power of segmentation gives you the ability to personalize your content based on the preferences of each customer. Which leads us to another great benefit: a customer preference center.

A view of GoGoGuest Customer Data Plataform where you see data of subscribers that purchased Nachos as a type of smart segmentation
Dynamic segmentation automates the process of customer cohort creation.

4. What Is A Customer Preference Center?

Preference centers are a way to get to know what your customers want. As you learn more and data is stored in a customer’s profile, a preference center gives the power back to your customer to change and update any previous information.

For example, John Doe may have shared that he prefers medium roast whole ground beans in the past, yet recently he found himself enjoying dark roasts. A preference center like GoGoGuest can update the information as John’s purchase patterns change.

5. Gain Valuable Insights

Each time an automated email or SMS campaign is sent out, you learn a lot about your audience and different customer groups. 

You’ll see familiar patterns around the best time to send campaigns; you’ll learn which customers are not necessarily motivated by certain topics yet get so energized by others. These nuggets of information and insights should shape your subsequent actions in terms of content and messaging to drive interests, engagement and conversions.

5 Best Practices To Get Better Results

Still with us? Great. Let’s talk about the best practices when it comes to captive portals.

Know Your Repeat Customers

Your best customers are repeat customers who buy from you often. You’ll want to know who these valuable customers are, but it’s not always easy if you don’t have tools or data that makes it straightforward to identify them. 

Captive portals make it easy to identify repeat customers. You can use this information to offer these patrons special services or promotions that make them feel valued, appreciated and happy to continue buying from you regularly.

Measure Traffic

If you’re a restaurant or hospitality brand, you’ll have lots of data around sales, revenue and inventory, but you won’t always know what traffic volume you have. Captive portals will help you track and monitor your traffic. You’ll be able to use these insights to make more strategic decisions for your business.

Check-In With Loyal Customers

Sometimes, a loyal customer will disappear for a while. They might be busy trying out your competitors or just taking a break from eating, dining or drinking out. And that’s fine – it’s the nature of business. But sometimes, all it takes to get a loyal customer back purchasing from you is a friendly reminder or a quick hello.

The data you capture on captive portals will make it easier to identify the customers who used to visit regularly but haven’t popped in for a while. You’ll be able to drop them a re-engagement email sequence, a promotion, a special offer or an SMS to entice them back to make a purchase.

Show A Personalized Welcome Message

Sending your customers a personalized welcome message is a great way to make an authentic connection and a lasting impression. When it comes to showing customers that you value them purchasing from you, every little helps. You can easily set up a personalized welcome message on your captive portal which will delight customers.

An example of a captive portal to create a customer experience and an example of a customer journey you can create with GoGoGuest to users who sign in the portal

Inform Your Customers How You Use Their Data

These days, customers are highly skeptical of how brands use their data. Your customers will want to know what you will do with the data they provide and how you will protect it. 

Provide clear and understandable information that explains what you’ll do with customers’ data and how you will make sure it is protected. You can do this through your captive portal.

Next Steps

Can we tell you more about how you can market your new restaurant concept or growing restaurant business more effectively with a WiFi captive portal? Book your free consultation – it takes just 15 seconds to submit.

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