Despite the flurry of innovations in digital marketing, local marketing in the brick and mortar environment is still for the most part fairly confined to traditional methods. While digital marketing tracks consumer patterns, records contact data and paves the way for personalization, in-store marketing still suffers from lack of these much coveted consumer touch-points. But this is beginning to change.
Enter: WiFi location based marketing. In essence, WiFi location marketing enables retail and local businesses to share targeted, real time content and promotions with consumers, with WiFi as the medium.
Why the real time hype?
Real time marketing is gaining a lot of attention, and for good reason. Everyone, from big retail to restaurants and cafes, is testing a range of real time, location based techniques to attract consumers based on physical proximity. What makes real time marketing so attractive is its ability to engage consumers in the golden moment—when they are already predisposed to spend time and money at the location.
The rampant growth in public WiFi has a direct impact on the efficacy of WiFi location marketing. Per a study by iPass, by 2018, there will be a WiFi hotspot for every 20 people in the world. Given the growth of free WiFi today, this world of omnipresent connectivity isn’t hard to imagine. And consumers are getting used to this free WiFi phenomenon. According to a Comcast survey, WiFi is rated as one of the best customer satisfaction tools for retailers and businesses such as cafes, restaurants and bars: consumers have come to prefer WiFi to magazines, candies and even water.
As free WiFi continues to proliferate, advertising over WiFi will become more of a natural extension for retailers and merchants, without the burden of acclimatizing consumers to new technologies or media.
Oh, the data!
A key benefit of WiFi based location marketing is the wealth of data it accrues for the business owner. Off late, there seems to be a lot of unanimity for the need of big data in small businesses. However, small businesses often lack the right data sources in the first place. Since local businesses mainly drive sales from ‘in-store’ customers, they need access to their location data—the kind of data that offers insight in to customer profiles and traffic behaviors.
WiFi location based technology collects this precise data, thus enabling business owners to create promotions that aren’t just in real time, but also better targeted towards consumers and the current needs of the business.
Applying WiFi location marketing to local businesses
Based on the business goals, the applications of WiFi location marketing can be multifold. Let’s walk through a few key examples:
Creating offers for social growth
Linking WiFi based mobile offers with “check-ins,” “likes” or “tweets” promotes user engagement, while also driving social traffic and awareness for the business.
Collating contact data
Since the WiFi login interface is customizable, WiFi connects can be used by businesses to collect contact data and enroll customers to their marketing and loyalty campaigns.
Increasing traffic in real time
Another advantage of WiFi is geo-fencing. WiFi networks can track a radius around the store, allowing business owners to share mobile promotions to consumers within the radius, thus prompting more traffic to the location.
Optimizing marketing and operations
WiFi analytics reveals a ton of insight, ranging from customer profiles and demographics, traffic patterns, dwell times and storefront traffic. This data is a simple, yet powerful mechanism to create personalization and operational efficiencies that are otherwise challenging to implement in small business environments.
For example: if the dwell time is at a high when the business is running certain specials or promotions – the business owner can use that insight to extend such promotions to the lean hours. Or if the traffic is falling on say, Wednesday evenings, businesses can optimize their inventory and staff, and increase real time promotions in accordance.
WiFi analytics can track recency and frequency of visits, allowing businesses to segment their consumers by visit patterns, and thus better gauge and reward loyalty.
Location based marketing isn’t the next new marketing trick. It’s here to fundamentally change how local and retail businesses interact with their customers and encourage loyalty. With the benefits of cost, reach and scale of WiFi technologies, it won’t be too long before location based marketing becomes an inherent part of brick and mortar businesses.
Author: Manika Bahuguna loves all things retail and technology and the harmony between the two. She leads Marketing and Content Strategy at Wavespot, a bay area start up specializing in WiFi based location marketing, a technology platform that optimizes real time, in-store engagement and analytics for retail businesses.