A string of recent connectivity developments in the UK underscore the continuing demand for Wi-Fi. For instance, BT is currently rolling out Wi-Fi kiosks throughout the UK, and Transport for London (TfL) is seeing unprecedented use of Wi-Fi on the London Underground – the data from which is being used to improve travel services throughout London. Clearly, demand isn’t going away anytime soon, which explains the continued growth of public Wi-Fi hotspots, which are expected to reach 432 million globally by 2020. As such, businesses around the world are keen to capitalise on demand by driving customer loyalty through the provision of free Wi-Fi access.
Why Wi-Fi can foster loyalty
Since the days of coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi to customers, there has been a growing trend of businesses giving away free Wi-Fi access as a perk, or as part of loyalty programmes. The reason these have been so successful is that Wi-Fi is a valuable commodity, making it easy to download large amounts of data, and helping people to use internet connected services more reliably and effectively. It’s no surprise that businesses have been expanding on the free Wi-Fi model outside of the humble coffee shop too. For instance, businesses not tied to specific locations have sought to drive loyalty for the entire brand by offering Wi-Fi access in popular public locations instead.
There are numerous examples of this trend in the real world, and we’re seeing a growing number of brands across multiple sectors offer customers access to global Wi-Fi networks as a premium service. HP, for example, offers free global Wi-Fi to provide value to customers using their laptops and tablets – incentivising them to purchase their products over those of a competitor. Luxury fashion brands are also offering free Wi-Fi to their premium customers as a reward for loyalty, which in turn fosters positive sentiment towards the brand.
Recently, Scandinavian Airlines announced a Wi-Fi subscription service for its customers, which offers access to millions of hotspots across a wide range of locations, including airports, restaurants, hotels, and other public areas. Progressive airlines have long realised the demand for Wi-Fi inflight. But by encouraging customers to use it everywhere, beyond the plane and airport, and removing the cap on the amount users can access, it becomes a far more compelling proposition. These initiatives are just a few examples of the number of Wi-Fi loyalty programmes introduced by companies to keep their customers connected and coming back.
The value of Wi-Fi data
The loyalty benefits don’t start and end at convincing customers to choose your brand and Wi-Fi offering. Once users are connected, businesses can harness the data they gather from these devices to better understand their device behaviour, and then offer personalised or improved services to customers. Those businesses able to tap into the data derived from real-time behaviour are making significant headway in fully understanding their customers and, by extension, engaging with them.
The growing availability of Wi-Fi can be a hugely disruptive tool for brands. Consumers constantly use their smartphones, and being able to capture device behaviour when they are using your Wi-Fi, can be invaluable information that can be applied to the brand’s future sales and marketing strategy. It could also determine the content of tailored offers, depending where in the world the customers are. For example, a retail brand can track devices through their in-store Wi-Fi service as customers enter the shop, to determine how often they visit, and even which aisles they go to first. This information can inform personalised offers for each individual customer that enters the store, thus making sure they keep returning.
Bad loyalty programmes and poorly-targeted advertising campaigns have proved time and time again that bombarding users with irrelevant, out-of-context content doesn’t work. However, when you deliver the right message, at the right time, in the right location, users will engage with the brand and keep coming back.
A rich – yet underestimated – opportunity
Wi-Fi is still a widely untapped resource for firms looking to drive customer loyalty. Many businesses still don’t fully appreciate the benefits it could bring to both customer and firm if its tools are used in accordance to their objectives. It provides the ability to cut through the noise and make messages relevant to each and every customer on an individual basis, making the customer feel valued and, as a result, more likely to bring more business to a brand.