BY CHRIS WALTON, CEO AND FOUNDER OF RED ARCHER RETAIL AND OMNI TALK
The Power Of First-Party Data - Unleashing ROI
One of the least understood things about offering guest WiFi is how it can bring a retailer closer to its customers.
Guest WiFi should be seen as an important tool within an omnichannel marketing strategy. Every time a customer signs into their guest WiFi, it is an opportunity to identify and validate that customer’s profile. Once a valid profile is secured, it enables personalized content that is relative to the individual, delivered in the moment, and based on past behavior. This customer authentication - using guest WiFi - can be the bridge between any merchant’s CRM system and its foot traffic, which, for all intents and purposes, is a gap the size of Texas right now for most retailers.
Closing this gap means more valid user profiles and better marketing ROI. One high-end retailer I studied for this piece invested in next-generation guest WiFi sign-in capabilities and has seen tens of thousands of new customer profiles generated each month and an amazing 10% conversion rate on its marketing efforts at the point of sign-in. Compare and contrast this performance with normal email marketing or display advertising conversion rates and it does not take long to see that in-the-moment marketing, at the point of sign-in, right as someone walks into the store, is an untapped gold mine for retailers.
Guest WiFi can also be a great customer acquisition tool. The large co-working company I referenced in Part I decided to leverage guest WiFi as a way to understand how people were using their spaces. Using a quick marketing survey at sign-in, the co-working company asked visitors why they came to the space and if it would be ok to contact them after their visits.
The results were outstanding. About 80 percent of the profiles collected were brand new and comparatively this new channel outperformed down the funnel - because the company better understood its customers due to the required WiFi survey questions. All told, this WiFi marketing effort now accounts for about 30 percent of all new leads.
Finally, it is also important to note that all the data generated from the guest WiFi is first-party data. This means that all that data comes from first-party relationships with clear consumer opt-ins vs. third-party data that can come from a myriad of sources. All of this becomes an increasingly important topic as data privacy and GDPR-like regulations continue to gain mainstream media attention.
Great WiFi sign-in tools, therefore, take consumers deeper into a retailer’s own tools, an important fact that should not be discounted when retailers are battling tooth and nail to survive and to differentiate their physical experiences from one another and from the onslaught of online competition
Deeper connections with a company’s first-party applications extend the retailers’ understanding of who consumers are, much in the same way that we know our spouses better through what our friends and family tell us about them. Guest WiFi is the front door into this deeper understanding.
In the not so distant future, all that will differentiate physical retail from digital retail is the ability to touch and feel products and the sheer memory and delight of being in physical spaces. These differences are, at their core, emotive and deeply personal, just like knowing our spouses. Guest WiFi is then the first step in creating this deep personal connection, as consumers cross the threshold for the emotional experiences they crave.
First-party data - collected at the time of engagement is priceless - making WiFi Marketing a crucial piece of any retailer’s well-thought-out omnichannel strategy.