A discussion on where WiFi sites in a Digital Marketing Strategy

In this discussion document I want to explore where WiFi sits within a Digital Marketing Strategy.

The motivations for providing a branded consumer WiFi are as diverse as the applications it can be used for.

Some venues just need to satisfy consumer demand for connectivity while others want to provide an integrated utility to promote content or drive direct transactions.

The old way

It’s not hard for any business to buy a WiFi router and a modem and create a WiFi hotspot that’s open or password protected.

This method does not give you the ability to capture consumer information or manage usage. And of course you have the constant hassle of sharing the password, dealing with customers having trouble connecting their device etc.

The biggest downside is the lack of a branded captive portal that seamlessly manages your consumer experience, without the need for staff doing the nerdy support stuff.

The new way

Is focused on delivering a captive portal, that creates interactions to drive a meaningful experience.

A Captive Portal is a device agnostic screen that loads before the person is actually connected to your network. 

It’s usually deployed through a SaaS solution overlaying your Access Point hardware.

Consumer Experience Design

Which ever you consider as the main drivers for your business, determining the business case comes back to the consumer experience you want to create and how your digital strategy aims to utilise that data, optimising marketing for greater ROI.

Commercial Drivers

Driving commercial outcomes is essential for every business we work with. Whether that’s simply increasing dwell time, expediting the pathway to purchase, growing CRM, remarketing, providing paid WiFi or ad based revenue generation.

Customer Profiling

I don’t meet a business that doesn't want to learn more about who their customers are, when they visit in-store, or match in-store data to their online profiles.

CRM and Marketing Automation platforms are essential for many businesses these days. So building a single view of the customer, attribution models and real-time segmentation are invaluable processes to optimise campaign effectiveness.  

Three Strategic Themes

Predominately there are three areas where WiFi most often sits within a Digital Strategy and to be honest they all overlap.

1 - Customer Experience

You’re likely challenged with creating a consumer experience that attracts people, keeps onsite for a good length of time, increases revenue, loyalty and word of mouth.

An in-venue WiFi network could meet all your criteria, simple, branded, collects data, promotes offers, activates comms etc. Even so the activation can be simple or complex, depending on the experience you’d like your consumers to have.

Simple, fast connectivity

This is your MVE [Minimum Viable Experience]. A branded captive portal with the fastest get-online workflow possible.

You can collect the bare minimum information like a mobile number or email address or simply show a one-click button with a success page redirect to your website where you can drop browser based tracking codes for remarketing and attribution.

Integrated, intelligent

When you start collecting consumer information, magic can happen. You don’t have to learn everything in the first interaction, over time is better. That data builds your consumer view, helping you provide more relevant messaging in your captive portal or on in-venue screens.

It helps you communicate better, allowing your emails to be personalised, incorporating the right triggers. Developing a more meaningful relationship for you and your consumers. Consumers are happy to share their information with you if you use it well, to their benefit, to make life easier, to make it easier to do business.

Connected to your CRM, POS or Loyalty program and you’ve created a real-time insights machine serving up content or offers almost certain to be applicable to that individual.

2 - Content Promotion

The consumer experience workflows for your captive portal are infinite when we start talking about building in branded or sponsored content.

Often brands want to build a consumer utility, a digital experience that adds value by augmenting their in-venue experience.

This could take the shape of collecting name and email address and on the success page displaying the venue map, daily deals, finance criteria or a search bar that redirects to the website.

Or it could be a fully bespoke location based experience with instant click-to-claim offers, wayfinding, loyalty program integration and destination marketing.

Mostly brands choose to maintain a very simple consumer experience by providing 1-2 actions like collecting some consumer information and promoting an app download, video or social media post.

3 - Monetisation

This is where things start to get really interesting. There’s some seriously smart stuff you can do to learn about your consumers, engage and drive direct transactions off the back of a great WiFi experience.

Through your WiFi experience there are direct monetisation [where the action takes place within the captive portal or indirect channels that revenue as a consequence of the consumer interactions.

Direct Transaction

Charging for the WiFi by time, data or speed is direct monetisation. It’s a popular option for venues that don’t have an unlimited UFB or broadband internet connection. It’s also popular with hotels where people will be using the service for longer, expect faster connections, and Netflix level bandwidth. The hardware, installation and service management for hotels is a lot more expensive so paid WiFi is the most likely way to recoup those costs.

Other direct transactional revenue streams might include but are not limited to display adverts, referral marketing and click-to-claim offers. Effectively earning commission on the click through traffic generated to the advertisers website.

Some brands choose to to control their captive portal ensuring the content is 100% on brand and relevant to their venue. In those cases brands can use our ad server or theirs’ to display sponsored content in their captive portal and control 100% of the ad revenue.


With a little attribution modeling you can quickly determine a consumer profile, correlating instore and online data with CRM or POS data to present the right message on the best digital platform for them.

Remarketing is a tactic used to display adverts to people who have visited a brand’s website. It’s often used when a consumer abandons their cart [with items in it], the adverts offer an incentive to complete the transaction.

Aligning the on and offline user behaviour brands can more accurately suggest offers the consumer is likely to want, encouraging them to complete the purchase.

CRM & Loyalty

Consumer WiFi data should be fed through direct API or segment.io connections to CRM platforms like Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor or Salesforce.

Collecting consumer data through WiFi authentication can help you build a single view of the consumer and trigger communications based on predefined rules.

If you’re using Marketing Automation tools like Marketo you could even use these data points to fuel content personalisation in Emails or Dynamic Web content.

You can easily create rules to score or rank consumers based on their online and instore habits, elevating them to a VIP for instance to invite them to special events or offering them special deals that build loyalty or repeat purchase.

With the right model in place you can increase the customer’s lifetime value, increase retention rates and reduce churn. And as we all know it’s cheaper to retain a customer than attract new ones so this tactic is more likely to increase profitability.

Closing the loop

We’re passionate about designing integrated consumer experiences. WiFi has a unique role to play with your marketing technology matrix and certainly help close the loop between your online and offline consumer profiling.

I hope this discussion triggers a brain wave or a conversation in your business. I love talking to business owners, marketers and consumer experience strategies to understand their marketing matrix and where WiFi could help them leverage data, improve consumer engagement and ultimately drive revenue.

I look forward to this conversation evolving over time as I learn, we learn, innovate and share what works, where, how and why into the future.

Feel free to leave a comment, feedback or challenge a perspective below.