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How free WiFi can help you tailor a message to individuals

Leveraged correctly, and in conjunction with AI and advanced analytics, a free public WiFi solution can provide individualised content for customers, while helping mall owners and retailers improve services.

Quentin Daffarn, MD, UC Wireless.
Quentin Daffarn, MD, UC Wireless.

In today’s mobile world, a major aspect of marketing lies in enabling push content to large numbers of individuals. It is also well known that the opportunity to build even stronger relationships with these individuals is increased, the more personalised the content is. Therefore, what organisations want is the ability to more accurately target the right adverts at the most relevant people.

In solving for the answer around how to be more relevant in individual consumers' lives, how to enable more personal conversations with them and how to only provide meaningful ‘push’ information to them, free public mall/city/venue WiFi is the ideal medium to enable this. It is a wonderful channel for capturing their attention and it enables the retailer or shopping centre to more effectively engage with them.

According to Quentin Daffarn, MD at UC Wireless, by incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics into the free WiFi service provided by retailers and malls, it becomes possible to customise and personalise offerings according to individuals.

“Remember, when users wish to access a mall's free WiFi, they generally have to provide some type of credentials – usually by entering their phone number or e-mail address, logging in via social media accounts or by completing a short questionnaire. With the type of WiFi solution that incorporates next-generation technologies like AI, you can begin providing next-generation services to these individuals," he says.

“With a WiFi solution that can link to third-party data sources, you can learn more about a customer from the combination of local information accessed via the WiFi portal engagement and user opt-in and the linked third-party data of the WiFi’s AI integration; everything from age validation and marital status to the area in which they live, behavioural traits like interests, frequency of visits to specific locations within the mall and much more. It goes without saying that the deeper the insights you have, the easier it becomes to provide relevant content and ads to them.” He added that the deeper insights also provide critical business intelligence to drive business decisions about product, tenants, effectiveness of marketing campaigns, when and what to market, etc. The list is endless.

An example he points to would be if a bank wanted to leverage the solution to position adverts dynamically and in real-time to customers that are nearby or visiting their branch in the mall. This, he notes, would be possible as a real-time data query, where the WiFi solution dynamically enables customer identifying fields it has, such as the mobile number which can be verified.

“This would be matched by the third party that could return some form of classification of the customer. This is in turn used to determine what adverts from a number of campaigns the bank wanted to flight would be best suited to this particular client.

“This now not only enables a 360-degree view of the client, but means advertisers or retailers can actively shift customers’ behaviours with such a solution. For example, I have seen a campaign where people logging onto the free WiFi were encouraged to watch a short video to receive a voucher for a free cool drink at one of the anchor retailers. This approach essentially changed their behaviour, as the first thing they did was visit the retailer to redeem their free voucher.”

Daffarn notes this is beneficial to all parties: the customer receives a free drink, the advertiser is able to push a product to a targeted audience for revenue purposes, while the property owner obtains deeper levels of insight that can be used to inform their operational strategies.

“Remember, when you add analytics to this type of solution, you are able to determine things like the number of people entering a mall, how long they stay in the venue, where and how they are moving and so on, even without them connecting to the WiFi. This is based simply on the presence of mobile devices. This enables a greater understanding of issues like sales capacity, floor traffic, dwell times and which areas are the most popular spaces within the mall.”

Obviously, he adds, it needs to be POPIA compliant, as this demonstrates commitment to the customers you are engaging with that you will protect their data. The solution is compliant and provides the organisations deploying these solutions with all the required controls to manage the data. The solutions are in fact also GDPR compliant.

“The deeper the conversation you can have with individual customers, the easier it becomes to know their needs and desires. With this knowledge, instead of sending out a million messages in the hopes of getting a few responses, you can directly target those people most likely to respond to a specific ad,” he explains. This further improves customer relations and trust with the organisation as people are tired of being spammed by hundreds of irrelevant adverts and content.

“Furthermore, you are even able to dynamically target specific ads towards individuals. So, for example, you may be flighting 10 different ads across the WiFi, and the technology is able to present specific adverts to different customers, based on their known profiles. This delivers a far greater level of individualisation than even social media platforms can achieve with a greater effectiveness because the marketing is to people who are physical in or have been to the venues.”

Daffarn notes that with such advanced capabilities, it also becomes possible to conduct targeted surveys – questionnaires where the answer given to one question helps to determine what the next question is that is asked. This assists in building an even more comprehensive profile of user data and means that the WiFi becomes a valuable tool for both the retailers and the mall owners and any business that serves customers, including hotels, restaurants, hospitals and many more.

“Ultimately, a free WiFi offering that is correctly leveraged by a mall or shopping centre will provide not only the retail stores and the property owners, but virtually anyone engaging with consumers, access to valuable statistical data. This vital information can be used to improve the venue, understand consumer patterns, deliver better service, drive greater levels of sales and ensure that customer satisfaction is assured. It is, ultimately, the kind of technology advancement that ensures that everybody – customers, retailers and mall owners – benefit to the greatest degree. This is what WiFi monetisation really means and needs,” he concludes.

If your free WiFi isn’t delivering the value you expected, click here to attend a free webinar to discover what you can do about it. The webinar will be available as a free download after 25 February.

* Article first published on

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