One of the main challenges restaurant chains face in our era is customer acquisition and retention. Within an increasingly competitive landscape and high customer standards, it’s proving to be as hard to keep customers than it is to get them in first place. It is for this reason that restaurants are turning to differentiating technology to help them gain an edge over the competition and distinguish themselves from the other players in the industry.
Currently, guest Wi-Fi is probably the most important technology addition when it comes to meeting customer expectations. This fact becomes plainly obvious when you look at the growing number of monthly google searches for “restaurant with free Wi-Fi”. This being said, there is more to Wi-Fi than just guest Wi-Fi. Today, we’ll take a look at Wi-Fi beyond a commodity. More specifically, we’ll explore how top brands and restaurant chains incorporate Wi-Fi marketing into their day to day business to drive growth and recurring business.
First, let’s define Wi-Fi Marketing
Plain and simple: Wi-Fi marketing is the process of collecting visitor data and using it to drive personalized engagement campaigns through Wi-Fi technology.
Whether the purpose is customer acquisition, building loyalty or improving staff productivity, there are many marketing tactics restaurants can leverage to get the most out of their Wi-Fi investment. Let’s look at the latest trends and priorities in 2019.
Captive portal branding and display advertising
When accessing a Wi-Fi network, visitors usually go through a login process that we call a Captive portal. This is the page where they can accept terms and conditions, submit personal information such as email in exchange for the free Wi-Fi. The first and basic marketing step is to integrate in-store advertising into the portal, that might support a specific promotion or an upcoming event.
No matter what you would like to advertise, marketers know that the best moments to advertise something is right after a meaningful interaction happens with the prospect. The captive portal is the go-to spot where restaurants like McDonalds, Starbucks and Tim Hortons leverage customer receptivity to further solidify their brand positioning and promote important marketing communications.
Leveraging reviews through feedback request
With 40% of diners who admit to choosing a restaurant based a friend’s social media post or a positive review online, this is clearly free marketing that you can’t afford to neglect. And Wi-Fi is a great tool to help you capitalize on this trend. An important, yet simple engagement tactic is sending follow-up communications via email requesting feedback.
Leveraging social sharing in exchange for a coupon on the next visit or simply asking for a social media share is a great way to attract more customers, as is using their feedback on your social platforms to gain even more visibility. More important than attracting customers is converting those happy ones into brand ambassadors – this will go a long way to growing your business.
Customer recognition and real-time engagement
This aspect might be the most underestimated of all. Customer recognition works when you can identify the mac address of recurring visitors (those who previously connected to your Wi-Fi), in order to help personalize their on-site experience. Everybody in the hospitality business knows how using the customer’s name makes them feel valued. Starbucks is a perfect example of a chain that has very effectively integrated this concept into their service process.
There is tremendous value in being able to recognize specific customers when they come back, track their activity through different locations and engage them with personalized discounts and loyalty freebies to thank them for their business.
According to the 2018 restaurant technology study performed by Hospitality tech, improving digital customer engagement and analytics is the leading priority for restaurant chains. This being said, 33% of executives say that seamless orders are a top priority for them. This is of particular importance since 42% of diners say restaurant technology enhances their customer experience.
Wi-Fi makes everything wireless simple and integrated, thereby guaranteeing that you don’t miss out on this opportunity. A secure wireless network will support app downloads (that you can promote on the captive portal), and transactions for wireless mobile orders.
Email follow-ups and targeted promotions to drive recurring revenue
When the data you collect is integrated into your CRM and/POS, magic can happen. You can set up email campaigns to target customers who visited your venue twice in the last 60 days, or target those who haven’t visited your store in the last couple of months. This helps build loyalty and drive recurring business, with simple budget-friendly marketing campaigns.
There is so much marketers can do to transform guest Wi-Fi into a growth-generating machine. Building a solid email subscriber list, collecting and analyzing valuable data on your customers, improving operational efficiency and leveraging other digital platforms for growth are all tactics that bring real value to restaurant chains when done right.