If you are deploying a WiFi network or launching a branded WiFi solution, then you would imagine that easy to deploy and connect WiFi solution will be enough to establish your WiFi brand, right ? I used to think the same.
In last 3 years or so me and my team have helped about 22 WiFi brand in 14 countries launch and establish themselves as a reputed WiFi service providers. Each of these WiFi brand had unique sets of challenges and in the process of helping them mitigate them we realized how wrong we were when we started.
When it comes to requirements of home WiFi, things are pretty straightforward. All you need is a decent WiFi router, which is capable of covering 80% of your house and handle 5-10 users at one time. However, when it comes to malls, restaurants, cafes and hotels, it gets a bit too complicated.
1. Paid WiFi don’t work.
Figure out an alternate way to monetize
We all have used WiFi at home, office and schools and almost all of our lives for free. This has now became part of WiFi’s identity. Moreover WiFi networks have limited area of coverage so if a user pays for it they will not be able to use when they move away. This makes wifi users reluctant to pay for it. This is unlike 3G/4G which is ubiquitous. City wide deployments of WiFi will help break this image but there has been very few such deployments till now.
Hotels is perhaps the only place where WiFi users don’t mind paying, primarily because wifi users know they will be there for a longer stretch of time and get to use what they have paid for.
WiFi brands need to offer owners of the venue services which can help them reach out to customers in a better way, be it advertising, marketing or location-based services.
2. Do your basics right.
Remember your WiFi will be competing against 3G/4G connection which each of your guests already have. We want users to readily connect to WiFi whenever they come back, for it to happen we need to make sure users are dazzled the first time. Easiest way to do that is to offer good bandwidth and no download limits. If download limits has to be applied, make it large enough so that no more than 10% of your users breach it.
General rule of thumb for maximum available bandwidth is to stay in range 1.5X-3.5x of the 3G/4G bandwidth user get. This comes down to be around 5Mbps – 20 Mbps. If 3G/4G internet is costly in your target region then 1.5X will be good enough, else go higher.
This might sound obvious, but you would be surprised how often wifi brands get this wrong.
3. Aggressive monitoring.
WiFi is an essential service and users will notice even if its down for 5 min. WiFi network’s Venue owners are too busy to notice and like it or not your service will be held responsible even if WiFi is down because of external reasons.
So monitor your network aggressively and if there is a problem notify the venue owners immediately. Almost always it will be a problem from the ISP where Venue will be getting internet from WiFi Network’s venue owners will love that you cared. All it takes for your WiFi is to implement an automatic notification system.
4. Analytics is overrated.
Venue owners are too busy to care for the charts showing visitor, demographics and more. Unless analytics is deeply integrated with other features like marketing, advertising etc it will not be noticed.
In our experience only 20% of venue owners regularly look at analytics. This increases to 45% if we have analytics deeply integration with other features like marketing, location based triggers and advertising. This increases even further to about 70% if WiFi service provider helps WiFi Venue owners with a few marketing campaigns initially.
5. Leverage the location.
Worst thing about WiFi networks, is the limited area it covers. But that’s the best thing too.
Because coverage is limited, you can know with certainty that if a user is connected to a venue’s WiFi they are physically present there. Your WiFi solutions got to leverage this to enhance the experience for the wifi user and help WiFi network’s venue owners.
If done right, your WiFi system should be able to detect the following things
- 1. Where your WiFi user is located
- 2. What time did they connected
- 3. What time did they leave
Couple this with the fact that you know the identity of the WiFi user. This is enough to design an identity driven location service engine. Leverage this to make trigger based marketing which sends notifications to the user as soon as they step into the venue or after they leave. Or maybe a full service which lets a wifi user interact with the venue like this. Possibilities are endless.
Because these triggers are only sent to users when they step into a venue this will be extremely contextual and relevant to the wifi users. In one of our studies we found that location based triggered marketing has about 325% higher conversion rate than normal marketing campaigns.