In today’s age of chatbots, pop-up boxes, and email marketing, it’s all too easy to think that the best way to gain insights into customers is through digital platforms. This simply isn’t the case, particularly for brands that operate offline.
While online tools certainly have their benefits, brick-and-mortar businesses are missing out on tremendous opportunities by not using their physical locations to grow and enrich their customer database.
But here’s the good news: thanks to advancements in mobile, connecting with customers in a physical location — be it a retail store, a shopping mall, a hotel, a bank, a museum, a theater, or a restaurant — is easier than ever. With the right tools and best practices, brands can use guest WiFi to gain customer insights and enhance experience across the physical and digital worlds, digitally delivering a much more personalized experience. This, in turn, will open the silos of the offline and online ecosystems, and create a holistic and interactive communication channel. It’s the most accurate and best way to listen to the voice of the customers.
Empower customers to intentionally share their data
It’s not about providing customers with a general free guest WiFi. Brands must strive to deliver an AI-powered first-class experience to customers who opt-in to their services. When using data to enrich their customer database and profiles, brands should go beyond simply asking for their customer’s contact info. They need to empower customers to proactively share their information.
Information that’s intentionally provided by the customer is called zero-party data, and it’s something that every modern brand should strive for. Having zero-party data means that brands no longer have to guess or infer what customers need since the information is coming straight from the customers themselves.
Zero-party data enables brands to cultivate stronger and more direct relationships with their customers, which in turn leads to better personalization.
Social login is a valid method for gathering zero-party data. It’s also preferred by the majority of customers — 60% according to a study by Annex Cloud — particularly when accessing WiFi through a mobile device. As such, brands should give customers the option to login using social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
In addition to paving the way for better customer experiences, social login enables brands to build a trusted relationship with their customers who are open to sharing their personal details with their favorite brands, such as their gender, age, location, etc. As a result, brands will continuously feed their CRM, creating richer customer profiles and highly tailored customer experiences.
Gather insights into offline customer behaviors
Using guest WiFi brands can also get to know their customers through their offline behavioral characteristics such as locations visited, date of each visit and related dwell time. It also lets brands predict behavior patterns such as the probability of a customer returning to the location in the next 30 days. These metrics can be quite valuable not just from an operations standpoint, but also for the purposes of personalization.
For instance, implementing in-store WiFi enabled The Prada Group to transform the customer experience in more than 600 locations across the globe by creating new customer profiles and assigning a digital identity to a guest’s device upon their initial login.
When the customers subsequently visit any store, the network can then recognize their device, associate it to that individual, and trigger notifications (i.e., an email or text message) welcoming them back and promoting a new item they’d likely be interested in. Sales associates can also be notified when a returning customer walks in so that they can provide the customer with the attention they need.
These types of specialized services help The Prada Group to better personalize the experience for their in-store customers, in turn boosting loyalty and build stronger relationships.
“Cloud4Wi’s solution enables us to understand who our customers are and how they behave in the stores while respecting their privacy. Thanks to this in-depth knowledge, we will be able to deliver compelling and much more personalized experiences.” Lorenzo Bertelli, Owner and CDO Prada Group.
Offer tremendous value to your customers
One of the best ways to empower customers to share more about themselves is to use their data to deliver tremendous value. Enticing offers and exclusive content can be effective in getting guests to log in through the location’s guest WiFi and provide their details.
Exclusive promotions work great, particularly in the retail sector. In addition to getting customers to opt-in to the retailer’s services, such offers can also drive sales and conversions.
Alternatively, brands can provide location-based services and content to their customers. Gruppo FS Italiane, for instance, offers a navigator, timetables, travel assistant, and a point-of-interests map to station visitors. This is also a perfect fit for shopping malls.
Getting the most out of customer insights
Brands that want to get the most value out of their customer insights should strive to “connect the dots” between multiple data points and channels.
For instance, they can analyze their location analytics together with POS data to deeply understand on-site traffic and conversions. They can further integrate all that data into their mission-critical systems (e.g., CRM, CDP, etc.) to get a complete, 360-degree view of customers as they move from one channel to the next. This way, they can engage with individual customers across multiple channels to personalize their experience based on their online and offline behaviors.
Here’s a scenario of how an integrated 360-degree customer profile would work. Say, a shopper — let’s call her Ashley — walks into a fashion boutique to look at some accessories. Ashley connects to the in-store WiFi, allowing the retailer to log her visit.
Ashley leaves without buying anything, but after a few days, she receives an email from the boutique promoting one of the products that she was interested in.
At that point, Ashley decides to swing by the store to purchase the item, and when she walks in, the retailer’s WiFi network immediately recognizes her and notifies a sales associate. Armed with this information, the associates welcome Ashley into the store and offers a personalized shopping experience.
Ashley ends up buying the item, and after a few days, receives an email from the retailer asking her to review her experience with the sales associate. Entirely pleased with the service that she received Ashley gives the associate top marks.
The example above illustrates the value of having a cohesive view of the customer journey. By integrating their physical and digital ecosystems, brands can get to know their customers better and offer unparalleled experiences that drive loyalty and sales.
In today’s hyper-competitive market, lackluster and impersonal customer experiences just won’t cut it. In order to thrive, brands must continuously engage with customers in ways that are relevant to them.
5 questions to determine if your personalization capabilities match your goals
The first step in delivering a personalized experience that balances value and noninvasiveness — and a crucial preparation before selecting technology partners — is for retailers to establish what they want to accomplish with their personalization strategy.
Answering these questions can help:
- What is the customer’s need for personalization, versus what can the retailer presently achieve with its technology capabilities?
- What kind of data should retailers collect from customers, and when should they be collecting it?
- How can retailers collect data without being creepy?
- What are the main goals/customer metrics retailers should strive for as a result of personalization initiatives?
- What are appropriate vehicles for personalized messaging, such as text messages, emails and push notifications, and what level of customer comfort is necessary for retailers to deploy each?
About the Author
Andrea Calcagno is the CEO of Cloud4Wi.