For a bricks and mortar establishment, providing free Wi-Fi is something of a mixed bag, it brings costs and possible security concerns, and for some businesses, like coffee shops, it’s an expected amenity that can cause the business to suffer if it’s not available. Worst of both worlds are cases where having free Wi-Fi encourages patrons and passers by to linger, not spending money, and in the case of coffee shops at least, tying up seating, all to scoop up free bandwidth with their laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Sensing an opportunity, a number of startups have rolled out free Wi-Fi systems that while allowing customers to access the free Wi-Fi provided, also gives them the opportunity to market to these customers. One of these, SocialSign.in, was recently profiled in Wired Magazine, and with the SocialSign.in service, customers that want to use the free WiFi are given the option of logging into the system using their Facebook or LinkedIn credentials, or an email address, and are given the option of “liking” the business’s Facebook page.
Customers seem quite willing to provide this marginal amount of data in exchange for the obviously apparent value of accessing the Internet, and the entities that have utilized the system have been able to leverage the data collected to further their aims, and those who have implemented the system have found that a significant number of those who are given the option of “liking” the entity do go ahead and “like,” creating a valuable social media marketing channel that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
Besides SocialSign.in,there are several other concerns looking to spin free WiFi from an expense into a valuable data-gathering and marketing asset, including Wavespot and PurpleWiFi, and one thing is for certain: there’s marketing gold just waiting there, and all you have to do is ask your customers for it, and they’ll give it to you gladly.