How to Use Wifi Marketing to Grow Your Email List

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Pete Davis

CEO, Ampjar

27 Aug, 2019

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Wifi marketing is one of the easiest ways to grow your email list and get customers through your doors. 77% of businesses rate it as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their business, and it’s clear why.

Done right, Wifi marketing can be super effective. For the small price of a commercial WiFi package, you can generate a ton of sales leads, bolster your email list or social following, and build brand loyalty.

Related: 6 Ways To Drive Traffic With Email Marketing

If you’re interested in utilizing WiFi marketing for your business, look no further. We’ve got all you need to know right here.

What is WiFi marketing?

In a nutshell, WiFi marketing is when businesses provide free WiFi access to potential customers in order to market to them. 

It’s basically turning a guest WiFi hotspot into a marketing platform. You just set up a guest WiFi network in your business so that customers within the coverage area can connect to it from their smartphones and surf the web.

There’s a good chance you’ve come across it a bunch of times already. If you’ve ever logged onto a public WiFi service at an airport, bus stop, restaurant, retail store, or anywhere else, that’s WiFi marketing. 

Some popular companies that use WiFi marketing include:

  • Starbucks coffee shops
  • Waterstones book stores
  • McDonald’s restaurants

And there are thousands more. Different businesses run their WiFi marketing campaigns in different ways but, often, the aim is to collect customer email addresses in order to keep communicating. 

As such, it’s usually set up so that the customer has to go through a branded landing page and sign up by providing their email address before they can fully access the WiFi network. 

Wifi marketing for small businesses

Here’s an example of what WiFi marketing might look like in action. First, a customer will walk into your store, restaurant, or other business premises. They look for available WiFi networks on their device and see yours listed on their screen.

Connecting to McDonald's free wifi network

They hit connect and load up their browser to surf the web. When they load it up, they’re redirected to a splash page that you’ve set up. On that page, they’ll see whatever you want them to see. This might be a promotion that you’ve set up, a message, or something else.

Before they can continue, they’ll probably need to agree to some terms of use, and, depending on how you’ve set it up, probably provide either their email address (and opt in to marketing communications) or access to their Facebook profile. 

Macdonald's advertising their daily free wifi

After that, they’ll be able to browse the web to their heart’s content, and you’ll have access to valuable information about your customer. 

Benefits of WiFi marketing

There are lots of benefits to WiFi marketing for both you and your customers. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest ones.

Facilitates email marketing

We all know how valuable email lists are when it comes to marketing. What’s great about WiFi marketing is that it helps you to grow your email list totally passively. Once your users are on your email list, you can send them promotional offers later on to retarget them and drive sales. 

Related: 9 Email Marketing Tips to Boost Revenue

Mars Bar and Restaurant did just that. They set up a branded WiFi sign-in page using Yelp Wifi and grew their list with 7+ sign-ins daily. Then, they sent these customers promotional messages about their weekday special deals and had a 10% open rate.

Enables retargeting ads

Even if you don’t get your customers to sign up to your mailing list, you can still retarget them later on through pixel-based retargeting ads. This allows you to serve up super-targeted ads to people who have already signed in to your WiFi network and engaged with your business.

Related: Getting Started with Performance Marketing: A Guide for Brands

Improved customer experience

Today’s consumers are crazy about WiFi. Internet access these days is tantamount to a human right and we expect that no matter where we go, we’ll be able to get online. By providing your customers with free in-store WiFi access, you’ll be meeting these expectations and improving the customer experience.

Gets customers through the door

According to Wifi Marketing statistics, 64% of consumers make a restaurant choice based on the availability of Wi-Fi services. By providing free retail WiFi access, you’ll be encouraging more customers to come into your store and browse, which can increase your foot traffic.

Helps you to gather data

Wifi marketing gives you access to valuable customer data that you can use in a variety of ways.

You can gather information about user activity, in-store behavior, and Facebook profiles. You can find out how long they spend in the store, where they’re converting, where they’ve come from, and a whole lot more.

You can then use this information to help guide important business decisions, like how to layout your store to maximize conversions. You can also create rich customer profiles to better personalize your ads and promotions.

Promote products/services

You can also draw attention to specific products or services through WiFi promotion/advertising. For example, if you have a new product line, or you’re running a new promotion, you might want to highlight this on your splash page.

How to best leverage WiFi marketing to drive email leads

The best way to set up your WiFi marketing network depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re trying to use WiFi marketing to grow your email list, the goal is to get as many people as possible to connect and sign up. 

With that in mind, here are some ideas you might want to try.

Use an opt-in landing page for free WiFi

When the user connects to your guest WiFi, it should take them straight to an email opt-in page where they can sign up to your mailing list. Keep this page super simple and don’t ask for too much information other than their email address. If you ask them to fill out a huge form, they might not bother.

Signing in to a wifi network in Starbucks using a mobile phone

Run a contest or promotion

To encourage more shoppers to use the network, consider running a contest or promotion – participants get entered into a prize draw when they connect or receive an email with an exclusive discount code to use against their purchase. Use in-store signage to draw attention to the promotional offer and point them in the right direction.

Watch video ads for WiFi access

Not every customer is comfortable giving out their email address. To cater to these customers, you could consider giving them an alternative option by requiring them to watch a short video ad to gain access to the network instead.

If they choose to watch the ad, it’s a way for you to hold their attention for a short while and promote your product. If they choose to sign up via email instead, you’ll be able to send future promotional offers via email. Either way, it’s a win-win for you.

Provide a social sign-in page

Another way to set up your WiFi marketing portal is with a social sign-in page. This allows your customers to connect to your WiFi network instantly by signing up via Facebook or another social media platform. This has benefits for both you and the customer.

Facebook's login button

From the business’ perspective, social sign-ups give you access to a huge amount of customer data; much more than you’d have from their email address alone. It also allows you to personalize the customer’s experience even more. 

From the customer’s perspective, signing up with one click is easier than having to type in their email address every time. 

You could even take social WiFi marketing one step further and use it to drive social shares by requiring customers to share or like your business page before they can access the network.

How to get started with WiFi marketing

Setting up a WiFi marketing network isn’t as easy as setting up a regular guest network. If it were, you could just give your customers the network password and be done with it. WiFi marketing is a little different as you’re trying to get something in return, like data or email opt-ins.

To set that up, you need the help of some very specific technology and tools. The easiest way to set up this technology on your WiFi network is by partnering with companies that provide a complete WiFi marketing solution.

These are lots of companies that offer these kinds of WiFi marketing services. Here are a few of them.

Social WiFi

Social WiFi is an innovative new WiFi marketing service provider that helps you to use your WiFi for marketing, communication, customer care, or anything else you had in mind. They handle everything for you: analytics, remarketing, email marketing… you name it. 

Social WiFi's homepage where you can watch their demo

Their page designer allows you to build your own GDPR-compliant branded login pages and collect email addresses, and their automated mailing service allows you to coordinate your email campaigns. You can even use the service to set up automated review requests to ask customers for feedback regarding their experience.


Purple is another WiFi marketing software solution that works alongside your existing guest WiFi network to capture user data via a login portal. When customers sign in using Purple, it tracks their movements in-store, allowing you to gather more valuable data about how consumers interact with your business. 

Purple's product showing the benefits of Social WiFi

It also enables you to gather mobile numbers and email addresses and then send targeted, promotional SMS and email communications, collect customer feedback and reviews, and more.

Yelp Wifi

Yelp Wifi is another WiFi marketing software solution worth looking into. Like many of the others, it helps you to set up your guest WiFi portal with a branded sign-in page, collect data, and communicate with your customers. 

The website's homepage of Yelp WiFi

Can’t I just set it up myself?

While it’s possible to set the whole thing up yourself, we wouldn’t recommend it. You’d need to set up a public wireless network separate from your business network and create your own captive portal from scratch. 

It’s a lot of very technical work and you’d need to consult an IT specialist to help. It’s a lot quicker and easier to just go through a complete WiFi marketing solution provider that can handle it all for you.

Final thoughts on Wifi marketing

Hopefully, you’ll now have all the information you need to start using WiFi marketing to grow your email list. Once you’ve gathered all those email leads, you can start using email marketing to drive traffic and boost revenue.

Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments. Good luck!

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