A captive portal is the web page displayed to the user of a public Wi-Fi network before they can use the internet freely. Effectively the user is “captive” until they have completed the actions required, which is normally some sort of authentication.
Captive portals are great for marketing and commercial communication purposes in order to drive sales in your stores, but they can also be huge momentum killers if done badly. Seconds really do count, so anything that unduly impedes or frustrates your customers’ ability to get connected is likely to discourage them.
To build a captive portal that delights your customers make sure you follow these ten rules:
- Have a beautiful splash page
This is the page that greets your customers to the Wi-Fi network. It represents your brand and is just as important as the shop door and signage.
- Don’t make customers scroll through your terms and conditions
People rarely (if ever) read them and it’s simply unnecessary. Instead have a simple checkbox to say they accept the terms and conditions along with a link so they can read them if they wish.
- Allow authentication via social media accounts
It’s the quickest and easiest way for your customers to get connected. We recommend Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn as a minimum.
- Allow authentication via a web form
It’s also a good idea to allow people to login via a web form if they don’t have (or don’t want to use) a social media account. Make sure you don’t ask them for too much information though, as this will likely put people off.
- Use personalised greetings
Send different welcome messages to returning customers and loyalty members. These are people that have visited you before and are valuable customers. Make sure you treat them as such.
- Advertise your loyalty programme
If you have a customer loyalty programme make sure you advertise it prominently, explain why customers should sign up, and then give them an easy way of joining there and then.
- Don’t just dump people on your homepage
Once a customer is successfully connected to your Wi-Fi network, don’t just dump them onto your homepage. It’s not particularly inspiring and most people will simply exit the page. Instead capitalise on this valuable opportunity by taking them to a page with a simple, strong call-to-action.
- Localise the experience
Consider creating a custom landing page for each of your locations which offers valuable store information and helpful tools to enable them to find the product they are looking for. Most importantly walk them down a clear path that motivates them to buy and hooks them in a way that inspires their long-term loyalty.
- Give customers personalised offers
Use customer’s shopping history to provide them with personalised promotions or discounts on the products they like (or are likely) to buy.
- Set a long time out
A common by-product of captive portals is the frustrating ‘time-out’, whereby after a set amount of time the Wi-Fi stops working. If this happens whilst someone is still in your store it’s highly frustrating, so make sure you set this sensibly so that customers don’t need to login more than once per day.
In conclusion, don’t just dabble in guest Wi-Fi, because you risk ruining the customer experience and damaging your brand. You also need to properly invest in good WLAN design and a Wi-Fi performance management solution so that you can ensure service continuity. The associated monetary and reputational costs of an outage are simply too high.
Delivering incredible digital experiences in retail is no small achievement, but if you are to compete in today’s tough market you need to turn customers into excited, loyal advocates that will return time and time again.