Captive portal: a physical landing page for offline businesses

captive portal

What is a captive portal?

Before customers can log into a free guest WiFi offered by a business, they are met with a splash screen that they have to work though. It usually presents them with a few different options to log into the WiFi network in order to surf the internet. This customized (branded) splash screen is called a ‘captive portal’. Brick n’ mortar businesses such as hotels, shopping malls, stores, restaurants etc. that offer free WiFi, make use of captive portals with their WiFi platform. Most marketeers already know and have used captive portals, even though the term might be relatively new to them.

How does it work?

Modern mobile devices are designed to detect and collect all SSIDs (wireless networks) within its range. When a guest enters within range of a WiFi network and tries to access the internet through it, the WiFi splash screen or captive portal is displayed on the device’s browser automatically.

The captive portal screen could be skipped if the guest WiFi platform recognizes the mobile device. Displaying the captive portal as soon as connection is established could also be skipped and configured to display only when the visitor opens any web-page using the guest WiFi.

As mentioned earlier, captive portals offer several options for guests to log into the WiFi network. The number and type of options a captive portal has will determine the kind of customer data it can collect from guests. While the regular kind of data that can be gleaned from guests include name, email and phone number, some other log in options can collect other data such as gender, age, language spoken, home address, social media profile etc.

This personal data gathered from guest WiFi platforms allow brick n’ mortar businesses to interact more intimately with their visitors. And so, even if these visitors aren’t within the business premises, they can be reached via emails, calls and/or SMS.

Why should marketers use captive portals?

Many marketers are yet to understand and appreciate the value of captive portals as a marketing tool. Most of them are only very familiar with landing pages and work with the mindset that every website page can serve as a landing page. While it is important that every webpage should ‘sell’ a business’ products or services, there is a significant difference between a landing page and a captive portal.

A landing page has two major functions. When you advertise on social media or use ad banners, you may not be able to say everything there is about your product/service. A landing page provides a platform for you to properly highlight your business to your visitors and to convince them to patronize you. And that is the first function. The second function is to collect customer data through an opt-in form at the end of your landing page copy.

A captive portal on the other hand, only offers options for customers to log into the guest WiFi network. These options require customers to give certain details before they are granted access to the internet through WiFi. Captive portals could also be used to offer visitors some incentives for their details. Or they could be used to give a little information such as meal of the day (for restaurants), loyalty programs, discounts etc. So basically, captive portals are the “landing pages” of brick n’ mortar businesses.

Promoting WiFi landing pages

It is very difficult nowadays to find a landing page that doesn’t offer its visitors something valuable in exchange for their details, to get them to buy or try the service, or both. These offers could be in the form of free e-books (very replete these days), a percentage discount, free shipping, BOGO and so on. It’s easy for customers to get interested in a product/service when they gain something for (almost) nothing.

The same idea can be applied to WiFi landing pages or captive portals. Customers can be incentivized whenever they provide their personal details to access the guest WiFi. Although some offers are unique to and only practical with real landing pages, but there are others that will work well with captive portals. They include referral deals, loyalty program, free samples etc.

Every offline business should have a captive portal; if they don’t already

Captive portals are an old concept even though the term is relatively new. However, the most important thing about a captive portal is its potential value to marketers and their businesses. Just like a real landing page, captive portals serve as a conversion tool and can transform a first-timer to a die-hard, loyal customer.

Managing your WiFi; easy & user-friendly

Thanks to software that operates ‘behind a captive portal’, marketers can now tweak their plans to suit every situation until they have achieved their marketing objectives. The ability to understand and use customer WiFi analytics efficiently, remains a tool that marketers can use to shape their marketing campaigns.

An easy way to monitor, use and benefit from the gain of such a systems, is by implementing ‘Social WiFi’. This offers your guests free WiFi, in return for details like date of birth, their e-mail address or phone number. This system is connected to a platform (dashboard) that gives  you access to analytics, (automated) marketing,  WiFi management and online reviewmanagement. The best part of all this?  You don’t have to be a techie to understand how it works. The entire system is plug&play and very easy to use.

You’re just a few mouse-clicks away from discovering Social WiFi’s huge potential. In just 30 minutes of your time, we’ll show you what the future of you business could look like, for free.

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