How WiFi Data Helps Restaurants Produce More Customer Traffic

It’s always been said that creating a successful restaurant begins with three fundamental strategies: serving great food and drink, offering exceptional customer service, and creating a comfortable and attractive environment for patrons to enjoy their meal.
Yes, those strategies are a given. But in the 21st century, they’re also not enough.

Finding ways to increase customer traffic and retain loyal customers are the keys to success in the today’s ultra-competitive restaurant industry. Consumers now have hundreds of choices, each just a Google search away. This makes attracting these diners to your restaurant, and keeping them coming back, more important than ever.

Fortunately, there’s a way to get an edge on the competition that you may not realize is sitting right there in your restaurant.

Guest WiFi Data Collection

The ability to collect and analyze customer data has become a hallmark of modern business. WiFi analytics systems put the powerful, data-driven decision-making abilities of ecommerce companies into the hands of brick-and-mortar business owners. Essentially, the playing field can be leveled again, taking back the advantage ecommerce sites have had for years.  Here’s how WiFi data collection works.

The true power of WiFi analytics is realized when a customer decides to log in through your WiFi access point.

All WiFi-enabled mobile devices have a unique identifying code called a media access control address, commonly known as a MAC address. As the mobile device repetitively scans the surrounding area, it sends out a message to any available WiFi access point. The MAC address is also broadcast in this message and is how individual customers will be recognized.

At the same time, your WiFi access point is constantly scanning for available mobile devices within its range. When it identifies a new mobile device, it adds the device’s MAC address into a database and anonymously “watches” the device until it is no longer within range. From that point on, anytime the device comes back within range, its behavior will be added to the database.

At this point, a WiFi analytics platform will give you metrics like first time visitors, visitor repeat rates, average dwell times, visit times/days, and other anonymous data. These metrics are valuable in spotting trends and measuring overall customer behavior. All of these metrics can be obtained without the users logging into your WiFi.

By targeting individual customer segments with optimized campaigns designed to appeal to them, you can save on marketing costs while increasing ROI, revenue and messaging engagement.

The true power of WiFi analytics, however, is realized when a customer decides to log in through your WiFi access point. They will be taken to a WiFi landing page where they will be required to enter their name and/or email, or log in with a social media account. The system can then associate the device’s MAC address with the customer’s contact information and begin building a customer profile for that patron. All previous data linked to the MAC address is then added to the customer’s profile.

Using public social media account information or progressive profiling, the WiFi analytics system can build a very detailed customer profile containing not only the customer’s physical behavior data, but their demographic information as well. With a database of customer profiles containing data from actual customers, marketers can begin to segment their customer base into accurate and detailed segments, creating personas of their most valuable customers. They can then begin creating highly-focused marketing campaigns to target each individual segment. 

By targeting individual customer segments with optimized campaigns designed to appeal to them, you can save on marketing costs while increasing ROI, revenue and messaging engagement. WiFi analytics provide the data necessary to optimize your marketing efforts, making them more efficient and effective. This can produce major impacts on your business in many areas, including the following.

Attracting More First-Time Visitors

While consistent repeat customers provide your restaurant with the steady cash flow it needs to survive, first-time customers provide you with an accurate way to measure how your establishment is growing by attracting new business. Being able to determine first-time visitors vs. repeat visitors allows you to measure the success of customer acquisition campaigns with accurate and tangible data. You also can track data to find out how many first-time customers turn into second-time customers or loyal repeat customers.

Increasing Customer Repeat Rates

These guests are the bread-and-butter of your business. While cash flow is key, loyal customers also are more likely to “talk up” the quality of your restaurant via social media, ratings websites or word-of-mouth. Nothing is more valuable than this free publicity, so it is imperative to have the means to measure your customer repeat rates and proactively visualize potential trends.

WiFi analytics can also help you get to know customers better, like understanding their frequency of visits, favorite days of the week to visit, dwell times, and whether they are part of the breakfast, lunch or dinner crowd. This is invaluable when it comes to creating targeted and relevant marketing campaigns. You’ll also be able to see how many times the typical repeat customer is returning within a given time span.

Monitor and Decrease Customer Churn Rates

Every restaurant in the world, no matter how famous or fancy, experiences customer churn or attrition. And every one of them should have the primary goal of reducing it. Customer churn rate indicates the percentage of customers who frequented your restaurant but have now stopped returning. Data collected through WiFi analytics can give you an accurate visualization of your churn rate at a given point in time, or over a specific date span. It also gives you insight on when they churn, so you can isolate issues that may be keeping them from coming back, which could include anything from the menu to the service to the atmosphere.


Understand Traffic Patterns

Many restaurant managers simply build staff schedules and inventory around breakfast, lunch and dinner times. However, customer traffic patterns do not always hold true to general patterns. Some restaurants may attract a larger afternoon crowd or customers looking for a good brunch. For those with multiple locations, your various stores will undoubtedly have disparate traffic patterns. Data allows you to know exactly when your restaurant has the highest and lowest traffic, broken down by day of the week and by hour of the day. 

This provides an immense advantage for scheduling, inventory management and determining what areas you need to focus on in marketing to increase customer volume during the lower-traffic times.

Foot Traffic Capture Rates

For businesses that operate in high-traffic areas, such as office buildings or malls, another insightful facet of WiFi analytics is the ability to identify the rate of actual customers compared to those who are simply passing by your restaurant. The percentage of customers among this group provides you with an accurate traffic capture rate, which offers insight into how well your business is presenting itself to those who are passing by.

These represent some of the many ways WiFi analytics can give you an insightful edge against your competition. It takes the speculation out of many facets of business operations and marketing, which in turn lowers costs and increases potential revenue through effective, intelligent marketing.