How to Attract Repeat WiFi Users

Grace had been the director of her Library for 12 years, but she was facing a problem. Her analytics showed that hundreds of people from the community were using the WiFi, but most of them were only using it one or two times and then not coming back. Something was causing guests to visit one time and then disappear. The community impact of her library was decreasing because of poor visitation. Grace needed a plan of action on how to entice people to continue using the Free WiFi at the library. We compiled this list of steps that any community focused organization can use to increase return visitation on your Guest WiFi.

1. Provide Fast Internet

The most critical step to pleasing your WiFi users is making sure that your internet speeds are fast enough. Visitors will want to be able to stream high-definition video and upload small files to the internet. That puts the pressure on your IT infrastructure to deliver good speed to all of your users.

There’s nothing more frustrating than your internet failing while you are trying to complete an important task. For job-seekers and students, it’s critical that they have access to a reliable internet connection for things like online exams and job applications.

If your library, coworking space, or coffee shop becomes a trusted source for fast and reliable internet, people in your community will come to rely on it for productivity.

2. Offer a smooth sign-in process

Visitors expect a seamless and secure sign-in process. The details depend on what you are trying to capture and what your community expects. Do you want people to sign on with:

  • Shared WiFi password
  • Library card
  • Social media account
  • Email address
  • Phone number

Usually, you’ll want to have a WiFi password on your guest WiFi. This is good for you to ensure that the people who have been inside your property are the ones connecting. This is also good for them as it prevents their phones and tablets from being compromised by bad actors.

However, if you offer Free WiFi with a password, make sure both the name of the WiFi and the WiFi password are visible in the major gathering areas.

You’ll have worse results if you have posters with just the WiFi name, but then a visitor has to ask a staff member what the password is. Friction like this will cause decreased usage by your community.

Similarly, if you’re requiring a library card number, social media account, etc to use the Free WiFi, be sure to include an “opt out” or an “I forgot it” link to increase total usage. Even community advocates forget their card once in a while. And remember, collecting e-mail addresses or phone numbers is best seen as an opt-in for members that want to further engage with the community.

3. Promote Upcoming Events

Once someone is inside your property and using your resources, you need to entice them to come back. If there are upcoming user group meetings, book signings, concerts, etc. that are happening in your space, is the rest of your community invited? If so, do they know they’re invited?  Do you have a way to let them know this?
Imagine this is the first time you’ve ever been to your coffee shop. Would you have any idea about upcoming events that might be happening later that week? If not, this is something you can fix quickly with a poster, but longer term, an e-mail list, blog, shared calendar, twitter handle, etc. might be more appropriate. If you let people know of the reasons to come back, you’re helping them and helping your community.

4. Use a Loyalty Program

People are goal-oriented, but they’re not always the best at setting goals in the first place. You can help them set and reach self-improvement goals by tracking and rewarding behavior. Depending on your communities privacy expectations, by offering an opt-in for collecting e-mails or social media accounts during the WiFi sign in, you can create a loyalty program for patrons. You could reward community behavior like number of visits or dwell time at your property.

This type of strategy is called gamification, and you see it all the time on web applications like Udemy, Khan Academy, and mobile games. The idea is to reward repeated usage of your services by publicly acknowledging positive behavior. For your Library, Coffee Shop or Co-working space, rewards could include:

  • Badge levels or stars
  • Discounts or Free Coffee
  • Community-specific rewards

Use your creativity when coming up with a loyalty program that speaks to your community. Your patrons are using your resources, and that’s something worth celebrating.

5. Atmosphere Segmentation

Visitors come to spaces with WiFi for multiple reasons.  Some are trying to complete productive work.  Whether this means studying, applying for jobs, or doing their remote work, they have a goal and a timeline to accomplish something.  Although they might want to take a break for a few minutes, they don’t want to be interrupted while they’re completing their tasks.

Some visitors come to places with Free WiFi because of the noise, to connect, to talk with their friends, to get a new perspective, or to be out of the house.  They’re most interested in visiting a coffee shop, or library, or co-working space because it’s been too quiet in their house, and they want to meet people in the community and talk over coffee.

And the reality is that most people are interested in a little bit of both at different times.  Although you don’t want to be bothered when completing a task, if you’re stuck, you want to ask questions, and when you’re done, you might want to share the accomplishment.

As the manager of a single property this can be hard to reconcile.

For smaller properties, it might be best to choose which type of visitor that you would like to serve, and cater to them.  You’re space could simply be known as a place to get work done, or a place to hang out and meet people, but not both.

If that’s not an option, then it might be best to plan the atmosphere for different segments.  For example, you could have music playing in the back of the building, but not in the front.  You could have the food section, or where new visitors arrive in the front, but in the back is an area that passes a door and is exceptionally quiet.