Captive portals are a web page that requires a user action to authenticate before they can access the internet. They are a consistent and easy method of getting consent from visitors, to gather information, as well as helping to build intelligence on potential customers. Used at public venues, restaurants, malls, or other space where a user is required to log into a free guest WiFi service provided by the commercial space, they have a wide range of applications.
How it works
An Access Point (AP) is a device that allows a mobile phone or laptop to associate to the wireless network. Access points typically work in conjunction with each other through a physical or cloud-based controller. For our purposes, we will use the term AP loosely to describe their system. The AP broadcasts the name of the WiFi network (known as an SSID) which a mobile phone picks up and displays in their WiFi settings. This is similar to a home WiFi system where the phone sees a list of networks to connect to. A captive portal system similarly is typically used as an authentication step before a user can access the internet.
Once a phone associates to the wireless network, the phone will check to see if the network is online through a URL that calls out to the internet. Android devices confirm through Google’s connectivitycheck.gstatic.com URL, while Apple devices confirm through captive.apple.com URL. If these URLs confirm access to the internet a user will be able to surf automatically. If URLs indicate that a mobile device cannot access the internet, then a special captive portal browser is displayed. A captive portal browser works independently of the regular phone browser as is it creates an isolated sandbox with its own cookies which are not persistent and are erased to keep the captive browser secure.
Captive portals are an integral part of the process to ensure that the customer accepts the End-User License Agreement (EULA) before they can use the WiFi, along with any other opt-ins that are prescribed by regulation. However, they can be boring, cause friction in the customer experience, and churn.
A better way
Aislelabs offers a superior captive portal editor, used by hundreds of enterprises and SMBs in a seamless, customer-centric way that provides multiple use cases for businesses to drive ROI. Aislelabs follows four principles when designing captive portal experiences:
- Comfort – users of all skill and knowledge levels should be able to navigate through the captive portal. Adobe summarizes the key principles of UI design elegantly.
- Flexibility – captive portals have multiple use cases beyond simple accepting EULA and the portal needs to be flexible enough to accommodate all use case scenarios
- Comprehensive integrations – all client and partner systems need to integrate seamlessly to ensure that no customer data is lost and is accurate
- Privacy-first – privacy of the customer data is sacrosanct and all systems work in unison to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability
Listed below are our favourite use cases used by our customers across the many verticals of airports, F&B, malls, retail, smart buildings, universities, and venues.
Customer behaviour is the most powerful use case for brick and mortar businesses, every time a customer is incentivized to log on to the WiFi provides insight that the business can leverage. It can capture the number of visits to the store, brand engagement and even influence customer behaviour. The following use cases are tactics in aid of the ultimate goal of capturing customer behaviour.
Capturing customer consent
Companies that are subject to GDPR require explicit, informed consent from customers before they can collect or use their data. Captive portals allow companies to gather that informed consent without requiring customers to enter any personally identifiable information. In many cases, a business may want to customize the type of data they collect from customers to protect their privacy. For example, a customer may log onto the WiFi using their social media account but not opt-in to the newsletter. In this case, a business can create a rule where demographic data, such as age and gender, is captured but none of the contact information is stored leaving their profile anonymous. Only when a customer opt-ins for the newsletter is their contact information and name made available to the business. In this way, a business can build a rich database of customer demographics but is flexible enough to ensure customer privacy based on their behaviour on the splash page.
Data enrichment through simultaneous logins
Siloed data has been an issue for enterprises and big data. Aislelabs has tackled this problem with our Customer Hub solution which is a unified customer data platform for online and offline customer interactions in a single source of truth. However, customers can still have their information siloed between different login options as an Instagram account may not have their phone number for SMS campaigns.
Aislelabs solves this problem by allowing users to sign-in with multiple logins simultaneously. This allows you to collect demographic, psychographic, and contact information in a single sign-up for each user, creating the richest data profiles of your customers. You can receive your one-time passwords through Whatsapp when using SMS authentication on the captive portal in addition to SMS.
Craft hyper-personalized experiences for your customers
Aislelabs’ Captive Portal Editor can be used to create more robust user journeys, only displaying certain pages within your authentication process to specific users, devices, or within a given date range. Creating even more fine-grained experiences for customers connecting to WiFi and personalize them in a multitude of ways.
You can view all pages and rules in the user journey in a visual manner, and also change user journey type and switch between different pages. This dashboard provides you with a snapshot of all your creatives, to easily identify which pages are used within your journey.
Rule-based personalizations on where and when customers login lets your marketing team create any new journey or experience imaginable.
Personalisation: Zone-based targeting
Create customer journeys based on age, gender, interests, language, and where in a space they log in. If they enter through the main entrance, they can be marketed to based on the surrounding shops versus entering through the food court entrance where food can be predominantly displayed on the splash page. If entering through the main lobby, for example, men will be advertised male fashion stores.
Personalisation: Returning customers
Loyal customers can also be welcomed with journeys that are based on how many times they return. So their third and sixth visit will show a new page compared to their first visit. This allows for an infinite variety of splash pages and customer experiences creating personalized journeys that suit individual businesses. Splash success pages give marketers a perfect opportunity to engage with customers. While they are at your location you can promote customer loyalty programs, free products, “likes”, references, or virtually anything which can boost customer engagement. Aislelabs allows you to personalize the success page with the customer’s name on their every subsequent visit. Your customers will love the fact that you’ve remembered their last interaction and will be pleasantly surprised with the personalization, helping you boost your brand affinity.
Not only can you personalize splash pages based on location, demographics, and psychographics but also on a customer’s native language as well. The portal supports left-to-right and right-to-left text providing the ability to present splash pages based on a customer’s chosen device language. This also allows social login options to change based on language since some social media platforms are popular in one part of the world and not another.
Generate new revenue streams through sponsorship
Aislelabs supports rich multimedia content for splash pages, not only images and GIFs, but also audio and video as well, making it the perfect vehicle to drive additional revenue from tenants through sponsorship opportunities and even measure ROI through the zone-based user acquisition. These multimedia enhanced splash pages can also be customized to areas within a location as well as customer behaviour, demographic, and psychographic data.
Gamify captive portals
Run digital raffles and promotions right from the splash page enticing social sign-ons and posts. Promote the campaign right from the captive portals and provide a variety of options for people to enter the promotion ranging from email, social login, phone numbers. Significant research shows that gamified marketing and advertising are effective tools to “raise brand awareness, change customers’ brand attitude and finally affect customers’ intention to purchase”, Yang, Y., Asaad, Y., & Dwivedi, Y. (2017).
Email collection, validation, and verification
Aislelabs offers superior rule-based verification methods for collecting data through the captive portal. Double opt-in satisfies regulations in certain countries or markets so that businesses can stay compliant with email data collection policies. This offers a closed-loop email authentication that is useful for customers to demonstrate control of an email address as a form of identity verification.
Captive portal automation
Venues strive to create personalized experiences for their visitors across hundreds of events every year. Creating, managing, and scheduling events/splash portals; generating reports for measuring event performance and approvals lead to a series of tasks as a part of a complicated workflow. The Aislelabs platform can directly integrate with your content management systems to pull your event calendar and automatically create events and splash pages for different spaces at your site. You no longer have to switch between screens to manage your events as the event spaces can be dynamically managed from within the Aislelabs platform.
Aislelabs leverages your existing WiFi infrastructure, meaning that no capital expense is required and no new hardware needs to be installed in any building across a portfolio of restaurants. The entire platform can be deployed remotely and within a short timeframe, to let your business reopen safely in the age of COVID-19 and ensure that your business is compliant with all regulatory requirements.
COVID-19: Contact tracing
The captive portal can also be used as a frictionless means of capturing customer information to ensure regulatory compliance, deploy exposure notifications, and assist in contact tracing. Customers who sign on to the WiFi can provide not only all relevant contact information but also ensure that it is verified, and ensuring customers remain signed on provides an easy way to filter customers in the event of an exposure.
COVID-19: Contactless menus
Leverage your guest WiFi to provide customers with a safe, efficient option of viewing menus during COVID-19. Regulation dictates that customers shouldn’t share physical menus that might pose a risk vector. The WiFi can be used to guide customers to a captive portal that displays your menu without the need for sharing menus. It also gives you the option to grow your CRM by collecting email addresses.