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Data and ROI2 min read Is your hospital's guest Wi-Fi hurting your website analytics?

Guests at your hospital expect free Wi-Fi—and providing it shows you care about all aspects of their experience. But how they access it can have a huge effect on marketing metrics that measure your website's performance.

February 12, 2020Jennifer Garza, Digital Content Analyst, GAIC

Offering free Wi-Fi to guests and patients in your hospital is a good way to make their stay more comfortable. In fact, it's a service many people now expect from all brick-and-mortar businesses. Your IT team or web vendor may be on top of Wi-Fi considerations like bandwidth, security and access policies. But healthcare marketers also have a role to play.

By understanding how your Wi-Fi setup affects your website traffic, you can help ensure that the experience is positive for guests and won't have a negative effect on your Google Analytics.

How your Wi-Fi can affect your Google Analytics

Once Wi-Fi sign-in is complete, many hospitals automatically route guests to their website.

But doing this can have two unfortunate effects on your Google Analytics:

1. An inflated data pool. Think about the reasons guests are likely logging in to your Wi-Fi. Chances are they want to access social media, stream videos, browse the web and check email. Most of them did not log on in order to get information about your hospital. If you force them to go through that gateway, you're not getting an accurate picture of how many people deliberately seek out your website.

2. Skewed metrics. That inflated data pool affects several important Google Analytics metrics. Bounce rate is a prime example. It's the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. Healthcare marketers use it to evaluate the quality of website traffic and the effectiveness of content. A high bounce rate can indicate that your content is not engaging or useful. If you've set up your Wi-Fi access to automatically route guests to your website, it will hugely inflate your bounce rate as most guests immediately navigate away to do whatever they really wanted to do online.

Metrics like "Pages/Session" and "% New Users" will be similarly skewed.

A better solution

The simplest way to avoid these problems is to allow people to enter a password directly into the Wi-Fi settings on their device, rather than giving access through a landing page with a login.

But if you want to be able to capture how many people are logging in to guest Wi-Fi or if you need to display a user agreement, have your IT team or web vendor put the login on a separate landing page with a unique URL (not your main website). They'll be able to set up a different Google Analytics property to track the Wi-Fi traffic, and you'll have more valuable data about your main site.

If you choose this option, you can still give guests the opportunity to visit your website. But instead of rerouting traffic automatically, offer a page with links to information that guests might be most interested in, such as:

  • Cafeteria menus and hours.
  • Gift shop products.
  • Discharge information.
  • Provider profiles.

When people click on these links, you'll know they really wanted to be on your website.

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