Yelp acquires Wi-Fi marketing company Turnstyle Analytics for $20 million

Yelp this morning announced it has paid $20 million in cash to acquire the Wi-Fi marketing company, Turnstyle Analytics, which offers a service that allows businesses to connect with their customers over a freely provided Wi-fi network. The move, Yelp explains, is aimed at expanding the types of business marketing services Yelp already offers beyond those that are focused on customer acquisition, to also include those that help businesses with customer retention and loyalty.

Toronto-based Turnstyle was founded in 2012 that today supports nearly 3,500 businesses, primarily across the U.S. and Canada. According to the logos on its website, these customers include Back Alley Burger, Burger King, Broncos Slider Bar, Subway, and others.

Turnstyle is a paid service for its business customers, based on scale, that offers insights into customer behavior, visits and more, gained from the free guest Wi-Fi logins.

Customers who agree to use the free Wi-Fi provide their email address, which then allows the business to build out a target customer contact lists. The businesses can also take advantage of analytics tools that provide additional insight into visits – tracking things like frequency, to identify their most loyal customers, and duration, among other factors.

Yelp explains that the average consumer today spend more than five hours per day online, but still makes approximately 93 percent of their purchases offline. With Turnstyle, Yelp aims to give its small-to-medium sized business customers a means of connecting with those offline customers.

In addition, it points out that free Wi-Fi has been shown to increase foot traffic and sales figures. 62 percent of customers spend more time in places that provide free Wi-Fi and 50 percent of those customers spend more money on services and products as a result of the extra time spend in the establishment, Yelp noted, pointing to a Small Biz Trends survey.

Businesses using Turnstyle are able to send out emails to customers, as well as offer them other incentives and rewards to encourage their repeat visits. It lets businesses automate their marketing, as well, doing things like scheduling message delivery for days, weeks, or months in advance, or sending out digital coupons in email or SMS campaigns.

Those campaigns can be customized, by changing the incentives to meet various metrics. For example, it can trigger offers when customers enter or exit the venue, after they’ve visited a certain number of times, or it can reach those who haven’t visited in a certain period of time, offer incentives to first-time customers, send out birthday rewards, and more.

The product is currently used by a number of clients, including restaurants, cafes, retail stores, auto dealers, spas, salons and others – basically, anywhere a consumer may be spending time and lingering around, and expects there to be free Wi-Fi.

Turnstyle’s clients will continue to be supported, and won’t have any change in either their service offering or pricing as the company begins its integration with Yelp.

Meanwhile, the 30 employees located at Turnstyle’s headquarters in Toronto will also be joining Yelp. No layoffs are expected, Yelp says. The brand name “Turnstyle” will remain for the time being, though that could change in time.

Yelp says that although Turnstyle is supported outside the U.S. and Canada, its focus with the product will be on the North American market.

“We’re excited to expand our product offering for local businesses through this acquisition. Turnstyle helps connect businesses to consumers through free public Wi-Fi, and is an effective retention and loyalty program that helps businesses be more successful,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp co-founder and chief executive officer, in a statement about the acquisition.

The company will share more information about the Turnstyle revenue model during its Q2 earnings call, but declined today to speak about its financial information, like revenue and growth rate. However, it says that it’s not adjusting guidance as a result of the acquisition.