Mmm, cookies. Delicious, right? But I’m not talking about the kind the Girl Scouts sell. I mean the Internet kind. But what are Internet cookies? We hear them referred to often, especially when browsing.
An internet cookie is actually just a tracking device that stores information. When you visit a website, a small text file with an unique ID tag is saved to your computer and the website saves its own copy. This file can store various information — like which pages you visited on a site or how long you spent on a certain page. When you revisit the site, it can recognize you by matching up your ID tag in the database.
As long as a computer user’s cookies are enabled (there’s an option to turn them off), and the computer user fills out a form when they visit your site, a cookie will be created. Cookies are only created when a visitor fills out a form on the site — not if they just visit the site. Many people opt to disable their cookies so that sites cannot track them.
Now that you know what a cookie is, you can begin to understand why they are an enormous asset to businesses. They are able to pull useful marketing data in an unprecedented fashion.
First of all, they can tell you how a visitor found you — a digital “How did you hear about us?” Survey that’s completely automatic. As any good marketer knows, lead tracking is imperative in effectively growing your business. So a cookie will tell you how a visitor arrived to your site — whether it was organic, a paid search, or a referral from another website. Once you know how your visitors find you, you can find more of them.
Cookies can also tell you how many pages, and what pages, a visitor has viewed. This is important because by observing visitor patterns, you can determine who’s a serious lead. The more pages a customer visits, the hotter of a lead they are. Even better if the customer visits the site numerous times, which a cookie can also track.
Perhaps one of the best uses of cookies is that they can notify you when a visitor is on your site. How cool is that? They can let you know a potential customer is thinking of you right then! You can use this information to reach out to the person, since your business is already on your mind in that very moment.
There are many analytic tools you can use to track cookies: Google Analytics, Hubspot, Facebook Insights, Twitalyzer, ClickTale, Compete. No matter the analytic tool you decide to use, you should definitely take advantage of what cookies have to offer! When used to their fullest extent, they can work wonders for your business on the web.