tracking in a marketing oriented world Tracking in a marketing-oriented world.

Tracking in a marketing-oriented world.

Using technology to better ourselves and better our business.

I’ve seen a recent influx of devices designed to track and monitor our activities and our bodies in order to improve our lives. With Nike+, Nike Fuelband, FitBit, calorie tracking apps, sleep monitoring bands and apps, tracking and measuring our health is the latest trend. And maybe trend isn’t the right word; we can be reminded to stand up and stretch when we we’ve been sitting too long, we can have “smart alarms” wake us from a lighter stage of sleep so we feel more refreshed, we can see our health and fitness progress on our phones and computers. All of these combined engrain tracking into our lives.

Tracking results works.

If you have a baseline, you can improve. So why are many business people tracking their health and not tracking activity online for their business? Technology allows us to track and improve customer experience. What amazing piece of technology allows us to track and measure online? It’s a cookie and they’re everywhere you go on the internet.

Cookies are a little piece of code that gets deposited on your computer. That code is then used for a number of purposes: from identifying the user when a secure connection is required, to keeping a log of browsing history, to serving up content based on a person’s (read: computer’s) browsing preferences. If you don’t believe me, check your browser’s cookies settings. There is very likely a pages-long list of cookies already there. In practice, many companies are using them more these days to deliver advertising. Just ask Facebook, Google and Yahoo.

cookiesBy default, browsers are set to accept cookies because they perform an important role in providing you with a positive user experience: from remembering the previous page you were on so you can hit the “Back” button, to Facebook’s recognizing that your boating interests are in kayaking as opposed to sailing, and providing you with kayaking-centric marketing content.

An important clarification is that cookies only track back to the issuing site. They do not track between different websites, save for some banner ads (3rd party). Cookies track browser activity, not an individual’s activity – until an individual fills out a form – at that point, it is tracking the user’s activity within that site. For all intents and purposes, if several members of your family or office are surfing the web using a shared computer, there are going to be hundreds (or thousands) of different cookies on that computer.

Like the vast majority of business websites, Kayak uses cookies. They allow us to gauge anonymous visitor interest… what pages are popular (or not), what blog articles are most read (or not), and what content is sought after (or not). For example, if visitors spend a lot of time or visit a specific page often with content around a certain topic, say Social Media Training, we can make the assumption that our website visitors are interested in Social Media Training. Thus, we’d create more content or programs around Social Media Training.

Cookies allow us to know where a user has been within our site. If you started making a lot of visits to at page about Pay-Per-Click advertising, we’ll likely ask you about that at our next client meeting.

Privacy advocates rejoice.

All the popular web browsers allow you to set cookie preferences. You can opt to ignore cookies, delete all or just specific cookies, refuse cookies form 3rd parties or run in private mode. Just don’t expect your browsing experience to be as fluid if you do. You’ll need to sign in constantly, you’ll need to remember your passwords, and that page you wanted to return to for further reading will be lost.

A moment of truth: as an internet marketer, you may find it surprising to learn that I run my browsers in private mode and delete cookies on a regular basis. It forces me to reload and refresh pages in the process of creating killer lead-generating business websites for our clients.

Talking about lead generating business sites… let’s talk about what you have to gain from improving your website visitors’ browsing experience. Click the button below for more information.


Further reading: “As originally designed, cookies were to be of benefit to the user. Online organizations like the New York Times which require user ID and passwords could store this information in the form of a cookie. This way, repeat visitors to a site could avoid having to fill out form information on each visit. Likewise, some online search engines such as Infoseek use cookies to “remember” users and offer them customized news and services based on their prior use. (Fogle) So as originally designed, cookies were intended to be a time-saving device for computer users. For example instead of having to send a credit card number over the Internet multiple times, an online vendor could read the user’s cookie and match it to a stored profile which would contain that information. Or, or a more general note, cookies which traced user activity on websites could also enable the web designers to determine which of their pages were the most successful and plan their updates accordingly. (Dyrli, 20)”

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