Cookies; synonymous with a glass of milk after school and a blue, furry monster from Sesame Street, but in the modern technical age cookies are something quite different. Most, if not all, of you will be familiar with a phrase similar to “This website uses cookies to improve your experience…” but what are cookies and what does the statement actually mean?

Firstly, there is no need to worry, cookies are not little nanobots that give the site owner big brother-esque powers, they are simple text files which typically contain two pieces of information, a site name and unique user ID which you can read using the Notebook program on your own PC.

When you initially visit a site that uses cookies, a cookie containing the site name is downloaded onto your PC so that the next time you visit that site it can check to see if you have been there before and then tailor the information that pops up on your screen. For example, if you’re new to the site you may very well be guided to areas to sign up to receive information or you may be posed with suggested popular items of interest.  If you are a regular visitor the information you see will probably be based on your site searches, purchases and journey.

That sounds simple enough but as you might expect, there are also some pretty advanced cookies out  there can record how long you spend on a site, each particular page and which links you click on and which you ignore. Many sites use cookies to store data on your shopping cart items as you add them which they will then use to make suggestions at checkout stage or when you return.

So to summarise, cookies are a way for marketers to gather data.

Ok, so what do I mean by data?  Well, as interesting as it would be for an area of this blog to feature the gadget savvy youngster from The Goonies with the same name, in this particular instance the data I am talking about is simple information about yourself and your online ‘status’ that is used to tailor your online experience.

There are various methods by which data is gathered for example, the good, old fashioned business card in a box, competitions, having to sign up or register to get particular information, e.g. a company newsletter, and recommendation schemes.  These tend to only ask for your name and contact details however but are by no means broke and therefore don’t need fixing which is why they are still so popular nowadays. That and because they are relatively inexpensive to implement and provide good, basic information, or data.

Cookies come into the gathering data equation when you want to note such things as how many times you visit a site, where you go on it and what you look at.  The data they gather also extends to how long you browse for and whether you were torn between two similar products to whether you purchased straight away or looked for special offers first.

Gathering data is a fundamental part of marketing and allows us, “us” being the service providers, to hone our product, sites, services and offers to you, “you” being the  purchaser or browser, site visitor or enquirer in order to give you as unique and thorough experience as possible.

But in order to stay ahead of the game nowadays businesses are looking for more in depth ways to get your attention and to buy their products and therefore lots and lots of platforms and plug-ins have been recently developed to work alongside these cookies and their data in order tell give site owners accurate information on your browsing practices…

…Now I hate leaving it at a juicy bit but this does seem like the perfect place to leave off for this week before I deviate too much as i’ve just given you a little teaser of what’s in store next time…that’s right, platforms and plug-ins.  I’ve just said that out loud and it sounds rather like a name you would give to a DIY blog.  Hmmm.

Anyway, all that is left for me to say now is that if you think that your business or site would benefit from some data gathering tools but are not too sure where to begin, then Début Marketing have lots of useful tips which we are just dying to share with you, all you have to do is ask.

Gathering Data

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