4 Reasons Why Internet Cookies Will Rock Your Business’ World

by Marcus Sheridan

Cookies…..Mmmmmm…..Just the thought of them gets my salivary glands working. And no, I’m not talking about the ones Grandma used to make. I’m talking about the internet kind. And trust me when I say that these cookies, if you try ‘em, will be the best you’ve ever had.

What the Heck is an Internet Cookie?

internet cookiesBut before we go into the reasons why internet cookies are the greatest thing since sliced bread, let see how our friends over there at Wisegeek define these ‘sweet’ marketing tools:

A computer cookie is a small text file which contains a unique ID tag, placed on your computer by a website. The website saves a complimentary file with a matching ID tag. In this file various information can be stored, from pages visited on the site, to information voluntarily given to the site. When you revisit the site days or weeks later, the site can recognize you by matching the cookie on your computer with the counterpart in its database.

So for those of you that are new to this term, did you get all that?? Well, if you didn’t, just look at it this way. Every computer, just as a vehicle has a license plate, has its own address. This address is referred to as an IP address, or Internet Protocol address, and is a numerical label assigned to just about every computer on the web. The beauty behind cookies is that it knows when your car (computer) and license plate (IP address) have entered the building(website). In fact, because your address is recorded and always being monitored, cookies enable a website to ‘follow’ you wherever you go while you’re on their site. As you can imagine, knowing where your customers have been on your website, the pages they’ve viewed, how long they spent on each one, and how many times they’ve come back, is an extremely powerful sales and marketing tool.

It Starts with Lead Capture

But before we cover just what cookies can do for you, understand that the only way cookies even work in the first place is if a visitor to your site fills out a form. This part is key.  When a customer fills out a form, cookies are then attached to the  IP address and at that point the benefits begin. And one other point—Many people turn the cookies to their computer off, therefore disabling others to track their actions when visiting that site. Notwithstanding, many others allow cookies and its benefits to you as a business owner and marketer are incredible. So let’s check out what this awesome tool can do for you and your business.

4 Reasons Why Cookies Are Stinking Awesome

  1. They can tell you how the visitor found you: Lead tracking is an essential component of any marketing plan, and it’s imperative that we’re able to track how our customers are finding our site. Did they arrive via Pay Per Click? Was it an organic search? Maybe a referral from another website? Either way, as we see how customers are finding our site we are then able to focus more attention on that area and have more direction with our web marketing focus.
  2. They can tell you how many, and what pages, a lead has viewed: In this information age, an informed consumer will make or break a sale for a business every time. For example, my company’s website has about 250 pages. And after looking at lead activity for about a year now, I’ve come up with the following ratings system:

1-5 Pages Viewed: Likely not very serious and maybe misinformed. Good chance this person is not yet in the ‘buying’ phase.

6-10 Pages Viewed: Luke-warm shopper. Still has not spent nearly enough time to become informed and educated, but showing signs of hope. Will need quite a bit of teaching if/when we meet for a sales appointment.

11-20 Pages Viewed: Relatively serious shopper. This person has taken a decent amount of time to become informed regarding our company and products, and therefore has a solid foundation. Still could use quite a bit of knowledge and teaching though.

21-50 Pages Viewed: Serious Shopper. Very informed. Looking to make a decision, likely soon.

50+ Pages Viewed: Red Hot Lead. This person knows just about everything there is to know about me, my company, and my product. Not only is this person going to buy, but it appears they’re already sold on us.

Now you may be thinking it’s not a good idea to judge a lead before you actually meet them, but I’m here to tell you that if you follow customer patterns long enough, including the type and number of pages viewed, you will be able to thin slice quickly just how serious they are about buying, their hot buttons, and their overall product/company knowledge in general. Although I always keep an open mind when meeting with a prospect the first time, the numbers almost never lie.

3. Number of Site Visits: Who do you think is more ready to buy—Someone who has only visited your company’s website once or someone who has visited your site 4 times and the last 48 hours? I’m sure we’d both agree that you’d choose the latter, which only makes sense because that person is obviously thinking quite a bit about your product and appears to clearly be in a ‘buying’ mode.

4. Visit Notification: Holy Cow, this is one of the coolest tools ever. Imagine that you recently gave a client, we’ll call him Jeff Jones, a quote and upon following up with Jeff, you  leave him a message only to receive no response. Undeterred, you trying calling him a second time but again receive no call back. By this point, you dejectedly give up hope that Jeff is interested and decide to file his information and quote away. But two days later, out of the blue, you get a notification on your blackberry that says, “Jeff Jones is visiting your website.” With a new-found hope, you call Jeff and this is how the conversation goes:

You: Hello Jeff, it’s Marcus Sheridan(Cool name!), how are you?

Jeff: Marcus, hello, I’m so glad you called me. You’re not going to believe this but I just got off your site!

You: (w/ a big smile in your voice) No way! Well I guess it was meant to be then, huh Jeff?

Jeff: Wow, I guess so. But I’m glad you called……

I’ve literally had a conversation similar to this one countless times with clients of mine. I’ll give up on them and then, out of the blue, I see they’re visiting my website. And as soon as their name comes across my blackberry, you better believe I call them that second. Can you imagine the power of such a tool?!!

The following is an actual lead from my website. Take a look at this persons stats and then we’ll talk about what it all means:

Activity Summary

  • Most recent visit 1 hour ago
  • 11 visits since March 22
  • Average of 25 page views per visit
  • 275 total page views
  • 81 unique pages viewed
  • 1 form submitted
  • Found site via Google Search for: Virginia Fiberglass Pools
  • Better than 99% of Leads

Now tell me, just by looking at these stats, what type of customer do you think this person is?

Yep, you guessed right, this customer is AWESOME. Which is why she was one of the easiest sales I’ve ever made. The person was so well informed, and had gone over so much of our website, that by the time I met with her she was basically completing my sentences. She literally knew everything about me, my company, and my products. No doubt, she was a dream customer, but I knew this even before our first visit.

Hubspot and Cookies

Although I could literally talk about the power of cookies for your business all night long (It’s now 2am and I think I should consider going to bed), I’ll close with one last point. As many of you already know, the analytics I use with my website, as well as all the forms I utilize with their corresponding cookies, are just another benefit of using Hubspot. This simple HS feature has made me thousands and thousands of dollars over the past year that I would clearly not have made had I not been using all the powerful tools that come with the Hubspot content management system.

The reason why I toot Hubspot’s horn so much is not because I’m a paid employee of theirs, but rather because my 12 months with them has altered my life in profoundly positive ways and completely revolutionized the marketing 2.0 strategies we utilize as a business.

Don’t Delay Another Day

But whether you plan on using Hubspot or not for your website, make sure as soon as you’re done reading this article that you find a way, if you’re not already doing so, to implement cookies into your business’ marketing plan. Sadly, the few words I’ve written about the power of cookies here on this post in no way do the topic justice, but hopefully it’s a start for anyone previously unaware of this powerful tool. You now have the knowledge, so don’t hesitate to make it work for you!

Note***To read lots of technical jargon regarding cookies (or if you thought my explanation stunk), check out what How Stuff Works had to say.

Questions about cookies and their usage? How about those of you that are currently using internet cookies? What are some other benefits we could have included in this post? As always, I invite your thoughts and comments below. Don’t be shy. :-)

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason April 8, 2010 at

Dang Marc,
I’m sure that was a great article, but I was worthless after staring at that choc-chip cookie for a few seconds.
Seriously though, there’s not a better way to get into the mind of the consumer than to see how much time they spend on your site and the content they view. It’s almost “big brother-ish”……kind of erie, but very cool.
Thanks for another great article buddy.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 8, 2010 at

You’re always too kind Jay. But thanks man…..that cookie did look good though, didn’t it :-)

Reply

John April 8, 2010 at

Geez, something else to figure out! LOL I am going to have to research and find out how I can view cookies on my Wordpress site.

By the way, got a HD Flip Camera today. Very nice product!

Keep up the great content.

Nault
.-= John´s last blog ..“We are not protecting our customers by keeping this quiet”: internal Toyota email =-.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 8, 2010 at

Awesome Nault! So glad you got your flip cam. Now start working some magic!! :-)

Reply

James April 10, 2010 at

Great article Marcus it is done in a way that most anyone can understand. Although I too was distracted by that picture of the cookie. So I had to go eat some cookies after reading the article. It is amazing how well these things work that you talk about and you do it for free while others are out only looking for a profit on their knowledge. Keep up the good work and I will keep reading.

Reply

Dr. George Suarez November 12, 2011 at

This was a nice read. Never had that much idea about it though. Learned a lot from this. Thanks Marcus!

Reply

Darlene Hull May 8, 2012 at

Awesome. LOVE number 4, Hahaha! This is really great stuff, thanks for sharing, Marcus!

Reply

Marcus Sheridan May 8, 2012 at

So glad you liked it Darlene! :)

Reply

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