What is A Cookie? | Business Marketing

In this episode I’m talking all about
cookies. No, not that kind of cookies, website, advertising, tracking cookies. The far more useful but far less delicious kind. The kind of cookies that track you
and your customers all over the internet. What they are? Why you should care? and
most importantly, how to use them ethically and strategically for the best
results for everyone concerned? Let’s get to it! Hey there my name is Adam Earhart,
marketing strategist and welcome to the marketing show, where we help you grow your business by generating more leads, customers and sales. So, if you’re
interested in learning the latest and greatest marketing strategies, tools, tips,
tricks and tactics, well, you may want to consider subscribing and hitting that
notification bell so you never miss a future episode.
Alright, let’s talk cookie. Now, before we get into the meat and potatoes of cookies – man there sure
are a lot of food references in this episode – we first need to cover a brief
history of cookies, what they are and essentially, how they came into existence
today. Probably most importantly, is that when it comes to cookies, well, they were
created with the best of intentions in mind. It’s not like the first person went
out there and thought: “How can I spam everybody with all sorts of useless
stuff they don’t want? That came much later, but in the early days of cookies
they were really just there to help remember previous selections that you
may have made when you visited a website. Basically, when you would visit a website
and select either what country you were visiting from or what language you
wanted it in or anything like that, well, a cookie would get saved and it would
remember your preferences so you wouldn’t need to set it each and every
time you visited the site. To think of how this impacts you today, all you have
to do is clear your browser and clear your history and then go through the
process of typing everything in brand-new from scratch every time you
log into a new site or visit an old site and basically as a huge pain, well,
cookies solved that. Basically, when you would visit a website and the website
would acknowledge your visit right a little bit of code save it on your
computer and then retrieve it the next time you visited the site and that’s a
cookie in a nutshell – another food reference – but cookies can do so much
more than that. More on that in just a minute.
First off, cookies are pretty much everywhere and they can do a lot so
they’re not all bad and in fact a lot of the hype and the media and the
sensationalism around cookies and why they’re evil, well, some of that’s true,
but they also provide a ton of value so it’s not as easy as just wiping cookies
right off the face of the planet. Have you ever visited a website and had them
automatically remember your username and your password?
Well, a cookie did that.
Have you ever added something to an online shopping cart and then had them
remember the next time you log back in? Once again, a cookie. Or have you ever
eaten a cookie? Totally irrelevant, well, all of those were brought to you by
cookies. In fact, they’re so common now it’s almost impossible to find a website
that doesn’t use cookies but over the years they’ve evolved or should I say
morphed into these behemoth creatures that now know more about you and me
then we ever thought possible and this is why platforms like Facebook and
Instagram and YouTube and Google, well, this is why they’re able to deliver such
highly targeted advertisements directly to you from advertisers or from you as
an advertiser directly to your customers, because they pretty much know everything about you.
Alright, so that’s the high level stuff but
technically, What exactly is a cookie? Well, a cookie is simply a piece of
information that a server sends to your computer and has it stored there for
retrieval later. It stores info, watches what you do and depending on the cookie,
can track pretty much anything, which in all fairness as a consumer, kind of
creepy, but as a marketer, well it’s amazing. So, here’s how to use cookies as a marketer in the most safe, ethical and authentic way possible. The most common and easiest to learn cookies are the Facebook one which also controls
Instagram and the Google one, which also controls YouTube. Now, these aren’t
technically cookies but rather pixels, but it’s the pixel that allows to set
the cookie on your browser. Now, these cookies in and of themselves are good or
bad and just cookies it’s what you as a marketer or as a business, owner or is
someone in control of this information well, it’s what you do with the
information that makes it good or bad. For example, if you use this information
to serve your customers more relevant and more valuable types of products or
services well then that’s a good thing. If, on the other hand, you’re gonna use it
to annoy someone or spam them or sell them complete garbage, well then,
obviously it’s a bad thing same cookie very different uses. Now, the benefits of
this from a business perspective, really can’t be ignored. They’re powerful tools
that allow you to collect really valuable and accurate data on your
customers and visitors, but by far, one of their best uses, when it comes to
marketing, is that it allows you to track people who have been to your website
before, which allows you to serve very different messages and different
advertising based on someone who has no idea who you are and has never visited
your site before, basically we call them cold traffic and someone who’s visited
your site, knows about you and understands what you’re all about, we call them warm traffic. Well, no surprise we don’t want to go out there
and introduce ourselves again and again and again to somebody who already knows us, that warm traffic. So, by using these cookies, well, essentially it allows us to
serve up custom tailored messages directly to the right audience.
The most important aspect of all though and the key to really getting these to
work and really if you take nothing else from this episode than this it’s to make
sure that you have these accurately installed on your website so that you
can begin collecting the data. If the pixels aren’t installed, they can’t
deploy the cookies and you don’t get any information.
So, our cookies bad. Well, cookies have got a pretty bad rap in the media lately and
by no surprise, after all, some pretty sketchy companies and done some pretty
sketchy things. But like I’ve already mentioned, it’s not cookies that are good
or bad but rather how they’re used, so, let me give you a few examples of how
they’re being used well and how they’re being used. Not so well, and you can
decide for yourself. On the good side, well, for starters they make your life a
lot easier. They remember your login info, website preferences and whether you’re a
new or returning visitor, they also allow advertisers to reach you with more
relevant and more current information ensuring that you get the best
experience possible and now the bad side. For starters, they store your personal
information. They can be used to track you around the internet and sometimes
your information is sold to others, so cookies are apparently both good and bad. – Kind of like an oatmeal raisin cookie. Is it even a cookie? – at the end of the day
it’s up to the website owner and whoever controls the cookie on what kind of
information to collect and what they do with that information. You can find the
information that they’re gonna collect and what they’re gonna do with it on the
website that you visit through their privacy policy. Downside of that, of
course, is the main way to get to the privacy policy or terms and condition
page is by visiting the website in the first place. Not to mention, I’m not sure
who’s got the time or the understanding to read through all of those pages now
there is some software that allows you to block cookies on your browser and
rules and regulations are also getting a lot stricter on what kind of information
people can collect and what they can do with it. This is why, as marketers, you
want to use cookies when you can, of course, use them for good, but also
realize that cookies aren’t the be-all and end-all of marketing strategy.
There’s a lot of other strategies you probably want to deploy in order to stay
connected and nurture your prospects and customers. Things like content marketing,
video marketing, email marketing and other social media platforms that don’t
necessarily pixel and track your visitors. A strategically aligned
marketing plan here that’s really in alignment with your target market and
your business objectives is really the best plan here, because you never want to
put all your cookies in one basket – Oh that was a terrible joke – The next thing you’re gonna want to do
is check out this video I have linked up right here on retargeting and
remarketing which is going to take the concepts we talked about today with
cookies and give you more practical and actionable advice to deploy them in your
business. So, make sure to check that out now and I’ll catch you on the next
episode on The Marketing Show

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