Back to basics: everything you need to know about cookies - Lead Forensics

Back to basics: everything you need to know about cookies

According to Digital Trends, as many as 95% of websites use cookies. But, as a B2B professional, do you have a clear understanding of what they are, how they’re used, and why they’re needed? Let’s start at the beginning. Cookies are text files that contain key information — a website name, and a unique user ID. So, if you use cookies on your business website, when a visitor lands, it is downloaded onto their device. Then, when that same visitor returns, their device will check to see if they’ve been there before — enabling your site to deliver the right information to that visitor. Visitors at different stages of the buyer journey will have different intentions and requirements — cookies help tailor the experience based on this information, among other important functions.

The pros and cons of cookies for B2B websites

Like anything in the world of online data, there are advantages and disadvantages to using cookies on your site.  


Let’s start with the pros:

  • Certain cookies are necessary to websites and help them perform vital functions.
  • They store hordes of valuable data — this can benefit your business and help you provide a better and more relevant on-site experiencefor your visitors.
  • For the most part, cookies can be seen transparently and deleted with ease.

Now, the cons:

  • Large quantities of data stored within cookies means they may host personal data, which could enable businesses to identify personal information without visitor consent.
  • In turn, this could mean that, in some circumstances, cookies are subject to GDPR— which defines consent and the various grounds for processing personal data.
  • Some consumers are unhappy with the level of highly-targeted advertising content they are displayed through cookies.

 

It’s entirely up to your business as to which kinds of cookies you decide to use on your site — ensuring you follow appropriate regulations at all times.

 

What does EU legislation say about cookies?

The legislation surrounding cookie use is split between GDPR and the ePrivacy directive — which is due to be replaced by the ePrivacy Regulation, although no date is currently confirmed. It can get a little confusing, especially as the UK expects to see some changes to the regulations in the future. There are several types of cookies and each of them play a different role within your business site. Let’s explore some of the most prevalent ones, and how they sit within GDPR and the ePrivacy directive. According to GDPR.eu — a resource for those researching GDPR — they can be broken down into three categories as follows.

 

1) Duration cookies

 

  • Session cookies — expire as soon as a visitor’s ‘session’ ends.
  • Persistent cookies remain on your hard drive until they expire or are erased

 

2) Purpose cookies

 

  • Strictly necessary cookies essential to website function and features, i.e. the ability to store items in an online shopping basket. Usually first-party. No user consent required, but their purpose should be explained.  
  • Preference cookies— enable your site to remember visitors’ past choices, such as language preference and login details
  • Statistics cookies — collect anonymous and unidentifiable visitor behavior insight, such as page visits and link clicks with an aim to improve website functions
  • Marketing cookies — track online activity to increase relevance of advert content and can share information with other organizations

 

3) Provenance cookies

 

  • First-party cookies— placed onto a visitor’s device directly from your website
  • Third-party cookies — placed onto a visitor’s device by an advertiser or analytics tool

 

Where does cookie consent come in?

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the basic rules are: “tell people the cookies are there; explain what the cookies are doing and why; and get the person’s consent to store a cookie on their device.”


When using a cookie on a website, the business operating the site must allow visitors the option of accepting or declining the use of cookies. They must also inform the visitor what cookies are being used and why. This is usually carried out in the form of a banner or small pop up box at the point of entry to the website, letting the visitor know that cookies are being used, offering an accept or decline option and providing a link to read more about the cookies used on a separate section of the website. Transparency not only helps ensure you have the right processes in place, but also builds trust in visitors that are sceptical about how their data is used online.  

Lead Forensics is an innovative B2B website technology that transforms your website into a hub of engaged leads. Utilizing intelligent reverse IP tracking software and a global leading database of business IP addresses to track your website visitors, Lead Forensics reveals their identity and notify you in real-time. Users are provided with the business name, contact details of key decision-makers and detailed visitor journeys outlining the time spent on your site. Customers are also given the option to include a cookie on their site — providing them with richer data and more granular insight into their website visitor behavior. Book your Lead Forensics demonstration today!

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