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Cookies definition


Cookies (©  niroworld / Fotolia.com)

Cookies (© niroworld / Fotolia.com)

When it comes to the workings of the web, understanding the role of cookies is important. A cookie is essentially a type of file that is stored on your computer and your browser when you visit certain web pages. The purpose of this file is to allow future identification, such that a website can tell if the same visitor has visited a page multiple times. This can be used to numerous marketing ends, so read the full definition to learn to make the most from them.

Cookies are tiny files that websites save on your computer whenever you visit a page. This then allows the website to look for those cookies the next time a visitor comes back and thus it's possible for it to identify whether you've been to the page before or not. 'Script' meanwhile means PHP or JavaScript which is code that runs on a website either in the browser or on the server where the files are stored and can be told to look for these cookies and behave in certain ways.

These cookies can contain pretty much any information and it's possible for you to store different cookies at different times. At the same time, you can also use scripts to look for more than just cookies - they can check the time, check the computer that's being used to display the site and more.

How Cookies Are Used in Marketing

Even if you are reading about cookies for the first time, chances are that you will have dealt with them on numerous occasions in the past, as cookies are used by the vast majority of websites and for many things that are crucial for internet marketers. For instance, when you log into any website, your computer will normally store cookies from the website so that you don’t need to log into next time. This has great benefit for marketers, as it allows them to quickly identify return visitors and log them in.

Likewise though, cookies are also used in order to identify marketers that recommend affiliate products. Here, links send visitors to stores via a redirect which first stores cookies on their machine. That way, the shop can see that they went via the specific URL and thereby identify them as being ‘your’ customers.

Likewise, cookies are what are used for remarketing. This is a feature of Google AdWords/AdSense that allows advertisers to show their ads to users that have already shown an interest in the products or services.

A Dynamic and Personal Site

But if you want to be creative, then you can also use an understanding of cookies for more inventive marketing opportunities. In particular, this might mean using them to interact with your customers in a manner that would be classed as responsive marketing.

What this means ultimately is that your site can change and adapt to the time and to the person using it. So, for instance, someone who is visiting the site for the very first time can be identified as such, as can a returning visitor. You could then have your website recommend further reading based on their reading patterns so far - something few sites do. Imagine loading a link on Google you've been to before and then seeing a message in the corner saying: 'Welcome back' and 'did you enjoy that last article on bicep training? Here's another one for you!'. 

openPR-Tip: Alternatively, imagine a website that would allow you to change the size of the font. You're struggling to read on your iPhone, then you notice in the left column an option to + or - the font size. You change the size and feel immediately impressed with the site. Or how about one that randomly changes the wallpaper from time to time? There are few websites that look different every time you visit, or every time you load a new page and this again might be just the way to stand out as something different.

There are countless examples of things to do with cookies and scripts, but the point is that I can't just tell you them now. The idea is to find your own exciting uses for them and then to come up with something original and interesting that will wow visitors and help you to stand out as something a bit different…


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