We could start this off with a sub-par pun about a certain choc chip indulgence, but we like to credit ourselves with a little more class than that. Unfortunately, the cookie in question today is far less thrilling than its doughy counterpart. It does, however, play a pretty important role in understanding your online audience behaviour.
Internet cookies – or web cookies, computer cookies or HTTP cookies as they are also referred to – are essentially a chunk of data stored by a browser. When you visit a website, your computer will be sent a chunk of data (the cookie) which is then stored in your browser.
Cookies are employed by websites to allow them to track how users navigate their website. Essentially, when you return to a certain website the cookies will inform the site that you’ve been there before. This then allows them to provide a more customised experience based on the information they already have on you. In most cases, the overarching goal behind this is to improve User Experience (UX) on the website.
In the age of privacy paranoia, the idea of websites storing your data can raise some eyebrows. The reality is, you’ve likely been dealing with internet cookies for longer than you realise. Common examples could be items stored in your shopping cart as you browse through a site, having your login details saved for your next visit, or even noticing targeted advertisements for brands you like.
Types of cookies
Session cookies can also be referred to as temporary cookies, and as the name suggests, only retain information while you are on the website. Once you close down the browser, these internet cookies will be cleared. A common example is having items stored in your shopping cart while you browse an online store, only to find they are no longer there when you return to the site the following day.
On the other hand, persistent cookies have the ability to retain information even after the browser has been closed. These internet cookies will remain until they reach the expiration date set by the server, or are manually deleted by users. Typically, these cookies are responsible for remembering your login information for certain sites.
The Benefits of Cookies
If you’re a business owner, then you might be surprised by the ways your website could benefit from the addition of cookies. In fact, many functions reliant on cookies are so commonly used that your website may already employ them. From comments sections to login portals and social media plugins, each of these features are able to function as a result of information stored in cookies.
If you’re in the ecommerce sphere then tune in because understanding the functionality of web cookies will allow you to take your business to the next level. Some common examples of ecommerce features powered by cookies include:
- Wishlist functionality
- Saved payment and postage details for express checkout
- Recommended products
- Persistent shopping carts
- Login details to track their order once placed
Cookies and Analytics
Analytics are hugely reliant on cookies to understand how users are interacting on a website, how they arrived there, and where they spend most of their time once onsite. This data can then be used to target your audience in numerous ways. For example, you can recommend additional products they may like based on their preferences of previously clicked items. You can track how the user arrived at your website to determine your most effective lead generation – is it google AdWords, promoted social media posts or organic search results? You can even track how a user navigates through your site.
Having the insights to understand how your users operate is a crucial to providing a customised experience that nails the wants and needs of your market.
Wrapping your head around cookies is one thing, but understanding how to apply them to your website is a whole other feat. To avoid a colossal cookie-induced fury while trying your hand at website coding, why not palm the fiasco off to an expert? Wordly’s team of super-switched-on web developers can set your website up with the right cookies to maximise your UX. Get in touch today to have a chat about the untapped potential of your online platform.