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Tech Talk: All you need to know about cookies

In this blog post we'd like to shine a little light into the dark by explaining what cookies are, what they are used for and how you as a website owner can identify if you need them and where you get them from. In addition we‘ll look into the cookie rules under GDPR and how you stay compliant while using cookies.
KAYBE • Website Design • Cookies Guide • Be Compliant
KAYBE • Website Design • Cookies Guide • Be Compliant

Table of Contents

In an offline world everyone loves a cookie or two. Double chocolate, white chocolate or salted caramel; cookies are the best. But in this blog, we are going to switch perspective and talk about digital cookies – not as tasty, but still something we all consume, maybe without even knowing it! When asking users of the World Wide Web what they think about cookies, the most common answer is something along the lines of “are they the thing I always have to accept when going on a website?”. This answer is of no surprise – cookies in an online world are invisible (unless you search for them) and little is known about them. Most business don’t utilise cookies to their full power. They are’t just there to follow you around the web, advertising to you when you leave a website, they also play an important role in delivering features that users expect for a great user journey. 

What are cookies?

You can think of a cookie like when you run a hightlier through a book or paper to save an information for later with some added exras like what room you were in when you marked the book up, or what the date and time is. Just like that, each cookie saves an information of where you have been on a website, which device you have used or what content you interacted with.

This data is stored in your browser’s history settings and can be accessed from the website that put it there and yourself for an upfront defined period of time. This can be for the session only, which means all information is deleted after the user closed the browser window, or up to x number of years. Simply said, cookies are information holders for future reference. 

Usage of cookies

Let’s start with looking into the ‘why’, as this is the more abstract point to discuss, we will then look into the ‘when’ and the ‘how’. 

Why do I need cookies? 

The information that is saved in cookies can be any information that is related to a user and to your online offer. Some features and functionalities wouldn’t work without all of this information. You need cookies to give users an individual and seamless user experience, and in some cases an experiance which is unique to them.

When do I need cookies?

To answer the question, ‘when do you need cookies?’, you need to ask yourself first which features you’d like to use on your website and what you want or need to do with the information you could get. There are different types of cookies for different types of information – each different type of cookie allows different features or insights into users’ behaviour. 

Types of cookies

In generel most businesses or sites that operate classify cookies into three different types:

1. Essential cookies

Essential cookies are used to make your website work. These are also sometimes referred to as functional cookies. They usually don’t give much insight and are purely there to make your website work. Users have to accept this cookies to be able to browse on your website and use the features you offer. You could argue, that you could classify all your cookies as essential and therefore they can’t be unselected when using your website, ye, but that’s like buying a pair of shoes in a shop but running out of the shop with three pairs. You could do it, but you won’t be happy with the outcome if you get caught.

2. Statistical or analytical cookies

Statistical or analytical cookies give you all the KPI (Key Performance Indicators) insights you want to get from your website. To measure the success of your page, many tools require the consent of the user to be measured, because personal data such as their IP addresses is stored. These cookies can be selected or unselected when using your website. This is also important because you pass the user’s information saved in the cookie on to a third party such as Google or Piwik. However, we at KAYBE work with a fantastic tool, that does not require any cookie to give you insights on your website’s perforamance. The tool is not processing any personal data, nor does it map user journeys (that’s why there is no cookie required), but gives a good understanding of how many users you’re attracting, what pages they spoend time on, and where in the world they’re based.

3. Marketing cookies

Marketing cookies are the most sensitive of cookie, and as a Marketing Agency they’re both our friend and foe. With marketing cookies every bit of information captired about the user can be mapped to a specifci individual or session. As a business/website owner, you get the full user journey and, depending on the cookies you use, you feed third parties such as Facebook or Google with information about your user. We recommend to use marketing cookies wisely, as they are commonly abused or mis-represented by many a business. All the data you get is only relevant as long as it’s organised well and used for a reason. It’s not recommended becoming a data collector.

In 90% of the cases, statistical and marketing cookies are third party cookies used on your website. Due to the fact that you’re sharing collected information with someone else, the users consent is required. If you had a physical shop, you wouldn’t even consider collecting details about your customer manually offline and then pass them on to a third party. Online, many businesses are happy to do that, just because they don’t see the data that gets pased on.

It is common for website owners use cookies without knowing – typically by mistsake. But that doesn’t dismiss your liability with them. Did you know that Google Analytics requires cookies and user’s consent? It’s the biggest shock when we tell people, partly because it’s so easy to add Google Analytics, but doing it compliantly is critical.

For example, you run a retargeting campaign on Facebook and set your ads to show a discount code only to users who have visited your website before – It’s your website and your Facebook account – so all is safe, right? Unfortunately not, cookies transfer this information to Facebook, independent of the users account. You can’t just assume that a user is happy that their information is passed on without their explicit consent. Not knowing that you use cookies doesn’t protect your business from not being compliant.

Want to conduct a quick check on your website and find out which cookies you really have installed?

Reach out to us to get your website checked by a pro at no cost.

Examples of cookie use

Despite sharing details with third party platforms, you may use cookies on your website as well as within your marketing and sales process in one of the following scenarios.

You may want to know, which pages a specific, known user has visited. Most CRM systems and marketing software such as HubSpot give such insights as single customer view on each record. This then helps your marketing and sales team to follow up on each contact and nurture your leads from the top of the funnel through to the closed opportunity. 

Fully automated, but comparable is when it’s used in an online shop. As soon as a user, known or unknown, puts something in the basket, it’s typical to keep it in the basket for them without the need of checking out after each ‘add to basket’ click, therefore they can check our multiple items at once when they are ready to buy.

It’s common practice to keep the item in the basket for your user, even if they have left the shop in the meantime and return a couple of hours later. While the cookie that saves the items to the basket only for the time the window is open is an essential cookie, the cookie that saves it even when the browser window got closed is a marketing cookie.

However, there is another way to store what a user has added to their basket without them needing to accept markeitng cookies, and this is relying on the user to be logged into an account. This way the data is stored in your shop database as meta data against your customer‘s record and not in a cookie. 

Retargeting is another typical example of cookie usage. If you‘d like to retarget your website visitors on social media or while they browse online on other websites, you save a cookie in their browser sharing the information that this user has visited your website with the platform you’d like to advertise on. This way, Facebook and all other advertisers know when to display your ads without you sharing an email address or anything similar with them.

How do I get a cookie?

Decided that cookies are right for your businesses website? Let’s look into the information you need to get them installed. It’s not as simple as checking the boxes of Facebook, your own marketing software or anything else to install a cookie. Cookies always require unique identifies that are individual to your website and go along with the code provided by the supplier of the cookie.

Here is an example on how to get the code and what you are looking for on Facebook. The reason why I picked Facebook as an example is, because nearly all other tools refer to the cookie code as cookie code and provide detailed information that you have to email this code to your developer. On Facebook, the first thing that may confuse you, is, that they call their cookie a pixel. Technically, yes a pixed is different to a cookie, but for the sake of getting too technical, you can imagine the pixel being the same as a cookie, just differently named. It’s like an automaitc car Vs a manual. Both provide the same function, but are used differenly.

There are two more specialities about the Facebook pixel. As Instagram and Facebook belong together, by integrating the Facebook pixel, you automatically can make use of the data collected by this pixel on Instagram.

And lastly, another difference is that the Facebook pixel can be enhanced with events and triggers, which is part of their self-implementation process. It can be confusing when going through this process, while other cookie suppliers simply provide you the code. That’s comparable to the different options you can get from a car dealership, you can either go with the basic version or get the premium add-ons installed for specific function you’d like to have.

So, how do I get a Facebook pixel? 

Go to your Events Manager on Facebook, click the green PLUS (Connect data source) on the left hand side, select Web, select Facebook pixel, click continue, name your pixel and enter your website domain. Next you select “Install code manually” and provide the base code to us.

Don’t turn on automatic advanced matching, as you don’t want to share personal data of any of your visitors with Facebook. For the next step (setup of pixel events), please wait until we gave feedback to you and have implemented the code. You can then add all the events you want to make use of.

Example of a Facebook Pixel Code 

<!– Facebook Pixel Code –>
s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window, document,’script’,
fbq(‘init’, ‘445887809836714’);
fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);
<noscript><img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”display:none”
<!– End Facebook Pixel Code –>

A fully detailed explanation of how to get your code is provided by Facebook in their help section.

How we at KAYBE can help

While cookie management is most times overlooked, we see it as our job as Marketing Agency, interacting as an extension to your Marketing Team, to make your build your website compliant when and don’t risk any unknown penelties for you. Our team of MegaMarketers always stay on top of current changes in data privacy and can therefore advice and implement technology which makes it easy for you to handle your cookies and tick that all important compliance box.

We at KAYBE love to help the businesses we work with and in turn protect others. We take data privacy seriously and love sharing our knowledge. If you are already have a website up and running and are just unsure about the cookies and privacy, then please feel free to reach out to us. We are more than happy to have a look. We are sure we can help you quickly with the expertise we have from managing cookies on different websites daily.

Our favourite recipe for cookies

After writing so much about cookies and searching for an image to go at the top of this blog, we really fancy a cookie and want to share our favourite recipe with you. *Psst* Don’t tell anyone else – that’s our secret.

110g butter
140g sugar
110g brown sugar
2 eggs
1 package of vanilla sugar
300g flour
1 tea spoon sodium bicarbonate
300g chopped chocolate

Cream the butter with the sugar, add the eggs and the vanilla sugar, then add the flour and the sodium bicarbonate. Last but not least, add the chopped chocolate and mix all incredients. Prepare the baking tray with baking paper and make 12 to 24 dabs on the tray. Bake all of it in a heated oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

About the Author

I’m Christiane, one of the proud MegaMarketers here at KAYBE. Hi and hello from me to you. I started in marketing long before my career started, supporting sports teams in getting sponsorships and organising school events which ended up being big successes.

I’m passionate about marketing and the tech to make it happen – isn’t it exciting when automation works? In my spare time I love seeing my family, going for walks with my dog and spending time with my horses; enjoying nature and a non-techy environment.

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