Measurement of Success in Online Marketing: What Tracking with Cookies is About

Measuring success is essential in online marketing to evaluate and optimize campaigns. This allows you to identify your best-performing campaigns and redistribute your advertising budget accordingly. To achieve this, you need to track the behaviour of your users on your website or online shop. For this purpose, cookies, tracking pixels, and tags are used, all of which must comply with GDPR regulations.

How is Your Online Marketing Success Measured?

First, you need to define goals that you want to achieve with your online marketing campaigns. These goals significantly determine how you conduct your campaigns.

Do you want more interactions, more reach, more leads, or more conversions?

Next, you need to define the appropriate metrics for your goals. Key metrics include your conversion rate, click-through rate, cost-revenue ratio (CVR), and cost per order (CPO). By regularly tracking these metrics, you can closely monitor your success.

If your metrics don’t yet meet your goals, don’t worry. You can further optimize your campaigns. To do this, track your users and their browsing behaviour or purchases on your website – of course, pseudonymized. Analyse the results. Tracking pixels and tags, as well as cookies, play a significant role in tracking.

What are Tracking Pixels or Tracking Tags?

Tracking pixels are transparent pixels integrated into websites. They measure, for example, a purchase, a conversion, or a lead. This happens when an order is placed or a newsletter sign-up occurs on your website. There are also pixels that are integrated on every subpage of the website. For example, the Facebook pixel, which captures page views and events such as clicks on a button.

A tracking tag works similarly to a tracking pixel and allows the analysis of user behaviour. This is a small code or parameter inserted into the URL of a website.

A classic example of this is the UTM parameters for Google Analytics. Here is the so-called Campaign Builder.

What is the Google Tag Manager Used for?

As described in the previous passage, a tracking tag is a small code that stores user browsing behavior. The Google Tag Manager, on the other hand, is a kind of “container” for your website or online shop. It integrates these tracking codes into the readable text of the computer program (source code) – without programming.

The advantage is that this is done through a tag management system. This system contains predefined tags and is therefore particularly user-friendly. No programming knowledge is required. This makes it very easy to equip any website with analysis tools. Only low costs and minimal effort are needed.

What Are Cookies and How Are They Used?

Cookies und Erfolgsmessung

Cookies are small text files set by the website operator or third parties. They store data, such as an ID (pseudonymized). Cookies can be used to assign browser data, visited websites or product detail pages in online shops, and even clicked online ads to a person in a pseudonymous way. That’s why they are essential for online marketing tracking.

For example, when a user clicks on an advertisement, tracking pixels can be activated and sent via cookies. Banners can also be displayed that match the interests of the person. These are then called marketing cookies. These do not fall under purely functional or technically necessary cookies.

Cookies are distinguished into two types. Session cookies are only stored until the browser is closed. After that, they are deleted. Persistent cookies are long-lasting (for a defined period) and remain stored.

Some cookies are technically necessary for the website to function. For example, for storing login data or shopping carts.

Others, however, are technically unnecessary cookies. These are primarily used to analyse user browsing behaviour or track events or conversions on your website for marketing purposes.

Based on technically unnecessary cookies, website operators or third parties know the interests of users. They can use this information for marketing purposes. For example, websites can be made more user-friendly. Or advertising can be tailored to the specific user. From a marketing perspective, this is a very important function.

What Should Be Considered Regarding Cookies and Opt-Ins?

The “Cookie Directive” in the EU determines how cookies should be handled. In addition to explicit consent, which must be renewed annually, users must be able to delete cookies at any time or recall their consent. They must have the option to activate only certain cookies. Furthermore, users should not be influenced in their decision, for example by pre-selected checkboxes or by highlighting the “accept cookies” field in a prominent colour to encourage clicking.

And What are Cookie Opt-Ins?

Certain “cookies” require explicit consent from users, which is obtained through a cookie banner or a cookie consent tool. The opt-in requirement was established by the European Court of Justice for technically unnecessary cookies. Technically necessary, cookies do not require consent as they are needed for the functioning of the website or online shop. A mention or notice on the website and in the privacy policy is sufficient for these.

How Does Retargeting or Remarketing Work?

Retargeting is a marketing campaign that requires technically unnecessary cookies. By tracking user behavior, these cookies store, for example, which subpage of your website a user has visited. With retargeting, users are then shown targeted ads on the internet for the websites or products they have previously viewed. This reminds users of these websites or products repeatedly.

However, questions should also be asked beforehand, such as: Why did users buy the product or not? Is an abandoned purchase due to viewing product details or shipping costs? Is it sensible to advertise the same product or perhaps similar products? Once users have shown interest in a product, they are more easily motivated to purchase it or similar ones. With this marketing strategy, users’ purchasing decisions can be significantly influenced and guided.

Conclusion and Challenges

Tracking user behavior forms an important basis for effective campaigns in online marketing. Without consent for the marketing or analytics cookies that are so crucial to us marketers, there would be no tracking. Consequently, we would lack the ability to measure success. In the worst case scenario, online marketing managers would run inappropriate campaigns because they are essentially flying blind. Our vote clearly goes to the Cookie Opt-In!

If you need technical assistance in setting up your marketing tracking or cookie banner, feel free to schedule an appointment with us here. We are happy to assist you!

Please note that our guide on success measurement in online marketing is not legal advice. For more information, you can read articles like this one.