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IP lookup, cookie tracking, and visitor-level tracking: what’s the difference?

Published 18 Jan 2019 by Alice Jones, CANDDi
Read this in about 2 minutes

With so many visitor tracking tools on the market, it can be difficult to understand the real differences in their functionality. This post will aim to cut through the jargon to explain the value each type of tracking can bring to your business, and the things to keep in mind when choosing which is right for you.

We’ll be looking at three types of visitor tracking: IP lookup (or IP tracking), cookie tracking, and visitor-level tracking.

IP lookup, cookie tracking, and visitor-level tracking: what’s the difference?

IP Lookup

IP lookup is the simplest and most widely-used form of tracking on the market. The process identifies the IP address a visitor is using to connect to the internet, and checks it against a registry database of companies’ IP addresses.

Or, in simple terms: an IP lookup will show you which location someone is visiting from, and which company their IP Address is registered to.

Cookie Tracking

Cookie tracking is less common, and works by placing a cookie on the device (or, more specifically, the browser on the device) that visits your website. This means that regardless of what IP address or location someone visits from, they will always be recognized as the same person – unless they clear their cookies, of course.

Visitor-Level Tracking

Visitor-level tracking is far more advanced, and combines IP lookup, cookie tracking, and a number of complex algorithms to attain the most accurate visitor tracking and identification possible.

For example, CANDDi will build visitor profiles based on an individual’s IP address and cookies, while also keeping an eye on whether a visitor fills out any forms or downloads any files to identify themselves. This will all be married up correctly, ensuring a single profile rich with information, instead of multiple profiles for the same person.

What is the difference in value for a business?

First, it’s important to clear one thing up: visitor tracking tools rarely use cookie tracking in isolation. The exception is Google Analytics, which simply aims to give you an overview of your site traffic, instead of digging into individual activity.

With that out of the way, the difference between IP lookup and visitor-level tracking can be stark. If your business simply wants to know which companies are visiting your site, an IP lookup will suffice; for a more detailed and accurate understanding of the individual on your site, however, visitor-level tracking is unrivalled.

To demonstrate the difference, here is a graphic which examines how a business with visitor-level tracking tool (such as CANDDi) can have a much greater chance of closing a deal than a business which only uses a simple IP lookup tool (like Lead Forensics):

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