As a marketer, chances are you know a thing or two about cookies. You’re often prompted to accept the use of cookies the first time you visit certain websites. You might have heard developers drop ‘cookies’ while attempting to untangle an intricate technical explanation. Here’s everything you need to know about cookies and their application to your email marketing.

What are cookies?

A browser cookie is a piece of data that is downloaded and stored in your browser when you visit a site. This cookie keeps some information about you and is used when you return to a site in the future to improve user experience by remembering things like personal preferences. The cookie tells the site that you’ve been there before, and then the site can customize itself for you, based on this information.

Cookies can be very useful, but sometimes you may not want a site to remember you or your preferences. Sometimes, you might want to visit a page like it’s your first time there. By manually deleting your browser cookies you can usually access a page without it recalling previous visits.

Today, information from cookies is especially valuable for strategic marketing decisions and reporting. Targeted display social media advertising and email tracking alike would not be possible without the power of cookies.

Cookies and forms

Unfortunately, when people delete their cookies they aren’t always able to pick and choose which types of cookies they would like to delete. For instance, if they want to maintain the convenience of auto-populated form data but don’t want to be served targeted ads for something they searched on accident, they’re left with very little recourse.

To avoid this issue, certain ESPs, like StoneShot, add “?ID={MEMBERURLID}” to the end of any link to a form contained in the email. This generates a unique tracking ID for each recipient which prevents submissions from alternate email addresses and lets the contact know that this form is especially for them. It also ensures that the correct contact record is updated in StoneShot when the form is submitted.

Using this unique ID may seem like a hassle initially, but the benefits significantly outway the disadvantages. This unique tracking function gives you information as to how long readers spend interacting with your content. Plus, in the unlikely event that there’s an error with your link post-campaign launch, you have the power to go back and change the link without having to relaunch the campaign.

If a contact forwards an invitation email to a colleague and the colleague clicks on the tracked register link, they will be taken through to a form that our system still thinks belongs to the original recipient. If they then fill in the form and submit, they will be updating the contact record of the original recipient, rather than creating or updating their own contact record.

To combat this, and make sure that everyone is submitting their own form with their own details, here’s what we suggest:

add a ‘not you’ link

Including a ‘Not you?’ link next to the locked email field, is useful if the person filling in the form is someone other than the intended contact. They can simply click this button and be pushed through to a blank form. (When coding this form, we do this by adding a link to the form with Mode Regis which displays a blank form.)

Remember…

If you ever come across a form without a ‘Not you?’ link, you can add ?mode=regis to the end of your form URL when it’s open in browser to force it to display a blank version. It will remove any tracking previously associated with the link, and you’re free to submit the form as your own.


If you have any further questions on cookies or forms, or just want some advice on building emails, we would be pleased to hear from you at support@stoneshot.com