A lot of businesses prefer to dance around privacy issues when it comes to tracking and capturing visitor data. We say, bring it to the foreground and confront it head on.

First, don’t break the law to do business.The laws exist to protect us all. Some are better than others. If you disagree with any of them, do what you can to make your voice heard and get them changed.

NOTE:  You need to consult your own legal council for what is correct and accurate regarding the legality of Internet and privacy issues. We are not legal professionals and are only expressing our opinions.

Business-related data gathering is its own animal. The biggest issues in collecting data from visitors, as we understand it, is where identifying personal data is gathered and then sold.

We are adamantly against the selling of any personal data. Data gathered should ONLY be used by the company who has invested in their own data gathering through their own interactions for their own purposes.

And in this post we’re going to run some ideas past you to help ensure we all have a clearer picture of the issues as we understand them. If you think we’re wrong, let us know. We welcome all opinions.

Back in the wild west days of getting a website online, almost anything went. Spamming was annoying, but not really cracked down on. A lot of what websites did to get into the search results was by gaming the early technology.

In general, there was a lot of experimentation, a lot of mistakes, of lot of easy wins and huge losses. Websites weren’t easily classified as to what exactly they really were. Nobody really knew what they were supposed to be…

  • A form of brochure or other print piece?
  • A multimedia experience?
  • A new type of interaction in a disconnected, impersonal way?
  • An online representation of your office location?

One view we’ve heard in casual conversation regarding B2B website visitor privacy has evolved with the maturing of the Internet.

If a person stops by your offline office location to see if you might be a source of products or services to fit their needs, they walk through your door. You interact with them asking how you might help. They respond, there are introductions, and it proceeds from there.

That’s in the physical world.

In the digital, online world, things are a little different – but a business website is still technically a representation of a business.

People enter your business online via one of your website’s pages. You may or may not greet them with a headline, “Welcome to our website!” (really old school), a chat bot, a video welcome, personalization from earlier info-gathering, or some other method.

It’s essentially the exact same company, but uses different ways of handling the initial interaction based on where it occurs.

For most businesses, the difference is that when a person leaves your physical office, you have some idea of who stopped by.

In fact, there are very few businesses, if any, that would allow a visitor to walk around their physical location without their staff inquiring as to who they are and what they need help with.

Obviously a company’s website is not a match for a physical location. But there are a number of ways a website can present a business that go beyond what a physical business location might be able to do.

And while many businesses are not really set up to receive physical visitors, businesses have a common, long-standing custom of greeting potential new customers and clients an introduction.

A company’s online presence didn’t always have the technology to greet visitors or know who they are the same way offline has pretty much always handled visitors. When a visitor arrived at your website, you often didn’t even know they had been there until the “hit” showed up in your analytics some time later.

Speed of data transfer gradually increased until there were real-time updates as to your online visitors coming and going. But you still didn’t know who any of them were unless they introduced themselves – like we are normally expected to do offline.

As the evolution of online tech has advanced, the inability to readily identify website visitors has changed.

Visitors Revealed makes it possible to find out who at least some of your visitors are – similar to how you’d find out who most or all of your business location’s visitors are in the physical world.

People arrive at your website for the same reasons as they do at your physical location. Online they might also be at your website to do industry research, snoop for competitive reasons, or even try to hack your website. All these online business “visits” have potential offline counterparts.

And these are all very good and valid reasons you are entitled to know who’s visiting your website pages.

This natural evolution allows a business to behave online more as it would offline. This makes sense to most, but some people will disagree.

While Visitors Revealed gathers visitor data so you can follow up and make your introductions – like in the physical world – we don’t recommend that you follow up with every visitor. You should be selective based on…

  • What business was represented by the visitor
  • Which of their staff have visited
  • Where the visitor came from
  • How often they’ve visited
  • Which pages they’ve viewed on your website
  • The order and sequence of pages they’ve viewed
  • Which pages they leave from at the end of their visit
  • The length of time for each page view and overall visit
  • Their response to your advertising – both online and offline
  • Which of your promotional phone numbers they might have used
  • And other factors…

While Visitors Revealed can provide the above information for a variety of website visitors, as a customer of ours, you must decide what criteria warrants reaching out to any given visitor.

And while this service is particularly useful for B2B companies, B2C businesses who also do some B2B can find it useful, too.

In closing, here’s a reminder based on our opinions: NEVER sell your visitor’s information. Be selective in who you contact. Don’t spam prospective customers – ALWAYS provide the legally required “Unsubscribe” option at the end of your emails.

Now, you’re ready to do the right thing.

Follow up with your website visitors who could have a better outcome doing business with you instead of your competition.