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Originally Posted On: https://www.canddi.com/blog/2020/09/ip-tracking/
Unsurprisingly, there’s still an element of uncertainty when it comes to IP addresses, especially when you throw the word ‘tracking’ in there.
What is IP tracking? How does it work? IP lookup, what’s that? Wait, so is that even legal?
If that just sounds like a string of nonsense to you, don’t worry about it. There’s so much jargon in the tech industry, it’s no surprise people struggle to get to grips with what’s going on.
So, if you’re looking to make the most of your website with a clever little IP tracking tool, you need to know how it works, why it works and what it’ll do for you, right?
That’s why we’ll keep it simple. Like most things at CANDDi (apart from our staff, obviously).
This guide aims to help you get to grips with everything you need to know about IP tracking, once and for all.
What is an IP address?
First things first, we need to understand what an IP address actually is, or how will we know how to track it?
IP stands for internet protocol, which is basically a set of rules that dictates how data is sent across the internet. This might sound complicated, but honestly, it’s just a posh way of explaining how different devices (like your computer or mine) communicate.
To be able to communicate, the internet will identify the IP address of your device. Your IP address is the number assigned to your piece of hardware that allows other devices to identify it. This works the same whether you’re using a laptop, mobile or tablet.
Websites also have IP addresses. This means that when you’re visiting a website, your device will exchange its own IP address with that of the site to ensure data can be sent and received between the two. It’s just the same as when you’re making a phone call or sending an email, you need to have the necessary data in place for it to work.
But don’t worry, there’s nothing you need to do or set up. All devices that use the internet are already programmed to follow internet protocol so they know how to engage with each other. This keeps the internet functioning the way we need it to. Clever.
This is also what makes IP tracking possible. Since IP addresses are fully accessible in order to facilitate communication between devices, tracking tools can gather the information they need to analyse and record future movements. In other words, identify who you are as a visitor and recognise you as you move through your journey on a website.
How does IP tracking work?
Now we know what makes IP tracking possible, how does it actually work?
For the best results we recommend using a strong tracking tool (like CANDDi, of course) who can record, extract and analyse IP address data.
Identifying IP Addresses
As mentioned earlier, IP addresses are automatically identified everytime you engage with something on the internet. This allows IP trackers to easily collect data they need and record it for recognition of any further movements.
The next step is putting this recorded data to good use. Once the tracking tool has identified and recorded the IP address of the website, it’s ready to start extracting and analysing valuable, actionable data. Obviously, the validity of the data gained from a tracking tool depends on their capabilities. If you’re using an advanced tool like CANDDi, you’ll be able to monitor location, company name, individual visitor information, key contact details and other firmographic information.
How? Well IP tracking tools tend to draw on information from various public databases. This is something us techies like to call IP lookup.
IP lookup is a process that runs a reverse DNS lookup to find information related to the IP address in question. DNS stands for Domain Name System, a system that essentially translates domain names into IP addresses so internet browsers can load the relevant resources. A reverse DNS does the opposite. It extracts the domain name or hostname from an IP address.
So, how does this provide the tracking information? When a company registers a new domain name, they have to provide the registrar with their contact details. This includes business name, location, phone number, etc. This allows IP tracking tools to pull more information on each IP address as it scours the internet’s databases. Since all domain registrars have to maintain the information of their registrants, you’ll always be able to figure out their domain name, their company, and their contact info! (as long as you have their IP address).
Erm, is IP tracking legal?
I get your skepticism. GDPR and data compliance is nothing short of a minefield. And everything that’s just been explained does sound a bit creepy. But at CANDDi, we assure you we’re dedicated to taking data security seriously for both ourselves and all of our clients.
Given the industry we’re in, data protection has always been a top priority for us and we strive to communicate information with transparency. That’s why we’d never try and pull the wool over your eyes. If you want to know more, take a look at our compliance roadmap.
Anyway, back to the legal stuff. By all means try and get through the whole of the GDPR document, but, if like the rest of us you’ve got better things to do, let’s just have a look at the important parts you need to be aware of.
Put simply, there’s three main aspects of GDPR and compliance; personal data, personal privacy, and consent.
I bet you’re wondering how data tracking gets around this, but there’s actually no blurred lines here. GDPR speaks to personal data related to individuals, not businesses visiting your site. So since data identification tools such as CANDDi track business-related data in the form of your B2B website visitors, you can rest assured you’re not doing anything dodgy.
Also, this type of personal data can be lawfully processed when your purpose is known to be a legitimate interest. The ICO states this could be as simple as it being to start up a new business activity, or to grow your business. So, when a company visits your website, they’re expressing a legitimate interest in your product or service. Easy!
Do I actually need a tracking tool?
Hopefully we calmed your nerves regarding GDPR, but if you still have questions about why you’d need a tracking tool, it might be worth considering the following.
- The geolocation insight gained from a reverse IP lookup can help marketers design campaigns to run localised advertising to their audience.
- The valuable data that comes with cookie tracking can allow salespeople to pitch individual, impactful sales based on what they know their prospect has shown an interest in, rather than a cold calling stab in the dark.
- Allows for better, more personal customer care and after-sales success.
- It makes you look like you know what you’re doing.
Ultimately, website tracking tools that have the ability to improve a businesses lead generation, boost their sales pipeline success and help to produce better marketing ROI. Do I need to say anymore?