According to statistics, almost 70 percent of all companies in Germany have their own website. The number increases depending on the size of the company; for small companies with less than ten employees, only about 60 percent have a website. For businesses with 50 or more employees, the figure is already more than 90 percent.
The available statistics do not explicitly distinguish between companies in B2C and those in B2B. However, it can be assumed overall that the proportion in B2B will be the same or, if necessary, slightly lower.
If you or your company owns a website, you surely know about the numerous functions and benefits of a communication strategy. But let’s sum them up quickly:
- an information medium
- a medium for self-presentation and brand building
- a contact interface for interested people and (future) customers
- a tool for lead generation
What is Website Visitor Identification?
The possibilities of lead generation via a website are limited in most cases to call-to-action (CTAs): Often when you visit a website, you can register your interest in a newsletter or content to download – this is how companies gather revealing contact information. Still, as a website visitor, you must actively sign up for something.
Web Visitor Identification takes a different approach. Figuratively speaking, every website visitor leaves digital “fingerprints” that can be evaluated with certain identification and tracking tools. These tools provide the site operator with valuable information.
FYI: There's a difference between Website Visitor Tracking and Website Visitor Identification. The former collects anonymized information about a visitor and his behaviour on your website while the other one identifies "who" the visitor was.
Google Analytics and other website analysis tools that complement Google Analytics reveal a variety of insights about a website's visitors including:
- where the visitor is from (country, region)
- visitor source (previously visited website that links to the visited page)
- time spent on individual web pages and sequence of pages visited previously
- type of device or software used to access the visited page
Lead Forensics and other tools identify who your visitor is e.g. what company accessed your website, blog or landing page.
You can use contextual information of this kind to optimize your website. In contrast, classical tracking tools save statistical audience information like the visitor's IP address which makes it easier to understand them, but without the context of “Who”. How does a tool know the IP address you wonder? We’ll come to that in a second!
Is Using Website Visitor Identification Data Compliant?
Every device with an Internet connection is assigned an unique IP address. The numerical code serves as a delivery address that enables data to be exchanged. With its help, a visitor or subscriber can be clearly identified. Private Internet users are usually assigned a new IP address by their provider each time they connect to the Internet.
What about German Regulations?
In Germany and the EU, however, the last three digits are anonymized. In this respect, only the provider can identify the subscriber by storing logs. The situation is different for most commercial Internet users: A company operates with a static, i.e. permanently unchanged IP that can be clearly assigned to it. Identifying the IP of a website visitor is not a problem – technically!
In principle, it is also possible to assign further personal data to an IP which goes along with tracking all the activities of a website visitor. However, website operators have been set clear limits on the use of this data, notably by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But, this applies primarily to private website visitors or B2C companies. The situation is different in B2B, where companies are generally allowed to use the B2B data obtained to initiate contact.
How Does Website Visitor Identification Work?
If you own a telephone connection, you might be familiar with the so-called reverse search: When dealing a telephone number, you can determine the owner of the connection.
A reverse DNS lookup works according to the same basic principle. A reverse DNS lookup can be used to determine the network domain for a (static) IP address. This means, you can clearly identify the company that left the IP during a visit on your website.
Website Visitor Identification tracks an IP Address back to the company that accessed your website
Now, if you want to assign further data to acompany you found via its IP, you can choose between various services for visitor recognition. These were developed by companies that perform extensive research work. Detailed research is required to link company data and network addresses. However, more and more providers are doing without this and are instead using data obtained via the Google Analytics API. Overall, however, the information provided in this way is considered comparatively inaccurate and prone to error.
How Can You Benefit from Using Wesite Visitor Identification?
Of course, IP or Visitor Identification and a subsequent reverse lookup require effort and some costs. Accordingly, you might ask what your benefits as the website operator are and who exactly visits your website or any company website in general. You’d be very optimistic to assume that all your website visitors become future customers. Keep in mind that among the daily visitors, there are always employees, random visitors, applicants, or visitors who are simply looking for information. The latter are found above all when the website offers specialized content.
However, studies show that decision-makers in B2B primarily obtain information on the provider's website before making a purchase decision. Accordingly, it is reasonable to assume that among the visitors to your website there is also a relevant percentage of potential customers. Website Visitor Identification provides you with the company’s name which, after being enriched with further information, you can use in your marketing and sales for lead generation and new customer acquisition.
How Can You Use Identification Tracking Data Wisely?
One difficulty that arises when using Visitor Identification is the accuracy of the information your gather with your identification tool. At best, the reverse DNS lookup provides the name of the company behind the visitor's IP address.
However, it is also possible that you’re dealing with an IT service provider that hosts IP addresses on behalf of various companies. Even if you’re sure that it is the company itself, the information does not reveal which employee accessed your website. When all you have is a company name, data enrichment will become your best friend. The key is reliable data sources, which can be obtained from either public data through tedious manual research or automatically – with the help of a Sales Intelligence tool like Echobot.
FYI: You can also Use Visitor Identification to find out who reads your blog!
By using Sales Intelligence, you can compile a whole company profile from a single company name with little effort. This information can then be used for strategic outreach.
Based on your definition of your target audience, you can see right away whether the identified company is a target customer and who in the company would be best to contact first.
Additionally, Sales Intelligence, e.g. systems based on artificial intelligence, provide you with further information that you can use as a highly individualized conversation opener! This will not only improve your conversion rate, but saves you a lot of time and research.
Sales Intelligence provides your with, for example, trigger events that reflect current or foreseeable developments in your targeted company. Such company-relevant events include an announced move, a management change or a new product. Furthermore, you can see upcoming merger, investment or takeover, reports on a major order or even economic information such as annual financial statements with one click!
On the one hand, trigger events help you identify opportunities, since they signal a need. On the other hand, they also serve as risk assessment by providing early warning of expected payment difficulties. In addition, trigger events give your sales team the ideal starting point for starting a conversation!
Conclusion – Website Visitor Identification is the Real Deal
Today, a website is indispensable for a company – more than ever in B2B. Your customers get a first look on your service or product, the download prices, get information on features and much more. The analysis of the traffic on your company’s website therefore is a suitable means to learn more about your website visitors. Knowing the usage behavior of your website visitor can help you to continuously optimize your website.
In addition, your business website is also an excellent opportunity for lead generation and thus a tool for acquiring new customers that should not be neglected. With the help of IP identification and reverse DNS lookup, site operators in B2B can learn even more with the context of who specifically visited their site. You can then enrich the data you received from Sales Intelligence tools and convert those visitors into leads!