Just How Much Information Can You Get from an IP Address About Visitors to Your Website?

Before we look closer at VisualVisitor and a competitive offer from netFactor, it’s worth taking a post to present some general information about the technical foundations of online marketing.

The internet is more than just a location for a business web site. “Internet” is also the name of a data communications protocol, otherwise known as “IP”. It makes sense for web site owners looking to use their spot on the world wide web (WWW) as a marketing communications tool to understand more about the features of IP data communications. Some of the difficulties most businesses encounter when they attempt to use online marketing techniques to produce sales leads can be directly attributed to the unique character of IP data communications.

Visits to websites are recorded in web server logs, which, in turn, provide the basis for one approach to tracking web site visitors. This approach takes the IP addresses of web site visits and compares them to the public records maintained by IP address registrars, for example, GoDaddy.com, to obtain contact information about the actual visitor to the web site.

GoDaddy offers a look up service called “WhoIs”. Trained personnel, or computer programs, run IP addresses through a WhoIs look up and produce a report of visits by name. But, very often, the IP address is actually provided by an Internet Service Provider on an as needed basis. In these cases it isn’t possible to directly correlate an IP address to a specific business.

Even an alternative approach to the same type of service, which is much more popular today, cannot provide substantially more useful information about visitors. This approach, which provides the backend to a service like Google Analytics, uses JavaScript to deliver similar information.

But by collecting a lot of data about specific IP addresses and visit patterns to other web sites, services likely VisualVisitor are now able to go a lot farther than either out of the box Google Analytics or even a sophisticated study of web server logs. These new techniques provide the basis of the claims VisualVisitor and its competitors make about their ability to deliver truly useful web site visitor information.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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