Analytics Tracking and Privacy: What you should know
As the role of analytics has grown, so has the discussion around privacy and the methods that analytics platforms use to track website use. We thought it might be helpful to explain how HubSpot analytics work, and to show you how you can provide your customers with even more control over their privacy settings.
How does HubSpot's analytics software work?
HubSpot runs its analytics on first-party cookies. Cookies are small bits of information that websites use to identify individual browsers as they visit the site. Cookies can be used to authenticate users, to recall store preferences, and to trigger relevant material. They are basically strings of text that get passed back and forth. Most modern browsers make it easy for users to disable cookies. Add-on tools for managing cookie permissions also exist.
Note: Some (fewer than 1%) of HubSpot's advanced analytics customers have elected to use cross-domain tracking to unify their analytics across a number of different domains. Enabling cross-domain tracking requires additional notification to your end-users. Read more on that here.
First-party cookies are harmless to computers and easily removed. HubSpot makes it easy for you to provide your customers with an opt-out button, as well.
What do these cookies track about me? About my customers?
In both cases, HubSpot analytics keep a record of interactions on our website and across our various channels on the web (social media, email and the like). In the case of our own analytics, our goal is to better understand the experiences of our customers so that we can improve troublesome pages, elevate high-demand content, make better marketing decisions and overall create a more relevant and responsive experience.
The analytics that we provide to you as part of the HubSpot software acts in a similar way -- by tracking leads and interactions across channels. This varies a little bit between our standard and advanced analytics packages, but essentially it simply keeps track of lead and customer interactions with your company.
Can I opt-out of tracking? Can my customers?
Because our analytics use first-party cookies, all you or your customers need to do to avoid being included as part of the analytics report is to clear cookies within the browser. You could also use a private browser like Chrome's Incognito Mode or Firefox's Private Browsing feature. Finally, there are a number of browser add-ons like Ghostery (founded by HubSpot CPO, David Cancel) or BetterPrivacy that can help you opt-out of tracking across the web.
In addition to the browser-level settings. HubSpot offers an opt-out button that you can easily embed on your websites so that your customers can remove themselves from all HubSpot tracking. If you use the advanced analytics that we offer (products that were formerly under the Performable name) you can access your button by going into your account settings page and clicking on the link for the opt-out code. Then choose any HTML page on your website and embed the code.
You can learn more about embedding the opt-out button on your website in our support documents. If you are using our regular analytics, you can contact us and we'll send you a personalized opt-out button for your site.
Marketing is moving away from blast messages and toward a more relevant, customer-focused experience. But as this shift occurs it is critical to keep informed and ensure that customers and users have all the information they need to mantain their own privacy preferences. If you have questions about any of HubSpot’s analytics methods or want to know more, just let us know.