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Bugged Out

Worried that tracking your customers' shopping habits may come back to bite you? Not if you do it the right way.

This story appears in the May 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Do you use web bugs? You're not alone if you say yes. Increasing numbers of netpreneurs now rely on web bugs, aka web beacons, as a subtle way of gathering data on site visitors. These small image files, embedded in web pages or e-mail messages, allow you to better understand visitor usage patterns by evaluating the number of page visits, browser usage, the effectiveness of mass e-mails and even personal information.

Although overall Web bug use on the Internet isn't rampant, it increased 488 percent between 1998 and 2001, according to the most recent study from Internet site tracking firm Cyveillance in Arlington, Virginia.

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