I’m asked this question a lot by people who are new to affiliate marketing. “If I refer someone to a product or service and they don’t buy when they first check it out but they go back and buy it later without using my link, will I still get the commission?”
Affiliate Companies use “Cookies”
When someone clicks on your affiliate link and visits the company whose product or service you recommend a cookie is set linking your affiliate account to that potential customer.
Think of a cookie as a small text file that’s added to the reader’s browser. The cookie stays there until it’s overwritten by a new cookie (from the same company) or it expires through the passage of time.
Most people use the same device (computer or mobile) and the same browser much of the time. When a cookie is set it’s set in the browser they are using on the device they’re using at the time they visit the affiliate company using your affiliate link.
Time Limited Cookies
Some companies (like Amazon) have a limited time frame for their cookies. When that time expires then the cookie stops working.
A time limited cookie can last a day, 30 days, 60 days, whatever the affiliate company has chosen. You should be able to find the expiry period in their terms and conditions.
Some affiliate companies use life-time cookies. They last forever unless:
- the person clears their cookies; or
- uses a different computer; or
- uses a different mobile device; or
- uses a different browser on the same device or computer; or
- the cookie is overwritten by a new cookie because the reader clicks another marketer’s affiliate link (usually last cookie wins).
If your reader is using the same browser on the same device that has the cookie and the cookie is still active then the link to your affiliate account remains current. And if they purchase on that second or subsequent visit you will still get the referral credit.