C is for Cookie

If anyone remembers Sesame Street, Cookie Monster sang a song that went, “C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me…” So what does an old song from a children’s television show have to do with affiliate marketing? Well, one term that any affiliate marketer should be familiar with is Cookie. In affiliate marketing, a cookie is something that ‘tags’ a visitor to an affiliate site and ‘records’ the link that was the source of that visitor. The source, or referrer, is the website that hosted the affiliate link that the visitor clicked on to end up at the destination (i.e. the affiliate site).

The cookie ensures that if the visitor ‘belongs to’ or was ‘referred by’ a link from your website, that you will be credited with the affiliate sale should that visitor return to the affiliate site within a given timeframe and make a purchase. Generally cookies may last any amount of time, called the cookie length.  These lengths vary, but are typically 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days. And if you are still wondering about the term cookie, it is just a snippet of data that is automatically placed on a visitor’s website and it is totally harmless.

As an astute affiliate marketer, one of the items that you need to evaluate anytime you are considering joining a new affiliate program is the cookie length of that program. The longer the length, the more time a visitor has to return to the affiliate site and make a purchase for which you will receive a commission. Naturally, it is wise to choose affiliate programs that have cookies that last a long time. Some programs even offer lifetime cookies.

Generally, I like programs that offer lifetime cookies, however there is one downside to only joining affiliate programs that offer lifetime cookies and that is, assuming you are not the first affiliate to refer a particular visitor, you may be sending visitors to the program that have already been referred by or ‘belong to’ someone else. This could be especially true if the program that you are promoting is particularly popular. So there is a downside to only choosing programs that offer lifetime cookies that you should be aware of.

On the other hand, some prgrams offer very short cookies and some do not even tag the visitors you refer at all. In most cases, these types of affiliate programs should not be promoted. It is widely known that visitors often do not make a purchase on the first visit to a store (or in this case an affiliate website) so why refer them to a website that will not give you credit when they return to the site to make a purchase at a later date. It is just bad affiliate marketing to even waste your time promoting such programs.

Finally, there are different ways cookies may be manually deleted by the user so even ‘lifetime’ cookies may not necessarily last forever. Choose a good combination of affiliate programs that integrate well with your content and select programs to promote that offer varying cookie lengths. After you have achieved some success and made some affiliate sales, you will be able to tell which programs are working best for your site and which types of cookies work best with your visitors. Anyway, just remember the old Sesame Street song, “C is for cookie…” the next time you are perusing affiliate programs to join and think about this article from KillerIncome.net when it comes to selecting which affiliate programs you ultimately decide to promote on your website to ensure that you select a good mix of programs offering varying cookie lengths.

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