If you are new to affiliate marketing you’ll need to know about cookies. Not the type ever sought after by the voracious Cookie Monster – although you might well need plenty of those throughout your affiliate marketing career too – the cookies you need to know about are tracking cookies. Because it’s these that will help ensure you get your hard earned commissions.

What are Cookies?

Browser cookies or tracking cookies are interchangeable terms used to describe internet cookies. Cookies are not, as many imagine, a vicious virus or form of sneaky spyware. Cookies are not even programs and they are certainly not harmful. They are simply small text files that are stored on your PC when you visit a website. The next time you visit that website, it checks to see if there is a cookie on your PC, so it will know you have visited before.

This is useful because it means the website can tailor information just for you. For example, if you’ve added items to a shopping basket but not checked out, they will still be in your basket waiting for you when you re-visit the site.

Because cookies enhance usability and site processes, disabling them may stop you from gaining access to certain websites and all of its features.

What Are Cookies Used For?

Cookies vary in sophistication and can be used for a huge variety of different things:

• They assist in remembering a user’s preferences on a site; which comments are read first, layout and colour preferences, or even the volume on the video player
• They track how much time a user spends on your website, which pages are being browsed for the longest amounts of time and which links are being clicked on
• They also ensure a user is logged in securely

All this information helps the website owner to cater for their visitors better, hopefully increasing the desired actions on-site; such as sales, sign-ups or link clicks.

It’s not just the website that places cookies, but also advertisements that appear on that page. These types of cookies record the time and the place where you saw an advert and whether you clicked on it or not. This information helps advertisers place ads where their target market is.

How Do Cookies Help Track Your Affiliate Sales?

Now you understand what cookies do, you can probably begin to see why they are so important to you as an affiliate marketer. Cookies enable your merchant or affiliate network to identify which sales came from you, so they can allocate your commissions to you and not somebody else!

Your affiliate link drops a cookie onto a customer’s computer when they click on it. This cookie allows the tracking software to gather the information it needs to award you your commission. If you refer a customer to a merchant’s website, and they go on to make a purchase, that cookie will give our tracking software the following information:

• The referring URL and affiliate ID
• The total sale amount
• The date and time of the sale
• The sale order number

This means the affiliate network will know you made a sale, when you made it and how much commission it needs to give you for that sale.

Even if someone clicks on your affiliate link and doesn’t go on to buy, cookies can still give you information on things such as conversions, clicks and impressions. Having this data will give you vital insights into how you can improve and optimize your affiliate campaign.

How Long Does a Cookie Last?

When it comes to affiliate marketing, how long a cookie lasts is determined by the merchant. It is standard across the industry for cookies to last between thirty and sixty days. This means that once someone has clicked on your link, they must go on to make a purchase within those thirty or sixty days in order for you to earn a commission.

However, almost all of the merchants within the MoreNiche network offer lifetime cookies. This means that no matter how long ago someone clicked on your affiliate link, you’ll still get the credit – and commission – if they eventually go on to buy! Compare this with Amazon, whose cookies only last a mere 24 hours.

What if Someone Has Their Cookies Turned Off?

It’s highly unlikely, because the huge majority of internet users do have cookies enabled in their browsers. But you’ll be glad to know that cookies are not the only way MoreNiche tracks your affiliate sales. We use very sophisticated software with multiple tracking methods, so even if your customer’s cookies are disabled, we’ll still be able to track them and give you your well-earned commission.

As you now know, cookies are pretty handy things for both affiliates and general internet users. So while all those browser cookies are out there working hard tracking your sales for you, you can now go and get yourself some of the chocolate chip variety to enjoy!