If I were to explain what a cookie means to my six-year-old nephew, I’d say a cookie is a code that website owners drop in your browser so they can remember you.
In the world of affiliate marketing, cookies work a little bit differently.
Here is a use case; if a visitor clicks on an affiliate link, the landing page that launches through that link will save a code (cookie) in the visitor’s browser to track how they interact with that page. The cookie monitors If they make purchases, what links they click, and generally remembers them through their IP addresses and browsers.
If this visitor doesn’t purchase the items they added to the cart or left the page before adding any items to their cart, and they came back later without using the initial affiliate link they used earlier. This affiliate marketer who owns that link will still get some commission when they eventually make a purchase.
Now, this is made possible through the cookie lifetime the merchant/owner of the affiliate program sets on creating his program.
Cookie lifetime defines how long a cookie stores and monitors the visitor’s browser. If you set your cookie lifetime at 15 days, your cookies would be live on a visitor’s browser for 15 days, and it is only if the visitor makes their purchase within 15 days that a sale would be attributed to an affiliate.
How Long Should Your Cookie Lifetime Be?
30 days is a good cookie lifetime. Shorter periods usually cause affiliates to lose interest in a program. Cookies do not affect tracking or sales, as you might have noticed. In this way, advertisers will not lose anything by giving their affiliates longer cookie lifetimes. You can set it to 1 year if you want to improve it. The benefit for your affiliates will be the peace of mind that expired cookies won’t waste their promotional efforts or attibute their sale to another affiliate.