Affiliate Marketing Tips: Clicks & Cookies…

Kimmoy asks: I remember thinking during the lanch of the NAMS product, so many of us were posting affiliate links. What if a person clicks on one or more of our aff links, who gets the credit? (1st or last click?)

Also, if I sent someone a link to one Amazon product, they didn't buy immediately, but the next day they go back to to buy that product or another, do I still get credit?

Hi Kimmoy,

Great question! Each affiliate program is set up differently, so they don't all work the same. Some of them (very few) work on a "referral for life" system, others track by the first referrer for x days, or they may credit the last referrer...

When you sign up for an affiliate program, they will generally tell you their tracking terms - or how their affiliate cookies are used - in addition to the commission structure for each sale or lead.

Amazon affiliate cookies last 24 hours. If someone follows your link and makes a purchase within 24 hours, you are credited with the sale. If they follow your link and add an item to their cart - and then make that purchase within 89 days - you are credited with the sale.

In this case, since your cookie lasts for 24 hours (or 89 days on items placed in their cart), you are credited with the sale even if they click on another affiliate's Amazon link during that time frame. So with Amazon, it's the first click until the cookie expires.

ClickBank credits the last click. They create a 60-day cookie, so if your visitor clicks through your hoplink and purchases that product within 60 days, you are credited for the sale and earn a commission. BUT, if they click on another affiliate's hoplink in that time then that next affiliate gets credit for the sale instead.

That's just two examples of popular affiliate programs, but as you can see they all vary quite a bit in how they track click-through's and sales from their affiliates. Not all merchants use cookies, and computer users can clear their cookies at any time.

Ideally you'll pre-sell your visitors on the product you are promoting, and encourage them to click through and make their purchase right away. 😉


p.s. Want to learn more about Affiliate Marketing? See my in-depth overview of the Super Affiliate Handbook by Rosalind Gardner. This is where I learned the successful affiliate model I am still using today!

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. Hi Lynn, thanks for clearing this up - I heard that there is a growing number of people looking for voucher codes AFTER they have added something to the basket, but BEFORE checkout. The differences you have described above in the way affiliate cookies work, could make a huge difference here - voucher code sites win twice, or only once (with the voucher, assuming the visitor got to the shopping site from another website first). With more and more voucher code sites coming out, I wonder how long "last click wins" will remain a viable option?

  2. Great info, Lynn!

    Kimmoy: as for NAMS, it's the 1st (original) person who referred you to the NAMS conference who will always get the sale year after year (per David Perdew in an email to me last week).

    • Hey Angie,

      I was referring to that Social Media Strategy product. When it was ready to launch, we were all posting links on Twitter, so I immediately thought if someone was clicking on my link and yours because they're so intrigued by the buzz, who gets credit when they buy, you or me? Now it all makes sense with Lynn's explanation.

  3. Skipper Holmes says:

    If you were just starting Affiliate Marketing and you had The Super Affiliate Handbook and your WP site was under construction, what are the first 5 steps you would take to engage in the process? (The Handbook is NOT a quick read). I'm overwhelmed, need basic plan 1, 2, 3.

  4. I don't know why but I always feel special when you answer my questions in a blog post, such a sucker LOL. Thanks for clearing this up Lynn, this let's me know exactly what I need to look for. Funny enough, when it comes to Twitter or Facebook, not only is your goal to get them to click and buy right away, but also for your link to be the 1st one they click on.

  5. Melanie says:

    Hi Lynn,
    This is a bit off subject but I have a 2 question I would love your opinion on..
    If you are marketing to the country you live with affiliate PHYSICAL products, is it worth while to have a separate identical website/ or separate affiliate links on the one website to cover any visitors from other English speaking countries? so they can click and purchase too 🙂 ie: If I have a Uk website promoting some amazon products. How do I make sure I am not missing out on any US visitors that may visit my site from various places and may then want to buy? As of course with amazon they do have a UK and US presence for shipping goods to both countries but at different websites.
    Or is the answer as simple as…as a newbie you just start with one website/one country?
    Also should your host be in located in the country you INTEND to market to? Can it effect your site coming up in google results if not? What is your knowledge on this? I recently read a book that stated this can happen and wondered what your take is on this?
    Thank you for any light you can shed on this….
    Have a nice day 🙂

  6. Chris Guthrie says:

    I'd add that I've found the best (only) way to make money with Amazon's Affiliate program is to be promoting products only on websites that are near the tail end of people's decision making process. If you get people to click that are just browsing then you'll simply see a lot of clicks and very little conversion.

    2 cents


  7. Michelle says:

    I think this is a fairly good question and I didn’t think about the issue until this person who asked brought it up. It’s pretty cool how Amazon will still credit your link after 89 days. They must have a really good system for that to work. In most cases people don’t buy right away and weigh their options so it’s good that even if they wait a couple of days before buying that it will still reflect as part of your income.

  8. It sort of stinks that Amazon only allows a 24 hour cookie, and that they only pay every 60 days. can't beat their recognition factor. Same with eBay! (although their aff policies differ, they're both well known brands)

    Oh! and another thing that rocks about Amazon, is the sheer volume of products they offer. As Lynn said herself in another post, they pretty much carry everything under the sun.

    Whatever NICHE you're in, Amazon (most likely) has a product on their website that you can sell.


  9. Thanks for the great info Lynn, this has really cleared up an area of confusion for me. I guess you win some, you lose some and hopefully it balances out across the board and everyone gets what'd due to them.

  10. Wow! Amazon cookie only lasts for 24 hours? No wonder my Amazon affiliate site is barely making any sales even though it gets 50 uniques a day!!

    No more Amazon affiliate sites for me!

  11. Hi Lynn,
    thanks for teh info about the amazon shopping cart - expalains why I get credited for some items where I didn't see a click in my stats.

    One question remains: if the first click is the one to be credited, what happens when someone types in first to do some research and later buys via an affiliate link? Who gets the credit?

  12. I wasn't sure about Clickbank's affiliate clicks, I kind of suspected that it was the last affiliate click that gets the sale and you've confirmed that. Thanks a bunch!

  13. William Anderson says:

    Great points. Most internet marketers have issues with regards to their referral links. The negative side on referral id is anybody can change it so the possibility is you might get a lost sale.

  14. Yes cookies are very important things for track our affiliate sell. We should have to join such type of affiliate program which have long term cookies.

    Clickbank, commission junction are some big and trusted affiliate network in term of cookie.

  15. "Recipe for Internet Marketing Success" free ebook says:

    Hi Lynn,
    Once again an informative post:)An interesting thought just popped into my head. Although Amazon only offers a 24 hour cookie, surely people will be more likely to buy within that time frame compared to clickbank because everyone knows about

    Maybe thats the reason why Clickbank offers a 60 day cookie? People need more convincing to buy because its not an instantly recognizable brand. Anyway thats just my thoughts.

    Mark Lindsay

  16. Had a question on Amazon. Say, you have a affiliate link to product A. The user clicks it and instead of product A, chooses to buy product B. Do you still get some type of credit for that sale?


  17. I thought amazons cookie lasted for 48hrs, 24hrs is a joke!

    Luckily my site promotes lower priced products which people will by on impulse as opposed to higher priced items that people may need longer to think about buying.

  18. iYelloo says:

    Yeah Amazon is fully aware that many buyers will sleep on their decisions. It is pretty silly to continue to promote Amazon products with all the other options out there.

  19. Hey Lynn

    The Amazon thing is a real bummer hey?, but it's the network of choice for people that are just starting out because it's entrance requirements are less stringent.

    I wouldn't completely write Amazon off because see it's a reputable online store and almost everyone knows about it so no convincing required here, the cookies aren't really necessary in this case it's a bonus.

    Thanks for the post.

  20. On a positive note, even though the Amazon cookie doesn't last very long, the conversion rate is usually higher due to the trust customers place in the Amazon brand. A lot of people also go on to add other items to their basket so you can do quite well promoting Amazon products.

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