When setting up an affiliate program, the question of cookie life inevitably comes up. Affiliate cookie life is the time span that starts with the consumer’s click on the affiliate link and ends on the day beyond which you, as a merchant, do not wish to remunerate the affiliate for the visitor they sent to you. It is the time period within which you will pay the referring affiliate his/her commission on the orders placed by the referred customer.
While some of the larger brands set their affiliate cookie life at 24 hours (or thereabout), I would definitely not recommend doing this. Statistics speaks in favor of 365 days’ or even lifetime cookies. First of all, anywhere between 20% and 35% of online users delete cookies on a regular basis (weekly or monthly), either manually or with the help of various anti-spyware applications. Secondly, my analysis of return days in which sales occurred across the programs that I manage showed the following:
same day sale — 75%
sale within 1-30 days since the first visit — 19.5%
sale within 31-60 days — 3%
sale within 61-90 days — 2%
sale over 91 days after the first visit — 0.5%
Affiliates see the same stats too. I recommend my clients to set their default cookie life at the 90 days’ mark. Also, do offer your affiliates cookie life increases (to 180 and 365/unlimited days) as a bonus for their activity in your affiliate program. There is no reason not to.