For many affiliate managers, trying to decide who should get credit for a sale isn’t always obvious. The fog rolls in when multiple affiliates play a role in getting the click. Without a process in place to determine how the commission should be applied, bad feelings can result.

It’s one of the biggest debates in the affiliate marketing world.

Who gets credit when a sale is made…the affiliate who “educated” the buyer but didn’t get the click OR the one who actually got the customer to make the purchase?

Frankly, my feeling is this issue has been blown WAY out of proportion as I’ll explain shortly.

The following Q+A session will guide you on how to manage your affiliates through this sensitive issue so you’re prepared to handle it efficiently when (and if) it comes up. 

Who Gets The Commission When More Than One Affiliate Gets The Click?

There are a number of ways to address what many consider to be a controversial subject.

The issue…when two affiliates both earned clicks on the same affiliate link.

Why does this occur? 

In some niches, there are often list overlaps where several people are promoting the same basic product offer to the same people.  

Here’s an example…

Say a blogger “initiates” a sale when someone clicks on his link for a promotion.

The potential buyer pokes around, learns about the product but decides to stop there and clicks away.

If he’s a savvy,  he heads for Google.


He knows he can likely find the same product he was looking at on the “coupon” sites…but with better bonuses!

CLICK! He ends up buying from the second site.

So, who gets credit?

The first site did a lot of the heavy lifting. The second site closed the deal.

Well, there’s an unwritten, but universal rule in affiliate marketing that says…

…last click wins!

That’s fine for some but at our company, we’re interested in creating long-term relationships built on trust and fairness.

So, we offer a split commission which rewards the affiliate who had the last click but DOESN’T give him the greater share of the commission. 

We explain it this way:

The first affiliate, the one who provided the buyer with the product information, played a key role in making the sale. For that, he deserves the lion’s share.

To the affiliate who got the last click…maybe it was on his coupon site…we pay a portion of the commission.

So, in a case like this one, the site that didn’t actually get the click that resulted in the sale might get an 80% commission with the reminder going to the other affiliate.

To us, that’s a fair way to handle this situation…WHEN IT OCCURS.

Here’s the funny part…

Lots of people get themselves bent way out of shape fretting over this.

I’ve had people base their decision on whether or not to promote our products based on whether or not we’re a “first click or last click” shop. 

The truth that few people realize…

Having a buyer visit multiple affiliates on the road to a sale simply doesn’t happen very often. 

We have done extensive research using statistics from numerous launches involving thousands of affiliates and millions of dollars and the fact is… it seldom occurs.

At the most?…5%-10% of the time.

Certainly not often enough to overly concern yourself about.

And, in the long run, it’s going to average out when you find yourself in a “commission split” scenario. 

(There is ONE exception to this which I will tackle in the last question.)

What duration should you set your affiliate cookie up for?

I get asked this question a lot and there are several schools of thought. 

In the end, it’s obviously up to you but I am going to give you an insider tip that many don’t think about.

First, lets talk about the definition of cookies…

When I use the term “cookie” I’m referring to ANYTHING that tracks activity.

Typically, when you think tracking, you think browser cookie.

But there are lots of other ways to track…

  • IP Address
  • Contact record
  • Custom coupon codes
  • Domain tracking

The best affiliate management systems offer multiple layers of tracking.

Now…many affiliate programs are set up with a 90-day duration cookie.

If someone buys on the 89th day, a commission is paid. Day 90? Bingo! 

Day 91? Nope. Done.

Thanks for coming out…

Amazon uses a session cookie. If the click doesn’t come DURING THE SAME SESSION, no sales commission is paid.

You CAN set up your cookies any way you like.

But here’s a little “inside baseball” tip that will earn you more good will and cost you practically NOTHING!

Offer a LIFETIME cookie!

Matt, have you lost your mind? That means I could be paying commissions forever.

Well, let’s put aside the fact that that would also mean you’re making SALES forever…😃

Our research shows that less than 1% of sales come after 90 days.

So, offering a lifetime cookie is likely going to cost you next to nothing.

Here’s the real upside…when someone asks you what the duration of your cookie is, you get to say…

…”We offer a lifetime cookie.”  

See how powerful that is?

It’s easy to say AND it makes you look like a boss!

Getting “free” PR like this is invaluable…especially when you’re first starting out.

Is there ever a “first click/last click” situation where you need to consider adjusting your commission payout structure?

Yes. Told you I’d come back to this. 

And, it comes into play when you’re in an industry that is coupon heavy…one where the product is commoditized.

Think toilet paper, invitation cards…things like that.

When you’re in one of these commodity type product industries, a “first click/last click” scenario could occur in 20%-25% of your promotions…instead of the typical 5%-10%.

No biggee! You simply have to change your commission strategy.

Here’s how we handle this: 

We use a “multi-attribution” format…where there are multiple commission structures.

For example, if there’s a 10% commission on a production, we simply split it equally between the first touch and last touch affiliate.

You can vary this to fit your needs.

Although it’s a bit more complicated, it can be done…provided you are using a system that can do it.

So there you go, some strategies and tips that will help you minimize clicks and commissions squabbles. Always try to be fair and you can’t go wrong.


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

Find Your First 100 Affiliates

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Affiliate Program Terms & Conditions Template

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Get My #1 Affiliate Recruiting Email

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Avoid The Top 20 Affiliate Program Mistakes

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Get My Template for Writing Affiliate Emails

Sales secrets of successful affiliate marketers

Affiliate Marketing Sales Secrets

Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing with a resources page

Learn How to Create a Resources Page

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Learn How to Write a Product Review

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