Cookie Length: More Important than Commission?

This post contains affiliate links. Because this is an affiliate marketing blog, so, #duh. This means IΒ have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post.

The one figure I most often hear bloggers talk about — whether they're stoked or balking — is commission. And why not? It's important to know how much scratch you're going to earn when you're able to make a conversion. And of course, the bigger the better, right?

But cookie length is important too, maybe even more important. And it's an oft-overlooked metric that plays a huge role in earning you that hard-earned commish in the first place. Especially for wedding and some lifestyle bloggers, knowing the cookie length you're working with is integral to deciding which merchants to promote.

Focusing on wedding bloggers specifically, we know that our readers tend to be less impulse buyers and more research-the-shit-out-of-it buyers. Because they're already dropping mad skrilla on their wedding day, and it's an incredibly important day for them, they want to be sure they're making the very best decision — is the price right? Will it look OK? Has anyone had a poor experience with the company or product? There is a lot of shopping around, comparisons, conferring with their partner and more that takes place between the first click and the final purchase.

One-third of the conversions The Broke-Ass Bride made in May took place 15 days after the cookie was dropped, which makes up nearly one-quarter of our commissions for the month. Fifty-two percent of May's total commissions came from ModCloth, which means they were likely wedding or bridesmaid dresses and 27% was stationery. One-third of the conversions The Broke-Ass Bride made in May took place 15 days after the cookie was dropped, which makes up nearly one-quarter of our commissions for the month. Fifty-two percent of May's total commissions came from ModCloth, which means they were likely wedding or bridesmaid dresses and 27% was stationery.

Based on the above image, it's easy to discern that BAB readers make Big Important Wedding Purchases through affiliate links, and take their time in doing so. It's because of this that it's integral to be aware of a merchant's cookie length, and that knowledge should play into whether you choose to promote a merchant or not.

Why does it play such a big role? Well, let's say, for example, that you're writing a post about engagement rings and decide to include links from Kay Jewelers, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Etsy. Jared and Kay both have a one-day cookie length and Etsy has a 30 day cookie. One of your readers, who is preparing to propose, clicks the link for Jared (cookie dropped), peruses the custom options, bookmarks a few ideas, then moves on to Etsy (cookie dropped) where they narrow down their search choices — rose gold, black diamond, under $2000 — and meticulously combs through a dozen pages of options. Your reader then crunches some numbers, confers with their intended's BFF and mother, figures out ring size, researches return and exchange policies and makes a purchase with their next paycheck. Seventeen days have passed since the original cookie was dropped. The reader purchases a $1000 ring from Jared, but since the cookie has been expired for 16 days, you've just lost out on $70 in commission.

Ouch.

So, what can be done?

As always, reach out to your affiliate manager. See if they have any wiggle room — though don't get your hopes up, as often a merchant may have a corporate policy regarding cookies in place. But your AM should be able to discuss this with you and at the very least explain their limitations. You may be able to, at least, discuss the possibility of some sort of performance bonus — commission increase, cash bonus — for sending a certain amount of clicks to the merchant.

If nothing can be done, look for competitors. Find a merchant who has a cookie length more conducive to what's logical for your readership. A one-day cookie length does jack all in the wedding industry — and don't even get me started on a half-day cookie (looking at you, Nordstrom).

Research whether the merchant has programs in multiple networks — you may find that one network has a longer cookie (this is one of the very few rare times I would actually suggest using a RewardStyle link over a network-specific link. I know for Nordstrom they have at least a seven-day cookie in RS vs. the 12-hour cookie in LinkShare. However, RewardStyle is not transparent about cookie lengths. Try asking your account rep, but good luck).

If all else fails and you're hell-bent on using that specific merchant, use a ShopStyle link. While you don't know exactly how much you'll earn, you at least get paid per click as well as make commissions if a sale is made so you get somethingΒ for your efforts.

There are a lot of factors to take into consideration when working with a program, but commission and cookie length should be among your top concerns. Don't gloss over it and lose that money!

Author: Christen