How Affiliate Links Work

An affiliate link works by setting a cookie in the browser of the user clicking it, before taking them to whatever the destination for the affiliate link is.

When the customer who clicked the link comes to opt in to a list or purchase a product, the cookie will let us know that they were referred by an affiliate, and which one.

The affiliate link itself can take people to any URL you want. They work by taking them on a small detour through your Simplero website first, to set the cookie, before they're sent on to their final destination.

By default, we provide an affiliate link to the sales page and the order form for each product associated with the affiliate program. You can also add External affiliate links, which can go to any URL you choose.

What Affiliate Links Look Like

Affiliates links, apart from "External affiliates links", are generally any URL on with the addition of "?ref=(affiliate-ref)". The affiliate-ref consists of a number, a hyphen, and a string, eg. "123-michele-rosslyn". You can drop the hyphen and what comes after it, and just use the number.

So these two URLs are equivalent:


The system is very effective, though not perfect. If customers change to another browser, we won't get the cookie back, and so can't know they came from this affiliate, If they clear their cookies, we'll also loose the information.

Cookie Settings

When creating your affiliate program, you get to choose how long we should set the cookies for. Default is three years, but you can change that.

You also get to choose between first-cookie and last-cookie. This says what t do in the case where a customer clicks on affiliate links from two different affiliates. In First-cookie, the first cookie that was set gets to stay, and the second one is ignored. The commission goes to the first affiliate. In Last-cookie, the second affiliate link click will override the first cookie set, and the commission goes to the second affiliate.

You can use this strategically in your campaign. First-cookie rewards affiliates who mail early in a campaign, who gets things going. Last-cookie rewards affiliates who do the final push towards making the sale at the end of the campaign. 

Setting Affiliate for Contacts

When a contact opts in to a list via an affiliiate, we'll register that contact to that affiliate too. If that contact ends up buying something, and the affiliate belongs to an affiliate program that covers the product purchased, then we'll still credit the affiliate with the purchase, even if the cookie has gone missing.

For this reason, it's a good idea to get your affiliates to mail on an opt-in to some free gift ("lead magnet"), so that we get the tracking out of cookies, which are unreliable because people may delete them, and onto the contact record, where it's going to stay.