Affiliate marketing can be a powerful tool for you to earn commissions when you promote products or services in your content. However, sometimes commissions can go untracked or the attribution chain can be broken, which can lead to differences in the commission that you earn and the commission that you expect. Understanding how affiliate tracking works and the reasons it may not work is crucial for effectively managing your affiliate partnerships.
How Affiliate Tracking Works
Affiliate tracking records the actions that happen after someone clicks on one of the unique links that you've provided to your audience. When a consumer makes a purchase through this link, an affiliate network, the sale can be directly attributed to you and that's how your commission payouts are calculated. This process typically involves tracking cookies or similar technologies that help recognize and remember the consumer’s journey from the affiliate link to the purchase.
Common Reasons for Missing Commissions
There are certain actions that your followers can take that might interrupt the affiliate tracking process. Some common ones include:
- Browser Switching: If a consumer opens your affiliate link in one browser (e.g., Instagram's in-app browser) and then switches to another browser (like Chrome or the retailer’s mobile app) to complete the purchase, the tracking cookie may not carry over. This means that the purchase is no longer tied to your unique link, and so any commissions that you might earned through this purchase cannot be recorded.
- Coupon or Discount Browser Extensions: Browser extensions like Honey that are designed to automatically apply coupons on the checkout page can override your affiliate link. These extensions may end up "taking credit" for the purchase, leading to a loss of commission for you.
- Advanced Privacy Settings: Some consumers use advanced privacy settings or cookie blockers. Features like Apple’s “Intelligent Tracking Prevention” or ad blocking extensions can the functionality of affiliate tracking cookies, which interferes with the tracking process.
- Non-Eligible Items: Certain products or services may not be eligible for commissions. These can include gift cards, items under specific promotions, or certain categories like services. If a consumer purchases only these non-eligible items through your link, the sale may not be recorded in the affiliate network. The brand that you are partnering with will determine what items are eligible on their website, so policies that apply to one partnership won't necessarily apply to other affiliate partnerships that you engage in.
- Subsequent Clicks: If a consumer clicks on another link or ad before making a purchase, but after clicking on your unique link, this can override the attribution for the sale. Affiliate networks often use a "last click" attribution model, where the last click before the purchase is credited for the sale. For example, if a consumer clicks on your link and then clicks on an ad on the retailer's website, the commission might be attributed to the ad instead of your affiliate link.
Troubleshooting Missing Commissions
If you think you might be missing commissions for a transaction, here are some ways that you can figure out what happened:
- Verify Link Destination: Ensure the destination URL you use to generate your tracking link doesn't contain conflicting tracking information (e.g. UTM parameters) that could interfere with affiliate tracking. Avoid using links from sources like Google Ads, as these links often include additional tracking parameters.
- Check the Eligibility of Products: Check the terms of your partnership and be aware of which products or services are eligible for commissions. You may need to reach out to the brand that you are partnering with to verify this information, and you can choose to communicate these exceptions to your audience when you promote your link.
Contacting Us for Support
If you believe an order should have been attributed to you but you're missing the commission that should have been earned, please contact us for assistance. Be sure to provide the following information so we can help you get to a resolution as fast as possible:
- Order ID/Number: The unique identifier for the specific transaction.
- Date of the Order: The date and time (if available) the purchase was made.
- Subtotal/Amount: The subtotal for the purchase before discounts, shipping and taxes. If the subtotal is not available, please provide the total value of the order instead.