Once you refer a customer to an affiliate program that offers lifetime commissions, you can expect payment every time that customer buys anything from program at any point in future. At least, thatís what happens in theory. The reality isnít always as profitable.
There are several problems with cookies. What if your customer places an order from their computer at work instead of home where your cookie is located? The answer, of course, is that you will not receive any commission. You can also expect to receive no commissions if your customer switches from Internet Explorer to Netscape or buys a new computer. The few years that pass between new computer purchases in this day and age hardly constitute a ďlifetimeĒ in my book. On top of that if your customer goes through link of one of your competing affiliates, that affiliateís cookie will replace yours.
Isnít there any other way to track a referred customer? Some programs track by IP address, specific number that uniquely identifies your computer so that you can communicate with other machines on Internet. This option can provide a little more dependability. A new computer doesnít necessarily spell end of your commissions as long as new computer uses same IP address as old computer. Of course, thatís still assuming your customer has a fixed IP, and this generally only happens at work. Most home computers are connected to Internet over a phone or cable line, and a service provider will potentially assign them a different IP address every time they turn on their computer.
Before you lose all faith in lifetime commissions, let me point out there are relatively reliable means of tracking repeat customers. When a customer places an order, they are usually required to provide at bare minimum an email address. If they purchased a physical product, they also need to provide a shipping address. This information is stored in a database, and companies that are truly dedicated to paying lifetime commissions will include in this customer record id of affiliate who first referred customer. When customer returns to website from any computer in world at any point in future, that affiliate id is still stored in database. (This type of tracking is not fool-proof, but it is certainly more dependable then previous options mentioned.)