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How are First Referrer and Last Referrer Tracked?

Frank Hagan

I'm not sure how to set up my Partner Program, and want to know exactly how First and Last Referrer fields are filled in the Contact Record.


Official comment


When your partners publish a promo tool and a prospect clicks it a cookie is set in their browser. If they opt in or purchase after clicking that link their Contact Record is created in ONTRAPORT and that partner has their information inserted into the First Referrer and Last Referrer field.

The First Referrer field never changes after that. It will always reflect the partner who actually "closed the deal" by having a prospect opt in or purchase.  

Because this process is cookie based, two things can interfere:

  1. The cookie data always reflects the last promo tool click. It is possible for the prospect to click a link from one partner and not opt in or purchase, then come back after clicking a link from another partner and complete the opt in or purchase. That new partner will get credit as they are the one who actually "closed the deal". The First Referrer field reflects the partner who was able to encourage the prospect to actually opt in or purchase and become your Contact. 

  2. If the prospect clears their cookies between clicking the promo tool link and opting in or purchasing no First Referrer will be named. There is no cookie data to fill the First Referrer field.

Contacts that are added to your database via import, or entered manually or via the API will not have a First Referrer. It will remain blank as it is only populated when the Contact is first created.

Last referrer

The Last Referrer is the most recent Partner that provided a promo tool that your contact clicked. The cookie data will update automatically any time the contact clicks another Partner's promo tool link. The new Partner information in the cookie will update the Last Referrer field in ONTRAPORT whenever a new opt in form or order form is filled out. Two things to keep in mind:

  1. On initial opt in or purchase, both the First Referrer and Last Referrer fields are populated with the Partner's cookie data from the most recent promo tool click. Initially, the First and Last Referrer are the same. Another Partner may appear in the Last Referrer field later. 

  2. If you are paying commission to the Last Referrer on a subscription product the commissions stay with the Partner when the sale was made, even if the Contact Record's Last Referrer field is updated later.  

Advantages and Disadvantages of Both

A First Referrer system encourages Partners to work hard to "close the deal" early in a launch. They know if their promo tool link leads to an opt in or sale they have "locked in" the commissions for that Contact. The disadvantage is that Partners may not have an incentive to continue to support the Contacts they have given you, as they have no fear of losing those commissions. 

The advantage of a Last Referrer system is that it encourages Partners to continue to promote your offer during the entire launch. It may encourage them to continue future promotions and maintain higher service levels because they know they can lose future sales commissions to another Partner. The disadvantage is that Partners may not mail early in a launch cycle (especially if they don't know that they are initially both the First and Last Referrer for all new contacts.)

Frank Hagan

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