2-Tier Affiliate Program

DAP supports (up to) a 2-tier affiliate program. So you could pay just one level (“tier”) of commissions (A gets paid when he refers B), or you could also set up DAP to pay 2 “tiers” of commissions (User 1 gets paid when he refers User 2 AND User 1 also gets paid something when User 2 refers User 3).

[NOTE: Paypal has an Acceptable Use Policy – especially for a product or service that could be considered “MLM” or “Pyramid”. Make sure you’re not violating their terms. For eg., requiring your members to keep paying subscription fees in order to remain an affiliate, could be considered a Pyramid scheme. So, in general (nothing to do with using DAP or paying 2 levels of commissions), if you are running an affiliate program and will be paying out commissions via Paypal, make sure you are not violating their terms.]

How The 2-Tier Affiliate Program Works

In a typical “1-Tier” affiliate program, when a buyer makes a purchase, the affiliate who referred the buyer is the only one who gets paid an affiliate commission. Which is why it’s called “1-tier”, because there’s only one level of commissions paid.

However, in a “2-tier” affiliate program, the “Affiliate’s Affiliate” (2nd level above) can also be paid a portion of the sale in commissions.

So consider this this example…

You are selling Product A that costs $100.

You’ve set up your commission structure for Product A as follows:

Tier 1: 50% Per Sale

Tier 2: 10% Per Sale

Joe Customer is referred by Charlie to your web site. Joe went on to purchase Product A for which commissions are set up above.

So Charlie (tier-1 affiliate) gets paid 50% of the sale – which is $50.

Now, normally a 1-tier affiliate program would stop there, and that would be the end of affiliate commissions for that purchase. But you have set up 2 tiers.

So now DAP looks at who referred Charlie, the affiliate. It finds that David originally referred Charlie to your web site (regardless of how Charlie got in to your membership site).

So now David (tier-2 affiliate) gets paid 10% of the sale – which is $10.

So for that one sale of $100, $50 was paid to Charlie, and $10 was paid to David, which totals $60.

So $40 is your earnings, as the site owner.

How To Set It Up

The 2-tier or “n” tier setup is the exact same as the 1-tier setup.

Only difference is, set up a new record on the “Affiliates > Set Commissions” page for each tier – one for Tier 1, one for Tier 2, and so on.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 23 comments
gavin - December 14, 2011

How does Paypal know that it is a 2 tier affilate set up?

What do you reccomend as a payment processor if not using paypal.

Ravi Jayagopal - December 14, 2011

There’s nothing to really let Paypal know about the 2-tier affiliate payments. As far as Paypal is concerned, you’re just paying a bunch of people, that’s all. They don’t know about any “tiers”.

We do have DAP users using this feature, and using Paypal to make payments, and they’re doing just fine. So as long as you follow Paypal’s TOS in terms of the products you sell, you should be OK.

Gavin - December 14, 2011

What is the no no as far as payola is concerned that could get you banned?


Eric Bryant - January 7, 2012

First, kudos to you for a powerful, well-thought-out system! Wow I am blown away!!!

Second, as a new user, where can I learn more about big and small picture of setting up a Paypal 1 or 2 Tier affiliate system especially–how do the affiliates actually get paid? If by Mass-Pay what do I have to do to get that set up? Or where to look? Thanks very much!

Dan - April 1, 2012

How many tiers can you have?

Micah - May 6, 2013

Hey Ravi,

Quick question: Can I control/change who a 2nd tier affiliate is attached to? Example: John is a tier 1 affiliate, and Sarah is under John as a tier 2 affiliate. Is it possible to move Sarah under a different tier 1 affiliate??

Ravi Jayagopal - May 6, 2013

@Gavin: >>What is the no no as far as payola is concerned that could get you banned?< < Just adhere to their terms, that's all. @Dan: >>How many tiers can you have?<< You can have up to 2 tiers.

Ravi Jayagopal - May 6, 2013

@Micah: You can’t change who the 2nd tier affiliate is (grandparent affiliate), but you can change the tier 1 affiliate (immediate parent affiliate) associated with a user. You’re looking at the tiers from the wrong direction – you should see it from bottom-up.

For eg. consider this:
John referred Sarah (Sarah is “under” John)
Sarah referred Joey (Joey is “under” Sarah)

Which means, here’s what the “tier” structure looks like…

John -> Sarah -> Joey


John (T2 for Joey, T1 for Sarah)
–> Sarah (T1 for Joey)
—–> Joey

From Joey’s perspective (always from bottom-up), Sarah is “Tier 1” (immediate “parent” of Joey) and John is “Tier 2” of Joey (grandparent of Joey). And then, John is also “Tier 1” (parent) of Sarah.

In this scenario, you can change Joey from under Sarah, and assign Joey to be “under” someone else – even directly under John, if you so choose to, or under a completely different affiliate, like Mary.

GP - June 13, 2013

I jsut set up a 2nd tier program for a JV manager I am using. So she will be referring all of the JVs. The JVs will be tier one and my manager tier two. that all loks good.

what link does she give to the JVs so that she gets the credit as the 2nd tier.


Ravi Jayagopal - June 13, 2013


She would give out her own DAP affiliate link. And the JV’s have to sign up through her (or you have to make that association manually). And then when JV’s start referring their own traffic through their own affiliate link, that’s when your Manager starts earning 2nd tier commissions.

GP - June 14, 2013

so basically she gives them a link to the affiliate sign up page with her ID on it and DAP does the rest?

David M. O'Neill - September 28, 2013

I only want to implement a 2 tiered system of affiliate payments for specific people. This means that when David refers Charley and Charley sells a product to John, David gets his 2nd level commission but no one else in the system gets a 2nd level commission – only David (or only those I specifically designate.)

How can I make this happen in DAP?

Ravi Jayagopal - September 28, 2013

Hi David,

Yes, you can set an “exception” just for David. So if you set a 2-tier commission just for David using his email id, then the rest of the affiliates will get whatever you have set up under the “ALL” (default) category of commissions.

And say you don’t set up any commissions for “ALL”, then David will be the only affiliate in your system, and he will be getting 2-tier commissions.

Pratham - May 19, 2014

SO, there is a less profit to the main supplier than affiliates. strange.
but i thought before was charlie ( tier 1) shares his commission of 10% to ( tier – 2 ) from 50% of amount he has got from main seller.

Ravi Jayagopal - May 20, 2014


>>SO, there is a less profit to the main supplier than affiliates< < No, that's not true. It all comes down to numbers and how you set it up. >>i thought before was charlie ( tier 1) shares his commission of 10% to ( tier – 2 ) from 50% of amount he has got from main seller.<< If you want Tier 2 to get 10% of Tier 1's 50%, then 10% of 50% is nothing but 5%. So set it up as follows: Tier 1: 50% Tier 2: 5% Just know that Tier 1 guy is NOT paying Tier 2 guy. It's you, the merchant who is paying both guys. So set up the commissions based on however much you want them to get paid. Don't think of it as "coming from Tier 1's pocket". It's not - it's all coming from YOUR pocket. So pay them whatever you wish to pay them.

Naomi - May 22, 2014

What if 3 JV partners are all sharing the after-affiliate-commissions profits at 33.3% each? Using the $100 example, with a 25% affiliate commission….

(How would you set this up? From what I can tell, each tier can only have one person in each. Fine for affiliates, not fine for the 3 partners)

Ellen Finkelstein - September 17, 2014

How does Affiliate 1 (1st tier) refer Affiliate 2 (2nd tier)?

Jeffrey Brown - May 22, 2016

So can the 2 tier affiliate commissions be paid as different for the “recurring” sales than the “first” sale?

Ravi Jayagopal - May 23, 2016

Hi Jeffrey,

If you want initial sale to have a different commission than recurring, then only way to do it is to set up an additional “Per Lead” commission that would be awarded in addition to the “Per Sale” commission, but only for the first payment. So indirectly, first payment awards more commissions than recurring.

– Ravi Jayagopal

Ravi Jayagopal - May 23, 2016

Hi Ellen,

>>How does Affiliate 1 (1st tier) refer Affiliate 2 (2nd tier)?<< Adam refers Jill. Jill refers Sam. So Adam is Sam's "2nd tier", and Jill is Sam's "1st tier". - Ravi Jayagopal

Ravi Jayagopal - May 23, 2016

Hi Naomi,

With DAP’s affiliate program, any commission sharing has to be offline. DAP does not have a way to calculate commission splits at this time.

– Ravi Jayagopal

Sam - November 12, 2017

Is there any way to increase the depth up to 5 tier affiliate?
Any development add-on or some other creative way?

Many thanks!

Ravi Jayagopal - November 12, 2017

Hi Sam,

Sorry, there’s no way to increase the limit without us taking on a paid custom project, which we’re unable to do for the foreseeable future due to prior commitments.

Sorry about that.

– Ravi Jayagopal
My Podcast about Membership Sites & Online Courses
@ http://SubscribeMe.fm


Leave a Reply: