Wondering what CPA stands for and how does it work? Or how you can start making money with CPA Marketing as a beginner? In Affiliate Marketing, ‘affiliates’ receive a commission for every sale made through their referral.
But, did you know it is possible to get commissions without sales? This is where CPA marketing comes in. CPA or Cost Per Action Marketing is a style of the affiliate marketing model that offers a commission for a specific action being completed.
It could be as simple as getting a user to fill up a form or download an app. The most common CPA offers include:
- Email submit offers
- Quote request offers
- Free trial sign-ups
- Click to calls
- Lead generation forms
What is CPA Marketing and How Does It Work?
To understand CPA, let’s take a look at the parts involved:
- Business or Advertiser: The brand that has a product or service and desires affiliates to drive traffic to their website, generate leads or other actions.
- Affiliate or Publisher: Bloggers, Youtubers or anyone that promotes a business or product in order to make a specific conversion.
- CPA Network: The platform that brings them together and acts as a mediator.
Let’s say you start a youtube channel where you review the latest car models. After a while, you have a loyal audience eager to follow your advice, or at least listen to it.
On the other end, we have our example business, AutoInsurance. AutoInsurance sells (shockingly) insurance for cars. They have an affiliate program where they pay affiliates for every lead and quote request.
You can apply and join the Affiliate Network they work with, get your referral links and start recommending them to your viewers who are buying new cars.
Benefits of CPA Marketing
CPA marketing is very profitable when you target the right audience. The cost per action formula offers a number of benefits, including:
1. Easy to set up.
CPA marketing is easy to launch: you only need a website and a CPA network. It takes little to no capital up-front.
2. High ROI (Return on Investment).
Affiliate marketing generates 16 percent of all online marketing. Customers are likely to spend more money when making a purchase off an affiliate’s recommendation producing:
- 58% higher average customer revenue.
- 31% higher per customer order average.
- 21% higher average order value (AOV).
Plus, the more sales you drive, the higher your commissions can be. Most programs have tiers to reward their affiliates once they reach a certain amount of traffic or actions.
3. Integrated Advertising
With CPA, you don’t need to disfigure your site with ugly Adsense blocks or banner ads. You can seamlessly integrate CPA offers into your site, which also increases Click to Rate and conversions.
Types of ‘Actions’ in CPA
- Pay Per Call: Every affiliate is given a unique number that registers a call. These offers will trigger when your unique number is called. They usually have a time minimum to be a qualified call. Make sure you really look into the details before promoting these so you understand what qualifies as a paid call.
- Email Submit: These are the easiest CPA offers to push because in order to get paid the person only needs to submit their email address. The pixel will fire on the confirmation page and it will credit your account with the commission.
- Incentivized: Here you can offer something in exchange to get the person to complete the offer. A free eBook is the most common.
- Install/Download Offers: You are paid when the user either installs something on their computer or downloads something. Usually a free trial of a software.
- Leads: These are usually a bit longer then just an email submit. A common example of a lead CPA offer would be a credit quote offer that requires a full name, email, phone number, and some drop-down menu selections. They also pay much higher than an email-submit offer.
- Sales: These can be the biggest payouts but also the hardest to convert. Getting a visitor to take out their credit card requires a lot more persuasion.
How to Make Money with CPA Marketing as a Beginner?
1. Pick a Niche
Do not look for high paying offers and then try to build something around. You are gonna have to be consistent and stay in this niche for a while before seeing results so it’d better be something you are interested or knowledgeable in. Then you can take everything you learned and expand to include additional niches.
2. Find the right Offers
Once you have a niche or two you need to find offers. I like OfferVault. It is very easy to search and has every CPA offer available on the internet. Use the search box on the site to enter your niche and it will pull up all of the offers that are related. Try a few different terms to make sure you see everything that is available.
Spend some time searching, make sure to verify what qualifies as an action and what kind of traffic is allowed.
Finally, look at the landing page. Does it look legit or scammy? Would you take the action they are asking? If the answer is no your visitors will probably think the same.
3. Join Multiple Networks
It is a good idea to join several networks because you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket. Over the years so many networks have gone bankrupt and just disappeared. Spreading your offers across several helps you be safe.
3.1 How to Get Accepted By Any CPA Network
CPA networks aren’t trying to make things difficult for you. They just want to make sure that you’re a legit business that will send them real leads (which you are).
So it’s just a matter of being transparent. Here are some tips that will help you get accepted:
- Call Them Before They Call You: Affiliates tend to try to fly under the radar. So give the network a call right after you apply. This shows you’re the real deal.
- Be Honest: Remember: you don’t need to be an internet marketing rockstar to get accepted. So if you’re new to affiliate marketing, it’s OK to tell them that. Most networks give you your own rep/manager that can offer you support in the areas where you are lacking, even if it’s just a prod in the right direction. After all your success is where they will be making their money.
- Get Yourself a Website: If you don’t already have a website, then now is the time to get your first one. Whilst it is possible to get accepted to some networks without your own website you may as well give yourself the best chance of success.
- Use an email on your own domain: Many CPA networks will instantly reject any applicant who uses a free email address as they are so easy to set up and they have no verification you are actually the person who owns your site.
4. Build Your Sites
Once you are accepted in a network and have some offers picked and out you need to build a site with one goal: to get your visitors to complete your offers.
I see people throw up a free WordPress theme, adding some automatic content and lots of CPA banners on the site. That might have worked 20 years ago but consumers are practically blind to those now.
You need to include your CPA offers within your content, making them natural. Create valuable content around the offer and do not be afraid to tell your visitors why you recommend that product/ service.
Check out this article on how to Start A Blog Step by Step or this one on how to Create an Affiliate Landing Page
5. Drive Traffic
Wait…Do you mean millions of people won’t magically come to my site every day? Unfortunately no but there are hundreds of ways to get traffic. Here are the 3 most common traffic strategies that CPA marketers use:
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Meaning people find your site after doing a search on google, youtube, etc. SEO takes time to kick-in, but once you rank for your target keywords, you get traffic without needing to do ANYTHING else.
- PPC Ads
PPC (Pay per Click) ads like Google Adwords and Facebook ads are another popular way to get traffic to your CPA offers.
The benefit of PPC advertising is that you can start right away. The downside is that you need to funnel money into your ads. Once you stop spending, your stop earning.
- Social Media
Facebook. Instragram. TikTok.
These are all platforms that you can use to get your offers in front of the right people. Like with SEO, it can take time to build up a following on social media. But a popular Instagram profile or Facebook page is an asset that can pay off for YEARS.
CPA Network Terminology
Marketers like to create and change words to keep things interesting. CPA network terminology isn’t complicated, but there are a few key terms you should know as you launch.
- Affiliate Manager: A person who manages an affiliate program for a merchant. They are responsible for recruiting, engaging with affiliates, and generating revenue for the merchant.
- Category: The niche for which the CPA offer applies (sports, fashion, beauty, health, etc).
- Chargeback: When a sale “falls through” for an action, an affiliate has already paid for. Since the sale was never finalized or an item was returned, the previously given commission is deducted back into the advertiser’s account.
- Commission: The payment an affiliate receives—either a flat rate or percentage—once a successful conversion is tracked.
- Contextual link: A text link placed within an affiliate website that links to the advertiser’s website.
- Conversion rate (CTR): The percentage rate at which a particular action is performed. In other words, the number of successful conversions divided by the total traffic.
- Cookies: In affiliate marketing, cookies are used to assign a unique ID to a user who has clicked the affiliate link to an advertiser’s site for a specific duration. The affiliate will receive credit for the conversion in this predefined window, typically 30-90 days.
- Display: This includes text links and banner ads.
- Email/Zip Submit: The most simple CPA offer. Good for untargeted traffic. The user gives their email and zip code only.
- Earnings per click (EPC): The average amount an affiliate earns every time a user clicks an affiliate link.
- Incent: Short for “incentivized”. Incent means that you can “bribe” users with a free product or download.
- Lead: The most common “action” in the CPA marketing world. Usually, someone submitting their name, email, phone, address etc.
- Offer page: The webpage where the conversion occurs after a visitor takes the required action.
- “Pixel Fires”: This is what happens when someone clicks on your link (they become a lead).
- Return on investment (ROI): Refers to the amount of money made with a campaign. It is the revenue divided by the ad spend, multiplied by 100.
- Publisher: The person that promotes the offer (you).
- Sale or Rev Share: You get a cut of every sale (one-time or recurring).
- Trial: When a user signs up for a free trial of a product or service.
- US/FR/CA: Offer only valid in that specific country.
Top CPA networks
As we discussed earlier, CPA affiliate networks with bad reviews should be avoided, but there are some bright spots when it comes to reputable networks.
Max Bounty offers trained affiliate managers who focus on a merchant’s marketing needs.
There are nearly 20,000 affiliates on the platform, and the affiliate managers are knowledgeable of which partnership will be the best fit for both businesses and marketers.
Newbies to MaxBounty have access to a plethora of training material and the program offers weekly payouts.
Clickbooth has been around since 2002 and places a strong focus on making its program easy and innovative for merchants.
Clickbooth claims its artificial intelligence technology can provide up to 25 percent increased earnings per click (EPC) for affiliate partners.
Launched in 2009, Peerfly is a small affiliate marketing company
. It was ranked as the second-best CPA network in 2016 and made the top five for 2018.
PeerFly offers to match or pay even more than any other affiliate network.
Admitad boasts a client-oriented approach with personalized training and other learning options. It has more than 520,000 publishers and more than 1,200 advertisers.
Affiliates only need a $10 minimum for payouts and can be paid via PayPal, payments, and wire transfer.
W4 reviews publisher applications before approving their accounts. The publishers can boost their revenue by referring others to this network.
CPA Marketing Frequently Asked Questions
How to start with CPA Marketing?
Here is a recap of the steps we mentioned in the article:
1. Pick a niche
2. Find the right offers
3. Join Multiple Networks
4. Build your sites
3. Drive Traffic
Can you make money with CPA Marketing?
Yes. CPA marketing is one of the best ways to make money online where you can actually make a living from it but, as every online model, has a learning curve.
You need to be willing first the basics, choose the best offers to promote, learn how to get traffic and optimize all the pieces until you are profitable.
The good thing is that no sales are required so if you feel weird about selling you won’t have that problem here.
Does CPA Marketing still work?
Yes, CPA Marketing has no signs of stopping. People who usually ask this type of questions are those looking for either a guarantee or an excuse.
CPA and Affiliate Marketing are only growing every year and people keep making money with them.
Those who say it does not work probably came to one obstacle and gave up but when starting a new business you have to be prepared to encounter problems and difficulties. It is all part of entrepreneurship but on the other side, you will find satisfaction and earnings.
Can you do CPA Marketing without a website?
Yes, while it is not the most efficient or profitable option long term, there are still ways to do CPA Marketing without a website. Most people think a website is complicated, time-consuming or expensive, when in reality it does not have to be and, on the contrary, it can make all the difference in your CPA Marketing success.
For ideas on how to do CPA or Affiliate Marketing without a website make sure to check out this article.
If you’re considering getting into CPA Marketing the best to do it is today. As cliche as it sounds, one year from now you’ll wish you had started today. With the information you’ve learned from this article, you are way in front of the average person level of knowledge about CPA so don’t waste this opportunity.