Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), otherwise known as Cost Per Action, is a form of affiliate marketing where advertisers pay for a specific form of acquisition or action to be taken. Acquisitions can range from clicks to requests for service, to filling out forms, to installs and downloads depending on the details of the contract. CPA affiliate marketing has become a multi-billion dollar industry and many affiliate marketers partake in CPA affiliate marketing without even realizing it. CPA is simply a certain form of affiliate marketing.
How Does CPA Affiliate Marketing Work?
Unlike some other forms of internet marketing, I think CPA is very straightforward, although the successful implementation is anything but straightforward. The short explanation is this…
When it comes to affiliate marketing, CPA refers to ways you can earn revenue without actually making a sale. For example, some companies like insurance companies will pay you simply for a lead. If you send someone to their website and that person fills out an insurance quote form, that may be enough to earn you some decent revenue.
You might be thinking… “but Mike, I NEVER click on ads! How can that make you any money?”
First of all, I’m not saying that Google Adsense or Media.net ads will make you rich, because they certainly aren’t the most profitable monetization methods. You’re also going to need a pretty significant amount of traffic for display advertising to work for you. While display ads CAN earn you a full-time income, I’ve personally found display ads to be the “icing on the cake” so to speak. Between Media.net ads and Google Adsense ads, I earned approximately $45,000 last year. Keep in mind that type of income from CPA advertising has taken me YEARS to build, but that’s not pocket change!! So while I don’t think CPA should be your main monetization plan, CPA shouldn’t be ignored, either.
The Key Differences Between Affiliate Marketing And CPA Affiliate Marketing
Though CPA affiliate marketing is a type of affiliate marketing, there are some key differences. Affiliate marketers are basically proxy advertisers that work to promote a brand as well as their products and services. Affiliate marketers are then paid any time someone makes a purchase based on their recommendations.
Let me give you a specific example. I have a website that reviews dog food over at DogFoodInsider.com. On that site I have an affiliate partnership with the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program. If someone clicks on any of my links to Amazon.com and makes a purchase, I get a commission. It doesn’t even matter what they buy, so my reviews can be honest. I get to promote only the highest quality dog food and I get paid to do it! Pretty cool, right?
But unlike traditional affiliate marketing, CPA is not reliant on a sale. Instead you are really just creating a lead for another company. CPA is often compared to lead generation as opposed to direct sales. You’ll notice on my dog food review site I also have some Media.net display ads, so that site has a nice mixture of CPA as well as direct sales affiliate revenue. Diversification is the only way to truly survive long-term online!
The Benefits Of CPA Affiliate Marketing
CPA affiliate marketing has many benefits. For the most part, it is truly passive. Sure, you need to build content that receives enough traffic to capitalize on and monetize, which is NOT a simple or “passive” task, but it once I have an article written, it takes me 2 seconds to place a Google ad on my site. Then all I have to do is let it sit there while Google optimizes the ad for me and watch the clicks come in.
For other types of CPA affiliate marketing, such as when a more specific task is required, the payouts can be fairly substantial. For example, let’s pretend you have a website that compares car insurance. Instead of promoting one single brand in the hopes of commissions from new sales and signups, why not just have people get a quote from 5 or 6 different insurance companies to see which one comes out with the best price? If you have a CPA affiliate partnership with all of those insurance companies, they will ALL pay you, regardless of who actually gets the sale. So, you can see how profitable CPA marketing can be and you don’t even have to sell anything!
Which Should You Choose?
The best part about CPA affiliate marketing is that you can use it on nearly any blog or website, no matter what your current monetization methods (or plans) are. You can easily integrate both types of affiliate marketing into your website if it is well-designed, receives enough traffic, and you fully disclose your content to your partners. With your website and social media accounts, you can run both affiliate marketing and CPA campaigns seamlessly and have a variety of ways to generate income. As I’ve shown you, I personally use both and have found they interplay nicely.
How To Get Started In CPA Affiliate Marketing
If you are interested in pursuing CPA as your main form of affiliate marketing, I’d say the first place to start is to research the different CPA affiliate networks that are out there. Just like with becoming an affiliate, before applying to any CPA network, do a little research to see if the company offers the services, pay structure, and variety that you need for success.
Once you have your CPA networks narrowed down, you’ll need to apply to the networks. You’ll probably want to build up your website and start receiving some traffic before you apply as many CPA networks have an approval process. They want to see that your site is already attracting targeted visitors that may be interested in their CPA offers, so don’t apply too early. Affiliate marketing should be viewed as a long-term strategy. Build up your site first, get some visitors, and THEN monetize it.
To learn more about the process I use to build websites that make money, you can learn about the CTPM process here.
So yes, CPA networks are pretty particular about who they let in because their model is based on your legitimacy, so you may be turned down. I know this can be discouraging at first, however, here are some tips I recommend for applying so you have a better chance of acceptance:
- Even though CPA does not rely on having a website, it’s good to have an already established website with a daily stream of visitors to your site.
- Have a domain based email as it gives you more credibility.
- Be honest about your past history, site traffic, and conversion rates. If you lie about your traffic volume just to get accepted, they will find out and it could ruin any future relationship you could have with them.
- Don’t give up. If a network turns you down, work on building your audience and then when you have higher numbers, re-apply.
If you are just starting out in affiliate marketing, I definitely recommend working with a company like Wealthy Affiliate. While there are a million different people, “guru’s”, and services that claim THEY can teach you how to be successful online, I really only recommend Wealthy Affiliate as they give you all the tools and services you’ll need in one place, along with the training to learn how to put it all together. It’s a fantastic resource.
Some Tips For Successful CPA Affiliate Marketing Campaigns
Once you have a CPA affiliate network membership, it’s time to set up a successful campaign. While simply blogging and creating content is a great strategy to gaining traffic in order to promote CPA offers, there are some other marketing strategies you can integrate. Here are some of the things that I have done that have helped me be more successful with my CPA strategies:
- Create a landing page: Landing pages are different than regular blog posts or pages on your site. A landing page is a specific page that you can “funnel” your website traffic into. While blog posts should mostly be made to educate, inform, or entertain your website visitors, your landing pages should be the main selling pages and optimized for the most clicks and conversions. Find ways to link to your landing pages from your blog posts and you have an effective strategy.
- Have fun with a splash page: Splash pages are an introduction page users see before entering a website. A splash page is a fun and flashy piece of content that contains everything from music to animations to graphics. A splash page is a way to get visitors excited to engage in your site or a way to prompt them to take a specific action. Anytime someone visits a website for the first time they have their guard up.
A splash page is a great way to instantly give a certain personality to your website.
- Use paid advertising (with caution): In some cases, paid advertising can be hugely profitable. For example, using Facebook Ads to drive clicks or using Google Adwords to drive traffic to your site. When paid advertising works, it works very well and really can earn you a significant income very quickly. However, paid advertising is very difficult and usually you will lose money before you make money, so set a budget and use it cautiously.
These are just some of the techniques I recommend for CPA affiliate marketing. There are dozens more examples of affiliates making great money through CPA.
Whether you are just starting out or looking for a way to expand your current business, I definitely recommend looking into CPA affiliate marketing. It’s a great business strategy that has helped me diversify my offerings, works seamlessly with my other affiliate partnerships, and helped me expand my revenue streams into other areas like social media. I definitely would recommend all affiliate marketers check it out.