What Does CPA Stand for in Marketing?

If you’ve ever heard the term ‘CPA marketing’ and you don’t know exactly what it’s about, it’s a good thing you’ve ended up here. We’ve put together a short and comprehensive guide on CPA marketing meaning and how it’s different from standard affiliate marketing. 

Make sure to check out the affiliate marketing tutorial available on this site as it is packed with useful information about how you can take your site to a whole new level in terms of monetizing it. 

Without further ado, let’s look at some basic things to know about CPA affiliate marketing and how you can make the most of it. 

What is CPA marketing?

CPA stands for cost per acquisition (also known as cost for action). In a nutshell, you get paid a commission each time there is an action completed by a reader, user, or potential buyer. In affiliate marketing, you only get paid whenever an individual makes a purchase.

CPA is different and significantly more relaxed compared to affiliate marketing because you basically get paid each time you send a lead to a client. Your job isn’t to convert that lead into a sale. You are merely responsible for the lead itself. 

CPA marketing for beginners – What you should know

There is a typical CPA model that you should be aware of if you are interested in using this method to monetize your site. First of all, you have an affiliate (which, in this case, would be you) or an influencer or brand. You are in charge of promoting a business, service, or product so as to send out traffic to a site or make a particular conversion.

The next component of the CPA model would be the actual business or the advertiser. This is the brand that gets in touch with you and sets up a partnership following which you drive traffic to the website and hopefully generate sales. This is the part where you generate the leads

The final (and optional) part of a standard CPA model is a network that has the goal of bringing affiliates and advertisers together so that none of you waste time looking for each other on your own. 

What are the benefits of CPA affiliate marketing?

First things first. Many people look into CPA marketing training because they hear that it’s more profitable. However, this is only true if you target the right audience as an affiliate and connect with the right type of affiliates if you are a brand. 

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The cost per action formula has a series of advantages, which we will do our best at showcasing below. 

  1. It’s easy to set up

You don’t need anything else than a website and a network to launch a CPA marketing campaign. It doesn’t call for a lot of capital upfront. If you partner with a trusted network, you don’t have to go through a lot of guesswork. 

In a nutshell, you can start sending out traffic to client sites almost immediately when you join a CPA marketing network. 

  1. You get paid fast

Most CPA networks, especially those that have become very well-known throughout the years, make it convenient and easy for you to use their dashboard and select when you want to be paid. 

With some, you need a minimum number of leads or a minimal threshold before you can be paid through bank transfer or Paypal. 

  1. You get help

The most significant benefit you’ll get if you decide to go down this route is that most networks assign you an affiliate manager. 

This person is in charge of keeping track of your leads, they can give you tips as to how you can make more money, and they also have the responsibility of guiding you throughout the whole process. That certainly beats you having to make out what various affiliate programs have to offer, right? 

There is a downside to using CPA marketing networks instead of affiliate ones, though. For example, when you join Clickbank or ShareASale, you get approved almost instantaneously, which means that you get affiliate links that you can promote right away.

That doesn’t happen with CPA networks, though, as with most, you’ll have to go through an approval process both when joining the network or when applying for an offer that you want to promote

What are the most popular CPA networks out there?

Here are some examples of networks that you might want to check out if you intend to use CPA to make money using your website or social media following. 

  • Peerfly
  • Clickdealer
  • VaultMedia
  • Clickbooth
  • AdCombo
  • MaxBounty

Choosing between affiliate marketing and CPA marketing

There are benefits and drawbacks to using any of these monetization options. Depending on your audience, you might not be able to make use of CPA marketing. For example, if you tend to promote physical products, you might have to use affiliate marketing in the form of a program such as Amazon Associates (or any other). 

Read more: Best dating affiliate programs

If, on the other hand, you’re an influencer and you have a huge social media following in the area of productivity, self-development, lifestyle, home decor, pet health, or anything else that doesn’t necessarily relate to promoting actual products, CPA marketing might be your best option. 

On top of that, CPA marketing converts well and allows you to drive traffic from a wide variety of sources. It does tend to pay a little less compared to affiliate marketing, but since you should never place all of your eggs in one basket, maybe consider using both. 


With CPA, you can make anything from $0.10 to $10 per lead, and if the user also enters their credit card details and makes a purchase, you can make as many as $50. 

One thing we do have to note regarding CPA marketing is that you are quite likely to be a little limited in terms of the geo-location of the visitors. Moreover, you might be allowed to use only some types of traffic-driving methods, so it’s not a perfect solution for everyone. 

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On the upside, though, CPA marketing networks rarely keep the money you’ve earned for up to a month before getting you paid. This is entirely different compared to affiliate marketing networks as they normally have a holding period that can last from 30 to 60 days. 

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