You’ve probably heard the term CPA affiliate marketing before. CPA stands for “cost per action.” It means that for every time an affiliate marketer gets a customer to perform some action on the internet, the advertiser pays them a predetermined amount of money. This payment is called the commission.


What is CPA affiliate marketing?

You might think that the goal of an affiliate is to get customers to make purchases from an advertiser. Buying products could certainly be an “action” in the cost-per-action definition, but in CPA affiliate marketing, you can also earn a commission with other “actions.” For example, a CPA affiliate offer could give you a payment every time a customer provides their email address to the advertiser, fills out a survey, starts a free membership, or signs up for a free trial for a subscription service.

So, there is more to the world of affiliate marketing than simply trying to get customers to make purchases.

Why become a CPA affiliate marketer?

Affiliate marketing earns a lot of buzz in online advertising circles because it can be very lucrative for skilled online marketers. CPA affiliate marketing makes it possible to make income from things other than the sale of products.

Like anything in life, success isn’t a guarantee when it comes to CPA affiliate marketing.

If you want to succeed, you need to understand all the aspects of CPA affiliate marketing.

Let’s take a closer look.

Who is involved in a CPA affiliate marketing campaign?

To answer the question “what is CPA affiliate marketing,” you need to understand who is involved in CPA affiliate campaigns. There are three primary “pieces” in each CPA affiliate marketing campaign.
  • The advertiser is the person or company who makes the affiliate offer. They agree to pay their affiliate marketers a commission every time a customer buys their product or performs the required action (such as joining a mailing list or signing up for a free trial).
  • The customer is the person who makes the purchase from the advertiser or performs the action.
  • The last person involved in a CPA affiliate marketing transaction is the affiliate marketer (that’s you). You are responsible for getting the customer to make the purchase or perform whatever action earns the commission from the advertiser.
As an affiliate, you don’t get paid unless the customer performs the required action.

This fact brings up another important question. The answer to this question is vital for understanding how to succeed in CPA affiliate marketing…

Why would you make an effort to market on behalf of an advertiser if you are not guaranteed any money upfront?

The secret to CPA affiliate marketing success: small scale testing and large scale profits

The answer is that, because of the way affiliate marketing works, you can quickly test combinations of different marketing strategies, different CPA offers, and various traffic sources. Once you find a formula that works, you can invest more money and time into this successful method and ignore those strategies that did not work.

Testing on a small scale and then using the strategies that prove successful on a large scale is the formula for success in affiliate marketing.

It sounds simple enough, and in many ways it is, but we still have to look deeper into the “what is CPA affiliate marketing” question.

Who are the other players in the CPA affiliate marketing industry?

Usually, you (the affiliate marketer) don’t deal directly with the advertiser. Instead, you find affiliate offers through an affiliate network. These networks provide a significant advantage. They allow you to look through many different affiliate offers and locate the ones that best fit with your expertise and your marketing style. You’ll find different offers that you can test, and perhaps even find offers that are similar to ones that you have already tested and for which you have already developed a winning strategy.

With a CPA affiliate marketing network, you select an offer and get a unique tracking ID. You use this ID to create an affiliate link so that the affiliate network can track your activities or sales.

Where do you find customers?

The next part of the lucrative CPA affiliate marketing equation is the customer. Where can you find customers? How do you get them to come to your site, landing page, or offer?

You need customer traffic to send to the advertisers that you choose from the affiliate network.

Perhaps you can build a blog or site based on a specific niche, or maybe you can attract customers via social media or email marketing.

These methods may work, but the fastest way to find traffic is to purchase it from social media sites, advertising platforms, or ad networks. The advantage of these traffic sources is that you know exactly how many visitors you get from your investment. This information makes it easy to test different traffic sources and also to scale your affiliate marketing efforts once you find a source that works.

This scalability is important. Once you figure out a formula that works and you have the right traffic source, the right offers, and the right strategy for getting customers excited about those offers, you can buy more traffic from your traffic sources. From testing, you can figure out a percentage of customers who will perform the required action to help you earn your commission. When you buy more traffic, you can expect this commission-earning percentage to stay roughly the same. So if your small investment during a test produces a profit, a more substantial investment is likely to bring the same commission ratio. If you make $10 per 1,000 customers, you can expect to make $100 from when you purchase 10,000 customers from your traffic source.

CPA affiliate marketing is for everyone

You don’t need a specialized degree, corporate connections, or years of experience to succeed in affiliate marketing. Furthermore, there are lots of resources, affiliate forums, and blogs that focus on how to create successful affiliate marketing strategies. If you are willing to put in the time to study, test each plan, and seek valuable affiliate offers, you are well on the way to becoming a successful CPA affiliate marketer.