What Is CPA Marketing? (Definition, Benefits and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 31, 2022 | Published July 7, 2021

Updated March 31, 2022

Published July 7, 2021

Whether you serve as an affiliate for companies or your organization is an affiliate that markets other sellers' products, there are several marketing strategies that you can use to increase website traffic and, in turn, increase revenue. One strategy is CPA marketing, where two business groups form a partnership to assist each other's business goals. As an affiliate, you can implement CPA marketing in your own business endeavors by gaining a better understanding of how it functions.

In this article, we discuss what CPA marketing is, explain why it's beneficial and provide tips to help you get started using CPA marketing as an affiliate.

Related: 12 Marketing Tips for Your Marketing Campaign

What is CPA marketing?

CPA marketing, also referred to as cost-per-action marketing, is a marketing strategy that involves a partnership between an advertiser and an affiliate. In this partnership, affiliates provide marketing services for the advertiser, and the affiliate gains a commission whenever a user or customer completes a particular action as a result of the marketing. These actions can include watching videos, filling out forms, getting quotes, making purchases or signing up for trials. A typical CPA marketing strategy consists of three elements, which include:


The advertiser is a business or company that seeks to form a partnership with an affiliate. In this partnership, the business operates a CPA affiliate program, and the affiliate can join the program to promote the advertiser's brand on their personal social media pages or website. A successful CPA partnership helps to bring high-quality, organic traffic to the advertiser's website. Most advertisers provide CPA opportunities for specific niches, like health, sports, beauty or electronics. This range of opportunities allows advertisers and affiliates to determine which partnerships make the most sense based on each's primary target audience or market.

Related: 14 Types of Advertising


The affiliate is a social media influencer or blogger who promotes a service or product on behalf of the advertiser and receives a commission for doing so. Typically, there also is an affiliate manager who manages the affiliate program for the advertiser. They serve as the primary liaison between affiliates and advertisers, and it's their responsibility to recruit and communicate with affiliates.


The network, or CPA network, is a platform that connects affiliates with businesses that want their products promoted. There are a variety of network platforms to choose from, and each offers its own unique features. Because these networks can function differently from one another, it's important for advertisers and affiliates to choose a network platform that is reputable and reliable. These platforms provide expert affiliate managers and offer many opportunities and competitive pay rates, allowing affiliates to choose ones that work best for their business needs.

Read more: What Is a CPA Network (and How To Join One)

What are the benefits of CPA marketing?

Here are the main benefits of CPA marketing as an affiliate:


The primary benefit of CPA marketing as an affiliate is that it can be profitable, especially if the partnership between you and the advertiser is mutually beneficial and a good fit for both parties. For example, a beauty blogger forming a CPA marketing partnership with a makeup company would qualify as a viable partnership because their target audience and marketing focus are similar.

Ease of use

CPA marketing can be fairly easy to use because you need only two components: your website and a CPA network to join. This system allows you, as an affiliate, to immediately begin increasing traffic to your site by advertising for a recognizable company. Partnering with a trusted and legitimate CPA network can streamline the CPA marketing process and help to remove any guesswork on how to begin.

Enhanced marketing range

A successful CPA marketing campaign can help to improve the scale of an affiliate's brand. This means that their brand can grow and become more recognizable at a faster rate and to a much wider audience. Regardless of the industry, CPA marketing can help increase an affiliate's brand awareness and may sometimes reach beyond the advertiser's audience.

How does CPA marketing work?

Most CPA marketing campaigns work by following a standard eight-step process:

  1. Partnership begins: Affiliate marketing begins when an affiliate looks for an offer on a CPA network. After they find an offer and form a partnership with the advertiser, they then place the advertiser's ad on their website.

  2. Visitor performs an action: In this step, a visitor goes to the website of the affiliate and performs an action, which may include clicking on a link or making a purchase.

  3. Visitor transferred to website: When a visitor clicks on a link, they are directed to the advertiser's website, where they can explore and learn more about the advertiser's business in greater detail.

  4. Visitor becomes a customer: A visitor becomes a customer by purchasing directly from the advertiser's website or performing some other action that helps the advertiser make money.

  5. Network records purchase: The affiliate network that hosted the offer then records the purchase and the important information related to the transaction.

  6. Advertiser confirms purchase: The advertiser confirms the transaction as a valid sale and then stores this within their records.

  7. Affiliate gains credited transaction: The affiliate succeeds in hosting the ad and gains credit for the completed sale.

  8. Affiliate makes a profit: The affiliate receives a commission for their successful advertising initiative.

Tips for using CPA marketing

CPA affiliate marketing often requires time to invest in creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the affiliate and advertiser. The better the partnership, the more likely it is to increase conversion rates. Consider these tips to help you with CPA marketing as an affiliate:

Find offers

You can find offers by conducting thorough research and identifying sites that offer the best CPA marketing opportunities. These websites function like CPA search engines and provide affiliates with thousands of offers from legitimate and reputable CPA networks. You can search these CPA websites based on a specific keyword, network, category or price, making it an efficient and easy tool to use to find offer opportunities.

Join a CPA network

It's important to consider that you have to apply to a CPA network in order to join it. Because of the variety of CPA networks available, there isn't one set way to get accepted. Starting a website for yourself and clearly defining how you plan to promote a company's offers are ways to increase your chances of getting accepted into a CPA network. Many CPA networks require an interview before approval, so communicating how you can benefit an advertiser can help you get accepted into the CPA network of your choice.

Integrate CPA into your website

You can alter your site to include the CPA advertiser's brand by integrating your advertising efforts into the design and layout of your website. Adding links that connect visitors to the advertiser's website can help to achieve this as well. You may also consider adding a banner to clearly showcase your partnership.

Implement traffic strategies

Implementing traffic strategies involves using techniques that can help bring more people to your website and the advertiser's website. There are several strategies to consider, as each one works differently and can perform better for some types of businesses than others. Here are three ways to improve your traffic rates:

  • SEO: Search engine optimization efforts help to improve traffic to your website by incorporating target keywords on your page that increase your visibility in search results when a visitor searches for those keywords online.

  • PPC ads: Pay-per-click ads can show up on a search engine, making them a quick way to attract more customers to your website.

  • Social media: Use your social media accounts to promote engaging ads and increase the number of followers you have, which can also help to increase your online presence and traffic rates.

Hire an affiliate manager

To benefit the most from your marketing efforts, consider hiring a knowledgeable affiliate manager. Affiliate managers have skills that help both affiliates and advertisers. An affiliate manager can benefit affiliates by performing these actions:

  • Reviewing offers for affiliates and providing insight on how to develop strategies for the partnership

  • Providing helpful knowledge of the types of links and ads that work best to improve conversion rates

  • Providing informative tips on what type of content promotes the advertiser's products and brand most effectively

  • Sending updates about products to affiliates

  • Offering bonuses on commissions and incentives to help a CPA affiliate improve their efforts and results

Consider the CPA marketing payment system

Consider the CPA marketing payment system, which differs based on the commission rates. Identify how an advertiser pays the affiliates and decide on the one that fits your business goals the most. You can compare and contrast the pay models of multiple offers to reach an informed decision.

Related: How To Calculate CPA (A Marketing Metric)

Choose a reliable CPA network

You can improve your chances of choosing a good and reliable CPA network by reading the reviews of other affiliates. Many of the CPA network platforms offer sections where affiliates can leave reviews about whether they liked or disliked the platform. They may detail information like on-time payments, helpful affiliate managers and easy sign-up processes.

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