CPA or “cost per acquisition” marketing is one of the best ways to monetise affiliate websites, and tends to achieve higher rates of commission than cost per click/pay per click (CPC or PPC) affiliate payment structures.
CPA marketing means that the affiliate promoting the scheme or service must achieve a higher level of success with each action than is required of CPC advertising-because the cost per click model pays per click-through alone, whilst CPA requires a sign-up, purchase, or other meaningful action on the part of the visitor.
However, if you can target and attract the right type of traffic and convert them into successful sign-ups or sales, the rate of commission that you can earn from your affiliate partner will generally be much higher with CPA affiliate marketing than the rate you will be paid simply for achieving a click-through.
In this article, we will explain CPA networks for beginners, share some tips and advice on how to make money as a CPA affiliate, and identify where to find the best CPA networks for newbies.
What is CPA marketing?
So, what exactly is CPA marketing? CPA stands for “cost per acquisition,” although it is also sometimes referred to as “cost per action,” and may be used interchangeably with the term PPA, or “pay per acquisition” marketing.
The CPA marketing definition is “a method of online advertising in which an affiliate scheme (or advertiser) pays their affiliate partner or promoter a commission for achieving a specified acquisition for them.” Exactly what constitutes an acquisition will vary from scheme to scheme, and this is set by the person offering the affiliate partnership-but some of the most common types of acquisition models include making a sale, capturing contact details, achieving a sign-up, or getting a contact request.
Cost per click (CPC) is actually a form of cost per acquisition marketing too, although in terms of affiliate marketing schemes and payment structures, the two terms are generally used to mean very different things, with cost per click payment structures paying out a (much lower rate of) commission for each lead or referral, whether or not this leads to an acquisition.
Why choose CPA affiliate schemes?
CPA affiliate schemes and those that pay a commission for an acquisition rather than a click alone invariably pay out a much higher rate than they would for a simple click-through, because a click alone will not necessarily lead to a conversion or acquisition that is worth real money.
Naturally it is harder for an affiliate to achieve an acquisition than it is to achieve a click-through, but this is reflected in the value of the commission achieved, and generally, CPA affiliate schemes are the most profitable ones for committed affiliates that are prepared to work hard and be smart about finding and targeting potential customers.
How to start CPA marketing
In order to start making money with CPA marketing, you first have to understand the basics of CPA marketing for beginners.
First, find a good affiliate scheme that offers commissions using the CPA model, and that will accept new affiliates. You may wish to decide upon a niche to work within first if you have a specific area of expertise or have identified a niche that you think will be profitable, but it is also a good idea to see what the best CPA marketing affiliate schemes have on offer, and research their niches to find one (or more) that you think you can work with.
CPA networks for beginners
If you want to start using CPA marketing to earn affiliate commissions, there are a number of basic steps to follow.
• Decide upon a niche that you think you could market successfully and achieve good quality referrals for-the type of referrals that are likely to convert, not just lead to a click on a link.
• Find affiliate schemes that serve your niche, and that also offer the CPA payment model-you may wish to investigate available offerings before choosing your niche, and use this information to guide your decision on what to promote.
• Choose an affiliate scheme that offers a good rate of commission and that serves the niche that you want to work with, and identify their criteria for accepting affiliates.
• Use this information to set up your referral platform’s basics-such as your website, keywords, content, and external methods of advertising and promoting links.
• Research the type of demographics that are likely to be interested in the products or services you want to promote, and find out where to reach them, how to get their attention, and how to convert interest into acquisitions.
• Apply to the affiliate network that you have identified as a good match for your niche and that offers affiliate partners that you want to work with, ensuring that you fulfil their acceptance criteria first.
• Once accepted, add the provided links to your website itself and any external platforms that you have identified as being useful to target would-be acquisitions, such as social media platforms, adverts, forums and groups.
• Promote your links as much as possible, taking care to seek quality traffic that you can convert into acquisitions rather than just trying to achieve large streams of traffic and hoping that some people sign up.
• Monitor analytics using your website itself, your affiliate scheme, and tools provided by external platforms like social media sites to help to identify new audiences, build on your success, and locate and fix weak areas.
How to get accepted to a CPA network
For affiliate networks that offer a CPA payment model, it is not usually hard to get accepted, because there is no real risk involved for schemes that only pay out for successful acquisitions. It is sometimes even easier to get accepted to a CPA affiliate network than it is to get accepted by a CPC network, because the network in question will not have to worry about paying out for a large number of clicks that do not convert into actual revenue or acquisitions.
All you need to do is identify CPA networks that accept newbies or that are looking for new affiliates in general, check out their affiliate criteria and ensure that you match it, and submit an application.
Some networks will automatically approve new affiliates instantly, but even for those that require manual approval, you should not have to wait long to start earning.
How to get accepted to CPA networks without a website
The basis of earning money with affiliate links is having a website on which to place your links, and direct traffic to-but you can in fact join many affiliate schemes without even having a website!
This is because there are so many other opportunities to promote links and reach your target audience, such as by using social media platforms, search engine adverts, forum and group posting, and much more.
Some CPA networks will require you to have a website to join up, so it is certainly worth considering getting a website-even if this is just a simple and free template site to get you started, which you can improve upon or upgrade later on once you start making money.
The highest paid CPA networks
It is harder for an affiliate to convert a visitor into an acquisition for the partner network than it is to simply get someone to click on a link by any means possible-which is why it is so important to choose your affiliate network carefully to make sure that it is worth your effort in terms of the commissions you can earn.
Mainstream niches that lots of people promote and that are easy to find buyers for won’t pay anywhere near as much as specialist niches or those that come with added challenges in reaching and converting visitors; and so the highest paid CPA networks tend to be those that serve a specialist niche or hard-to-reach audience, or that find it hard to get new affiliates.
This usually means that niches such as dating and hookup sites and adult portals are the most profitable to join, because not every potential affiliate wants to work with niches of this type, nor spend the time and effort required in promoting them.
However, this means that by design, CPA networks that serve the adult content niche will tend to pay the highest rates of commission, and that you can potentially make serious money by partnering with them.