CPA marketing is a very popular form to make money online. It’s a form of affiliate marketing that some people make good money with.
A very attractive aspect about it is that beginners have an easier time starting making money, as opposed to something more complicated like a social media marketing agency.
Many people are interested in CPA marketing because it seems easier to make money with than something like affiliate marketing. That’s not necessarily true and it’s important to fully understand this business model before jumping into it.(1)
However, like with anything, it has its pros and cons. So, if you’re here to find out what CPA marketing is and whether or not you should consider it as a viable business model, you’re in the right place!
By the end of this guide, you will be able to make an informed decision on whether or not you should jump right into it or if you will be better off starting an affiliate business.
How Does CPA Marketing Work?
CPA marketing (Cost per Action Marketing) is a form of affiliate marketing where advertisers pay for an action to be taken. That “action” is more than likely a click.
Therefore, in stead of getting paid by commission (like with affiliate marketing), you can make money by getting people to click your links. That sounds easy on paper, but in reality it’s much more complicated than that.
Just think about it: why would companies pay you to get people to click on links? Don’t they want to make sales? We all know that someone clicking on your link is almost meaningless.
Well, there are specific niches where companies pay you for providing them with leads. A great example would be what the insurance companies are doing.
They usually pay you to send people to their website and fill out a form. If you convince someone to perform that specific “action”, you will get a commission.
Also, I am sure you saw some websites that are just full with ads. They basically put an ad or a banner in every free white space they can find.(2)
If someone comes to their website and (accidentally or not) clicks on an ad, then the owner of the website gets a commission for that “action”.
Before you go and build a website for this reason, I will tell you that you need an enormous amount of traffic in order to make a decent living with display ads on your website.
Don’t get me wrong, display ads can be a good source of income if done properly. What I mean by that is that you shouldn’t spam your readers with ads, as they will just get annoyed.
For example, on one of my more established websites, I make around $7000 per month. BUT it took me 3 years to do that.
If you get more than 200k visitors per month on your website, including display ads in your posts is a very good idea.
Therefore, keep in mind that display ads are worth having if you are willing to work hard for a couple of years before seeing any significant amount of money.
The Key Differences Between CPA Marketing and Affiliate Marketing
CPA marketing and affiliate marketing are very similar. However, there are a couple of key differences you should be aware of.
Otherwise, you will probably get discouraged and give up. As a side note, this is the #1 reason people fail at making money online.
When beginners don’t see immediate profit, they quickly say to themselves “this is a scam” or “it doesn’t work”. What you need to understand is that creating an online business is not easy in the beginning.
Once you get some experience, the money will come. It might take 1 month or 1 year, but believe me, it’s worth it.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s look at some differences between CPA marketing and affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is selling a product that was not created by you.
It’s the process of recommending products in exchange of a commission. Basically, every time someone buys a product through your link, you get paid.
For example, if you have a website where you review products from Amazon and someone clicks on your Amazon link, you will get a commission out of everything they buy.
That sounds very good, doesn’t it? Let me tell you that it sounds better than it actually is. Amazon has a very crappy affiliate program because they give very low commissions.
You will be much better off promoting digital products, as they sometimes offer 50% commissions. But that’s a discussion for another time.
On the other hand, CPA marketing doesn’t rely on a sale. If you choose CPA marketing, you will just need to get people to perform an action, not specifically a sale.
CPA marketing is actually more like lead generation than like affiliate marketing. Because what you’re basically doing is generating leads for other companies.
The Benefits of CPA Marketing
There are a couple of benefits for CPA marketing. First, it can be quite passive.
What I mean by that is that once you did the hard work, you just need to maintain your results. Like in the example I gave you with one of my sites where I make about $7k per month with display ads.
You already know that this take a long time to build, and you might want to consider some other business model (like affiliate marketing) if you want to get faster results.(3)
Most people don’t want to wait years in order to get money, and that’s completely understandable. Getting traffic to your website is very difficult, especially in your first year.
It takes me a couple of minutes to decide where to place ads on my site, but it took years to get the traffic in order for me to have the luxury to do so.
Related: Affiliate Marketing For Books
Is CPA Marketing Legit?
Yes, CPA marketing is legit and it is not a “scam”. I think you are smart enough to realize that there is potential.
Let’s say you have a website that gets tons of traffic from Google. Why wouldn’t you place display ads on it?
Or in case you need to get someone to perform a specific action, let’s say you have a website where you compare life insurance. Would you write only 1 piece of content for 1 life insurance company? NO!
You would write multiple reviews of all the life insurance companies you can find. You do this, in order to maximize your chances to get commissions.(4)
If you sign up to be a CPA marketer for all the life insurance companies, you can get paid by all of them, regardless of what you have on your site. They don’t care that you send people to their competitors.
The only thing that they care about is to get as many leads as possible. So, even if you don’t have to sell anything, CPA marketing can be profitable.
Which One Should You Choose?
So, now that you know what CPA marketing is, how it works and how it is different from affiliate marketing, what’s next?
Should you choose CPA marketing and get paid for getting people to click on links? Or should you choose affiliate marketing and recommend other people’s products in exchange of commissions?
These are very legitimate questions. You don’t want to rush into something without having all the necessary information.
If you choose CPA marketing, it can be quite profitable in the long run. Building a website can be very fun.
For example, I’ve built this website purely for fun and to help people who want to make money on the internet. It’s something that I would have loved to have in the beginning of my online journey.
On the other hand, if it will be the first website that you build, it can get really hard. It’s important to know that you need massive amounts of traffic in order to be profitable with CPA marketing.
The problem with that is that it can take years before being able to make a full time income with display ads. And as you can probably imagine, most people don’t have the necessary patience and determination for that kind of thing.(5)
If you are the type of person who is willing to wait a long time before seeing results, then you can go ahead and start a website. Produce consistent content that helps your readers and just keep going at it.
You should make a posting schedule and stick with it, otherwise it will be very easy to get overwhelmed. So, if you are that type of person, then CPA marketing is a good choice.
On the other hand, if you want to build a profitable business in the shortest amount of time, affiliate marketing could be a much better choice for you. For example, you can run Facebook ads or YouTube ads to landing pages (like me) and make money in the same day.
With the right training, you can start being profitable in a matter of weeks. Also, once you start getting good at it, you will need to work less and less to the point where you only need to work like 1 hour per day (like me).
It all depends on your goals and objectives.
CPA marketing can be very profitable in the long run. It will always be an attractive business model for beginner entrepreneurs because of how good it sounds on paper.
If you want to build a website and place display ads on it, CPA marketing can be a very good option. Just remember that you will spend hundreds or even thousands of hours creating valuable content for your audience.
Also, keep in mind that nobody will probably see that content for a couple of months. In my opinion, you will be much better off starting an affiliate marketing business.
If you have the budget, I suggest investing in a good training like Commission Hero. That way, you will be able to start a profitable business in the least amount of time possible.