What is CPA Affiliate Marketing? A Definitive Guide What is CPA Affiliate Marketing? A Definitive Guide


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Kulwant Nagi


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So, investing in ads to attract more attention and drive more sales is often a go-to tactic for eCommerce businesses.

That said, maintaining a solid ROI to scale the business and marketing efforts is not easy. That's why CPA marketing is essential.

But what is CPA marketing? How does someone increase sales with it? And how can affiliates get involved?

We break down everything you need to know about CPA marketing in this definitive guide.

What is CPA Marketing?

CPA, also known as Cost Per Acquisition or Cost Per Action, is a marketing model where you pay the CPA partner after a sale has occurred. This affiliate marketing model can offer faster and better results with the right audience and affiliates.

This marketing model is different because it helps businesses scale up by generating leads and pushing conversions. Generally, affiliate marketers try to diversify their CPA offers and content by working with different companies.

There are three categories of CPA marketing:

  • Pay per sale: It's a type of affiliate marketing program where you pay a marketer each time they refer a customer to your eCommerce site through affiliate links and drive a sale.
  • Pay per action: It's a marketing model that requires a set of actions for the visitors to perform or complete. Typical actions include watching a video, signing up for a free trial, or filling out a form. In this marketing program, the affiliate gets paid for the link they have created.
  • Recurring payments: If you sell a subscription-based service, you can get affiliates to drive purchases for you. But the catch with this is that the business will have to pay the affiliates a cut every month that the customer they get to sign up stay subscribed.

How Does CPA Marketing Work?

CPA is a simple marketing model that effectively connects brands with customers. This strategy does not pose a high risk and increases brand visibility.

Here are the terms associated with CPA marketing:

  • Affiliate or publisher: These are generally brands, businesses, or bloggers that promote a given product or business to drive the traffic. It further helps in making a specific conversion.
  • Business or advertiser: It's the brand that wants a partnership with affiliates so that it can drive better traffic to the website. It helps in boosting conversions, generating leads, and increasing sales.
  • CPA network: It's the platform that is responsible for bringing together the business that wants the products to be promoted and the affiliate who wants to earn money by promoting business.

Now that you know about the different players in CPA marketing, here's a gist of how it works:

  • First, the business that wants to promote their product or services signs up with a CPA network.
  • On that platform, affiliates find the audience and niche. After finding an appropriate niche, they get in touch with that business through the CPA network.
  • This way, the CPA network helps affiliates and businesses to find each other.
  • After completing the basic agreement, the affiliate starts promoting the business's products to earn commissions.
  • The affiliate even creates relevant content so that the visitors can take specific actions like giving their email, filling out forms, and more.

How to Do CPA Marketing?

There are four steps you can follow to start CPA marketing:

Step #1: Join a Network

The first and most important step is joining a network. If you are a beginner, you must look for a newbie-friendly network. Also, the network must offer a straightforward and easy-to-understand application process.

Another thing to remember while approaching a network is to stay honest with your experiences and expectations. For example, Mobidea is a popular affiliate network open to advertisers and affiliates with the right attitude.

Affiliates can choose a network that offers expert affiliate managers and flexible payment options depending on their needs and requirements. In short, if your network offers more features for free, it will be helpful.

While an affiliate must focus on driving more sales, advertisers must focus on finding and working with affiliates that can bring them a high volume of clicks and achieve a positive ROI.

Step #2: Choose an Offer

Once an affiliate has selected and joined a network, the next task is to choose the right offer. Rather than rushing to make a decision, you can review the available options to find the best one.

If you found an offer that you can connect with on a personal level, you must select it. That's because you will have to spend so many hours working on the campaign. So, it will be helpful if you work on something that you truly like rather than something else.

Selecting an offer first and then starting a campaign is the right order of doing things. Because then the audience will always find your campaign relevant.

It will also help you tap into your creativity to convey the brand's message. So, instead of selecting an offer to get a better payout, you should select something that resonates with you. Payout is one of the parts of the big puzzle, and it should never fully influence your decision.

Another thing to remember is your effective cost per thousand impressions. For this, you need to consider your payout and conversion rate.

To make sure you make the most money as an affiliate, you can talk with your affiliate manager about the traffic sources that have been doing well. You can further analyze whether it fits in your affiliate strategy and profile or not.

Step #3: Find an Apt Traffic Source

The interesting thing with traffic sources is that different offers have promotional methods. Not to mention, certain verticals are best suited to a specific kind of format. That is why it is essential to do quick research on your own before creating a campaign.

We have discussed multiple forms in detail that you must go through before you actually start promoting:

Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising is one of the most convenient and effective ways to get people's attention. Using this method, you can reach out to people via different ways: push notifications, banners/display ads, pop, redirects, native ads, and more.

But while using mobile advertising, you need to consider your eCPM since the results will be limited to mobile traffic. To succeed using this method, you need to analyze each channel carefully.

An interesting thing to note here is that different networks offer various formats. This makes it easier for affiliates to find your traffic and campaigns.

Some standard formats offered by advertising networks are:

  • In-Video
  • Push Notifications
  • Native Ads
  • Interstitial
  • Redirects
  • Mobile Pops
  • Instant Message
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Mobile Banners / Displays
  • Paid Ads

While creating a mobile advertisement campaign, it's essential to establish an objective and choose the market audience. Based on the objective and audience needs, you need to select a mobile ad type and decide the ad campaign length. And at last, after considering the targeted devices, you can design ads.

Push Notification


Compared with others, push notification is a relatively new technology responsible for the emergence of different affiliate strategies. The best thing about push notification is that it has exceptional reach and performance.

So, if you want to boost your customer acquisition, you can take the help of this method.

Another thing to remember is that all traffic from the push notification is via real audiences. That means this method helps you get bot-free results, allowing you to analyze your performance more accurately.

Since audiences are more active on messages, you will notice an increase in the retention rate by roughly 20%.

Push notifications further offer a better customization approach. Also, since the message delivery is instant, you can use it to schedule campaigns so that you can reach out to targeted audiences.

Mobile Pops


It's another interesting ad format that has gained popularity lately. This ad format shows a new window below or above the active window.

For the pop-unders, users can see the ad once the main window is minimized. And for the pop-ups, the users are required to close the ads to get back to their current window.

This ad format is popular because it outperforms the standard mobile ads and offers improved customer engagement. Generally, pop-under ads tend to be more effective than pop-ups since they're less obstructive. However, both of them perform differently in different scenarios.

Both of them are perfect for making compelling creatives for free trials, mobile content offers, app installs, and lead generations.

Native Advertising


Native ads are similar to the publisher's content, and offers are linked to a landing page that looks and feels no different from the other content. Affiliates can begin native advertising with AdNow, Outbrain, or Taboola.

Display Advertising


These are images, banners, text, and video ads on websites. Affiliates can buy inventory from the publishers in these types of ads. You can use ExoClick and Adcash to get started.

Adult Traffic

It is a powerful traffic type because more than half of adult traffic comes from mobile. You can try ExoClick, Traffic Junky, Ero Advertising, and Traffic Factory to see how it works.

Search Traffic


It's traditional PPC, where you pay the publisher each time your ad is clicked on. You can use Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Bing, Instagram, and Yandex to test it.

Social Advertising


It is an easy way to connect with audiences. This advertising form works well on mobile. The best platforms for social advertising are Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Step #4: Start Using a Tracker

Using a tracker is crucial because it can keep an eye on everything from banner placements, ad copy, and ad creatives to landing pages and conversions. In other words, a tracker makes it easy to find your most profitable traffic source.

You need to track key aspects such as offers, campaigns, creatives, and traffic sources. Besides this, you can also analyze earnings, profits, clicks, impressions, campaign spends, number of campaigns, impressions, ROI, and more.

If you are new to the affiliate marketing world, take the help of Mobidea, as it comes with free-to-use trackers. But if you are experienced, you can take the help of another affiliate network. For better results, you can use Voluum, a paid tracking software.

Anstrex: Powerful Tool to Spy on Your Competitors and Boost CPA Marketing Profits

After you find an offer that you think you can market and determine the type of traffic needed, the next step involves figuring out what kind of creatives and landing pages are working in the desired country.

Going in blind and making a landing page out of what you know often leads to failed ad campaigns. This is where Anstrex comes in.

It is a competitive intelligence tool that gives you all the information you need about your competitor's native and push ads.

Let's say you've found an offer in the business category and need to make a campaign for it in Belgium. Finding competitors' native ad campaigns in the category is as simple as setting the filters to the right options in Anstrex.


Anstrex indexes ads from 27 ad networks and gathers ad data from affiliates worldwide. Setting the filters as shown above on Anstrex will show you the thousands of ads that match the criteria. But you can also further narrow the list down by language, ad network, tracker, and technology using the filters.

After setting up the filters as you please, you can search for the kind of ad you're looking for using the search button. Let's say you're marketing a fitness product. Using the search option, you will find a database of ads like below.


From here, you can click on any ad that seems attractive and is performing well. You will see information such as its Alexa rank, bounce rate, an overview of country-wise ranking, and the advertising network.


You can use the tabs on the top of the screen to get more details, such as the publisher data for the advertiser, the ad networks the advertiser is using, and the devices the ad is accessed from.


Whether you're just getting started with CPA marketing or are looking for a tool that gives you an edge over the rest, Anstrex is the tool you should rely on.


CPA marketing can be an exciting way to earn money since new opportunities and challenges pop up every day. You also do not have to work at set hours or set up a website.

It's all a matter of connecting to people over the right medium – so if you have a knack for social media, that's all you need.

With this guide handy, you should be able to start CPA marketing in no time. Just remember to keep your focus on testing and data, and your campaigns will reap great results.

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