What is CPA Marketing? A Complete Beginner's Guide

What Is CPA Marketing and How Does It Work?

Answer: CPA Marketing is like being rewarded every time your friend tries out a new video game that you told them about. CPA stands for “Cost Per Action“, meaning you get a reward not when they buy something but when they do a specific action, like trying a game. So, you’re not selling anything but encouraging people to try something out.

One of the well-liked methods of earning money online is CPA marketing, which has grown significantly. It has often been a successful strategy for generating more money from websites.

Key Highlights

  • CPA marketing is a performance-based model, which involves a commission from the advertiser to the publisher for each acquired customer that meets the desired criteria
  • It’s beneficial to advertisers and publishers because it allows them to set their budgets and measure the effectiveness of campaigns.
  • The CPA model is advantageous for publishers because it allows them to earn money without depending on page views or direct sales.
  • MaxBounty is considered the leading CPA Network and offers publishers access to hundreds of different campaigns with competitive payouts
  • You can use CPA marketing for many industries, including e-commerce, finance, travel, and more and also to target specific user groups or demographics.

What Is CPA Marketing?

CPA marketing, also known as cost-per-action marketing, is an online advertising model in which advertisers only pay when the user takes a specific action. This action could include filling out a form, purchasing, or downloading an app.

Unlike other online advertising models, such as pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-impression (CPM), CPA marketing is driven by targeted actions rather than impressions or clicks. This type of marketing is becoming increasingly popular as businesses look to optimize their online advertising campaigns and target the right customers.

The analogy of CPA marketing may be helpful to think of it like a game in which you want people to take a specific action. You set up the game by offering an incentive or reward for completing the desired action, then you “roll the dice” and see how many people convert.

You can use this analogy to understand better why CPA marketing is a more efficient way to drive conversions. Suppose you’re only offering an incentive for a specific action. In that case, you can target people who are more likely to take that action instead of hoping to get lucky with your broader advertising campaigns.

Why Is CPA Important?

Over the years, CPA marketing has become one of the most popular forms of digital marketing. CPA advertising allows businesses to reach out to their target audience more cost-effectively than traditional ads.

CPA will also enable companies better to track their return on investment (ROI). Businesses can better understand their ROI and change their campaigns if needed by following conversions and seeing how many conversions result in sales or leads.

CPA advertising has become increasingly critical for businesses as mobile marketing grows. With more people accessing the internet from their smartphones, companies can capitalize on the trend and use CPA marketing to reach out and engage with their target audience.

Over 79% of smartphone users are making purchases online, and mobile advertising has become an effective way to reach them.

How Does CPA Marketing Work?

how does cpa marketing work?

The principle of CPA (Cost Per Action) marketing is that affiliates are paid a commission for a specific action taken by a user, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or downloading an app. This means that instead of paying for clicks or impressions, the advertiser pays for a specific desired outcome, such as a sale or lead.

For example, an advertiser may offer a CPA commission of $10 for each user who completes a purchase through an affiliate’s referral link. In this scenario, the affiliate only earns a commission if the user completes the desired action, making CPA marketing a performance-based model.

To best explain CPA marketing, We will be discussing the four key entities involved in the CPA model: the advertiser, the publisher, the consumer, and the CPA network.

Advertiser or Business

As businesses have a specific service or product to offer, they will be the ones that set up the campaigns and actively seek out affiliates to join their program. Advertisers have an advantage in the CPA marketing model as they can negotiate cost-per-action rates that work for them and help ensure that they meet their cost-per-lead or cost-per-sale goals.

Additionally, advertisers can often track the performance of their campaigns and use this data to inform decisions about future campaigns.

Publishers or Affiliates

The blogger, website owner, or influencer is considered the publisher or affiliate in the CPA marketing model. They use their platform to promote products and services, often through links that lead to a company’s(the advertiser) landing page.

If someone clicks on the link and completes an action, such as purchasing a product or submitting an email address, the publisher will receive a commission. Publishers often use creative marketing techniques to increase the number of clicks or conversions from their website, which typically leads to more revenue for them and increased conversions for the advertiser. It’s a win-win situation for both parties involved.


CPA affiliate marketing revolves around consumers – businesses, individuals, or groups seeking a specific product or service. They are drawn to CPA partner sites through various marketing strategies such as SEO, social media ads, and content marketing.

Upon clicking on an affiliate link or ad, they’re redirected to the advertiser’s landing page where they can make the advertised product or service purchase.

CPA Network

A CPA Network is essential to the CPA model, providing the tools and resources to facilitate the affiliate marketing process. A CPA network acts as a middleman between advertisers looking for affiliates to promote their products or services and publishers seeking these opportunities.

The main goal of a CPA network is to ensure that both parties are successful in the partnership. A CPA network will provide advertising options, reporting tools, payment services, and support and advice to its members.

Let’s look at this example to understand how CPA marketing works.

  • John, an online publisher, and Sarah, a social media influencer, have both heard about the potential profits from CPA marketing. They each join a reputable CPA network, and select a promising offer from a well-known advertiser, GreenGadgets.
  • GreenGadgets offers a $10 commission for every user who clicks on John and Sarah’s unique affiliate links and successfully subscribes to their eco-friendly product subscription service. John and Sarah use their online platforms to promote the offer, displaying the link prominently on their websites and sharing it with their followers.
  • When a user clicks on either John or Sarah’s link, they are directed to GreenGadgets’ landing page where they can learn more about the subscription service and sign up. Once the user subscribes, John and Sarah each receive a $10 credit from AffiliateMax, resulting in a profitable partnership.
  • With each successful offer they promote, their earnings continue to grow, and the potential for increased profitability is endless. CPA marketing provides a great opportunity for online publishers and influencers to maximize their earning potential.

It’s important to note that both John and Sarah are responsible for delivering quality traffic, as this is critical to the success of any CPA campaign.

Causes for the Popularity of CPA Marketing

popularity of cpa marketing

Setup Ease

CPA marketing is a great way to generate income with minimal commitment and hassle. It only requires a little time or resources to get started. All that is needed is a hosting website, which you can easily set up with minimal cost and effort. It is also easy to promote products on channels like Facebook and YouTube without the need for a website in some instances.

Cost Efficiency

With CPA, advertisers only pay when a conversion (or sale) occurs, eliminating wasted ad spending on impressions that do not lead to conversions. This helps ensure digital marketers maximize their (ROI).

Increased Brand Exposure

A prominent perk of CPA advertising is brand exposure. You can reach those who would only sometimes see your brand’s content through CPA. CPA has the potential to create massive amounts of traffic, and with the relevant offer or campaign, it can get your business the attention it needs to flourish.

Ability to Target Specific Audiences

What’s marketing without the ability to target your audience? CPA marketing is incredibly beneficial to you in this regard, as it allows you to market specifically to those likely to be interested in your message. For instance, you can target people by age, gender, location, and interests or behaviors.

This way, you know that the people receiving your ads will be more receptive to them.

Increased Customer Engagement

When customers engage with a CPA marketing campaign, they become more involved in the company and its products or services. This engagement can manifest in several ways – from clicking links to purchasing items or signing up for loyalty programs.

By providing an interactive experience via CPA marketing techniques, companies have the potential to increase customer engagement and create long-term relationships with their target.

Risk Reduction

Little to no risk is a significant benefit of CPA marketing. By entering into a CPA arrangement, marketers can test different campaigns with minimal financial commitment. If the campaign proves unsuccessful, the marketer can avoid incurring significant losses.

Instead of using up their entire budget on an unprofitable venture, they can use it for other marketing initiatives that may have a greater return on investment.

Low Barrier of Entry for Startups and Small Businesses

Affiliate marketing through CPAs can be highly beneficial for both affiliates and businesses alike. For startups and small businesses, CPA marketing can provide a low entry barrier into the digital marketing world, meaning that even those with limited resources and budgets can benefit from the advantages of CPA marketing campaigns.

CPA networks offer various offers at different price points, making it easier for startups to find an affordable option and start a profitable campaign.

CTA Networks

Top Five CTA Networks

To get started with CPA marketing, you need to work with a network that offers great deals and high payouts. Here are five of the top networks you can join to get started:

1. MaxBounty

MaxBounty is one of the world’s most successful cost-per-action (CPA) networks that specialize in optimizing ROI for both publishers and advertisers. By promoting high-converting campaigns through a global network of affiliates, MaxBounty drives substantial profits to its partners and customers.

With a wide variety of offers from hundreds of reliable advertisers, MaxBounty enables you to achieve maximum ROI on your campaigns.


  • A well-designed interface, for the most part, makes navigating the platform very intuitive for newcomers
  • There are a multitude of CPA offers to choose from; with big-name brands and thousands of options, you will have no trouble finding something that fits your niche
  • The search function is excellent; it’s straightforward to find the offers that you’re looking for
  • The commission rates offered on MaxBounty are some of the best in the market, with $50/50%+ per sale or lead
  • A bonus is the MaxMoney promotions; these give you an extra incentive when promoting their offers.


  • Its signup process is lengthy and requires detailed information
  • There is no help desk system available for users who need assistance.

2. CrakRevenue

CrakRevenue is an innovative CPA marketing network offering affiliates lucrative commissions and incentives. It provides its members exclusive access to high-converting campaigns, detailed reporting tools, and helpful customer support.

Through CrakRevenue’s modern platform, content creators can quickly launch profitable affiliate campaigns and utilize the network’s cutting-edge technology to maximize their earnings potential.


  • Dedicated support team to help you identify and optimize lead sources
  • CrakRevenue make payment on time without any delays
  • Multiple CPA advertising offers are available on your account
  • Easy to use and navigate platform.


  • Inconsistent Time Zones
  • Lengthy Payment Terms
  • Limited Payment Methods.

3. ClickDealer

ClickDealer is a performance marketing platform that helps digital marketers and affiliates to achieve their goals by providing them with unbeatable campaign efficiency. They focus on eliminating obstacles for our partners and streamlining the daily grind of running CPA campaigns, enabling them to spend more time innovating and identifying new opportunities.


  • Wide selection of services to meet various requirements
  • Comprehensive analytics to gauge performance and optimize campaigns
  • Attractive bonus system based on performance
  • Numerous payment options to suit any budget
  • 24/7 customer service for reliable and timely assistance.


  • There may be a high minimum for specific payment methods.

4. Admitad

Admitad is a global Cost Per Action (CPA) network which helps content websites, influencers and creators, price comparison sites, subnetworks, deal and cashback services, email marketers, and media buyers open new revenue streams in over 40+ categories.

Admitad provides access to its portfolio of brands and offers, allowing partners to maximize their earnings potential by taking advantage of the CPA model.

Admitad offers a variety of tools that help you manage your advertising campaigns, analyze performance data, and monitor the progress of all your activities. Admitad also provides detailed tracking abilities to ensure accurate and timely payments and a wide range of promotional materials to help partners reach their desired target audience.


  • The user interface is simple and intuitive
  • It has a global reach with millions of users from over 70 countries
  • Admitad provides access to a vast array of offers from top advertisers in various industries.


  • Limited payment method.

5. CPAlead

CPAlead is a leading real-time bidding marketplace that allows affiliate marketers to monetize web and mobile traffic through cost-per-install (CPI) offers.CPAlead works by connecting advertisers with affiliates who have access to targeted mobile and web traffic.

Affiliates can choose from a range of reward-based offers, such as installing an app and receiving payment. With CPAlead, affiliates can create campaigns and receive compensation the next day.


  • Generous minimum daily payments with the highest payouts available in the industry
  • Get paid per app install with direct CPI offers
  • Membership is always free and open to everyone who meets the requirements
  • Easy payment options include PayPal, Payoneer, and more
  • CPAleads also offers convenient support resources for its members.


  • Fewer offerings are available from CPALead for Tier-3 nations (developing countries)
  • When picking deals, new users could need clarification.

When selecting a CPA Network, you should consider the network’s size, its industry reputation, available advertising options, payment methods, and customer support services.

CPA Marketing Tips

CPA Marketing Tips

1. Research and Understand the CPA Market

Conducting extensive research and understanding the CPA market is essential for successful CPA marketing. Research involves learning as much information as possible about the niche and offers that will be most beneficial to you.

Make sure to analyze any data you come across, such as potential competitors, consumer behavior trends, best practices, and common pitfalls; it can help you better understand the market and develop an effective CPA marketing strategy.

2. Set Realistic Goals and Objectives

When starting with CPA Marketing, you should set realistic goals and objectives. It is easy to get overwhelmed if you set your expectations too high. Setting realistic goals and objectives will help keep you focused on what needs to be done to succeed.

This will also help you measure and track your progress as you go along. Setting realistic goals will also ensure you don’t burn out while trying to achieve too much quickly.

3. Choose the Right CPA Network for Your Website

Among the top recommended CPA networks we discussed, it will be vital for you to choose the one that best fits your website. Before committing to a particular CPA Network, consider if this network offers the type of tracking and promotion you need for your business to succeed.

For example, some networks offer affiliate marketing solutions while others focus on lead generation and cost-per-action advertising campaigns. Consider the types of products and services you wish to promote as well. Different networks will offer different product options, so choose one that fits the needs and interests of your target market.

4. Integrate CPA Into Your Website Effectively

You should incorporate the brand of the CPA advertiser into your website for CPA marketing to be successful. Visitors should be able to quickly locate and access the offer you are promoting when they land on your website.

This means that each offer you are marketing needs a well-designed landing page.

5. Develop a Comprehensive Traffic Strategy

It’s essential to develop a comprehensive traffic strategy to bring in the right kind of visitors who will likely turn into customers. This could mean creating content specifically designed for target audiences. Here are some ways you can develop a comprehensive traffic strategy;

 Utilize SEO techniques to bring in organic traffic. Optimizing your website for the most relevant keywords can increase your chances of appearing higher in search results and earning more traffic.

 Leverage social media to promote content and reach new audiences. Social media can be a great way to get customers who may not have found your site through traditional methods.

Utilize pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to bring in more targeted traffic. PPC ads can be a great way to get your content seen by the right people who are likely to convert.

6. Monitor Your Campaigns

By keeping an eye on your CPA campaigns, you’ll see how well they work and where they need improvements. It can also help you find and solve problems quickly if they come up. If you keep an eye on your campaigns, you can ensure that your efforts pay off.


CPA marketing is a powerful way for businesses to earn money online. It allows you to get paid when customers take pre-defined actions such as subscribing to an email list, downloading an app, or making a purchase.

With the right combination of targeting and promotion strategies, you can make steady revenue without spending much money. And choosing the right web host for your business is the first step to successful marketing campaigns.

At HostAdvice, we can help you find the best website hosting platform that suits your needs and budget.

Next Steps: What now?

  • Compare top web hosting providers to get the most value for your marketing budget.
  • Read our guide on “How To Make A Profitable Affiliate Marketing Website” to learn more about the technical and design aspects of creating a website optimized for CPA offers.
  • Research effective strategies to optimize your landing pages for maximum conversions.
  • Find the “best website builder” to learn how to make a  successful affiliate website, especially if you want one that is quick and easy and doesn’t require any technical skills.
  • Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations your chosen affiliate network sets and adhere to them strictly.

Further reading – Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does CPA Marketing Mean?

CPA marketing stands for Cost Per Action and is an online advertising model where advertisers are only charged when the user takes a specific action.

Which Site Is Best for CPA Marketing?

When it comes to CPA marketing, MaxBounty is one of the most popular and successful options. With an extensive network of affiliates, advertisers, and high-converting campaigns, MaxBounty allows you to maximize your ROI with every campaign. Plus, their wide selection of offers from hundreds of reliable advertisers ensures that you’ll always find the perfect offer for your target market.

How Do You Get Paid in CPA Marketing?

CPA marketers typically get paid on a commission basis, meaning they receive a percentage of the profits generated through their marketing efforts. Generally, CPA affiliates are paid based on cost-per-action (CPA) or cost-per-acquisition (CPA) models. In other words, CPA affiliates earn money when someone clicks on an ad and completes an action.

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