What is CPA Marketing: The Beginners Guide To CPA Marketing

Beginners Guide To CPA Marketing
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How many times you have heard of term CPA & wondered how’s it different than Affiliate marketing? Well, in this guide you will learn how CPA is different & at the same time similar to affiliate marketing.

If you are new to Affiliate marketing, you can read our free guide on what is affiliate marketing & if you wish to master the art of Aff. marketing, you should buy ShoutMeLoud affiliate marketing ebook.  If you are already well versed with Affiliate marketing, it’s time to look at CPA marketing & how’s it different from affiliate marketing.

What is CPA Marketing ?

CPA: Cost for action/Cost per acquisition.

[Tweet “CPA marketing is affiliate marketing with a twist. “]

In CPA, you get paid for completing an action that could be as simple as getting a user to fill up a form or take any other desired action. Whereas in affiliate marketing, you get paid when somebody make a purchase. CPA is considered to be easier than affiliate marketing for a simple reason; here you get paid for sending a lead. Once the traffic you send converts into a lead, after that it’s the job of the particular network to convert into the sales. Anyhow, you would be paid for the lead.

Another reason for CPA marketing to be more popular is; people need to take actions that do not require their credit card info for you to make money. 

Here are some more differences between CPA & Affiliate marketing is:

  • You get paid fast in CPA Network.
  • You are of your own in the affiliate network, whereas in CPA network, you are assigned an affiliate manager who guides you for the best offer & shares ways to help you make more money.
  • Once you are part of an affiliate network like ShareASale, Clickbank, or any other, in the majority of the cases, you can quickly get the affiliate links to promote. Whereas in CPA, it takes time to become a part of the network & you need to get approval for the CPA offer that you wish to promote.

Here is a screenshot of Peerfly dashboard which is a popular CPA Network in today’s date:

CPA Network dashboard
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Should you use CPA or Affiliate marketing?

One benefit of CPA is it converts well & you can drive traffic from various sources. At the same time, the downside of CPA in comparison to Affiliate Marketing is; it pays less.

So the thumb of the rule is, don’t limit yourself to one form of making money online. For a beginner, it’s good to start with CPA, as you might not have a blog or a consistent traffic source. With CPA, you can see immediate results as you would start seeing a few cents in your account with simple steps such as email submit.

Note: Affiliate marketing is also termed as Cost per sale model.

FAQ about CPA:

How much money can one earn with CPA?

There are people who are making millions with CPA marketing. Regarding single conversion, it could be as low as $0.10 to $10. In some cases when the user has to enter credit card details for the trial of the product, you can get paid up to $50.

How about traffic generation methods?

In CPA, you need to check the promotion details before starting the promotion. Many CPA offers are limited to certain geographical location & you can use only selected source to drive traffic. Below you can see the screenshot of one offer where allowed country if France only & notice the allowed & disallowed traffic generation method. This screenshot is again taken from Peerfly CPA network.

CPA traffic source
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How about reversal & holding period for commission?

In affiliate marketing, we have a holding period of 30-60 days, whereas in CPA, you get paid instantly with no refunds unless you violate TOS such as driving traffic from an illegal method. You will be paid once you reach out the minimum payout for the CPA network you are signed up with.

How about scam offers?

This is one of the biggest downsides of CPA; you will find many scam offers to pay $1-$2 for a simple tasks. For example, one like this where you need to traffic to win iPhone/iPad page:

Avoid scam CPA offer
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I’m sure you are smart enough to know such offers are mostly scams & something you don’t want people to fall for it.   Avoid offers such as make money quickly, online flash games (Many of them install spyware), Sex or dating & many others. I would suggest using your own judgment & avoid promoting something that looks scammy or might hurt somebody.


In my opinion, both Affiliate marketing & CPA are a great sources of earnings online. Comparatively, Affiliate marketing is a slow process, but it pays off pretty huge in the longer run & with the right strategy. At the same time, CPA is easy for beginners without a website, as you need to send traffic which needs to take simple actions like email submit, install an app or complete a survey.

I will be covering more on CPA marketing in the coming days. For now, here are a few CPA networks that you can get started with:

Here are more articles that would help you to earn money:

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

28 thoughts on “What is CPA Marketing: The Beginners Guide To CPA Marketing”

  1. san

    As for me, working with peerfly.com, maxbounty.com and mostCPA.com is more enough to reach my goals.
    thank your for your useful article .

  2. Jenny

    THanks harsh for the clear explanation and distinction between the two topics

  3. Abhishek Tripathi

    Hello Harsh Sir.
    It was a wonderful and another awesome article from you. I understood each and every part of the CPA network from scratch. But I have one doubt arised in my mind!

    Can I use CPA earning method along with Google Adsense? If Yes, Will it not violate Adsense terms and conditions? Plz suggest

    Looking for the answer for the same.


    1. Harsh Agrawal

      Yes, you can use CPA with AdSense. It doesn’t violate AdSense policies.

  4. Harpreet Kumar

    Sir its really useful topic to start with. I am your regular reader. As I want to say thanks you to provides unique information about blogging and making money.

  5. Nitesh Kumar

    Just Started a simple android blogging for learning purpose. Bro Harsh you are doing great i am learning thing so easily . Thanks keep sharing awesomeness 🙂

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