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. Vikas Sharma

    Hello Mr. Harsh. I read this post earlier but that time i just took it as a normal post and underestimated the importance of CPA but now i am running a blog with ‘web hosting’ niche and really CPA can be prove better than Affiliation. ShareASale is good source of multiple advertiser at the same time but unfortunately there are only 1-2 advertiser who allow CPA for web hosting. Now looking for another ads network for the same. Help me if you can suggest any other platform.

  2. Saikat saha

    Thanks harsh.surely it’s a very nice and informative article..i started my own website past few months.regularly i follow your articles.as always it is best.and i tried some of your tricks for my site.once again thanks for sharing this

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      Hey Saikat,

      Welcome to the Blogger’s World. And thank you for your kind words.

  3. Harpreet

    Thanks Harsh for clarifying this difference between CPA and Affiliate Marketing.

    I just have one questions here – For beginners, you said “it’s good to start with CPA as you might not have a blog or a consistent source of traffic” but at the same time you said “CPA takes time to become a part of network & you need to get approval for CPA offer that you wish to promote”, So, how often beginners get approval in for CPA offers? Suppose I have a blog which is only 6 months old and I do not have the consistent source of traffic and also do not have any list(email) then would company approve me for CPA offer? If not, then what are the options you suggest to beginners to get easy approval?

    Thanks again for helping us and sharing this useful information.

  4. Tamal Basak

    Thanks for the Article. Just Started my Blogging Career. And Learning many things from you.

  5. Ajay

    Hey Harsh, I have signed up for Revenue Hits (CPA), and I have a CTR of 2.3%. I’m yet to see any revenue. I have followed everything they have recommended. (Even placing pop-unders and interstitials) Please help.

  6. Rajat

    Hello Harsh,
    It’s simply spectacular!
    You put a lot of efforts in writing which reflects in your work.
    Great article, very well written.

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      Hey Rajat,

      Thanks for your kind words.:)

  7. Golam Qauser


    I have question. How to use CPA offer in to blog?

  8. Nikhil Arora

    Hello Harsh, Amazing article.

    I want to ask is there a good scope for affiliate marketing in Indian Hindi Language Websites?

  9. caroline

    Thanks harsh for the wide explanation between cpa and affiliate marketing. CPA will be a better option for beginners i guess. Would like read more about cpa

  10. Gaurav Khurana

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

  11. Shimul Shahriar

    Thanks Harsh for this detailed post. But my question is same as Deepak, ” if leads sent by my site are not able to make any purchase on target money site for longer time. Will I get banned or something?”
    Can I put a banner on my site instead of current Ad network ?

  12. Sanjeev Meena

    There are really lot of scams happening behind CPA Marketing. Even smartest people are get stucks in these types of scams.
    Nice Article, and I think affiliate marketing is far better in terms of commision but CPA might work best for some.

  13. Deepak Gera

    Thanks Harsh for this information, Is there any downside for me if leads sent by my site are not able to make any purchase on target money site for longer time. Will I get banned or something?

  14. Vishwajeet Kumar

    Excellent post Harsh. Actually I am doing affiliate marketing and never have tried CPA marketing. But After reading this I am thinking of using it and also curious to know How i am doing it? Thanks again.

  15. Rahul Kashyap

    Hello Harsh,

    Thanks for the Awesome article .. i would like to know about CPI networks and how i can promote CPI offer .. and also please share me best Indian mobile networks list .. if you know any one 🙂

    Rahul Kashyap

  16. Jay thakur

    Adsense and CPA together safe or not bro.

  17. Ashok

    Hi Harsh, thanks for the informative post. I am currently loving clickbank, especially for digital products.This is really very valuable article.

  18. Gurmeet Singh

    Both Affiliate Marketing as well as CPA are good ways to earn money online. Anyhow, Affiliate marketing seems to be the better way to me.

  19. Sunil Kumar

    I never seen such detailed article before. Thanks for sharing your article and can’t wait to start CPA.

  20. Pankaj Dhawan

    I think CPA is good for initial days when we have not much to offer and not making enough money but once things start moving better, We can move from CPC to CPA to CPS. What do you think? Do you recommend CPA and Affiliate marketing together or one over the other?

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