Free Guide: What is CPA Marketing, How Does It Work And How Can I Do It?

I was talking to a friend of mine recently about my marketing business and explaining one of the newer parts of it. I realised that I hadn’t shared this with you. As always, I want to keep you ‘in the loop’ with what I’m doing in order that you can learn from it and perhaps even be inspired to try this yourself.

What is CPA Marketing?

CPA stands for Cost Per Action and it refers to a type of marketing that usually involves you generating leads for companies and in turn, those companies giving you a small payment for each lead.

It works like this:

You generate traffic from one or more sources which you then send to an offer. The offer is usually for a free trial or free gift that the customer can get by filling out a survey or similar. In most cases, the company that has created the offer requires the customer to opt in or fill out their address before they pay you for that lead. Once they’ve done that, you get your payment. Simple!

How Much Does It Pay?

Generally, the payment for each lead tends for vary. However, you can usually expect between $1 to $6 per lead, depending on what the offer is. In very competitive markets like the insurance market, there are life cover offers that will pay you up to $22 per lead. However, as I said, these are highly competitive markets and not great if you’re only just starting out on a lower budget.

How Do I Do It?

I was introduced to CPA marketing by a friend of mine who then recommended a course (no longer available) by a guy called Saj P. He taught me everything I’m going to share with you here.

So how do you get started with CPA marketing?

Well, it happens in stages.

  1. Sign up with an affiliate network
  2. Find a method of driving targeted traffic (which I’ll show you in a moment)
  3. Get your affiliate links
  4. Drive traffic to the links

The first stage is to sign up with a CPA affiliate network. You will need to sign up as an affiliate, sometimes known as publishers (not advertisers). A publisher is someone who ‘publishes’ ads on sites or search engines using pay-per-click advertising. That’s what you’ll be doing.

There are a large number of networks around including NeverBlue, Copeac, ClickBooth, Convert2Media and Commission Junction. The one that I’m using at this stage is MaxBounty. You can sign up to MaxBounty using my link (below) which may help you get accepted quicker:

Signing up with an affiliate network sounds easy but there is a way of doing it that will ensure that you have a better chance of getting accepted. You see, many of the networks have quite strict conditions for getting into them. You need to show them that you have the knowledge and the ability to drive traffic to them.

To give you an idea of the application process, I was rejected from NeverBlue, ClickBooth and C2M when I first applied. I got into MaxBounty on my first attempt, but only after I got rejected from the others and learned what they were looking for. Commission Junction (CJ) will accept you straightaway as it’s less of a CPA network and more of a traditional affiliate network where you get paid to sell actual products, rather than giveaway offers.

But if this is your first exposure to CPA, how do you get accepted?

Well, honesty is a pretty important part of your application. If you’re relatively new to CPA, then say so. When saying so, you also need to make sure that you say how you’re learning the trade and what methods you’ll be using to drive traffic to the offers. You also need to state which niches (also called ‘verticals’ in some of the American and Canadian networks) you’ll be working in. In my case, I get paid for leads in the business opportunity market and in the electronics market.

Once you’ve filled out your application, I would strongly suggest that you phone the affiliate network to get your application approved more quickly. Just give them a call about 10 minutes after submitting the application and ask them to look at the application with a view to getting it approved more quickly. This shows both that you’re eager to get started and that you actually care about the CPA network and application.

So, how do I drive traffic to the offers?

Good question! I’m glad you asked. :)

Well, there are several effective ways to get people viewing your offers. I’m going to cover one in some depth here, but to give you an idea, here is a list of some of the methods that I use or that I know some of my colleagues are using effectively.

  • Buying links or entire channels on YouTube and then adding a link to the offer in the video description (I have four channels I currently use for this).
  • Creating Facebook groups with catchy titles that are based around a solution to a problem, or are based around a product. For example you could create a group called iPhones Rock! and then link to offers for other Apple products, like a ‘Test and Keep an iPad’ offer.
  • Using Facebook ads.
  • Creating blogs reviewing several offers in the same niche e.g. Weight Loss and linking to the offers from there. You could also add offers to existing sites if you have them.

Whether you use one of the above methods, or the one I’m going to detail here, focus on that until you can make it profitable. Then move onto the next one. Many people make the mistake of trying several things at once and not following through with them for long enough to understand them and get results.

The way I’m currently driving traffic to offers…

I’m currently using banner advertising to get traffic to my offers. This is also known as ‘Media Buying’, as you’re buying ads on high traffic media sites like blogs. It’s the same principle as buying ads in a newspaper, but in a far more targeted way.

CPA MarketingAgain, there are a number of ways to do this but I’m using an ad broker called BuySellAds.

What this site allows you to do is to search for sites that are selling advertising space on them according to price, ad size, related keywords and number of impressions. As a quick sidenote, the number of impressions is the number of times your ad is loaded up. Every time that someone visits the page that your ad is on, your ad will be shown, which is one impression. With BuySellAds you could be getting over 5,000,000 impressions per month.

What’s cool about this is that instead of paying for each click as you would if you were using Google Adwords, you pay for the amount of time the ad is on the site. So you pay the same whether your ad gets 5 clicks or 500 clicks. If your ad is good and converts well (and is targeted to the audience of the site), then you can maximise the number of clickthroughs you get.

Once you sign up for an account with BuySellAds, you can choose to be either an advertiser or a publisher. Now, unlike the CPA networks where you’re a publisher, on BuySellAds, you’re an advertiser, because it’s you that’s advertising the product. I try not to think about all the definitions too much. It makes my brain hurt a bit.

If you click on the ‘Buy Ads’ tab at the top of the screen, you’ll be able to start searching the sites and ad placements, narrowing your search using the criteria on the left-hand side.

I’d suggest you familiarise yourself with the offers on your CPA network so that you can start to see which of the offers would fit in with the sites you have at your disposal on BuySellAds. That way, when you’re searching on BuySellAds, you can recall the niches you have offers for and target them. For example, there are several sites about Apple products, so you can use the offer I mentioned earlier from MaxBounty and promote that on the Apple-related site. You see how that works?

When you’re looking for sites (and depending on your budget) here are a few tips for finding the right kind of ads:

  • Look for sites that will give you the most amount of impressions for your money (sounds obvious but worth bearing in mind).
  • Look for ad placements that are not right at the top of the site or right at the bottom, but somewhere more central.
  • Try and get larger square or rectangular type ads rather than actual banner-shaped ads. The dimensions you’re ideally looking for are 300 x 250. All the CPA networks will have ads that are that size and these ads have been proven to get the best clickthrough rate.

OK, so let’s say you’ve found a site that has the ad space you’re looking for. It gets a good number of impressions, say 250,000 and it’s going to cost you $100. Before you add the site to the cart, you’re going to want to check who visits the site. If the site is big in Pakistan but your CPA network only has offers for the US and UK, then you can get all the impressions and clicks you like, it ain’t going to be profitable.

There are two sites you can use for this: and In both cases, you simply type in the name of the site that you saw on BuySellAds and click Search and it will give you a strong idea of who uses the site. Just look under the ‘Audience’ bit of data. Let’s say it’s a site about Apple iPhones. Forty-six percent of the traffic to the site is from the US and the majority of visitors are in the 18-35 bracket. In that case, you find an offer that would suit them, such as an offer for US visitors to get a free iPad in exchange for their zip code and participation.

Incidentally, beware of sites that have mostly teenage users, purely because you’ll need to find offers that are targeted to them and that don’t require a minimum age. Many offers require you to be 18+ to participate.

If you’re happy that you have an offer to match the audience of the site, simply add the site to your cart in BuySellAds. You then need to click on ‘Add Creative’. Here’s where you upload the ad creatives from your CPA network. Simply save the correct size ad from the list of creatives in the network to your computer, then upload it to BuySellAds.

Finally and most importantly, you need to add the link that the user will be taken to when they click your ad. You’ll find this with the creatives in your CPA network. You’re looking for the code that goes with the ad, and in particular, the web address that comes after <a href=””…..

Just copy the address (without any other code) and paste that into your BuySellAds cart. Save it and then check out. Job done! You’ve just done your first media buy.

You can now monitor your impressions and clicks on BuySellAds and your leads (and revenue) on your CPA network.

*   *   *   *   *

If you enjoyed this mini tutorial answering the question ‘What is CPA Marketing?’, let me know in the comments section below, as I’d be happy to provide more like this if there’s enough demand for it. Also, if you enjoyed this and learned something from this article, then please comment below and share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or any other site you might be a member of.

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Comments (39)

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  1. [...] Contact James « Free Guide: What is CPA Marketing, How Does It Work And How Can I Do It? [...]

  2. Zaini says:

    Thanks for the info,

    So, how about the result?

    • James says:

      Hey Zaini.

      Really good question. I’ve changed my approach to CPA and may well do a follow up once I’ve begun to get consistent results. Advertising on places like BuySellAds is good but you need to have a fairly large amount of money ($500 plus) to test it out and get the right combinations. The split testing feature on it is very good and helps you to do that faster.

      I’m now promoting CPA offers via Facebook groups and pages (mostly Fan Pages) and that is starting to get some results. I’ll share them once I’ve finished testing them out. Personally, I think that it is possible to make good money from CPA using the tools and info I’ve shown you above, I just haven’t found it yet, but I’m still working on finding ways to do it. The key thing is that you need to find free ways to drive traffic to the offers, because the margins on them are so small compared to paid products. Hence the reason I’m using Facebook. I’m also trying out some strategies on Twitter using CPA so I’ll write a post about those once I’m getting consistent results.

      Hope that helps.

  3. preius82 says:

    This is what i was looking for thank you for the info…

  4. Hi James, nice in-depth insights up there, really loved reading it. I have always been building adsense niche sites and it is working quite well for me. My AdSense niche sites make a good income each month. But now I am thinking to give CPA Ads a shot and see how it works for me. Any special tips you have for me?

  5. ANNA says:

    Your small briefing on CPA made clear a lot of things at large. Thanks.

  6. Chris says:

    hey man – great stuff and very insightful.

    i’ve been in the home business industry very successfully
    for a few years… only 28 years old, but i’ve raked in over $7 mil
    in the last 5 years. i’m looking at getting into cpa (obviously) but
    i know it can be a tricky game.

    i’m gonna be a student of your stuff, and apply what you talk
    about, but i’m curious if you do either coaching sessions or
    rev share options with those who are qualified.

    i just built out my professional fan page today
    and am already closing in on 1,000 fans in about 8 hours…
    all without even hitting my private facebook yet. so i’ve got
    some good connections and strategies up my sleeve for lead
    generation… i’m anxious to apply them to cpa and see how i

    thanks again for the info! much appreciated.


    • James says:

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for commenting and congrats on your progress. CPA is something I’ve done but I don’t offer CPA coaching, however…

      If you’re looking for an expert who does a lot of volume you should definitely look to talk to Saj Purkayastha. I think his colleague is Phillip Mansour, whose business is also based on the CPA model.

      The post (above) was (as far as I know) to give guidance to those just getting started.

      Keep in touch,


  7. Attilio says:

    Hello, this is the first time I read something related to CPA (although I am not new to Internet Marketing). Your article gives me a lot of great business-opportunities.
    Thanks for your tips, very appreciated.

    Warm regards,

  8. Tharindu says:

    Thanks for the great post james. I was having some downtime with cpa lately and wanted to start over again. This post remind me all the basics, which i should stick to

  9. Brian Gosur says:

    Great article and some good information about CPA marketing.

    Good job.

  10. Trevor says:

    Nice tutorial dude, thanks. Thinking of getting in CPA marketing, but finding it hard to focus on one thing at the minute! Is this a good area for a relative noob to get started in?

    • James says:

      Hey Trevor,

      Thanks for the comment and for mentioning my site on your own blog.

      Personally, I’d say that CPA is one of the harder areas to get started online. There are plenty of far easier things that you can do to make money online. In my experience, for CPA to work, you need to have already built a list that is targeted to a specific market, to whom you can send CPA offers.

      Get good at building a list and a relationship with that list. I’d even say that creating your own product would be a good idea first and promoting that to them (once you’ve created something that they actually want).

      Hope that’s useful.

      Keep in touch and let me know how you get on.


  11. [...] found this very good article on that was a very good starting [...]

  12. Diego says:

    Hi James!

    Thank you so much for the information, I’m going to attend a seminar on CPA its a free one with some guys I found online. I’m thinking of giving this a shoot but I want to know what kind of budget you will say…to get started. I live in the UK and CPA is something new to everyone.


    • James says:

      Hey Diego,

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think you need to ask the experts for a clear figure, but I’d suggest that you’d need a budget of at least a few hundred pounds to get started.


  13. Thanks for nice sharing. Great job

  14. [...] (that don’t have the same traction as they once did), these companies use an approach called CPA marketing to pay for specified actions a user [...]

  15. Omar says:

    James, I noticed in one of the threads above you indicated that CPA marketing is one of the harder ways to make money online and made reference to “far easier things you can do to make money online”. I am a novice and will love to give CPA a try but I believe in progressing incrementally, would you have some specific suggestions for a novice to enter into the internet marketing game with one of those easier and fundamental methods you made reference to above??

    • James says:

      Hey Omar,

      Yes, in my personal experience, CPA is a harder way to make money.

      There are so many ways to make money it can be overwhelming. If I was you, I’d either go into affiliate marketing, or jump straight into creating a product. For help on affiliate marketing, check out Lynn Terry’s excellent blog ClickNewz.


  16. tim gammel says:

    The information is fantastic a great big thank you.

  17. Pavel says:

    Frankly isn’t this just a traffic arbitrage? Buying leads on one end and trying selling them with a profit on the other. Anyways, if it’s working for you then kudos!

    • James says:

      Hi Pavel,

      No, it isn’t arbitrage in the case of most companies. They’re buying leads on the front end and converting as many as possible into paying customers.


  18. kei says:

    great info dude, maybe i should try with CPA now.. i’m still noob in this IM world.

  19. Ruben P says:

    WoW. I’m going to tear CPA up. Great article inbox me, i’m into creative marketing, if i get some results i’ll share.

  20. Michael Hammond says:

    Bravo. That was really well done. I learned a lot as someone new to online marketing.

    Thank you for your time and effort.

  21. marcus b says:

    Great article James. I have a question about the bit where you state that buying channels on youtube is effective. How do you go about buying a link or a channel on youtube.

    Also are you able to update us on what your most effective non-paid strategy is.


  22. John says:

    Hi, thanks for the info. I noticed no mention of email blasts though. I currently generate 15-20k verified emails a week from my business which I would like to monetize in other ways. How would one approach this using CPA?


  23. Tony says:

    Do you happen to know a good ebook on the topic?

  24. Terrible says:

    This is terrible. Virtually NOBODY makes money doing this without investing/gambling money in HOPES of getting anything worthy in return. Only fools invest in getting traffic to a site in which the return for their trouble and gambles are unspecific, minimal, or not worth gambling for in the first place. I would NEVER pay for a Facebook ad in hopes of getting traffic, when it’s not guaranteed. If there’s no assurance or guarantees, why in the hell would I gamble MY money in HOPES of making some pocket change back? Give me big money or go home, or I do it FREE. NEVER gamble for nothing worthy, especially when you don’t have much money to invest in the first place. Investing is for the rich who want to throw money around – smart people EARN money without blowing it.

  25. collins says:

    Nice info James. I am looking forward to making money via cpa. Thanks.

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