CPA Marketing For Beginners Guide: How it Works in 2023

Cost per Action Marketing, or CPA marketing as it is often known, is a perfectly viable way to make money online.

In fact, you could easily make a living from CPA marketing. The best part? It is pretty easy to get into for beginners too.

On this page, I want to talk to you about everything that you really need to know about CPA marketing for beginners. Hopefully, by the end you will get a feel for whether this is the right way to make money for you.

I am going to be taking the view that you are the person promoting CPA offers here, although a lot of this information is also applicable to those that are looking to work with affiliates to have their sites promoted.

You just need to flip the information around. In this case, rather than receiving the commission, you will be paying the commission.

What is CPA Marketing?

As I said; the CPA stands for 'cost per action'.

With CPA marketing, you will be promoting the links of advertisers. Rather than generate cash from a sale, you will generate cash when somebody clicks the link and completes a pre-determined action. For example:

  • Registering for a newsletter
  • Viewing a product
  • Receiving a telephone call
  • Carry out a search on the website

In nearly all cases, these actions will be 'free' for the person completing them.

This means that they do not have to whip out their credit card and make a purchase, which means that sometimes it is a bit easier to convert people than with traditional affiliate marketing, but I will talk more about that in a short while.

How Does CPA Marketing Work?

I am not going to go through the complete process of CPA marketing here, but I do want to give you an overview of how you gain that commission.

1. You start by choosing the offer that you wish to promote on a CPA offer website.

The offer will tell you the commission you can earn, plus the action that needs to be completed. There may be other restrictions e.g. can only accept traffic from certain countries.

2. You promote the link

3. If a user clicks the link and completes the action, you gain a commission.

Seriously, it is that simple.

You can think of CPA marketing as similar to the way you earn money from affiliate marketing. Think of the 'action' as a sale, albeit one where the user likely doesn't have to spend a cent.

How to Start CPA Marketing

If you want to get started with promoting CPA offers, there are several ways you can go about this.

If you have looked into affiliate marketing before, then the process is much the same.

The first step is to choose the niche you want to be running your website in. If you already have a website and want to add a CPA offer into the mix, then stick with the site that you already have. 

If you do not have a site, then do your niche research. It may be worth searching through a few CPA offers to see which ones look 'good' to you.

There is nothing wrong with building up a website around a few offers. Make sure that you read the terms of the offer so you know what you are doing.

Don't have a website but want to create one?  - click here to learn how.

You now need some way to promote your offer. Most people will build up a website. It is a slower process, but it can generate a rather sizeable number of visitors overtime if done properly.

This means producing some quality content and promoting it.

You should also be building an email list to send these offers too as well.

Alternatively, you can promote via social media, or even on websites like Quora. The conversion rate may be a little bit lower than if you had your own website, but that traffic is free and without cost.

You can continue to promote your offers, or you can find new offers to promote. If you do everything properly, then you should see some return.

Split test your offers to see which ones perform better than others.

Common Terminology for CPA Networks

If you are going to be engaging in CPA marketing, then there are a few terms that you are likely to come across.

While some of them may be fairly self-explanatory, others may not. Hopefully this list of the common terminology for CPA networks should help you out a little bit:

  • Return on Investment (ROI): You may not be encountering this one all that much, because it is a metric used by advertisers to determine how successful their CPA campaign is. They will divide the revenue by the amount they spent on ads. In order to get a %, they will multiply it by 100. The higher the %, the better!
  • Affiliate Manager: these are the guys in charge of the campaigns. They will liaise with the companies that want to advertise and the advertisers. You may not have direct contact with the affiliate manager, but you will sign up to programs through their website.
  • Cookies: cookies are small tracking files on a website. The idea of a cookie is to track the user to see whether they complete the action. Cookies will also provide a record of where the user came from, and thus the commission can be handed out to the right person. Because of that you'll also need a website cookie policy.
  • Category: this is the niche that the offer is in.
  • Contextual Link: this is a CPA link included naturally in the text. It is often not obvious that it is a CPA link.
  • Cost per Action (CPA): this is the offer that gives the payout. CPA pays out when a user completes an action e.g. signs up to a newsletter or hands over their personal details.
  • Earnings per Click (EPC): this is determined by how much an advertiser earns per click. So, if 100 people click their ad and they earn $10, the earnings per click will be 10 cents.
  • Offer Page: this is the page a person will be directed to when they click a CPA link. It is the offer page where the user will be completing their action.
  • Commission: this is the amount of money you will be paid for the user completing the action.
  • Conversion Rate: the conversion rate is dictated by the number of people clicking the link and ultimately completing the action. For example; if 100 people click the link and 10 people complete the action, the conversion rate is 10%.
  • Chargeback: if the action fails for whatever reason, a chargeback is initiated. This means that the money earned by the advertiser is removed from their account. This is to help prevent fraud.

CPA Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

On this page, I have often likened CPA marketing to affiliate marketing. This is because they work, roughly, in the same way. This means an offer is promoted and a commission is collected. However, there are a few differences.

Perhaps the biggest one is that CPA marketing does not require a sale to be made. This means that for promoters, it can be easier to convert website visitors.

However, it can be a little bit of a downside for the advertisers because they may not necessarily make any money from the completed action.

CPA networks tend to pay out a bit faster than affiliate marketing companies. This is because with affiliate marketing, there is always the risk that the purchaser can return the product that they have purchased.

There is no risk of this with CPA marketing. In fact, the risk is so low that a couple of companies will pay out the same day.

That being said, it is often a bit harder to get approved for a CPA marketing network, because the affiliate managers want to reduce the chances of fake leads being generated.

You may need to have an established site with quality traffic before you are approved for any of the big CPA networks.

What Are the Benefits of CPA Marketing?

If you are looking to make money promoting CPA offers, then you will be pleased to know that it is easy to jump into.

Barely any offers will have you jumping through hoops to gain that commission. You just need to work out the most-effective way to promote the CPA offers and you are 'good to go'.

There will also be a minimal investment on your part. In fact, you may not have to spend a cent during the early days of offer promotion depending how you set up your CPA offer.

As a company wanting to advertise their offers, you have a few benefits too:

  • It is affordable to get started. Remember; you won't be paying per click, you will be paying when somebody completes the action you have set. This means that you will only pay when you have gained a genuine lead.
  • There will be plenty of people itching to promote you. It is a fantastic way to get quick traffic if you are a newcomer to the online world.
  • It is cheaper than affiliate marketing


CPA Marketing is a brilliant way to make money if you are marketing online.

It is also a great way to promote your offers if you want to market your own website.

While CPA marketing is not going to be for everybody, it is a tried and tested method that can work when implemented properly.

Related Posts

Drew Mann

4 thoughts on “CPA Marketing For Beginners Guide: How it Works in 2023”

  1. Hi Drew,
    I really appreciate you for doing this “service”. As always, your explanations are complete, clear, and intelligent.

    • Hi Gz, great question and it’s something I am looking into as I don’t want to recommend anything that sucks. However, most affiliate marketing courses will cover CPA marketing to some extent but not exclusively.

Leave a Comment