CPA Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing (Discover The Main Differences)

CPA Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing (Discover The Main Differences)

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CPA Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing (Discover The Main Differences)There is a lot of confusion about the differences of CPA marketing and affiliate marketing from many beginners. There is a reason for that, some marketers promote a CPA offer and others an affiliate marketing offer.

They invite people to join them but they confuse their audience by saying that they have the best program and you cannot find something similar elsewhere.

The fact is that you can find good offers and programs both for CPA and affiliate marketing.

On this post, you will read what is different on these marketing methods.

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is the online business model in which you can earn commissions by promoting other people’s products.

Here is the process:

You join an affiliate program, get your affiliate links, you promote them on your site, email list, social media or anywhere you want and if someone buys a product through your links, you earn a commission.

It can be a one time commission or recurring commissions for repetitive buyers depending on the product and the affiliate program.

Usually, it is not enough to share your affiliate links, but you want to pre-sell and warm up your visitors before sending them to the sales page of the product.

There are many strategies and techniques to achieve that and it is the simplest online business model because you do not have to handle the customers or own the products.

The average internet user can start an affiliate marketing business if he has a computer and internet access.

There are many success stories of total beginners who have created profitable affiliate marketing businesses.

What Is CPA marketing?

I mentioned above that affiliate marketing is the simplest online business model.

Well, CPA (Cost Per Action) marketing is even simpler. Instead of earning a commission per sale, you earn money per action.

These actions can be anything that helps a company. For example, it can be an email of a potential customer, free registration on a site, download an ebook, a phone call and more.

With a few words, you do not have to pre-sell a product but you just ask your audience to give an email or do something else that sounds easier than buying a product.

Again, you need to promote that offer. You cannot spam some links and expect to earn money.

However, these actions usually make for your less money (on average) than a sale. So, you need to achieve many of these actions to earn the same amount of money that you could earn as an affiliate marketer from a sale.

It is not easy to say which one is the best for you because it depends on your audience but below you can read some main differences between CPA and affiliate marketing.

CPA Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing

1. It is easier to earn your first dollars with CPA marketing

earn money onlineIf you follow the right strategy to get traffic and promote your links, you can expect to start getting results faster with a CPA offer.

As an affiliate marketer, you suggest on your visitors to buy a specific product that will help them to solve their problems.

As a new marketer, you have not developed trust between you and your visitors and they have to pay money to follow your suggestion.

It makes sense that it would be easier to ask them to download a free ebook, join an email list or make a phone call. Another option is to share your free ebook or join your email list.

Anyway, some people will do the actions above even without the intention to buy anything but they may want free information.

2. CPA marketing programs have a tough approval process

Affiliate marketing is the online business model that most beginners try because it’s the easiest to get started.

Some affiliate programs accept new affiliates instantly. For example, you can create a free account on Clickbank and start promoting your links after a few minutes.

Amazon Associates has an approval process but it is easy to get approved if you have a basic website.

However, most CPA programs do not approve new affiliate marketers who do not get some traffic on their sites.

It would be a better idea to search for CPA opportunities when you have some visitors to your site daily, 100 uniques a day must be fine for most programs.

3. Many scammy products on CPA networks

You can find both of good and bad affiliate marketing networks. Some of them tend to accept scams in their listings.

The solution is simple here. You just avoid these networks entirely if you are a beginner and you want to be sure that you don’t send your visitors to online scams.

Also, there are programs that you can be sure about their quality products. For example, you can join the affiliate programs of Amazon, eBay, Walmart and any other company your trust.

On the other hand, most of the CPA networks include both legit and scammy products in their listings.

So, you have to research every product and offer you want to promote. It can take a lot of time and confusion for a beginner.

4. On CPA Marketing You Are Not Alone

This is a downside of the affiliate programs. When you join an affiliate network like Clickbank or Amazon Associates, you have to figure out how you will make money by yourself.

Of course, you can fix it by joining on Wealthy Affiliate. It is a community where you can find other affiliates to discuss your strategy and get helpful ideas.

On most CPA networks, there is an affiliate manager who can help you, answer your questions and recommend you some strategies.

How To Send Traffic To Your CPA Offers

The traffic strategy must be similar to your affiliate marketing strategy. The only difference is that you ask your visitors to do something instead of buying something.

You need targeted traffic to get visitors who are highly interested in your offers.

Your focus should be on finding products that help your visitors. So, you do not have to work only with CPA or affiliate marketing. You can promote offers of many programs if you think they solve your visitors’ problems.

How To Find A CPA Program

Below you can read five top CPA networks:

MaxBounty
PeerFly
Clickbooth
Panthera Network
ClickDealer

You can find hundreds of offers to promote on these sites. However, I do not think that it’s a good idea to start promoting random offers and products.

It would be better to know what you are recommending just like affiliate marketing.

I rarely visit networks directly to choose products. Usually, I test and review programs and later I look for an affiliate program if I want to promote them.

Also, there are some great products which pay both per action and per sale. If you browse products only on networks, you will miss these opportunities.

An example is the affiliate program of Wealthy Affiliate. You can earn $1 per sign up when your referral create a profile on the platform and recurring commissions when they upgrade to premium.

In my opinion, it is fine to know all the available products of your niche but choose the ones that really add value to your visitors.

Last Thoughts

The similarities between CPA and affiliate marketing are more than the differences.

You must follow the same strategy to promote your products or your offers but it changes the frequency of the sales and the potential earnings.

You can expect to earn your first dollars faster with CPA marketing but regular affiliate programs tend to give better rewards in the long run.

There is not a rule to figure out which one will work better with your sites and campaigns. I would recommend focussing on finding quality products and offers for your visitors.

If they can find value in your suggestions, they will buy them happily and come back for more information and ideas.

So, you can successfully apply both of CPA and affiliate marketing programs

Get The Right Training

There are many great affiliate programs on the internet. However, they will not work for you if you do not know how to send targeted traffic to your links.

Targeted traffic means visitors who want to read your posts, watch your videos and/or buy your products.

There are two ways to get quality targeted traffic:

1. Free traffic from search engines (Google, Bing, YouTube)
2. Paid advertising (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, etc.)

You can also use semi-targeted traffic from social media and convert it to targeted with your content.

Any of the above can be profitable if you put some effort and work on them consistently.

How can you learn more about targeted traffic and affiliate marketing?

I invite you to join Wealthy Affiliate, the largest community for affiliate marketers where I am a member and help other affiliates daily.

You will find top training, great tools to build a profitable business and a community to ask for help when is needed.

If you have questions about CPA or affiliate marketing, I would like to hear from you. Leave your comment below!

10 thoughts on “CPA Marketing vs Affiliate Marketing (Discover The Main Differences)”

  1. I’ve been studying about the CPA model recently after going through a free training site. Like you mentioned, it requires targeted traffic and the training actually advocates about paid marketing to landing pages.

    Is this the best way to promote CPA offers? Can they also do well with free search traffic? I’ve always been wanting to know. Thanks.

    1. You need targeted traffic. If you can get that traffic from Google, Bing, YouTube or any other search engine, it will work well. 

      If you can’t get free traffic, you have only one option. Usually, traffic from good PPC campaigns converts better than organic traffic because you can target the audiences that convert well. However, you need a budget to get started.

  2. Hey I really enjoyed this article and I did not know that much about cpa marketing. 

    I mainly just focus on affiliate marketing but I did write a couple of ebooks and I have planned to write more so I can give for free for visitors emails. 

    I am trying to take that next step so i can start bringing in the money with my websites. It does take a lot of work but anyone can learn affiliate marketing and even cpa marketing.

    1. That’s true, Justin. Everyone can learn about affiliate marketing and start a profitable business. I have seen many people start from nothing and achieve great goals through that process.

  3. I also thought that there were a lot of shady program within CPA, and that’s why I chose affiliate marketing as a beginner. And like you mentioned, getting accepted as an affiliate is much easier compared to CPA.

    On top of that, I wanted to also be able to make more with the sale, as over time, it will build up faster and make more income for me.

    1. I agree that it’s easier to get started as a beginner with affiliate marketing and a sale can make you feel excited every time.

      But keep in mind that you may find some nice CPA offers in the future. When you have enough traffic to get approved from these CPA programs, you can give it a try! 

  4. Thanks for this post on the differences between CPA and Affiliate Marketing. As I was reading through I did get a bit confused…

    I read through the article again and it did clear up for me. CPA networks are harder to join, that is for sure. When I first started with online marketing, I was disapproved by a few.

    Nowadays I have more success, but my focus has shifted somewhat so I do not involve myself with CPA marketing to a great degree.

    Most certainly both have their advantages and disadvantages and are great ways to start building an online business.

    With either method chosen, it is imperative that you know what to plan for and then execute your plan when you have it together.

    The Wealthy Affiliate site does provide a thorough set of training and support tools to so that. I have been a member there for 3 years.

    Although I no longer spend much time on the social side of the platform, I do use its features often.

    Things like the comment exchange, the 25 premium free SSL/Fast websites, the content creation tool, and the keyword tool are examples of why I stay subscribed…

    There is a growing market for both CPA and affiliate marketing on the internet, and that is not going to change. Articles such as this one help people understand what is out there, and also how to tap into the potential!

    1. Hi Dave,

      It is the best moment for anyone to start an online business. There is a lot of potential in many niches and affiliate marketing makes it easier to get started.

      I am happy you liked my article and I wish all the best with your business.

  5. Derek Marshall

    Hi Ilias,

    Thank you so much for this rather informative a very helpful explanation about the inherent difference between the two main types of online marketing CPA and affiliate marketing.

    As a niche site marketer, I absolutely agree with you that a combination of both on a given site is good business practice. I am about add in some CPA offers from Max bounty myself on one of my sites – do you have any particular strategies in regards to CPA marketing and techniques to obtain the best results?

    1. Hi Derek,

      There are not any secrets on CPA marketing. Review the products or recommend them on relevant posts. Be honest about their pros and cons and make sure that they are helpful to your readers. The training of Wealthy Affiliate can help you to find profitable keywords to promote the products you want.

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