Cost Per Action – An Alternative to Affiliate Marketing

Cost Per Action – Another Way to Make Money Online

In previous posts, I’ve talked about affiliate marketing extensively, as it’s a great way to make money online, and comes with fewer risks and problems that multilevel marketing, which can, depending on the program, be questionably legal.  While affiliate marketing remains the most popular choice for those who want to work online from home, there is another lucrative moneymaking option available – cost per action.  Cost Per Action, also known as Cost Per Acquisition or CPA, is popular with both advertisers and marketers, as it offers good benefits for both.

cost per actionWith affiliate marketing, you, as the affiliate, direct visitors to your Website to a product’s sales page.  If they buy the product, be it a television set or an ebook, you receive a commission for referring the customer.  Cost per action works similarly, but the commission may or may not be tied to an actual product sale.  In fact, with cost per action, you can get paid for something as simple as having your Website visitor provide their email address!

How Cost Per Action Works

While cost per action programs may be tied to a product sale, the term derives from the literal meaning of the word “action” in the name.  You’re being paid for persuading one of your Website visitors to perform some sort of “action.”  That action may consist of any one of a number of things:

  • Joining a mailing list by providing an email address
  • Purchasing a product
  • Signing up to become a customer
  • Agreeing to a free trial of a product

Unlike affiliate products, which typically pay a percentage of the sales price of the product for referral of a sale, cost per action typically pays a set fee if the visitor performs the desired action.  The fee may be modest; getting the visitor to provide their email address may pay anywhere from 50¢ to $5 per signup.  On the other hand, persuading someone to open an account at a binary trading brokerage or signing up as a customer for a law firm dealing with medication-related issues, may pay anywhere from $200 to $500 per signup.


Those who are experienced in cost per action and can generate a lot of traffic to their offers can make tremendous money through volume.  A $1.50 CPA fee for an email address might not sound like a lot of money, but if you can get 100 people to do it every day, there’s a full time income to be realized from it.  On the other hand, you only need to persuade a couple of people per week to sign up for the higher-paying offers to earn some serious money.

There are a wide variety of products and services that are promoted via cost per action; dating offers, free trials for health and beauty products, and signing people up for business opportunity products (bizopps) or financial brokerage offers (FOREX or binary options) are among the most common.

maxbountyWhile many companies handle their affiliate programs directly, most cost per action offers are handled through middlemen.  Companies such as Neverblue, MaxBounty, and MarketHealth are among the more popular names.  When you open an account at one of these companies, you’ll have the ability to search through thousands of offers, which you can sort by company name, product category, or the amount of money the offers pay per action.   Once you click on an offer, the terms are specified in detail.  It’s important that you read these terms, as they will frequently spell out the kinds of advertising you may or may not use in order to promote the offer.  There are often significant restrictions for using pay per click advertising, so reading what is and isn’t acceptable is vital.

Once you are accepted by the company to promote their offer, you’ll have access to text links and banner ads that you can use in your advertising, which might consist of sending email messages to a mailing list, posting banners on your blog or Website, or advertising with the major search engines using pay per click ads.

contact usGetting accepted to a cost per action network is a bit more difficult than signing up for an affiliate network such as Clickbank.  While affiliate networks accept most anyone who fills out a form, cost per action networks generally require some additional information as well as a follow-up phone call.  You’ll be asked how long you’ve been in business, what sort of advertising you intend to do, what kinds of Websites you have and what kind of traffic you generate.  For this reason, cost per action is generally not a good idea for those who are new to making money online, as it’s not uncommon to have your application declined by a cost per action network if you don’t have a good track record of promotion.

Cost Per Action Summary

The appeal of cost per action is its relative simplicity, however, and if you can generate a lot of traffic for an offer, there’s a lot of money to be made.  If you have a popular blog relating to the dating niche, for example, you can earn a lot of money promoting cost per action dating offers, which might pay as little as $3 for an email address, or could pay $50-$100 if someone signs up as a paying members.  Some cost per action offers have a revenue sharing plan; instead of paying a flat fee for signing up, you might earn a commission on an ongoing basis for as long as a customer remains a paying member of the program.  Some cost per action offers take this a step further, and offer a second tier commission, as well.  If you can persuade someone else to promote the offer, and they can sign up paying customers, you’ll earn commissions for your own customers actions as well as those of the other marketers who sign up under you.

Few Internet marketers work in one area exclusively.  Most use a mixture of affiliate marketing and cost per action marketing in the course of their work, as there are advantages to both and you never know what kind of offer may become available through one type of network or the other.  A good marketer will have as many tools available in their arsenal, and cost per action offers provide another good way to make money online.

If you’re interested in learning more about affiliate marketing and cost per action, you should try Wealthy Affiliate.  This online training program can teach you a lot about making money online, and has helpful tools, free Web hosting, and a great user forum.  It’s a fun way to learn how to work online from home.

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