There are many ways to get paid for doing affiliate marketing. CPA, or cost-per-action, is one that doesn’t necessarily depend on inspiring visitors to your website to actually make a purchase on your affiliate merchant’s site.

Confused yet? Let’s back up a bit and do an overview of the various ways that merchants and other companies pay affiliate marketers. Before you sign up to do marketing for anyone, be sure you understand how, and how often, you will be paid for your efforts.

Affiliate Marketing Compensation

  • Cost-per-mille compensation plans require only that you allow your affiliate merchant to put their advertising on your website. Though this method is still used heavily for display advertising, it isn’t at all prevalent anymore as a means of compensation for affiliate marketers.
  • In the beginning, cost-per-click advertising was a more popular compensation method than it is today. Cost-per-click works exactly as it says— when visitors to your affiliate site click on your ad for your merchant partner’s site, you are paid for your marketing efforts that made that happen. However, the practice of “click fraud”—getting everyone you know to click from your marketing site to the merchant site in order to increase your paycheck— has rendered this method pretty unpopular with the majority of affiliate programs.
  • Now we’re back to cost-per-action, or CPA, compensation. The vast majority of affiliate programs use this method, which is also called revenue sharing, to determine compensation. In other words, visitors to your site must visit the affiliate merchant’s site and actually do something there in order for you to be compensated. Frequently CPA compensation hinges on consumers actually buying something from your merchant partner before you’re compensated for your marketing efforts. However, other CPA plans require that visitors fill out forms or sign up for newsletters from the merchant and base your pay as an affiliate on those actions.

Have a Compelling Website

Perhaps obviously, CPA compensation plans can be the most challenging for online marketers. Your website needs to be compelling enough, and trustworthy enough, that your visitors will want to click over to your merchant partner’s site and part with their money and/or their contact and other personal information.

Today’s consumers are a wary lot. We’ve all developed the ability to ignore ads at will and are leery of marketing messages that are too obviously just about the sale. The way to make a CPA compensation plan work for your affiliate business is to use the principles of experiential marketing. Make sure that your website and any marketing articles you place with article-distribution services offer something of value in exchange for the readers’ time. Informative articles that feature your merchant partner’s products or services are far more likely to get a consumer’s attention than standard marketing tactics. It’s also necessary to “listen” to what people are saying about your affiliate merchant and your business online and to be part of that conversation. Doing so won’t just improve your sales; your customers will probably also have solid ideas that will help you improve your business.

While CPA payment agreements can be challenging, doing affiliate marketing the CPA way also gives you the opportunity to be very passionate about what you’re doing. You have to be— passion communicates itself and helps sales. So don’t be afraid of CPA; rather, dive in and make it work for you.

Comments (1)

  1. Outsourcing Guide Says:

    June 18th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Great article. I learn a lot from this post. CPA is an interesting topic. Thanks for sharing it.

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