What Does CPA Mean in Marketing in 2021?

A successful CPA marketing strategy is dependent on many factors, but the most important of these are sales. Sales are what matter in the end because they represent how well your product or service is doing in the market.

What Does CPA Mean?

The acronym CPA stands for Cost Per Action and it indicates how much advertisers are paying per sale. The business term “CPA” can be applied to any type of advertisement like TV commercials, print ads, social media posts, and so on. Marketers use this information for comparison between ad costs and conversion rates which indicate the likelihood of consumers acting after seeing the ad, e.g., buying a product. A good CPA should be high while still being profitable so that companies don’t lose money with every action taken by customers, just try to keep it as low as you can.

Examples of CPA  in Marketing

Paid Search Advertisements for a Product


Paid search advertisements are usually the first results that pop up when conducting a search engine query. These inquiries can be generated by internet users and come in many forms: an ad may show up at the top of the results, on the right-hand side, or at the bottom (if you are using Google). Marketers will often have to deal with high costs in these ads but if their queries are highly targeted they can still see a good return on investment.

Social Media Account Advertisement for a Product

Paying for an advertisement of your product on a social media platform is another popular option among marketers, especially when trying to target a specific audience. Social media accounts that have a high amount of followers or subscribers can charge a premium for advertisements that will be displayed to their users. If the marketer is looking for an impressive number of conversions, then spending money on this type of advertisement is a good investment.

How to Use CPA in Marketing

When a marketer decides to use CPA as an evaluation tool they are primarily interested in the return on investment. The lower the cost for each action is, the more profitable your marketing campaign is going to be. For example, if you have two ads that both bring you one sale but one costs $50 while the other costs $100 then the second ad earns you double in profit. This is a good return on investment and proves that the lower cost ad is the better option, so stick to it! Make sure you have a budget when trying to use CPA measurements in marketing because there’s no reason to spend more than what you can afford.

Why is CPA So Important?

When marketers start advertising their products on the internet they will often see a high variance in costs and conversions. For example, you may spend $10 to get one person to buy your product while someone else may spend $5 and bring ten people to your store. Since CPA enables comparison between these two ads, it becomes much easier for companies to know which ads they should pursue and eliminate.

Advantages & Disadvantages of CPA

traffic ads

The main advantage of CPA is how it makes marketers aware of ad expenses and conversions, which will help to keep the overall costs low while still making a profit. The biggest disadvantage of using this marketing strategy is that its measurements are too general to be used alone. If you only rely on CPA then there’s no way for you to compare ads and find out which one is better. Some types of ads will do better than others but there’s no way to know unless you test them for yourself.


Marketers often use CPA to keep track of online ad costs and compare them with conversions. This allows companies to find good investment options on the internet while keeping advertisement expenses around a certain threshold. The biggest disadvantage of this strategy is that it only provides average data points which means you may miss out on some important information. Overall, CPA can be a very good tool for marketers to evaluate their advertising efforts and make improvements in the long run.

To learn more about CPA and affiliate marketing in general, visit our iAmAffiliate premium forums where thousands of community members are ready to help you make your first step in the marketing world!

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