CPL/CPA are two different acronyms which relate to affiliate marketing. What is CPL/CPA? Let’s define them both right now and give a little background on how each is used and how they differ from each other.
What is CPA?
CPA refers to cost per action. This is your classic sales oriented affiliate system. If I’m promoting an eBook which is for sale on Clickbank at $19.99, that’s a perfect example of a CPA. The “action” in the cost per action equation is the sale of the eBook. I don’t get paid unless my customer takes that action of purchasing the eBook which I am promoting. When I sell that eBook, I get a piece of that sale called a commission.
I like Clickbank for CPAs because the commissions go as high as 75%. Commission Junction is also great because half of the world’s top fortune 500 companies advert
What is CPL?
CPL, on the other hand, refers to cost per lead. With a lead, you’re not getting a full fledged customer like you do with a sale. You get the potential for a customer most times with CPL. Someone’s name, their email address, their zip code, or other forms of personal information can be referred to as a lead.
An insurance company obviously want a full fledged customer who pays them for their insurance, but they’ll SETTLE for a lead or rather a potential customer. I could promote a sign up form from that insurance company in which I direct traffic towards the form where people give their name, zip code, and current make and model of their vehicle in exchange for a quote for roughly how much they can expect to pay each month to get insurance from that company on their car.
The insurance company doesn’t get a customer or sale, they get a sales lead, meaning they have the potential to convert that person into a full on customer who pays them for insurance. Whether or not that lead converts into a sale is out of my (me being the affiliate’s) hands. I did my part in delivering the lead to the insurance company, and in exchange for that I get the “cost” in the CPL equation.
Many affiliates prefer to promote CPLs exclusively because the implication is that it’s easier to get someone to part with their email address or zip code as opposed to any amount of money. The trade off is that you’re typically not making nearly as much money generating leads as you do through sales, at least in a 1 to 1 ratio. CPL has the potential to be much more profitable if you can generate a large volume of leads.
A few of my favorite CPL networks are Commission Junction, Market Leverage, and Neverblue.
My feelings are why force yourself to choose from one or the other? Depending on your niche, you may find one or even both are better suited for whatever it is you are promoting, so never close yourself off to one or the other as they each have a purpose and use in different situations.