Why You Should Embrace, Not Fear, Performance Marketing

Lee Aho
by Lee Aho
November 8, 2012

All too often CMOs and brand managers are slow to adopt performance based marketing approaches. This has the effect of placing them at a real disadvantage in today’s marketplace, running the risk that a competitor will out-distance them by simply adopting performance marketing more quickly.

Cost-Per-Action (CPA) is a results-based form of advertising in which you only pay for conversions. Since it is performance-based, CPA advertising enables you to effectively measure results and maximize ROI while being able to reach a larger, more targeted audience than print or TV provides.


There have been some negatives attached to CPA in the past, but nowadays these are all manageable. As an advertiser, the biggest concerns often relate to fraudulent traffic or poor lead quality, and these in turn are associated with badly developed strategies for effectively monetizing leads and sometimes a general mistrust of CPA networks. Recognizing, addressing and educating stakeholders about how these kinds of concerns can be managed opens the door to performance marketing, and the positive, scaleable ROI benefits that it brings.

The following list of steps provide a road map for testing, optimizing, and scaling your initial CPA campaigns.

Step 1 – Do Your Homework

Your CPA quest begins with a clearly stated campaign objective. Are you looking for leads or sales? What type of consumer are you targeting? What is your initial budget? What is your competition doing in the CPA space? Understanding your goals and identifying your limiting factors will establish the basis for delivering consumer value and effectively monetizing your campaign. This information should be shared with your network so that they too clearly understand your goals and objectives.

Step 2 – Align With A Proven Network

Evaluate networks based on their track-record and choose a trusted, established network. Your network partner should take a proactive stance when it comes to screening publishers. This helps uphold the integrity and quality of traffic being delivered to your offer. Ask questions. Find out how a network’s publisher approval process works, understand the ratio of accepted publishers, be certain they have proven fraud prevention techniques in place (and ask what they are), and be sure they maintain an industry-leading compliance department. Toplevel compliance teams evaluate campaigns daily, run random and full audits of accounts and traffic, and proactively help uphold your brand image. If you are not working with an exclusive, well-respected network, you are not only risking your campaign, but also your brand.

Step 3 – Set Realistic Expectations Of Volume

Frequently, first-time CPA Advertisers underestimate the amount of traffic that can be generated in the CPA space. Communicate clearly with your network to forecast volume estimations so you can determine your manageable spending levels. You also need to ensure a number of campaign variables are in place in order to scale your campaign strategically and maintain sustainability. Variables including merchant processing capabilities, customer service seats, inventory, and fulfillment are just a few of the limiting factors to be considered when determining your acceptable level of scale.

Step 4 – Enter The Market As Competitively As Possible

You’ll need to identify a “payout” or the amount you are willing to pay for each action generated. Rather than paying for wasted impressions, CPA allows you to guarantee ROI on your spend by paying for results. As you increase your budget and ability to handle volume, you increase the likelihood of attracting top tier affiliates who deliver the highest quality and lead volume. Experienced CPA advertisers recognize the benefits from offering their highest competitive payout. The adage, “you get what you pay for” translates into the CPA world. In an effort to receive traffic from the world’s leading affiliates, it’s imperative advertisers remain payout-competitive.

Step 5 – Create A Landing Page That Converts

Create a compelling landing page tailored to your core customer. You have only 10 seconds to turn interest into a conversion. In those 10 short seconds, you must capture a potential customer’s attention, provide direction to your call to action, and deliver enough value to ensure they complete your desired action. Your landing page is your consumer’s direct contact point and the best representation of your brand.

Step 6 – Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

Now that you’ve completed the perfect landing page, be prepared to optimize and update it frequently. Consistently track results from your campaign. For example, analysis of consumer drop-off rates through your sales funnel is a key metric in determining page performance. Page analytics provide essential insight for long-term conversion improvement and increased consumer ROI. In addition to page optimizations, you’ll also want on-going optimizations of publisher traffic on a granular level. Increased transparency with your network partner will not only allow you to optimize publisher performance, but further optimize on a source level too.

Step 7 – Realize Your Network Advertising Consultant Is Your Biggest Resource

Having chosen an established and reputable network, you can trust that you are working with an experienced advertising consultant who maintains your best interests in mind. Open communication and two-way transparency are vital to the success of your campaign. Moreover, your advertising consultant will act as your referral for 3rd party companies for lead validation, landing pages, etc., setting you up for maximum returns.

If you are not currently capitalizing on CPA advertising, you are missing out on one of the highest quality, fastest growing, and most measurable models to increase your sales, online presence, and market share. While new advertiser concerns are valid, the best networks’ experience, service, and performance will provide the greatest opportunity for maximum return and minimum risk. Conducting your homework, ensuring that you choose to partner with leading networks, and following the above steps will position you to exceed your goals and achieve maximum performance based ROI.

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Lee Aho

About Lee Aho

Lee Aho graduated from Michigan State with a BA in Marketing. Originally hired at Clickbooth as an Advertising Consultant, Lee was quickly promoted Senior Advertising Consultant, and most recently to Vice President of Advertising. He excels in planning, evaluating, managing, and optimizing online campaigns.

View all posts by Lee Aho

2 Responses to “Why You Should Embrace, Not Fear, Performance Marketing”

  1. Aaron Weissman Says:

    Agreed! Nice piece Lee – wrote a similar one for iMedia on why brands shouldn’t overlook the affiliate space.

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  1. Affiliate marketing digest - December 3, 2012

    [...] All too often CMOs and brand managers are slow to adopt performance based marketing approaches. This has the effect of placing them at a real disadvantage in today’s marketplace, running the risk that a competitor will out-distance them by simply adopting performance marketing more quickly. Read more [...]