3 Reasons You Suck at CPA Marketing and How You Can Fix Them!

You suck!  Yes, I said it.  And if you are reading this article…


…it means you are not getting the results you want out of your CPA campaigns.  But, you know what?  The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way.  


Don’t get me wrong.  There is no silver bullet, no secret potion, no secret trick that no one else knows about the will take you from losing money in CPA to making $100’s or $1000’s of dollars a day.  In truth, probably the single greatest obstacle people face in success in CPA is the idea that there is such a thing as push button riches, where little to no work is required.  However, if you will do the work, and follow some simple rules, you can dramatically increase your odds of success.  


So if there is a set of simple rules that can help someone create campaigns that make money, why isn’t everyone doing it?   That’s a great question.  One which can be explained as we go.  


Please note, paid traffic and organic traffic campaigns are conducted and scaled differently, and the focus of this article is paid traffic campaigns.


[content_container max_width=’500′ align=’left’]So the 3 reasons you suck at CPA marketing are:

  • You are direct linking your campaigns, rather than using a bridge page between your traffic source and the offer (although there is a caveat to this)
  • You’re not using (or using correctly) a tracking platform
  • You’re not properly structuring your ads and campaigns  



[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”1. Direct Linking/ No Bridge Page Between the Traffic Source and the Offer”] [/thrive_text_block]

Although there is a place for direct linking in CPA marketing, it should be limited in scope for several reasons.  

First, if you are direct linking most types of offers, you will restrict yourself from the most abundant and highest quality traffic sources.  Google Adwords and Facebook are the two largest traffic platforms on the planet and they have a lot of high quality traffic to offer.  However, in almost every case they will not approve direct link campaigns to CPA offers.  

Second, if you are direct linking, you are only allowing yourself one opportunity to monetize the click you get from your traffic source.  There are a number of ways to monetize a click, but when you direct link, you are only able to utilize one of them (a conversion- which can be a lead or a sale).  This also means that you cannot pay as much per click as someone using multiple monetization paths per click.

At a minimum, you should be using three monetization paths (there are seven, but that really requires a post all it’s own), including the conversion itself, capturing an email to build a list and remarketing/retargeting.


Without sending your traffic to a bridge page, you will lose the ability to remarket thus limiting the number of monetization paths and reducing overall ROI.  Remarketing/retargeting requires you to place your Google analytics code, your Facebook Pixel or your Bing UET tag into the header or footer of the landing page (there are some simple free WP plugins like Brett Rutecky’s FB Pixel Insert that allow you to set this up once in your WP dashboard and have it automatically placed on every page you create for that site).  

See below a copy of what this simple interface looks like in the dashboard of one of my WP sites for bridge pages.


This means that every person who hits your bridge page can be retargeted with the same or similar offers, regardless of whether or not they converted the offer at that time.  This is extremely powerful and can have a big impact on the profitability of your campaigns.   

Finally, when you use an effective bridge page, you will usually have a higher rate of conversions from the traffic because they have been “warmed” to the offer via the bridge page.    

A quick note: Rid your mind of the idea that profitability is about getting the cheapest clicks possible.  Instead, focus on getting maximum revenue per click, so that you can pay more than anyone else and get the highest quality traffic for your ad spend.  The way most traffic sources work is to send the highest quality traffic to the highest bidder.  The leftover/spillover is sent down to the next highest bidder and so on.  Multiple monetization paths means greater revenue per click from your traffic and the ability to pay more for the click and the higher quality traffic.


When is Direct Linking a Good Idea?


If these things are true, then what place does direct linking have in your CPA efforts?  

Generally, it’s a good idea to test the viability of an offer by direct linking where possible.  All networks will show you the conversion rates and “run of the network” EPC’s.  But this is across paid and organic traffic, using various methods including POPs (over and under) organic niche site SEO methods and various paid traffic sources.  

In order to test how well the offer converts on it’s own using your traffic source, you want to direct link so that your bridge page isn’t a factor in the conversion rate.  This will give you an idea if the offer is worth the time to build out the necessary sales funnels for success.  

In these direct linking campaigns, I would suggest a conversion rate of 8-10% as a minimum standard.  This needs to be high because once you insert your bridge page you’re going to have some loss of conversions (not everyone who hits your bridge page will convert to the offer).  

Let’s take a look at a quick example of the math.  Take an offer that pays out $2.50 for a lead.  If you have 1000 people click through your ad in your direct link campaign and 15% of that 1000 convert the offer, you have $375 in income.  

Now, you have an offer that converts high enough for us to build the bridge page and thank you page.  As discussed above, we should have a higher conversion rate on the offer because the traffic has been warmed to the offer.  For our example, let’s say you have a high converting bridge page that converts at 50%, but now we double our offer conversions to 30% because of the bridge page.  This gives us:

 – 1000 clicks to the bridge page with a conversion rate of 50% to the offer = 500 views of the offer.  
 – 500 views of the offer with a 30% conversion rate = 150 conversions on the offer
 – 150 offer conversions X $2.50 = $375 on the front end.  Our income is the same, but now we have collected their email address and placed our remarketing pixel to      market similar offer types going forward and have two additional paths to monetization.

It is important to note that, the return you’re looking for is largely determined by the size of your team.  If you are a one man show, you can have a lower rate here and still be successful.  Whereas if you build a team (ad specialist, web designer/coder, etc.) then you will need a much higher conversion rate to be successful.  

The scope of this article does not permit an exhaustive look at landing page creation, but there are a number of tools that allow for building bridge/squeeze pages.  Some have a recurring monthly cost (like Instapages or Optimizepress) where others are a one-off cost (like Instabuilder WP Plugin).  Unless you are a coder, you will need some kind of tool to build these pages for your funnels.  

I have used the Thrive landing page plugin, Instabuilder and the landing page software inside Getresponse’s email autoresponder platform.  Thrive and Instabuilder have a one time cost, where the landing page feature inside Getresponse has an ongoing cost of $15 per month.

The Thrive and Instabuilder plugins both have nice drag and drop UI’s, and are pretty smooth.  The Getresponse UI is pretty good, but a little clunky, BUT they host the pages for you.  Whereas if you go the route of a plugin like Instabuilder or Thrive, you’ll need to buy hosting as well.

I have hosted some quick easy landers through a Wix page or Weebly page, and this can work in a pinch, but the branding at the bottom allows for redirection away from your offer and this is an unwanted distraction.  You can find the code to remove the branding, but this adds layers of complexity.  Don’t do this unless you are rubbing your nickels together.  

It’s important to remember, most ad platforms use quality score as a measure of how congruent your keywords, landing page and ad copy are.  A higher quality score generally means a higher click through rate, and a lower cost per click in your ad spend.  Three things you can do to make sure your quality score is high are:

  • Use keywords congruent with the offer in a single campaign, and put your experimental keywords- those that are not as congruent, in a separate campaign (more on this below)
  • Stay away from clickbait headlines, especially vague or misleading ones
  • Write (or outsource) about 500 words of copy for your landing pages


One Final Note about bridge pages: I like to buy domains for each setup I use.  This allows me to tailor the domain name to the offer for continuity (I usually don’t pay more than a few dollars for these) and allows me to convert the WP site and it’s pages to an optimized SEO organic traffic campaign in addition to my paid campaign if I find keyword sets that are underrepresented in the search traffic.

For example, if I’m going to promote XYZ car insurance offer, and their tagline on the offer page is “Best car insurance, Period!” then I might look for a domain that was “bestcarinsuranceperiod.site”


You don’t have to do this, I’m just sharing with you how I approach it.   


[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”2. You Are Not Consistently Using Tracking in Your CPA Campaigns”] [/thrive_text_block]

If you are not using a tracking platform of some kind, you might as well set your money on fire.  Tracking is not optional when it comes to CPA campaigns, it’s absolutely necessary.  Think of a tracker as simply a “traffic processor” that tells your traffic where to go.  

So many don’t use it because they say it’s difficult to set up, or too pricey to use.  But compared to just throwing money at advertising, it’s cost pales in comparison.  


There are a number of options, but generally, we are talking about “front-end” trackers that allow you to track such Key Performance Indicators as:

  • ISP of the traffic (Verizon, Comcast, etc.)
  • Type of device being used to access offer (desktop, tablet or mobile device)
  • Keywords that generated your clicks and conversions


Now even though this data is being collected on the front-end (from the ad network- between the network and your bridge page) you still have the ability to redirect, post click.  What I mean by that is when a click comes in, the traffic processor will look at where it comes from (ISP, device type, etc.) and send different clicks to different bridge pages that are optimized for that specific type of traffic.

As an example, you can send one click that comes from a desktop to a page optimized for desktops, and another click that comes from a mobile device to another page optimized for mobile devices.  

This information is essential to optimizing your campaigns.  When you know that 77% of your clicks and 82% of your conversions come from a particular device type or set of keywords, you can simply turn off or redirect the non performing parts of your traffic in your campaign.


Without this knowledge, you are simply shooting blind, hoping for a winner.  Yes, in some rare cases this can happen, but it’s like winning the lottery.  The odds are you’ll go broke long before it does.  

As you optimize your campaign, you will see dramatic increases in your ROI, which allows you to then scale the campaign to the limits of your budget.    

There are basically two types of tracking platforms available.  These are cloud based and self hosted.  If you are going to use a self hosted platform, of course you will need hosting and a domain that you use exclusively for tracking (I use a domain with “marketinggroup” as an example).  

There is no right or wrong here, it’s just what makes the most sense for your situation.  Prosper202 is the self hosted option I use where Trackingdesk.com is the cloud based platform.  These both have free options that will cover your usage up to the point that you are running enough traffic that you need to spend some money.

Some other popular platforms include:

  • Thrive
  • Voluum
  • AdsBridge
  • CPVLabs


Generally speaking, the more traffic you run through your “traffic processor” the more you’ll need to spend.  

The way that most front-end trackers work is they allow you to pass URL variables called tokens as a part of your URL.  For example here is an offer link from one of my networks:  

www.mb11.com/tnk.asp?o=10609&c=918271&a=172794&l=10480 (altered slightly).  

This is what the network uses to track the conversion back to me.  A tracking token is a URL variable that goes at the end of this link.  Notice the difference in the link above and the link below.


You can see that I’ve added the “s1=” and “s2=” variables to the end and associated them to “QueryString” and “Device.”  This tells the ad platform to “pass through” the information I’ve requested to me and my tracking platform for future optimization.  
These tokens are “tagged” differently, depending on the traffic source you’re using.   For example, if you are using Bing, you would use {QueryString} as a variable to pass back the keywords that generated the click.  If however you were using Google Adwords as your traffic source, you would use s1={keyword} instead of {QueryString} above.  

A great place to find all of the tokens available for each ad platform is http://www.trackingtokens.com  This site provides a comprehensive look at traffic tokens and how to use them.  

Now there is one way that you can avoid a lot of the hassles associated with making sure you get these tokens set up properly.  That is to use Trackingdesk as your tracking platform.  Trackingdesk has a lot of the traffic providers and networks preloaded and you simply go in and set up the campaign and connect the dots with preloaded information for each one.  They don’t have every traffic source or network, but many of the best are already set up for you.  



[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”3. You’re Not Properly Structuring Your Ads and Ad Campaigns”] [/thrive_text_block]

This, I think is a somewhat overlooked aspect of successfully running almost any ad campaign.  When I first started running CPA campaigns, I would test a few keywords that were loosely tied together and I would test a couple of ads (again loosely tied together) and when I did get conversions, it was very difficult to track these from either side (advertiser/traffic source and tracking platform).  


A 3 X 5 ad structure is best for testing ads and keyword groups.  


Below, find an example of what this looks like.  

As you can see, we have three ad groups, with five ads in each group.  As stated above, we want to structure this in such a way as to make it easy for us to track what’s working.

The way we do this is to put keyword groups that are congruent (when you are searching for keywords in your traffic source, look for keyword ad groups) into each ad group.  Choose the keywords you want from each keyword group and then create Ad group 1.  

Now, there are two ways to test this.  You can either:

  • Process A- create one killer headline (remember that it still needs to be relevant so that we maintain our ad quality score- a factor in determining frequency and CPC) and use it all five times for the ad group but change the copy in each ad
  • Process B- create five headlines for ad group one, but change the copy in each of the five ads in the ad group


I usually prefer to use process A above, but both are effective ways of testing headlines and ad copy.  


Next, move to ad group 2 and repeat the process used in setting up ad group 1.  And then repeat the process one more time for ad group 3.  This allows you to test the top three sets of keywords, and headlines and ad copy for each group.  


Remember I mentioned “experimental” keywords above?  These are keywords that might be correlated, but not quite directly related (these might be related based on interest, for example).  Be sure to set these off in a separate ad group, because you will likely have a lower quality score and potentially a higher CPC for this ad group.  


So why test these?  You might find some correlation that just converts like crazy that few others have found.  If you don’t test, you will never find them.  These are diamonds that have to be found in the testing process, and if you find one, you can crush an offer.  

Now, as you reach a point of statistical significance, take the best performing ads in each group and create four different ads in each group to test against your baseline, with the idea being to create a new better performing ad.  


Setting your ads and campaigns up properly is just as important to your analytics as your tracking platform.  In fact, these two go hand-in-hand.  By properly structuring your campaigns inside your traffic source, you’ll make it easier to see what is converting.  

As you look inside your tracking platform, you’ll see what is converting from the passed URL variables and when you combine it with your ad split testing, you’ll be able to collect enough data to optimize your campaign for maximum profitability.  

Does all this sound like too much work?

Well, you can always go flip burgers.  

Hi! My name is Casey Lindsey. I am an Internet Marketer, Author and committed husband and father of two great kids. I am passionate about helping others reach their goals. Let me know how I can help you!

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