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By: Kate Simmons

In any online marketing campaign, you always want to ensure that you are getting what you pay for. The cost of advertising is a necessary business expense, but online marketing is helping campaigns be more and more effective and efficient with this spending, and investigating some of the tools at your disposal for doing so would be very wise indeed.

One of the preferred methods for online marketing is a CPA (Cost-per-Acquisition) campaign. In essence, this type of marketing is about measuring the direct impact of your marketing spendings against the new customers you are acquiring. That said, instead of focusing too much on various metrics what you really care about is the amount of money you spend on this acquisition. It’s also a great way of targeting an audience and controlling spending, but there are a few nuances to the art of the CPA campaign. Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Measure Everything

No marketing campaign is really that useful if you can’t track what’s working and where your clients are coming from. You may experience some initial success as a result of your new PPC campaign or link building, but unless you keep tabs on the data you won’t be able to sustain momentum, and you won’t be able to maximize the campaign’s success.

Use the Google Analytics URL Builder to help stay on top of which particular marketing outreaches are most effective. You can track your traffic using this handy tool, allowing you to see in Google Analytics which of your outreach efforts and linking the most to your site.

2. Conversion Tracking

Another helpful Google Analytics tool is Google Analytics Conversion Tracking— you can use it to see exactly which traffic sources (links, keywords, display banners, social media channels) are leading to acquisitions, and then use that info to manage your marketing expenses more diligently.

Since you pay for CPA campaigns based on how many acquisitions you get, tracking conversions is obviously one of the most important parts of the process. Making sure you know which links are generating customers and where your money is going are crucial to the success of the campaign.

3. Conversion Optimizer

This is a feature of Google AdWords. It will take hard optimization decisions off of your shoulder. What it does is that it constantly checks your keywords, placements and ads and compares them against your conversions and it immediately acts based on this data.

So the Conversion Optimizer will help you keep sites or keywords off of your campaign that are not generating conversions (or acquisitions) for you. It’s another way of keeping costs in check and optimizing efficiency of targeting.

4. Third Party Bidding Tools

If you are using numerous ad systems (Google AdWords, Microsoft AdCenter or even Baidu in China or Yandex in Russia) you’ll find it pretty hard to track the performance of each of them individually. Splitting your budget between these channels can be tricky as well. To have one place where you can manage most of your changes, tests and reports you might want to look at solutions like Marin, DART Search, Acquisio or Kenshoo. They’re quite a bit more expensive, but large campaigns with a lot of resources use these tools to collect data from a variety of channels and act in real time. Having access to this type of consistent conversion optimization will really boost you into the big leagues of CPA campaign marketing.

5. Switch it Up

Running tests and experiments on your advertisements will result in the highest success rates. If something is working extremely well, maybe best leave it alone and let it take care of business. But for most of these channels, you will need to try a variety of different landing pages layouts, ad text variations, and geographic targeting to see what works best. You’ll need to work closely with the tracking features of the above-mentioned tools to organize the best marketing campaign.

Anything you do will be worthless if the shareholders don’t understand the value you give to the campaign. Make sure your client, boss, and other shareholders are on the same page with you when it comes to campaign KPIs (key performance indicators). Much of the time they tend to focus on vanity metrics that are easier to influence and look good, but don’t always affect your bottom line: e.g. CPC, CTR or ad positions.

As any online marketing campaign, CPA campaigns are most effective when they are organized and well-maintained. You need to be using the best available tools and the best available people working on it full time. These five strategies will put you in prime position for CPA campaign success.

Kate Simmons is a freelance writer and blogger on topics related to digital advertising, social media marketing, and mobile marketing. Keep an eye out for more of her articles on Twitter.

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