What Is Cost Per Acquisition?

Dec 20, 2022 | Business

Digital marketing costs could easily rack up to thousands of dollars. As such, marketers need to keep track of their marketing spend, including cost per acquisition (CPA), to accurately gauge the profitability of their ad campaigns and make informed decisions on which strategies and marketing channels are more successful. This blog post discusses cost-per-acquisition (CPA), including how and when to use it.

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What Is Cost Per Acquisition?

Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is a crucial marketing metric for measuring the cost of acquiring customers or converting prospects into paying customers. It is an important part of customer lifetime value (CLV), which can help marketers make data-driven decisions and determine their customer acquisition costs.

This marketing metric allows marketers to identify what marketing channel their customer acquisition costs are coming from and how much those costs are. This includes customer acquisition expenses such as customer onboarding, customer service, customer retention campaigns, or customer outreach efforts.

CPA is often used with other marketing metrics, such as Conversion Rate (CR) and Cost Per Click (CPC). CR measures how many prospects are converted into customers, while CPC indicates how much it costs for each click on an advertisement.

By tracking these three metrics together, marketers can better understand their marketing budget and allocate resources more appropriately toward their most successful channels.

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When measuring CPA, it is important to note that certain marketing activities, such as offering promotional codes or discounts, may have direct impacts on reducing customer acquisition costs in the short term but could result in long-term losses as well.

Marketers should keep this in mind when deciding where to invest marketing budgets and setting long-term goals for their customer acquisition strategies.

How To Calculate Cost Per Acquisition

Calculating cost per acquisition (CPA) is essential for understanding customer lifetime value and making the right marketing decisions. To calculate CPA, marketers divide customer acquisition costs by the number of customers acquired during a given period. This customer acquisition cost should include customer onboarding fees, customer service expenses, customer retention campaigns, customer outreach efforts, and other associated costs.

For example, if $100 were spent on customer onboarding and retention activities over one month, which ultimately resulted in 10 new customers being acquired, then the CPA would be $10 ($100/10). This is the average CPA, where the conversion cost would be the total cost of ads on individual platforms whose prices may vary.

Finally, measuring CPA alongside metrics such as conversion rate (CR) or cost per click (CPC) is useful. CR indicates how many prospects were converted into customers, while CPC reveals how much it costs for each advertisement click.

When To Use Cost Per Acquisition

Cost per acquisition (CPA) is crucial when using paid marketing mediums. Here’s how you can use cost per acquisition in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, display advertising, affiliate marketing, and social media marketing.

Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an effective customer acquisition strategy that can help businesses reach more potential customers on a budget. PPC ads allow you to target specific audiences based on their search preferences and interests, making customer acquisition costs far lower than traditional advertising methods. As you gain data on customer behavior, you can adjust your campaigns accordingly to optimize customer acquisition costs and maximize customer lifetime value.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is a form of an online ad campaign that uses banner ads to attract attention. Display ads effectively target users who have visited the website or interacted with other ads. Through retargeting, display ads can help find new customers while keeping customer acquisition costs low.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is performance-based marketing in which an online merchant pays an affiliate partner for each customer acquired through their promotional efforts, such as blog posts, email campaigns, and social media posts.

Affiliates allow businesses to reach more customers without investing heavily in customer acquisition activities. This makes the cost per acquisition (CPA) much lower than expected and helps the business remain profitable.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is a type of online advertising that is concentrated on producing and disseminating content on social media platforms. Social media can be a potent means of acquiring customers at a cheap cost per acquisition  (CPA) as customer lifetime value (CLV) becomes a more crucial metric for marketers.

Businesses can reach more people by utilizing organic content such as videos, blog posts, articles, customer stories, and customer feedback alongside paid advertising campaigns while keeping customer acquisition costs down.

Native Advertising

Native advertising effectively reaches potential customers unobtrusively by blending in with the content they are already consuming online. By placing ads within the content, native advertising allows businesses to reach their customer segment more effectively and at a lower customer acquisition cost (CPA).

What Is A Good CPA

good CPA depends on the goals and objectives of your customer acquisition strategy. Generally, it helps you efficiently acquire customers while generating returns over customer acquisition costs and providing lifetime value.

Achieving the ideal CPA can take time and experimentation. Still, by tracking customer acquisition metrics and making regular adjustments to your customer acquisition strategies, you can ultimately optimize your customer acquisition costs and make sure that your customer retention efforts are as cost-effective as possible.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding what a good CPA looks like for various businesses or industries, measuring customer acquisition costs against CLV is generally considered the key metric for assessing the effectiveness of customer acquisition campaigns.

By monitoring this metric regularly, businesses can make necessary changes in their customer acquisition strategies and ad campaigns to maximize returns while keeping customer acquisition costs low.

Understanding how different customer acquisition strategies affect customer lifetime value is essential to determine the ideal customer acquisition cost per customer.

Why Is CPA Important?

As an online business owner, understanding and tracking the cost per acquisition is important for several reasons, and here are a few of them:

Measuring Customer Lifetime Value

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is the total amount of money a customer is expected to spend on your products or services throughout their lifetime. This metric can be used by businesses to assess their customer acquisition strategies and determine if they are delivering long-term value or only short-term gains.

Cost per Acquisition (CPA) is an important metric for measuring customer acquisition costs and lifetime value (CLV). By tracking CPA, marketers can accurately assess the return on investment from each customer acquisition campaign and optimize their marketing budget accordingly.

Efficient Customer Acquisition

With customer lifetime value (CLV) becoming increasingly important for marketers, CPA helps businesses acquire customers more efficiently by keeping customer acquisition costs low and optimizing customer retention strategies.

Managing Marketing Campaigns

CPA is also great for managing promotional campaigns such as discounts or loyalty programs. While these may reduce customer acquisition costs in the short term, they could result in long-term losses if not properly monitored with metrics such as CPA. The average CPA value can also be used as a benchmark for future Ad campaigns.

Understanding Ad-Spend

By combining CPA with metrics such as conversion rate (CR) or cost per click (CPC), marketers can better understand their marketing spend and make more informed decisions about where to invest their budget in maximizing returns.

Measuring Customer Acquisition Performance

Cost per Acquisition (CPA) enables businesses to effectively measure customer acquisition performance over time which can be invaluable when assessing initiatives such as a website or advertising designs, customer service experiences, or product improvements that affect customer acquisition costs.

Tracking the Success of Marketing Channels

Display advertising is another effective form of customer acquisition when used strategically, along with retargeting ads targeting customers who have already interacted with the brand.

This makes customer acquisition costs much lower than they would otherwise be via traditional forms of advertising while still delivering great marketing ROI if managed correctly through tracking customer behavior metrics like CPA.

Optimize Marketing Efforts

Finally, Cost Per Acquisition helps brands understand how well campaigns have worked regarding customer retention and satisfaction. CPA gives insights into the actual long-term value generated by each acquired lead or customer throughout their relationship with the business rather than focusing on short-term benefits or profits made only from immediate transactions.

This allows marketers to create comprehensive strategies designed specifically to produce high-quality loyal customers that generate repeat sales over time.


CPA is invaluable for businesses looking to maximize customer lifetime value while minimizing customer acquisition costs.

By monitoring customer acquisition metrics and making necessary tweaks to customer acquisition strategies, businesses can ensure that their customer retention efforts are as cost-effective as possible and that they are achieving a net positive return on every customer acquired.

Ultimately, this will help them generate more revenue and build long-lasting relationships with loyal customers.

Would you like to boost your customer acquisition rate and increase your average order value? Priceless Consulting can help you do just that. We optimize your website so that your customers will come to you, saving you tons of marketing costs. Contact us today, and let’s get started!

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