What is Cost per Lead (CPL) & How Does It Work?

 7 min read


Still see CPL as an unknown acronym coming straight outta some super confusing scientific dimension?

Believe Cost per Lead affiliate programs are the devil and are afraid to even think about how to play with Cost per Lead Facebook offers?

Then you should definitely take some time to read this Cost per Lead article!

Maybe you thought about it and then the thought died.

“I know what is Cost per Lead advertising. CPL. Cost per Lead programs. Got it. I know all about it.”

And that’s that.

No doubt about it:

You’re right.

Even so, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Cost per Lead marketing.


Because most people don’t know what they’re talking about when they refer to Cost per Lead.

Don’t worry, though!

These two Mobidea Academy experts are here for you.

By the end of this article, we promise that you’ll have a clear understanding of CPL and how the whole cost per lead ecosystem works.

Ready to start?

Then let’s dive right into it and understand what’s the best Cost per Lead formula to help you succeed in affiliate marketing!

What is a Lead in Advertising?

In advertising, a lead has to do with the contact details of someone interested in a product and who’s therefore a potential consumer of other products from the advertiser.

It’s basically an information about a targeted customer – a future money making source.


That’s right!

The advertiser isn’t making money on the users they’ve received just yet.

man with no money

Even so, for you to have a firm grasp on what is Cost per Lead, you need to understand something:

Behind each lead in advertising, there lies a specific purpose created by the advertiser.

That’s why we must get to know a lead’s “family members” for you to really understand the whole deal.

What are we talking about?

We’re referring to the types of data/information that can be requested from the user.

In fact, it can be general user data such as name, country, address, zip code, phone numbers, credit card number (without any charges), signup form submit, or an email submit.

First, the information received gets analyzed and validated.

Generally, this process takes about 72 to 96 hours, and is only activated after getting sent to the client – the owner of the service.

What’s the purpose of all this, you ask?

The advertiser isn’t making money immediately.

Indeed, they’re not getting a return on all the leads, or the leads must be validated, etc.

It takes a whole lotta time.

That’s why – behind this whole process – there is the motivation that is the basis of all advertising:

To effectively turn interested customers into real-life, actual buyers.

What is Cost Per Lead?

Often shortened to CPL, Cost per Lead is basically an online advertising pricing model, in which a particular advertiser pays for a signup from a customer who’s interested in the offer the advertiser is promoting.

This model can also be known as online lead generation or lead generation Cost per Lead.

Cost per a Lead or CPL is directly related to CPS services.

The difference?

In CPS, the advertiser pays per each validated lead that has been generated.

Wanna know what CPL actually refers to?

Feel like it’s time for a Cost per Lead example?

Check these examples!

  • Sweepstakes
  • Gambling
  • Coupons & Vouchers
  • Surveys
  • Newsletters
  • Dating services

The CPL model is quite safe and easy to work with.

Since the user only needs to insert some data, the conversion rate can be really high, especially when compared with the normal subscription services.

However, the payouts are usually low.


Because – once the data is delivered to the owner of the service – not all customers will turn into buyers.

Enjoyed this CPL definition?

Wanna play with CPL offers?

Wanna work exclusively with CPL, getting higher payouts and amazing offers just for you?

On Mobidea, you know we’ve got your back!

the mobidea crew

We talk with awesome advertisers every single day.

We know what they want and always manage to build a strong relationship.

Moreover, the Mobidea Crew is restless.

We do our best to spot all those little mistakes and invalid leads.

What do we do with that information?

We help optimize your traffic like a master!

Now that you’re excited and teeming with new ideas for your campaigns, it’s time to compare.

You know what Cost per Lead is all about.

Time to compare it with another famous and super popular digital advertising model:

CPA or Cost per Acquisition!

Cost per Lead (CPL) vs Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

Don’t know the difference between CPA and CPL?

Let’s learn!

Cost per Lead compensates you when someone views an ad on your site, clicks that ad, and then takes an action to become a qualified lead for a sale.

But what does CPA mean?

CPA stands for Cost Per Acquisition, and it’s a model where leads are only paid for in the event that the user completes an action.

This means the user needs to make a purchase or an acquisition of any product.

What’s the difference?

With a CPA model, the conversion happens immediately.

Related: How to Choose High Paying CPA Offers on Mobidea

The sale is made and the affiliate gets paid.

With the CPL model, advertisers pay for a qualified signup from a consumer/user interested in the offer.

In the end, what’s the main difference between the CPL model and the CPA model?

It’s the fact that the signup consists of a “lead”, which can simply be a user’s contact detail, such as a zip code, an email address, or a phone number.

This info is later used by advertisers to try to sell their products to the consumer either through newsletters, email campaigns, or phone calls.

In the CPL model, the offers usually have a lower payout than the ones which belong to the CPA model.


Because the publisher is going to be facing a lower risk, since a lead is “easier” to get than a purchase.

This will lead to a lower payout and to the fact that the advertiser risks more by having to actually convert a user into a sale.

How to Monetize Cost per Lead Offers

These two models have a lot in common.

Want our expert opinion?

You must always balance these two options to make sure you maximize affiliate marketing profits like a sweet king.

king with crown

But wait!

Do you wanna know how to monetize Cost per Lead offers and get your Cost per Lead marketing right?

Time for us to make it all clear!

Are you familiar with Sweepstakes offers?

Sweepstakes are super popular all over the world.

In fact, they’re the most common type of CPL offer.

There’s also Health & Beauty offers, offers related to financial companies (Visa, American Express, MasterCard, etc.), Coupons (Amazon, Starbucks, Zara, Costco, etc.)

You see?

Lots of different Cost per Lead types of offers for you to explore.

Time to check a cool example of a Cost per Lead offer!

zara cpl example

Source: BizProfits

This is what Cost per Lead networks are all about.

These types of offers all have something in common:

In every possible CPL scenario, the user must always complete a kind of questionnaire, leaving some personal info that will later be used by the advertiser.

starbucks cpl offer

Source: BizProfits

Now that you know what a lead is, what’s the next step?

It’s time to engage visitors!

No biggie!

There are a whole lotta methods you can use to engage customers.

Want some offer engagement tips?

Check these three tips right now!

Tips for Maximum Offer Engagement

Call-to-Action button

That’s right!

Call-to-Actions are super important and one of the online advertising staples.

You must always use a fine-tuned CTA or any other kind of strong message.

The goal?

To make sure users are enticed and wanna click like crazy!

Landing Page

A landing page is a key component of any worthy affiliate marketing arsenal of amazing weapons.

A good landing page should be related to the offer.

It’s a great tool for you to engage users and galvanize them to take action.

medieval war

Check these CTA best practices to maximize your game!

Forms & Questionnaires

Wanna get that engagement high in the clouds?

Use forms, questionnaires, or simple games.

These are remarkably successful ways to get the attention of your users!

Learn More: How to Effectively Monetize a Blog With Affiliate Marketing

Trust these two advertising pros:

Once you put all these tips together, you should use your promotional channels to link and drive your traffic.


Ready to make that money rain like it’s insane?

Never forget that successful CPL advertisement will always depend on your niche and on the kind of subscribers you have.

If you’re a well-connected guy with an offer in the luxury segment, or you’re a master of getting information from people, we’re pretty sure your leads will give you a good profit.

On the other hand, if your market is the entire world, and you don’t have that huge amount of traffic, you’ll always have other models that can be more profitable for you.

Related: CPA vs CPI: What’s the Deal?

What’s more important than anything else?

The user’s experience!

You have to come up with a way to respond to the desires of your audience.

Understand what they’re hungry for!

hungry man

Meeting their wild expectations is a huge step towards a sale/conversion.

A clean, offer-related landing page, and high volumes of traffic will make you swim in a pool full of that sweet cash, just like Scrooge McDuck.

Ready to earn big?

Let’s go!

Make your Cost per Lead calculation, understand the average Cost per Lead by industry, and start your journey to money-making town!