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What Is The Difference Between CPM And CPA Email Marketing?

May 19, 2020 Sarah Cavill

shutterstock_423422092  E-Mail Marketing Concept

There are more and more ways for brands to advertise, but email remains one of the most reliable and effective means of communicating that advertisers have at their disposal, whether choosing CPM or CPA email campaign strategies. 

According to Emarketer, more than 90% of internet users in the U.S. use email, and email is a preferred method by many consumers for receiving information from brands. Additionally, mobile usage has amplified the flexibility and effectiveness of email marketing. “Smartphones have made [email] a mobile marketing channel, and advances in marketing technology adoption have made more sophisticated programs possible, with email often central to a cross-channel strategy,” noted Emarketer

The growth and popularity of email have made it indispensable as a component of robust and strategic marketing campaigns for a number of reasons:

  • Branded email campaigns allow advertisers to control the messaging and appearance.
  • Email campaigns leveraging reputable senders come with transparent reporting analytics, including send volume, open rates and click-through rates (CTRs), allowing for ongoing email campaign optimization.
  • Predefined email campaign parameters, including predefined audiences and send times, helps email marketing sidestep many ad-tech related fraud concerns, like those that are often attributed to programmatic campaigns.

With email marketing contributing such significant benefits to marketers, it’s critical to understand the differences between CPM and CPA email marketing campaigns to help select which buying style best aligns with campaign objectives.

What Is A CPM Email Marketing Campaign?

CPM stands for “cost per thousand impressions.” For CPM email campaigns, this is translated to “cost per thousand sends.” Although CPM email campaigns can be used at any point along the consumer journey, CPM email is usually considered a top-of-the funnel marketing solution to drive campaign awareness and amplification.

CPM email marketing campaigns offer benefits that include:

  • Emails sent to premium and new inventory, often only available to CPM campaigns.
  • Emails sent at precise times to align with other ongoing campaign actions such as TV ads, search campaigns and display media buys. (CPM email campaign send times can also be aligned with call center hours.)

A CPM email strategy can also lay the groundwork for performance-based marketing campaigns. Once promotions, messaging and creative have been refined, email marketers can evolve CPM email campaigns into performance-based (or CPA) email marketing.

What Is A CPA Email Marketing Campaign?

CPA stands for “cost per action.” CPA email campaigns are typically bottom-of-the funnel solutions designed to drive actions (or conversions) because advertisers only pay when pre-defined consumer engagements take place. These actions can include lead form completions, app installs, newsletter enrollment, purchases or any other quantifiable action.

CPA email marketing campaigns offer benefits that include:

  • CPA email marketing lowers the risk to advertisers, because payment only happens when an action is taken.
  • CPA email marketing can be efficiently priced because it often leverages remnant email lists and send times.

CPM And CPA Email Goes Hand In Hand

Consumers want brands to communicate with them via email. Both CPA and CPM email campaigns have their place within effective cross-channel marketing strategies. Understanding marketing objectives and determining how to leverage each email buying strategy will benefit every brand marketer and direct advertiser, especially those seeking to efficiently scale their customer acquisition efforts.

Are You Looking For New Ways To Reach Targeted Audiences?

Offering the broadest, vertical-agnostic digital media distribution capabilities in the market, inclusive of both CPA and CPM email, Digital Media Solutions® (DMS) helps brands flourish by capitalizing on consumer intent and engagement, deploying sophisticated martech with big data intelligence to connect brands with consumers at the moments they’re most ready to take action, using messages proven to resonate.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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