Lifetime Value (LTV)

Lifetime value (LTV), or customer lifetime value (CLV), is a crucial metric in business and marketing that quantifies the total value a customer generates for a company over the entire relationship duration.

What is lifetime value?

Lifetime value is a forward-looking metric considering the revenue generated by a customer’s repeated purchases, plus factors such as loyalty, engagement, and referrals. It determines the customer’s long-term impact on business success, which can be used to drive decisions and guide the allocation of resources for sustainable growth.

Here are five ways lifetime value can impact business performance and decisions: 

  1. Strategic decision-making: LTV provides insights into the potential value of each customer over time, helping businesses make informed decisions about customer acquisition and retention.
  2. Customer segmentation: LTV allows businesses to categorize customers based on their long-term value, enabling targeted marketing strategies that tailor efforts to high-LTV customers for maximum return.
  3. Resource allocation: By understanding the future revenue potential of customers, companies can allocate budgets more effectively for marketing, customer service, and product development, optimizing their investments.
  4. Loyalty and advocacy: High LTV often correlates with customer loyalty and advocacy. Focusing on increasing LTV can lead to better customer relationships, referrals, and a stronger brand reputation.
  5. Measuring success: LTV is a metric that tracks the overall success of customer interactions, helping businesses gauge the effectiveness of their strategies and initiatives over time.

What is customer lifetime value?

Customer lifetime value is the same concept as lifetime value. Both terms refer to the total value a customer generates for a company over the entire duration of their relationship with the brand. The terms are often used interchangeably in discussions about business and marketing.

In some contexts, customer lifetime value might emphasize that the measured value relates specifically to customers. It highlights the focus on understanding the long-term value of individual customers in terms of revenue, loyalty, and engagement.

In other contexts, lifetime value might be used in a broader sense, not necessarily tied exclusively to customers. For instance, it could refer to the value generated by different entities like users, subscribers, or clients, depending on the type of business.

Whether you use customer lifetime value or lifetime value, the concept remains the same: It’s a metric that quantifies the overall financial contribution of customers to a business over their entire engagement with the company.

How to calculate customer lifetime value?

The formula to calculate lifetime value can vary, depending on the specific business model, but a basic version of the formula is:

Customer lifetime value formula (CLV)
  • Average purchase value: The average amount of money a customer spends on each purchase.
  • Average purchase frequency: The average number of purchases a customer makes within a given period.
  • Customer lifespan: The expected amount of time a customer continues to purchase from the company.

The importance of customer lifetime value 

Customer lifetime value is vital for businesses as it offers a 360-degree view of the true worth of each customer. The metric goes beyond the short-term gains, capturing the entire scope of customer interactions, purchases, and engagement over time. By determining the long-term revenue potential of customers, companies can tailor their strategies, allocating resources wisely across acquisition, retention, and customer service. 

Increasing customer lifetime value should be a strategic priority for businesses chasing sustained growth and profitability. Not only does increasing it bolster your bottom line, but it also underscores a commitment to delivering ongoing value and exceptional experiences. 

Higher customer lifetime value signifies customer loyalty, reduced churn rates, and greater brand advocacy—factors that contribute to a robust and loyal customer base. If you have a high customer lifetime value, you’re able to justify investments in customer acquisition and retention efforts, which in turn will come full circle and help to increase CLV.

How to increase customer lifetime value

Every marketer knows just how competitive their landscape is—generic ads won’t cut it if you want to increase customer lifetime value. Instead, focus on the following:

  • Personalization: Find a comprehensive marketing platform that can use data to personalize experiences to individual preferences, offering recommendations, notifications, and content based on customer behaviors and interests.
  • Loyalty programs: Implement rewards incentivizing repeat purchases and engagement, providing discounts, exclusive offers, or points systems.
  • Cross-selling and upselling: Suggest complementary products or higher-tier options to increase the average order value and maximize customer spending.
  • Customer engagement: Regularly communicate across multiple channels with a cross-channel marketing strategy, sharing relevant updates, educational content, and seeking feedback to maintain interest and involvement.
  • Exceptional service: Provide outstanding customer service that addresses concerns promptly, enhancing customer satisfaction and fostering long-term loyalty.
  • Community building: Establish online platforms for customers to connect, share experiences, and build a sense of belonging, strengthening their connection to your brand.