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LTV or Lifetime Value

Term: LTV or Lifetime Value

Definition: LTV, or Lifetime Value, is a prediction of the nett profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.

Alternative Names: Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), Life Time Value, Client Lifetime Value


Expanded Explanation: LTV measures the total revenue a business can reasonably expect from a single customer account. It considers a customer’s revenue value and compares that number to the company’s predicted customer lifespan. Businesses use this metric to identify significant customer segments that are the most valuable to the company.

Benefits or Importance: Understanding LTV helps companies make decisions about sales, marketing, product development and customer support. It provides insights into how much value different customers bring over time, allowing businesses to optimise their strategies to enhance profitability.

Common Misconceptions or Pitfalls: A common misconception is that increasing customer acquisition will always increase LTV. However, acquiring customers who do not have a high LTV may actually cost a company more in the long run. A pitfall to avoid is focusing solely on LTV without considering the cost of customer acquisition (CAC).

Use Cases: LTV can be used to tailor marketing strategies, predict future revenue streams, segment customers and determine the effectiveness of promotions, such as loyalty programmes, for example. It’s also a crucial metric for businesses looking to raise funds or for valuation purposes.

Real-world examples:

Let’s consider a subscription-based business such as a streaming service. If a customer subscribes for an average of three years (36 months) and pays £20 a month, their LTV would be:

£20 (monthly payment) x 36 (months) = £720

This means the streaming service can expect to generate £720 in revenue over the lifetime of their relationship with that customer.

Calculation or Formula:

The basic formula to calculate LTV is:

LTV = ARPU * Customer Lifespan


– LTV is the Lifetime Value,
– ARPU is the Average Revenue Per User,
– Customer Lifespan is the average time a customer continues using your product/service.

For instance, if the ARPU is £50 and the average customer lifespan is 3 years:

LTV = £50 * 3 = £150

Best Practices or Tips:

  • Regularly calculate and monitor LTV to keep abreast of changes and trends.
  • Focus on improving customer retention and increasing the average purchase value to boost LTV.
  • Consider the cost of customer acquisition (CAC) when using LTV to make business decisions. Aim for a CAC to LTV ratio of 1:3 as a healthy benchmark.
  • Use customer segmentation to identify variations in LTV among different client groups.

Limitations or Considerations: LTV is a prediction, not a certainty. This is because it’s based on averages. Therefore, it may not accurately represent every customer’s value, particularly in businesses with a diverse customer base.

Comparisons: LTV is often compared to Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). While LTV estimates the total value a customer brings to the business, CAC calculates the cost to acquire that customer. The LTV:CAC ratio is a critical metric for assessing the profitability of a business.

Historical Context or Development: The concept of LTV has been around for several decades and is rooted in direct response marketing and catalogue sales. With the growth of online businesses and digital marketing, LTV has become a vital metric for large businesses and SMEs alike.

Resources for further learning:

Related Services:

    • Customer Segmentation: Our team can help you segment your customers effectively to identify those with the highest LTV, enabling more targeted marketing and product development strategies.
    • Sales and Marketing Strategy: We can help you design and implement strategies to increase your customer LTV, such as improving customer retention and boosting average purchase value.
    • Data Analysis and Reporting: Our data experts are able to provide regular reports and insights on your LTV and other key metrics, allowing you to make data-driven decisions.
    • Customer Retention Strategies: We can help you build effective customer retention strategies to increase your average customer lifespan, thereby boosting your LTV.

Related Terms: Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Retention, Customer Segmentation