What is Customer Lifetime Value in Marketing (and How to Calculate LTV)?


There are many different terms and metrics you need to know about when implementing a marketing strategy – one of the most important is Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). 

By understanding LTV and how it relates to your business, you’ll be able to generate more revenue, maximize your brand awareness, and create happier customers. All of this is essential for growing a successful and sustainable business.

Ready to get started? 

This guide covers everything you need to know about LTV in marketing and how to apply it.

  1. What is LTV in Marketing?
  2. Why is LTV an Important Metric to Track?
  3. How to Calculate LTV
  4. Challenges in Calculating LTV
  5. Other Important Marketing Metrics to Track
  6. Using Metrics to Enhance Your Marketing Strategy

What is LTV in Marketing?

LTV in marketing stands for “Customer Lifetime Value.” It’s a metric that measures the total revenue a customer is expected to generate for a business over the entire duration of their relationship.

LTV helps businesses understand the long-term value of acquiring and retaining customers.

To calculate LTV, several factors are considered, including the average purchase value, the frequency of purchases, and the average customer lifespan. 

By estimating the potential revenue a customer will bring in over time, businesses can make informed decisions regarding customer acquisition costs, customer retention strategies, and marketing investments.

Customer LTV


Why is LTV an Important Metric to Track?

If you run a business, then you need to know how much revenue each customer brings to the table. This is what LTV is all about.

Here are some of the main reasons why LTV is an important metric to track in marketing.

Strategic Decision-Making

LTV provides insights into the long-term value of acquiring and retaining customers. 

By understanding how much revenue a customer is likely to generate over their lifetime, businesses can make informed decisions about customer acquisition costs, marketing strategies, and resource allocation

This helps optimize marketing efforts and maximize profitability.

Customer Segmentation

LTV helps identify high-value customers from low-value ones. 

By segmenting customers based on their LTV, businesses can tailor their marketing and retention strategies accordingly. 

High LTV customers may receive personalized offers, rewards, or special treatment to foster loyalty and maximize their value to the business.

Return on Investment (ROI) Evaluation

LTV helps assess the effectiveness and profitability of marketing campaigns. 

Businesses can determine which strategies yield the highest ROI by comparing the LTV of customers acquired through different marketing channels or campaigns. 

This enables smarter allocation of marketing budgets and resources to maximize revenue generation.

Customer Retention and Loyalty

LTV emphasizes the importance of customer retention and loyalty. Acquiring new customers can be five times more expensive than retaining existing ones. 

By focusing on increasing customer satisfaction, providing excellent customer service, and implementing retention strategies, businesses can extend the customer lifespan, leading to higher LTV and improved overall profitability.

Forecasting and Business Planning

By projecting the future LTV of customers, businesses can estimate future revenue streams, set realistic growth targets, and make informed decisions about product development, pricing, and expansion.

How to Calculate LTV

To calculate Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), you can use the following formula:

LTV = Average Purchase Value × Purchase Frequency × Customer Lifespan

Let’s break these different elements down.

Average Purchase Value

Calculate the average amount a customer spends per transaction. 

You can figure this out by dividing the total revenue generated from all customer purchases by the total number of purchases made.

Here’s the formula:

Average Purchase Value = Total Revenue / Total Number of Purchases

Purchase Frequency

Determine how often, on average, a customer makes a purchase within a given time period. 

This can be calculated by dividing the total number of purchases by the total number of unique customers.

Here’s the formula you can use:

Purchase Frequency = Total Number of Purchases / Total Number of Unique Customers

Customer Lifespan

Estimate the average length a customer stays with your business. This can be measured in months or years, depending on your preference.

Once you have these three values, you can multiply them together to calculate the LTV.

Here is the formula to use:

LTV = Average Purchase Value × Purchase Frequency × Customer Lifespan

It’s important to note that LTV calculations are based on assumptions and averages, and individual customer behavior may vary. Therefore, it’s recommended to regularly analyze and update your LTV calculations based on real customer data to ensure accuracy.

Challenges in Calculating LTV

While calculating LTV is a valuable practice, there are several challenges that businesses may encounter.

Data Availability

Accurate LTV calculations require comprehensive and reliable data on customer transactions, purchase history, and customer lifespan. 

However, collecting and consolidating this data can be challenging, especially for businesses that need proper data tracking systems or have fragmented data sources. Incomplete or inaccurate data can lead to imprecise LTV calculations.

This is why it’s so important to use an all-in-one software solution that keeps tabs on all of your customers.

Customer Behavior Variability

LTV calculations assume certain patterns of customer behavior, such as purchase frequency and customer lifespan. However, customer behavior always changes, and individual customers show unique behavior patterns. 

Factors such as changing preferences, economic conditions, or competitor offerings can impact customer behavior, making it difficult to accurately predict LTV.

Estimating Customer Lifespan

Determining the average duration of a customer’s relationship with a business is a critical factor in LTV calculations. 

However, estimating the customer lifespan can be challenging, as it depends on various factors such as customer loyalty, satisfaction, and market dynamics. Different customer segments may have different lifespans, further complicating accuracy.

Assumptions and Simplifications

LTV calculations involve making certain assumptions and simplifications to derive meaningful results. These assumptions include average purchase values, customer lifespan, and purchase frequency. 

While these assumptions provide a basis for analysis, they may not capture the nuances of individual customer behaviors and can limit the accuracy of LTV calculations.

Time and Resources

Calculating LTV requires time, resources, and expertise to gather, analyze, and interpret the necessary data. 

Small businesses or those with limited resources may face challenges in dedicating the necessary time and effort to conduct comprehensive LTV calculations. The complexity of the calculations may also require specialized knowledge or access to advanced analytics tools.

Despite these challenges, businesses can still gain plenty of value from LTV calculations by taking steps to improve data collection and accuracy, regularly revisiting and refining assumptions, and using LTV as a guiding metric rather than an exact prediction. 

Other Important Marketing Metrics to Track

In addition to Customer Lifetime Value, there are several other marketing metrics that businesses can track to assess their marketing performance and effectiveness. 

Here are some key metrics.

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

CAC measures the cost incurred by a business to acquire a new customer. 

It helps evaluate the efficiency of marketing and sales efforts. CAC is calculated by dividing the total cost of acquiring customers (marketing and sales expenses) by the number of new customers acquired within a specific time period.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate measures the percentage of website visitors or leads that take a desired action, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or subscribing to a newsletter. 

It indicates the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and website optimization efforts.

Churn Rate

Churn rate represents the rate at which customers stop using or subscribing to a product or service over a specific period. 

It is an important metric for subscription-based businesses and helps assess customer retention and loyalty. 

Churn rate is calculated by dividing the number of customers lost during a period by the total number of customers at the beginning of that period.

Customer Retention Rate

Customer retention rate measures the percentage of customers retained over a specific time period. It helps assess customer loyalty and the effectiveness of customer retention strategies.

Retention rate is calculated by dividing the number of customers at the end of a period minus the new customers acquired during that period, divided by the number of customers at the start of the period, and then multiplying by 100.

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI measures the profitability and effectiveness of marketing investments. It compares the net profit generated from a marketing campaign or initiative to the cost of that campaign. 

ROI is calculated by subtracting the cost of the campaign from the revenue generated, dividing that by the cost of the campaign, and then multiplying by 100.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction metrics, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) or customer satisfaction surveys, help gauge customer sentiment and loyalty. 

They provide insights into customer perceptions and help identify areas for improvement in products, services, or customer experience.

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

MQLs and SQLs help track the effectiveness of lead generation and lead nurturing efforts. 

MQLs represent leads that have shown potential interest in a company’s offerings, while SQLs are leads that have been qualified by sales as having a higher likelihood of conversion.

These are just a few examples of marketing metrics that businesses track to assess their marketing performance and make data-driven decisions. 

The metrics tracked may vary depending on your business goals, industry, and marketing strategies.

Using Metrics to Enhance Your Marketing Strategy

If you want to improve your marketing plan, then you need to include metrics – like LTV.

Here are some of the main ways you can use these marketing metrics to improve your marketing efforts.

Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Define the specific metrics that align with your business goals and marketing objectives. Choose KPIs that are relevant, measurable, and actionable. 

For example, if your goal is to increase revenue, you may track metrics like LTV, CAC, and ROI.

Set Targets and Benchmarks

Establish realistic targets and benchmarks for your KPIs. These benchmarks can be based on historical data, industry standards, or competitor analysis. 

Having clear targets helps you measure progress, identify gaps, and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Measure and Analyze Data

Regularly collect and analyze data to track your KPIs. Utilize tools like Google Analytics, CRM software, or marketing automation platforms to gather and analyze relevant data. 

Look for trends, patterns, and insights that can inform your marketing strategy.

Optimize Campaigns and Tactics

Use metrics to evaluate the performance of your marketing campaigns and tactics. Identify what is working well and what needs improvement. 

For example, if a specific ad campaign is generating a high conversion rate, consider allocating more budget to it. If a social media channel has a low engagement rate, reassess your content or consider alternative platforms.

A/B Testing

Metrics can guide A/B testing initiatives to compare the performance of different marketing elements, such as ad copies, landing pages, or email subject lines. 

By testing and measuring variations, you can make data-driven decisions on which elements drive better results and optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.

Personalize and Segment

Leverage customer data and metrics to personalize your marketing campaigns and segment your audience. 

Use metrics like purchase history, browsing behavior, or demographics to deliver targeted messages and offers to different customer segments. Personalization based on data insights can improve customer engagement and increase conversion rates.

Monitor Customer Feedback and Satisfaction

Metrics like NPS or customer satisfaction surveys can help monitor customer sentiment and identify areas for improvement. Use customer feedback to enhance your products, services, and overall customer experience. 

Satisfied customers are more likely to become brand advocates and contribute to positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Continuously Refine and Adapt

Marketing metrics provide valuable insights, but they are not static. Continuously review and refine your metrics as your business evolves. Regularly reassess your KPIs, targets, and measurement approaches to ensure they align with your changing business needs and market dynamics.

By leveraging metrics effectively, you can better understand your marketing performance, optimize your strategies, and make data-driven decisions. Monitoring and analyzing metrics allow you to adapt quickly, maximize ROI, and drive sustainable business growth.


LTV is one of the most important marketing metrics for any business to follow. Although, it’s only one of many different marketing metrics that you should be aware of. 

By understanding LTV in marketing, you can make more informed decisions, save money, and generate more value from each customer. Ultimately, this will help your business generate greater, more sustainable profits.