CLV is how much money a customer spends with your business for the duration of your relationship. It’s an important—yet overlooked—metric: rather than looking at a sale as simply a one-off exchange, CLV considers how valuable a customer is over time.
Understanding this can help you spend your marketing budget more wisely and keep your customer acquisition costs low. After all, it costs more to attract a new customer than it does to close an existing prospect or keep an existing customer.
Keeping your CLV high is vital to the long-term success of your business.
What is CLV?
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) refers to the profit you expect to make from a customer over time.
For some businesses, this may mean that your profitable customers make larger purchases or many repeat purchases, thereby increasing their value to your business over the lifetime of their relationship with you.
However, for many industries with long sales cycles, that profit may come months or even years after you’ve established the awareness of your business with the customer at the top of the funnel (think: buying a car, applying to a university, procuring new software, or purchasing a home). These are big decisions and consumers need time to evaluate their purchases.
5 Reasons to Measure CLV for Your Paid Search Advertising Campaigns
Regardless of the nature of your customers’ CLV, optimizing your marketing campaigns to CLV is good for business. Here are five reasons CLV matters:
- It helps you keep valuable customers
If you can identify and target high CLV customers, this should translate into higher ROI and could be a good way to improve your campaign performance.
You may find that there are segments of the market who value your product but have a lower than average CLV/CAC ratio, meaning you're spending too much on acquiring individual customers. If so, it may be worth exploring ways in which you can acquire these new customers at a lower cost or perhaps look for marketing activities where you might get more exposure for the same budget (e.g., by increasing reach).
- It decreases CPA costs
Customer Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) is the amount of money a company spends on acquiring new customers divided by the number of new customers acquired during a given period.
You'll notice that different customer types have different CLVs, which means they contribute more or less than others towards paying your CPA. You can use CLV to compare campaigns and determine which ones are performing better, resulting in improved return on investment (ROI).
It's important to monitor this metric over time, as you may find you can reduce CPA while maintaining or even improving your bottom line. This is because the lifetime value of certain customer segments will increase with time on your platform, resulting in an overall decrease in acquisition costs.
- It allows you to optimize your bids to different stages of the funnel
Full-funnel bidding allows advertisers to use top of the funnel conversion types for bidding while also factoring in final sales as a second bid factor. This bidding solution enables advertisers to grow efficiency and revenue from the sales funnel’s final stage while maintaining reactivity to recent market changes. Bids stay reactive to market changes, while efficiency targets are based on latent conversion metrics.
- It helps you calculate campaign effectiveness
CLV will reveal which paid search campaigns are more successful, allowing you to optimize your total marketing spend.
You can compare campaign effectiveness by sub-segmenting customers by their CLVs. For example, instead of just looking at conversion rates for all traffic sources as a whole, you could break down the conversion rates by each campaign. This will make it easier to understand which traffic sources are most effective at converting.
- It helps you grow in the long run
CLV isn’t something you need to track all the time, but ignoring it could spell trouble. Keeping an eye on CLV helps you spend your marketing budget more wisely, engage with your customers more effectively, and keep your CPA costs down through better loyalty—all of which helps your bottom line.
How to Calculate CLV
The simplest formula is as follows:
CLV = Customer Value (average order spend x number of orders in a year) x Average Customer Lifespan (in years)
To calculate CLV, you need to track customer metrics over time and calculate your customer churn. This will allow you to determine CLV across any given timeframe.
You may want to deduct CAC (customer acquisition cost) from your total to give you a deeper understanding of the true value of a customer.
Using a comprehensive reporting suite like MarinOne, you’ll be able to Identify which channels are driving revenue to your business. You’ll then need to track offline sales and interactions back to their source with a conversion tracking solution like Marin Tracker. Make sure to continue tracking touchpoints beyond the initial click-through, all the way through conversion.
How to Improve CLV
Here are some tips on improving your CLV.
- Optimize onboarding. As soon as possible, the user should be able to get value from your product or service (e.g., signups, downloads).
- Don't focus on customer acquisition alone. It's important to make sure users are retained over time.
- Optimize CLV by marketing based on customer behavior. If people aren't making repeat purchases or converting to long-term high-value purchases, consider investing in marketing efforts to increase retention.
- Look for ways to improve value. If customers are joining, but not staying around or buying after a certain period of time, focus on improving user experience and product features.
- Over-deliver. If your product and service are great, people will come back.
- Boost user experience. If you can provide an improved user experience, make sure to communicate this benefit in all your marketing efforts. Consider advertising on social media platforms that offer the opportunity for strong engagement.
- Increase average value order. If customers are buying, but not purchasing many items per order, then there is room to boost sales.
- Gather market research. If you can gather unbiased opinions about your product or service from potential customers, use this data to create marketing campaigns that will appeal directly to your target audience.
- Uncover business drivers. You may need to modify your business plan based on what customers are saying.
- Improve customer service. If you’re not delivering great customer service, customers will avoid dealing with you in the future. Not only that, but they’ll likely share their experiences on social media—which could turn away potential new customers.
Measuring CLV plays an important role in determining ROI, optimizing your advertising spend, and keeping your CPA low—all of which means less budget spent on search campaigns. Optimizing your CLV can provide valuable insights regarding whether or not there is excessive spending on your search campaigns. CLV allows you to evaluate the financial impact in order to re-strategize regarding how various programs are measured and attributed.
How MarinOne Can Help
MarinOne’s powerful self-serve platform connects your offline conversion data to the ad clicks that ultimately drive the sale, making it easy to see which customers are the most valuable and which campaigns have been effective in closing customers. From analysis and reporting to advanced bidding algorithms—analyze the most valuable shoppers, optimize your bids to revenue, and focus your efforts on your best customers. This leads to extending your marketing spend while attracting high-value customers to your brand.
Learn more about the benefits of MarinOne’s full-funnel optimization.