What is Customer Lifetime Value?

Ruben Buijs

Founder & Digital Consultant

Written on Aug 1, 2023

2 minutes

Customer Experience

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a metric that measures the total worth of a customer to a business over the entire duration of their relationship. It quantifies the revenue a customer generates for a company throughout their engagement, including repeat purchases and potential referrals. By understanding and maximizing CLV, businesses can make informed decisions to improve customer satisfaction, retention, and profitability.


To better understand how CLV works, let's consider a few examples:

  1. Subscription-based Service: A streaming platform calculates the CLV by estimating the average subscription length and monthly revenue generated per customer. For instance, if the average customer stays subscribed for 12 months and pays $10 per month, the CLV would be $120.

  2. E-commerce Store: An online store determines the CLV by analyzing the average number of purchases, average order value, and customer retention rate. If a customer makes three purchases per year with an average order value of $50 and stays active for three years, the CLV would amount to $450.


CLV is a vital metric for businesses as it offers several benefits:

  1. Strategic Decision Making: By understanding the CLV of different customer segments, businesses can allocate resources effectively. They can identify high-value customers and tailor marketing strategies, loyalty programs, and personalized experiences to enhance their satisfaction and loyalty.

  2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) Optimization: CLV helps in determining the maximum cost a business can afford to acquire a new customer. By comparing CLV with CAC, companies can assess the profitability of their marketing campaigns and focus on acquiring customers with higher CLV.

  3. Retention and Loyalty: By analyzing CLV, businesses can identify customers with the potential for long-term relationships. They can then implement strategies to enhance customer satisfaction, improve retention rates, and build strong loyalty programs.

How to Use Customer Lifetime Value

To use CLV effectively, businesses can follow these steps:

  1. Data Collection: Gather relevant customer data, including purchase history, frequency, average order value, and retention rates. This data can be obtained through CRM systems, transaction records, or surveys.

  2. Segment Customers: Divide customers into distinct segments based on their purchasing behavior, demographics, or engagement levels. This segmentation allows businesses to understand the CLV of different customer groups.

  3. Calculate CLV: There are various methods to calculate CLV, such as the historic CLV formula, predictive analytics, or cohort analysis. Choose a method that aligns with your business model and data availability.

  4. Take Action: Once you have calculated CLV, use the insights to make data-driven decisions. Focus on strategies that maximize CLV, such as improving customer experience, offering personalized recommendations, or implementing retention programs.

Useful Tips for Customer Lifetime Value

Here are some useful tips to consider when leveraging CLV:

  1. Customer Satisfaction: Prioritize customer satisfaction to increase CLV. Happy customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, refer others, and remain loyal over the long term.

  2. Personalization: Tailor your marketing efforts and offers based on individual customer preferences and behavior. Personalized experiences can significantly impact CLV by enhancing customer engagement and loyalty.

  3. Retention Strategies: Implement effective retention strategies to extend the customer lifecycle. Offer loyalty programs, exclusive discounts, or personalized recommendations to encourage repeat purchases and increase CLV.

  4. Customer Feedback: Regularly gather customer feedback to understand pain points, preferences, and expectations. This feedback can help in identifying areas for improvement and enhancing CLV.


Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a metric that represents the total revenue a customer is expected to generate throughout their relationship with a business.
Customer Lifetime Value is important because it helps businesses understand the long-term value of their customers and allows them to make informed decisions regarding customer acquisition, retention, and marketing strategies.
Customer Lifetime Value is typically calculated by multiplying the average purchase value by the average purchase frequency and then multiplying the result by the average customer lifespan.
Several factors can affect Customer Lifetime Value, including customer loyalty, purchase frequency, average purchase value, customer churn rate, and the cost of acquiring new customers.
Businesses can increase Customer Lifetime Value by providing exceptional customer experiences, offering personalized recommendations, implementing loyalty programs, and continuously engaging with customers to build strong relationships.
Focusing on Customer Lifetime Value can lead to increased customer satisfaction, improved customer retention rates, higher customer loyalty, increased revenue, and a more sustainable business model.
No, Customer Lifetime Value cannot be negative. It represents the predicted revenue a customer will bring in over their lifetime, so it is always a positive value.
No, Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Value are not the same. Customer Lifetime Value focuses on the entire relationship with a customer, while Customer Value refers to the perceived benefits a customer receives from a specific product or service.
Some limitations of Customer Lifetime Value include the inability to predict customer behavior accurately, the reliance on historical data, and the assumption of a constant customer lifespan.
Businesses can use Customer Lifetime Value to allocate resources effectively, determine marketing budgets, identify high-value customer segments, prioritize customer acquisition channels, and tailor their products or services to meet customer needs.

Article by

Ruben Buijs

Ruben, the founder of Boei, leverages over a decade of consultancy experience at Ernst & Young to optimize lead generation. Boei specializes in converting website visitors into qualified leads. Outside of work, Ruben is passionate about crossfit and enjoys gaming occasionally.

Table of contents

  1. Examples
  2. Importance
  3. How to Use Customer Lifetime Value
  4. Useful Tips for Customer Lifetime Value
  5. Related Terms

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