How much is a customer worth? Probably more than you think!

How much is a customer worth? Probably more than you think!

How much is a customer worth? Probably more than you think!

When you look at marketing from a purely transactional perspective, you often lose sight of an important dimension: the long-term value of a customer. Or more precisely, the cumulative net revenue that a customer provides during the “lifetime” of the relationship between the customer and a business, or a brand.

This transaction perspective focuses on the immediate sale of good and services through marketing campaigns of all nature. From that point of view, the customer value is equal to the amount of the sale produced as a result of that campaign. Transactional marketers will work to reduce the cost per transaction in order to maximize short term revenue. Nothing wrong with increasing revenue… far from it. But this narrow vision often forces us to make choices that as purely short-term.

More often than not, when the focus is purely on short-term revenue, marketers will discard any initiative that produces a customer acquisition cost that is deemed to high when compared to the value of the transaction, without taking into account the future value of a customer. Such decisions do not take into account differences in customer quality, potential loyalty and future purchase value. Why pay ten dollars to sell a five dollar item? And yet…

Customer lifetime value

From a relationship marketing perspective however, we will take into account the actual value of a customer — what is known as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – in order to better understand how much we can afford to invest to acquire a new customer with whom we can engage and maintain a long-term relationship over the course of several years.

In fact, when you think about it, this value is often much greater than we suspect. Calculating CLV is based on three variables: gross revenue per average transaction, average frequency of purchase and the average lifetime of a customer relationship. Regardless of your industry, when you start to look at what a customer is worth, you quickly understand why it is so critical to retain customers and increase loyalty.

In the infographic show below, KissMetrics looks at the lifetime value of a Starbucks customer. That Grande Latte you buy from the little mermaid from Seattle starts to look even more expensive than you ever imagined. According to KissMetrics, the average lifetime value of a Starbucks customer is $14,099 over a 20 year period. This value is based on an average purchase value of $5,90 and a purchase frequency of 4,2 purchases per week. Now imagine the coffeeholic who shows up twice or three times a day, at break time, for lunch or an afterwork snack. The value goes through the roof!

Acceptable acquisition cost

Rather surprizing isn’t it? So now, if I ask you how much Starbucks could afford to spend in order to acquire and retain a new customer, you would start to see that it is much more than the cost of a single Latte. Instead, you would use the CLV as a basis to set this amount. All of a sudden, you would probably be tempted to invest a little more. Now imagine you’re Second Cup — how much would you spend to win over a Starbucks customer?

Now think about your own customers. What is the CLV of your average customer? Better yet, forget the Average Joe. Think about your best customers—the top 15% to 20%. Your most active, loyal and profitable customers. Now thank about what you are doing to keep them loyal… If your answer is nothing, what are you waiting for? It’s a matter of survival!

This infographic was created by KissMetrics

How To Calculate Customer Lifetime Value
Source: How To Calculate Lifetime Value

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