Lifetime Value of a customer is and will continue to be more important. Everyone is familiar with customer acquisition. Customer acquisition is essentially obtaining a new customer. The cost of obtaining a new customer is called the Cost Per Acquisition (CPA).
If you spend $100 and you obtain 10 customers your cost per acquisition is $10 per customer. Determining the right cost per acquisition is obviously assuring you have made a profit. If you are an affiliate marketer and you are paid $30 per customer and it costs you $10 to get a new customer then you have profited $20. However it is not always the case that the initial cost per acquisition is less than the initial profit on a sale. It is possible to have an initial cost per acquisition of $20 on a $10 product. Why would you do this?
This is due to the fact that while the initial cost of acquiring that customer was $20 and you only made a $10 profit, the customer’s lifetime value is enough to cover your initial cost per acquisition and make a profit. That customer over time may make you an additional $50 in profit and therefore the higher cost per acquisition in the long run make sense. This is why you need to know the lifetime value of your customers.
Obviously is easier said than done, but it is possible and we do it for client’s everyday. More important than comparing the lifetime value to the initial cost per acquisition is being able to tie the lifetime value to the initial marketing campaign.
Here is why. in the example of customer acquisition if one marketing campaign was costing you $2 per customer and the other marketing campaign was costing you $1 per person you would obviously turn off the $2 dollar campaign and continue the $1 campaign.
However, now add the lifetime value of a customer and your decision-making process may change completely. If the $1 customers had a lifetime value of only $.50 and the $2 customers have a lifetime value of $8, then your decision is the exact opposite. You would turn off the $1 customers, potentially, and continue the campaigns yielding $2 customers, as it is worth the extra $1 per customer due to the huge disparity in lifetime value and overall profit per customer.
The key is tracking the lifetime value and even more importantly associating it to an initial marketing campaign to be able to make the best decision and obtain the best return on investment for your marketing dollars.