The Truth Behind 5 Common Excuses for Ignoring LTV

by Jeremy Tang

This comprehensive guide dives deep into the often-neglected concept of customer Lifetime Value (LTV), revealing why it’s a game-changer for sustainable business growth. It debunks common excuses that lead companies to underestimate the power of LTV. Through actionable insights and case studies, it demonstrates how focusing on lifetime value can transform business approaches to increase profitability.

Table Of Contents:

A Shift in Business Metrics

You’re a decision-maker. You’ve got a business to run, targets to hit, and a bottom line to maintain. But what if I told you that you’re potentially leaving a goldmine untapped? A goldmine that could redefine your approach to customer relationships and, ultimately, your profits. We’re talking about LTV, a metric that is often misunderstood and underutilized.

In this article, we’ll dissect the common misconceptions and reasons that lead businesses to underestimate the true value of their customer’s lifetime value. We’ll also provide actionable advice to help you leverage LTV for sustainable growth.

What Really Makes a Business Grow?

You’ve got your eyes on the prize: revenue growth. You’ve tried every trick in the book—optimized your processes, improved your products or services, and even built a robust network. 

But the real engine of your business growth isn’t always just your product or your sales strategy. The other half that turns start-ups into millionaires are the customers.

Now, you might argue that you’re already customer-centric: “I don’t have to be reminded of that, Jeremy.”

We know you’ve got a dashboard full of metrics like churn rate, Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA), and Customer Health Score. But here’s the kicker: You’re missing the forest for the trees. 

There’s one metric that stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to amplifying your profitability: customer lifetime value.

It’s not just another number to track but a philosophy, a mindset, and a strategy rolled into one. By focusing on LTV, businesses can shift from a transactional mindset to a relational one. Instead of just making a sale, they’re building a relationship. Instead of just acquiring a customer, they’re nurturing an advocate. 

And in the long run, this shift can make all the difference between a business that merely survives and one that thrives.

This is the very reason I developed my e-book, From Sinking to Sailing. I’ve decided to share this invaluable resource with you so that the insights I’ve gained on this crucial metric can also empower you to elevate and expand your own business.

Although, it’s disheartening to see how many companies still overlook the power of LTV. We uncovered a range of excuses that CMOs, marketers, and decision-makers often use to avoid leveraging this crucial metric. As you read on, we’ll break down these excuses one by one, with the aim of inspiring you to take decisive action. Let’s start with the most common excuse.

Excuse 1: “Understanding LTV isn’t that important right now."

It’s a staggering reality that the majority of businesses, including some of the world’s most renowned brands, are operating with a significant blind spot. 

In fact, 83% of our clients over the last decade are in the dark about the concept of customer LTV—an oversight but a strategic flaw that’s costing these companies billions in squandered marketing budgets and missed opportunities.

So let us quickly define LTV once and for all.

What is Customer Lifetime Value?

Customer Lifetime Value, or LTV, is simply the projected revenue a customer will generate over the entire course of their relationship with your business. 

It’s a metric you can use to understand the long-term financial value each customer brings. It’s the sum total of all their repeat business, and it’s a metric that’s been woefully ignored.

Why Is It Important?

If you’re not leveraging LTV, you’re essentially fighting with one arm tied behind your back. Your competitors who get it are already using LTV as a secret weapon to outpace you. They’re not just capturing your market share but expanding their own because they understand what each customer is worth to them.

Knowing your LTV allows you to allocate your resources more intelligently, to scale faster, and to snatch market share right from under your competitors’ noses. So, why neglect it?

Excuse 2: “We're capitalizing on immediate sales opportunities. Long-term strategy can wait."

This is another reason businesses miss out on LTV. But let’s be clear: if your strategy is solely fixated on that initial sale, you’re not just leaving money on the table—you’re practically sending an invitation to your competitors to swoop in and feast on the next opportunities. 

This is the pitfall of first-order thinking, a shortsighted focus on immediate results that’s as detrimental to your business as scarfing down a chocolate bar is to your long-term health.

Consider this: You’re eager for sales, so you snatch up the first opportunity that comes your way. It feels good, momentarily. But what comes next? What about the second, third, or fourth orders that could have been yours if you’d thought a step further or if you simply asked yourself, “And then what?”

By asking questions like, “How can I encourage this customer to make a repeat purchase?” “What can I offer to increase their basket size?” or “How can I incentivize them to refer my business to others?” you’re essentially uncovering opportunities to be the best among your competitors.

And when you grasp the full lifetime value of a customer, you unlock a deeper level of strategic thinking that transcends the initial transaction. You’re not just aiming to be good but setting your sights on greatness. 

This metric empowers you to make decisions that not only benefit your bottom line today but also position you as the undisputed leader in your market for years to come.

Excuse 3: "Marketing budgets are fine as they are."

Many businesses don’t mind throwing money at marketing like it’s some kind of magic elixir. They think, “Calculating my marketing spend based on LTV? That’s just an extra step.”

But that’s like sailing a ship without a compass—you’re bound to get lost. When you understand LTV, your marketing budget becomes a strategic investment. 

Those who leverage LTV are often willing to operate at a loss initially because they’re playing the long game. They understand that a customer isn’t just worth their first purchase but potentially thousands of dollars over a lifetime.

And let’s not forget the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule. Around 20% of customers contribute to about 80% of profits. When you grasp the concept of LTV, you can allocate more marketing resources to target this golden 20% instead of treating all customers as equals.

Excuse 4: "Calculating LTV is too complicated."

If you’re relegating LTV to the “too hard” basket, you’re essentially throwing money out the window. Sure, LTV might seem complex at first glance, but that’s no excuse for inaction. 

In fact, there are multiple ways to calculate LTV, each requiring different sets of data. We actually made an in-depth guide about that to help you. Still, we understand that it could look overwhelming, especially since there are certain methods that require more complex variables than the others. 

But sometimes, less is more. For instance, if all you have is your quarterly sales report, then use the Yearly LTV formula:

Yearly LTV = Total Revenue for the Year/Number of Customers during this period

Suppose you’ve generated $200,000 in revenue from 100 customers over a span of four months, the 4-month LTV would be:

4 Month LTV =$200,000 / 100 = $2,000

To turn this into a yearly LTV, simply multiply by three: 

Yearly LTV = $2,000 x 3 = $6,000

See, you don’t need a Ph.D. in mathematics to get started. What you need is the willingness to dig into your data and the courage to act on it.

Excuse 5: "Why focus on existing customers when we can just get more?"

Leveraging LTV doesn’t stop at picking the right customers, and this is where businesses tend to misuse this metric. A lot of companies are so fixated on customer acquisition that they overlook the immense value locked in their existing customer base. 

Let’s get real: the success rate of selling to an existing customer is a staggering 60% to 70%, compared to a measly 5% to 20% for new customers.

In addition, your existing customers are your brand’s bedrock. Their loyalty gives you the leeway to innovate and rectify mistakes without the fear of immediate attrition. They’re also your most effective brand advocates, amplifying your reach and credibility through word-of-mouth.

It’s high time to shift your focus. Dive deep into the concept of LTV and let it guide your business strategies from here on out.

How You Can Start Using LTV for Your Business

No more excuses. Here’s how you start optimizing your customer LTV:

  • Record Data Properly: The first step is non-negotiable. You need to be capturing the right data. We’re talking about the frequency of purchases, the value of those purchases, and how recent those purchases are.
  • Segment Customers: You’ll want to divide your customer base into two main groups. Remember the 80/20 rule? Once you’ve got your top customers identified, it’s time to roll out the red carpet. Tailor your communications, offer personalized deals, and make them feel like the VIPs they are.
  • Analyze the Top 20%: What makes them tick? What makes them spend? Understand these key drivers, and you’ll not only keep these customers, you’ll find more like them.
  • Eliminate Liabilities: The bottom 20% of your customers are costing you more than they’re worth—about 80%. Cutting them loose frees up resources to pamper your VIPs and attract more high-value prospects.
  • Budget Appropriately: Allocate your marketing budget to go after more of these high-value clients and watch their LTV and your revenue flourish.

Want to see this in action? Read along.

Case Studies

Dive into these transformative stories where we’ve applied our LTV-centric approach to supercharge growth and profitability for clients in diverse industries.

Revitalizing Growth for a Stagnating Automotive Distributor in the United States

In the United States, one of our clients, a heavyweight in the automotive distribution industry, was stuck in a rut of stagnating growth and ballooning operational costs. 

A meticulous analysis of their customer data revealed that the bottom 18.2% of their customer base was eating up 74.1% of operational costs. These were mostly small auto repair shops that ordered infrequently and demanded time-consuming customizations. 

We advised our client to take the audacious step of severing ties with these low-value customers. The resources saved were then funneled into a loyalty program offering exclusive discounts on bulk orders for their top spenders, who were mainly large repair chains and dealerships. Within three months, this pivot led to a 17.5% revenue spike from their top-tier buyers.

Unlocking Potential for an Alkaline Water Retailer in New Zealand

Across the ocean in New Zealand, we worked with a naturally alkaline water retailer who was doing well but aimed to soar higher. Our data dive showed that 19.5% of their customers were contributing to 84.2% of their revenue. 

These weren’t just any customers; they were middle-aged, health-conscious individuals who valued quality over price. Unlike the younger buyers who were merely “water-curious,” this segment was committed to a healthier lifestyle.

However, there was a hitch: they hadn’t fully committed to our client’s naturally alkaline water as their go-to source for hydration. While they ordered frequently, they were still alternating their glasses with regular tap water.

We initiated a targeted marketing campaign, offering personalized health and wellness tips along with exclusive discounts for repeat purchases. We amped up our educational efforts, sharing fact-checked research and studies to underscore the compelling health benefits of switching to naturally alkaline water.

The campaign was a hit. Within just eight weeks, we’ve seen these customer’s basket size increase, and revenue from this high-value segment shot up by 15.1%.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I identify my most profitable customer segments?

Here’s a simple blueprint for discovering your high-spenders:

  1. Initiate with Data Compilation: Kick off the process by entering all your customers, alongside their corresponding revenue contributions, into a spreadsheet. Use this data to compute what 80% of your total revenue would be.
  2. Organize and Evaluate: Once your data is in place, arrange the list in descending order based on the revenue each customer has generated.
  3. Implement the 80/20 Principle: With your sorted list and 80% revenue target at hand, begin marking off rows from the top. Keep going until the sum of the marked rows approximates the 80% target you initially calculated. These marked customers constitute your top 20%, the segment that is the powerhouse of your profitability.

What are some effective retention strategies to increase LTV?

Retention is the art of keeping your customers coming back for more. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Enhance Onboarding Process: Make the initial stages of customer interaction as smooth as possible.
  • Implement Loyalty Programs: Reward repeat business with discounts or exclusive offers.
  • Personalize Marketing Messages: Use data analytics to tailor your marketing efforts.
  • Boost Customer Engagement: Utilize interactive content to keep your customers involved and interested.

What constitutes a good average lifespan for a customer?

The concept of a “good” average customer lifespan is a moving target, varying significantly across industries, types of products or services, and even customer satisfaction levels. 

Here’s a rule of thumb: A longer customer lifespan generally equates to increased revenue and LTV over time, as long as the cost of servicing said customer does not exceed the revenue they bring in.

What You’ve Learned: Key Takeaways from the Article

Before we delve into the actionable advice, let’s crystallize what you’ve just absorbed into key takeaways:

  • Beyond First-Order Thinking: Focusing solely on the initial sale is a myopic strategy that leaves exponential growth on the table.
  • Marketing Budget Mistake: Not factoring in customer lifetime value can lead to wasted spending and missed opportunities.
  • The 20% Goldmine: Around 20% of customers contribute to approximately 80% of profits. Ignoring this subset is financial suicide.
  • Long-Term Vision: Businesses that adopt a long-term approach, focusing on customer retention and LTV, are the ones that thrive in competitive markets.

Actionable Advice

We trust you’ll steer clear of these excuses and start taking action. Here are a few tips:

  • Make LTV Your North Star: Start using customer lifetime value as a metric in your business. This will help you make more informed decisions about customer acquisition and retention.
  • Cultivate Second-Order Thinking: Move beyond immediate gains and consider the long-term impact of your actions. This will help you make decisions that contribute to sustainable growth.
  • Embrace the Numbers: Don’t shy away from doing some basic calculations to understand your LTV better. The insights you gain will be well worth the effort.

The LTV Revolution Awaits

It’s clear that LTV is not just a metric but a cornerstone for sustainable business growth. From understanding the pitfalls of first-order thinking to the transformative power of focusing on your top VIPS, we’ve laid out a comprehensive roadmap for you. 

Ignoring LTV is no longer an option but a strategic imperative for any business that aims to thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

One last piece of advice: Start small but think big. You don’t need to overhaul your entire business model overnight. Begin by incorporating LTV into your next marketing campaign or customer service initiative. 

Measure the results, refine your approach, and gradually make LTV the backbone of your business decisions. 

The sooner you start, the faster you’ll see results that are not just incremental but exponential.

Ready to stop settling for mediocre growth and start achieving bigger results, faster? If you’re eager for innovative, battle-tested strategies that have propelled businesses like yours to success, then it’s time to take action. 

Our 100% solution philosophy ensures that we go beyond just driving traffic through channels like SEO and paid media to ensure you’re maximizing the benefits from that traffic.

Reach out to us to get your hands on the most comprehensive guide to not only understanding customer lifetime value but also unlocking your customer lifetime potential.

Don’t miss your chance to get a copy of our e-book, From Sinking to Sailing. Contact us now, provide your details, and let’s set sail toward a more profitable future.

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