Lifetime Value

While attracting new customers, and new revenue, is crucial for growing businesses, it's equally important to understand the long-term value of existing customers.

Learning customer lifetime value, and how to calculate it, can help you better allocate resources, tailor marketing strategies, and prioritize customer satisfaction initiatives, to foster loyalty and growth. 

It also helps you understand how much you can spend to acquire a customer, while maintaining profitability, based on the expected long term cash flow returns that customer will bring to your business.

What is customer lifetime value?

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the financial worth of a customer to a business over the entirety of their relationship. It's the total revenue a customer brings in over their lifetime purchasing from a company. It guides decisions related to customer acquisition, retention, and relationship management. 

Calculating CLV can help your business prioritize resources to acquire and retain high-value customers, driving sustainable growth and profitability. 

How to calculate customer lifetime value

The customer lifetime value formula is: 

CLV = (average purchase value) x (number of purchases in a year) / average retention time in years

Average purchase value is the customer's average spend on each transaction. You can calculate this by dividing the total revenue from purchases by the total number of transactions within a specific period. 

Number of purchases in a year is the frequency with which a customer makes purchases from the business. You can find this total by counting the number of transactions made by the customer during that period. 

Average retention time is the average duration a customer continues to buy from the business. You can find this number by averaging the length of time customers stay engaged with the business before churning or no longer making purchases. 

Why does customer lifetime value matter?

Here are the benefits of calculating customer lifetime value: 

Revenue growth

CLV helps drive revenue growth by helping businesses identify and prioritize high-value customers. 

Focusing on acquiring and retaining these valuable customers increases revenue streams and helps companies achieve sustainable growth. 

CLV also enables businesses to optimize marketing and sales strategies to attract high-value customers and fuel growth.  

Customer retention

Customer lifetime value emphasizes the importance of customer retention. 

Understanding customers' lifetime value can help businesses invest in initiatives to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement. This leads to higher retention rates, reduced churn, and a more stable customer base. 


Focusing resources and efforts on acquiring and retaining customers with the highest lifetime value can enhance profitability. 

It also helps you know when you’re spending too much to get a new client, e.g. that client won’t spend as much with your business over time, as it will cost you to acquire them as a customer.

Identifying the most profitable customer segments and tailoring products, services, and marketing strategies to them, can maximize revenue while minimizing acquisition and servicing costs. 

Competitive advantage

Understanding and addressing high-value customers' needs and preferences differentiates businesses from competitors and creates a unique value proposition. 

This strengthens customer loyalty, reduces the risk of losing customers to competitors, and solidifies the business's position in the market. 

Higher-value sales

Analyzing customer purchasing behavior and preferences means businesses can offer targeted ads, personalized recommendations, and promotions that resonate with high-value customers. 

This leads to increased average order value (AOV) and lifetime value per customer, which drives incremental revenue and strengthens customer relationships and loyalty. 

Strategies to improve CLV

Optimizing CLV maximizes revenue and focuses strategy on the development of long-term customer relationships.

These strategies can strengthen customer loyalty, increase satisfaction, and encourage repeat purchases, increasing the lifetime value of each customer:

Continuous engagement 

Regularly communicating with customers through various channels maintains ongoing communication. Providing valuable content, updates, and offers keeps customers engaged and interested in products or services, leading to increased lifetime value. 

Exceptional customer service

Prioritize delivering personalized and timely support, addressing customer inquiries and concerns quickly, and going above and beyond to exceed customer expectations. 

Providing exceptional customer service experiences enhances customer satisfaction, increases retention rates, and maximizes CLV. 

Personalized customer experiences

With personalization, businesses can tailor their communications to customer preferences and needs. 

Use customer data to create tailored experiences across various touchpoints, including website interactions, email communications, and marketing campaigns. 

Personalization enhances customer engagement and drives higher CLV. 

Loyalty programs and incentives 

Loyalty programs reward and incentivize repeat purchases and customer loyalty. 

Offer rewards, discounts, exclusive offers, and VIP benefits to encourage customers to continue shopping with you. 

Product offerings

Assess market trends, customer feedback, and competitors' offerings regularly to identify product innovation and expansion opportunities. 

Offering products and services that meet customer demands increases customer satisfaction, loyalty, and lifetime value. 

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