The importance of knowing the lifetime value of your customers

Data-Driven Conversations: The Importance of Knowing The Lifetime Value of Your Customers

What is the lifetime value of a customer? How does that affect the way that you market your products and scale your business?

These are some of the questions that we had in mind when we went into our conversation with Jeremy Reeves on the Data Rich Podcast. Below is the video of the entire conversation, as well as a transcript of the highlights:

What does it mean to be data driven as it relates to customer LTV?

Being data driven boils down to being aware of the choices that you are making, and making the right choices by utilizing data.

An example of this would be if you are looking to roll out a new product, you need to know exactly how much you can spend to acquire a new customer. If you don’t have data to tell you that information, you are essentially guessing, and that can cause you to be limiting yourself in terms of growth if you’re not paying enough for new customers, or it can be driving you out of business if you’re spending too much to acquire those customers.

If you don’t know the metrics, you don’t know what decisions to make.

How soon in a business should you worry about LTV?

This varies from business to business, but comes down to how quickly you want to scale your business. If you are looking for explosive growth, then LTV is THE metric that you need to worry about. This will help you determine the cost per acquisition that you are willing to pay. In the example above, they realized that if they set their break-even point per customer at 3 months rather than immediate, they were able to pay 30% more per acquisition, which allowed them to jump from making 15 sales per day to making 300-400 sales per day.

By drilling into the numbers and truly understanding the value of their customers over time, their sales were able to increase by 2500%! When you view the true value of a customer over time, you can make decisions like this that help you to experience explosive growth as a company.

How do you maximize returns based off customer LTV?

The best way to maximize your returns is to get extremely granular with your data. Go beyond just looking at the generic LTV of all customers, and see the LTV of customers based off of their referral source, or check to see what other products they purchase after the initial purchase. The more that you can break down the data and individualize your targeting, the more you can glean insights into your consumers, and in turn maximize your returns.

What is the best way to track LTV?

This is the question that you really need to answer for your business. You need to determine how you want to define and track the value of your customers over time. This will be contingent on the systems that you are using, the types of products that you sell, and how you want to think about your products.

Going back to the previous point about getting as granular as possible, you can break down the LTV of your clients based off what their initial purchase was, by referrer,

When should you make changes to your budget based off the LTV calculation?

Unfortunately, just like the last question, this depends on your business. If your company has a long buying cycle, you should probably wait to increase your budget until you see the results from your efforts. If you are able to make back your budget based off the initial purchase, you can increase your budget immediately. By understanding when people are able to hit that break-even point in your business, you can know exactly when you should increase your spend.

How can I set up tracking to make sure that I am getting good data?

You need to make sure that your attributions are set up properly in Google Analytics, so that you can break out customer behavior by traffic source in order to see exactly what your spend should be for each source. Past that, it is highly recommended that you break them out into funnels or campaigns that you are using so that you can properly attribute the LTV to each of the campaigns that you run, as well as the sources.

This requires a great deal of work up front, but once you lay the foundation of good data it is much easier to continue down that path, and you know that you can trust your data.

What is the number one thing that all marketers should know about the LTV of their customers?

The obvious first thing that you need is to know the number. If you are not conscious of the LTV of your customers, you need to find out what that is. After you are aware of the average LTV across the company, you need to get more granular with it, and drill down into the LTV per product.

Once you have those numbers, you need to determine your business goals. If you are in a growth stage of your business, where you are trying to scale, don’t be afraid to break even up front. Be aware of how long it will take for you to start profiting, and make sure that you are comfortable with waiting for that; but once you have determined that, you need to move forward. The business that can afford to spend the most to acquire the customer wins every time.

If you have any questions about dashboards, tracking, analytics, or if you want custom dashboards built for your business then talk to one of our data experts.

Organifi dashboard data team

How Organifi became data rich

Want to see what’s possible when you turn your data into growth?

We sat down with one of our long-time clients, Organifi, to talk about how their business has changed and grown since they became data rich. Below is the full video of our conversation, as well as some of the highlights:

Your output is only as good as your input.

There is a reason that we say this all of the time; as Louie described, Organifi was using dashboards before they became our client, but their dashboards were just linked to spreadsheets. People updated the spreadsheets on a daily basis (or at least they were supposed to), but their dashboard data relied on human input. We automated out their dashboards, eliminating the possibility of human error, and also guaranteeing the most up-to-date information.

This data has helped them to rapidly scale their business.

How has this data changed the way that they do business?

Organifi can now see the lifetime value of their customers broken out by the channel that they come from, or what they purchased when they became customers of Organifi. This allows the team to determine and adjust their ad spends across different platforms, and better determine which products to push. The best part of all of this? They know that their data is accurate. Since we removed the human element of their tracking, they now have complete confidence in their reporting.

The team at Organifi has daily huddles where they can review the key performance indicators for each of their departments. This reporting in front of the whole company allows for greater transparency across the company. This also increases the accountability of each individual department. As Louie describes in the video, this increased accountability has also led to an increase in friendly competition between the departments, creating a “lift-effect” for the company.

Louie also talked about how the democratization of data allows everyone in the company to feel like their efforts make a difference. Everyone from the C-suite to the entry-level employees sees the same data, and can see how every department contributes.

What data is fun to look at?

Louie’s favorite metric to look at is E-commerce spend vs revenue. This is his favorite because it allows him to see their ROAS in a visual way (as he puts it, the big spike with the little one beneath it).

Everyone has a metric that they love to look at, and a reason that they love it. For most, it generally has to do with revenue, since that impacts everyone in the company; but we want to know, do you have a favorite metric, and why?

Data Analysis

Data-driven mistakes even good ecommerce business owners make (and how to avoid them).

Have you struggled with data discrepancies? Had a hard time figuring out what metrics you should actually track? Tried to use a dashboard service and hated it?

If any of those things apply to you, we feel your pain. This video helps to break down some of the most common mistakes that we have run into across the board with multiple ecommerce businesses, and how to avoid and fix them. If you don’t have the time to sit through the video, or don’t have headphones handy, never fear: we have provided a breakdown of the video below.

Mistake #1: Not automating data extraction

  • Most companies have a HUGE issue with this; they have someone assigned to extract data from multiple data aggregates and put it all together in one place.
  • This causes several problems for businesses, the first being the human error side of things; humans make mistakes constantly, and with a task like data aggregation it’s very easy to misplace a decimal point or to switch two numbers around, which may not seem like a huge deal, but if you take action on the insights gleaned from that data it can lead to catastrophe.
  • The second problem is that humans are expensive. Generally the person in charge of this kind of task is a marketer, and their time is much better spent analyzing data rather than aggregating it; marketers find actionable insights from the data, but very rarely do they have the necessary training to clean data and ensure its accuracy.

Mistake #2: Believing that a dashboard is the solution to your data problems

  • Dashboards are excellent tools for data visualization and data aggregation, but they will not solve any issues that you have with the underlying data.
  • The second issue that people often run into with dashboards is actually connecting the data from the various sources to the dashboard. Many of these data visualization companies talk about how easy their technology is to implement, but going back to the first point, you need to understand how to take all of the different data formats and naming conventions and standardize them across the board so that you can actually get actionable data that you can trust.

Mistake #3: Not making your data actionable

  • According to a Google survey 97% of websites collect data from their customers, but less than 30% actually use that data to make decisions in their business.
  • Many companies get so bogged down with metrics and get lost in the weeds of everything that is measured that they lose sight of their actual goals. It is best to narrow the view down to 7 or 8 actionable metrics  to focus on in the near term, i.e. increasing revenue or decreasing costs, and then once you have those under control, you can begin to add new metrics that you want to measure to further optimize the business.
  • The last part of making sure that your data is actionable is making sure that there is someone assigned to each of the core metrics that you decide to measure. That allows the person to focus on that metric, so they know exactly why that metric went up, down, or sideways, and can explain to the team exactly what happened so that you can replicate that behavior again or avoid it in the future.

Mistake #4: Not democratizing data

  • Many organizations have one nerd who analyzes all of the data and then transmits that data to the team, but that nerd doesn’t know what they don’t know. This flows back to the first mistake that many businesses make, by trusting too much in humans who are extremely prone to errors.
  • Everyone has different backgrounds and experience, so when they look at a metric they will see one thing and come up with an action item based off their experience; but if you bring in another set of eyes, that person may see something totally different and come to a different conclusion. Democratizing data and making it accessible to more people will lead to greater insights and more options for ways to proceed.

Mistake #5: Not focusing on the bottom line

  • This is very similar to not making data actionable, but it is very important to cover as well.
  • Determining the right metrics to measure for your business starts with your big goal: driving more revenue. You need to ask yourself, “what are the primary drivers of revenue for my company?”.
  • After you have determined what the primary revenue drivers are for your company, you need to ask the logical questions as to how you can get more from those customers; that may be, “how do I keep them subscribed to my service for longer?” or “How can I increase repeat purchases?” or even “How do I increase the average order size on my site?”.
  • For each of those questions, you can find one metric that will help you to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. By then focusing on that single metric to measure your results, you can experiment to find what works for your customers.

Mistake #6: Worrying about the chicken vs the egg

  • Many business owners think that they don’t need to start truly tracking these key metrics until they already have success to replicate; this could not be further from the truth.
  • Cleaning and tracking data, especially in the early stages, helps you avoid costly mistakes and also helps you expand rapidly. Businesses that track their data early on can outspend and outmaneuver their competition because they know exactly the type of returns to expect from their investment, allowing them to aggressively expand and claim market share.

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