How to Calculate LTV: CAC Ratio

How to Calculate LTV: CAC Ratio

To calculate LTV:CAC ratio, divide Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) by Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC). This metric evaluates ROI.

By: Ayesha Khan | 5 mins read
Published: Oct 13, 2023 9:09:26 AM | Updated: May 22, 2024 02:50:52 AM

How to Calculate the LTV:CAC Ratio?

The customer Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost ratio, often abbreviated as LTV:CAC ratio , is a key performance metric used by businesses to assess the efficiency and sustainability of their growth and marketing strategies.

This ratio provides insights into how much value a company derived from its customers over their lifetime in comparison to the cost of acquiring those customers.


  • Customer Lifetime Value

LTV represents the total revenue a customer is expected to generate for a business throughout their entire relationship with that business.

It’s a projection of the net profit a customer will contribute kver time, considering factors like the average purchase value, purchase frequency, and the customer’s expected lifespan as a paying customer.

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

CAC reflects the total cost incurred by a business to acquire a new customer. This includes expenses related to marketing, advertising, sales and any other costs associated with bringing in new customers.


The LTV:CAC ratio is calculated by dividing the Customer Lifetime Value by the Customer Acquisition Cost


                                                     LTV:CAC= LTV/CAC



  • STEP 1

 Calculate Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)

Imagine you run an ecommerce business. You want to determine the LTV of your customers. Here's how you can calculate it:


  • Average Purchase Value (APV): Let's say the average purchase value is $50.
  • Average Purchase Frequency (APF): On average, your customers make a purchase every two months. This equals 6 times a year.
  • Average Customer Lifespan (ACL): Your customers stay with your business for about 3 years on average.

Now, use the formula for LTV:



 LTV = ($50 x 6) x 3

 LTV = $900

  • STEP 2

   Calculate Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Assuming your CAC, which includes marketing and sales expenses, is $3000 for a particular period.

  • STEP 3

   Calculate LTV: CAC Ratio

Now, apply the formula for the LTV: CAC ratio:


LTV: CAC Ratio = LTV / CAC

LTV: CAC Ratio = $900 / $3000

LTV: CAC Ratio = 0.3


In this example, the LTV: CAC ratio is 0.3, which is less than 1.0. This suggests that for every $1 spent on customer acquisition, the business is generating $0.30 in customer lifetime value. The ratio indicates that the business is currently not achieving a positive return on its customer acquisition investment and may need to revisit its acquisition and retention strategies to improve its long-term profitability.

Interpretation of LTV:CAC Ratio

  • If LTV:CAC ratio>1 , it shows that a business is generating more revenue from each customer over their lifetime than it costs to acquire them. This is usually considered a positive sign of a sustainable growth model.
  • If LTV:CAC ratio < 1, it shows that a business is spending more to acquire customers than those customers are expected to generate in revenue over their lifetime. This can be a warning sign that a company may need to reevaluate its acquisition and retention strategies.
  • A significantly high ratio, such as 3 or 4, shows that a business is efficiently acquiring and retaining customers, which can signify strong growth potential and effective use of resources.

What Factors Cause Low LTV:CAC Ratio?

A low LTV:CAC ratio, meaning it is less than 1.0, suggests that a business is spending more to acquire customers than it expects to earn from those customers over their lifetime.

Several factors can contribute to a low LTV:CAC ratio, and identifying these factors is essential for improving business performance.

Here are some reasons for a low LTV: CAC ratio

  • Inefficient customer acquisition strategies

Ineffective or costly customer acquisition methods can drive up CAC. 

For example, if a business is heavily reliant on paid advertising and the cost per acquisition is high without corresponding returns, it can significantly impact the ratio.

How to improve: implement effective customer retention strategies. Engage with existing customers, offer exceptional customer service and encourage repeat purchases. Loyalty programs and personalized marketing can be beneficial. Optimize your advertising and marketing campaigns, exploring lower cost acquisition channels.

  • Churn rate

A high customer churn rate, meaning customers are leaving the business quickly, can result in a low LTV. If customers aren’t sticking around long enough to generate substantial revenue, it will lower the LTV and adversely affect the ratio.

How to improve: implement strategies to reduce customer churn. Regularly communicate with customers, address their concerns and actively seek feedback to make improvements.

  • Low pricing power

If a business faces intense price competition and can’t command higher prices for jts products or services, it may struggle to increase the average purchase value. This results in a lower LTV.

How to improve:adjust your pricing strategy to maximize revenue without pricing customers out of the market. Experiment with pricing tiers and bundling to increase the average purchase value.

  • Overhead costs

High overhead costs, such as operational expenses, can reduce the profitability of each customer, which affects the LTV.

How to improve: streamline your operations to reduce overhead costs. Evaluate your business processes and consider outsourcing certain tasks to control expenses.

  • Inadequate customer segmentation

Failing to target the right audience can result in Acquiring customers who are not a good fit for the business. These customers may not generate the expected revenue, driving down the LTV.

How to improve:identify and target the most profitable customer segments. Focus your marketing and acquisition efforts on customers who are more likely to make repeat purchases and have higher lifetime values.

  • Lack of Upselling or Cross Selling

Missing opportunities to upsell or cross sell to existing customers can limit their potential lifetime value.

How to improve: identify opportunities to upsell and cross sell to existing customers. Encourage them tk purchase complementary products or services,increasing their lifetime value.

  • Market saturation

In markets where competition is intense , it may be challenging to maintain high LTV:CAC ratios due to higher acquisition costs.

How to improve: compare your LTV:CAC ratio to industry benchmarks to see how you stack up against competitors. This can provide valuable insights and set realistic targets.

  • Economic Factors

External factors, such as economic downturns, can influence the behavior of customers and reduce the willingness to make repeat purchases.

How to improve: adapt to market changes and economic conditions. Flexibility can help you maintain a healthy LTV:CAC ratio during challenging times.

Importance of the LTV:CAC Ratio

  • Efficiency 

A high LTV:CAC ratio suggests that a business is efficiently allocating its resources to acquire and retain customers . 

This is important for optimizing marketing and sales strategies of the business. Companies can focus their efforts and resources on the most effective customer acquisition channels and retention initiatives reducing wasteful spending.

  • Sustainability 

A LTV:CAC ratio greater than 1 indicates that a business is generating more revenue from each customer over their lifetime than it costs to acquire them. 

This suggests that the business is on a path towards sustainability and profitability. It’s a sign that the revenue generated from customers will likely cover the initial cost of acquiring them, making the business model more robust.

  • Investor Attraction

Investors and stakeholders often look at the LTV:CAC ratio as an indicator of a company’s growth potential and long term viability.

A healthy ratio can attract investors , making it easier for the business to secure funding for further expansion and development.

  • Strategic Decision making

The LTV:CAC ratio can guide strategic decision-making. It helps businesses evaluate the trade off between investing in acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones.

A strong ratio may indicate that it’s a good time to scale up customer acquisition efforts, while a weaker ratio might prompt a reevaluation of Strategies.


Long-Term Perspective: The LTV: CAC ratio is about building a sustainable, customer-centric business that maximizes the long-term value of each customer while managing acquisition costs.


  • Competitive Advantage

Businesses with a high LTV:CAC ratio may have a competitive advantage over others as they can afford to spend more on acquiring and retaining customers. This can lead to market leadership and increased market share.


LTV:CAC ratio is an important metric for businesses , reflecting the relationship between the value a customer generated over their lifetime and the cost incurred to acquire them.

By continuously refining their approach, focusing on customer value, and optimizing costs, businesses can establish a more sustainable and prosperous growth model, attracting investors and ensuring long term success.