ecommerce-ltv-clvThe key to building any company lies in delighting customers. With every touch point the goal is to build the brand by exceeding expectations. In ecommerce this can start early in the buying cycle with helpful buyer’s guides and continue well after the sale with personalized nurturing to ensure they continue to as repeat customers diriving Life Time Value (LTV).

Life Time Value is the second half of your most valuable ecommerce marketing metric, and optimizing LTV is often the most powerful leverage point that ecommerce brands ignore.

Our ecommerce company is different: We don’t want repeat customers. If you buy or rent a knee scooter from Goodbye Crutches it means you are recovering on one foot after an injury or surgery. This is not something anyone wants to do the first time, much less do again. Still, even with very few repeat customers, increasing LTV is vital to growing our business. While more difficult to quantify, we still we focus on the Life Time Value a single customer can bring in four important areas that are too valuable to occur at a checkout page. The LTV of a customer contact, for example, can be partially represented by how much they lower our COCA - our cost of customer acquisition.

1) Referrals

Every company needs more ideal prospects. That is why we call our customers our walking billboards. They show the world you don’t need to be condemned to crutches. They are our celebrity spokespersons in the doctor’s waiting room. Feedback has demonstrated that in the first 4 weeks, our average customers talks to more than 2 dozen people about the benefits of a knee scooter over old fashion underarm crutches. Their potential value in referring new business trumps their personal purchases. We even send our customers a special email to gauge their likeliness to refer other customers and respond to them accordingly.

2) Customer Feedback

One of the best places to test new ideas and evaluate new products is with your happy customers. Some organizations recruit participants to focus groups and surveys with raffles, gift cards or coupons. Instead of getting a representative sample of their best customers they get people who like raffles, gift cards and coupons. These rewards actually tend to skews results toward price conscience buyers. Since we began tracking our NPS score we have seen a direct correlation between promoters and those willing to participate voluntarily in surveys. While one could argue this has the opposite effect of skewing results to towards happy customers, I’d rather further delight our best customers than just make unhappy customers content.

3) Recommendations

Customer recommendations are a powerful tool in online conversion. Heat maps routinely show it as one of the most active parts on any product detail page. While some retailers will buy reviews or artificially fabricate them, those that have the most value come from actual customers that speak to the needs of other actual customers. We routinely ask all customers to leave public reviews. Not surprisingly those that answer very highly to “I’d recommend you to a friend or my doctor” leave the largest number and most favorable reviews.

4) Favors

There are select times in any business’s life when you need to ask for a favor. It can’t be too often and it better only be after you’ve continually delighted them. It maybe asking many to help in responding to a hoard of third world trolls a competitor launched.

For us, we reached out asking for help to win an online popularity. The first round of the Fed Ex Small Business Grant (shameless plug - you can vote for us here) is based solely on online voting. Knowing we had a compelling story to win the final round, we asked our customers for the favor of voting for us. The value they can provide us in grant money and exposure could be priceless even if it can’t be calculated into the traditional LTV equation.

Inbound Marketing is about creating marketing that people love. One measure of their love is the amount of money they give the company. But life is not always quid pro quo or always quantifiable. Just as important to the savvy marketer is growing the mutual love so that customers can show their affection in priceless ways difficult to reflect in a simple economics model.

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Originally published Feb 7, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2023