The LTV-CAC Ratio: Balancing Value & Cost
6 min readMay 2


The LTV-CAC Ratio: Balancing Value & Cost

With the ever-evolving digital landscape, emerging businesses must devise new strategies and tactics to meet their growth objectives. Thus, brands spend a lot of time, money, and effort strategizing the best way to grow, attract, and acquire more customers.

In this dynamic environment, it is also important to understand the underlying unit economics and make informed data-driven marketing decisions. One such metric that every business must measure and track is the LTC-CAC ratio.

This blog discusses the basics of LTV (Lifetime Value) and CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost), how to calculate the LTV-CAC ratio and the importance of striking the right balance for sustainable business growth.

The Basics of LTV and CAC

Before delving into the details of the LTV-CAC ratio as a whole, let us first understand the two core component metrics it is derived from.

1. Lifetime Value

Lifetime value is an average projection of the net profit a customer generates for a business over the entire duration of their association or lifetime as a customer of the business.

It is a vital metric as it helps businesses quantify the value each customer brings and the resources that should be spent in acquiring and retaining them.

LTV encompasses factors such as average revenue per user, customer lifespan, and gross margin.

2. Customer Acquisition Cost

The Customer Acquisition Cost or CAC is the total spend of a business to attract and convert a customer. It includes marketing expenses, sales efforts, and other associated costs.

CAC is crucial for businesses to determine the effectiveness of their marketing and sales strategies. It helps evaluate the return on investment (ROI) from various marketing channels and adjust the strategies accordingly to ensure optimum efficiency.

What is LTV-CAC Ratio?

The LTV-CAC ratio is a metric that compares the customer’s Lifetime Value (LTV) to the cost of acquiring that customer (CAC). In essence, it quantifies the balance between a customer’s value and the investment required to attract that customer.

This metric is vital as it helps businesses evaluate the sustainability and scalability of their customer acquisition strategies. Overall the ratio tells you if your business is profitable, and businesses use this metric to monitor spending and find a balance that achieves profitability.

A higher LTV-CAC ratio indicates that your business is generating more revenue per customer relative to the cost of acquiring them. If this ratio is low, your business is burning cash in the long run because if you are spending more to acquire new customers than their estimated return on revenue throughout the customer’s lifetime, you are bound to run out of resources to acquire any more customers.

Balancing the LTV-CAC Ratio

How does the ratio help?

This ratio is a powerful tool for businesses to understand the effectiveness of their marketing and sales efforts. Here are some key benefits of using the LTV-CAC ratio:

- Evaluate marketing and sales strategies

It helps businesses assess the success of their marketing campaigns and sales efforts by comparing the value of customers with the cost of acquiring them.

- Optimize marketing budget allocation

By understanding the LTV-CAC ratio, businesses can allocate their marketing budget more efficiently, focusing on channels that yield the highest ROI.

- Monitor business sustainability

A high LTV-CAC ratio indicates that your business is generating more revenue per customer than the cost of acquisition, ensuring long-term sustainability and profitability.

- Identify areas for improvement

A low LTV-CAC ratio may highlight the need to improve customer retention, increase revenue per user, or reduce acquisition costs.

- Analyze the types of customers to acquire

Enterprise customers have a higher CAC but also boast a higher LTV due to lower churn rates. The metric helps to uncover valuable insights into what kind of customers to concentrate on when designing the marketing initiatives.

- Raise investments

If your customers are worth thrice the money spent on their acquisition, then it is easier for businesses to raise capital from investors. It is a good way to show investors that the company has a broad product-market fit and a strong LTV-CAC ratio that is sustainable over time.

How to calculate LTV to CAC?

Calculating the LTV-CAC ratio involves determining the LTV and CAC separately and then comparing the two values. Here’s a step-by-step process:

1. Calculate the Lifetime Value:

  • Determine Average Revenue per User (ARPU): Calculate the average revenue generated by each customer during a specific period.
  • Estimate Customer Lifespan: Determine the average duration a customer stays with your business before churning.
  • Compute Gross Margin: Calculate the gross margin percentage, which is the difference between revenue and the cost of goods sold (COGS) divided by the revenue.
  • Calculate LTV: Multiply ARPU by Customer Lifespan and then multiply the result by the Gross Margin percentage.
Customer Lifetime Value Formula

2. Calculate Customer Acquisition Cost:

  • Calculate Total Marketing and Sales Expenses: Add up all costs associated with marketing and sales efforts during a specific period, including advertising, salaries, commissions, and other related expenses.
  • Determine the Number of New Customers Acquired: Count the total number of new customers gained during the same period.
  • Calculate CAC: Divide the final marketing and sales expenditure by the count of new customers acquired.
Customer Acquistion Cost Formula

3. Calculate LTV-CAC Ratio:

Divide the LTV obtained by the CAC to get the LTV-CAC ratio.

What is a good LTV-CAC Ratio?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, a general rule of thumb is to aim for an LTV-CAC ratio of 3:1 or higher. This means that for every dollar spent on acquiring a customer, your business should generate at least three dollars in lifetime value.

Good LTV:CAC Ratio

An LTV-CAC ratio below 1 indicates that your customer acquisition costs are higher than the revenue generated by customers, which is unsustainable in the long run. A ratio of 5:1 or above means that there is growth left on the table, and the business can scale up its advertising and marketing efforts to increase revenue.

However, it is essential to consider industry benchmarks and the specific context of your business when evaluating your LTV-CAC ratio. Factors such as business size, growth stage, and target market can impact the ideal ratio for your organization.


Understanding and optimizing the LTV-CAC ratio is crucial for businesses to ensure long-term growth and profitability. By striking the right balance between customer value and acquisition costs, businesses can allocate resources more efficiently, maximize marketing ROI, and ensure the sustainability of their customer acquisition strategies.

At the end of the day, it is all about balancing the value each customer brings to the business compared to the money spent in acquiring them. You don’t want your business to spend more money than they are getting back.

The Advantage is a cutting-edge customer engagement and retention platform that can help you maximize your LTV-CAC ratio by providing insights and tools to optimize your customer acquisition and retention efforts. Here’s how can give your business a competitive edge:

  1. Data-driven insights:’s advanced analytics capabilities help you understand customer behavior, preferences, and trends, enabling you to make informed decisions to enhance customer value.
  2. Personalized experiences: Use behavioral segmentation to create highly targeted and personalized marketing campaigns to engage customers and boost retention, ultimately increasing LTV.
  3. Omnichannel engagement: Reach customers across various channels, including email, in-app messaging, and push notifications, to ensure a seamless and consistent experience that fosters long-term relationships.
  4. A/B testing and optimization: allows you to experiment with different marketing strategies, assess their performance, and refine your approach to maximize your LTV-CAC ratio.

By leveraging the powerful features and insights provided by, businesses can achieve the optimal LTV-CAC ratio and unlock sustainable growth and success.

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