How to Increase Your Customer Lifetime Value with Email Marketing

The fact of the matter is that acquiring new customers costs quite a bit of money - it costs roughly five times more to attract new customers than it does to retain existing ones. Therefore, it is the fiscally responsible thing (in most cases) for merchants to spend more time figuring out how to increase customer lifetime value (CLV) than to work on converting new shoppers.

When analyzing customer-based marketing strategies, few metrics are more important than customer lifetime value.

When merchants are focused on customer lifetime value, they are concentrating on cultivating loyalty and serving their existing shoppers’ needs. Thankfully, there are a multitude of ways that retailers can achieve this aim. However, not all of them are created equal.

For those who really want to maximize customer lifetime value, email marketing is the way to go.

Email customer lifetime value tactics are a profound route to go, given that on its own, email marketing is already the most profitable marketing tactic that merchants have at their disposal. As a 2019 Data & Marketing report shows, email marketing generates an average ROI of 4,100 percent.

Couple this information with the fact that the success rate of selling to existing customers is roughly 60-70 percent (compared to five to 20 percent for new consumers), email customer lifetime value strategies are clearly a winner.

To help retailers establish the kinds of email customer lifetime value driving tactics that will enhance customer lifetime value, today, we will explore how to use eCommerce email marketing to boost sales and CLV.

Start with Customer Segmentation

To begin, segmenting email lists by customer lifetime value will help retailers to gain a broader perspective on how their shoppers break down on this metric.

By segmenting lists in this way, merchants can develop effective strategies for maximizing the potential of each group. Through this approach, sellers are creating a spectrum of their buyers, a gradient that ranges from mostly inactive customers to dedicated consumers.

The aim of this exercise isn’t to only focus on those who are actively buying from the brand. Instead, it is to take a comprehensive look at the entirety of a company’s email subscribers.

During this segmentation process, merchants are likely to find that their audience breaks down into three distinct categories. Those groups include:

  • Very profitable customers
  • Profitable customers
  • Unprofitable customers

These three groups can be used as the basis for segmenting the email list and serving relevant content to each group. Naturally, retailers must understand how to calculate customer lifetime value to achieve this aim. However, that is another topic altogether.

If merchants wish to get super-granular with this email customer lifetime value strategy, they can even divide existing audience segments by CLV.

For instance, if a retailer sells athletic clothing items, there is a good chance that their email list is already segmented by gender, and potentially by location as well given that those in Montana are more likely to purchase cold-weather exercise gear than those in Florida.

Therefore, sellers can segment each of these lists (women in Florida, women in Montana, men in Florida, men in Montana, etc.) by customer lifetime value, thereby building hyper-specific audiences that provide merchants with an intimate look at where their email ROI is being generated.

From there, retailers can craft email customer lifetime value-enhancing campaigns that use specific strategies for disengaged shoppers, average customers and those who are big spenders.

Through this approach, merchants can develop a solid foundation for increasing customer lifetime values through email marketing efforts.

Upsell Email Subscribers

Upselling and cross-selling are two commonly used approaches to boosting CLV. Because of the efficacy of these strategies, these serve as a perfect email customer lifetime value improvement tactic.

However, there are two different methods that merchants can utilize when aiming to upsell and cross-sell via email marketing.

In the first approach, retailers can drive email customer lifetime value upward by including a product recommendation list in their post-purchase order confirmation emails. Depending on the email marketing platform a brand chooses to use, the system potentially has the ability to track a customer’s on-site behavior and recommend products to them that they are likely to buy.

In the second scheme, merchants can send previous buyers follow-up emails that include items that are related to one of their last purchases. For example, if a customer buys a camera from a merchant’s shop, they can later send an email to the consumer highlighting all sorts of accessories and attachments for the specific model they bought, thereby potentially increasing customer lifetime value via email.

Increase CLV Through Content

Both of the email customer lifetime strategies listed above are intended to explicitly drive sales by delivering relevant product offerings to consumers. However, merchants can also aim to boost CLV with content that drives revenue, delivered via email.

With this approach, retailers can utilize their blog content as a means to increase customer sales and average order values by educating customers with explanations of the usefulness of certain products and how they can be utilized with other items a retailer offers. This tactic is excellent for B2C and B2B retailers who sell products online.

By sending out educational and informative emails about a specific topic that relates and links to specific products that merchants sell, they can effectively elevate email customer lifetime value in an indirect manner, while also providing subscribers with worthwhile content and knowledge.

Balance Acquisition, Retention and Optimization

When it comes to maximizing email customer lifetime value, retailers have three primary goals. Those goals (which relate to the CLV segments discussed earlier) are:

  • Acquisition: Get more email subscribers on a merchant’s list and move those residing in the unprofitable group into one of the profitable categories of customers.
  • Retention: Ensure that the two profitable groups remain that way.
  • Optimization: Get profitable customers to move into the very profitable group.

All three of these objectives are equally important and, in many ways, build on one another. Given this framework, let’s discuss acquisition.


At first consideration, it may seem strange to list acquisition as an email customer lifetime value strategy. After all, most would consider CLV enhancements to come from retention and optimization tactics.

While this is true, it is also true that brands that feature a robust onboarding program can effectively increase customer lifetime values through email. This is precisely why creating effective welcome emails (or an email series) is such a critical eCommerce email marketing component.

The welcome email series is a new subscriber’s first impression of the company and informs them of what their email experience will be like with the brand. Those who manage to nail these communications can forcefully kick off a fantastic customer-to-company relationship that helps contribute to cultivating brand loyalty.

Alternatively, if the welcome email series fails to impress new subscribers and leaves a lackluster taste in their mouths, there is a great chance these folks will have a lower overall CLV.

The bottom line here is that first impressions matter.


As far as retention goes, there are tons of different customer retention strategies that retailers can deploy, some of which have already been discussed.

One of the first retention tactics that merchants can utilize is email segmentation. There are a multitude of ways that retailers can segment their email lists to deliver hyper-personalized, super-relevant content to their subscribers, thus keeping them entertained and engaged.

Additionally, sellers can deploy intimate email campaigns such as happy birthday emails or those related to special occasions for customers like anniversaries.

Reengagement campaigns are another means of retention that aim to activate dormant customers and move them back into being a profitable customer.

At the end of the day, there is a panoply of eCommerce email campaigns that sellers need to be sending to keep churn rates low and profits high.


When it comes to email customer lifetime value optimization, retailers will need to go above and beyond mere retention strategies and offer customers genuine reasons to spend more of their hard-earned dollars.

While improving subject lines and the occasional re-segmentation of email lists can help, it is best for retailers to show their most profitable shoppers that they really are special to the company.

This means that sending customers an occasional discount is in order. Moreover, sellers should consider letting this group of VIPs in on exclusive invite-only sales, early access to upcoming promotions or even a customer loyalty program that is only accessible to specific customers.

No matter how a retailer opts to approach the optimization stage, the aim is twofold:

  • Make highly profitable customers feel appreciated.
  • Move shoppers in the profitable group into the highly profitable category.

While email customer lifetime value optimization is likely to require a good bit of trial and error to find what works best, at the end of the day, creating highly profitable customers is dependent upon elevating the customer experience to new heights of satisfaction and enjoyability.

Supply Discounts to New and Loyal Customers Alike

While providing VIP customers with the occasional discount can undoubtedly be an optimization strategy, it can also serve as a means to move unprofitable consumers into the group of profitable customers rapidly.

By giving both new and dedicated customers sporadic discounts (or even using discount codes as lead magnets), retailers can encourage a consumer who planned on spending nothing in their first month with a company to place an order, thus increasing customer lifetime value through email.

From there, retailers can target them with upselling and cross-selling campaigns in an attempt to push the order value even higher.

However, it is absolutely worth noting that this tactic should be used sparingly and not as a constant tool to push folks to buy. If retailers end up sending out coupons or discounts too frequently, shoppers can rapidly come to expect such handouts, thereby decreasing customer lifetime values in the long-term.

Include Social Recommendations

Social media has evolved into some of the most influential destinations on the internet. Now more than ever, consumers turn to social media for recommendations on what to buy.

Because of this dynamic and the explosion of user-generated content that exists on such destinations, highlighting customers who have posted to social showing off their purchases from a brand is a great way to provide others with the social proof needed to drive purchases and increase email customer lifetime value optimization effectiveness.

Therefore, when sending product recommendation emails to subscribers, go beyond showing product pictures. Instead, place the spotlight on other shoppers who have bought the item and what they think of it using customer reviews and social media images of them using the product.

Craft Purposeful Emails

In all honesty, retailers can sometimes send out rather purposeless emails. We have all received those messages that don’t really seem to have a point other than to keep the brand top-of-mind with consumers.

While this is an understandable and necessary goal to serve, blasting out purposeless emails can have an antithetical effect and actually decrease customer lifetime values. The reason for this is that people already have cluttered inboxes. If folks keep receiving emails that have no discernable intention and merely seem to be a ploy for a subscriber’s momentary attention, this can turn shoppers off to a brand and result in them unsubscribing.

Therefore, it is vital that retailers craft emails that have a clear objective in their message. Not all emails need to be earth-shattering or revolutionary, but there needs to be an intention behind them.

Maybe retailers are having a sale, just put out a new piece of content, are launching a new product, want to update customers on the brand’s app development efforts or want to wish the customer a happy birthday. All of these are great to send because there is a definite reason for sending the email.

Again, it is necessary to keep customers consistently engaged. However, the way in which merchants strive toward this end is crucial to email customer lifetime value optimization effectiveness.

Given that understanding, when sellers go to send out an email, it is essential to ask themselves, “What is the point of this message?” If no genuine answer can be established, it is best to go back to the drawing board instead of sending out an email that could tick off subscribers.

While this may seem like a challenging task to some, in the end, it will make the company’s email marketing strategy much stronger overall and help to enhance customer lifetime values.

Final Thoughts

Email customer lifetime value strategies are a critical component to the long-term growth and success of an online retail business. After all, given how profitable email marketing can be, paired with the financial sense it makes to focus on customer retention over acquisition, it is wise for sellers to pour much of the email marketing efforts into this area.

Utilize the email customer lifetime value tactics listed above to help your company maximize its subscriber base and scale.

However, if your brand would like help in ensuring that it is getting the most out of its email list, reach out to Visiture’s eCommerce email marketing mavens. Our team of seasoned professionals can help you optimize the customer lifetime value obtained through email marketing efforts.


Original: https://www.visiture.com/blog/how-to-increase-your-customer-lifetime-value-with-email-marketing/

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