How to calculate maximum CPA and profitable ROAS?

If you want to advertise on any marketing platform for free with an unlimited marketing budget then you need to focus on optimising just one metric.

This metric is called Profitable ROAS (Return on Ad Spend).

You can never scale your ad spend and marketing efforts, if you do not know your profitable ROAS. So calculating it is very important.

What is Profitable ROAS (Return on Ad Spend)?

Profitable ROAS is the ROAS you need to stay within your maximum CPA target.

Following is the formula to calculate profitable ROAS

Profitable ROAS = Average order value / Maximum CPA

Here,

Average Order Value (AOV) is the average value of an e-commerce transaction. Google Analytics report on AOV.

Maximum CPA is the maximum amount you are willing to spend to acquire one customer without sacrificing your operating profit margin.

Let us suppose,

Your Average order value is $100

Your maximum CPA is $35

Then your profitable ROAS would be

Profitable ROAS = $100 / $35 = 2.86 = 3

So you would need a ROAS of 3 or more to stay within your Max. CPA target.

Introduction to Maximum CPA

Maximum CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) is the maximum amount you are willing to spend to acquire one customer without sacrificing your operating profit margin.

Following is the formula to calculate maximum CPA

Max. CPA = operating profit per customer – operating profit per customer you want to keep

Here,

The operating profit per customer is the gross income you earned from a customer in a given time period. This ratio metric is used to separate profitable customers from unprofitable customers.

In order to calculate maximum CPA, you need to decide what sort of operating profit per customer you want to keep.

Technically speaking, you can spend all of your operating profit per customer in acquiring one customer but then you wouldn’t be making any profit.

You would be breaking even on every customer.

So in order to make a profit, you would need to decide what percentage of operating profit per customer you want to keep.

However, in order to acquire a new customer, you would need to sacrifice certain portion of your operating profit. This portion of your operating profit would cover your customer’s acquisition cost.

So you can’t keep 100% of your operating profit as you also need to cover your customers acquisition cost.

Consequently,

More operating profit per customer you want to keep, lower would be your Maximum CPA.

Operating Profit Per Customer

Operating profit per customer is the gross income you earned for a customer during his lifetime.

Following is the formula to calculate operating profit per customer:

Operating profit per customer = Customer Lifetime Value – (average refund per customer + average direct cost per customer + average operating cost per customer)

Here,

Customer lifetime value (also known as LTV) is the projected revenue your customer will generate during his lifetime.

Direct costs include the cost of manufacturing/procuring goods + cost of delivering the goods (shipping cost). In case of services, direct costs include the cost of delivering the services

Operating costs are the ongoing costs of running a business. The operating costs can include employee salaries, administrative expenses, office rent, water, gas and electricity etc.

Let us suppose,

Your customer lifetime value is $300

Your Average refund per customer is $80

Your Average direct cost per customer is $70

Your Average operating cost per customer = $25

So your operating profit per customer 

= $300 – ($80  + $70 + $25) = $125

This is the gross income you earned from a customer during his lifetime.

Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value (also known as LTV) is the projected revenue a customer will generate during his lifetime.

Different types of customers (like high value customers, low value customers) tend to have a different lifetime value.

So it makes sense to calculate LTV for each unique segment of customers (i.e Cohort).

Note: LTV calculations make sense only when you are getting repeat business and when you expect repeat business from same customers.

Following is the formula to calculate LTV:

Customer Lifetime Value = Average Order Value * Average Purchase Frequency * Average Customer Lifespan   

Here,

Average Order Value (AOV) is the average value of a transaction. Google Analytics report on AOV.

Average Purchase Frequency is how often on an average customers make a purchase on your website. For example, your customers may purchase once every 6 months.

Average customer life span is the average duration (number of weeks, months or years) people remain customers of your business.

Let us suppose,

Average Order Value = $100

Average Purchase Frequency = once every 52 weeks (i.e. once every year)

Average customer lifespan = 156 weeks (i.e. 3 years)

So Customer Lifetime Value = $100 * 1 purchase per 52 weeks * 156 weeks = $100 * 1/52 * 156 = $300

Operating profit per customer you want to keep

The operating profit per customer you want to keep depends upon your operating profit margin and customer lifetime value.

The following is the formula to calculate operating profit per customer you want to keep

Operating profit per customer you want to keep = (operating profit margin * customer lifetime value) * 100

Here,

Operating profit margin (also known as operating margin) is the percentage of total sales that remains after all direct and operating costs have been deducted from the total sales.

Consequently,

Higher your desired operating profit, lower is going to be your Max CPA

In other words,

Higher your desired operating profit margin, lower is going to be your Max CPA

The more operating profit you keep, the higher would be your operating profit margin. As a result less amount of money would be left to acquire a new customer.

Conversely, the less operating profit you keep, the lower would be your operating profit margin. As a result more amount of money would be left to acquire a new customer.

In other words,

Higher your desired operating profit margin, the less amount of money would be left to acquire a new customer.

Conversely,

Lower your desired operating profit margin, the more amount of money would be left to acquire a new customer.

If you are operating in a very competitive/saturated market then your average cost per acquisition is going to be pretty high.

In that case you can not afford to operate with high operating profit margin.

You would then most likely be operating on a very low profit margin.

For example, if you choose an operating profit margin of 40% then you would keep 40% of Customer Lifetime Value i.e.

40% * $300 = $120 per customer.

So operating profit per customer you keep = $120

That would leave you with just $125 – $120 = $5 to acquire a new customer.

So your Max CPA would be $5

So you can spend up to $5 to acquire one new customer.

On the other hand, if you choose an operating profit margin of say 30% then you would keep 30% of Customer Lifetime Value i.e.

30% * $300 = $90 per customer.

So operating profit per customer you keep = $90

That would leave you with $125 – $90 = $35 to acquire a new customer.

So your Max CPA would be $35

So you can spend up to $35 to acquire one new customer.

Your Maximum CPA depends upon your desired level of profitability and your industry.

How to calculate Operating Profit Margin

Operating profit margin (also known as operating margin) is the percentage of total sales that remains after all direct and operating costs have been deducted from the total sales.

The following is the formula to calculate operating profit margin:

Operating profit margin = (operating profit / customer lifetime value) * 100

Note: Operating profit margin is measured and reported as percentage.

 

Do you know the difference between Digital Analytics and Google Analytics?


99.99% of course creators themselves don’t know the difference between Digital analytics, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM).

So they are teaching GA and GTM in the name of teaching Digital analytics.

They just copy each other. Monkey see, monkey do.

But Digital analytics is not about GA, GTM.

It is about analyzing and interpreting data, setting up goals, strategies and KPIs.

It’s about creating strategic roadmap for your business.


Digital Analytics is the core skill. Google Analytics is just a tool used to implement ‘Digital Analytics’.

You can also implement ‘Digital analytics’ via other tools like ‘adobe analytics’, ‘kissmetrics’ etc.

Using Google Analytics without the good understanding of ‘Digital analytics’ is like driving around in a car, in a big city without understanding the traffic rules and road signs.

You are either likely to end up somewhere other than your destination or you get involved in an accident.


You learn data analysis and interpretation from Digital analytics and not from Google Analytics.

The direction in which your analysis will move, will determine the direction in which your marketing campaigns and eventually your company will move to get the highest possible return on investment.

You get that direction from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.


You learn to set up KPIs, strategies and measurement framework for your business from ‘Digital analytics’ and not from ‘Google Analytics’.

So if you are taking a course only on 'Google Analytics’, you are learning to use one of the tools of ‘Digital analytics’. You are not learning the ‘Digital analytics’ itself.

Since any person can learn to use Google Analytics in couple of weeks, you do no get any competitive advantage in the marketplace just by knowing GA.

You need to know lot more than GA in order to work in digital analytics and marketing field.


So what I have done, if you are interested, is I have put together a completely free training that will teach you exactly how I have been able to leverage digital analytics to generate floods of news sales and customers and how you can literally copy what I have done to get similar results.

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4) How to advertise on any marketing platform for FREE with an unlimited budget.

5) How to learn and master digital analytics in record time.

 
 

My best selling books on Digital Analytics and Conversion Optimization

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

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This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling in Google Ads (Google AdWords) and Facebook. It will teach you, how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to understand the customer purchasing journey and determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

Himanshu Sharma

Digital Marketing Consultant and Founder of Optimizesmart.com

Himanshu helps business owners and marketing professionals in generating more sales and ROI by fixing their website tracking issues, helping them understand their true customers purchase journey and helping them determine the most effective marketing channels for investment.

He has over 12 years experience in digital analytics and digital marketing.

He was nominated for the Digital Analytics Association's Awards for Excellence.

The Digital Analytics Association is a world renowned not-for-profit association which helps organisations overcome the challenges of data acquisition and application.

He is the author of four best-selling books on analytics and conversion optimization:

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