Net Retention Revenue (NRR) is a critical metric that holds substantial importance for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. As a subset of the broader concept of net revenue, NRR specifically focuses on recurring revenue from existing customers over a specific period. 

By considering factors such as upselling, customer downgrades, cancellations, and price increases, NRR provides valuable insights into a company’s ability to retain and grow its customer base. 

This article will delve into the significance of NRR in evaluating SaaS businesses, how it differs from net revenue, and practical strategies to enhance NRR for sustainable growth and investor appeal.

What Is Net Revenue?

Net revenue, also known as net sales or net income, is a fundamental financial metric that represents the total revenue generated by a company from its core business operations after accounting for any deductions or adjustments. It reflects the actual income a company earns from selling its products or services to customers, taking into account factors like sales returns, discounts, allowances, and the cost of goods sold. Net revenue provides a clear and accurate measure of a company’s ability to generate profits from its primary activities, making it a key indicator for assessing financial performance and sustainability.

For this article, Net Revenue will not be the focus. However, one should understand the concept of net revenue before reading forward. Once this concept is understood, then one may begin to look at Net Retention Revenue.

What Is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company?

To understand Net Retention Revenue, one must first understand what a SaaS business is. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a cloud computing model that offers software applications to users over the internet through a subscription-based service. Unlike traditional software installations, SaaS eliminates the need for local setups, as the applications are hosted on the provider’s servers and accessed through web browsers. Users only require an internet connection to conveniently access and use the software from any device or location.

Subscription Based

The hallmark of SaaS is its subscription-based model, where users pay recurring fees for access to the software, and the provider handles all maintenance, updates, and security aspects. Since the software is centrally hosted, users are always using the latest version without manual updates. SaaS applications provide scalability and cost savings through shared infrastructure, allowing businesses to adjust their subscription plans based on their requirements and user count.

The convenience, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of SaaS have made it immensely popular in various industries. It is used for a wide range of applications, including customer relationship management, project management, collaboration tools, accounting software, and more. Some well-known examples of SaaS applications include Salesforce, Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Microsoft 365, and Zoom. As a result of its advantages, SaaS has become a prevalent and influential model for delivering software services in the modern digital landscape.

What Is Net Retention Revenue?

Net Retention Revenue is a term that relates to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. Net Retention Revenue (NRR)  is a crucial metric used to assess the financial health and growth potential of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) businesses. It measures the percentage of recurring revenue that a SaaS company retains from its customer base over a specific period, considering factors like upselling, customer downgrades, cancellations, and price increases.

Overall, Net Retention Revenue is a critical metric that provides valuable insights into the sustainability and growth potential of SaaS businesses and influences investment decisions in the industry.

What Is Net Retention Revenue Used For?

Investors and analysts closely monitor Net Retention Revenue because it offers a more accurate picture of a SaaS company’s performance compared to metrics like Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) or Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR). NRR takes into account fluctuations in revenue resulting from customer upgrades or downgrades, which gives a more comprehensive understanding of the company’s ability to retain and expand its customer base.

Net Retention Revenue (NRR) is a valuable metric for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies due to several compelling reasons. Firstly, NRR provides a focus on predictable revenue generated from ongoing sources, primarily from existing customers and recurring subscriptions. Unlike revenue from new customers or one-time sales, which can be subject to fluctuations and uncertainties, NRR offers a more stable and consistent measure of a company’s financial performance over time. This stability makes the company more appealing to investors, as they seek businesses with a sustainable and reliable revenue stream.

Net Retention Revenue We Want Positive

Companies with a high NRR typically exhibit strong customer satisfaction and a compelling value proposition. A high NRR implies that the company is not only able to retain existing customers but also generate additional revenue from them through upselling add-ons, or price increases. This reflects positively on the company’s ability to deliver value and maintain customer loyalty, further enhancing its attractiveness to potential investors.

Client Habits

Another advantage of using NRR is its reliability compared to merely counting recurring subscriber numbers. While subscriber numbers might remain constant even during changes in customers’ behaviours (such as downgrading to lower-priced plans), NRR directly focuses on the revenue generated. This ensures that the company’s financial health is accurately represented, taking into account real-world customer actions and their impact on income.

In summary, NRR is a valuable metric for SaaS companies because it highlights the importance of ongoing revenue from existing customers, offering a stable and consistent measure of financial performance. A high NRR indicates satisfied customers and a strong value proposition, making the company more appealing to investors. Moreover, NRR provides a more reliable assessment of the company’s financial health compared to relying solely on subscriber numbers, as it directly accounts for revenue fluctuations resulting from customer behaviours and subscription changes.

How to Calculate NRR

To calculate Net Retention Revenue (NRR), you use the following formula:

NRR = [(Starting Monthly Recurring Revenue) + (Expansion Revenue) – (Churn)] / (Starting Monthly Recurring Revenue)

Here’s a brief breakdown of the elements used in the formula:

Starting Monthly Recurring Revenue 

This represents the total monthly revenue generated from the existing customer base at the beginning of a specific period.

Expansion Revenue

It refers to the additional revenue generated during the period from upselling to existing customers, such as price increases or add-on sales.


Churn includes the loss of revenue due to customer cancellations, downgrades, or any other reduction in subscription value.

By using this formula, you can calculate the percentage of revenue retained from existing customers during the period, considering both the upselling and churn aspects.

A Net Retention Revenue rate above 100% indicates that the company is growing and improving, as it is retaining more revenue from its existing customers than it lost due to churn. For example, if a software service company has an NRR of 107.35%, this indicates positive growth and improved financial performance.

4 Tips On How a Company Can Improve Its Net Retention Revenue

Improving Net Revenue Retention (NRR) for a SaaS company involves implementing various strategies to encourage customer loyalty, provide additional value, and enhance customer support. Here are some key approaches to improve NRR:

1. Offering Discounts and Incentives

Providing discounts or incentives to customers who commit to longer subscription periods can foster loyalty and encourage them to stay with your service. For example, offering a discounted monthly fee for customers who sign up for a year-long contract or giving a free month of service to customers who refer new customers can be effective incentives.

2. Delivering Additional Value

Enhancing the value proposition of your service can make customers view it as essential to their needs. This can be achieved by offering new features or functionalities exclusively for paying customers or providing exclusive content or access to VIP events.

3. Improving Customer Service and Support

Strengthening customer service and support can significantly reduce churn. Having a knowledgeable and helpful customer support team, providing easy-to-use self-service tools, and proactively addressing customer concerns can enhance overall customer satisfaction and retention.

4. Usage-Based Pricing Model

Additionally, a specific approach to improving NRR is through usage-based pricing. By structuring pricing based on customer usage, businesses can incentivise customers to use the service more while aligning costs with the value delivered. This can lead to reduced churn, as customers who find more value in the service will continue to use it and pay accordingly.

Usage-based pricing also enables companies to offer tiered plans that cater to different customer needs, encouraging customers to upgrade as their requirements grow. As a result, the organic growth of customer accounts can positively impact NRR.

Overall, the focus should be on building trust, delighting customers, and consistently delivering value to keep customers from churning. As NRR becomes a more critical metric for evaluating SaaS companies, implementing these strategies can contribute to long-term success in an increasingly competitive market.

Net Retention Revenue Conclusion

In conclusion, Net Retention Revenue (NRR) plays a pivotal role in the assessment and growth of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. By focusing on predictable revenue from existing customers and considering upselling and churn, NRR provides a more accurate and stable measure of financial performance compared to other metrics like net revenue. 

A high NRR signifies customer loyalty, a strong value proposition, and steady growth potential, making it an attractive indicator for investors. To improve NRR, SaaS companies can implement various strategies, such as offering incentives, delivering additional value, enhancing customer support, and adopting usage-based pricing models. 

As NRR becomes a leading metric in the SaaS industry, prioritising customer satisfaction, trust-building, and value delivery will be instrumental in achieving long-term success in a competitive landscape.

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