Recurring Revenue Model

What is a Recurring Revenue Model?

A recurring revenue model is a way of doing business that allows companies to benefit from income generated on a regular basis. It typically involves customers paying for goods or services in installments over a period of time, rather than making one-time payments. This business model often enables companies to better forecast and plan their cash flow.

Recurring revenue business models are popular among subscription-based businesses such as streaming services or software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. Monthly or annual subscription fees create predictable and dependable income streams, allowing these businesses to grow steadily over time. In addition, companies with recurring revenue models can often increase customer lifetime value (CLV) due to the increased engagement and loyalty associated with subscription plans.

Recurring revenue models have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the convenience they provide for both vendors and customers alike. Many businesses have successfully leveraged this model to build more stable revenue streams that enable them to focus on growth.


Defining Recurring Revenue

Recurring revenue is a type of income that a business receives on a regular basis. It is generated from recurring or subscription-based sales, such as recurring memberships, subscriptions, software licenses, or recurring services. Recurring revenue can also be generated from regular orders of products or services that require recurring replenishment, such as office supplies or maintenance plans.

Benefits of a Recurring Revenue Model

The main benefit of operating under a recurring revenue model is the predictable income it provides. Unlike one-time purchases or sales, these businesses can forecast their income more accurately over time; therefore, they can better plan for growth, invest in new projects or technologies, and hire additional employees. Additionally, because customers often pay for multiple months at once in advance, companies can use this money to finance development costs without taking out significant loans from banks or other sources.

Here are a few of the benefits of a recurring revenue model:

Predictable Income

Recurring revenues are highly desirable for businesses because they provide a steady stream of predictable and reliable monthly income. Predictable cash flow can help businesses better plan their budgeting and forecast future revenue growth accurately. It can also help with risk management by providing recurring revenue during slow sales periods.

Increases Customer Lifetime Value and Lowers Customer Acquisition Cost

The value of recurring revenue can be increased by offering incentives for long-term commitments and special discounts for subscription plans. Recurring revenue helps businesses focus on customer retention instead of having to constantly focus on acquiring new customers. Since recurring subscriptions require no additional effort from either party after the initial agreement is made, businesses can focus their energy on keeping existing customers happy rather than expending resources to find new ones.

Builds Customer Relationships

In addition to providing predictable income for businesses, recurring revenue can help them build relationships with customers over time by keeping track of their purchasing habits and preferences and then sending personalized emails or texts. This allows companies to tailor offers to specific customers to maximize each purchase’s value. Furthermore, recurring revenue can often lead to higher customer loyalty since customers are likely to remain with the same provider if their needs are met consistently.

Appeals to Customers

Recurring payments are typically smaller, making it easier for customers to commit to them than large lump sum payments. Thus, recurring revenue streams are more sustainable than other types of payment models. Recurring revenue models also provide customers convenience since subscription payments are often automated.

Types of Recurring Revenue Models

Recurring revenue models are an increasingly popular business strategy in which recurring payments are collected from customers in exchange for access to a service or product. This model is often associated with subscription-based businesses, such as streaming services, software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, and recurring delivery services. However, recurring revenue can also be used by companies that offer digital products, physical goods, and more.

There are several types of recurring revenue models that businesses use:

Subscription Model

A subscription model involves recurring customer payments for ongoing access to a product or service. Often subscriptions are auto-renewed, leading to increased customer retention and greater customer lifetime value. This model is popular with streaming services like Netflix and Spotify and SaaS companies like HubSpot or Slack.

Freemium Model

The freemium model consists of offering basic features or content for free while charging recurring monthly fees for advanced features or content. This type of recurring revenue model is effective at attracting new customers because it allows them to test out the product before committing to a paid version. It’s often used by software companies that offer both free and premium versions of their products.

Usage-Based Model

Under a usage-based recurring revenue model, businesses charge customers based on the number of times they use a product or service. An example is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which charges customers based on their usage of the cloud computing platform’s resources and services rather than a flat fee per month or year.

Pay-As-You-Go Model

The pay-as-you-go model charges users periodically based on usage instead of a fixed fee every month or year, regardless of usage. This recurring revenue model is ideal for businesses whose customers have varying usage levels and need flexible pricing options. It’s often used by utility companies like gas, water, and electricity providers, who charge based on how much their customers use each month.

Per-User Model

The per-user recurring revenue model requires customers to pay based on the number of individual users. This type of model is prevalent among companies that offer software products, subscription services, and digital media. 

Hybrid Model

The hybrid model combines recurring revenue models into one package and is often used by software companies offering subscriptions and freemium versions of their products or services. By offering both options, customers can choose which works best for them depending on their budget and needs.

Consumables Model

A consumables business model revolves around recurring revenue generated from the sale of goods that need to be replaced regularly. This business model is attractive since customers will likely keep buying the same product repeatedly. Examples of this type of model include selling printer ink cartridges, razor blades, coffee pods, pet food, and many other products that require frequent replacements or refills. Companies can maximize recurring revenues from consumable products by leveraging upselling strategies and customer loyalty programs.

Long-Term Contracts

Long-term contracts are an attractive way for businesses to generate recurring revenue without continuously seeking new sales opportunities. They provide stability and predictability for both parties involved while also allowing businesses to cultivate loyalty with existing customers which can result in more recurring business down the line.

Recurring Revenue Model Metrics

Recurring revenue models can contribute positively to essential business KPIs, such as customer acquisition cost, customer churn, monthly recurring revenue, and annual recurring revenue.

Customer Acquisition Cost

In a subscription or recurring revenue business model, the company invests in providing a high-quality service or product that keeps the customers satisfied and loyal. This reduces the need for constant advertising and marketing campaigns to attract new customers, thus keeping customer acquisition costs low.

Customer Churn

One of the significant advantages of the subscription model is its ability to lower customer churn rates. Because customers are committed to paying for the product or service regularly, they are likelier to remain loyal to the brand and continue using the product or service. Additionally, subscription businesses often offer personalized experiences, such as tailored recommendations and exclusive content, which can increase customer retention and satisfaction.

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

The success of a recurring revenue model is measured by the monthly recurring revenue (MRR) earned over time. Customers make ongoing financial commitments in exchange for access to products or services, thus contributing to the growth of MRR.

Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)

Another benefit of using a recurring revenue model is that it allows companies to collect data on how their customers engage with them. This data can provide valuable insights that can be used to improve the customer experience and increase customer loyalty. Additionally, this data helps businesses identify which products and services resonate most with their customers so they know how to focus their efforts to maximize ARR.

Customer Lifetime Value

One of the key benefits of a subscription or recurring revenue model is that it increases customer lifetime value. This is because customers are more likely to continue using the product or service over for an extended period of time, as they have already invested in it through their subscription. Additionally, subscriptions can offer benefits such as discounts or exclusive content to incentivize customers to stay subscribed. By retaining customers over a longer period of time, businesses can increase their revenue and profitability, as well as build stronger relationships with their customers.

Technology Needed for Recurring Revenue Models

Recurring revenue models require software to automate tasks for effectively managing the process of generating and collecting recurring revenue. Software for efficient revenue management often enables users to create and manage their own subscription plans while charging customers automatically and keeping track of customer payment histories. 

Some of the tools needed to manage recurring revenue include:


CPQ (configure, price, quote) is an invaluable tool for companies with a recurring revenue model. This technology allows businesses to quickly configure the right product configuration and determine its associated pricing and terms suitable for their customers’ needs. With CPQ, companies can create automated processes and templates to streamline how they handle quotes and proposals and track changes in customer requirements. This increases sales efficiency and decreases the length of the sales cycle.

CPQ enables companies to accurately forecast future revenues by basing pricing on data from past orders. This helps them anticipate how much money each customer or segment will generate. It also helps them determine how often customers renew their subscriptions and what incentives may be needed to encourage them to do so. Companies can then use this information to more effectively plan sales strategies tailored to specific customers or segments of customers.

By giving businesses the granular data they need about customer requirements, CPQ also enables more precise targeting of marketing campaigns designed around encouraging increases in subscription renewal rates or activating existing dormant customers. CPQ also helps identify opportunities for upselling additional services or creating bundles in the CPQ, thus helping increase revenues over time.

In addition, CPQ provides visibility into how customers interact with different pricing models and how flexible they should be when discounting services or making other adjustments. In essence, CPQ allows businesses to easily monitor how their recurring revenue model works in real time and make adjustments where necessary for maximum profitability without sacrificing customer satisfaction levels.

Subscription Management

Subscription management software is essential for businesses that rely on a recurring revenue model. This type of software helps to streamline the process of managing customer subscriptions and reducing the amount of manual work required to do so. In addition, subscription management software enables businesses to track customer purchases more easily, automate billing, and optimize subscription renewal rates.

Businesses can use subscription management software to manage multiple subscription plans, track how customers use their services, and adjust billing cycles as needed. It can also be used to quickly and accurately determine how many subscribers are on any particular plan or how frequently they have renewed. Additionally, it can be used to monitor how much money each customer has paid for each subscription plan over time.

Customer Onboarding

Recurring revenue software solutions help simplify customer onboarding processes by providing intuitive sign-up forms and automated welcome emails for new subscribers. This makes it easier for customers to get started quickly on the service and encourages them to stay longer as subscribers.

Automated Billing

Automated billing systems are essential for recurring revenue businesses. They can easily use customer subscription data to automatically bill customers and send timely reminders before renewing subscriptions. Subscription billing integrates with other systems, such as accounting software or payment gateways for accurate revenue recognition.


Revenue intelligence software provides analytics and reporting on customer behavior, sales, and billing are vital to measuring the success of recurring revenue models. This enables organizations to better understand their customers and their sales and billing processes, allowing them to identify trends and optimize pricing strategies accordingly. Recurring revenue software also ensures that businesses have visibility into the customer lifecycle from initial sign-up to post-purchase engagement, providing valuable insights on optimizing their business model for maximum returns.

People Also Ask

What qualifies as recurring revenue?

Recurring revenue is income from a customer that regularly pays for goods or services on an ongoing basis. It is also sometimes referred to as subscription, reoccurring, or repeat revenue. Recurring revenue can come in many forms, such as membership fees, subscription fees, software-as-a-service (SaaS) payments, maintenance fees, and other regular services.

For example, if a company charges customers a monthly fee for access to its platform or product, then this would be considered recurring revenue.

Is SaaS a recurring revenue model?

Yes, software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a business model that enables businesses to access software applications online, typically via the cloud. In exchange for their services, businesses pay a monthly subscription fee or pay-as-you-go fee for each user. This makes SaaS a great option for those seeking predictable recurring revenue streams.

In the SaaS model, customers are not required to purchase hardware or software upfront to use the application; instead, they pay monthly or annually. This provides companies with consistent and predictable income. As an added benefit, customers have access to unlimited updates and upgrades of their applications over time as they become available. This means customers can benefit from improved performance more quickly and cost-effectively than if they had purchased traditional software licenses upfront.

What businesses have recurring revenue?

Businesses that have recurring revenue are those that offer ongoing services or subscriptions. This type of revenue is highly valued by investors and can provide a stable financial base to help companies grow and expand their operations.

Examples of businesses with recurring revenue include streaming platforms like Netflix, software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers such as Adobe Creative Cloud, monthly subscription services like Dollar Shave Club, and even some traditional brick-and-mortar businesses that offer monthly or annual maintenance plans.