Recurring Revenue

What is Recurring Revenue?

Recurring revenue, also known as subscription revenue, is a type of income that is generated from businesses on a consistent and periodic basis.

This type of revenue stream is generated by subscription businesses and typically comes from recurring payments that are received at fixed intervals, such as monthly subscriptions or memberships. 


  • annual recurring revenue (ARR)
  • monthly recurring revenue (MRR)
  • continuity income
  • repeating income
  • residual income
  • subscription revenue
  • SaaS recurring revenue

Recurring Revenue Business Models

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies and subscription-based companies typically operate using recurring revenue business models. Below we explore the types, benefits, and challenges of recurring revenue business models.

Types of Recurring Revenue Models

Recurring revenue can be generated through many different types of products and services. 

These include digital products like software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, subscription-based apps on mobile devices, streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, physical products that require regular refills or replacements (like vitamins or coffee), and membership plans for gyms and streaming platforms. 

The term “recurring” essentially refers to any type of regular payment from customers that generates ongoing income for the company.

The Benefits of the Recurring Revenue Business Model

The recurring revenue model has been an attractive option for many businesses recently, offering numerous advantages over traditional one-off product sales. 

This model allows companies to build long-term customer relationships, providing them with a more consistent and predictable revenue stream. 

Recurring revenue also reduces the cost of acquiring new customers, allowing businesses to focus their marketing efforts on retaining existing customers. 

This can also lead to higher customer loyalty, as customers are more likely to remain with the company for a longer period of time.

Here are some of the benefits of using a recurring revenue business model:

Predict Cash Flow

The recurring revenue model helps businesses predict cash flow in several ways. First, it provides a reliable source of income from a consistent customer base. 

As customers commit to paying regular subscriptions for ongoing services, businesses can accurately forecast how much money they will receive each month. 

This allows them to plan effectively for how much cash is available and how it can be best used.

Secondly, the predictable income stream allows businesses to make more accurate long-term financial projections. 

As sales and customer retention rates can be estimated in advance, companies can plan how much cash they will have available over the coming months and years. 

This helps them to understand better how much money is needed for investments, how much working capital is available, how much money can be set aside for future growth, and how much cash is required to maintain current operations.

Finally, recurring revenue makes it easier to manage cash flow by reducing the risk of delayed payments from customers. With automated payment systems in place, businesses are less likely to experience delayed payments which can affect their ability to meet financial obligations. 

Focus on Customer Retention

One of the main benefits of a recurring revenue model is customer retention. Businesses can increase their profits by ensuring customers keep using the service or product.

Operating under a recurring revenue model also allows companies to focus some of their marketing efforts on customer retention rather than customer acquisition since they have an existing customer base paying regularly who are reaping benefits from the product or service.

Boost Customer Loyalty

In addition to providing stability to business finances, recurring revenues can boost customer loyalty by offering customers more value and convenience.

For instance, subscription services generally offer customers discounted pricing when they sign up for longer contracts, incentivizing them to remain loyal customers for an extended period. 

This helps create a reliable customer base for businesses that will help stabilize their finances long-term.

Track Customer Behaviors

The ability to track customer behavior through a recurring revenue model gives businesses powerful insights to increase sales, improve customer engagement, and drive loyalty. 

Additionally, this data can be used to create targeted offers and discounts that will encourage customer loyalty and repeat purchases. 

In addition, it can help companies make more informed decisions about how they should price their products and services.

Increase Revenue Through Upgrades

Finally, recurring revenues allow businesses the opportunity to explore opportunities for additional services or products that might be offered alongside the existing subscription service or product offering. 

By providing customers with an opportunity for additional perks, upgrades, or add-ons, companies can increase the value they offer while increasing their own bottom line over time.

Overall, recurring revenue models offer powerful advantages to businesses by providing them with more predictable cash flows, improved revenue forecasting, and lower risks associated with product launches while also helping increase customer loyalty over time. 

Recurring Revenue Challenges

Recurring revenue has become an increasingly popular business model with the rise of subscription services in recent years. 

However, since subscription businesses often employ a complex pricing model, there are some challenges associated with it.

Ensuring Customer Satisfaction

The first challenge is ensuring customer satisfaction. With subscription models, customers are often locked into long-term contracts or agreements, which can lead to dissatisfaction if the service or product delivered does not meet their expectations. 

Therefore, companies must ensure the quality of their offering is high enough to ensure that customers remain engaged throughout the duration of the contract or agreement.

Customer Churn

One of the primary issues subscription businesses face is that they rely heavily on customer retention and minimizing customer churn

To generate a high rate of recurring income, businesses must be able to retain existing customers and successfully convert new customers into recurring customers. 

This requires consistent communication and engagement with customers, as well as ongoing product improvements and offers that keep them engaged and coming back for more.

Marketing and Customer Acquisition

Using a recurring revenue business model requires businesses to have well-planned marketing strategies that consistently bring in new customers while also retaining existing ones. 

This can be difficult as it requires companies to constantly assess the current market environment and adjust their offerings to stay competitive and profitable.


Another challenge faced by recurring revenue models is scalability. When a recurring revenue stream is generated from recurring payments, the volume of transactions can quickly become too high for manual processing systems to handle. 

This makes it necessary for businesses to invest in technology solutions that are capable of handling large volumes of recurring payments efficiently.

Data Tracking and Analysis

Data tracking and analysis also pose a unique set of challenges for companies with subscription business models

The success of a recurring revenue model depends on accurate tracking and analysis of customer data across multiple channels so that companies can gain insight into the behavior patterns of their subscribers and make strategic decisions based on these insights. 

Companies must also have processes in place to monitor customer activity across platforms so they can identify trends or shifts in customer preferences over time and respond accordingly.

Calculating Recurring Revenue

Calculating recurring revenue is used to measure how much money a company earns from repeat sales and subscriptions over a certain period of time. 

Recurring revenue is widely considered one of the most important financial metrics for business success. 

It provides a steady income stream, which can be used to invest in growth and operation costs. In addition, recurring revenue helps organizations track their financial performance regularly and ensure that their operations are running optimally.

Recurring Revenue Formula

The recurring revenue formula is an equation that considers the number of customers, the price charged per customer, the frequency of each purchase or subscription renewal, and any discounts or promotions associated with the sale. 

By multiplying these factors together, you can accurately calculate your total recurring revenue. 

For example, if you have 100 customers who purchase your product every month at $10 per customer with no discount or promotion applied, your monthly recurring revenue would be calculated as 100 x $10 = $1,000.

Subscribers x Subscription Cost = Recurring Revenue

However, there are many different variations of the recurring revenue formula depending on how often customers make purchases or renew their subscriptions. 

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) is the most commonly used variation of this formula and generally refers to the:

Number of Monthly Subscribers × Average Revenue Per User = MRR

Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) looks more closely at longer-term contracts – such as those lasting three years. 

ARR = (Total Revenue from Subscriptions + Revenue from Upsells and Expansion Revenue) - (Churn Rates + Downgrades + Contract Renewal Discounts)

In addition to these two main variations of the recurring revenue formula, many companies also use other types like Quarterly Recurring Revenue (QRR), Semi-Annual Recurring Revenue (SARR), and Multi-Year Recurring Revenue (MYRR). 

They all share common underlying principles to provide an accurate assessment of a company’s financial performance over time.

How to Increase SaaS Recurring Revenue

Increasing recurring revenue is an integral part of any subscription or SaaS business plan as it provides a steady and reliable income stream. 

Fortunately, many strategies can be used to increase a company’s recurring revenue over time.

Improve Customer Service

Improving customer experience and satisfaction will increase customer retention and recurring revenue. If customers are satisfied with their experience, they will be more likely to continue their subscription. 

Strong customer support during product or service implementation and on an ongoing basis is another crucial factor in excellent customer service. 

Customers who receive the help they need to use the product and experience the promised value from it are more likely to renew their subscriptions.

Communication and Feedback

Ensuring a high retention rate also requires sending follow-up emails to customers to check in on their experience after their purchase and to offer incentives for returning customers, such as discounts or loyalty points redeemable for future orders. 

Additionally, by better understanding customer needs through surveys and feedback mechanisms, businesses can tailor their offerings towards higher repeat purchases.

Continual Acquisition of New Customers

Growing SaaS recurring revenue requires constantly acquiring new customers through marketing initiatives such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to increase brand visibility.

Additionally, viral marketing tactics such as referral programs can help spread the word about the business and drive new leads. 

Furthermore, creating helpful content that resonates with potential customers, such as blog posts or videos, can further direct more users to the company’s website and encourage them to purchase.

Optimized Sales Funnels

Optimizing sales funnels is another way to increase recurring revenue. Companies should reduce the number of steps between lead capture and checkout to increase conversion rates. 

This could involve minimizing the number of forms a customer needs to fill out or offering one-click payment options for faster checkout times. 

Additionally, providing targeted upsells or cross-sells during checkout can further encourage customers to buy additional items to include in their subscription package.

Recurring Revenue Technology

Technology is available to help businesses optimize subscription revenue and provide excellent customer experience, two critical factors in growing recurring revenue. 

By utilizing technology, businesses can increase their customer base, grow their market share and maximize the potential of their offerings.


One type of software that enables recurring revenue growth is customer relationship management (CRM) software. 

This software allows businesses to understand their customers’ behavior better, track customer interactions, and manage customer relationships at scale. 

CRM software helps businesses maximize the value of each customer, making it an excellent tool for increasing recurring revenues. 

It also provides insights into how customers interact with a business’s products and services, allowing them to adjust their offerings accordingly to maximize recurring revenue over time.

Recurring Billing

Another type of software used to increase recurring revenues is subscription billing, or recurring billing, platforms. 

Subscription billing platforms enable businesses to easily set up automated payment plans for their various types of customers. 

This makes it easy for customers to consistently pay for services over time without manually entering or remembering payment information or making one-time payments every month or quarter. 

Subscription billing platforms also offer reporting features so businesses can see which subscriptions are most successful and generate the most revenue over time.

Marketing Automation

Another technology that can help businesses grow recurring revenue is marketing automation software. 

This technology allows companies to contact existing customers and target potential ones with timely and targeted campaigns designed to engage them and drive sales. 

Marketing automation technology can also help track customer behavior, allowing businesses to measure the success of their campaigns and make data-driven decisions about how they allocate their resources in the future.


Leveraging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) can also provide opportunities for improving customer experiences and creating more seamless ways of delivering services, leading to improved customer retention rates and increased recurring income over time. 

For example, marketing departments can use AI technologies such as predictive analytics to identify customer behavior patterns and purchase habits or other trends that can be used to create personalized content or experiences that will encourage customers to keep coming back.


Analytics software can identify opportunities for growth in existing or potential subscription services offered by a business. 

Analytics software provides insights into which products and services generate the most customer interest, which channels are most effective for customer acquisition, and which types of customers are the most active in their subscriptions over time. 

Businesses can then use revenue intelligence data to adjust pricing strategies or develop new types of subscription packages aimed at expanding their base of customers as well as maximizing the value derived from each customer’s subscription service over time.

Cloud-Based Solutions

Cloud-based solutions enable companies to grow recurring revenue by offering scalability options to increase or decrease capacity depending on customer demand without investing in additional hardware or infrastructure maintenance costs upfront. 

With cloud-based solutions, companies can easily deploy new applications quickly without worrying about server capacity restrictions while ensuring better security protocols are in place since all data is hosted remotely offsite rather than stored locally on physical servers inside the office premises.


CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote, and this software enables sales teams to quickly and accurately configure products, price them accurately, and create quotes aligned with the customer’s needs. 

In addition, CPQ connects the quoting and activation of subscription services, enabling businesses to automate subscriptions, upselling and cross-selling, renewals, recurring payments, and revenue recognition.

Using CPQ software has other benefits when it comes to increasing recurring revenue. 

For instance, many CPQ solutions include automated email reminders at set intervals to keep customers up-to-date on when they need to renew their subscriptions or purchase additional features or services associated with their current contract agreement. 

Automated billing systems can also be used with CPQ solutions to help ensure timely payments from customers whenever renewal dates occur.

People Also Ask

What businesses have recurring revenue?

Many businesses have adopted recurring revenue models to stay competitive and provide their customers with added value. 

Recurring revenue can come in many forms, such as subscriptions for digital products, memberships for physical goods, or even loyalty programs that reward customers for their purchases over time. 

Forbes reports that the global subscription e-commerce market is expected to reach $904 billion by 2026, so we should expect to see growth in the types of companies implementing this type of business model.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses are among the most popular businesses with recurring revenue streams. These companies offer business software solutions to their customers on an ongoing subscription basis. 

Examples include Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, and DealHub. In addition to SaaS companies, many other businesses benefit from recurring revenue models, such as streaming services, media publishers, and e-commerce retailers.

Another form of recurring revenue is through membership fees or loyalty programs offered by physical stores. 

Retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club charge customers an annual fee for access to their membership programs which provide exclusive discounts and other benefits unavailable to non-members. 

Loyalty programs allow retailers to retain existing customers while attracting new ones by offering rewards for repeat purchases or referrals.

What are examples of recurring revenue?

Common examples of recurring revenue streams include media subscription services, membership fees, subscription boxes, software licenses, and ongoing maintenance contracts. 

What is a good recurring revenue rate?

A good recurring revenue rate is generally considered to be above 15%. The higher the recurring revenue rate, the more sustainable a business’s future looks. 

The exact amount of recurring revenue necessary to achieve profitability will vary from company to company depending on factors such as overhead costs and customer acquisition costs.

Recurring revenue rate is a metric businesses use to measure their success in producing long-term, steady income. 

The recurring revenue rate helps companies to monitor their ability to retain customers and generate consistent sales over time. It is an important indicator of financial stability and sustainability. 

Why is recurring revenue important in SaaS?

Recurring revenue is the lifeblood of any SaaS business. Here’s why it’s so important:

Predictable Cash Flow: SaaS businesses with recurring revenue models can forecast their income with more certainty. This steady stream of income makes it easier to budget for expenses, plan for growth, and secure funding.

Customer Retention: Recurring revenue incentivizes SaaS companies to focus on customer satisfaction and retention. Since customers pay on a regular basis, keeping them happy is crucial to maintaining a healthy revenue stream.

Scalability: SaaS businesses can scale up much quicker with a recurring revenue model. As they acquire new customers, the revenue grows automatically, facilitating reinvestment in product development and team expansion.

Investor Attractiveness: Investors favor businesses with recurring revenue models because they indicate a predictable and sustainable income stream. This makes SaaS companies with strong recurring revenue more attractive for funding and acquisitions.

Metrics and Growth Tracking: Metrics like Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) help SaaS businesses track their growth and identify areas for improvement. By analyzing recurring revenue trends, they can optimize pricing strategies, sales efforts, and customer engagement.

In short, recurring revenue provides a solid foundation for financial health in SaaS businesses, allowing them to plan for the future, invest in growth, and ultimately achieve long-term success.

It’s not just about revenue, though – a recurring revenue model also helps SaaS companies acquire and retain customers more effectively, establish a frictionless sales process, scale their operations, and ensure customer loyalty over time.