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The Rise of Subscription-based Businesses: Optimizing LTV and CAC

Updated: Nov 21, 2023



In today's dynamic business landscape, subscription-based models have gained immense popularity, reshaping industries across the board. From the Dollar Shave Club to Netflix and even within the realm of accounting firms, the shift from hourly billing to monthly subscription fees is evident. The reason behind this transformation lies in the mutual benefits of predictability in pricing for both service providers and customers.


Lifetime Value

Modern business leaders are increasingly shifting their focus from mere product transactions to fostering enduring customer relationships. The efficacy of this approach can be quantified through Lifetime Value (LTV), which measures the anticipated revenue over a customer's lifetime. Several key factors contribute to determining LTV:


List of inputs that drive LTV:

  • Average Revenue per User (ARPU): This metric gauges the average annual revenue per account within the initial year of a customer cohort.

  • Gross Margin: Calculated by subtracting the costs associated with serving customers, such as operational, support, or customer success expenses, from the revenue.

  • Churn Rate: Reflects the rate of customer attrition during a specific period, calculated as the number of lost customers divided by the initial customer count.

  • Retention Rate: The percentage of customers retained at the end of a given period, which is the complement of the churn rate.

  • Expansion: Represents additional annual revenue generated from the existing customer base through various means like volume growth, cross-selling, or upselling.


Customer Acquisition Cost

To gauge the costs associated with acquiring new customers, understanding the total number of customers acquired and the corresponding expenses is paramount. CAC is determined by the ratio of total marketing and sales expenditures to the number of new customers acquired.

A benchmark for LTV/CAC ratio typically falls within the range of 3 to 7. If your customer acquisition costs are not meeting this threshold, there are strategies to enhance the ratio, optimizing marketing expenditure while increasing revenue from each customer acquisition effort.


How to increase the Ratio:

  • Increase Retention Rate: Strengthen customer relationships to boost retention, consequently raising LTV.

  • Adjust Pricing: Modifying pricing structures can elevate ARPU and potentially LTV, though it may affect churn rates depending on market dynamics.

  • Upselling: Introducing additional service tiers and transitioning existing customers to higher-priced plans can enhance both pricing and customer value.

  • Cross-selling: Offering complementary services, such as maintenance or support, to existing customers can augment revenue per customer.

  • Lower CAC: Refining your marketing strategy to efficiently reach your target audience in a cost-effective manner can reduce customer acquisition costs.

The LTV/CAC ratio serves as a potent tool for subscription-based businesses, providing insights into financial health, marketing effectiveness, and value creation. As you embark on your journey in the SAAS or subscription business arena, GFT stands ready to offer expert guidance on LTV/CAC and other critical aspects. Feel free to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation to steer your subscription business towards success.


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