SaaS companies vary a lot in their willingness to invest in customer acquisition. For example, the OPEXEngine SaaS benchmark report gives an average payback period for CAC alone of about 18 months (CAC per new customer divided by average recurring revenue per customer). However, SasS companies with expected growth rates in the 20-50% range had a payback period of only 6.5 months, while those with expected growth rates over 50% had an average payback period of….drum roll….35 months! Ouch. While it makes sense to invest heavily in customer acquisition during high growth, SaaS Metrics Rule of Thumb #6 | Growth Creates Pressure to Reduce Total Cost of Service, highlights the importance of keeping average CAC per customer in check as you grow. Even if you’re angling toward an IPO with a churn rate under 10%, I think it’s near impossible to justify a 3 year payback period just to cover CAC. Talk about negative cash flow!!
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To establish a revenue or lead-commitment based on your funnel metrics and revenue-growth goals, work backward from the gross revenue amount that marketing is responsible for generating (generally around 40%)