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Understanding ARPU: Your Key to Monetizing Each User

Maciej Wilczyński
Managing Partner, Founder Valueships
June 14, 2023

In today's highly competitive business landscape, maximizing revenue from your customer base is crucial for sustainable growth. That's where Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) comes into play.

ARPU measures the average amount of revenue generated from each customer or user, serving as a vital metric for businesses. With the help of ARPU, companies can get many benefits, including segmenting their user base, identifying high-paying users, and devising effective strategies to increase their revenue. 

That's why, in this article, we will explore the significance of ARPU and how businesses can leverage it to drive monetization and cultivate a high ARPU user base.

What Is Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)?

Average Revenue Per User, also known as ARPU, is a financial metric used by businesses to measure the revenue produced typically per account over a specific period.

It's commonly used by companies in the telecom industry and subscription-based sectors, among others. It provides insights into a company's revenue generation capability at the person or unit level, helping businesses understand the profitability and effectiveness of their pricing strategies.

ARPU is particularly valuable for businesses with subscription tier models (for example, an annual and monthly subscription), as it allows them to gauge the average revenue per paying user. 

Understanding and optimizing ARPU is a great way for businesses aiming to maximize their revenue potential and cultivate a customer base that has a higher ARPU score. Thanks to this indicator, companies can also identify opportunities to increase ARPU by implementing targeted pricing strategies and offering value-added services to encourage a higher average revenue for each user. 

ARPU Formula: How to Calculate ARPU?

You already know that Average Revenue Per Unit measures the average amount of income generated from a total number of active customers or users. Now it's time to understand how ARPU can be calculated.

The ARPU metric is relatively straightforward. It can be calculated by dividing the total revenue generated over a specific period by the overall number of units or users during the same period.

Here's what's included:

👉 Total Revenue: This includes all revenue earned by the company over the specified period. For subscription-based businesses, this would be the whole subscription revenue. For telecommunication companies, this could include revenue from services like voice, data, text messaging, etc.

👉 Total Units or Users: This is the overall number of units or users that generated revenue during the same period. For a telecom company, this would be the sum of the number of subscribers. For a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, this could be the whole number of active users or accounts.

The formula for ARPU is:

ARPU = Total Revenue / Total Units or Users

ARPU calculation will be effective if the time period for both the revenue and the number of users will be the same. Then, the total revenue divided by the number will guarantee an accurate result. 

Calculating the ARPU provides valuable insights into the worth of each customer to a business, considering both recurring and one-time revenue streams. Utilizing this metric, businesses can evaluate the effectiveness of their pricing strategies and identify opportunities to increase monthly revenue and optimize cost per user.

This comprehensive understanding of customer value aids in making informed decisions and driving sustainable growth.

Why is Good ARPU Important?

#1 Performance Indicator

ARPU serves as a crucial performance indicator for businesses, providing a clear understanding of how much revenue is generated for each unit. It allows companies to assess the effectiveness of their pricing strategies, product offerings, and overall customer value proposition. 

Thanks to tracking ARPU over time, you can monitor their performance and identify trends that may require adjustments to optimize revenue generation.

#2 Profitability Assessment

ARPU is useful for assessing the profitability of different customer segments. With analyzing the revenue generated per unit, businesses can identify which segments contribute the most to their bottom line. 

This insight enables them to allocate resources, prioritize marketing efforts, and tailor offerings to maximize profitability from high-value customer groups.

#3 Revenue Forecasting

Tracking ARPU over time provides businesses with valuable data for revenue forecasting. By understanding historical trends in ARPU, companies can make more accurate predictions about future revenue streams. 

As a result, this assists in financial planning, budgeting, and strategic decision-making, allowing businesses to set realistic goals and allocate resources effectively.

#4 Benchmarking

In addition, ARPU stands for allowing companies to benchmark their performance against competitors or industry standards. By comparing their ARPU to that of similar businesses, organizations can gain insights into their competitive position. 

This benchmarking analysis can reveal areas of strength and areas for improvement, enabling businesses to make informed decisions and implement strategies to enhance revenue growth.

#5 Investor Relations

ARPU is a key metric that investors consider when evaluating a company's financial health and growth potential. A high or consistently growing ARPU can indicate a strong business model and revenue-generating capabilities. Investors often view a robust ARPU as a positive indicator of a company's ability to attract and retain customers. 

As a result, the company is more attractive for potential investments and fosters investor confidence.

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How to Increase Your ARPU?

There are some ways to increase your ARPU. For example:

  • Upselling and Cross-Selling - Offering customers higher-priced products or additional services can increase ARPU. This can be achieved through effective sales and marketing strategies.
  • Price Optimization - Adjusting prices based on customer value perception, market demand, and competitor pricing can help maximize revenue per user.
  • Improving Product Quality - Enhancing the quality or value of a product or service can justify higher prices and boost ARPU.
  • Customer Retention - Retaining customers for longer periods can increase their lifetime value and ARPU. This can be achieved through excellent customer service, loyalty programs, and customer satisfaction initiatives.

  • Targeting High-Value Customers - Focusing marketing efforts on attracting high-value customers can increase ARPU. This requires understanding who these customers are and what they value.

What are the Uses of Average Revenue Per User?

💪 Business Strategy Development

ARPU informs the development of business strategies by highlighting which customer segments generate the most revenue.

💯 Marketing Strategy

ARPU guides marketing strategies by identifying which customers are most profitable. Marketing efforts can then be tailored to attract and retain these customers.

💸 Pricing Strategy

Understanding ARPU is used to help businesses develop effective pricing strategies. If ARPU is low, it may indicate that prices need to be adjusted.

🛒 Product Development

ARPU shows insights into which products or services are most valuable to customers. This can guide product development efforts and help businesses focus on their most profitable offerings.

📢 Investor Communications

ARPU can help in investor communications to demonstrate a company's financial performance and growth potential. A high or growing ARPU means more investment.

What does ARPU Tell you about Your SaaS Business?

Show me your ARPU, I tell you who you are. ARPU, ACV, ARPA – you name it. At the end of the day, it’s all about what is your target customer is. As they say here: you targeting big $1M ARPA whales or focusing on $1,000 rabbits. What I know for sure is that there is no single publicly traded SaaS company with $100M ARR that doesn’t have enterprise plan account. And that’s where companies fail: they go and say: “we are fully SMB focused”, which translates into: “we don’t sell to enterprise for some reason”. In other words, if you want to grow, you need to constantly increase your customer size.

Maciej Wilczynski, CEO Valueships

ARPU vs Other Business Metrics

There are several other metrics that businesses use to measure their performance, each with its own unique focus. Here's how ARPU differs from LTV and other metrics:

ARPU vs LTV (Lifetime Value)

While ARPU measures the average revenue produced by each person over a specific period, LTV estimates the overall income that a business can reasonably expect from a single customer account over the duration of its relationship with the business. LTV takes into account factors like:

  • customer lifespan,
  • retention rate,
  • and gross margin.

LTV offers insights into the ability to generate revenue from each customer on a monthly basis. Combining ARPU and LTV allows businesses to make data-driven decisions and leverage customer data to optimize their monetization strategies effectively.

ARPU vs Churn Rate

The customer churn rate measures the number of clients who leave a product over a given period of time, indicating customer retention and loyalty. ARPU, on the other hand, focuses on the revenue earned per unit and doesn't directly consider customer retention. 

A high churn rate can negatively impact ARPU, as businesses may lose customers who contribute to their revenue. Therefore, it's crucial for businesses to consider both ARPU and churn rate in tandem to get a comprehensive understanding of their revenue and customer base.


MRR is a measure of the predictable and ongoing revenue components of your subscription business. It's typically used by companies with subscription-based models. ARPU, however, is used across various business models and calculates the average revenue for each user, not just recurring income.


CAC measures the cost of acquiring a new customer, taking into account marketing and sales expenses. ARPU, in contrast, measures the income produced per user without considering the cost of acquiring those users.

ARPU vs Conversion Rate

The conversion rate measures the percentage of users who take a desired action (like making a purchase or subscribing to a service). ARPU, however, measures the average revenue earned from those users, regardless of the specific actions they take.

Each of these indicators provides a different perspective on a company's performance, and they are often used in combination to provide a comprehensive view of a company's financial health and operational efficiency.

Keeping ARPU in mind with Valueships

Valueships can help your businesses optimize Average Revenue Per User through data-driven consulting services. With a focus on services like:

  • strategy consulting, 
  • pricing consulting, 
  • value-selling, 
  • and advanced analytics, 

Valueships assists companies from different industries in maximizing their revenue potential. Thanks to such an approach and providing guidance on pricing optimization, we enable businesses to leverage the power of correct pricing models and increase revenue significantly. 

Thanks to our approach, we were able to increase the Brand24' ARPU by 23% by sealing margin leakages in discounted accounts.

Sounds interesting? Check out the rest of our case studies here.

Use ARPU Wisely in Your Company Today

ARPU, or Average Revenue Per User, measures the income earned per customer or unit. It's calculated by dividing the sum of the revenue by the total number of users over a specific period. 

Understanding and effectively utilizing ARPU can be a game-changer for businesses seeking to monetize each user. With the assistance of Valueships' data-driven consulting services, you can unlock the full revenue potential and drive sustainable growth.

Contact us and let us know how we can help.

How Does Calculating ARR Provide Valuable Insight into Business Health?

Calculating ARR, which refers to the total dollar amount of recurring revenue, provides valuable insight into a company's health. By including all recurring charges, such as monthly revenue from current customers, upgrades, and add-ons, and excluding non-recurring charges, ARR offers a clearer picture of the company's stable financial base and potential for future growth.

What Role Does ARR Play in Forecasting Revenue and Making Informed Decisions?

ARR is crucial for forecasting revenue and making informed decisions as the company grows. By analyzing ARR, especially in relation to variable fees and multi-year contracts, a company can gain a deeper insight into its financial trajectory and the effectiveness of its sales and marketing teams.

How Do Add-Ons and Upgrades Impact ARR Calculations?

Add-ons and upgrades play a significant role in ARR calculations. They contribute to the total dollar amount of ARR, providing a more comprehensive view of the revenue generated from each customer. This helps in assessing the overall health of the business and in making strategic decisions about product offerings and customer engagement.

Why is it Important to Distinguish Between Recurring and Non-Recurring Charges in ARR?

Distinguishing between recurring and non-recurring charges is vital for accurate ARR calculations. Including only recurring revenue ensures that the ARR reflects the true, sustainable income of the company, which is essential for evaluating the company's health and making projections about year over year growth.

How Can Incorrect Calculation of ARR Impact Business Decisions?

Incorrect calculation of ARR can lead to misguided business decisions. If ARR is calculated incorrectly, it may not accurately reflect the company's financial stability or its potential for growth, leading to poor strategic decisions. It's important to use a consistent and accurate ARR formula to avoid such pitfalls.

In What Ways Does ARR Help in Understanding the Company's Growth?

ARR provides a clear metric for understanding a company's growth, especially when comparing year over year growth. By tracking how much new ARR is added from new customers and how this contributes to the total revenue, companies can gauge their expansion and the effectiveness of their strategies.

How Does Accurate ARR Calculation Aid in GAAP Revenue Reporting?

Accurate ARR calculation is important for GAAP revenue reporting. While ARR focuses on recurring revenue, GAAP revenue includes all forms of income. Understanding the distinction and accurately calculating ARR ensures that financial statements and income statements reflect the true financial status of the company.

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Maciej Wilczyński
Managing Partner, Founder Valueships

Expert in B2B pricing, monetization and value-based selling strategies. Over the past year, he has completed over 40 consulting projects in Europe. Prior to founding Valueships, he worked at McKinsey & Company, mainly in the TelCo, software, and banking industries. He completed his doctorate in pricing in SaaS start-ups at the University of Economics in Wrocław, where he also lectures.

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Maciej Wilczyński
Managing Partner, Founder Valueships

Expert in B2B pricing, monetization and value-based selling strategies. Over the past year, he has completed over 40 consulting projects in Europe. Prior to founding Valueships, he worked at McKinsey & Company, mainly in the TelCo, software, and banking industries. He completed his doctorate in pricing in SaaS start-ups at the University of Economics in Wrocław, where he also lectures.