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What is NRR and Why It Matters For Business

Maciej Wilczyński
Managing Partner, Founder Valueships
January 18, 2024

Have you ever wondered what secret ingredient successful businesses use to ensure their growth and stability? It's not just about attracting new customers; it's about something much more crucial. Dive into our latest blog post to uncover the mystery of NRR – a key metric that might just be the game-changer your business needs. Why is NRR the talk of the town in the business world? Let's find out together.

What is NRR

Net Revenue Retention (NRR) is a vital metric for businesses, particularly in the SaaS industry. It measures a company's efficiency in retaining and growing its revenue from existing customers.

Unlike simple revenue calculations, NRR provides a more comprehensive view by considering both the losses (revenue churn) and gains (expansion revenue) within the existing customer base.

Understanding NRR is crucial for businesses as it reflects not just customer satisfaction and loyalty, but also the effectiveness of upselling and cross-selling strategies.

Understanding Net Revenue Retention

NRR is a powerful metric that gauges a company's ability to retain and grow its customer base's revenue. It's a more nuanced measure than basic revenue metrics, as it accounts for both the revenue lost from existing customers (revenue churn) and the additional revenue gained from them (expansion revenue).

This dual perspective makes NRR an invaluable tool for assessing a company's health and growth potential, especially in subscription-based business models where customer relationships are ongoing.

Components of NRR Calculation

Calculating NRR involves two main components: revenue churn and expansion revenue.

  • Revenue churn is determined by subtracting the revenue lost from existing customers over a certain period. This could be due to cancellations, downgrades, or any reduction in spending.
  • On the other hand, expansion revenue is the additional revenue generated from the same customer base, which can come from upgrades, additional purchases, or any form of upselling.

The balance between these two factors determines the NRR, providing insights into customer satisfaction, loyalty, and the effectiveness of a company's growth strategies.

Importance of NRR for SaaS

Net Revenue Retention (NRR) is a critical metric for SaaS companies, offering a comprehensive view of business health and growth potential. It goes beyond mere customer acquisition metrics to provide a deeper understanding of how well a business retains and grows its revenue from existing customers. NRR is pivotal in assessing customer satisfaction, indicating how well the product fits the market, and evaluating the effectiveness of upselling and cross-selling strategies. A strong NRR suggests that a company is not only retaining its customer base but also successfully increasing its value over time.

Benefits of Tracking NRR

Enhancing Customer Lifetime Value

Tracking NRR helps businesses understand and increase the lifetime value of each customer. By focusing on long-term customer relationships, companies can maximize the revenue generated from each customer over time.

Optimizing Customer Retention Strategies

NRR provides insights into how effective a company's customer retention strategies are. Understanding the reasons behind customer churn and addressing them can lead to improved retention rates and, consequently, better NRR.

Identifying Upsell and Cross-sell Opportunities

Regular analysis of NRR allows businesses to identify which customers are more likely to respond positively to upsell and cross-sell initiatives, leading to increased revenue without the need for new customer acquisitions.

Forecasting Revenue Growth

NRR is a powerful tool for predicting future revenue growth. By understanding the trends in customer retention and revenue expansion, businesses can make more informed decisions about their growth strategies.

Improving Product-Market Fit

NRR can act as a feedback mechanism for how well a product meets market needs. High NRR indicates good product-market fit, while a low NRR can signal the need for product adjustments or enhancements.

Guiding Strategic Decision Making

By tracking NRR, businesses gain valuable insights into their financial health and customer satisfaction levels. This information is crucial for making strategic decisions regarding product development, marketing strategies, and customer service improvements.

Steps to Calculate NRR

Calculating Net Revenue Retention (NRR) involves a few key steps. Here’s a guide to help you understand and compute this crucial metric:

  1. Identify the Starting Revenue: Begin by determining the total recurring revenue from your existing customers at the start of a specific period (e.g., the beginning of the month or year).

  2. Calculate Revenue Churn: Track the revenue lost during this period due to customer churn, downgrades, or any other reductions. This does not include revenue lost from customers who were acquired during this period.

  3. Add Expansion Revenue: Calculate the additional revenue gained from existing customers during the same period. This includes upsells, cross-sells, and any upgrades.

  4. Compute NRR:

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Interpreting NRR Results

Understanding what NRR indicates about a company's performance is crucial:

  • Positive NRR (Above 100%): This suggests that the company is not only retaining its customer base but also successfully growing its revenue from existing customers. It's a strong indicator of customer satisfaction, effective upselling strategies, and a healthy business model for each customer segment.

  • Negative NRR (Below 100%): A NRR below 100% indicates that the company is losing more revenue from its existing customer base than it is gaining. This could be due to high churn rates, inadequate upselling, or customer dissatisfaction. It's a signal for the business to reevaluate its customer retention and revenue growth strategies.

  • Interpreting Specific Ranges:

  • An NRR close to 100% suggests stability but little growth in revenue from the existing customer base.
  • A significantly high NRR (e.g., 120% or more) indicates robust growth and excellent customer retention and expansion strategies.
  • A significantly low NRR (e.g., below 90%) is a warning sign of potential issues in customer satisfaction or value delivery.

Factors Affecting NRR

Customer Churn Rate

The churn rate, which indicates how many customers a company loses over a period of time, directly impacts NRR. A high churn rate can significantly lower NRR, as it leads to a decrease in customer revenue. Effective strategies to reduce churn are crucial for maintaining a healthy NRR.

Pricing Changes

Adjustments in pricing, whether increases or decreases, can affect NRR. Price increases might lead to higher revenue per customer but could also increase churn if customers perceive the new pricing as not offering value. Conversely, price decreases might reduce dollar retention per customer but could potentially lower the churn rate.

Customer Satisfaction

Satisfied customers are more likely to continue using a service and less likely to churn. High levels of customer satisfaction often correlate with higher NRR, as happy customers contribute to revenue retention rate and are more open to purchasing additional products or upgrades.

Product Upgrades and Enhancements

Offering new features or improvements can significantly impact NRR. Upgrades or additional services can lead to increased spending from current customers, boosting the expansion revenue component of NRR. However, it's important that these enhancements align with customer needs and expectations.

Subscription Plans and User Experience

The structure of subscription plans and the overall user experience play a vital role in NRR. Flexible and value-driven subscription plans can encourage customer loyalty and reduce churn. Additionally, a positive user experience is crucial for retaining customers and encouraging them to expand their usage or move to higher-tier plans.

Strategies to Improve NRR

Enhancing Customer Experience

Improving the overall customer experience is crucial for NRR. This includes ensuring product quality, providing excellent customer service, and creating a user-friendly interface. Happy customers are less likely to churn and more likely to upgrade or add services.

Implementing Effective Retention Programs

Develop retention strategies that focus on keeping your current customers engaged and satisfied. This could involve loyalty programs, regular feedback solicitation, and personalized communication. For example, using email sequence software to personalize your outreach to said customers. Remember, retaining an existing customer is often more cost-effective than acquiring a new one.

Focusing on Customer Success

Build a dedicated customer success team that proactively addresses customer needs and helps them achieve their goals using your product. This approach not only improves customer satisfaction but also opens opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

Regularly Reviewing Pricing Strategies

Periodically assess and adjust your pricing strategies to ensure they align with industry standards and customer expectations. Consider implementing tiered pricing models or offering premium plans (common method) to encourage customers to move to higher subscription levels.

Leveraging Customer Feedback

Actively seek and utilize customer feedback to improve your product and services. This can help in identifying areas of improvement, enhancing user experience, and developing features that meet customer needs to ensure high customer retention rate and other growth indicators. 

Optimizing the Onboarding Process

A smooth and informative onboarding process can significantly impact customer retention. Ensure that new customers understand how to get the most out of your product from the start, reducing the likelihood of early churn.

Monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Keep a close eye on KPIs related to customer retention and satisfaction. This includes tracking metrics like churn rate, customer lifetime value, and net promoter score (NPS). These indicators will help you gauge the effectiveness of your strategies and make informed decisions.

Encouraging Upsells and Cross-Sells

Develop strategies to encourage existing customers to purchase additional products or upgrade their current plans. This can be achieved through targeted marketing, special offers, and by demonstrating the value of higher-tier services.

By implementing these strategies, businesses can effectively improve their Net Revenue Retention, ensuring long-term growth and sustainability. Remember, NRR is not just a number; it's a reflection of your company's relationship with its customers and its ability to adapt to their evolving needs.


In this comprehensive exploration of Net Revenue Retention (NRR), we've delved into its crucial role as a retention metric for businesses, particularly those in the SaaS domain. NRR stands not just as a figure but as a multifaceted indicator of a company's health, highlighting aspects like customer loyalty, revenue fluctuations, and growth potential.

Key takeaways include the understanding that NRR transcends mere revenue from customers; it's a dynamic measure that reflects the impact of factors such as customer churn, pricing strategies, and the effectiveness of retention programs. For business owners, NRR offers a clear picture of not only where the company stands in terms of revenue loss or gain during a specific accounting period but also provides insights for strategic decision-making.

Moreover, the calculation of NRR, encompassing various time periods and customer cohorts, allows businesses to track their performance over time, adapting strategies to minimize revenue loss and maximize customer acquisition cost efficiency. The importance of NRR lies in its ability to offer a holistic view of a company's financial performance, guiding business owners through the complexities of revenue fluctuations and helping them to make informed decisions for sustainable growth.

In conclusion, understanding and effectively calculating NRR is indispensable for any business aiming for long-term success and growth. It's not just about protection equipment against revenue loss; it's about harnessing a powerful tool to navigate the ever-changing business landscape, ensuring a robust and resilient future.

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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.