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Revenue Churn Definition for SaaS

Revenue Churn

Revenue Churn is a measure of the lost revenue. Like most subscription metrics, there is no universal definition. Revenue Churn is most often expressed as a whole number (rather than a ratio) but can be expressed as the actual lost revenue or more commonly, a normalized value such as MRR. Normalizing Revenue churn to a common denominator facilities reporting and communicating of real changes much the way "same stores" sales reporting works in the retail industry. If all your contracts were the same length, say 12 months exactly, reporting your churn (lost revenue) could be reported as an annual number and make sense. However, if you have a mix of 6 month, 12 month, and 24 month agreements, normalizing the approximately monthly revenue that would be recognized provides a more informative revenue churn number.

Revenue Churn can be reported in aggregate, but is often reported in categories or buckets, for example:
  • Revenue Churn due to lost contracts/cancellations
  • Revenue Churn due to downgrades
  • Revenue Churn due to competitive losses
  • Revenue Churn due to bankruptcies
At the highest levels in the organization (CEO and CFO), there are two revenue churn measurements that are typically important.
  1. Revenue Churn from lost/cancelled customers - typically reported as the value of the term or contract had it renewed
  2. Revenue Churn from downgrades - typically reported as the net decrease in the value of the term or contract had it renewed at the previous term rate
As you move down and/or into other business units or functions, it is common to report revenue churn at a more detailed level. For example, the sales team is frequently not held accountable nor given relief for cancellations due to bankruptcy and mergers, so you will often see the Revenue Churn from lost/cancelled customers broken down by reason codes.
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