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Understanding Three Revenue Metrics

According to the 2019 Small Business Profile, a project from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, there are 30.2 million small businesses, making up 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses. With 59.9 million of these small business employees making up 47.3 percent of workers in the United States, it’s clear that this is an important segment of the American economy. With small businesses striving for profitability, the following are some examples of how they can measure their revenue targets, helping them increase their chances of profitability.

Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

This ratio can also be referred to as an average revenue per unit to measure how much revenue can be generated by each customer. The ARPU is calculated as follows:

ARPU = Total Revenue / Average Subscribers

As the name implies, Total Revenue is how much revenue a business earned over a certain period. Average Subscribers refers to the average number of subscribers over a certain time frame.

If a business wants to analyze how much revenue their business is generating per individual/customer, it can be over a month, a single year or over multiple years. To calculate how many Average Subscribers exist for a 12-month period, the business would measure their customer base at the beginning and ending of the year. That summation would then be divided by two. The following would occur:

Year 1: \$1,000,000 / (100,000 + 200,000 / 2) = 6.7

Year 2: \$4,000,000 / (200,000 + 400,000 / 2) = 13.33

Based on this two-year analysis, the company has become more profitable over time. Along with a company comparing its internal statistics, this measurement can show investors or financial analysts which company is more profitable depending on which business has a better ratio.

Average Revenue Per Paying User

Businesses use this ratio to determine how much revenue, on average, the organization receives from each paying patron. While this sounds close to the ARPU, the main difference is that with this ratio, only customers who have made a payment are factored. It shows a business how profitable the customer is and what the customer’s average contribution is toward the business’ revenue. It's calculated as follows:

ARPPU = Total Revenue / Average Number of Paying Users

The top part of the metric consists of all revenue earned by a company over a set period. The bottom part is the weighted average of all of the paying users during the same time frame the Total Revenue is earned. Depending on the time frame, it could be measured as average revenue per paying daily active user or the average revenue per paying monthly active user.

A real-world example illustrates the concept:

If a company has 1,800,000 customers for its total user base and 60 percent of these are a paying user base (or 1,080,000 have paid), the paying user base would be used to determine its ARPPU over a 12-month period. Assuming a company made \$2,000,000 in total revenue for the same 12-month period, the calculation is as follows:

\$2,000,000 / 1,080,000 = \$1.85

Along with helping to determine how to increase sales to increase the average ARPPU, it also helps separate the non-revenue paying customers. This segment can be identified and targeted through emails, surveys, calls, etc., to see what’s holding them back from becoming a paying customer. Unmet need such as new payment options, or different subscriptions can be identified through customer inquiries.

Average Revenue Per Account (ARPA)

This type of financial measurement helps businesses know how much revenue each client's account generates over a specific period of time, generally done per month or every 12 months. This metric determines which account and the associated product or service related to the account loses money, breaks even or is profitable.

It's noteworthy to point out that an individual customer might have more than one account. While it's not recognized by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), it is usually included on a company's financial statements and often goes into discussions with potential and existing investors.

This metric is calculated as follows:

ARPA = Total Revenue over a certain period (1 month or 1 year) / Number of accounts held over the same period

If a company is generating \$2,000,000 in revenue per month and has 2,000 accounts, the ARPA is \$1,000

Some considerations for this metric include measuring customer accounts accurately. For example, if a new product or service is introduced in the following year, it's good to separate one year from the next to see if one year's product is better than last year’s product, or if the new product is underperforming compared to the previous product generation.

While these are only a few examples of measuring profitability, it’s a good start to see how a business is performing on a regular basis.

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