Net dollar retention vs. gross dollar retention
Gross dollar retention (GDR) is similar to net dollar retention with one key difference. NDR incorporates numbers from upgrades, downgrades, and cross-sales. For example, if an existing customer doubles the size of their monthly subscription, that increases your net dollar retention and should be included in your calculations.
Gross dollar retention deliberately ignores upsells and cross-sales. As a result, GDR helps you analyze how many customers are sticking with you from month to month. It also allows you to gauge how likely clients are to downgrade services over time.
Gross dollar retention is still represented as a percentage of your monthly revenue, but because it offers a narrower view of factors, it can help you zero in on a few specific aspects of your business model.
More than anything else, it expresses the long-term sustainability of your practice in revenue terms, making it easier to understand customer retention and retained customer spending.
Why is NDR an important metric?
NDR is important for a couple of reasons. For starters, it gives you an idea of the expansion or contraction of your business in terms of existing customers. If existing patrons spend less money each month, that’s a crucial insight for your company. Meanwhile, if they’re spending more monthly, it's a good indicator of long-term growth.
Yet, NDR excludes new customers, which adds value to this metric. By all means, understanding customer growth is very important, but that’s something you're likely to track as a function of your marketing and outreach investments. Understanding growth that specifically stems from existing customers helps you anticipate business once you reach market saturation, and it demonstrates the general sustainability of your service.
To summarize, net dollar retention tells you whether or not your essential service structure works for your customers.
How to calculate NDR
With all of this talk about the benefits of NDR, it might help to discuss how to calculate net dollar retention. The net dollar retention formula is simple:
- Begin by figuring out your starting monthly recurring revenue, or MRR.
- Add your MRR to what you earned from upgrades, including cross-selling opportunities.
- Next, subtract losses from customers that canceled the service. Also, subtract money from downsizing existing contracts.
- Divide that number by your MRR.
- Multiply by 100.
You can see how this gives you a net number that shows you whether your business is growing or shrinking based solely on returning customers. To keep the idea simple, if your NDR is over 100%, your business is growing, even if you don’t get a single new customer. If it’s under 100%, you need a constant stream of new customers to maintain growth.
What is a good NDR rate?
Let’s look a little deeper into that statement. What should your NDR rate be?
While there isn’t a magic number, anything over 100% is excellent. It suggests that your business model is very healthy and sustainable.
So, anything over 100% is positive and encouraging. Despite that expectation, many businesses that use a subscription model aren’t meeting this baseline. That means that plenty of companies live below 100%.
For a little more context, an NDR of 120% is considered very strong. This means that your business is doubling its revenue every 5 cycles (depending on which time period you're comparing) without adding a single new customer.
Depending on the vertical markets and services within your business models, there's room for a lot of variances. Regardless, a higher NDR is a generically good thing for any business.