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GRR vs NRR: What’s the Difference?

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Understanding revenue metrics is crucial for driving business strategy and ensuring long-term success. Two important metrics to consider are Gross Revenue Retention (GRR) and Net Revenue Retention (NRR). While they may seem similar, understanding the critical differences between them is essential for analysing and managing customer data effectively.

This guide will break down the differentiation in detail. First, we'll understand the fundamentals of revenue retention metrics, which are crucial for any business, especially in SaaS and subscription models. We will then delve into these two specific metrics, exploring their calculations and the nuances between them. By the end of this post, you will have a clear framework for using these key metrics to evaluate and drive your business success.

What is Gross Revenue Retention (GRR)?

Gross Revenue Retention (GRR) is a really important number that subscription-based companies, like those that offer monthly movie streaming or software tools, look at to see how well they are keeping their existing customers' business. Imagine you have a lemonade stand and you keep track of how many of your neighbours continue to buy your lemonade every month without trying to buy less or stop buying altogether. That's what GRR does—it shows the percentage of money that the company keeps from customers it already had, not counting any extra money from selling more things to them.

The closer the GRR is to 100%, the better. A high GRR (95% or above) means that a company is doing a great job at keeping its customers happy and consistent in what they are paying. It tells us that the products or services are good enough for people to keep paying the same or not leave for something else. On the other hand, a low GRR could mean there are problems—maybe the product isn't meeting needs, or the customer service could be better. Keeping an eye on this number helps companies fix problems before they lose too many customers.

Calculating GRR

Calculating Gross Revenue Retention (GRR) is a straightforward process that provides valuable insights into a subscription-based business's financial stability and customer satisfaction. Here’s how you can calculate GRR:

1. Identify the Period for Calculation: Choose the specific period for which you want to calculate GRR, such as a month, quarter, or year.

2. Determine the Starting Revenue: Calculate the total recurring revenue at the beginning of the period. This includes all active ongoing subscriptions that generated revenue at the start of the period.

3. Subtract Losses: Deduct any revenue lost during the period due to customer cancellations, non-renewals, or downgrades. This calculation excludes new sales or revenue from upselling or cross-selling.

4. Calculate the Final Retained Revenue: The above subtraction results give you the final revenue retained from existing customers.

Determine the GRR Percentage:

GRR=(Revenue at the start of the periodRevenue at the start of the period−Revenue lost from churn during the period​)×100

For example, consider a company that begins the quarter with a recurring revenue of $100,000. Over the quarter, it experiences a revenue loss of $15,000 due to customer cancellations and downgrades. This leaves the company with a final retained revenue of $85,000 by the end of the period, which means it has successfully retained 85% of its original revenue despite the losses.

What is Net Revenue Retention (NRR)?

Net Revenue Retention (NRR) is a crucial number for companies that charge their customers through regular subscriptions, like online platforms or cloud services. It shows not only how well a company keeps its existing customers but also how well it has expanded its revenue base within its customer base.This metric calculates how much money the company earns from its current customers, even after accounting for those who cancel or reduce their services. It adds any extra earnings from customers who buy more.

A high NRR means that the company isn't just holding onto its customers; it's also successfully encouraging them to spend more, indicating a strong, growing customer base and a product that meets and expands upon their needs. For example, an NRR of 140% means the company is growing by 40% without acquiring any new customers.

On the other hand, a low NRR suggests there might be issues with how the company is managing its customer relationships or the value it offers, highlighting areas that need work. Keeping track of NRR helps businesses focus on maintaining and boosting customer revenue, which is essential for long-term success and staying competitive in their industry.

Calculating NRR

Calculating Net Revenue Retention (NRR) is a crucial process that offers comprehensive insights into the stability and growth potential of a subscription-based business's revenue streams. Here’s how you can calculate NRR:

1. Identify the Period for Calculation: Select the specific period, such as a month, quarter, or year, for which you want to calculate NRR.

2. Determine the Starting Revenue: Calculate the total recurring revenue from all active subscriptions at the beginning of the period.

3. Account for Changes in Revenue: Subtract any revenue lost during the period due to customer cancellations and downgrades, but significantly add revenue gained from upselling or cross-selling to existing customers.

4. Calculate the Final Revenue: The above calculation gives you the final revenue at the end of the period, reflecting both losses and gains.

Determine the NRR Percentage:

NRR=(Revenue at the start of the periodRevenue at the start of the period−Revenue lost from churn+Revenue gained from expansions​)×100

This formula will yield the NRR as a percentage, showing the net effect of retention plus revenue expansion among existing customers.

For example, consider a company that begins the quarter with a recurring revenue of $100,000. It lost $10,000 throughout the quarter due to customer churn but gained an additional $20,000 from upselling and cross-selling. This results in a final revenue of $110,000 at the end of the period. Thus, the company has successfully retained its original revenue and achieved a 10% growth in revenue, resulting in an NRR of 110%.

The Difference between GRR & NRR

Gross Revenue Retention (GRR) and Net Revenue Retention (NRR) are essential metrics for subscription-based businesses, each providing unique insights into the company's financial health. Here are the key differences between them:

Focus on Revenue Types:

GRR: Measures the percentage of recurring revenue retained from existing customers, accounting for losses due to cancellations or downgrades. It strictly excludes any new revenue from upsells or cross-sells, clearly showing the company’s ability to maintain its existing revenue streams.

NRR: Includes the retained revenue and the additional revenue gained through upselling and cross-selling to existing customers. It offers a comprehensive view of how well a company grows its revenue from its current customer base.

Indicative Value:

GRR: A high GRR indicates adequate customer satisfaction and service delivery, reflecting a company's success in maintaining a stable customer base. A low GRR suggests potential issues in customer retention, highlighting areas needing attention to prevent revenue loss.

NRR: A high NRR suggests that the company is keeping its customers and successfully increasing its lifetime value through additional sales. A lower NRR can indicate missed opportunities for growth within the existing customer relationships.

Strategic Implications:

GRR: This metric is crucial for businesses focused on preserving their current market position without considering expansion. It helps in measuring the effectiveness of customer service and support strategies.

NRR: Indicates growth dynamics within the existing customer pool and is particularly valuable for companies aiming for aggressive expansion and scaling. It helps businesses understand how well they leverage their existing relationships to maximise revenue.

Tracking both GRR and NRR gives businesses a complete picture of their customer success efforts—GRR ensures the stability of the revenue base, and NRR highlights growth opportunities from that base. This dual tracking allows companies to balance maintaining a solid foundation with seizing growth opportunities for increased profitability.


Understanding the nuances between Gross Revenue Retention (GRR) and Net Revenue Retention (NRR) is crucial for any subscription-based business aiming to optimise its revenue strategies. These metrics are not just numbers; they reflect a company's health, operational efficiency, and customer-centricity. GRR helps ensure that the foundational revenue streams are stable, while NRR sheds light on how effectively a business is capitalising on its established relationships to maximise growth potential.

By effectively leveraging these insights, companies can tailor their strategies to enhance customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and increase overall revenue. Moreover, the dual focus on maintaining and expanding revenue streams ensures businesses can sustain their competitive edge in a dynamic market environment. Exploring specialised tools and expertise is the next step for companies looking to dive deeper into their revenue retention metrics and strategise accordingly.

Book a demo today to see how our Customer Success Platform  can illuminate your revenue paths and help you build a more resilient business model.

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