SaaS Business Model – Ultimate Guide

SaaS – commonly known as Software as a Service, has become an increasingly popular business model as it benefits both customers and entrepreneurs.

Running SaaS applications in the cloud saves clients time and resources while giving developers access to advanced infrastructures necessary for technological innovation.

Also, there are more benefits to choose the SaaS model. Before knowing that let’s understand the SaaS model in detail.

What is a SaaS Business Model?

A SaaS Business Model is a business model in which the company offers its software as a service (SaaS). The software is typically sold on a subscription basis, with customers paying a fee for use of its service.

A SaaS business model is one of the most popular and widely used models in today’s market.

This type of business model has been growing rapidly over the last decade due to its flexibility, scalability, and ease of use. And has grown to become a leading form of software distribution.

The Essentials of Software as a Service

Software as a service (SaaS) is the delivery of software services over the internet using cloud computing, typically on a subscription basis.

It can be contrasted with Software as a Product (SaaP), where customers buy and own the software they use.

Companies implement SaaS to save costs – related to hosting and maintenance of infrastructures such as servers, data centers, and networks.

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is a paradigm of computing in which data and services are stored on the internet and accessed from any device.

Cloud computing is the latest trend in the IT industry. It is a way of storing, accessing, and processing data on the Internet. The cloud provides a variety of services to different industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and banking.

The SaaS model is one of the most popular models and relevant in cloud computing.

SaaS PaaS IaaS – Key Differences

Software as a Service model

A Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a type of subscription service where users pay for access to an application that resides on the vendor’s servers but not on their own devices.

Examples – Google Workspace, Dropbox.


A Platform-as-a-Service, or PaaS, is a type of subscription service where users pay for access to a computing platform that they can use to develop their applications and deploy them in production.

Examples – Windows Azure, Heroku, and

Infrastructure as a service

IaaS provides access to infrastructural resources such as servers, storage, virtual networks, and so on. This service can be used by both businesses and individuals alike depending on the type of subscription they have bought into for short projects.

Examples – DigitalOcean, Linode, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

B2B vs B2C Models in SaaS Business Model

The SaaS scenario works for both B2C and B2B Business models.

The difference between these two models is the way they make money. In a B2B model companies provide services to other companies whereas in a B2C model companies sell their products or services directly to customers.

Business-to-business (B2B) models use SaaS in more popular industries such as technology, healthcare, and information technology.

Business-to-consumer (B2C) models mostly use SaaS in the industries such as retail, media, and entertainment.

6 Revenue Models For SaaS Business

The revenue for this type of business model depends on how much time people spend using the service. It is challenging to forecast how much revenue you will be generating in any given month, but it can still be done.

With the increase of digital platforms, companies found new ways to generate revenue and the Saas Business Model is emerging nowadays to solve this problem.

Ad-based Revenue model

The ad-based revenue model is a simple solution for business owners – no need to sell their products. Instead, Website Traffic will suffice.

But one crucial thing is to get a lot of traffic to your website. Be it any services you offer, if you work hard to reach the brand to a right audience, you can attract many visitors to your website.

There are two ways for advertising.

  • One is the conventional Google AdSense method or other ad network programs.
  • Another type is to sell ad space to advertisers.

Affiliate Revenue model

SaaS businesses use affiliate marketing methods to generate revenue. This model is a win-win situation for both the business and the affiliates.

Somehow it is similar to the Ad revenue model as it totally depends on the number of visitors to the website. But it places affiliate links to businesses instead of displaying ads.

The affiliate agrees to promote a product or service in exchange for a commission on each sale they make.

For example, if an affiliate sells $100 worth of products in one month, they will receive 10% of that amount as their commission.

Direct sales Revenue Model

SaaS companies are not just about selling products online. They also sell their services and provide support to customers. And that is where the need for direct sales comes in.

Direct sales, as the name suggests, is a form of selling where a company sells its products/services directly to the customer without any middlemen. It is usually done by contacting prospects and convincing them to buy a product or service from you instead of your competitors.

Channel sales Revenue Model

Channel sales are a critical part of the SaaS revenue model. They make up a significant portion of the revenue and help to grow the business.

A channel is an independent entity that sells your product or service for you. It is not just about reselling your product but about helping you sell more products by utilizing their resources, expertise, and networks to increase your reach.

Subscription Revenue Model

The subscription model is the most popular business model in the SaaS industry. It is also an effective revenue model for startups.

In a subscription-based revenue model, you have one or more products that are offered on a monthly or annual basis for a single price, and upgrades with some features in regular intervals.

When compared to other revenue generation, it takes a long time for conversion and making profits.

Freemium Revenue Model

A freemium business model is a form of the “try before you buy” approach. The free version of the product offers basic features and is intended to attract users to the paid version of the product.

In order for this approach to work, there needs to be a clear distinction between the free and paid versions of the product, so that when users try out the free version they understand what they are missing in terms of features by not upgrading to the paid version.

Important Metrics For SaaS Business Model

There should not be any hindrance in running a profitable business model. To avoid any such problems, the founder should be careful in identifying the key metrics of SaaS businesses.

  • Customer Acquisition Cost is the total amount of money spent to acquire a customer, which can be calculated as – all marketing and sales expenses divided by the number of customers acquired.
  • Lifetime Value (LTV) – In financial terms, Lifetime Value (LTV) is a calculation of the net profit generated by a customer over the course of their lifetime with a company.
  • The Churn Rate is the percentage of customers who stop using a product or service in a given period. The churn rate is usually calculated on an annual basis and can be used to measure how well a company is doing in terms of retaining its customers and keeping them happy.
  • The Monthly Recurring Income (MRR) is the total amount of money that a company is expected from its customers in a coming month.
  • The Annual Recurring Income (ARR) is the total amount of money that a company expects to get from its customers over the next 12 months. These projections help to identify the company’s growth potential.
  • A Customer Retention Rate is the percentage of a company’s subscribers that continues to use its products each month. It is the exact opposite of the Churn Rate.

Stages of SaaS Business Model

It starts with a startup stage and then moves on to the growth stage and eventually into a expansion and mature stage.

1) The startup stage is the first phase of the SaaS business model when the founders usually have limited resources and need to focus on getting their product out there.

This is when they need to build their Minimum Viable Product and find customers for it.

2) The growth stage is when companies start expanding their customer base, which leads them to hire more employees, sell more products, or buy other companies.

3) The expansion stage allows companies to grow into this phase where they can now focus on scaling up their operations and increasing profits.

4) The mature stage is when companies are well-established in the marketplace.

Examples of SaaS Business Model

Salesforce is a company that provides cloud-based software and services to manage customer relationships.

They provide a wide range of products, like CRM software which aggregates data from different sources and syncs with other applications in real-time, so businesses can build stronger connections with their customers.

Google is a multinational American technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, including Gsuite, which offers a diverse range of services such as Drive, Google Sheets, Google Hangouts, and so much more.

Netflix is a leading entertainment company that offers online streaming services on a subscription basis. Netflix is an American entertainment company that specializes in and provides streaming media and video-on-demand online. offers streaming services in 190 countries.

HubSpot, a marketing automation platform, helps businesses attract visitors to their websites, convert those visitors into leads, and then convert those leads into customers.

Shopify is an e-commerce company that offers small businesses the ability to create an e-commerce website with automation and payment services.

Advantages of SaaS Business Model

The main advantages of using the SaaS model are

Scalable – It’s easy to understand the customer base, which helps acquire new customers from different geographical locations. This, in turn, helps to scale the business quickly.

Recurring revenue – It gives you a regular income from subscriptions and has the potential to make money from various revenue streams.

Pricing is flexible in this model.

The SaaS model uses multiple marketing strategies on various platforms with fewer efforts to convert people into your customers.

Disadvantages of SaaS Business Model

While the SaaS business model provides a lot of benefits, it also has its disadvantages. Some of the disadvantages are

Since Churn Rate is high, it fails to retain customers, further, it reduces the revenue.

Upfront cost and cloud server maintenance are high, which takes more time for the company to break even.

A lot of new entries are coming up in your niche market. The competition is tough and it can be hard to stay ahead for a long time.

Tips to Start a Successful SaaS Business Model

Research your Market and Competitors

To make your company competitive, you must research your market and competitors. This will help you define how much money you need to make per customer and how many customers you need to generate that amount of money.

Choose the Proper Idea for SaaS Model

The SaaS model allows companies to provide software as a service or an online service that is delivered over the Internet and accessed through a web browser.

To start with:

  • What services are best suited for this SaaS model?
  • What are the challenges of operating a business as a SaaS company?

Build your MVP for SaaS Business Model

To get your SaaS Business Model off the ground and start generating revenue, it is important to build an MVP. This will allow you to gain clarity on certain questions that may come up during the project, such as

What are the features that are needed for this MVP to be successful?

What will make this product unique?

What will make this product stand out from its competitors? etc…

Get Feedback on Your Product/Idea & Reiterate

The next step is to identify what you want to modify by asking for feedback. This could be anything from a new design, marketing strategy, or even just a new feature.

And, then to find people who are qualified to provide that type of feedback.

It requires both the creator of the product or idea and the person receiving feedback to be open-minded and willing to try new things.

These people could be customers, colleagues, friends, or anyone else who has expertise in that field and can give you valuable insights into what they think about your idea/product.

Launch to the Public and Retarget Visitors

When you have a new product, it can be difficult to know how to launch it to the public. You need to think about how much content is needed, what type of content is needed, and what kind of audience your product will be marketed towards.

Retargeting visitors who are interested in your product will help you build brand awareness and drive sales.

Retargeting is an effective tool for both businesses and consumers because it helps companies reach interested people.

Summing it up

There are many ways to reach a million dollars in revenue with a SaaS business model. You can do it by focusing on one or two niche markets and a large customer base, who would be willing to pay for your product or service.

The last thing to say about the SaaS model is – it is a new way of doing business for startups and small businesses because it’s scalable and it allows you to scale up without having to invest in expensive hardware.

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