Modeling SaaS Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

illustration cac
Stefan Bucur SaaS Instructor

Written by Stefan Bucur

Stefan focuses on managing digital projects, building and leading cross functional teams using both agile and waterfall methodologies.

Passionate on helping organizations embark on the cloud journey, he guides teams and clients in building scalable SaaS solutions, supporting them in all stages of the process.

In 2021, Stefan joined JH Media Group, an agency that has focused on the design and build of SaaS systems since 2002. He currently serves as a project manager.


June 12, 2023


SaaS Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is a key SaaS financial metric that measures the average cost a company incurs to acquire a new customer. It is a crucial component of financial modeling for SaaS companies, as it helps assess the efficiency and effectiveness of your customer acquisition strategies. By understanding how to calculate customer acquisition costs for SaaS, you can make informed decisions about marketing investments, pricing strategies, and overall business profitability.

Importance of Customer Acquisition Cost for SaaS

CAC provides insights into the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts, allowing you to allocate resources wisely and optimize customer acquisition. Here are a few reasons why customer acquisition cost is important for SaaS companies:

  • Investment Efficiency: CAC helps you evaluate the return on investment (ROI) for your SaaS marketing and sales activities. It ensures that your customer acquisition efforts are cost-effective and generate sustainable revenue streams.
  • Pricing Strategies: CAC analysis enables you to determine appropriate pricing for your SaaS product. By understanding the cost of acquiring customers, you can align your pricing with the value you provide, ensuring profitability while remaining competitive.
  • Growth Planning: CAC plays a critical role in forecasting and planning for future growth. It helps estimate the investment required to achieve specific revenue targets and guides your business expansion strategies.

How to Calculate Customer Acquisition Cost SaaS:

To calculate CAC, you need to consider the costs associated with acquiring customers over a specific period. Here’s a general SaaS customer acquisition cost formula:

Customer Acquisition Cost = Total Sales and Marketing Costs / Number of New Customers Acquired

The “Total Sales and Marketing Costs” include all expenses related to marketing campaigns, advertising, sales and marketing salaries, commissions, software tools, and any other costs directly associated with customer acquisition efforts. Divide this total cost by the “Number of New Customers Acquired” within the same period to obtain your CAC.

Best Practices for Modeling Customer Acquisition Costs for SaaS companies:

  • Define and include relevant costs
    Ensure that you include all costs directly associated with customer acquisition, such as marketing campaigns, advertising spend, lead generation tools, sales and marketing salaries, and commissions. Be comprehensive in capturing all expenses to achieve an accurate representation of CAC.
  • Calculate customer acquisition cost over a specific time frame
    Determine a specific period, such as a month or a quarter, to calculate CAC. This allows you to track changes over time and assess the impact of different marketing and sales strategies.
  • Segment and analyze CAC
    Break down CAC by different customer acquisition channels, campaigns, or cohorts. This segmentation provides insights into the effectiveness of different channels and helps allocate resources more efficiently.
  • Consider CAC payback period
    Calculate the time it takes to recover the cost of acquiring a customer, known as the CAC Payback Period. This metric helps assess the profitability and cash flow dynamics of your customer acquisition efforts.
  • Monitor and adjust customer acquisition cost for SaaS
    Regularly monitor and review your CAC to identify trends and deviations from your projections. Analyze the impact of changes in marketing strategies, pricing, or market conditions on CAC, and adjust your models accordingly.
  • Benchmark against industry standards
    Compare your CAC with industry benchmarks to understand how your acquisition costs stack up against competitors. This helps identify areas for improvement and highlights potential inefficiencies.
  • Integrate CAC with other metrics
    Combine CAC with other key SaaS finance metrics, such as Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), to assess the overall health and profitability of your customer base. This integration provides a comprehensive understanding of customer acquisition and retention dynamics.


By accurately modeling SaaS customer acquisition cost and following these best practices, you can gain valuable insights into the cost-effectiveness of your customer acquisition efforts and make data-driven decisions to drive growth and profitability in your SaaS business.