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SaaS DNA Project: Community Driven SaaS Research

Patrick Campbell Apr 19 2016

After seeing inside more SaaS and subscription companiesthan anyone else out there, we’ve learned a few things. For one, the subscription revenue model is one of the most elegant business innovations of the past fifty years; it’s absolutely straightforward and not overly complicated. Yet, the model allows for compounding, wondrous growth. 

In contrast though, a lot of us in the SaaS trenches tend to mystify and make growth much harder to obtain, because overcomplicate concepts or reinvent the wheels that have been invented by those in SaaS who stood before us. For instance, why would you try to learn pricing strategy through guess and check testing when the content on Price Intelligently's blog exists after thousands of hours of research? Existing research should at least be the starting point. 


The problem a lot of us face though is that there is so much noise and “get rich quick” SaaS growth content out there that it’s extremely difficult to wade through everything to find the diamonds in the rough. To combat that, and to give back to a community that’s frankly helped us beyond our worth, we’re happy to announce today the SaaS DNA project

Our purpose with this project is to bring you foundational research, true SaaS benchmarks, and plenty of in-depth case studies so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel or wonder if you’re focusing on the right aspects of your business. To elaborate on that, let me give you a quick preview of what we just launched, as well as what’s coming down the pipe for you to get excited about (or sign up for specifically).


Briefly, what is the SaaS DNA Project and who are the founding partners

Essentially, since we know a lot of folks in the SaaS world, we find the individuals who think about foundational topics (pricing, product marketing, user onboarding) more than anyone else out there and give them the resources to bring that knowledge to the community (30k+ word tomes of SaaS knowledge goodness). If someone else thinks about a topic more than you, then their research should at least be where you start your journey so you don't spin your wheels discovering that which has already been discovered. 

Beyond deep, foundational studies of pillars of a SaaS business, we'll also be bringing you real SaaS metric benchmarks and case studies. "Real" is emphasized, because we're going to keep the bar extremely high for what constitutes a benchmark and a case study. Hint: high volumes and actual data will be the basis of the requirement. 

In summary, here are the three parts: 



Core research by those in the SaaS trenches

Don't re-learn core concepts that those who came before you have already mastered. Start here from researchers who think about these concepts more than anyone else in SaaS.


Actionable SaaS benchmarks

No more anecdotes. Real benchmarks for churn, growth, marketing metrics, and all your major SaaS metrics. Use precision not opinion to know where to focus in your business.


In-depth SaaS case studies

Researchers will collect real data to give you insight into how companies similar to yours (or in positions similar to yours) are succeeding or failing so spectacularly.

We could never do this all ourselves though, so we're working in conjunction with the following folks: 


Great. What's launching now?

LAUNCHING TODAY: The Anatomy of a SaaS Marketing Site

Partnering with Hiten Shah, we studied 18,000 minutes of users exploring and commenting on over 40+ SaaS marketing sites. The output is a beautiful framework for understanding what makes a SaaS marketing site easy to understand and conversion focused, and frankly what makes a SaaS marketing site not work well. This guide is over 30k words, but it’s easy to digest and provides two key case studies looking at how Slack’s product marketing worked and how Wistia’s product marketing is on the rise. 


Next up: A deep dive on SaaS churn. What we found looking through 1,587 companies.

These aren’t your grandma’s SaaS benchmarks. While we think the Pacific Crest Survey is great, it lacks a lot of actionability if you’re not close to your IPO or if you’re not heavily venture backed. To round out the rest of the market, we took a look through over one thousand SaaS companies of all shapes and sizes to bring you some beautiful retention laden data. The goal here is to help you determine if you’re ready to focus on other metrics besides your retention or if you need to fix your leaky bucket before you grow your funnel.

Coming after that: 

  • How Lyft can Kill Uber

    • An intense, in-depth case study where we collected data from 1,271 Uber and Lyft riders and a few hundred Uber and Lyft drivers. Our goal here was to act as Uber’s “red team” in showing them where Lyft could attack different chinks in their armor. We’re excited about this one. 

  • Comparing Annual and Monthly MRR Proportions

    • A benchmarking study on where your proportion of annual to monthly payments should be relative to your size, company, age, etc. Turns out this is a hot bed for potential growth, particularly because the only times you're likely asking for annual payments is during initial onboarding (probably the worst time to ask) or during the end of the year. 


How can you help? 

This is a community project, not a Price Intelligently/ProfitWell project. Sure, we're the curators and are putting up the resources to get a lot of this research done, but we are the first to admit there's a lot we don't know. That's why we know people who know those things. :)

As such, we need your help in two key ways: 


Contribute as a researcher

If you're exceptionally knowledgeable in a particular area of SaaS, then contact us here so we can chat and figure out where we can collaborate on research. We'll hook you up with writing resrouces, distribution, and all that jazz. We just need your big, beautiful brain. 


Make suggestions around what should be published

We want this to be as community driven as possible. To do that we need help from the community, but we also need a hell of a lot of input. Use this form to make suggestions. 

Ultimately, we wouldn't be here without the help and power of the SaaS community. We know that, and want to make sure we pay it forward/backward to that community. We'll do our best to fulfill the above mission, but if you have any suggestions at all, make sure to let us know. If forms aren't your jazz, my direct email is

By Patrick Campbell

Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.

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