Average Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) By Industry

In this article, I will talk about what customer acquisition cost is, how to calculate it and how to optimize it for SaaS companies. If you are looking to expand your customer base and reach wider audiences, this article will be quite useful for you.

This will be a relatively long article, so if you ever get bored in any section of the text, take a break and continue reading later. Also, if you like this article, be sure to check out HockeyStack blog for more articles about SaaS marketing.

What Is Customer Acquisition Cost?

Customer Acquisition Cost often referred to as CAC, refers to the average total cost while gaining a new customer. This metric is vital for calculating how well your business is doing, and it is crucial when you calculate your user activation rate.

Ideally, you should want your Customer Acquisition Cost to be as low as possible; however, there is a multitude of factors, as I will explain below, that affect your customer acquisition cost, like brand awareness and your existing marketing type, meaning inbound vs outbound marketing.

Your customer acquisition cost should lay at the center of your marketing strategy, and you should make decisions according to this metric. Without calculating your customer acquisition cost, you won’t be able to make even the short-term plans for your product. So, it is really important for you to thoroughly understand what is being talked about.

Terms You Need to Know:

Before getting to calculating your customer acquisition cost, I want to inform you of some basic terms that are related to the customer Acquisition Cost and its calculation. These are the basics you need to grasp before understanding how your CAC affects your overall business.

1. Target Audience

The term target audience refers to the group of people you want to appeal to. This means all the people that see your advertisements, product reviews, and other products. You want the number of people in your target audience to be higher, yet, you should also analyze and segment your target audience for your advertisement campaigns to be more effective.

There is usually a cap for all companies. As you expand the features your product has, you will be able to attract more customers. So, in this case, having more features goes hand-in-hand with a bigger target audience. Features will also enable you to reach a more specific target audience as well, meaning you will reach both higher amounts of people and people that are interested in your product.

2. Lifetime Value

Lifetime value (LTV) or sometimes referred to as Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), is the total amount of income a customer generates for you during the entirety of your business relationship. The lifetime value of a customer is important when you are trying to decide whether you want to retain your existing customers by reducing your churn rate or making reaching your new customers the primary purpose of your marketing.

Here is how you can calculate your Lifetime Value:

  1. Calculate your ARPU by using a tool like HockeyStack.
  2. Decide whether you want to use Revenue or Customer Churn.
  3. Divide your ARPU by your Revenue or Customer Churn.

3. Customer Churn Rate

Customer Churn Rate refers to the number of people that sign up for your product and leave without going through the user activation process. These people are basically your lost investment. You should want your customer churn rate to be as low as possible. Ideally, you should strive to have a negative churn rate.

From HockeyStack

4. User Retention Rate

The user retention rate is the opposite of the customer churn rate. It represents the rate of people that utilize the services you provide for a certain period and then go on through their user activation process. Just like you should want your customer churn rate to be as low as possible, you should want your user retention rate to be as high as possible.

Your user retention rate is directly related to your user activation rate. What differentiates a person who contributes to your customer churn rate from another who contributes to the user retention rate is that while the former does not go through user activation, the latter does.

How To Calculate Customer Acquisition Cost?

Calculating your customer acquisition cost is a pretty straightforward process. All you need to do is to divide the total cost of sales by the number of customers you have acquired. This calculation allows you to calculate your customer acquisition cost in any time frame you would like.

By HockeyStack

However, although it depends on what kind of services you offer to your customers, I would recommend having monthly calculations to better track your customer base. In this way, you will not over or undercalculate your customer acquisition cost.

Understanding your customer acquisition cost is important because this determines whether or not you should try to reach out to new audiences or instead retain the existing customers you have had. Customer Acquisition Cost is such a fundamental part of SaaS marketing metrics that almost all SaaS marketing software tools, including HockeyStack, calculate it.

Here are some factors that might affect your customer acquisition cost:

  • The duration of your sales cycle
  • Value of Purchase
  • The lifespan of a Customer
  • Frequency of purchases

Average Customer Acquisition Cost By Industry

As I have mentioned, your average customer acquisition depends on both the type of website you operate and the industry you operate in. In this section, I will talk about how the industry you operate in affects your customer acquisition cost.

Below you will find a list of some industries and why

  • SaaS Companies usually has an average Acquisition cost 205 USD. You can consider this pricing range to be the median of overall average customer acquisition costs among the industries.
  • According to the estimates, the highest average customer acquisition belongs to the education industry with 862 USD. This is is probably due to the selective nature of high education.
  • According to HockeyStack’s calculations, the lowers customer acquisition cost belongs to the online marketing companies, which has been increasing its customer reach ever since the rise of COVID-19 pandemic. It costs around 87 United States Dollars.
  • Financial services is among the more expensive industries when it comes to average customer acquisition costs. The average Customer Acquisition cost in this industry is 640 USD.
  • Business Consulting has an average customer acquisition cost of 410 United States Dollars.

Here is a short table summarizing what I have explained so far:

Company TypeAverage Customer Acquisition Cost (In USD)
SaaS Companies205
Education Industry862
Online Marketing Companies87
Financial Services640
Business Consulting410

Do keep in mind that these numbers are recent and often prone to change. You should do your own analyses for your own sector to figure out if you are falling behind the industry’s curve.

What is a good CAC?

Determining how good your Customer Acquisition Cost is done by calculating your LTV (Lifetime Value) and finding the ratio between the two. All you need to do is to divide your customer lifetime value by customer acquisition cost.

An average Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition Cost ratio is often three to one, and anything higher than this is even better. However, as I have discussed above, do keep into account how the industry you operate in affects your CAC.

In addition to taking into account the lifetime value of your customers, you can also use the earlier chart I have shared to calculate how well your CAC is. So long as you stay below the above costs, that means that your business is doing well. However, in summary, one can classify the Customer acquisition costs ratio as follows:

  • 1:1 Customer acquisition costs are as same as the income it brings
  • Less than 1:1 Customer acquisition costs are higher than the income it brings
  • 3:1 Customer brings more income than the company spends on attracting them.

How To Optimize CAC For SaaS Companies?

Optimizing your Customer Acquisition Cost might sound hard, especially if you are a SaaS company. However, rest assured, by following some simple steps provided by HockeyStack, you will easily be able to reduce your customer acquisition cost.

Here is a shortlist of the steps you can take to optimize your CAC:

1. Define Your Customer Base

Knowing your customer base and what their demands are is the most important step in optimizing your CAC. Instead of reaching broader audiences that might have no relation whatsoever with your product, you should always strive to direct your marketing efforts to a specified group. This is pretty similar to the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.

You can use a software tool like HockeyStack to gather and analyze the stats related to your customer base. HockeyStack will allow you to analyze the metrics like your user activation rate and LTV.

Churn surveys are also a great way to determine the expectations of your customer base. These surveys will not only allow you to track the stronger and weaker sides of your product but will also enable you to get written feedback on your product from your customers.

2. Optimize Your Sales Funnel

Optimizing your sales funnel is also an important step in optimizing your Customer Acquisition cost. This is relatively easier compared to the other methods mentioned in this section since you basically have total control over your sales funnel.

However, just because this process is under your control, it does not mean that you do not need to work hard about it. To smoothen out the entire process of increasing the efficiency of your sales funnel.

Again, do not forget that you can use marketing software like Hockeystack for this step. Many marketing tools track the heatmap of your website and give you suggestions regarding what you should do to increase the quality of your website.

3. Try Something New

There are a lot of variations between sectors and websites in any given sector. You should always strive to make changes in your website and marketing strategies to attract more customers for less price.

You can also use changes in your marketing strategy, try out changes in your SaaS marketing plan and utilize new advertisement techniques to optimize your customer acquisition cost for your business.

Conducting A/B testing is a great way to figure out what your customer base wants without spending extra effort and resources for testing. This method will also enable you to conduct two different methods at the same time as well, which saves you from a lot of trouble and wants you to take into account different marketing fluctuations for your methods.

4. Try Specialized Marketing

In addition to figuring out who would be inclined to try out your product, as mentioned in point one, you should also try out different ways to reach different user segments for your product. By taking into account what makes them have their “Aha moment,” you will be able to increase the efficiency with you conduct your marketing.

Segmenting your users, determining what their priorities are, classifying them according to how important these groups and their priorities are to you is a great way to consider which sort of marketing strategies you should follow.

For example, if one of your vital groups’ main problems is how efficient your product is, you could try to reach them by providing ratings of your product and user reviews. On the other hand, if one of your main groups is concerned about your pricing, you can inform them of the discounts you offer.

Hockeystack provides you with a heatmap of your website. This feature will make it easier for you to figure out which sections of your website are viewed, enabling you to better determine what your customer base is going after.

5. Implement a Customer Referral Program

One of the most important ways to increase your advertisement’s reach is to employ a customer referral program. Many software companies like Dropbox, FreeAgent, and Google provide their customers with referral programs for them to enjoy.

If conducted properly, referral programs allow you to have reach for virtually free. Not only do referral programs help you with your advertisement reach, but they will also enable you to create brand awareness and loyalty for your company. In this way, a referral program surpasses anything that could be achieved from a paid marketing strategy.

6. Check out examples in your Industry

One of the most important things you could do to increase your implementation of advertisement campaigns is to check out other examples in your sector. Although general examples can be given regarding the general aspects of SaaS marketing, every industry has its little tactics that you can employ.

You can learn about these tactics either by gaining the experience first-hand or simply checking out what most businesses in your sector do. While the former can allow you to be innovative, the latter will help you the most if you are a newcomer in the industry and need to catch up.

7. Keep Track of Your Metrics

In addition to checking out other examples and doing A/B testing, you should also keep track of your website’s and advertisements metrics. In this way, you will be able to not only learn what works and what doesn’t but will be able to predict the changes in the pattern of your industry.

Usually, bigger companies have big teams that deal with keeping track of your metrics; however, HockeyStack enables you to keep a constant track of metrics without any need for such a thing. Hockeystack not only stores your metrics but also allows you to make comparisons without much effort.

From HockeyStack

8. Get in Touch with The Experts

If you are still struggling with optimizing your customer acquisition process, you might need to get into contact with the experts. Our team in Hockeystack would be more than happy to answer any questions and advise you about how to better use our software. The Hockeystack team has been consulting SaaS companies all over the globe and would love to help you with your problems. Our experience will help you to gain an edge over your competition.


In this text, I have analyzed different aspects of the customer acquisition cost, what is a good customer acquisition cost and how to optimize it for your SaaS business. If you are interested in learning more about SaaS businesses and how to improve your marketing reach, I would recommend checking out other articles written in the HockeyStack Blog.


What is the difference between CPA and CAC?

CAC measures the cost to acquire an individual customer while CPA, cost per acquisition, measures the cost to acquire something like registration and user activation.

What is a good CAC?

A good Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition cost ratio is usually 3 to 1. However, this changes according to the sector you operate in.

What are some of the software tools that I can utilize to reduce my CAC?

There are many tools that you can utilize to reduce your customer acquisition cost; however, I would recommend trying out HockeyStack since it provides its users with a multitude of features.

What are some ways to reduce my customer acquisition costs?

You can check out examples in your sector, try A/B testing, and reach out to experts in HockeyStack. However, do not forget that no matter what happens, it will take time before you see solid results.