It comes down to a couple of core metrics.
o Customer lifetime value (LTV or CLV). Customer lifetime value is a stand-in for how much value a customer can create for shareholders. With a subscription model, LTV is considerably larger over time because your customers are now recurring customers. With the right land and expand strategy, you can also build in growth for future years.
o Average revenue per unit (ARPU). With a subscription model, your objective is always to drive up ARPU year over year. Whenever you’re looking at a deal, you’re always taking a long-term view: what happens in year two or three or four of the contract? How can you continue to increase average revenue per subscriber over the customer lifespan?
While companies that shift to a recurring revenue model may see an initial downturn in gross margins, over time the increase to shareholder value is huge as investors gain confidence in the predictability and increased revenue growth opportunities of a recurring revenue model.
For example, look at software giant PTC. When PTC announced a broad, systemic shift from perpetual licenses to cloud-based subscriptions, they predicted that this would rekindle growth, expand margins, and maximize long-term shareholder value. And they were right! As of today, their stock is up 85% year-over-year (from March 2016) and they’ve added more than $3 billion dollars in shareholder value. Their perpetual revenues got impacted, but it’s made up for in recurring revenues—and the stock price reflects this.