Invoice best practices for SaaS apps

When you run a SaaS business sending out invoices is your lifeblood. Hopefully, you're generating a ton of invoices and sending them off to your customers.

Here are a few best practices to consider after automatically charging your customers.

Actually send an invoice via email

This is SaaS invoicing 101: Notify your customers when you take their money.

I have used services that don't actually send invoices to me. They'll happily charge my credit card every month, but I have to log in and dig up the invoices come bookkeeping time.

Include relevant info in the subject line

Subject lines matter. "Invoice" is bad, "Invoice for Service" is nice, "Service Invoice 2341 for June 2015" is better.

If your customers use an email client that groups emails by their subject lines, having a distinct subject line for each invoice email makes it harder to miss the invoice.

As a bonus, if you don't provide a PDF invoice, when I print the email as a PDF, the subject line becomes the filename.

Oh, and please make sure I can easily create an email filter to target all your invoice emails.

Send the actual invoice in the e-mail

While sending an email with a link to the invoice on your website works, it is also the absolutely bare minimum. You will make your customers job easier by including the actual invoice in the email.

I know - laying out email is hard, especially when you want to make your invoice appear at least someone decently. Swallow your pride and dig into those table-based layouts.

Or even better, build a PDF and attach it to the email.

Send a PDF in an e-mail

Let's face it; most invoices end up printed or at the very least sent as files to accountants and bookkeepers. You might as well help your customers with this.

Now, an e-mail only invoice isn't a big hassle to many as OS X makes it easy to print an e-mail to a PDF file. However I'd much rather just drag and drop the attached invoice into my Invoices folder instead of pretending to print it.

White background

On the subject of printing, please keep your backgrounds white. We might be wasting paper printing out paperwork, but we can at least save on toner. But not if you insist on having a black background on your invoice for whatever reason.

Include relevant info in the filename

Just as with subject lines, the invoice PDF filename should contain meaningful, distinct information. "Invoice.pdf" isn't going to make anyone happy.

This is particularily important as filename clashes can result in invoices not being saved or existing invoices being overwritten when your customers save them to disk.

A good invoice filename should contain at least:

This also allows me to easily find the invoice again should I need to.