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Pirate Your Way to Growth

by Derek LeBlond

Version 2 - Create Date: 2022-06-23, Last Update: 2022-08-26

Don't know where to start to measure and drive the growth of a product, process, program, or project? Plunder growth like a pirate with the AAARRR framework. AAARRR is a powerful mechanism to identify growth chokepoints as well as define what to measure. Let’s first define it so we can then see how to apply it.

The acronym AAARRR and its definitions are:

  • Awareness - How many people know about it?
  • Acquisition - How many people that know about it came to look at it?
  • Activation - How many people that came to look at it became customers?
  • Retention - How many customers do you have?
  • Revenue - How many customers pay for it?
  • Referral - Do your customers refer other people to it?

There are 2 levels of usage here, identify growth blockers and align metrics to a framework. We will look at both.

First, growth blocker identification. AAARRR is a funnel, with its widest point toward Awareness. In this model, measure how many customers are in each stage. Then identify sections where there may be constriction within the funnel. Now you can focus your time and resources within that section of AAARRR. For example, the visualization that follows shows the largest opportunity in Activation. Our short-term goal should be to fix Activation so it is wider than Retention. There is also an argument for Retention and Referral support if we are unable to keep these numerous customers that activate.

A visual of the AAARRR Funnel with constriction shown in Activation.
This visualization shows the largest opportunity in Activation.

The second level of AAARRR usage is as a framework. It is one thing to know Activation may be the opportunity, and another to know how to pull on the levers within that space. AAARRR provides a framework to measure or identify opportunities within a section. Because this is just a framework, there are no specific metrics here. Consequently, there is some work to examine at your product, process, program, or project to find the metrics that answer those questions.

For example, Awareness could align with metrics from surveys to see if people know about your work in comparison to competitors. For Acquisition, measure traffic to the landing page to sign up for your thing. Activation is one of the easier ones, as you can create a button or form to sign up and measure completions. Conversely, Retention is the most complex as it is a relative circs tent of metrics. Let's come back to that for examples. Revenue could be anything from your profit and loss report to monthly subscriptions. And, for Referral, net promoter scores are popular.

Back to retention examples… This is the most complex because it deals with customers from you activate them until they leave. Each business has different start and end points for those measures. Consequently, it could be return visits, button clicks, operational metrics, and more. A relative circus tent of metrics can live within its boundaries. Take some time to look at your own product, process, program, or project to define those that have the most impact to customer satisfaction and growth.

With that, you now have a broad overview of how AAARRR can help identify opportunities for your product, process, program, or project to grow.


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