Pyrotechnics or Pirate Metrics – Why AARRR Works

What’s a pirate’s favourite marketing framework?


I love dad jokes so when I was writing this I couldn’t resist.

This is a genuine framework that helps create an effective growth marketing strategy and plan that you can use.

And while it has a semi-ridiculous name that shouldn’t fool you, it’s very good at setting you and your marketing efforts up for success.

The AARRR Framework

AARRR is one of the most popular frameworks for growth marketing (why do I say that as if my doctor is looking at my tonsils?). 

As we have already established it’s also known as the Pirate Framework or Pirate Metrics.

Each stage has an associated goal, and each goal has appropriate tactics and metrics that you can use to understand your marketing and your customer journey better.

The five stages are:

Acquisition: Turn viewers into leads and customers.

Activation: Create the aha moment where customers realize the true value of your business.

Retention: Keep customers coming back to purchase or staying subscribed.

Referral: Turn customers into brand advocates.

Revenue: Enhance customer lifetime value.

Each stage is a useful reference point for how you should approach your growth marketing strategy and with that each tactic or sub-strategy should have clear “success metrics” to act as the benchmarks towards your main business metric of growth.


Who doesn’t want more new customers amirite?

Getting them is the dream, but it’s always easier said than done.

Getting new customers should be a focus however it is also highly dependent on awareness.

That’s why sometimes this step is called awareness but we prefer acquisition for the more concrete idea of you “acquiring” the new customer’s interest.

Awareness strategies and tactics are used to acquire the interest of more customers.

These tactics can include SEO, social media, advertising campaigns, and more.

What you want to measure at this stage are the opening goals of your whole growth marketing strategy.

Let’s say for SEO, the metrics to watch here could be how many people visit your website and for how long.

This gives you a solid foundational success metric that you can measure against.


Now that you have acquired a new potential customer, you want to activate them.

While that sounds like a scene from  Terminator, what we actually mean is you need to nurture, mature, and convert them into a customer or at least a sales-qualified lead.

This stage focuses on the age-old question “Now what?”

Let’s use our SEO example. The customer has arrived on your website landing page. Now what?

Where do you want them to go? What do you want them to do? Do you want them to read more blog posts? What about a sign up to a newsletter or a free trial?

What steps “activate” the person on your website from lead to customer?

For us at Kennedy Woods it could be they’ve landed on our blog through our social media page. Fantastic. 

Now what?

Now we want to activate them to sign up to our beautifully written, jam packed with value, newsletter (which you can sign up to here 😉)

That can be our first activation success metric. It’s a small but vital step in building our customer base as well as understanding what our customers want from us.


You’ve acquired and activated your potential customer and their interest.

*in my best stroppy teenager voice* Now what?

You want to retain and build on that interest.

So if they signed up for your emails, fantastic. Now set their “open rate” as a success metric and see if you can retain interest.

What about them returning to your website? Or even better returning to a particular product or service page? These are both fabulous retention success metrics.

This stage is about that advanced level of nurturing leads, building trust, and establishing confidence in what you do/offer.


The most powerful form of marketing, I kid you not, is word of mouth.

People will always take the recommendation of a friend or family member above an online review or sales email.

So with that in mind, you have got your customers, you have retained their interest, and you’re even building them into returning customers through exceptional customer service.

What you need to do now is introduce the idea of referrals to them.

Growth doesn’t just happen by isolating individual customers. You need to find them and then build on their willingness to become advocates for your product or service.

They should want to shout it from the rooftops (not literally though, as that might cause trouble).

When it comes to referral success metrics think about things such as how many people use an email referral code? How many referral discount codes get redeemed? How many social shares of a product happen?

Any of these can be a referral success metric and give you a fantastic growth point of expanding that customer base or, at the very least, going back to the acquisition stage with a bit more of a head start than last time.


Finally, the GOLDEN METRIC. The one every business owner wants to see. The ultimate ROI – Money!

The leads and customers you build through repeating the first four stages and building on those over and over again should lead to this stage.

The revenue success metrics are more often than not the ones that businesses use as “the definition of growth” when it comes to a growth marketing strategy.

And for good reason, I cannot deny that.

Revenue, in our opinion, is a by-product of effective growth marketing and sales.

The Real Secret Sauce to AARRR

The reason why growth marketers love this framework is because of a. Its simplicity and ease to remember, b. It’s an effective breakdown of each part of a customer and marketing journey, and c. because each section can be improved independently.

Growth marketing is all about setting up clear paths and goals and experimenting to find the best most effective and efficient way to reach them. 

Each section can be tested and improved on independently through A/B testing to ascertain how to grow the business effectively whilst keeping a clear eye on the major goal at the centre.

Remember that each success metric should indicate the best way forward not only to the next stage but also towards the ultimate goal of growth.