AARRR Metrics: Everything You Need About the Framework With Examples

AARRR metrics framework

Every successful business understands the importance of measuring and optimizing its growth strategies. One popular framework that has gained immense popularity in the startup community is the AARRR Metrics framework.

Despite the AARRR framework’s popularity in the startup landscape, It can be used for most businesses, especially for Ecommerce businesses.

By reading this article, you will have the knowledge and insights to apply this powerful framework to your own business and drive sustainable growth. So, let’s dive in and discover how the AARRR Metrics framework.

What is the AARRR framework?

The AARRR framework, also known as Pirate Metrics, is a growth model that helps businesses optimize their customer acquisition and retention strategies. It consists of five stages: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral. These stages form a funnel that represents the customer journey from initial awareness to becoming a valuable advocate for the business.

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referral

The concept of the funnel has been used for many other frameworks like sales funnel or AIDA funnel. The major idea behind each of these models is the same, the difference is usually based on the different perspectives. AARRR metrics for ecommerce is one of the most famous ones.

This model depends on KPIs, however, there is another way of measuring the progress and success of your business. OKRs can be another kind of useful metric. We strongly suggest that you read the “OKR vs KPI: Can OKRs and KPIs Work Together?” article to benefit more from this article.

shwoing AARRR framework in a funnel with 5 stages.

Where does it come from?

The AARRR framework was coined by Dave McClure, a prominent figure in the startup ecosystem, who introduced it in 2007. The AARRR Metrics framework, often referred to as Pirate Metrics, derives its name from the sounds commonly associated with pirates: “Arrr, matey!” This catchy acronym, inspired by the pirate theme, helps to easily remember and identify the framework. As a result, the AARRR Metrics framework has become widely recognized and referred to as Pirate Metrics in the business and startup communities.


AARRR metrics framework Acquisition stage

The first stage of the AARRR framework is Acquisition, where businesses focus on attracting potential customers to their product or service. It involves capturing the attention of potential customers and driving them towards taking the first step in their journey with the business. 

To achieve this goal, having a detailed understanding of target customers is crucial which is why the Persona is very helpful to have a successful acquisition process. 

In acquisition, the primary goal is to generate awareness and attract a relevant audience. This can be achieved through various marketing channels such as advertising, content marketing, social media, Sponsored content, Native advertising, Search engine optimization, Partnerships, and more. The aim is to drive traffic and potential leads to the business’s website, landing pages, or other entry points.

Key metrics for acquisition include:

  • Website Traffic
  • Social media followers
  • Lead generation
  • Click-through rates

By measuring these metrics, businesses can evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns and optimize their acquisition strategies.


AARRR framework Activation stage

Once customers are acquired, the next stage is Activation. This involves getting users to engage with the product or service and experience its core value.

Activation involves guiding users through the initial steps of using the product or service and showcasing its unique features and benefits. The goal is to deliver a positive user experience that captures their interest and motivates them to continue using the offering and reach the AHA Moment.

We usually consider a user as an activated user when he understands and experiences the core value proposition of our business. At this moment, we say that he reached the AHA moment.

Metrics such as the following ones are used to measure activation: 

  • User registrations
  • Account setups
  • App downloads 
  •  The completion of key actions or milestones

By analyzing these metrics, businesses can identify bottlenecks in the onboarding process and enhance user experience to drive higher activation rates.


AARRR framework Retention stage

Retention is a critical stage within the AARRR Metrics framework, where businesses focus on nurturing and retaining their existing users or customers. It involves fostering a strong relationship with users to encourage their continued engagement and loyalty to the product or service over an extended period.

The retention stage acknowledges the importance of customer satisfaction, repeat usage, and reducing churn or user attrition. It is more cost-effective to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones, making retention a key driver of long-term business success.


  • User Churn Rate
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV
  • User Engagement
  • Session frequency
  • Time spent

Understanding and optimizing these metrics enables businesses to develop effective customer retention strategies, such as personalized communication, loyalty programs, and continuous product improvements.

Building a loyal and engaged user base in the retention stage sets the foundation for sustainable growth and creates a strong customer advocate network for the subsequent stages of the AARRR Metrics framework.


AARRR framework revenue stage

Revenue is the lifeblood of any business. Revenue is a pivotal stage within the AARRR Metrics framework, where businesses focus on generating and maximizing their revenue streams. It involves optimizing monetization strategies and driving conversions to ensure the financial sustainability and growth of the business. 

The Revenue stage of the AARRR framework involves measuring metrics such as:

  • Average revenue per user (ARPU)
  • Conversion rates,
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • Revenue growth

Analyzing revenue metrics allows businesses to identify opportunities to increase average revenue per user, optimize pricing strategies, improve conversion rates, reduce customer acquisition costs, and maximize the lifetime value of customers. It also helps in evaluating the effectiveness of different revenue channels or business models.

By tracking and optimizing these metrics, businesses can maximize their revenue streams and identify opportunities to increase profitability.

Strategies for revenue optimization may include upselling or cross-selling, implementing pricing experiments, enhancing the checkout or subscription process, leveraging data analytics to identify revenue-generating opportunities, and continuously improving the value proposition to drive customer willingness to pay.


AARRR framework Referral stage

At this stage of the AARRR metrics framework, businesses focus on turning satisfied customers into advocates who actively refer and bring in new customers through word-of-mouth marketing. 

It involves leveraging the power of positive customer experiences to drive organic growth and expand the customer base.

The referral stage recognizes the value of customer advocacy and the potential for exponential growth through referrals. Happy customers who refer others not only bring in new customers but also tend to have higher retention rates and lifetime value.

Metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure referrals include: 

  • Referral conversion rate
  • Referral traffic
  • Customer referral value
  • The overall growth in customer acquisition attributed to referrals

Strategies for driving referrals may include referral rewards, social sharing features, referral tracking mechanisms, and fostering a customer-centric culture that encourages and nurtures advocacy. Additionally, businesses can actively engage with and reward their advocates to further strengthen the referral ecosystem. 

The referral stage plays a crucial role in expanding the customer base, reducing acquisition costs, and building a strong community of brand advocates within the AARRR Metrics framework.

When trying to set metrics for the AARRR model, you should avoid useless or misleading metrics. Using the wrong metrics can mislead you and negatively affect your conversion rates. To learn more, you need to read the “Which KPI Is Most Likely to be a Vanity Metric” article.

Examples of AARRR Metrics For Ecommerce

Imagine you’re the CEO of a growing e-commerce business, and you’re looking to analyze and optimize your company’s performance using the AARRR Metrics framework. By looking into the Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral stages, you can gain valuable insights into your business’s growth potential.

In this hypothetical scenario, let’s explore the metrics and numbers for each stage of the AARRR framework to make informed strategic decisions and develop an actionable plan for success.

showing an ecommerce business to emphasise on aarrr metrics for ecommerce

Metrics and Hypothetical Numbers

  • Acquisition: In the past quarter, your marketing efforts have resulted in 100,000 website visitors, with a conversion rate of 3%, resulting in 3,000 new customer acquisitions.
  • Activation: Among the newly acquired customers, 60% have completed their first purchase, achieving an activation rate of 1,800 active users.
  • Retention: Over three months, your business has successfully retained 70% of the activated users, resulting in a user retention rate of 1,260 customers.
  • Revenue: With an average order value of $100 and an average purchase frequency of 1.5 times per month, your business has generated a quarterly revenue of $189,000 from the retained customer base.
  • Referral: Leveraging the power of customer referrals, your business has achieved a referral conversion rate of 10%, leading to 126 new customer acquisitions.

Concluding Optimal Strategic Decision

Based on the numbers provided, there are several key insights to consider. While the acquisition rate of 3% is reasonable, there is room for improvement to increase the number of acquired customers. However, the activation rate of 60% indicates a strong onboarding process, ensuring a significant percentage of acquired customers become active users.

Retention, with a rate of 70%, showcases effective strategies to retain customers, but there is still potential to enhance customer loyalty and reduce churn further. The generated revenue of $189,000 indicates a healthy financial performance, although there are opportunities to increase average order value and purchase frequency.

Given the referral conversion rate of 10%, it’s evident that customers are willing to refer others to your business. Capitalizing on this potential advocacy can significantly impact customer acquisition and growth.

Actionable Plan

To optimize your business’s performance based on the scenario and numbers provided, here’s an actionable plan:

  • Acquisition: Explore targeted advertising campaigns and partnerships with complementary businesses to increase website traffic and improve the conversion rate. Aim to achieve a conversion rate of 5%, resulting in 5,000 new customer acquisitions.
  • Activation: Continuously refine the onboarding process, personalize recommendations, and offer incentives for completing the first purchase. Set a target to achieve an activation rate of 70%, resulting in 3,500 active users.
  • Retention: Implement customer engagement strategies such as personalized communication, loyalty programs, and proactive customer support to further increase the retention rate. Aim to achieve a user retention rate of 80%, resulting in 2,800 loyal customers.
  • Revenue: Introduce upselling and cross-selling techniques, offer bundled products or subscription options, and enhance the overall customer experience to increase average order value and purchase frequency. Set a goal to achieve a quarterly revenue of $250,000.
  • Referral: Develop a comprehensive referral program that incentivizes and rewards customers for referring others. Implement referral tracking mechanisms and provide easy-to-use sharing features to amplify the impact of word-of-mouth marketing. Aim to increase the referral conversion rate to 15%, resulting in 420 new customer acquisitions.

By focusing on these strategic decisions and implementing the actionable plan, your business can aim for accelerated growth, increased customer loyalty, and improved revenue streams.

Remember, these numbers and recommendations are purely hypothetical, but they illustrate the power of the AARRR Metrics framework in guiding strategic decision-making and helping businesses optimize their performance for long-term success.

Best Practices

To successfully implement the AARRR framework, you need a deep understanding of this model and different stages of it. In the next section, we will provide a detailed explanation of the AARRR framework to help you successfully implement it for your ecommerce or startup.

Although there are no simple tips to implement this framework perfectly, here we suggest some important points to pay attention to:

  • Set clear goals for each stage.
  • Define the meaning of each stage clearly for your ecommerce business.
  • Regularly track and analyze metrics.
  • Conduct experiments to optimize conversion rates.
  • Foster a data-driven culture within the organization.

AARRR Funnel Framework: Step-by-Step Guide

AARRR Funnel Framework guide and user manual

As an e-commerce business owner, you’re constantly seeking ways to drive growth, increase customer engagement, and boost your bottom line. The AARRR Metrics framework provides a powerful roadmap for achieving these goals. By understanding the stages of Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral, you can effectively measure and optimize each step of your customer journey.

In this guide, we will walk you through a step-by-step process to implement the AARRR Funnel in your e-commerce business. From defining the metrics to measuring them, analyzing the results, and taking actionable steps to improve performance, this guide will empower you to make data-driven decisions and unlock the full potential of your business. Get ready to navigate the AARRR Metrics framework and propel your e-commerce business to new heights.

Step 1: Acquisition

Define: The acquisition stage involves attracting potential customers to your e-commerce website or platform.

Metrics: Key metrics to measure include website traffic, conversion rate, and cost per acquisition (CPA).

Measurement: Utilize tools like Google Analytics to track website traffic, set up conversion tracking to measure the conversion rate, and calculate CPA by dividing total marketing spend by the number of acquired customers.

Action: After measuring acquisition metrics, analyze the sources of traffic, identify high-converting channels, and optimize marketing efforts accordingly. Consider expanding to new marketing channels or improving targeting to drive more qualified traffic.

Step 2: Activation

Define: Activation focuses on turning acquired users into active and engaged customers by encouraging their first interaction or purchase.

Metrics: Metrics to consider are activation rate, first purchase rate, and onboarding completion rate.

Measurement: Calculate the activation rate by dividing the number of activated users by the total number of acquired users. Track the first purchase rate and onboarding completion rate through event tracking or user surveys.

Action: Analyze the activation metrics to identify any bottlenecks in the onboarding process. Optimize the user experience, provide personalized recommendations, and offer incentives to drive users towards their first purchase. Enhance the onboarding process to ensure a smooth and delightful experience.

Step 3: Retention

Define: Retention involves keeping customers engaged and encouraging repeat purchases.

Metrics: Retention metrics include customer retention rate, average order frequency, and customer lifetime value (CLTV).

Measurement: Calculate the customer retention rate by dividing the number of retained customers by the total number of customers. Monitor average order frequency and CLTV by tracking repeat purchases and calculating the average order value over time.

Action: Analyze retention metrics to understand the factors influencing customer loyalty. Implement personalized communication, loyalty programs, and customer support to enhance the overall customer experience. Use data-driven insights to identify opportunities for improving retention and maximizing CLTV.

Step 4: Revenue

Define: Revenue focuses on optimizing monetization strategies and increasing overall sales.

Metrics: Key metrics include average order value, conversion rate, and revenue growth rate.

Measurement: Track average order value by dividing the total revenue by the number of orders. Monitor conversion rate by dividing the number of completed purchases by the total number of website visitors. Calculate revenue growth rate by comparing revenue over different periods.

Action: Analyze revenue metrics to identify opportunities for increasing average order value, optimizing pricing strategies, and improving conversion rates. Consider upselling, cross-selling, and offering personalized recommendations to drive revenue growth.

Step 5: Referral

Define: Referral focuses on leveraging satisfied customers to drive organic growth through word-of-mouth marketing.

Metrics: Metrics to consider include referral conversion rate, referral traffic, and customer referral value.

Measurement: Calculate the referral conversion rate by dividing the number of referred customers by the total number of referred users. Track referral traffic using referral tracking mechanisms and monitor the impact of referrals on customer acquisition. Calculate customer referral value by assessing the revenue generated by referred customers.

Action: Implement a referral program that incentivizes customers to refer others, provides easy-to-use sharing features, and amplifies positive customer experiences through reviews and ratings. Monitor the success of referral programs, encourage customer advocacy, and continuously improve the referral process.

Additional Steps:

Data Analysis: Continuously analyze data from each stage to identify trends, patterns, and areas of improvement. Use tools like customer surveys, cohort analysis, and customer segmentation to gain deeper insights.

Continuous Optimization: Continuously optimize the user experience, marketing strategies, pricing, and customer support based on the insights gained from data analysis.

Experimentation: Conduct A/B tests, implement new features, and experiment with different marketing channels to identify what works best for your business.

Customer Feedback: Encourage and gather feedback from customers to understand their needs, pain points, and expectations. Use this feedback to enhance your products, services, and overall customer experience.

By following this step-by-step guide, e-commerce business owners can effectively utilize the AARRR Metrics framework to measure, analyze, and optimize their business performance, ultimately driving sustainable growth and success.

Benefits of AARRR

The AARRR Metrics framework offers numerous benefits that can propel your business toward success. This framework empowers you to optimize performance, enhance customer engagement, and drive sustainable growth. Here are some of the benefits of this framework:

Comprehensive Understanding: The AARRR Metrics framework provides a holistic view of your business’s performance across key stages of the customer journey. It enables you to understand the entire funnel, from acquisition to referral, allowing you to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement at each stage.

  • Comprehensive Understanding
  • Data-Driven Decision Making
  • Focus on Key Growth Areas
  • Actionable Insights
  • Improved Customer Engagement
  • Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Scalability and Adaptability

Comprehensive Understanding 

The AARRR Metrics framework provides a holistic view of your business’s performance across key stages of the customer journey. It enables you to understand the entire funnel, from acquisition to referral, allowing you to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement at each stage.

Data-Driven Decision Making

By utilizing the AARRR Metrics framework, you can measure and analyze specific metrics for each stage, giving you access to valuable data insights. This data-driven approach empowers you to make informed decisions based on real-time performance indicators, rather than relying on assumptions or guesswork.

Focus on Key Growth Areas

The framework helps you prioritize key areas that directly impact growth. By identifying the most critical metrics at each stage, you can focus your efforts and resources on optimizing those areas that will have the greatest impact on your business’s overall performance.

Actionable Insights

The AARRR Metrics framework provides actionable insights that drive tangible improvements. By understanding specific metrics and their correlations, you can implement targeted strategies and initiatives to enhance customer acquisition, activation, retention, revenue generation, and referrals.

Improved Customer Engagement

The AARRR Metrics framework emphasizes the importance of customer engagement throughout the entire funnel. By measuring and optimizing metrics related to activation, retention, and referrals, you can cultivate stronger relationships with customers, leading to increased loyalty, repeat purchases, and positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

Implementing the AARRR Metrics framework allows you to continuously monitor and evaluate your business’s performance. By regularly tracking metrics and analyzing the results, you can identify trends, spot potential issues, and make necessary adjustments to ensure your business stays on track toward its growth objectives.

Scalability and Adaptability

The framework applies to businesses of all sizes and industries. Whether you’re a small startup or an established enterprise, the AARRR Metrics framework can be tailored to suit your specific needs and goals. It is flexible enough to accommodate changes in the market, consumer behavior, and industry trends, allowing you to adapt your strategies and optimize performance accordingly.

Now that you understood the fundamentals of the AARRR framework, you can take your knowledge to the next level and learn how successful companies are using Business Intelligence (BI) system to implement the AARRR model as well as conducting other controls.

You can read more in the “Uncover the Business Intelligence Implementation” article.

Key Insights

  • The AARRR Metrics framework, also known as Pirate Metrics, is a valuable tool for optimizing customer acquisition and retention strategies.
  • Each stage of the AARRR framework (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral) has specific metrics that help businesses track and improve performance.
  • Implementing the AARRR framework requires setting clear goals, regularly tracking metrics, conducting experiments, and fostering a data-driven culture.
  • Successful businesses have utilized the AARRR framework to drive growth by focusing on specific metrics at each stage of the funnel.
  • The AARRR model is not suitable for all businesses, and its applicability should be assessed based on industry, business model, and goals.
  • Alternative frameworks may be more appropriate for certain businesses, and it’s important to choose the right framework that aligns with specific needs.
  • The AARRR Metrics framework provides a holistic view of the customer journey and helps identify growth opportunities, make data-driven decisions, and foster continuous improvement.
  • By leveraging the AARRR framework, businesses can optimize their marketing efforts, enhance user experience, increase customer loyalty, and drive organic growth through referrals.
  • Regularly tracking and analyzing AARRR metrics is essential for identifying bottlenecks, optimizing strategies, and maximizing revenue streams.
  • The benefits of implementing the AARRR framework include gaining a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey, making informed decisions, and fostering a culture of experimentation and growth.

Frequently Asked Questions about AARRR

What is AARRR used for?

The AARRR framework, also known as Pirate Metrics, is used as a comprehensive tool to measure and optimize various stages of the customer journey in businesses. It helps organizations focus on critical aspects of growth, from acquiring customers to retaining them and encouraging referrals. By breaking down the journey into Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral stages, AARRR provides a structured approach for businesses to enhance their strategies and achieve sustainable growth. This framework mostly being used by startups and Ecommerce businesses.

What is the AARRR funnel?

In this case funnel is another name for framework. The AARRR funnel, also known as the Pirate Metrics funnel, is a model that represents the stages a user goes through in their interaction with a product or service. It consists of five main stages: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral. These stages outline the customer journey, from their initial discovery of the product to becoming a loyal advocate who refers others. This funnel helps businesses understand and optimize their performance at each stage for overall growth.

What is the abbreviation of AARRR?

The abbreviation AARRR stands for the five core stages of the framework: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral. Each letter represents a critical aspect of the customer journey that businesses can analyze and improve to achieve their growth objectives.

What is the difference between acquisition and activation?

Acquisition and activation are distinct stages within the AARRR metrics framework. Acquisition involves attracting potential customers to your business and getting them interested. Activation, on the other hand, is about guiding acquired users to take a specific action, like making their first purchase or experiencing the core value of your product. While acquisition focuses on generating interest, activation aims to turn that interest into active engagement.

What are the key metrics of AARRR?

The key metrics of the AARRR framework vary for each stage and the business. Here you can see some of the more common metrics:

  • Acquisition: Metrics include website traffic, conversion rate, and cost per acquisition (CPA).
  • Activation: Metrics include activation rate, first purchase rate, and onboarding completion rate.
  • Retention: Metrics include customer retention rate, average order frequency, and customer lifetime value (CLTV).
  • Revenue: Metrics include average order value, conversion rate, and revenue growth rate.
  • Referral: Metrics include referral conversion rate, referral traffic, and customer referral value.

What is the AARRR framework?

The AARRR framework, often referred to as Pirate Metrics, is a strategic model used by businesses to optimize their growth strategies. It breaks down the customer journey into five key stages: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral. By focusing on these stages, businesses can analyze and improve their performance, enhance user experiences, and drive sustainable growth. The AARRR framework provides a structured approach for businesses to align their efforts and maximize their potential for success.

Image credit: Julia Jaskólska and Aleksandar Savic


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Seyed Morteza Mortazavi
Hi! I am Seyed Morteza, the content expert of the ECN company. I love to share my knowledge and expertise in the E-commerce field with curious businesses or individuals. Visit my LinkedIn profile to get in touch.