Pirates have a bad reputation as lawless renegades, but when it comes to setting up a business with any form of online outreach, pirate metrics are an incredibly important system to use to measure the growth of your startup.

With a digital move as fast-paced and unpredictable as the seven seas, pirate metrics provide five important landmark statistics that can provide a baseline for how effectively your company is growing.

Shortened to AARRR, these metrics can be traced back to Dave McClure and a famous presentation he made about startup metrics. Here are five metrics that can help grow your business like a pirate.



Often used and abused as a vanity metric, acquisition is the first step on the customer journey, where your successful marketing has caught their attention.

What makes it a misused metric is that just catching people’s attention means very little unless they move further through the customer pipeline. Focus not only on visitors that land on your website but on ones that engage with the site as well.



Activation is when a user who sees your marketing follows a call to action, such as subscribing to your newsletter, signing up for a trial of your service.



Retention is all about taking measures that ensure that users that have been activated continue to engage with your product, either by using your application, opening your newsletter email or regularly visiting the website.



Referral is an exceptionally important part of growth for early startups and involves finding users who care about your service or product so much that they will refer it to others through word of mouth, product reviews or direct referral schemes.



The most important but also final metric, this highlights which customers like your product so much they are willing to pay for it. This determines whether your efforts to grow the company are actually profitable.

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