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AARRR Framework

What is the AARRR framework?

Definition of the AARRR framework

The AARRR framework refers to a set of user behaviors that businesses can track within the customer lifecycle to improve product marketing and streamline product management.

AARRR is an acronym representing five key categories of metrics, developed to help start-ups grow their business in a fast, but sustainable, way.

“AARRR” stands for:

  • Acquisition: Through which channels are customers initially finding your product or service?

  • Activation: Which actions are prospects taking when engaging with your business?

  • Retention: Are you losing any customers? How can you ensure they stick around?

  • Referral: Are there ways you could encourage existing customers to evangelize your brand?

  • Revenue: Is your business bringing in any money? How can you boost your bottom line?

Examples of AARRR metrics

At the heart of this framework is those five key metric categories. Each one is designed to focus a business on specific goals and milestones required to grow and scale sustainably. Unlike similar frameworks, however, AARRR metrics are not set in stone.

To help you better understand which types of metrics fall into each category, here are some real-world examples:

Acquisition

  • Paid search

  • SEO / organic search

  • Content marketing

  • Word of mouth

  • Social media

Activation

  • Submitting a contact form

  • Requesting a callback

  • Signing up for a service / making a purchase

  • Subscribing to an email newsletter

Retention

  • Repeat visits to your website or use of your product

  • Opening / responding to your emails

  • Re-purchasing your product or service

Referral

  • Signing up for and participating in referral programs

  • Recommending friends or colleagues via word of mouth

  • Use of social media sharing to promote your brand

Revenue

  • Achieving a set minimum revenue per customer

  • Reaching break-even point for total revenue

  • Exceeding the cost of customer acquisition

Don’t forget: these are just some examples of metrics you could track as part of using the AARRR framework in your business.

As you begin to keep track of these metrics, you’ll probably find that other opportunities appear organically — and that’s part of the value that using such a framework creates.

How is the AARRR framework used?

The AARRR framework is less about the step-by-step process and more about specific definitions, e.g. which of the above metrics you choose to measure in your business. But to cover every base, here’s how the framework would be used in a business setting:

  1. First, you would identify your AARRR metrics most meaningful to you.

  2. Next, you’d set up the tools and processes needed to track these particular metrics.

  3. Once you have some hard numbers, you would use the results to make tweaks and set up A/B tests to ensure you’re optimizing for the best results — perhaps your acquisition rates are high, but retention rates are low. What do you need to do to fix this?

  4. With a refined set of AARRR metrics, you can start to turn analytics into action within your business.

Who created the AARRR framework?

The AARRR framework was first developed by Dave McClure as part of a talk he gave at Supernova in 2007. Dave is an entrepreneur and investor who founded the business accelerator 500 Startups.

Dave described the framework as a simple tool, designed to empower businesses to develop a model of customer behavior, then to improve marketing and development efforts.

One quick side note: you may have heard this framework referred to as “pirate metrics”.

Why?

Well… try saying “AARRR” aloud and that should answer your question. (But maybe wait until you’re alone… just in case).

General FAQ

What does AARRR stand for?
The acronym AARRR stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue. It refers to a set of metrics companies can use to improve their customer journey — and therefore grow the business.
How to measure activation in AARRR?
The activation step of the AARRR framework can be represented by users taking positive on-site actions such as signing up for a newsletter, requesting a callback, or viewing a certain number of pages.
Why are they called pirate metrics?
“Pirate metrics” are so-called because, when said aloud, the acronym for the AARRR framework is reminiscent of a traditional pirate exclamation. No kidding!
What is the AARRR framework used for?
The AARRR framework was developed by Dave McClure to give start-ups a clear set of customer metrics on which to focus as the business grows. It helps to objectively validate product marketing and product management efforts.
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What is the AARRR framework?
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