Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

AARRR! This “Pirate” can help you use the RIGHT data to gauge your marketing efforts’ success! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

February 13, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson:

Hello, everyone! 

We hope you all had a good weekend. 

Let’s welcome the week with enthusiasm by talking about today’s “Marketing Marvel”—an outstanding person in the fields of business and marketing. Every Monday, we feature these professionals along with their experiences, insights, and contributions to the industry. 

Excited to know who today’s feature is? 

Read the article below and get your dose of business and marketing inspiration from this “Marvel’s” story and unique framework. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Marketing Marvels 

The term “pirate” has negative connotations as it refers to a person who attacks and robs ships. 

Sometimes, “pirate” is also used as a verb, which means to reproduce another’s work without official authorization. 

… but did you know that in business and marketing, there’s this “pirate” concept enterprises use to expand their reach and strengthen their brands’ presence? 

This doesn’t mean they’re doing something illegal, though. The concept is simply called “pirate” because its acronym has a similar spelling with pirates’ expression, “Arrr!” 

The person who brought this concept to life? 

Dave McClure

McClure is a San Francisco-based entrepreneur and angel investor. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematical Engineering. 

As an entrepreneur and investor for over 25 years now, McClure has invested in hundreds of startups around the globe, including 5 initial public offerings (IPOs) and over 15 “unicorns” (Credit Karma, Twilio, SendGrid, Lyft, Grab, Intercom, Canva, etc.). 

[Unicorn: The term refers to a privately held company with a value of over USD 1 billion.] 

McClure was also the founding partner of 500 Startups, a business accelerator that has invested in more than 2,500 companies and 5,000 founders across 75 countries. He served as CEO of the firm from 2010 to 2017, and in 2019, he founded Practical Venture Capital (PVC), a VC secondary firm providing liquidity to limited partners (LPs) and general partners (GPs). 

McClure began his investing career at venture capital firm Founders Fund when he made seed-stage investments in 40 companies. He led the Credit Karma seed round in 2009, and in less than 10 years, his USD 3 million investment portfolio grew to over USD 200 million. 

The Pirate Metrics or AARRR 

Due to his exposure to various companies as an angel investor, McClure saw many startups were easily distracted by superficial metrics, such as likes, shares, and comments on social media. 

He knew a brand’s performance metrics go beyond these statistics, and so he created the AARRR framework. 

Photo from EdrawMind

Note: Since McClure thought the framework’s pronunciation is funny, he decided to name it “Pirate Metrics” as well. He got the idea from the way pirates say “Arrr!” as a slang expression for “yes.” 

With AARRR, McClure had a two-fold goal: First, to show startups how to narrow their focus to metrics that can directly affect the health of their businesses. Second, to help these companies use the RIGHT data to gauge the success of their marketing efforts. 

Ready to learn more about the Pirate Metrics? 

Aye aye, captain! 

Keep reading as we’ll take you through McClure’s framework in detail! 

  1. Acquisition

This refers to all the channels you use to introduce your offerings to your target market. This includes: 

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) 
  • Social media
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Apps and widgets

In other words, any way that someone can find your business can be considered an acquisition channel. This metric helps measure your brand’s traffic quality and behavioral user flows. 

  1. Activation

This refers to users taking the desired actions after their encounter with your brand’s products, website, or content. Examples of this include: 

  • Visiting other web pages
  • Exploring additional features
  • Spending a desired amount of time on your app or website
  • Signing up for your newsletter or a free trial

Here, the focus is on conversions. It’s all about bringing the right people to your website or offerings using a few simple tricks to track basic user actions. 

  1. Retention

Once you’ve “activated” new users by convincing them to act on a specific call-to-action, you’ll want to know how many of them continue to show interest in your offerings. Some of these signs are: 

  • Returning to your product’s web page over a given timeframe
  • Revisiting to your website
  • Opening your brand’s electronic direct mails (EDMs) 
  • Signing up for your “really simple syndication” (RSS) feed 

Retention metrics are one of the most important metrics to track and understand as a business owner or marketer. These numbers show how valuable you are to your target market and help you identify key areas to improve. 

  1. Referral

This refers to your target market introducing your brand to their families, friends, co-workers, etc. Tracking this metric is a bit challenging because people use all sorts of ways to tell others about new businesses—whether online or offline. 

You may use various tools and campaigns to track referrals, such as: 

  • EDMs with embedded referral promotions
  • Referral contests
  • Share buttons on websites or web pages
  • Surveys to know how new users encountered your brand

Having your customers or users refer your business to others is one of the most genuine and cheapest ways to expand your reach. When you figure out how many prospects your customers can generate in a specific timeframe, you’ll be able to scale your business to incredible heights. 

  1. Revenue

This metric lets you understand whether or not your costs for acquisition, activation, and other marketing efforts result in profitable growth. Your revenue metrics will also enable you to send the appropriate messages to your customers to increase your revenue and decrease lost sales. 

Once you’ve identified the types of data you have to collect for each stage of AARRR, the next thing you need to do is set up processes to track and analyze these metrics. 

According to McClure, by running tests for all stages of the framework, you’ll know whether or not your product management and marketing initiatives are working in a given category. 


McClure’s Pirate Metrics is a guideline meant to help business owners and marketers focus on the right and most important metrics. This is because analytics are often talked about in business, but only a few know how to properly implement it. 

For McClure, one of the reasons why some marketers neglect their analytics is because they are overwhelmed by all the data and options out there. That’s why he created the AARRR framework to simplify a complex process. 

Use the Pirate Metrics to better understand your brand’s performance too! 

By breaking down your key performance indicators (KPIs) into AARRR, you’ll prioritize the most important things in your marketing efforts. Additionally, this framework will help you scale and sustain your business more efficiently than ever. 

What metrics are you currently tracking in your organization? 

Add the Pirate Metrics now if you haven’t yet and sail your ship to greater business and marketing seas in the long run! 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy. 

… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole. 

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success. 

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators. 

However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful. 

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
Powered by Valens Research 

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