Leveraging Pirate Metrics for Growth. AARRR!

Sustainable, long-term growth and pirate metrics go hand in hand. The first question you’ll want an answer to is, “What are pirate metrics?” The second will be why are so many seemingly sensible marketing professionals shouting AARRR?

Fear not marketing swashbucklers. This article explains pirate metrics and the AARRR acronym. You’ll then learn how pirate metrics align with a typical buyer journey and what KPIs you can use to track specific metrics.

  • How can you optimize your campaigns to make the most of pirate metrics?
  • Ways you can implement pirate metrics into your business

What are Pirate Metrics?

You’re not going mad. Speak like a pirate day hasn’t spread. Pirate metrics are a genuine marketing term, and the AARRR acronym is a legitimate and beneficial term to get to know. AARRR refers to the most valuable metrics to businesses that value growth. They are a way of tracking and quantifying how much a business is developing and expanding. Broken down into its constituent parts, pirate metrics are:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referral

Pirate Metrics and the Buyer Journey

what are pirate metrics

Imagine a typical sales funnel divided into five sections. You can align the Acquisition part of the pirate metrics at the top of the funnel, where the awareness stage typically sits. The remaining metrics go in order, alongside each step, until you reach the bottom of the funnel. The bottom is where your loyal customers reside. Here, you can attach Referral metrics.

Pirate metrics monitor and track each step of the customer or buyer journey. They give you quantifiable, actionable data that you can use to track and facilitate growth. Your marketing and sales teams can better understand their campaigns with this data. They can then adapt and optimize to achieve even better results.

AARRR metrics were coined by an entrepreneur called Dave McClure. McClure is something of a business powerhouse. He is a private investor and co-founded venture fund and seed accelerator 500 Startups. He first described AARRR metrics during his presentation at the Seattle Ignite Summit.

Based on years of experience, Dave understood the information a business needs to grow. He boiled it down to these five sets of metrics and counseled that all businesses, especially startups, should focus on them.

Pirate Metrics: Acquisition

We find ourselves right at the top of our funnel. This is where we find and acquire new customers. It’s where many businesses dedicate the majority of their resources. That’s unsurprising. Many businesses see marketing and sales as a numbers game. The more people enter the top of your funnel, the more reach the bottom. To an extent, that’s true, but it’s not just about volume. Quality matters, too.

The acquisition set of metrics considers all of your lead-generation ideas and efforts. That means outbound campaigns, email marketing, SEO, and social media. In this stage, you want to instigate valuable and meaningful connections with your audience. You want to focus on those likely to convert into buyers rather than trying to connect with as many people as possible.

Acquisition metrics include:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): The measure (as a percentage) of how many people click on your ad once they have seen it.
  • Organic Traffic: A measure of how many people visit your website from search engines such as Google.
  • Conversion Rate: The rate at which your team converts leads into customers.
  • Cost per Acquisition: A measure of how much it costs you to acquire one new customer.
  • Engagement Rates: Assess how many likes, shares, comments, and other interactions your content marketing receives.
  • Open Rates: Linked to your email marketing campaigns, this is the percentage of recipients that open your email.

Pirate Metrics: Activation

A step below acquisition is activation. Your audience and potential customers have gotten to know your business and are now taking a genuine interest. The last stage and set of metrics was all about grabbing the audience’s attention. The activation stage is about keeping hold of it. Here, your team needs to deliver the best possible service and, crucially, give the new customer a fantastic first experience.

Many believe this stage is dedicated to measuring the number of signups or onboarded customers. That’s certainly part of it, but it’s also about how those customers engage with your offering.

The metrics themselves relate to both onboarding and engagement during the initial stages. Your business should be interested in these metrics because they influence the rest of the user’s journey. They set the sentiment and tone for that customer. Give them a great experience, and they’ll feel great about using your product. A bad onboarding, on the other hand, leaves a sour taste and an ongoing experience to match.

Activation metrics include:

  • Onboarding Success Rate: The measure of how well a customer is onboarded with your product and services. 
  • Time to First Value (TTFV): The time it takes for a customer to derive genuine value from your product or service.
  • Initial Engagement Rate: The rate at which a customer engages with your product or service following onboarding.
  • Customer Satisfaction Score: A selection of customer feedback at this early stage.

Pirate Metrics: Retention

If the above two stages are about finding and bringing onboard new customers, the retention set of metrics is all about keeping them. When a customer reaches this stage, you have established a relationship with them. Now, you deepen this relationship and ensure they feel valued and receive value from your offering. You don’t just want one-time purchase customers. That’s an expensive way of doing business. You want customers who return time and time again.

The retention metrics aim to quantify consumer behavior over a more extended period. They look to help your team recognize patterns so that they can maintain a loyal set of customers.

Retention metrics include:

  • Churn Rate: The rate at which previously subscribed customers cancel their subscriptions. The lower the rate, the higher the number of retained customers you have.
  • Lifetime Value (LTV): This measures how much a typical customer is worth to your business over their lifetime with you.
  • Repeat Purchase Ratio: The amount of customers that have purchased from your business more than once.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS measures how likely a customer is to recommend your products and services.

Pirate Metrics: Revenue

Revenue is what keeps a business going. No revenue, no business. A business needs to track, monitor, and grow revenue sustainably. A delicate balance needs to be achieved here. The business has to show that the value it delivers is increasing so that the customer is willing to spend more.

The metrics are a measure of the financial health of the business. Hemorrhaging revenue is a bad sign for any business, and these metrics help you to catch early warning indicators. Plus, they’ll help you to celebrate success.

Revenue metrics include:

  • Lifetime Value vs. Customer Acquisition Cost: We take two metrics from previous stages and create a new measure. This better indicates how much revenue a customer gives to a business.
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): The measure of how much revenue a business expects to make from existing customers. For a better indication, deduct any costs.
  • Revenue Churn: Linked to Churn Rate, this is how much revenue is lost due to customer churn.
  • Upsell and Cross-sell Rates: The rates at which your team can gain more revenue from existing customers. This is achieved by upgrading their packages or offering other products.

Pirate Metrics: Referral

At the bottom of our funnel and the “end” of the customer journey lies referral. These are your most dedicated and loyal customers. The customers who are in love with your products and services. Here, your team aims to encourage your most loyal customers to promote your products and services on your behalf. You want them to shout your brand’s name from the rooftops and attract more customers.

Referral metrics include:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS features again here. The higher the score, the more likely they are to recommend your business.
  • Referral Rate: The number of customers you gain through referrals.
  • Referral Participation Rate: If you’re running a referral program, the measure of how many of your customers participate in it.

Key Takeaways

There’s more to pirate metrics than loudly shouting AARRR and hoping for business growth. When tracked, monitored, and acted upon, these metrics can shape your business’s development and expansion. They are opportunities for betterment. Ignore them, and you’re bound to be leaving treasure on the table.

  • There are specific metrics to help you measure success at every stage of the buyer journey.
  • Tracking these metrics allows you to explore patterns and act on issues quickly.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on acquisition. Tempting as that might be.

Here at Spacebar Collective, we love metrics. We also love seeing businesses flourish and grow. Your success is our success. We’d love to chat with you and see how we can help you achieve your goals.

How to Measure Website Traffic Using Google Search Console

You need to know how many people are coming to your website if you want to measure success and craft strategies. But where do you find that information? The answer lies in measuring website traffic using Google Search Console.

Use Google Search Console, and you’ll understand who is visiting your site, where they’ve come from, and what they’re doing on your site—all of the most important SEO metrics.

In this article, we will share how you can use Google Search Console to measure your website’s traffic. It’s a tool that unlocks information and knowledge to help you build strategies and grow your business.

  • Is the process of setting up Google Search Console simple?
  • What information can you find?
  • Can you build reports?

What is Google Search Console?

In a past life, Google Search Console was called Google Webmaster Tools. If you’re serious about knowing the ins and outs of your website’s performance, it’s a tool worth getting to know. It’s a tool that allows you to monitor, maintain, and gain insight into your site’s position and ranking in Google’s search engine results. The best part? It’s free!

When you first open the dashboard, there’s an onslaught of information. You’ll see traffic insights. There are indexing statuses. There are error reports. It’s a lot to take in. Spend time with it and understand what you’re looking for, and you’ll soon get a clear view of the information you need.

It’s not just a simple tool, it’s invaluable.

Setting Up Google Search Console

Setting up Google Search Console appears like a seriously technical task. You might think it’s outside of your abilities, but rest assured, it’s surprisingly easy to achieve. 

  1. Add Your Website: The first step is to add your website to Google Search Console as a property. This is like sticking a flag into your piece of the internet. You’re claiming your land.
  2. Verify Your Ownership: To stop everyone from claiming websites they don’t own, you have to verify that you own them. Ownership essentially translates into authority to change the site’s data and settings. You can verify ownership in a few different ways, including HTML code injection, verification through your domain provider, or connecting to Google Analytics.
  3. Configure Your Settings: Now that you’ve verified your ownership, you can dive in. At first, there won’t be any data. Google only starts recording data once you’ve claimed your site. You can help the process by submitting a sitemap. This is usually in the form of a URL from your site that ends in .xml.
  4. Visit Regularly: Search Console will begin to share insights and data on your site within days. Now, you need to work it into your routine so that you can benefit from its wisdom.

Getting To Know The Google Search Console Dashboard

The best way to understand the dashboard is to spend time with it. This is going to be your command center. It’s where you can access all of the data about your site. The sooner you feel comfortable with it, the sooner you’ll be able to extract and work with the data and insights it provides.

google search console


This is the homepage of your Search Console. Here, you see information on performance, indexing, user experience, and enhancements. It gives you a good snapshot of how your site is performing over the past month.


Under the performance section of the dashboard menu, you’ll find search results insights, discover insights, and Google News insights. The majority of people will major in looking at the search results section. Here, you’ll find information that outlines your total clicks, impressions, average CTR (click-through rate), and average position. You can then analyze this data by particular query, website page, countries, devices, and date.

google search console seo

Performance is where most website owners spend most of their time. They want the cold, hard information on traffic numbers. If you’ve launched content linked to a particular keyword theme, it’ll quickly give you insight into how it is performing. In the same way, you can keep an eye on your ever-important cornerstone content and the traffic that it is delivering.


If you’re regularly publishing content, the indexing page will be of interest to you. Indexing shows you a bar chart. This graph shows the number of pages that Google has successfully indexed.

how to use google search console

If pages haven’t been indexed, it’ll explain the reason. That is especially important if you feel that it should have been indexed. Remember, if a page isn’t indexed it can’t feature in search results.

URL Inspection Tool

This great feature allows you to dig into a particular page of your site easily. Simply paste the URL into the search bar at the top of the page, and you’ll be presented with a handy report.

Using Performance Reports To Measure Traffic

Performance reports are accessed through the performance tab, as outlined above. Once you’ve navigated to this section, you can begin to measure and analyze your traffic in detail.

  • Clicks: Clicks tell you how many people clicked your link on a Google results page.
  • Impressions: This metric shows how often your website appeared in search results.
  • CTR: A percentage that tells you how many people who saw your website clicked through to it.
  • Position: Where your site ranked on the search results page.

If you want to compare your performance against a previous period, simply click the date, then use the Compare option and set your comparison. You’ll then be presented with two graphs overlaid over each other. 

Key Takeaways

Using Google Search Console to measure website traffic is simple, effective, and extremely powerful. Remember that this isn’t the whole picture of your traffic. Instead, it is an indication of traffic from Google search results. It doesn’t take into account social media referrals, direct traffic, or any other source.

  • Don’t be put off by the setup process. It’s straightforward once you get going.
  • Spending time with the dashboard is the easiest way to learn the system.
  • Keep an eye on your indexing graphs to be sure there aren’t any issues with your site.

As SEO specialists we love Google Search Console. Interested in finding out more? Get in touch!

How to Build Effective Keyword Themes for SEO Campaigns

At the heart of any good SEO campaign is a set of keywords—a keyword theme. These themes guide the reader through your content in a natural way. They slot into the content because they’re meant to be there. They haven’t been stuffed in there for the sole purpose of search engines.

Constructing keyword themes helps you to create quality content that brings genuine value to the reader. Plus, they contribute to your SEO campaign in a way that will boost your content up the search engine rankings.

In this article, we’ll look at what a keyword theme is and how you can discover them. We’ll then share ways that you can implement them into your SEO campaigns.

  • Are keyword themes a necessary part of an SEO campaign?
  • How can you build keyword themes?
  • What’s the best way to integrate keyword themes naturally?

Keyword Themes: Definition

Keyword themes are made up of individual keywords or phrases. When keywords and phrases are collected into relevant groups or clusters representing a core topic, they become a theme. The idea is to go beyond simple keyword insertion and consider semantic search and user intent. 

Keyword themes are not simply synonyms or close matches. They are words that match a wider theme. Take, for example, “Digital Marketing” keywords. Words that fit into that theme could include; “content marketing,” “SEO,” “social media marketing,” and others of similar ilk. They all have a contextual relationship with each other in the theme of digital marketing.

By grouping our keywords into keyword themes, we begin to consider what users might be searching for and how our content connects with it. That naturally creates a better user experience and, in turn, bolsters our reputation with search engines.

Building Keyword Themes

We’ve broken down the process into five steps. If you’ve conducted keyword research before, much of this guide won’t be news to you. Thought it might involve you slightly altering or adapting your usual process.

Step 1: Broad Keywords

The process begins by identifying our top-level keywords, our broadest options. These keywords have high search volume with a competitive rating to match. When creating your theme, they are the foundations that you can build on. They are the most obvious members of the theme. A fitness keyword theme would include “gym,” “workout,” and “running.”

Step 2: Long-Tail Keywords

Now that you have your foundation, you can begin to dig a little deeper. This is where we look at our long-tail keywords. These are more specific, longer search terms that have considerably lower search volumes but far higher search intent. Sticking with our fitness example, you would add keywords such as “workout routine to lose weight” or “full-body calisthenics workout.”

Step 3: Grouping Keywords

Now you have a larger selection of keywords, you can begin to group them together. The best way to do so is to group by intent. What is the user’s intent? There are 4 typical intents: information, navigation, transactions, and commercial investigation. By segmenting your keywords into these groups, you are better able to craft content that matches the user’s intent. Therefore, your content will convert at a much higher rate.

In our example, you would likely put the keyword “workout routine to lose weight” into the information section as the user is looking for tips.

Step 4: Competitor Analysis

So far, you’ve just used your own knowledge. Now, it’s time to see what your competitors are doing. Use a tool such as Ahrefs or SEMrush to see what keywords you have missed. Add them to your keyword themes and plug any gaps that you might have.

Step 5: Refine

By now, you’ve probably got a lengthy list of keywords in your themes. Not all of them will be as relevant as you initially thought, so you should prune them from your list. When you’re sure that every keyword on your list is there on merit, finalize your groups and begin to craft content.

Keyword Theme Application

blog meta data

Now you have your keyword themes, it’s time to use them. That means writing and creating content that best suits the user’s intent. Effective SEO has to strike a balance between technical SEO requirements and user experience. Google won’t rank a page that has all the technical factors addressed but is a horrible user experience. It’s a bit of a game, but it’s one you have to play.

Naturally, weave your keyword themes into your content so that they don’t feel forced or stuffed. That means using them across your posts and pages in these areas:

  • Titles
  • Headings
  • Body Content
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Alt Text

Remember that your industry, no matter what it might be, is evolving. More keywords and search terms will be entering your sphere. Keep a close eye on trending topics and industry news so that your keyword themes include the latest and most relevant content. 

Once the content is out there, be sure to keep track of how it is performing by using a tool that shows you analytics related to keywords. This will help you to refine your strategy and edit your content based on data.

Key Takeaways

If you’ve already undertaken a significant amount of keyword research, then chances are you’re already 80% of the way to creating keyword themes. It’s simply a matter of keeping user intent and relevance in mind. It’ll be easier to create than it might seem. Plus, once you implement it as part of your strategy, you’ll reap the SEO benefits.

  • Naturally using keywords in relevant content should be a hallmark of your SEO strategy.
  • Start with broader keywords to build a base for your keyword themes.
  • Always refine and adapt your keyword themes so that you’re including the latest trending words.

Looking to refine your SEO strategy but aren’t sure where to go next? Need to start from scratch? Have a chat with us here at Spacebar Collective and see how we can help.