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Rob DeRosierFeb 6, 2023 7:14:00 PM1 min read

These Digital Marketing KPIs are the Cornerstones to Growth

Digital Marketing KPIs can easily pull us off course when driven by instinct or any sort of subjective reasoning. "I think these digital marketing metrics represent a good standard" vs. "This is the universally accepted best practice standard."

Subjectivity and gut instincts are Growth-KILLERS.

That's why we spent our first years as a Growth Marketing Agency working with our standards and definitions. Nothing has fascinated us more than "Pirate Metrics." Also known as "aarrr metrics," this KPI device simplifies and standardizes the customer experience into five stages.

The 5 Digital Marketing KPIs of AARRR

KPI 1 - Acquisition

Acquisition is all about acquiring leads. This can happen by any means. The universal standard requires only one thing: Before the action, there wasn't a lead. After the action, there was.

List purchasing, inbound marketing, and selling on LinkedIn — they all count as Acquisition.

KPI 2 - Activation

Activation is about getting leads to become willing participants in your sales cycle or process. This means setting Discovery calls for B2Bs and filling carts for e-commerce. The point of this KPI is to determine when a lead is no longer just a name in a database and a viable prospect.

KPI 3 - Revenue

Revenue is about acquiring revenue from a customer for the first time. In B2B, it can be when a contract is signed and the first payment is inevitable. Or, it could be after the first payment has been received. In e-commerce, it's the first purchase.

KPI 4 - Retention

Retention is all about achieving longevity. If it's a consumable product or service, retention applies to repeat consumption. If it's retainer-based, it refers to completing contracts and signing new ones.

KPI 5 - Referral

Referrals are all about expansion. Either you're expanding in a household because you have more members purchasing your products and services or into a business with more locations to service. Think of referral as the growth that occurs within Growth (marketing).


If you need a set of digital marketing KPIs that drive Growth, try "pirate metrics." They're simple to use. They are becoming increasingly more popular among growth markers, which means there are resources like this that lay down the rules so there aren't misaligned expectations.

To learn more about pirate metrics and how to apply them to your business, check out our Growth strategy course:


Rob DeRosier

Growth hacker. Lead generator. IPA drinker. Guy in a hat...