Startup Metrics for Pirates (March 2009)

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Slightly updated presentation from my talk at at Stanford University (March 2009). note: basically same as FOWA talk, minor update added slide 17.


  • Startup Metrics for Pirates:AARRR!

    EntrepreneurTrek.orgStanford, March 2009

    Dave McClure, Founders Fund

  • Startup Metrics for PiratesAcquisition: users come to site from various channelsActivation: users enjoy 1st visit: "happy experienceRetention: users come back, visit site multiple timesReferral: users like product enough to refer othersRevenue: users conduct some monetization behavior(note: If youre in a hurry, watch 5 min video after slide 23)

  • 50 Slides + 30 Min = Crap.The BasicsMeasure Stuff. Keep It Simple.5 Steps: Startup Metrics for Pirates (AARRR!)3 Metrics Frameworks + 3 Roles (CEO, Dev/Product, Marketing)Iterate & Optimize. Feedback Loop. (Loop. Loop.)One Step at a Time. The Ass vs. Face Issue.

    Appendix (we wont have time)ActivationRetentionAcquisitionReferralRevenue

  • Web 2.0: Hell Yes, Good Times.

    # Users, Bandwidth = Bigger.Lower Startup Costs = Badder.PPC, E-Com $ Growing = Uncut.

    Collect Usage Metrics in Real-TimeDecisions Based on Measured User Behavior

  • The Startup Metrics ReligionProgress Features (Less = More)Focus on User ExperienceMeasure Conversion; Compare 2+ OptionsFast, Frequent Iteration (+ Feedback Loop)Keep it Simple & Actionable

  • Q: Whats My Business Model?Can be one of the following:Get Users (= Acquisition, Referral)Drive Usage (= Activation, Retention)Make Money (= Revenue*)* ideally profitable revenue

    Note: eventually need to turn Users/Usage -> Money

  • AARRR!: 5-Step Startup Metrics Model

  • Just Gimme the GOOD Metrics.Users, Pages, Clicks, Emails, $$$...?Q: Which of these is best? How do you know?1,000,000 one-time, unregistered unique visitors500,000 visitors who view 2+ pages / stay 10+ sec200,000 visitors who clicked on a link or button20,000 registered users w/ email address2,000 passionate fans who refer 5+ users / mo.1,000 monthly subscribers @ $5/mo

  • 3 Core Models:biz model, conversion dashboard, mktg channels

    Define 1-Page Biz Model: customer segments + desired actions / behaviorsIdentify critical Conversion Events & Dashboard for each segment & prioritizeTest & develop Marketing Channels; measure Volume (#), Cost ($), Conv (%)

    Optimize product & marketing using Fast Iteration Cycles & A/B Testing

  • Role: Founder/CEOQ: Which Metrics? Why?A: Focus on Critical Few Actionable Metrics(if you dont use the metric to make a decision, its not actionable)

    Hypothesize Customer LifecycleTarget ~3-5 Conversion Events (tip: Less = More)Test, Measure, Iterate to Improve

  • The 1-Page Business Model(Users + Conversions + Priorities) Q1: What types of people use your website? Visitor = Average User / BuyerContributor = Content Contributor / SellerDistributor = Passionate Fan (unpaid) / Affiliate (paid)Q2: What actions could they take to help you or them ?

  • TeachStreet Metrics v1:Eye Chart Madness

  • TeachStreet 1-Page Business Model:Teachers & Students

    TeachersStudentsActivationClaim ProfileAdd ClassContact TeacherView 3 PagesRetentionVisit 1x/mo for 3 mosVisit 1x/mo for 3 mos ReferralRequest ReviewSuggest Teacher

  • TeachStreet: 45-day Claim Rates(Seattle, Portland)

  • Role: Product / EngineeringQ: What Features to Build? Why? When are you Done?A: Easy-to-Find, Fun/Useful, Unique Features that Increase Conversion (stop iterating when increase decelerates)

    Wireframes = Conversion StepsMeasure, A/B Test, Iterate FAST (daily/weekly)Optimize for Conversion Improvement80% on existing feature optimization20% on new feature development

  • Optimize 4 Happiness (both User + Business)Define States of User + Business ValuePrioritize (Estimate) Relative Value of Each StateMove Users: Lower Value -> Higher ValueOptimize for User Happiness / Business $$$Achieve Low Cost + High Value @ Scale$$$

  • Discover MeaningKeywords, Images, Call-to-ActionTop 10 - 100 wordsYour Brand / ProductsCustomer Needs / BenefitsCompetitors Brand / ProductsSemantic EquivalentsMisspellings

    Relevant imagesPeopleProductsProblemsSolutionsCall-to-ActionWordsImagesContextButton/LinkEmotion

    ResultPositive?Negative?Neutral (= Death)A/B test & Iterate

  • Example Conversion Dashboard(note: *not* actuals your mileage may vary)

    StageConversion StatusConv. %Est. Value(*not* cost)AcquisitionVisitors -> Site/Widget/Landing Page(2+ pages, 10+ sec, 1+ clicks = dont abandon)60%$.05ActivationHappy 1st Visit; Usage/Signup(clicks/time/pages, email/profile reg, feature usage)15%$.25RetentionUsers Come Back; Multiple Visits(1-3x visits/mo; email/feed open rate / CTR)5%$1ReferralUsers Refer Others(cust sat >=8; viral K factor > 1; )1%$5RevenueUsers Pay / Generate $$$(first txn, break-even, target profitability)2%$50

  • Role: Marketing / SalesQ: What channels? Which users? Why?A: High Volume (#), Low Cost ($), High Conv (%)

    Design & Test Multiple Marketing Channels + CampaignsSelect & Focus on Best-Performing Channels & ThemesOptimize for conversion to target CTAs, not just site/landing pageMatch/Drive channel cost to/below revenue potential

    Low-Hanging Fruit: BlogsSEO/SEMLanding PagesAutomated Emails

  • Example Marketing ChannelsPRContestBiz DevDirect MarketingRadio / TV / PrintDedicated SalesTelemarketingEmailSEO / SEMBlogs / BloggersViral / ReferralAffiliate / CPAWidgets / AppsLOLCats ;)

  • MAARRRketing PlanMarketing Plan = Target Customer Acquisition Channels3 Important Factors = Volume (#), Cost ($), Conversion (%)Measure conversion to target customer actionsTest audience segments, campaign themes, Call-To-Action (CTAs)

    [Gradually] Match Channel Costs => Revenue Potential Increase Vol. & Conversion, Decrease Cost, Optimize for Revenue PotentialAvg Txn Value (ATV), Ann Rev Per User (ARPU), Cust Lifetime Value (CLV)Design channels that (eventually) cost

  • One Step at a Time.Make a Good Product: Activation & RetentionMarket the Product: Acquisition & ReferralMake Money: Revenue & ProfitabilityYou probably cant save your Ass and your Face at the same time choose carefully. DMC

  • Summary

    Measure Stuff. Keep It Simple.5 Steps: Startup Metrics for Pirates (AARRR!)3 Items: Biz Model, Conversion, Mktg ChannelsIterate & Optimize. Feedback Loop. (Loop. Loop).One Step at a Time.

  • Links & ResourcesAdditional References: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini (book) Putting the Fun in Functional, Amy Jo Kim (etech 2006 preso) Futuristic Play, Andrew Chen (blog) Dont Make Me Think, Steve Krug (book) Designing for the Social Web, Joshua Porter (book, website) Startup Lessons Learned, Eric Ries (blog) Customer Development Methodology Steve Blank (presentation, blog), Sean Ellis (blog)

  • Appendix

  • Startup MetricsActivation

  • Website.comActivation Criteria: 10-30+ seconds 2-3+ page views 3-5+ clicks 1 key feature usagedo LOTS of landing page & A/B tests make lots of dumb guesses & iterate FASTActivation

  • ActivationWhat do users do on their first visit?Example Activation GoalsClick on something!Account sign up / EmailsReferrals / Tell a friendWidgets / EmbedsLow Bounce Rate

    Activation TipsLess is moreFocus on user experience / usabilityProvide incentives & call to actionsTest and iterate continuously

  • ActivationWhat do users do on their first visit?Key Metrics to TrackPages per visitTime on siteConversions

  • ActivationToolsCrazy Egg (Visual Click Mapping) Google Website Optimizer (A/B & Multivariate Testing) (B2B Lead Generation Management)

    ResourcesExperimentation and Testing: A Page Design Toolbox: 100 Tips & Tools Landing Page Tutorials & Case Studies 101 Easy Easy to use Google Website Optimizer

  • Startup MetricsRetention

  • Website.comAutomated emails: lifecycle emails @ +3, +7, +30d status / best of weekly/monthly something happened emails BUT: make it easy to unsubscribeTip on emails: > 80% or more on SUBJECT LINE < 20% or less on BODY TEXTRetention

  • Cohort Analysis:Distrib of Visits over TimeRate of DecayEffective Customer Lifecycle

    Retention MethodsAutomated Emails* Track open rate / CTR / QuantityRSS / News Feeds* Track % viewed / CTR / QuantityWidgets / Embeds* Track impressions / CTR / QuantityRetentionHow do users come back? How often?

  • Example Retention Goals1 - 3+ visits per month20% open rate / 2% CTRHigh deliverability / Low spam ratingLong customer life cycle / Low decayIdentify fanatics and cheerleaders

    Retention TipsEmail is simple and it worksBUT make unsubscribe easy80% subject line / 20% body textACTUALLY 99% subject line / 1% body textFanatics = virality + affiliate channel (bloggers?)Retention How do users come back? How often?

  • RetentionHow do users come back? How often?Key Metrics to TrackSourceQuantityConversionsVisitor LoyaltySession Length

  • RetentionToolsCampaign Monitor / MailChimp (email newsletter software) / mailchimp.comTriggerMail (site-centric email management)triggermail.netLitmus (email and website design testing - clients / browsers)

    Resources30 free HTML email Practices in Writing Email Subject Viral: Viral Emails of

  • Startup MetricsAcquisition

  • Website.comMarketing Channels: largest-volume (#) lowest-cost ($) best-performing (%) Acquisition

  • AcquisitionWhere are users coming from?Acquisition MethodsSEO / SEMBlogsEmailSocial Media & Social NetworksDomains

  • AcquisitionKeyword VocabularyTop 10 - 100 wordsYour Brand / ProductsCustomer Needs / BenefitsCompetitors Brand / ProductsSemantic EquivalentsMisspellings

    Things to analyzeSourcesVolumeCostConversion

  • AcquisitionWhere are users coming from?Key Metrics to TrackQuantity (#)Cost ($)Conversions (%)Example

  • AcquisitionToolsGoogle Analytics (web analytics) Keyword Tool (keyword research tool) Book Tools (SEO related tools)

    ResourcesSEO Book Social Media Manual: Read Before You to ruthlessly acquire

  • Startup MetricsReferral

  • Website.comFocus on driving referrals*after* users have ahappy experience; avg score >= 8 out of 10Referral

  • ReferralHow do users refer others?Referral MethodsSend to Friend: Email / IMSocial MediaWidgets / EmbedsAffiliates

  • ReferralViral Growth FactorViral Growth Factor = X * Y * ZX = % of users who invite other peopleY = average # of people that they invitedZ = % of users who accepted an invitationA viral growth factor > 1 means an exponential organic user acquisition.

  • ReferralToolsGigya (social media distribution & tracking tool)gigya.comShareThis / AddThis (sharing buttons) / addthis.comGetMyContacts (PHP contacts importing & invitation software)

    ResourcesSeven Ways to GO your viral loop? Understanding the engine of Where Users Come

  • Startup MetricsRevenue

  • Website.comRevenueThis is the part *you* still have to figure out (we dont know jack about your business)

  • RevenueHow do you make money?Revenue TipsDont Rely on AdSense (only)Start Free => 2% FreemiumSubscription / Recurring transactionsQualify your customers -> Lead generation (arbitrage)Sell something! (physical or virtual)

  • RevenueResources & ToolsRevenue Metrics (Andrew Chen) to Create a Profitable Freemium Startup (Andrew Chen) 2008 Affiliate Marketing Review (Scott Jangro)

  • Be Bold. Be Humble.Stuff That Matters:Passion for Problem/Solution + Hypothesis of Customer Lifecycle1-page Business Model: Prioritized List of (Users + Conversions)Critical, Few, Actionable Metrics + Dashboard of Measured User Behavior1-pg Marketing Plan: (Channels + Campaigns) * (Volume, Cost, Conv %)Velocity of (Product Execution + Cycle Time of Testing) * Iteration20% Inspiration + 80% PerspirationLong-term: Audacity + Creative InspirationShort-term: Humility + Analytic Rigor

  • Passion vs. Precision

    Solve a Problem = PassionOptimize the Solution = PrecisionBUT:Precision is Illusion; data is fuzzyCollecting & Interpreting data takes time & effortKeep Metrics Simple & ActionableLong-term: Audacity + Creative InspirationShort-term: Humility + Analytic Rigor

  • Types of MeasurementQualitative: Usability Testing / Session MonitoringWatch users, guess problems & solutions from small # of users

    Quantitative: Traffic Analysis / User EngagementTrack users, usage, conv %'s for empirical sample # of users

    Comparative: A/B, Multivariate TestingCompare what users do in one scenario vs anotherMeasure which copy/graphics/UI are most effective

    Competitive: Monitoring & Tracking CompetitorsTrack competitor activity & compare against yours (if possible)Compare channels, keyword traffic, demographics, user sat, etc.

  • Design, Optimize for Conversion

    ********I know, too many bullets ***If you dont remember anything else, perhaps this graphic & the next 2-3 might be useful.*******************************************Qualitative: SurveyMonkey (surveys), CrazyEgg (heatmap), TechSmith Morae / UserVue (ux recording), RobotReplay, TapeFailure. Quantitative: Google Analytics (free), MyBlogLog, ClickTracks, Index Tools, Visual Sciences / Webside Story, Omniture, WebTrends, etc. Comparative: Google Website Optimizer, SiteSpect, Optimost, Offermatica, Vertster, Kefta. Competitive: Quantcast,, Alexa, Hitwise, Comscore, Nielsens. see more info at: (WAA) (Avinash Kaushik) (Eisenbergs) (Jim Sterne)