What are pirate metrics & why user activation matters

Product metrics are data measurements that are used to evaluate the success of your product. Product metrics clearly depict how much a product has succeeded in solving the problem. Metrics are also crucial in understanding how much a user engages with the product, and if those users return to use your product.

The Pirate Metrics

There are a lot of metric frameworks that make the lives of product managers and growth hackers easier. The Pirate Metrics or the AARRR Framework is my favourite. The pirate metrics consists of five different metrics:

  • Acquisition : Acquisition answers one simple question. Are potential users aware of the product? This could be users signing up on your product or even the number of visitors to your product. What the exact metrics are depends on your product and growth strategy.
  • Activation : Activation metrics measure if the user is doing the activity we intended them to do so. We'll see why this is an important metric later.
  • Retention : Retention metrics tell if a user returns back to the product, this indicates if they like your product.
  • Referrals : Referrals are simply a measure on how much a user loves the product so that they invite new users to it.
  • Revenue : Do users pay for your product? How many?

Here's why I love the pirate metrics; They can be modified to suit your needs. It's super flexible and provides a lot of insight into how the product performs. If your product is in the MVP or early-stage the metrics that matter are Acquisition, Activation and Retention, Referral in special cases; it depends on your product. If your product is a chat/collaboration application then referrals matter a lot.

Why does Activation matter the most?

Getting users to use the product is a real challenge itself. But activation plays a key role in understanding user behaviour. Activation metrics tell us if the product actually solves the problem for the user. It tells us if the user actually finds value in the product. Different products have different activation metrics, for example:

The activation metrics for an online delivery store would be the number of successful orders, while for a chat application it would be the number of messages generated per user per day.

Activation metrics have a direct influence on the rest of the other metrics. If a user finds value in the product they tend to use it often thus improving retention and influencing referral which could drive more users into the acquisition part of the funnel.


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