AARRR Ecommerce Metrics Metrilo

Activation: AARRR Funnel Part 2

As we announced, we’re starting a series of articles on the popular framework of metrics ecommerce activation Metrilocreated by Dave McClure called AARRR Funnel or Pirate Metrics (watch his presentation of the AARRR funnel).

They include acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue.

We already demystified the first one – Acquisition. For an overview of all five, check out our article AARRR Metrics For eCommerce Stores: The Holy Grail of Growth.

Here, we’re going to talk about AARRR Activation, the second step in the AARRR funnel – why is it important and how it can be influenced.

We’re focusing on essentials and providing beginner guidance for e-commerce entrepreneurs who don’t fancy themselves experts, but rather keep asking, “How can I start selling more?”.

Activation in ecommerce:

  • Types of activation
  • Measuring activation
  • Lead nurturing
  • Building relationships

What’s activation for the AARRR funnel?

In general, AARRR activation is defined as the first real interaction a visitor has with a website.They land on the site and either do something or leave. In eCommerce, it’s a little bit trickier since, in most cases, websites serve as product catalogs and are focused on conversions.

Statistics show that as much as 96% of people who land on websites are not ready to buy.

To illustrate this point, here are a few examples of activation – they all indicate some interest in what you sell:

  • Registering for the site
  • Subscribing for a newsletter/ blog

    Subscribtion For Resources


  • Downloading a resource

    Lonely Planet Free Travel Guide

    Lonely Planet

  • Following on social media
  • Watching a demo [for example, see Stox Energy’s product movie]
  • Using a tool provided for free

    Shoes Guide

    ties.com: The Gentlemanual

  • Browsing through gallery/ lookbook

    Barney Cools Lookbook


  • Reading content

    Tips Page


It’s important to set goals for all such activities that will be considered a valid AARRR activation because:

  • Registering is not enough, they have to come back and log in somewhat regularly.
  • The opening of the emails or unsubscribing indicates if they were genuinely interested or not.
  • You can’t control how people use a downloaded resource, but if they keep coming back, that’s a good sign. Or whether they were happy to give some personal details in exchange for the resource in the first place.
  • You want them to be active in the social media conversation (although it’s hard to control, too). Entering contests or sharing of “harmless” content like holiday promotions is a good indicator of interest.
  • Did they watch the video to the end or stopped after 5 seconds?
  • You offer a free tool – let’s say it’s simple 3D visualisation to help them choose vintage furniture. Simply finding it is not an activation, playing with it for 20 minutes is. Coming back later to play some more is awesome 🙂
  • Visitors come and go. Those who browse your products for hours (and often!) are worth being chased for more.
  • 30 seconds spent on an article is not the same as reading for 15 minutes.

All these show that not every action a visitor takes is activation so it’ll do you good to set realistic thresholds and analyse data correctly.

How do I measure aarrr activation?

Once you’ve settled what counts for activation, look at the percentage of visitors who meet the criteria. What share watched the demo? How many read your emails regularly?

Keep track of the activation rate of each option you provide. Then, analyze and drop the ones that don’t work, while expanding the ones that do.

Want to know what your visitors and customers do on your site?
Try Metrilo for free
Customer behavior tracking and action-based email marketing

Lead nurturing

Aarrr activation is essentially gathering leads and nurturing them. You’ve heard about nurturing leads, but how to do it?

You see, all the activation techniques listed earlier don’t sell directly. Instead, they’re designed to capture attention and, in the best-case scenario, make people come back for more. The information, resources, ideas, news, or deals you provide should be valuable to your visitors.

Cider lovers would be interested in reading about artisans who make their favorite drink, and pet owners would appreciate practical advice on grooming and training.

Some statistics show that 81% of people who shop online in the US read blogs for product info and insights. If visitors are not in a shopping mood, you can only make that first visit happy by giving them something else that’s fun.

What are you waiting for?

Wonder if emails can help you establish the connection you need? This guide to How to Nurture e-Commerce Leads Without Being Too Pushy might come handy.

Feeling like you got this lead nurturing thing? Do you have different types of content and hooks at the various stages of the funnel? An article by Weidert Group explains in detail why that’s necessary and what types of content work best at each stage.

User interface can get in the way of activation

Already have awesome ways of keeping visitors on your site? Do they know?
Make those additional perks you have visible so visitors find them easily. What’s the point in investing effort and money in developing them if nobody finds and uses them.

Take a look at the journey a visitor of the UK Ikea site must take to reach their 3D Planning tool that’s free and makes kitchen remodelling easier. It’s a great idea, but it takes 3 steps to get to a page where visitors are asked to install the tool. Not sure it’s very appealing to those who are just browsing. It looks time-consuming and heavy.
Ikea 3d Tool

Need an update what’s trending in eCommerce in terms of UX? Here are two excellent guides:
6 Web Design Trends You Must Know in 2016
11 Web Design Trends for 2016

In short, the trick is to put yourself in their heads so when they’re ready to buy, they don’t look anywhere else. If they’ve already played with a virtual stylist assistant, for example, the chance of placing an order goes up significantly.

If you, on the other hand, don’t give them anything else but sales calls and a product catalog, people might browse around and leave, missing the opportunity to bond with your brand.

In the AARRR funnel, retention comes after aarrr activation so a happy first experience should lead to repeat comebacks – sometimes a purchase takes time. It’ll save you money to make sure that it works great before investing in wider product range, free shipping for all and other perks down the funnel.

Activate the acquired people first – they most probably wouldn’t convert right away without engaging in some way with your store. And make sure to monitor how much time it actually takes them convert – it’ll give you an idea how effective the whole process is.

Check out the next article in the series where we talk about retention in the AARRR funnel.


About the author

With experience in FMCG and marketing, Dimira writes to help the brands of tomorrow succeed and believes passion is a key ingredient in any business.

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