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Hacking Write For Us – It is a widely used instrument in digital marketing, and it owes its name to the acronym formed by the five phases of the funnel: AARRR (similar to the cry that popular culture associates with pirates). The importance that this type of funnel has today is due, above all, to its close relationship with Growth Marketing. Therefore, the best way to understand what a pirate funnel is is to first understand what Growth Marketing consists of.

What is Growth Marketing

Growth is an English word that means growth , and that is precisely the work of a growth hacker, growth marketer or Growth Marketing expert . His objective is to grow, in the shortest possible time and with an efficient use of resources . And this growth can be translated into more customers, more sales, more subscriptions… whatever the organization has set itself as a goal. In other words, a growth hacker works for a company to double the number of registered customers in its store in, for example, 6 months. Or so that the conversion rate (how many of the users who land on a website become customers) increases 20% in one year.

To achieve any of these objectives, the Growth Marketing specialist uses different innovative marketing techniques, but always with a guide in mind: the pirate funnel that he has designed.

Phases of the pirate funnel

It was the investor and entrepreneur David McClure who, in a presentation in 2007 , spoke for the first time about the pirate funnel or AARRR funnel. And he didn’t do it because he loved pirate stories, or because he needed a catchy name for his proposal (or not only), but because AARRR is the acronym for the five stages of this conversion funnel.

Thus, the stages of the pirate funnel are:

  • Acquisition or acquisition , A;
  • Activation or activation , A;
  • Retention or retention , R;
  • References or referral, R;
  • Monetization or revenue , R.

What does each of them consist of?


The acquisition is the moment in which a user knows the brand or product . It can befall as a result of a link on Google, an ad on Facebook, an affiliate program… The important thing is to get the client’s permission to continue with the rest of the stages of the funnel.

At this stage of the pirate funnel, the marketer must define what a customer is (a user who only buys the product on promotion, or another who fills the cart with more products?), what is the metric in which they will put everything their effort, and in which channels there are more opportunities for conversion. Among these channels or sources of acquisition are organic search engine positioning (SEO), paid links (SEM), social ads, email marketing, etc.


Activation refers to the first experience that the user has with the brand/product . For example, in the case of a gaming app, this is the first time you have played a game; or in an online store, the first order you make. The goal at this stage of the pirate funnel is for the user to try the product and like it, for there to be an aha moment ( wow, this app is fun; or wow, this ecommerce is really fast ).

In the activation phase, the onboarding process that leads the user to use the product becomes important: where did they enter from and what navigation route did they follow. And for that, the design of landing pages or email marketing campaigns are key.


The third stage of the pirate funnel answers the question : how many users are still using the product? The objective here is to obtain a good retention rate , that is, the percentage of users who continue with the brand; and, at the same time, reduce the churn or death or abandonment rate , that is, the percentage of customers who stop consuming the product after a while.

Emails with promotions, as well as an updated blog with topics of interest to customers, are some of the tactics that are often used to encourage retention.


One of the differentiating characteristics of the pirate funnel is that it incorporates customer recommendations into the conversion funnel. And it is that this type of actions are very effective and, at the same time, do not imply investment by the brand. Or at least not an obvious one. What you have to do is take care of the product and the acquisition process and make it easier for the user to make the recommendation . The less effort it takes, the better.

It is also significant to take into account that referrals can be both external (from customers) and internal (from the company’s own employees).


The objective pursued by the pirate funnel is to achieve customer monetization, that is, to generate income. In this sense, there are several metrics to take into account. For example, the conversion rate or percentage of users that ultimately become customers; the ARPU or Average Revenue per User , which indicates the average income per user; or the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) or customer life value, which refers to how much revenue a customer is expected to bring in throughout their relationship with the brand. The key is, as we mentioned above, to select a single metric and put all the effort of the strategy into it.

At this stage of the funnel, actions are proposed not only for conversion, but also for cross selling or cross selling (for the customer to buy similar products) and up selling or additional sale (for moving to a higher category).

The pirate funnel is an indispensable tool in Growth Marketing. Knowing its stages and what can be done in them so that the client continues his journey through the conversion funnel, is very useful when designing a marketing strategy.

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