Growth Hacking: Funnel DesignEstimated Reading Time: just 7 min

Growth Hacking is based on mapping each phase of the company’s relationships with the customers through the A.A.A.R.R.R. Funnel also known as Pirate Funnel.

A.A.A.R.R.R. Funnel consists of 6 phases:

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referral

A.A.A.R.R.R. or Pirate Funnel

Each of these stages is managed through a metric that is called The Only Metric That Matters.

Going in detail of each stage:

1. Awareness: the focus is on the brand-building aspect of Customer Relations

Creating awareness means introducing a brand to the company’s potential customers trying to drive them to act.

The ultimate goal is to tie awareness campaigns to objectives lower in the funnel so that you are driving brand awareness for the right people.

Possible choices for The Only Metric That Matters for this stage are:

  • Impressions
  • SERP Positioning
  • Click-through-rate (CTR)

Possible activities to improve Awareness are:

  • Social & Display Ads
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Guest Posting
  • Engineering as Marketing
  • Publicity
  • Unconventional PR
  • Business Development
  • Offline Ads
  • Viral Marketing
  • SEM
  • SEO
  • Direct Sales
  • Trade Shows and Events
  • OPN
  • Community Building

2. Acquisition: the focus is on the first action with a user to happen. It doesn’t involve exchanging money for a product or service, but the value in exchange for a contact to get in touch with the user in a second stage.

Once a user is acquired, it is important to fill out his/her profile with attributes that the company can use to help to define products and services as well as their positioning.

Possible choices for The Only Metric That Matters for this stage are

  • New Leads
  • Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC)

Possible activities to improve Acquisition are:

  • Lead Magnets
  • Website UX/UI
  • Social Proof
  • Social Login
  • Copywriting

3. Activation: the focus is on the process where the user actually tries the company’s products and services.

Possible choices for The Only Metric That Matters for this stage are:

  • Trial Sign-ups number
  • First App Opening number
  • First Web Sessions number
  • eMail confirmations number

Possible activities to improve Activation are:

  • Product UX/UI
  • Feature Adoption
  • Tutorial
  • Social Proof
  • Social Login
  • Copywriting

4. Retention: the focus is on having the user coming back after the Activation.

This stage is important to understand if the product, services and channels are delivering the right Value Propositions to the right people.

Possible choices for The Only Metric That Matters for this stage are:

  • Number of Session per user
  • Daily Active Users (DAU)
  • Monthly Active Users (MAU)

Possible activities to improve Retention are:

  • Email Marketing
  • Gamification
  • Rewards/Loyalty Programs
  • Customization
  • Push/Browser Notifications

5. Revenue: the focus is on the moment in which the user turns into a customer by deciding to pay for the company’s products and services.

Being in a funnel there are two important facts to consider:

  • Revenue is not the last step but only the 4th one
  • At the moment of the first payment, the company already knows the customer because of the first three stages of the funnel

This means that it will be easier to drive a well-known customer to repeat a purchase

Possible choices for The Only Metric That Matters for this stage are:

  • Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
  • Average Revenue Per Paying User (ARPPU)
  • Lifetime Value of a Customer (LTV)

Possible activities to improve Revenue are:

  • Up-selling
  • Cross-selling
  • Time Pression
  • Discounts/Promotions
  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Checkout flow
  • UX experience

6. Referral: the focus in this stage is on having my customers recommending the company’s products and services to other users. Succeeding in this stage means going viral.

Possible choices for The Only Metric That Matters for this stage are:

  • K-factor (how many users I get for one customer)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Referrals
  • Social Shares

Possible activities to improve Referral are:

  • Referral Marketing
  • Contest
  • Giveaway
  • Incentives

A.A.A.R.R.R. Funnel is a framework that must be tailored for each specific situation, therefore its design is key.

Funnel Design is an activity through which companies reach a comprehensive knowledge of:

  • The Customer Journey to the WOW Moment
  • The Interactions with Customer

Funnel Design is based on 2 steps:

  • Step1. Defining the Customer Journey
  • Step2. Re-grouping every step of the Customer Journey in the 6 phases of the Funnel

Step1. Defining the Customer Journey

The baseline for designing a funnel is the Customer Journey Map.

Customer Journey Map is the typical experience a Buyer Persona lives when purchasing a product.

It is a representation of

  • Tasks that are
    • What the Customers are trying to achieve
    • What the targets’ business/personal goals are
    • What organizational/private goals affect their buying behaviour
  • Questions that are
    • What the Customers want to know
    • What doubts may get them to give up on products
    • What information and data references targets rely on
    • How targets utilize and share content
    • What types of content affect purchase decisions
    • What content targets seek and when
    • How targets obtain and receive information
  • Touchpoints that are
    • How the users interact with the organisation
    • How they want to be contacted
    • How they want to buy the company’s product/service
  • Emotions that are
    • What the users feel
    • What unlocked drivers for decisions are
    • What the unarticulated “why” reasons for decisions are
  • Weaknesses that are
    • What risks affect buying choices
    • How targets balance consequences and payoffs
    • How targets thinking affect “why” choices

These are mapped over time through the phases of

  • Discovery: it is when a problem becomes clear in targets’ mind
  • Research: it is when targets start to look for a solution to relieve a pain
  • Purchase: it is when targets decide to buy a product/service to relieve a pain
  • Delivery: it is when targets use the product/service and they experience the Value Propositions of the product/service
  • After-Sales: it is when targets experience some issues in being delivered wit Value Propositions

Consumer Journey Map
An Example of Customer Journey Map (from

Customer Journey Maps help companies to:

  • Understand their Buyer Personas context
  • Tailor their Funnels (therefore enhancing the Customer Experience)
  • Maximize the KPIs of their Funnels
  • Reach a Viral Loop

Building a Customer Journey Map is about filling a table similar to the one below.

Template for Customer Journey Map Building

Many organisations already have some information about their Customers.

Anyway, it is always better to do some extra homework in terms of researching.

There are two types of research that could be conducted:

  • Quantitative: they are analytical researches made of Hard Data
  • Qualitative: they are anecdotal researches made of Soft Data

Hard Data tell us what is happening while Soft Data tell us why something is happening.

Quantitative Researches are about collecting data from sources such as:

  • Website Analytics
  • Social Media (i.e. Facebook Analytics)
  • Search Engine Data (i.e. Google Analytics)
  • Event Base Tracking Tools (i.e. Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, Woopra, Countly, Game Analytics, AppsFlyer and BareMetrics)

Qualitative Researches are about collecting data from sources such as:

  • Customer Interviews (i.e. Qualaroo, Zendesk, Customerly, Survicate and Qerzy)
  • Polls (i.e. Type Forms, Google Forms, Survey Monkey, Jot Form and Zoho Survey)
  • Session Recordings (i.e. Smartlook, HotJar, Screensquid, SessionCam and Inspectlet)
  • Usability Tests (i.e. Applause, UsabilityHub, UsabilityTools, WhatUsersDo, Usabilitest and Uxeria)
  • Heatmaps (i.e. Hotjar, Sumo, MouseFlow, CrazyEgg and LuckyOrange)

All this information, when gathered, must be discussed in a team that has to involve a very heterogeneous set of skills and experiences to get an accurate picture of the typical experience of each Buyer Persona.

The process of building a Customer Journey Map is iterative and the accuracy improves over time.

Therefore, it is not useful to focus on getting the perfect output, but it is better to get something to be tested and measured refreshing the researches used for gathering the information to build the Customer Journey Map.

Step2. Re-grouping every step of the Customer Journey in the 6 phases of the Funnel

The A.A.A.R.R.R. Funnel can then be obtained by pooling the actions listed in the Customer Journey Map into the 6 stages of:

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referral

This has to be done keeping in mind that

  • Customer Journey Map maps the typical experience of a Buyer Persona purchase
  • A.A.A.R.R.R. Funnels map each phase of the company’s relationships with the customers

Therefore, the phases of a Customer Journey don’t overlap perfectly with the Funnel.

In detail:

  • Discovery
    • Starts when a problem becomes clear in customers’ mind
    • Overlaps with Awareness
    • Ends with the beginning of Acquisition when the first products/services trials
  • Research
    • Starts at the end of the Acquisition stage when customers pick a product/service
    • Ends with the beginning of Activation with customers considering an action like a website registration or an app download
  • Purchase
    • Starts at the end of Activation with an action like a website registration or an app download
    • Overlaps with Retention with customers starting to enjoy using the product/service
    • Ends with the beginning of Revenue with customers considering to pay for continuing using the product/service
  • Delivery
    • Starts at the end of the Revenue when the customers pay for the product/service
    • Ends at the beginning of Referral when the customers considering to refer the product/service when starting to enjoy the Value Propositions
  • After-Sales
    • Overlaps with the end of Referral when customers feel the power of the Brand that allows the company to get out from a competition based on the quality of product/service and price

Customer Journey Map vs A.A.A.R.R.R. Funnel

Growth Hacking Analytics

Now you know how to build a Funnel.

Now you may feel “It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

But I assure you, there is still a lot you can learn.

Let’s start with how to manage a Funnel with Growth Hacking Analytics!

Nicola Zaffonato Administrator

Business Strategy | Product Marketing | Executive Master eCommerce Management | Business Innovation Master | MSc

I am driven by my personal growth and of people/contexts that surround me.

I followed a professional path in Valentino Fashion Group and Luxottica during which, thanks to the ability to understand different businesses and interests, I was able to succeed in Operations, Merchandising and Retail.

These organizations have exploited my ability to mediate and translate needs/constraints into practice, assigning me to Project Management roles.

Luxottica relied on my ability to analyze, to anticipate things and to imagine/implement solutions by appointing me in Supply Chain Management department and assigning me to the Product Management of IoT solutions for Anti-counterfeiting and Retail digitalization.

During this professional path, I also developed my leadership by managing teams to build Processes, Organizations, Systems and Governance Tools.

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