Steps to Build the Pirate Metrics (AAARR) Dashboard Example

This article is a guide to building the Pirate Metrics (AAARR) dashboard example here:
https://www.geckoboard.com/learn/dashboard-examples/aarrr-pirate-metrics-dashboard-example/

The Pirate Metrics (AAARR) Dashboard Example from Geckoboard

Pirate Metrics is a popular metrics framework for online startups created by Geckoboard investor Dave McClure of 500 Startups.

The name “Pirate Metrics” comes from the AARRR acronym (say it aloud to yourself and it will all make sense), which stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue. These summarize the different stages of the customer lifecycle for an online startup.

We’ve used this framework to design an example live TV dashboard as inspiration for online startups when building their own dashboards to display in the office.

In this article, we share the complete steps to build this dashboard from scratch! :)

Index:

First Steps — Getting things in place!

  1. Getting your dashboard ready
  2. Creating a connection between a service (e.g. Google Analytics) and Geckoboard
  3. A note before we begin adding widgets


Acquisition

This stage is about how your customers find you and what your best performing channels are in terms of volume and return. We’ve broken this stage out into 5 key metric visualizations:

  1. Website Session vs Goal
  2. Signup Conversation Rate
  3. Signups this Month
  4. Signups by Channel
  5. Cost of Acquiring Customers (CAC) by Channel


Activation

The activation metric helps you understand how well you’re converting prospects from one key activation event to the next.

  1. Activation Conversion Funnel


Retention

The retention metric is a useful indicator of how well you’re retaining trialists past a key milestone. In our example, the key milestone is whether the user is continuing to use the app two weeks into their trial. So we’re tracking the two-week trial retention rate.

  1. Retention Rate After 2 Weeks of Trial

(Another retention metric you might want to consider visualizing is conversion rate from signup to paying customer using our Mixpanel integration. We’ll not be building this widget, but setting it up would be similar to the retention rate widget.)


Referral

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is taken from a survey asking customers how likely they are on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being very likely) to recommend your product or service to others. It’s a great leading indicator of the word-of-mouth referrals you can expect.

  1. Net Promoter Score (NPS) Past 30 Days


Revenue

Here we visualize the monthly revenue for the past 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. This is a useful lagging metric to highlight the outcomes of the previous leading indicators and, ultimately, visualize topline growth for your online startup.

  1. Monthly Revenue

 
Tying it all together!

  1. Give your dashboard a heading
  2. Arranging the widgets on your dashboard
  3. Displaying your dashboard on a TV screen

Let’s get started! 🚀 

 

First Steps — Getting things in place!


Getting your dashboard ready

1) If you haven't already, you can sign up for a free 30-day Geckoboard trial here.

2) After you're logged into your account, click on the 'Dashboards' menu on the top left and add a new dashboard by clicking on '+ Add dashboard'. Give your dashboard a name.

3) On your newly created dashboard, click on 'Settings' in the header bar and then 'Dashboard settings'. Set the dashboard's ‘Location & Timezone’ to match the timezone set within the services you'll be connecting, that is, to the timezone set within your Google Analytics, Mixpanel, etc.

This is required to ensure there's no lag in the data being fetched from these accounts.

4) Set the dashboard width to 6 columns (1430px). If necessary, you can adjust the dashboard width to match your display screen (TV screen) or use the ‘Scale to fit’ option later on.

dashboard settings for The Pirate Metrics (AAARR) Dashboard Example from Geckoboard


5) The default settings should be good for the remaining options. Click 'Save Changes'. 

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Creating a connection between a service (for eg. Google Analytics) and Geckoboard

To use our pre-built integrations, you'll first need to create a connection so that Geckoboard can pull in your data.

Note 1: You only need to do this once per integration. Going forward, any new widgets you add will be able to access the connection and pull in data from your connected account (e.g. Google Analytics).

Note 2: If needed, you can also connect multiple accounts for the same service (e.g. multiple Google Analytics accounts). See more details here.


As an example, here are the steps to creating a connection with Google Analytics. The process will, more or less, remain similar for other integrations as well.

1. On your dashboard, click on the '+Add widget' button.

2. Now, search for 'Google Analytics' using the search bar on top. Alternatively, you can also scroll down the list of integrations ordered alphabetically till you reach the Google Analytics integration.

3. Click on the integration. Select any one of the widgets available under it.

4. You'll now be prompted to create a connection. Click ‘Connect’ and log into your Google Analytics account by entering your credentials in the window that pops up. (If you’re already logged into Google Analytics in another tab in your browser, Geckoboard will automatically authenticate and proceed to the next page.)

Finally, 'Allow' Geckoboard access to your Google Analytics.

creating a connection to your service accounts in geckoboard


Your Google Analytics connection should be set up!

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A note before we begin adding widgets

 It's important to note that the particular configurations and options we're using to create these widgets are only examples to help you get started with your own Pirate Metrics dashboard.

You’ll need to tweak and modify your widgets' configurations to better suit your business and KPIs.

Let's get started with the widgets!

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Acquisition


Website Session vs Goal
 

This widget displays the number of website sessions versus a pre-defined goal. It gives a good indication of how well you’re doing in terms of attracting enough people to your site.

We’ll be using the ‘Visitor Number Stats’ widget from our Google Analytics integration to display this metric.

Sessions This Month vs Goal widget


Here's how you can set up this widget:

1) Head over to your dashboard, click on '+Add widget' and search for the Google Analytics integration. Click on the integration.

2) Search for and select the 'Visitor Number Stats' widget.

3) Now, set up the widget with the following configurations:

Sessions This Month vs Goal widget config 

  • Title: Sessions This Month vs Goal
  • Size: 1x1
  • Account: Your Google Analytics account
  • Property: Select the property you use in your GA to track your website
  • View: Select the corresponding view
  • Metric: Sessions (Visits)
  • Segment: None
  • Filter By Device: None
  • Filters: Leave empty
  • Period: This Month
  • Include Today: Yes
  • Sampling level: Default
  • Secondary Output: Goal
  • Goal: 100000

4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.

You’re now tracking your website sessions against your goals on your dashboard!

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Signup Conversation Rate
 

This metric helps you understand if you’re attracting the right people to your site, whether you’ve created an intuitive user journey and if there are opportunities for conversion rate optimization.

We’ll be using the ‘Goals Number Stats’ widget from our Google Analytics integration to display this metric.

Signup Conversion Rate Past 30 Days widget 

Here's how you can set up this widget:

1) Head over to your dashboard again. Click on the down arrow next to '+Add widget' and select ‘Google Analytics’ from under ‘Recent Connections’.

2) Search for and select the ‘Goals Number Stats' widget.

3) Now, set up the widget with the following configurations:

Signup Conversion Rate Past 30 Days widget config 

  • Title: Signup Conversion Rate Past 30 Days
  • Size: 1x1
  • Account: Your Google Analytics account
  • Property: Select the property you use in your GA to track your website
  • View: Select the corresponding view
  • Metric: Goal Conversion Rate
  • Dimension Value: The goal you use in your GA to track visitors who sign up for a trial (in our GA, we have a ‘Signed up for Trial’ goal)
  • Segment: None
  • Filter By Device: None
  • Filters: Leave empty
  • Period: Past 30 Days
  • Sampling level: Default
  • Secondary Output: % Change this period
  • Secondary Output Period: % change from prior 30 days
  • Goal: Leave empty

 4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.

You’re now tracking the signup conversion rate of your website on your dashboard!

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Signups this Month

This widget displays the number of signups this month and how it’s trending. This is helpful in understanding acquisition growth, particularly relative to changes in the previous two metrics we mentioned.

We’ll be using the ‘Trends Number’ widget from our Mixpanel integration to display this metric.

Signups This Month widget 


Here's how you can set up this widget:

1) Head over to your dashboard, click on '+Add widget' and search for the Mixpanel integration. Click on the integration.

2) Search for and select the ‘Trends Number’ widget.

3) Now, set up the widget with the following configurations:

Signups This Month widget config 

  • Title: Signups This Month
  • Size: 1x1
  • Event: The event you use in your Mixpanel to track the number of people who have signed up (in our Mixpanel, we have a ‘signup’ event)
  • Property: All
  • Analysis Type: Unique
  • Period: This month
  • Secondary Stat: Sparkline
  • Secondary Stat Period: Past 30 Days (You can adjust the length depending on whether the month is 30 or 31 days long.)

4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.

You’re now tracking your number of signups on your dashboard!

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Signups by Channel

 This widget helps you understand what your top performing channels are in terms of acquisition volumes.

We’ll be using the ‘Top Sources List’ widget from our Google Analytics integration to display this metric.

Signups by Channel This Month widget 


Here's how you can set up this widget:

1) Head over to your dashboard again. Click on the down arrow next to '+Add widget' and select ‘Google Analytics’ from under ‘Recent Connections’.

2) Search for and select the ‘Top Sources List’ widget.

3) Now, set up the widget with the following configurations: 

Signups by Channel This Month widget config

 

  • Title: Signups by Channel This Month
  • Size: 1x2
  • Account: Your Google Analytics account
  • Property: Select the property you use in your GA to track your website
  • View: Select the corresponding view
  • Metric: Sessions (Visits)
  • Dimension Value: Medium
  • Segment: Custom Segment - Sessions with Signup (check out the note below)
  • Filter By Device: None
  • Filters: Leave empty
  • Period: This Month
  • Sampling level: Default


Note on custom segments:
A simple way to filter and include only those sessions which converted to a signup would be to use a custom segment.

In our case, we’ve created a custom segment — Sessions with Signup — within our GA that counts only those sessions where our GA Goal - ‘Signed up for Trial’ was completed.

Here’s what setting up the custom segment in GA looks like:
 creating a custom segment in google analytics


You can similarly create a custom segment using the required filters within your GA.

You can find out how to create custom segments here. Any custom segments you create within your GA will automatically be available under Geckoboard as well, under the ‘Segment’ field.


4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.


You’re now tracking your signups by channel!

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Cost of Acquiring Customers (CAC) by Channel

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) is the average expense of gaining a single customer. This metric helps you understand how effective each channel is in terms of the cost of acquiring a customer. 

Cost of Acquiring a Customer (CAC) by Channel widget 

The formula to calculate CAC is:
($) CAC = ($) Total sales and marketing expenses / (#) new customers acquired.

While it may not always be possible to automate the calculations, here’s an effective way to display your CAC by channel.

Step 1: Fetching the number of new customers acquired into Google Sheets

For calculating the CAC, you’ll first need your number of newly acquired customers broken down by month and channel.

If you track this data via Google Analytics, you can use tools like Supermetrics or the Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-on to fetch it into Google Sheets.

Both tools are quite powerful and support all of GA’s functionalities such as dimensions, segments, filters, goals, etc., so you can fetch precisely the data you’re after.


1) Supermetrics is easy to use and they provide for manual importing GA data on their free plan. For this widget, you’ll only be calculating your CAC once a month and so the free plan should be sufficient. However, if you’re interested in automated hourly data refreshes and other features, you can check out their paid plans. They offer a 30-day full feature access free trial so you can try things out first.

Here are some useful links:


2) The GA Spreadsheets Add-on is equally powerful, fully free and provides automated hourly importing of data. It requires a deeper understanding of how GA works, though, as compared to using Supermetrics.

 Some useful links:

 
Here’s a screenshot showing our number of newly acquired customers broken down by month and channel fetched into Google Sheets via Supermetrics:

newly acquired customers via supermetrics 

If you use a different service (i.e. one besides GA) to track your number of acquired customers or if you need help with using either Supermetrics or the GA add-on, please get in touch with us and we’d love to give you a hand with building this widget.

 

Step 2: Calculating your spend on acquiring new customers

This will be a manual step. You need to calculate the sum of all your marketing and sales expenses (including staff salaries and other overhead expenses) broken down by month and channel matching the format in the previous step.

Here’s an example of how it’ll look:

expenses by channel 

Step 3: Calculating your CAC by channel within the Google Sheet

As we mentioned above,
($) CAC = ($) Total sales and marketing expenses / (#) new customers acquired.

So, go ahead and simply divide the corresponding cells from the previous two steps, and you’ll have your CAC by channel for the last 12 months.

Step 4: Displaying your CAC by channel on your dashboard

Using our Spreadsheets integration, you can now display this data as a line chart on your dashboard. If you need help with using the Spreadsheets integration, check out our guide here.

Here’s a screenshot showing how you’d set up the Spreadsheets widget using the CAC numbers in your Google Sheet:

Cost of Acquiring a Customer (CAC) by Channel widget config 

And with that, you’re tracking your CAC by channel on your dashboard! 📈

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Activation


Activation Conversion Funnel

This activation metric helps you understand how well you’re converting prospects from one key activation event to the next.

We’ll be using the ‘Funnel’ widget from our Mixpanel integration to display this metric.

Activation Conversion Funnel Last 30 Days widget 

Here's how you can set up this widget:

To build this widget, you’ll first need to add the corresponding funnel in your Mixpanel. For our example, we’ve created a funnel with the following key activation events: User signs up > Adds another user to their account > User subscribes.

To learn more about building funnels in your Mixpanel, you can check out their guide. Here’s how our example funnel looks in Mixpanel:

creating a funnel in Mixpanel 

1) Now, head over to your Geckoboard dashboard, click on '+Add widget' and search for the Mixpanel integration. Click on the integration.

2) Search for and select the ‘Funnel’ widget.

3) Set up the widget with the following configurations:
 
Activation Conversion Funnel Last 30 Days widget config 

  • Title: Activation Conversion Funnel Last 30 Days
  • Size: 2x1 (The 2x1 widget size can show up to 3 steps, while the 2x2 size can show up to 7)
  • Funnel: Select the funnel you’ve created in your Mixpanel
  • Funnel steps: Select the funnel steps (key activation events) you’re interested in tracking. In our case, as we mentioned before, we’re tracking 'signup', 'added user' and 'subscribe'. 
  • Show event conversion as: Absolute (check out the contextual help by clicking on the ‘?’ icon on the widget if you’d like to understand more about this option)
  • Choose Period: Previous past 30 days 

4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.


You’re now tracking your activation conversion on your dashboard!

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Retention 


Retention Rate After 2 Weeks of Trial

The retention metric is a useful indicator of how well you’re retaining trialists past a key milestone.

In our example, the key milestone is whether the user is continuing to use the app two weeks into their trial. So we’re tracking the two week trial retention rate.

We’ll be using the ‘Funnel Completion Rate Line Chart’ widget from our Mixpanel integration to display this metric.

Retention Rate After 2 Weeks of Trial widget

Here's how you can set up this widget:

As with the previous widget, we’ll first need to add the corresponding funnel in Mixpanel. For our example, we’ve created a funnel with the following events: User signs up > User has at least one session between day 2 - day 7 > User has at least one session between day 8 - day 13 > User has at least one session between day 14 - 21.

Here’s how our example funnel looks in Mixpanel:

creating retention rate funnel in mixpanel


1) Head over to your dashboard again. Click on the down arrow next to '+Add widget' and select ‘Mixpanel’ from under ‘Recent Connections’.

2) Search for and select the ‘Funnel Completion Rate Line Chart’ widget.

3) Now, set up the widget with the following configurations:

Retention Rate After 2 Weeks of Trial widget config 

  • Title: Retention Rate After 2 Weeks of Trial
  • Size: 2x1
  • Funnel: Select the funnel you’ve created in your Mixpanel
  • Time Unit: Week
  • Time Interval: Past 24 weeks
  • Comparison Period: None
  • Goal (optional): Leave empty

4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.


You’re now tracking your customer retention on your dashboard!

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Referral


Net Promoter Score (NPS) Past 30 Days

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is taken from a survey asking customers how likely they are on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being very likely) to recommend your product or service to others. It’s a great leading indicator of the word-of-mouth referrals you can expect.

We’ve visualized this using our pre-built integration with the NPS tool — Delighted.

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Past 30 Days widget 
 

Here's how you can set up this widget:

1) Head over to your dashboard, click on '+Add widget' and search for the ‘Delighted’ integration. Click on the integration.

2) Search for and select the ‘Number Metrics’ widget.

3) Now, set up the widget with the following configurations:

Net Promoter Score (NPS) Past 30 Days widget config

  • Title: Net Promoter Score (NPS) Past 30 Days
  • Size: 1x1
  • Metric: Net Promoter Score
  • Time Unit: Day
  • Time Interval: Past 30 days
  • Comparison Period: Previous period

4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.


You’re now tracking your NPS on your dashboard!

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Revenue


Monthly Revenue
 

Here we visualize the monthly revenue for the past 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. This is a useful lagging metric to highlight the outcomes of the previous leading indicators and, ultimately, visualize topline growth for your online startup.

We’ll be using the ‘Revenue Line Chart’ widget from our Mixpanel integration to display this metric.

monthly revenue widget 

Here's how you can set up this widget:

1) Head over to your dashboard again. Click on the down arrow next to '+Add widget' and select ‘Mixpanel’ from under ‘Recent Connections’.

2) Search for and select the ‘Revenue Line Chart’ widget.

3) Now, set up the widget with the following configurations:

monthly revenue widget config 

  • Title: Monthly Revenue
  • Size: 2x1
  • Property: The property you use in your Mixpanel to track revenue. In our case, we use a ‘subscribe_plan’ property. 
  • Property Value: All. You can show stats for just a particular value (in this case, that would become stats for just a particular plan). Since we’re interested in tracking total revenue, select ‘All’. 
  • Metric: Total Revenue
  • Time Unit: Month
  • Time Interval: Past 12 months
  • Comparison Period: Previous Time Interval
  • Goal (optional): Leave empty


4) When you're happy with all the settings, click 'Add widget'.


You’re now tracking your monthly revenue trends on your dashboard! 💰💰

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Tying it all together!


Give your dashboard a heading

This widget acts as a header and provides context when viewing your dashboard on a TV screen.

give your dashboard a heading


1) Click on '+Add widget' and search for the 'Text' widget. Select it to proceed ahead.

2) Under 'Message one', enter: Pirate Metrics Dashboard Example (AARRR) (or any heading you want to use).

3) Set the size to ‘Full width heading’ and click on 'Add widget'.

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Arranging the widgets on your dashboard
 

1) Now that all the widgets are ready on your dashboard, it's easy to arrange them — just drag and drop them into place!

The grid lines that show up when dragging a widget will help you get a pixel perfect alignment.

arranging the widgets on your Geckoboard dashboard

 

2) You can also move multiple widgets at a time! Click, drag and select the widgets you want to move as shown in the GIF below. You can then move those widgets around together.

Once you're done, click and drag your mouse over an empty space or over a single widget to de-select the widgets. This, too, is shown in the GIF.

This feature is especially handy when you want to, say, move the full-width heading widget to the top of the dashboard and then correspondingly adjust the remaining widgets.

arranging multiple widgets on your geckoboard dashboard

 

Your Pirate Metrics (AARRR) Dashboard is now ready! 🎉 😊

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Displaying your dashboard on a TV screen

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You can find our recommended approach, devices, and screens for displaying your dashboard(s) on TV screens within your office in our guide here.

Happy Dashboarding! 📈

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