Marketing and sales are extremely important parts of life, not only in business, but also in your personal life. Marketing is basically everything.
You only have two options. Either you get to the top 1 % of the world by doing something, like Michael Jordan, Lady Gaga or whoever else did, and marketing happens all by itself as a side-effect of who you are and what you do, or you have to work hard on developing competences and marketing by yourself. I would bet on the latter, since it may also be the way to the top 1 %.
The AARRR conversion funnel is an important marketing concept in the lean startup philosophy, especially for online subscription businesses. It’s a metric framework and analytical tool that analyses the behavior of customers and guides product decisions.
The main purpose of the AARRR funnel is to track actionable metrics in different purchasing stages, helping you measure the health of the customer base and optimize your sales funnel.
The model can be used very well in your personal life too. It's extremely marketing and sales oriented, but sometimes you need such an approach.
Out of the ten life areas you can apply the AARRR conversion funnel especially to:
- your career, more specifically to getting a dream job or new clients as a freelancer, and
- to personal relationships, more exactly to finding your perfect fit and true love in life.
It may sound a little dull to apply business strategies, especially to your love life, but you only have two options at the end of the day.
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You can systematically and proactively try to find someone you will fall in love with and live a dream life or you can simply hope that a “greater power” will bring the perfect person into your life, while you’re watching TV and eating chips.
A “greater power” will extremely rarely be working instead of you, as a substitute for fear and laziness.
The only difference between the online subscription model and personal life is that in business, the conversion funnel is a never-ending process, while in your personal life, there are only specific occasions at which you need that kind of an approach.
If you already have a dream job or true love, it won’t help much. But when you do need it, it can give you miraculous results. You just need to have more guts and be more proactive when meeting your goals.
Before we look at some practical examples concerning how to apply the AARRR funnel to your personal life, let’s have an in-depth look into what the AARRR conversion funnel really is.
AARRR Metrics for Pirates
The AARRR Conversion funnel was presented by the venture capitalist Dave McClure. It’s a five-step conversion funnel measuring the following:
- A — Acquisition: Acquiring new users via different marketing/sales channels
- A — Activation: The marketing/sales pitch convincing people to subscribe
- R — Retention: A strategy to get a user to regularly use your service or product
- R — Referral: A strategy to let your customers acquire new customers
- R — Revenue: Generating money
In each of the five steps, you have to optimize your funnel and achieve results that are as good as possible, thus building a viable business model. At the end of the day, your customer acquisition costs must be lower than the lifetime of your customer.
As mentioned before, the model is best used for online subscription services, so while going through all the five steps, you can help yourself with one of the online services that you use, for example Facebook.
It will also help you see how useful the model really is and how most successful online services follow a smart strategy to keep you using their products all the time.
Acquisition simply means acquiring new users via different marketing channels. To get new users, you have to send your marketing message to your potential customers by one or several marketing channels. Marketing channels can either be online or offline.
Offline channels are traditional channels, such as printed ads, ads in magazines, billboards, conferences etc. Online channels are internet marketing channels, such as paid advertising, content marketing, search engine optimization etc. There are many ways for attracting a user to your website.
When acquiring new users, you look for acquisition channels that have largest volume, lowest cost and perform the best.
The second step is activation. You need a convincing message on your website, some kind of a sales pitch that convinces someone to subscribe to your service.
Online services usually have free trials and testing periods. Subscribing for a free trial is an example of user activation. You can also measure micro goals as activation, such as subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an e-book and so on.
Activation success depends mostly on:
- Quality of the landing (entry) page
- First user experience
- Product features
- Usability & Design
- Absence of bugs
In a flood of different products and services, our attention is very limited. We try a new service but quickly forget about it.
That’s why most online services have a retention strategy, which is simply a strategy of getting a user to regularly use a service or a product. Retention can be achieved by sending reminders, bonuses, notifications, and so on.
Customer retention thus simply concerns the percentage of users who come back to the site. The better the percentage, the better the product sticks. On the other hand, the churn rate shows the number of customers who leave in a given time period. The larger the churn rate, the worse the stickiness.
What is important to understand in this context is that companies that put in a customer retention program are 50 % – 95 % more profitable. In business, if you can stop one customer from leaving, you have doubled your revenue and cut your costs of customer acquisition in half.
You usually buy and use things that your friends are using and recommending. That’s also why most online services have a strategy of letting their customers bring in new customers.
For example Facebook wants you to invite people to their platform, apps want to have access to your phone book and so on. Referrals are a very efficient and cheap way to virally spread products.
The more referrals you get from one user, the more viral your product is. The metric that measures referral success is the so-called “viral coefficient”, which shows the number of new users that each user brings. Speed with which one user invites another is also important and it’s called the viral cycle time.
There are three types of virality:
- Inherent – Built into the product
- Artificial – Forced through a reward system
- Word-of mouth – Coming from satisfied users
As a good strategist, you have to make it easy for customers to spread the word with referral mechanisms. Some of the most popular referral mechanisms are:
- Social Media Sharing
- “Invite a friend” type mechanics
- App Reviews
- Viral loops
The last step is generating money – revenue. You measure the percentage of users who become paying customers. Online sites have to make money somehow if they want to survive in the long term, be it with advertising, subscriptions, donations or any other revenue model.
Retention is very important before you decide to subscribe to a product and of course also after that, when you try to keep a paying customer as long as possible.
That is how the AARRR model works in business. Now let’s look at how you could apply pretty much the same five-step model to two areas of your personal life:
- Career / Job
- Love / Dating
Career and job
The most common strategy for people when they are looking for a new or a perfect job is to send their CVs all over the place or to visit career fairs, hoping that something will pop up. It’s more of a lottery than real strategy.
The AARRR framework can be really good help to develop an effective and superior strategy to find the best job possible, or to switch it at any time; you are always on the market no matter what. You can use the same model if you are a freelancer and want to get new clients.
A — Acquisition: Attracting as many opportunities as possible
The first step is of course attracting as many career opportunities as possible into your life. You can do that in several online as well as offline ways. It’s usually basically just systemizing and expanding the things you usually do.
You have to engage all possible channels to identify different opportunities and you should never stop looking for new ones.
Here are some online options:
- Build your personal brand with a blog
- Have outstanding social media profiles, especially on LinkedIn
- Subscribe to different job portals
- Have a “new jobs” alert for companies you would like to work for
- Look for jobs at start-ups
- Write directly to companies with a hard-to-reject proposal and propose collaboration
Here are some offline options:
- Visit job fairs
- Network at the events of your preferred industry
- Go to events in business and technology parks
- Ask for referrals from your personal network (more about that below)
- Build relations with a few headhunting agencies
There are many other ways how you can regularly attract new job opportunities to your life. The important thing is to be open-minded and proactive.
Of course doing this makes sense if you are looking for your first job or a new job, as you are totally unsatisfied in the current one. The question is whether you should do the same thing if you are satisfied with your current job.
Well, it’s up to you to decide, but it usually makes sense to check your market value at least once a year. After doing that, you can consider changing your job or negotiating a new package with your current employer.
You should always keep improving yourself and one of the best ways for doing that is learning while you’re earning. Always go up or you’ll be out of the game soon. Never be irreplaceable or you won’t have a chance to be promoted.
A — Activation: The sales pitch convincing people to subscribe
Activation simply means having a convincing sales pitch that will help you meet your goals, be it getting invited to an interview or landing a job at the end of the day. In order to be successful in the activation phase, you need really outstanding marketing materials.
Here are some ideas that can help you increase the activation rate:
- Make the competences you have and the value you can provide crystal clear.
- Have different CV layouts and styles for different companies (formal, informal…)
- Do something outstanding, like a professional video or a list of ideas for how you can provide value to the company
- Adjust a CV to every company separately
- Make sure that every company gets at least one recommendation from people in your common network
- Prepare for an interview really well, do research about the company, the people you’ll meet and so on
- Dress up, groom yourself and look professional
- Don’t be nervous, be self-confident. The key to self-confidence is preparation.
- Make sure your digital image (online profiles) is professional
R — Retention: A strategy to keep a potential employer interested in you
After the interview, most people don’t do any follow-up. You should always do a follow-up.
Send a thank you e-mail. Attach additional ideas on how you could provide value to the company to your follow up e-mail. You should add people who interviewed you to your social networks etc.
If you were rejected and would really like to work for a particular company, keep in touch. Send them an e-mail from time to time, and ask them if there are any new job openings, ask if you can help them by doing part-time or if you could work as a freelancer for them, connect them with people in your network etc.
If you stay in contact with 50 people that way, a new opportunity will come along sooner or later.
R — Referral: A strategy to let your network attract new opportunities into your life
The fact remains that most job opportunities will come from your personal and professional network. Thus you need a strategy for getting as many opportunities as possible from your network.
You should go viral in terms of people wanting to employ you or wanting to work with you. As we have mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are three types of virality, so there are also three ways of achieving virality in terms of your career.
Inherent virality is the virality built into a product. From the point of view of getting a new job, that simply means that you’re one of the best at a specific skill in a specific industry.
You master something so well that people start talking about you. Be so good at something that your name will be the first thing people think of when considering someone for a new job.
Artificial virality is forced through a reward system. It’s about you helping people and as a consequence, people helping you in return. If you help people connect with contacts in your network, they will do the same for you.
Thus every time you see an opportunity to connect someone looking for a job with someone you know is looking for new workforce, don’t be lazy, do it.
The second option is hiring a headhunting agency that will help you get a dream job. They get paid for that. If you are a freelancer, you can also offer a reward for anyone who brings you a new client. But of course the best referrals are people satisfied with your work.
The third type of virality is word-of-mouth, which is the one that comes from satisfied users. If you are good at your job, your bosses probably won’t advertise you to other employees, but your friends, former coworkers, partners and other people can do that.
If people like working with you and you have really good competences, word-of-mouth advertising of your skills will happen sooner or later.
As you can see, the formula for virality is pretty simple. You have to be really good at something and people will start talking.
R — Revenue: Landing a job and generating money
The final very obvious step is landing a job and starting to get paid for your work. After landing a new job, you can do some statistics to see how successful you were at every step and brainstorm new ideas for how you can perform better next time, if needed.
Love and relationships
It’s much harder to apply the AARRR funnel to your love life and relationships. Why that is so is quite obvious. We want love to just happen, to be something magical. We want a “greater power” to make sure that we meet someone special, our second half, our soulmate.
Well, applying the AARRR funnel doesn’t take the magic away, it just increases your chances of really meeting the right person.
Hoping that a “greater power” will do that for you is cowardice and laziness. You want life to bring you something on a silver platter without you putting any effort into it.
An even sadder situation is if you sit on the couch, watch TV, stuff yourself with chips and feel sorry for yourself, wondering why life doesn’t bring you love like you see in movies. It doesn’t work that way.
You have to put a lot of effort into finding your true love. It’s a process, not an event. First, you need to take care of yourself: physically, emotionally and mentally. You have to be as fit as possible, groom yourself, take care of your body, your appearance, everything from clothes to accessories.
Second, you have to be emotionally mature. You have to be prepared for rejections and yet don’t forget to show your softer side.
You need to lay yourself bare and understand that every rejection means that you are one step closer to finding the right person. And if you don’t feel that you’re with the right person, you should do the same: move on.
You’re only doing damage to yourself and to the other person if you’re unsatisfied in a relationship and afraid that you’ll hurt someone. You prevent yourself and the other person from finding true love. Simply because you’re scared.
That doesn’t mean you have the right to be an asshole. But honestly, if you want to have a true and happy love life, you cannot be an “emotional midget”.
And you have to be prepared. You need everything from a superior strategy for meeting new people to good opening lines, humor, the ability of holding deep and meaningful conversations etc. You have to show your uniqueness, good qualities and true intentions while being self-confident and having a spine of steel.
Attraction isn’t a choice, it really does just happen between two people, but you can definitely dramatically increase your odds of attraction happening by putting more effort into yourself, dating and relationships.
The AARRR funnel is something that can help you, especially in the phase of meeting new people. Just so you systemize it and have more options. It’s not like you need to have a spreadsheet with people’s names, that’s lame, but you can get many ideas for understanding how the “dating process” works.
Dating is nothing but a market. Meeting your true love is not an event, but a process. That’s why you need to offer as much value as possible, be able to communicate your value, meet new people and so on. If you invest more effort into finding the right person, I promise you that the magic will happen all by itself.
Let’s look at how the dating process would look like if we applied the AARRR funnel to it, just with the purpose of you getting new ideas for meeting new people and really finding the perfect fit for you, so all the magic can happen.
A — Acquisition: Meeting new people in different kinds of ways
As mentioned before, I’ve seen hundreds of people who only spend their time at the office and at home in front of the TV, yet hope that a greater power will bring true love into their lives.
They wait months or even years, all the while slowly lowering their standards and soon they’re just hoping to go out with someone. A few people do meet the right person in that kind of way, but really only a few. It’s like playing a lottery, where the odds really aren’t in your favor.
A much better thing to do is be proactive. If you want to find the love of your life, you need to meet people, talk to them, get to know them and sooner or later the right person will cross your path.
First you have to know what you want as clearly as possible, then when you are meeting new people, you can see quite quickly how good of a match the person next to you is.
There are many ways of meeting new people. Here are some of the most popular offline methods:
- Hobbies and sport
- Home parties
- Travelling on your own
- Office and conferences
- Coffee shops, book clubs, parks …
And some online methods:
- Social networks
- Dating sites
- Hobby forums
- Classified ads
When looking for the love of your life or a new partner, the more people you meet, the greater are your chances of finding the right person. The more people you meet, the faster it will happen. Be proactive, meet as many people as possible.
It’s logical that looking in places where other people are also looking for a date and looking in places where people have a common ground with you, for example a specific hobby, increases your probability of finding the right person.
I know it’s much harder for introverts, but maybe as an introvert, you can give more attention to online channels.
I am an introvert by nature, but I push myself into meeting new people when necessary, not only in terms of intimate relationships, but also for friends, business partners etc. But after every push, I take time for myself recharge.
A — Activation: Your first impression
You have a strategy to meet people at different occasions in place. The second step now is activation. It means getting people interested in you. As I’ve said before, attraction isn’t a choice, but you can do a lot to be more attractive and interesting to people.
Again, people find many excuses at this point. A greater power should take care of bringing the right person directly in front of me and do everything instead of me. If a person can’t see how awesome I am straight away, then they are not the right person. All that is fear and nothing more.
You let fear hold you in an emotional cage, prevent you from meeting the love of your life. As a consequence, when the first person gets interested in you, it seems like they must be it, but that’s rarely the case. That isn’t how things work.
Let me repeat that again: attraction isn’t a choice but you can still do a lot to be more attractive. Below are some of the things you can do to increase your attractiveness and activation rate, meaning increase the number of people getting interested in you.
It differs slightly for men and women and it’s also a little bit different if you’re gay, but you can get the general picture. There are many websites, books and other materials you can find that have a lot of advice for how to increase your sexual capital.
- Have a life (career, hobbies, sports, money…)
- Know yourself and your unique personality, and be yourself
- Join different social circles and hang out with people
- Exercise, eat healthy and take care of your body
- Work on your posture
- Groom yourself
- Find your personal style and dress up
- Don’t be afraid to stand out
- Work on your social skills
- Learn how to introduce yourself
- Learn how to hold a meaningful conversation
- Be self-confident
- Humor is always an important part of dating so practice it
- Learn to read the basics of body language
- Don’t be needy and desperate
- Good food (learn how to cook, find good restaurants, know wines etc)…
All things stated above are the things you can work on and improve. They are not given. They should be a part of your growth mindset.
On the other hand, there are obvious turn-offs that will definitely mess with your activation rate. Having nothing interesting to say, negativity, depression, neediness, awkwardness, insecurity, lack of hygiene, oversensitivity etc. Get rid of all these turn-offs if necessary.
The more people you meet and the better first impression you make, the better are your chances of finding the love of your life.
I know this phase is much easier if you’re really good looking. But only a small percentage of people are really good looking. If you aren’t a model, consider playing the dating game in the hard mode. You just have to invest more into your personality, skills etc.
R — Retention: Who you truly are
Okay, so you’ve met someone, there’s mutual interest and so we come to the next phase, which is retention. It’s the phase of “after how many days do I send a text so I don’t look needy or uninterested” and after that comes the phase wherein you show who you truly are.
This is the phase where you really start to discover whether you fit with someone. You have to find out how well you two fit physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. You can find out more about that in the article The Agile and Lean way to the best sex of your life.
It’s the phase where all the magic from the activation phase should continue and intensify if the person is right for you.
You probably know the signs. You can’t stop thinking about the person, you want to spend as much time together as possible, you constantly text each other etc. Your life priorities and focus significantly change.
Nevertheless, there are many things you can do to keep the magic going in the retention phase. Again, it’s not like a “greater power” will take care of everything. Even in the movies, people have to fight for their love.
Here are some examples of what you can do. You have to show that you care. You have to put effort into having fun, experiencing new things. You have to find common ground you can start building your relationship on. You can prepare romantic surprises.
After every date, you should see more and more whether a person is the right fit for you and you should also get new ideas on what to do on the next date. You should also be honest if the relationship is going into the right direction and what you really want out of it.
R — Revenue: Getting into a serious relationship
Revenue definitely isn’t the right word here, but still: if we do take all the magic away, relationships are also about providing value and receiving value.
The end deal is that life of both partners should be better and nicer together than on their own. There are some compromises and sacrifices that have to be made, but the advantages surpass all the disadvantages.
After having a sexual, emotional, intellectual and spiritual match, there is one more level that’s very important and maybe it makes sense to mention it here in the last step. You and your partner should function well in everyday life. You know, running a household and so on.
There are always some differences that you have to compromise on, but there could also exist some differences that simply make a relationship not work. For example if one partner wants pets and the other one doesn’t no matter what; or if one partner is an early riser and the other one goes to sleep when the first one wakes up.
Thus when deciding on settling down with someone, you also have to figure this stuff out. With a lot of communication and some compromises, everything can work out; but there can also be real deal-breakers.
Nevertheless there are billions of households all over the world and there is no reason why you wouldn’t find someone perfect to build a loving home with, with all the magical as well as non-magical things to work out.
R — Referral: The best way of getting to know new people
There is one more R in the AARRR formula that we haven’t talked about yet. It’s referral. In the case of dating, a referral is very important part of the acquisition phase. Referral is a big accelerator of things and let’s see why.
When you meet someone, you first usually start looking for a common ground – people you know, companies you know, hobbies, whatever.
It isn’t only a great way to keep a conversation going, but rather also provides a sense of security. If they know that person, they must be cool. Finding people and other things in common helps us shape the first impression, the level of interest and trust.
Now let’s look at referrals the other way round. Introductions are one of the best ways of getting to know new people and accelerating the “breaking the ice” phase.
Going to private parties, hanging out in different circles of friends, asking your friends to introduce you to people should be an important part of your acquisition strategy of meeting new people.
You should always engage your network to meet new people; and do vice-versa for people you know when that’s necessary.
In business, it’s all about having a great product, marketing and sales. All marketing and sales managers are obsessed with conversion funnel metrics being as good as possible.
Testing and trying different things to keep people interested and buying products already goes to extreme, especially online. At some point, Google tested more than 41 shades of blue to find out which one would be the most effective for their products.
It’s hard to think about your personal life under the same terms as your business life. It feels heartless and cold and money-oriented. I agree.
But there are similarities to some extent. You are on a market. Dating, skills, career, finance… You can improve your odds with a superior strategy, by providing better value, by better communicating the value you can offer and so on. Thus applying business strategies to your personal life does make sense, even the strategies from marketing and sales.
Applying the AARRR funnel to dating and career is one of them. And it can definitely help you a lot. It’s not easy, because we all want something special to happen all on its own, but this exact thinking is also usually the reason why it doesn’t.
Magic happens to people who go out of their comfort zone and fight for their goals, be it the perfect career.
And you should do it too. After you decide to go out of your comfort zone, the magic will happen. I promise. Have some guts, be a pirate, AARRR.