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+19 Activation Tactics: Grow your SaaS using the Pirate Framework (AARRR)

Do you find it challenging to convert your SaaS trial users into paying customers? 🤔 Are you seeking effective tactics to activate your users and generate more revenue? 📈

This comprehensive guide unfolds the secrets of mastering the ‘activation’ stage using the renowned Pirate Framework (AARRR)! Through this article, we intend to journey through 19 compelling activation tactics to supercharge the growth of your SaaS business.

Activation is the bridge that turns interested prospects into engaged users. Embrace the power of growth hacking 💡 to unlock enhanced user activation, keying into significant revenue, and promoting a self-sustaining loop of referrals. Our article is packed with actionable insights, proven strategies, and real-life examples just for YOU!

Shall we dive into the ocean of activation strategies together? Prepare yourself to harness the full potential of user activation with our detailed guide. 🚀

#1 Add a Request Callback Widget

A callback widget allows visitors to request a phone call from your team, providing an immediate response mechanism.

→ It will also allow you to speak with your customer by phone or video call which is a better way to build relationships

→This tool can capture leads at the peak of their interest.

→ It eliminates the waiting time for visitors, offering them a direct line to get their queries addressed.

→ Such widgets can be especially beneficial for B2B SaaS companies where potential customers might have specific questions before making a decision.

#2 Add SSO Login to your platform

Utilizing one-click social registration systems can lead to a significant increase in the number of accounts created. Offer both social media logins (Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, etc.) and traditional email-based registration.

#3 Build free tools to acquire users

Building separate free tools, not just free trials, can serve as powerful growth channels for SaaS businesses by breaking down customer resistance barriers. Three most important takeaways:

1️⃣ Free tools are separate from the core product and require no signup.

2️⃣ These tools address two primary customer resistance points: lack of trust and the desire to see quick results.

3️⃣ The strategy involves offering a limited feature set in the free tool and including a strong call to action to guide users to the main paid product. Many SaaS companies have successfully implemented this strategy.


1) Hubspot Free Email Signature Template Generator by HubSpot Make My Persona – Free Buyer Persona Template Generator \(2023\) Website Grader – Check your Pages for Speed and SEO and many more…

2)Moz Moz Free SEO Checkers & Premium Search Tools

💡 The Buffer case: They initially offered a simple tool to schedule tweets. This free tool gained significant traction and became a comprehensive social media management platform.

#4 Customer Segmentation in Onboarding

Customer segmentation is the practice of dividing a customer base into groups based on shared characteristics such as demographics, behaviors, or needs. This allows businesses to tailor their products, services, and experiences to each specific group, leading to a deeper understanding of customers. Try to do basic segmentation during the onboarding. Later on try personalizing your communication (email sequences), dashboards and core features of your platform.

Check how Twilio does this:


#5 Gamify your free trials

Gamification can also work for B2B SaaS products. Notion offers credits to extend the trial period. You can go that way or just add extra free days after users complete certain activities.

🎯 Your goal? → More users reaching the “aha” moment of product activation.

#6 Lead Scoring in CRM

Lead scoring gives every lead a specific value. The scores help you to focus on the most promising leads (and get a better understanding of your leads). Typically lead scoring is based on:

– Firmographics (company size, industry, etc.)

– Behavior (content downloads, email opened, joined the webinar, etc.)

👉  Zendesk has a great article about Lead scoring

#7 Leverage FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

FOMO is a powerful psychological trigger. By showing users what they might miss out on, you can drive them to take action.

  • Show Real-Time Interactions: With tools like Fomo, you can display real-time customer interactions on your site, reinforcing the idea that others are taking advantage of what you offer.
  • Introduce Deadlines: Adding a time constraint, such as a limited-time offer, can further amplify the FOMO effect, pushing users to act before they miss out.
  • Highlight Benefits Over Features: Instead of just listing features, showcase the direct benefits users will receive, aligning with their desires and needs.

#8 Offer an Email Drip Course

Offer an email course to educate potential customers, culminating in a product upsell.

  • Provide high-quality content over a series of days, with each email serving as a separate lesson.
  • Focus on teaching best practices and showcasing your expertise in the relevant domain.
  • As the course progresses, subtly introduce and highlight the benefits of your product.
  • Conclude the course with a strong call-to-action, offering an upsell or special deal for your product to the engaged audience.

#9 Optimize the Product Onboarding Experience

Optimize the product onboarding experience to increase your conversion rate to active and paying customers.

  1. Add progress bars, checklists, and guides in your product onboarding (for product-led growth) to guide signups to the aha moment.
  2. Remove complexity in product onboarding and focus on delivering value as fast as possible (quick time to aha moment)
  3. Optimize for quick-wins (first small aha moments)
  4. Offer enough support (e.g. segment signups and proactively offer sales support)
  5. Embed social proof in your welcome email sequence, signup page, pricing page, and help center. 6. Set up a powerful welcome email sequence (trigger & time-based).

#10 Personal Touch in Email Communication

Engage your leads more effectively by sending automated emails from a personal account [email protected]

This approach creates the illusion of a one-on-one conversation, making the recipient feel valued. Instead of using generic “No Reply” addresses, infuse a personal touch to foster genuine connections.

This not only enhances the user experience but also increases the likelihood of them engaging with your content.

#11 Remove Checkout Steps

Streamlining the checkout or sign-up flow is crucial for SaaS companies. A complex or lengthy process can deter potential customers from completing their registration or purchase.

  • Reasons for Abandonment: Common deterrents include mandatory account creation, unexpected costs, and a confusing interface.
  • Simplify the Process: An ideal flow should be logical and concise. Avoid unnecessary steps or information requests that can create friction.
  • Guest Checkout/Sign-up: Offer an option for users to try the service without a full account setup. This reduces barriers to entry.

#12 Segment signups in the signup flow (custom questions)

You can try to segment new signups based on:

  • Lead Sources
  • Goals (e.g. ask them what their goal is)
  • Company size
  • Pricing plan

#13 Send a Surprise Bonus Email (freebie)

Send out emails to your B2B SaaS users with surprise gifts or free content.

  • Segment your user base to target active users or those who might benefit from a re-engagement nudge.
  • Choose the bonus: it could be an industry report, a discount on complementary services, or an exclusive webinar invite.
  • Track engagement metrics post-campaign to measure its success and gather insights for future initiatives.

#14 Set a North Star Metric

Try to focus on what really matters. A great tool is to make use of a North star metric and to set goals (e.g. with the OKR framework). 👉 Check Alex’s examples of north star metrics. 👉 Check Mariano’s examples of north star metrics.

#15 Social proof/testimonials – Welcome email sequence

Add social proof also in your welcome email sequence.

As long as signups haven’t converted to paying customers you still need to ‘sell’ – so the social proof is key. This could be sharing a case study or product reviews.

#16 Specify your audience

  • Clearly define who your product is for. By doing so, you create a sense of exclusivity and make those within the target group feel more valued.
  • Balancing Act: While narrowing down your audience might seem limiting, it can lead to a stronger bond with a specific segment. It’s about weighing the potential broader appeal against a deeper connection with a niche.
  • Build Trust: Transparency about your target audience can foster trust. Customers value clarity and knowing if a product aligns with their needs from the outset.
  • 👉 Create landing pages for your top 3 main personas. Make explicit your addressing to them on your copy.

#17 Split your signup form into multiple small steps

Don’t ask for all the information upfront. Let them create an account (just name + email). Ask for more (segmentation) data on separate pages.

#18 Survey customers

Frequently surveying your customers is key. You will always learn more. 🔗 Use this survey template from PMF Survey to get started. Here are some possible questions (depending on what you’re trying to learn about your customers).

  • How did you discover [X product/company]?
  • How would you feel if you could no longer use X?
  • What would you use as an alternative if X weren’t available?
  • What’s the primary benefit you’ve experienced from X?
  • Have you recommended X to anyone?
  • What type of person do you think would benefit from X?
  • How could we improve X to better meet customer needs?

Important customer Segments to get better insights:

  • Most active
  • loyal users
  • Infrequent
  • high NPS score
  • high/low MRR
  • inactive users (signed up but never used it)
  • new customers
  • churned customers

#19 Use template libraries to unlock growth

Template libraries have become a pivotal growth strategy for many B2B SaaS companies, especially those following a product-led growth (PLG) model.

Level 5: Community Monetized

— In Figma’s template library, you see the pinnacle. — The template library does it all – distribution leverage, product adoption, partner engagement, community engagement, and community monetization.

— Notion, Airtable, and Webflow are also shining examples.

Level 4: Community Contributed

— Before building a creator economy around SaaS templates, many companies will open the doors to community contribution. Examples: Miro, Coda.

— When executed well, it gives the community more depth and massively broadens the distribution and product adoption benefits. 🪜🪜

Level 3: Partner Contributed

— Companies with strong partner programs can tap their ecosystem to contribute templates.

— This approach supports partner distribution, vendor distribution, and product adoption. — Postscript and Zapier are good examples here.

Level 2: Product Integrated

— This strategy helps horizontal platforms position for specific problems and personas.

— Is it content or is it a product feature? Both!

— Many PLG companies build/generate the content and then let users access, load, or integrate them into the product experience.

— Examples: ClickUp, Typeform, Canva, Dooly

Level 1: Durable Content Assets

— In some contexts, product and/or community integration doesn’t make sense. But template libraries might still be the ultimate “lead magnet” with built-in distribution. — Gong, Mutiny, and Lattice are other great modern examples.

— HubSpot has run this playbook at high volume for years.

Credits: Adam Schoendfeld and  Camille Trent from PeerSignal.org
Full analysis and Examples with Summary deck 👉 https://lnkd.in/dSh3WSiA


As we conclude this insightful journey through 19 activation tactics premised on the Pirate Framework, it’s time to reflect and apply.

Creating an ample user base, activating them, and deploying efficient strategies for retention can carve the path towards noteworthy revenue. Remember, satisfied customers are potential advocates of your services.

What’s holding you back from unleashing these transformative tactics and witnessing a substantial upswing in your SaaS growth statistics?

To fuel your quest for growth, we’re excited to share this exclusive resource: “30 Days of Growth“. Take full advantage of this bundle for an unbounded growth journey!🎯

Article by

Mariano Martene

I do growth & marketing ops for B2B SaaS. I've worked for over ten years on marketing and have done a lot! In my last job as Head of Growth, I helped the founders of a SaaS company go from €1M to $2.2M. I’m now working on a marketplace for B2B experts and run a newsletter where, every week, I share resources and bite-sized case studies to grow your SaaS. I’m also the city leader for SaaStock Local chapters in Lisbon, Portugal! 🇵🇹 Drop me a message if you’re around!