Growth Hacking Canvas: A Glance At The Tools To Generate Growth Ideas

The growth hacking canvas is a tool and framework to have a set of processes that allow you to ask the right questions to generate growth ideas, consistently. 

Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation, that is meant to unlock growth ideas to allow startups and less structured organizations to gain traction, as quickly as possible.

This process goes through four main phases that as in a loop comprise data analysis and insight gathering, idea generation, experiment prioritization, and running tests.

The process is ongoing, and it needs to happen over and over before being able to determine whether it works:


One key ingredient of growth hacking is the team. Indeed, the growth hacker isn’t a magician that makes companies grow magically.

Instead, it is a member of a team that coordinates to analyze the data and prioritizes the activities.

Usually, this is a so-called T-shaped profile:


A T-shaped profile is a person that has broad competencies in several areas, together with deep competence in one or two areas of expertise.

Growth hacking is first of all also a way to acquire clients and grow a business.

This means being able to track the activities of the growth marketer and assess at which stage of a sales funnel an activity falls.

Usually, growth hackers refer to the pirates’ funnel, also called the AARRR funnel:


The AARRR funnel has the following stages:

  • Acquisition
  • Activation
  • Retention
  • Revenue
  • Referral

This, of course, is an abstract framework and just one way to assess the path to acquiring customers, and users and gaining traction.

The 10 building blocks of the growth hacking canvas

The growth hacking canvas has ten building blocks. We’ll specifically look at two growth hacking canvases, from and
According to the growth hacking canvas from, those are the following building blocks and questions to ask:
  • Segments & Personas: Who are the customers? What do they think? See? Feel? Do?
  • Value Propositions: What’s compelling about the product to these personas? Why do they buy it, use it?
  • Brand Experiences: What are the key experiences customers have with the product? How do they find it? Buy it? Use it? How does this differ across actors? If a CIO or parent buys it and then a support person or child uses it, how does that work?
  • Branding: What is the personality of the brand? Its positioning? How does it talk about itself? How do is that executed?
  • LexiconWhat words and phrases do customers use to talk about the area? What do they type into Google?
  • Assets: What are the product’s most important brand assets?
  • Activities: What are the most important growth activities?
  • Organic Channels: What organic (unpaid) channels are most important to the product’s branding and growth?
  • Paid Channels: What paid channels are most important to the product’s branding and growth?
  • Promotional Infrastructure: What promotional infrastructure (email lists, in-store displays, social media accounts) is working for the brand?

You can go more in-depth here.

The growth hacking canvas from comprise ten building blocks that can be summarized in:

  • S.M.A.R.T GOALS: Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely
  • TARGET AUDIENCE: Who are you targeting with your specific marketing actions? Why are these segments so important? 
  • ACQUISITION: How do users find you? 
  • ACTIVATION: How can people refer to their friends? 
  • RETENTION: Why would users come back? 
  • REFERRAL: How can people refer to their friends? 
  • REVENUE: How will you get paying customers?
  • BUDGET: What budget will you allocate to which actions?
  • GROWTH AREAS: Which areas will you focus on? 
  • TOOLS: Which tools do you use for each area? 

You can get started here.

Connected Business Concepts And Frameworks

North Star Metric

A north star metric (NSM) is any metric a company focuses on to achieve growth. A north star metric is usually a key component of an effective growth hacking strategy, as it simplifies the whole strategy, making it simpler to execute at high speed. Usually, when picking up a North Start Metric, it’s critical to avoid vanity metrics (those who do not really impact the business) and instead find a metric that really matters for the business growth.

ICE Scoring

The ICE Scoring Model is an agile methodology that prioritizes features using data according to three components: impact, confidence, and ease of implementation. The ICE Scoring Model was initially created by author and growth expert Sean Ellis to help companies expand. Today, the model is broadly used to prioritize projects, features, initiatives, and rollouts. It is ideally suited for early-stage product development where there is a continuous flow of ideas and momentum must be maintained.

Virtuous Cycle

The virtuous cycle is a positive loop or a set of positive loops that trigger a non-linear growth. Indeed, in the context of digital platforms, virtuous cycles – also defined as flywheel models – help companies capture more market shares by accelerating growth. The classic example is Amazon’s lower prices driving more consumers, driving more sellers, thus improving variety and convenience, thus accelerating growth.

Freemium Business Model

The freemium – unless the whole organization is aligned around it – is a growth strategy rather than a business model. A free service is provided to a majority of users, while a small percentage of those users convert into paying customers through the sales funnel. Free users will help spread the brand through word of mouth.

Growth Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Ansoff Matrix

You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived from whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

Digital Strategy

Distribution is one of the key elements to build a viable business model. Indeed, Distribution enables a product to be available to a potential customer base; it can be direct or indirect, and it can leverage several channels for growth. Finding the right distribution mix also means balancing between owned and non-owned channels.


The Blitzscaling business model canvas is a model based on the concept of Blitzscaling, which is a particular process of massive growth under uncertainty, and that prioritizes speed over efficiency and focuses on market domination to create a first-scaler advantage in a scenario of uncertainty.


The general concept of Bootstrapping connects to “a self-starting process that is supposed to proceed without external input.” In business, Bootstrapping means financing the growth of the company from the available cash flows produced by a viable business model. Bootstrapping requires the mastery of the key customers driving growth.

Engines Of Growth

In the Lean Startup, Eric Ries defined the engine of growth as “the mechanism that startups use to achieve sustainable growth.” He described sustainable growth as following a simple rule, “new customers come from the actions of past customers.” The three engines of growth are the sticky engine, the viral engine, and the paid engine. Each of those can be measured and tracked by a few key metrics.


A total addressable market or TAM is the available market for a product or service. That is a metric usually leveraged by startups to understand the business potential of an industry. Typically, a large addressable market is appealing to venture capitalists willing to back startups with extensive growth potential.

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