December 2016 Update: Since publishing this article, we’ve expanded the Ladder marketing stack with five ridiculously useful new entries. From SEO to analytics and beyond, click the button below to read about the five new tools we started using to grow Ladder and our clients in Q4 2016.

Over the 2 years since Ladder was founded, we’ve worked with 100+ startups and enterprises of all shapes, sizes, and needs.

That client volume means we don’t have the luxury of manual labor.

We can’t spend time doing things the hard way when tools exist to automate manual processes, making our work more streamlined and scalable.

Yet working with small startups means working with organizations that don’t have access to the SaaS platforms we need to help them grow. Enterprises, on the other hand, tend to over-invest in growth tools that often compete with one another.

It’s a problem we’ve had to get around ourselves. Our clients want results, and they want them fast. So we evolved up our own marketing stack – a list of 36 tools that we use to help businesses grow.

We’re sharing the most important pieces of that marketing stack with you.

In this post you’ll find:

  • A list of 45 SaaS growth platforms Ladder uses daily
  • The purpose and functionality of each platform
  • Why Ladder uses each platform
  • A few use cases for each platform

Let’s get started!

First, we’ll dive into our most important platform – one that we developed internally out of a need for better workflow, collaboration, and reporting functionality for our marketing tests.

It’s called the Ladder Planner and it enables our strategists to run smart weekly marketing sprints for our clients. Not a workday goes by without Ladder strategists poring over tests, marketing tactics, and

We found it so useful internally that we actually released it to the public. You can try a free 2-week trial and see for yourself:


Here are the full details:


  • Marketing recommendation engine powered by a database of 1000+ tactics based on $1,000,000s spent in performance testing.
  • Enables users to run marketing tests from a tactic database, get tactic recommendations, or manually create their own.
  • Users can plan, document, and execute weekly marketing sprints, tracking all relevant performance data directly within the Ladder Planner.

ladder screenshot

Why We Use It:

At Ladder, we have a very robust growth hacking process. It drives everything we do for clients on a weekly basis. It’s essentially a smart process based on years of work and thousands of campaigns that lets us handle a massive weekly workload.

But that massive workload would still be impossible without proper tracking and reporting for clients and an easy-to-use platform for strategists to do their jobs. That’s why we created and keep iterating on the Ladder Planner. Everything we do on a weekly basis starts and ends here:

ladder planner

Use Cases:

  1. Marketing test recommendations – The Ladder Planner will give recommendations based on the success rates of prior tests, the needs of specific businesses, and the strategy in play. Strategies come from a database of 1000+ proven growth tactics we’ve used in the past.
  2. Marketing sprints – The Ladder Planner lets you set up and manage weekly marketing sprints, choosing the tests you’ll run for any given week, uploading assets and test details, and tracking performance.
  3. Funnel analysis – Once tests run, you can use the Ladder Planner to generate funnel reports based on test performance. This lets you decide whether to double down on a test that shows a lot of promise or dump it and move on to another tactic.

That’s where we start and end every workday. But while the Ladder Planner lets us manage our entire growth process in one place, it’s the platforms we use outside the portal that then get the job done for our weekly marketing sprints.

Check them out, starting with…

  • Tracking website traffic behavior (pageviews, sessions, time on page, traffic sources, etc…)
  • Tracking website goals (clicks, signups, form completions, new leads, etc…)
  • Tracking AdWords ad campaign performance (quality, conversion rate, lead gen, etc…)

google analytics

Why We Use It:

Google Analytics is the basis for all website traffic information we use to make intelligent marketing decisions. From understanding which traffic sources convert at a high rate to determining the performance of ad campaigns and more, Google Analytics helps us understand the audiences that work well for the businesses we work with.

analytics dashboard

Knowing who our clients’ audiences are, how they behave on their website, where they find out about their businesses, and how they interact with the site’s content tells us what we need to do to drive growth. From implementing SumoMe to decrease bouncing traffic with exit intent modals to creating Facebook ad campaigns because Facebook traffic converts at a high rate, all that data can be tracked with Google Analytics.

Use Cases:

  1. Tracking leads generated – You can set up goals in Google Analytics to track when a form submission is completed. This will let you know every time your website generates a new lead.
    Tracking ad traffic – Your ad may be getting clicks, but are you targeting a high-quality audience? You won’t know unless you see what they’re doing on your site. Google Analytics will let you (with proper UTM tracking) see how your ad’s audience is behaving and whether they’re converting.
  2. Tracking high-level traffic information – Google Analytics has powerful tracking for pageviews and sessions that let you make decisions on which parts of your website perform well.
  3. Example: got a content strategy going? You can track pageviews from different sources to figure out which social media platforms drive the highest quality traffic.

  • Easy site tag and code snippet management for your website
  • Helps you quickly add in code from 3rd party SaaS tools and Google services
  • Removes the need to edit website code to add tags/snippets

Why We Use It:

Google Tag Manager is the free tool we use to set up Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook pixels, and a ton of other services for both our websites and for our clients. It’s a dead-simple, easy to use service that removes the need to add code manually.

tag manager

Use Cases:

  1. Set up Google Analytics – Google Analytics is Google’s free and powerful site analytics tool. GTM makes it easy to add in GA code to your site so you can start tracking how visitors behave on your site and where they come from.
  2. Add 3rd party tools – Many 3rd party SaaS software tools need you to add lines of code to your site. Facebook’s ads platform, for example, needs a tracking pixel. Optimizely requires a snippet in order to run A/B tests. Adding/managing these tags is easy with GTM.

code snippet

  • SEO metrics and analysis based on Google search results
  • Submitting sitemaps and getting your site crawled by the Googlebot
  • Powerful keyword planning tool based on Bing search trends

Why We Use It:

All our SEO work starts with getting set up on Google Search Console. From adding a sitemap to tracking keywords that we rank, Search Console is our go-to dashboard for SEO research.

google search console

Use Cases:

  1. Googlebot crawl – Submit a sitemap to Google Search Console to get your site properly crawled by Google’s crawler bot.
  2. SEO/search error tracking – Sometimes errors might pop up that hurt your search engine rankings. Google Search Console helps you track those errors to keep your site ranking high.
  3. Search traffic – Analytics in Search Console let you track which keywords are getting you the most impressions and clicks and how your site performs on Google Search.

  • Event-based analytics and CRM for mobile apps
  • App usage data & analytics without the need for technical know-how
  • Data segmentation to determine the most important focal points of your app

Why We Use It:

For our mobile clients, we use Mixpanel as a quick and easy way to set up event-based analytics. Mixpanel data helps us suggest targeted app improvements based on the way users behave in apps.


Use Cases:

  1. Improved sign-ups – Data gathered from your app during the registration process can be used to make changes that optimize for more registrations, making signing up more painless for your users.
  2. Cross-platform analytics – If you have a web and mobile app, you can use Mixpanel data to analyze how user behavior differs across platforms. This lets you know whether your mobile app is actually serving the right needs and use cases for your users.

  • For heavy duty SQL-based analytics
  • Collaborative in-depth SQL and Python analytics workflow
  • Powerful interactive report builder

Why We Use It:

Mode Analytics is a tool we use when we need to do some serious data science. We don’t need to bother our clients with the nitty gritty – just get them a data visualization that tells the full story.

Mode Analytics Overview from Mode on Vimeo.

  1. Analyze your database – Use SQL to analyze your database with queries, building easy charts and reports.
  2. Collaboration – Work in the same environment with other data analysts so you’re keeping track of the same data across the board.

  • Website click/heatmaps
  • User experience research through live site/app usage recordings
  • Website form completion tracking & analysis

Why We Use It:

We use Hotjar to see how people are interacting with the websites we’re working on. Click tracking heatmaps tell us what people are clicking on and give us insight into where they’re looking on different landing pages.


Hotjar’s features let us optimize for conversion across the entire funnel, following potential customers across entire websites step-by-step to see how they’re behaving and what may be driving them away.

Use Cases:

  1. Heatmaps – Want to know exactly what elements and areas on your site are getting the most clicks? Hotjar has heatmaps that will tell you exactly where visitors are focusing. This can let you make CTA changes, copy adjustments, and hyperlinks that lead to more conversions.
  2. Registration form data – If you’re not sure how your customers are behaving with your form fields, Hotjar has tracking that allows you to find problem areas. For example, if your form is too long and people are dropping off mid-registration, you’ll learn that from Hotjar.
  3. Visit recording – Hotjar lets you see exactly how users are behaving on your site by recording their visits and giving you a playback. This lets you figure out which elements on your site/app might be confusing to them.


  • Advertising on Facebook
  • Retargeting website traffic with Facebook ads
  • Active, engaged, targeted audience

Why We Use It:

Facebook’s Ads platform is one of the most powerful advertising tools we use. From our own marketing to running ads for clients, we use Facebook to reach a highly targeted audience based on a variety of different behaviors and parameters.

facebook ads

Depending on the client’s need and the audience they cater to, Facebook may or may not be a good place to advertise. We run small tests with different audiences to see what works and what doesn’t, doubling down or moving on depending on the data we gather.

Use Cases:

  1. Interest audiences – People divulge a lot of information about their interests on Facebook, and those interests can be used to narrow down the audience you’re using for a given ad. One approach could be a competitor interest audience, where you target people who Like your competitors on Facebook.
  2. Website retargeting – Facebook’s website tracking pixel lets you know exactly where in the funnel a user may bounce from your page. This lets you run retargeting campaigns referencing items or services they saw on your page to drive them back to your site.

hubspot ad

  • Paid search ads
  • Advertising on other websites via the Google Display Network
  • Keyword Planner for smart ads and content targeting

Why We Use It:

AdWords is critical to both our own advertising efforts and those of our clients. We use AdWords to target high-value, low-competition keywords, as well as to conduct brand defense advertising to prevent competitors from showing up on our / clients’ brand name searches.


Use Cases:

  1. Brand name defense – An ongoing PPC campaign that targets your own company’s brand names helps protect your business from aggressive advertising by competitors.
  2. Google Display Network – You can have your ads appear on Google’s network partner sites, helping expand your reach in a targeted manner to sites that are relevant to your audience.
  3. Keyword Planner – Want to know which keywords to target with ads or content? A keyword analysis in Keyword Planner will give you the information you need to make a smart keyword choice.

Name: Twitter Ads

  • Sponsored and promoted Twitter posts
  • Powerful interest-based and follower-based targeting
  • Lead generation / download-driving card-based ads

Why We Use It:

Twitter’s ads platform is less powerful than Facebook, but still an important tool in our advertising arsenal. From promoting content-related posts to creating lead generation ads, Twitter lets us narrow targeting based on interests and behavior to reach a specific audience.

twitter ad

Use Cases:

  1. Lead Generation Cards – Twitter has a card for lead generation ads that lets you specifically drive signups and registrations straight from an ad.
  2. App install ads – You can create app install card-based ads that let users download an app straight from a button within your ad, driving up app installs with your targeted audience.
  3. Behavior-based targeting – You can target individuals and businesses based on behaviors such as salary, job title, sales revenue, and more.

  • Bing search engine marketing
  • Ads appearing on Bing, Yahoo, and MSN search results
  • Powerful keyword planning tool based on Bing search trends

Why We Use It:

In a similar vein to Google AdWords, we use Bing to have our/our clients’ businesses and ads show up on relevant searches.

bing ads

Use Cases:

See Google AdWords

Name: Pinterest Ads

  • Promoted Pins targeted to appear in the most relevant places on Pinterest
  • Pin targeting based on interests and preferences

Why We Use It:

Pinterest is a special use case for clients that sell products that make sense for the type of audience that visits the site. While it doesn’t work for, say, B2B clients, it certainly works for some eCommerce clients, helping us drive traffic to and grow their Pinterest following.

promoted pins

Use Cases:

  1. High average household income – Pinterest is a great ads platform because of the audience it reaches – high-income people with low spending inhibitions and a lot of disposable income.
    2.Placement targeting – Pinterest lets you get your promoted pins exactly where you need them to be, targeting people based on the things they pin and the accounts they follow.

  • Advertising to a professional audience on LinkedIn
  • Combining powerful business data with user data on professionals
  • Interest targeting combined with business and professional data

Why We Use It:

LinkedIn ads can be expensive, but they can also be ridiculously powerful when properly targeted. We especially love using LinkedIn ads to grow our B2B and SaaS clients, as we’re able to tap into the exact audience they’re looking for.

linkedin ads

Use Cases:

  1. Job title + group targeting – LinkedIn lets you combine two powerful targeting approaches – job titles and groups – into one powerful audience. Want to target only CMOs who are part of marketing LinkedIn groups? You can do that, and much more.
  2. Professional audience – The most important benefit of LinkedIn over Facebook and Twitter is the active professional audience it attracts. This makes it invaluable for reaching people based on what they do and who they work for.
  3. Sponsored content – You can publish content updates to attract followers for your company and grow a readership base for your content.

Design & Development

  • User experience research
  • Videos of real users going through your platform with their comments and concerns
  • Insights into whether your UI/UX design is actually clean and intuitive for your users

Why We Use It:

UserTesting is a critical tool for any platform that wants to retain users. A lot of businesses create web and mobile apps without doing any user experience research to start with. The end result is a lot of assumptions about what works best.


Using UserTesting to see the real, live actions and feedback of a group of early adopters can give valuable information about how and why a client’s app may confuse or drive away users.

Use Cases:

  1. Better onboarding – UserTesting users are first-time registrations and they go through your onboarding process. The feedback they give on its effectiveness can help you create a better onboarding flow.
  2. Conversion optimization – UserTesting isn’t just for your web app – it’s also for any page on your site. Want to test the effectiveness and clarity of your pricing page? You’ll learn quickly whether the page is driving conversions or increasing bounce rate.
  3. Beta testing – There’s nothing worse than launching a broken app and seeing terrible reviews roll in. UserTesting can help you uncover bugs, crashes, and missing features before you officially launch your app.

  • Building & publishing landing pages without any developer involvement
  • Mobile & web responsive landing page builder made for marketers
    Landing page testing & optimization for conversion

Why We Use It:

Unbounce is Ladder’s go-to landing page builder. Whenever conversion rate optimization is the goal, we build a landing page for our clients. This lets us control for CTAs, copy, and design, allowing our in-house design team & strategists to collaborate on conversion-focused LPs.

unbounce landing pages

An Unbounce landing page is nice because we can direct traffic straight to it with ads for a specific purpose. And with templates and some in-house design work, we can build and publish a landing page in a day.

Use Cases:

  1. Ad-specific landing pages – When your ad and landing page match in terms of copy, the result is a much more effective ad. Unbounce lets you quickly build and publish landing pages for the ads you’re about to run.
  2. Pre-launch landing pages – About to launch a new product? An Unbounce landing page can help you start capturing emails and growing buzz before launch.
  3. No designer/dev – If you don’t have the resources, Unbounce is easy to use without coding or design skills. And they offer 200+ landing page templates so you don’t have to lift a finger.

unbounce templates

  • UI wireframing and mockups
  • Easy team collaboration for wireframing/prototype feedback
  • Version tracking and iteration

Why We Use It:

From our Business Ideas post: “Mockups are purposefully rough sketches of what you want your product to look like and how you want it to operate. Because they’re rough, they don’t take as long as a full fidelity design, and they are also less likely to distract people into giving biased feedback. For example they might say they like a product, when they really just like the colors you used. To create mockups I’ve used Balsamiq for years”


Use Cases:

  1. App design – Use Balsamiq to showcase your vision for your app to a designer so they can turn it into a proper prototype.
  2. Clickable wireframes – No need to create separate pages – Balsamiq mockups can be made clickable, simulating how you actually want your app to flow when it’s built out.

balsamiq wireframe

  • Viral campaigns for email list growth
  • Pre-launch buzz building with easy landing pages, exit intent popups, and more
  • Easy-to-build referral program for generating viral sharing activity

Why We Use It:

KickOff Labs is our go-to for creating a viral referral campaign for clients that are about to launch a new product. It lets us create landing pages that focus on email list growth and sharing with friends. When we want to build buzz before a new app or product is released and have a successful launch, the tools provided prove invaluable.

kickoff labs

Use Cases:

  1. Launching a new app – With KickOff Labs, you can create a landing page that has a referral program where people move ahead in line by sharing and getting friends to sign up. This helps you grow your email list exponentially before you even launch.
  2. Crowdfunding – Want to fund your idea’s production costs? You can create a crowdfunding landing page, combining the awesomeness of your idea with viral sharing tactics that give people rewards for getting their friends to buy in.
  3. Contests – Whether pre- or post-launch, you can create contests to drive email capture for your product and drive up orders. The contest can be for a unique item of your choice and people who share get more entries and a better chance to win.

kickoff labs campaign

  • Small website A/B tests
  • Conversion optimization
  • Easy, quick testing to increase engagement, click rates, and conversion

Why We Use It:

Optimizely is one of the most powerful tools we use to grow our clients’ businesses. It lets us run small, low-effort, high-impact copy and creative tests, adjusting landing pages and websites with an eye for conversion optimization.


Optimizely makes the process super-simple. Just a few line of code added to a customer’s website and an easy to use visual website editor lets Ladder strategists run small tests quickly. Optimizely’s A/B testing reports make it even easier to track the effectiveness of those tests.

Use Cases:

  1. Better CTA – If your CTA button isn’t getting clicks, a change in color or copy can make a huge difference. For example, something as simple as adding “>>” to the end of your CTA button copy can greatly impact click rates.
  2. A/B testing copy – Not sure if you’re taking the right approach with your landing page copy? Optimizely makes it easy to change your copy and try a different style that better suits your audience.
  3. Multivariate testing – You can test changes to multiple elements on your site simultaneously to gather user data and make conversion-focused changes.

Content & Blogging

  • Publishing platform for content & blogging
  • Easy-to-implement content management system
  • Themes, dead-simple markdown editor, cross-team collaboration, open source


Why We Use It:

Post-implementation, Ghost is the easiest, simplest, and most visually appealing CMS we’ve used. WordPress is awesome in its own right and is more feature-rich with plugins, but Ghost’s focus on simplicity is what we need out of a blogging platform.

The easy markdown editor makes it so you’ll never have to deal with clunky text editor UI or HTML code

Use Cases:

  1. Create a blog – Want to start sharing your advice & expertise with the world? A quick Ghost implementation by your developers or by a freelancer will get you started right away.
  2. Paid hosting – Want your own personal blog, or don’t want to pay for setting up AWS or any other server infrastructure for your blog? Ghost offers easy-to-implement hosting for your blog featuring automatic backups. As an open source project, all revenue from hosting goes to further development of the Ghost platform.

ghost CMS

  • Build email lists for newsletters, sales, eCommerce, and more.
  • Create automation flows for new list signups, guiding them through drip email campaigns
  • A/B testing subject lines, content, etc… to test different approaches

Why We Use It:

MailChimp is a powerful (though flawed) email marketing tool. We use it to create both internal and client email campaigns and email drip automations. This lets us both share our (and our clients’) content, as well as create automations and campaigns for any given purpose, from conversion to reactivation and beyond.


With MailChimp we can segment email lists and target them with different messaging, create sales email drips that flow differently depending on how subscribers interact with emails, and even track eCommerce sales information directly within the app.

Use Cases:

  1. Weekly content newsletter – Do you run and regularly populate a blog? Start collecting email addresses with a service like SumoMe. Then begin serving that list with your latest blog posts to drive traffic back to your blog.
  2. Sales drip – When you land a new lead via your website, add them to a mailing list in MailChimp. There, you’ll be able to create automation that welcomes them to your list and adds them to a daily drip campaign. You can target that campaign to optimize for conversion.

mailchimp newsletter

  • Add “recommended posts” badge to content in any link you share
    Share links with branded badge to increase traffic to your content

Why We Use It:

We use Start A Fire to create links with branded badges for our content. This enables us to suggest posts based on what content performs best and bake them straight into any link we share on social.

start a fire

Use Cases:

  1. Reach – Grow your content’s reach by suggesting your top performing content for readers that might want to read more of your content.
  2. Buffer integration – Start A Fire integrates with Buffer, making it dead simple to create an entire social media sharing workflow out of your Start A Fire links.


  • Cross-platform functionality automation
  • Workflow automation across SaaS products
  • Routine task automation so you can focus on the work that actually matters

Why We Use It:

Zapier is awesome. It has the ability to connect most, if not all, of the apps you use on a daily basis to one another. That means a whole ton of automation options for the many manual processes you might currently be using to make your apps talk to one another.


The tool lets you build an automated workflow and saves you a ton of time in your workday with its recipes. We use it internally to automate a lot of data flow between MailChimp, our registration pages, Intercom, Hubspot… the list goes on and on.

Use Cases:

  1. Push subscribers to a list – Want to push a new subscribers to one MailChimp list to another list? A Zapier recipe will automatically push those subscribers over at the time of registration.
  2. Keep up to date – An important part of business is tracking metrics in real time. Want to know when you land a new user for your app? An integration between Intercom and Slack, for example, can alert you immediately when a new registration hits.
  3. Project management – Want to use your Gmail emails to create new Asana tasks? Easy.

zapier integration

  • Slack chatbot that helps automate certain reporting tasks
    Ability to request information from colleagues at regular intervals

Why We Use It:

We use as a daily standup tool, helping our strategist team keep in contact with leadership on daily progress, blockers they may be facing, and what they’re accomplishing. We also use it on the content side to remind all Ladder staff to share & promote our content, which has helped drive our blog to unprecedented growth since its beginnings two months ago.

howdy chatbot

Use Cases:

  1. Daily check-ins – Want to know what your team is up to every day? Create a script in Slack and have it run at the same time every day, collecting responses. Review responses and react accordingly, based on what your team is doing and what they need.

  • Social content scheduling
  • Social content sharing automation

Why We Use It:

Edgar is like Buffer, but a lot more powerful. It has the same scheduling capabilities as Buffer, but it also eventually starts to populate your scheduling automatically based on posts that have worked well in the past. We use it to automate our social media sharing so that we can keep focusing on writing great content and serving our clients.

edgar buffer

Use Cases:

  1. Content categories – With Edgar you can categorize your social media posts so that you’re sharing from a specific bucket at any given time.
  2. Bulk post adding – You can add posts via an RSS feed or a CSV straight into Edgar, building your social strategy in a spreadsheet and then putting it into action.

  • Social sharing buttons
  • Exit intent popups and listbuilders
  • Welcome mats, content / click analytics, and more

Why We Use It:

SumoMe is a dead-simple and easy to implement set of website plugins that enable more social activity on your page. From signing up for a newsletter to driving shares, SumoMe’s suite of tools makes it easy and simple to set up the vast majority of activation processes on your site with just a few clicks.

edgar buffer

Use Cases:

  1. Exit intent popup – Get your audience to give you their email just as they’re leaving your page. Drive more signups for your email list.
  2. Social sharing buttons – You can add social sharing buttons to the side/bottom of your page, as well as within the body text of your page, to drive people to share.
  3. Welcome mat – When people visit your site, present them with a welcome mat that includes a call to action to register.


  • Team communication
  • Real-time analytics tracking
  • Daily & weekly standup calls

Why We Use It:

Slack is the way we stay in touch at Ladder. Everything we do in Slack helps us get our jobs done more efficiently.


From direct messages to group channels, it helps us know what everyone’s up to – especially helpful as an international team spread out across the US, UK, and Poland. Furthermore, it also lets us keep informed whenever we land a new lead, and we use chatbots like to automate some processes we previously did manually.

Use Cases:

  1. Team communication – From PSA channels to group channels dedicated to specific functions like sales, content, strategy, etc…, Slack lets you organize your communication efforts under one roof.
  2. Lead/signup channel – You can connect Slack with your favorite apps via Zapier or Slack’s internal integrations to get a ping whenever someone signs up or you land a new lead.

slack zapier

  • Free conference calls via phone & web
  • Screen sharing, collaboration, call scheduling, and much more.
  • Killer hold music

Why We Use It:

UberConference is by far the easiest way to have a conference call for free. They set you up with easy scheduling, your own conference number, and a web dial-in option for up to 10 participants. If you want to pay a bit extra, you can choose your own number, get a toll-free number, have up to 100 participants, and more.


We use UberConference to talk to clients, give them progress and status reports, and present the week’s tests for approval. We also use it for all our sales calls and even some internal communication.

Use Cases:

  1. Easy sales call scheduling – You can link up Hubspot and UberConference to work together and create effortless meeting scheduling.
  2. Never miss a call – UberConference can be set to send you a reminder whenever someone is in your conference line without you. That way you’ll never leave someone hanging on hold.
  3. Call recording – UberConference can be set up to record calls for review. This is invaluable for training and quality control on new sales hires. You can also use some clever Zapier-fu to transcribe those calls into text.

uberconference integrations

Sales Automation

  • CRM software
  • Live chat, in-app messaging, and CRM email marketing
  • Customer data + segmentation with integration with tools like Segment or GTM

Why We Use It:

Intercom is one of our favorites – a powerful CRM that not only lets you store customer / user data, but also lets you set up in-app or on-page live chat, notifications, feedback requests, and a lot more.


We use Intercom in-house to manage relationships with JACK users, from running reactivation campaigns to conducting onboarding and answering questions. We also set our clients up with Intercom when we can to help them better manage their customer relationships.

Use Cases:

  1. On-site chat – Intercom makes it easy for potential customers to chat with you straight from your website with a simple, intuitive live chat plugin.
  2. Onboarding – Once a new user signs up, you can put them on a steady drip campaign of in-app and email messages to onboard them to your product. This helps lessen the friction between learning and effectively using your product.
  3. Customer data – Intercom lets you use tags, segmentation, filters, and data from external services like Segment to keep an eye on customer data. You’ll then be able to understand your audience and properly serve them with the right prompts & content.

intercom dashboard

Name: Stripe

  • Recurring revenue billing for SaaS customers
  • Easy to set up online payment system

Why We Use It:

Stripe is an easy way to set up online billing and recurring subscriptions for our clients. It’s a flexible payment system that can be set up in minutes and works reliably. It’s a secure payment system that doesn’t require much effort in the way of implementation.


Use Cases:

  1. Recurring revenue billing – Got a subscription SaaS product? Stripe can automate billing for you so you can focus on building the best product for your customers, supporting international billing, all credit cards, and most online payment types you can imagine.
  2. Easy payment flow – You can build a simple, easy checkout system with Stripe that lets customers who have already used it in the past pay with just a few clicks.
  3. Slack connection – Stripe integrates with Slack to give you notifications whenever a purchase is completed so you can keep track of your sales in real time.

  • Cold email outreach w/ mail merge capabilities
  • Pre-filled email templates
  • Email click & open tracking

Why We Use It:

YesWare is an all-in-one sales email productivity tool that we use to automate some of our internal sales and marketing processes. From reaching out to prospects with targeted email templates and mail merge to tracking opens & click rates to adjust our outreach tactics, YesWare helps us build smart email habits.


Use Cases:

  1. Attachment downloads – Want to see who did and did not download the whitepaper you sent to your sales lead list? YesWare lets you track downloads. You can then better cater your messaging and sales material to just the group that downloaded the whitepaper.
  2. Open tracking trends – YesWare tracks opens on any given template, letting you know how they perform with your target audience. This info lets you know how you can adjust your subject lines to optimize for open rate.

  • Email open tracking
  • Automatic meeting booking
  • Email templates

Why We Use It:

Similar to YesWare, except with a better meeting booking tool, we use HubSpot Sales to book meetings for our sales process, as well as to create easy meeting booking for our clients.

hubspot sales

Use Cases:

  1. Meeting booking + Slack – You can integrate your HubSpot meeting booking with Slack via Zapier to get notified whenever you land a new meeting with a lead.

Productivity & Collaboration

Name: Asana


  • Project management and organizational tool
  • Team communication and collaboration for project tracking
  • Assigning projects and ideas to team members for completion

Why We Use It:

Asana is the workflow and project management tool we use to stay organized across all aspects of our business. From content to sales, development to strategy, and beyond, Asana is where all our projects and tasks live.


It’s a robust project management suite that’s feature-packed, and we’re always learning something new about what it can do. We’d be a whole lot less organized without it, hurting our work with clients.

Use Cases:

  1. Conversations – Have a brilliant idea you want to bring up with your team? You can start a conversation in Asana, with the ability to add followers and create tasks for different individuals.
  2. Bug tracking – Finding bugs on your site? Create a ticketing system & bug tracking in Asana, assigning them to your developers and properly triaging them by priority.
  3. Sprints & milestones – Once you decide on a set of priorities for a week, month, or quarter, you can create separate collections of tasks you need to get done by a deadline.

  • Email, calendar, cloud file storage, collaboration, & productivity
  • Business & work productivity apps built on Google architecture

Why We Use It:

Google Apps for Work is the all-in-one solution we needed for all our business app needs. We have our business emails, cloud storage, and collaboration all in one place, rather than having to invest in multiple services. We have all our work productivity tools centralized with a single log-in, saving both time and money.

google apps

Use Cases:

  1. Gmail for work – Gmail is the ubiquitous email client for most of the world, and it can be used for work purposes as well. You’ll stay in a familiar client that you likely use daily and can still use the extensions and plugins that make Gmail so powerful.
  2. Collaboration – Work on the same spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and more in Google Drive. Collaborate in real time and share documents without having to send files by email. Easy, simple version control makes Drive supremely effective.
  3. Hangouts – Want to give a demo and need screenshare? Use Hangouts. Want to have a quick business call? Use Hangouts. It’s gotten a bad rap in recent years, but it still is a useful and quick messaging and video call tool.

  • For when Google Sheets can’t get the job done

Why We Use It:

We can do most of the spreadsheet things we need to do in Google Sheets, but sometimes it doesn’t do the job. When that happens, we rely on Excel.

microsoft excel

Use Cases:

  1. Data visualization – Excel is unrivaled in creating graphs, charts, and other data visualizations.
  2. Number crunching – Excel’s formulas are the most powerful tool you could use for spreadsheet-based data science.
  3. Advanced modeling – Complex macros, advanced data models, and anything you could need for your advanced spreadsheet tasks can be done in Excel

  • Music scientifically created to increase focus
  • Helps you get in a productive working mindset

Why We Use It: is amazing, and we swear by it. When you need to sit down and really focus for 30 minute to 2 hour stretch, pop on the Intense Focus channel and it’ll play you intense but non-intrusive music created to get your brain firing. No lyrics, no distractions, just focus music.

brain fm

Use Cases:

  1. Getting in the zone – If you’re feeling out of focus,’s music can get you right back on track.
  2. Open-office focus – Working in an open office can be awesome sometimes, and terrible at other times. It can be impossible to focus – unless you use to both drown out your co-workers’ typing/conversations, and to focus in on your own work.
  3. Relief – After a hard stretch of heavy workloads, you probably need to refresh. also has good channels for relaxation, meditation, reading, and sleep


Name: Google Keyword Planner

  • Free Google keyword research tool
  • Lets you see search volume, suggested PPC bid, and competition level of a keyword
  • Great for researching keywords for your ad campaigns and content strategy

Why We Use It:

Before we do anything with content or advertising, we go to Keyword Planner. Why? Because it’s the most powerful keyword research tool on the market. Despite its newly-imposed limitations, keyword planner is still the best of the best, and we’d suggest running a campaign or two just to unlock the full feature set.

keyword planner

Not a marketer yet? Our co-founder, Michael, has this advice for you: “Stick your credit card down and spend $50 running ads for a business you like. You’ll learn so much from actually running a campaign that’s difficult or impossible to teach to anyone who hasn’t had that experience.”

Wanna learn more about how Ladder hires a marketer a month? Check out our post describing our hiring process: How To Get a Marketing Job (At Ladder)

Use Cases:

  1. AdWords keyword targeting – When you’re not sure how to target your AdWords ad, Keyword Planner will help you find low-competition, high-traffic keywords and suggest PPC bids.
  2. Content targeting – When you’re blogging, make sure you rank for the keywords that matter most. Use Keyword Planner to make sure you’re ranking for a search term that has the higher search traffic – such as growth tactics vs. growth strategies.
  3. Search trend tracking – Use Keyword Planner to keep track of monthly search trends for specific keywords. This will tell you what keywords you should be targeting up to the minute.

  • Finding relevant journalists to pitch for stories & reviews
  • PR research without having to resort to a PR firm

Why We Use It:

JustReachOut is a useful tool when we need to find journalists to pitch a product to. With a few keyword searches, we can find exactly which journalists we should be targeting with outreach for a particular product type. JRO also helps by suggesting pitch templates.


Use Cases:

  • Product launch – Getting press coverage is important to growth after launching a new product, and JRO can be extremely useful in finding the right journalists to reach out to.
  • Reporter relationships – Even if you’re not trying to pitch anything at the moment, it’s useful to have journalist contacts and build relationships with reporters.

  • Influencer research for link building & PR
  • Tracking backlinks & brand monitoring
  • Tracking social media buzz and activity across the web

Why We Use It:

We use BuzzSumo as part of our content efforts, researching influencers and writers based on keywords relevant to our content. We then use the list of articles to compile an outreach list with the help of a dedicated virtual assistant.


Once the list is built up, we reach out to share our latest content. This helps us broaden the reach of our content and find people who may not have read our new articles. It also helps build relationships with writers and companies for co-marketing and content collaboration.

Use Cases:

  1. Backlink requests – Got a great anchor content piece that you really want to rank highly on Google? Backlinks are the way to make that happen. BuzzSumo can let you research writers with high authority that you can then reach out to for backlinking and content collaboration.
  2. Social media pulse – Keeping a strong grip on what social media is reacting to at any given time is important for content creators. BuzzSumo’s Trending Now feature makes it easy to track the latest social trends.
  3. High-performance content – If you want to write content that performs well for your audience, do a little research on BuzzSumo first to find the keywords and articles that are getting tons of shares and activity.

buzzsumo trending

  • SEO/SEM keyword research
  • Domain analytics for backlink tracking, organic traffic research, and more.
  • Site audits & SEO reports for tracking search engine ranking / brand performance.

Why We Use It:

SEMrush is a useful tool for keyword research and SEO monitoring. We use it both internally for our own SEO and content strategies, as well as with clients that need to drive more organic traffic. We also use it to inform some of our paid ad campaigns alongside Google AdWords Keyword Planner, finding the right keywords to target.


Use Cases:

  1. Targeting the right ad keyword – SEMrush has a powerful keyword analytics tool that enables you to find the right keywords for your ads.
  2. Brand monitoring – Use SEMrush to monitor your website’s search engine rankings, your social media growth, backlinks, and more.
  3. Competitor research – SEMrush has a competitor comparison tool that lets you pit your domain against your competitors’, with data like keywords, CPC, and more at your fingertips.

semrush ebay

  • SEO/SEM keyword research
  • Domain authority tracking with Open Site Explorer
  • SEO analytics for site errors, competitive research, and much more.

Why We Use It:

Moz is a useful tool for keeping track of your progress with SEO. From useful SEO content to tools that help monitor the effects of your efforts, we use Moz to build a long-term SEO strategy and organize a workflow around it.


Use Cases:

  1. Domain Authority – Want to know how your SEO efforts are impacting your domain? Or maybe how strong a particular backlink target’s domain authority is? Moz lets you do that research.
  2. SEO workflow – SEO takes time – Moz lets you keep all your efforts in a single workflow so you can keep track of what’s going on and stay organized.

open site explorer

December 2016 Update: 5 New SaaS Tools

December 2016 Update: Since publishing this article, we’ve expanded our SaaS marketing stack with five ridiculously useful new entries. From SEO to analytics and beyond, click the button below to read about the five new tools we started using to grow Ladder and our clients in Q4 2016.

  • SEO/SEM keyword research.
  • Keyword search engine rankings.
  • Uncovering long-tail keyword opportunities.

Why We Use It:

SERPS has become an invaluable part of tracking the organic search growth of the Ladder Blog. Further, it’s become extremely useful in helping us run smart SEO audits for both internal and client-facing purposes. SERPS lets us keep an eye on how our SEO and content marketing efforts are actually performing in organic search.


Use Cases:

  1. Keyword Rank Tracking – Want to know how your SEO efforts are actually performing in Google searches? Pop your main keywords into SERPS and it does the daily tracking work for you.
  2. Organic growth – SEO takes time – SERPS lets you track your organic growth efforts and keep a pulse on how your efforts are actually impacting your business each day.

  • Competitor SEO research.
  • Competitor PPC research.
  • Uncovering keyword opportunities from competitors.

Why We Use It:

SpyFu is a greatly useful tool for spying on your competitors – from what PPC keywords they’re bidding on and how much they’re spending, to what organic keywords they’re ranking on.


Use Cases:

  1. Competitor SEO – Want to know how your competitors are doing in SEO and search engine ranking? Pop their website into SpyFu and get a detailed report on what keywords they’re ranking for, the value of their SEO clicks, and more..
  2. Competitor PPC – Just as important to track is the PPC spend and keyword targeting of your competitors, and SpyFu lets you do that research right in their dashboard.

  • Cross-channel analytics and reporting.
  • Powerful advertising performance reporting.
  • Retroactive data and performance tracking.

Why We Use It:

We started using Funnel as an extremely powerful and robust way to do internal tracking of advertising performance, but quickly realized that it’s also a terrific tool for reporting purposes with clients.


Use Cases:

  1. Generating Reports – Informing stakeholders of the performance of your advertising efforts in a clear and easy-to-use dashboard.
  2. All Channels – Funnel lets you pull data from every channel you can imagine, and you can set up different reports for each ad platform, blogging, organic, social, etc…

  • Website A/B testing.
  • Conversion rate optimization tests.
  • Easy to use visual website editor.

Why We Use It:

VWO became our go-to alternative to Optimizely over the last quarter due to issues we had with Optimizely’s new product offering, Optimizely X, and an overall lack of quality customer support. VWO’s filled in the gap where we can’t use Optimizely and is quickly becoming an in-house favorite.


Use Cases:

  1. A/B Testing – VWO lets you A/B test different versions of your website with an easy visual editor.
  2. Analysis and Reporting – VWO has a powerful analytics and reporting dashboard to see the results of your tests and make smart decisions on where to double down.

  • Create a subscription box business.
  • Landing page builder for subscription box service.
  • Easy way to expand eCommerce offerings.

Why We Use It:

We use Cratejoy to help clients that need to expand their eCommerce offerings beyond their website. Cratejoy lets you create a subscription box service, which ultimately makes sense for clients that want to hone in on a single product and generate recurring revenue from it.


Use Cases:

  1. Monthly Subscription Box – With Cratejoy, you can create a monthly subscription box service for a product that you want to generate recurring revenue from, with Cratejoy managing the sales and subscription process.
  2. Landing Pages – Cratejoy gives you the ability to create your own landing page for your subscription box with your own domain and some powerful (editable) site design templates.

And that’s it – those are the tools we use weekly to grow both our business and those of our clients. That’s not the full list of tools we use – the list leaves out some that we use on occasion, like AdRoll. But what you saw above is what we rely on regularly.

Have any questions about how we use these tools? Tweet at us @LadderDigital!

At Ladder, we build software and offer services to help high-potential businesses accelerate their growth. Is that something you need?









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