How Ladder Cracked TikTok and Grew 500% — Greg Stewart, Ladder

How Ladder Cracked TikTok and Grew 500% — Greg Stewart, Ladder

On the podcast: Profitably scaling TikTok ads, price optimization, and what the team learned from burning hundreds of thousands of dollars on Instagram ads.

On the podcast: Profitably scaling TikTok ads, price optimization, and what the team learned from burning hundreds of thousands of dollars on Instagram ads.

Top Takeaways

📈 Use Micro-Influencers for Early Growth: Niche influencers with between 10k-100k followers provide a direct source to a highly relevant audience. Ladder incentivized Instagram influencers, while the app was in a very early stage, by offering a revenue share; this reinforced the collaborative nature of the partnership and made it financially viable for Ladder. (00:02:39)

💲Adapt Your Pricing Based on Your Core User: Be adaptable with your pricing model based on customer research and feedback. Ladder shifted from a higher price point to a lower one as they learnt more about what value proposition was for their core users. To reach this conclusion, they surveyed their users and analyzed the data using Van Westendorp's pricing analysis. (00:19:36)

🕺🏽Maximize TikTok by Tailoring Your Content: Whereas on Instagram you’re gradually building up an audience, on TikTok you should assume posts are reaching a unique audience every time. This means content on TikTok needs to be made for TikTok — it needs to either entertain or educate, edited in the TikTok style, and should work in isolation without prior knowledge. (00:41:04)

🕸️Using a Web Funnel to Optimize Ad Spend: Ladder efficiently targets the right TikTok audience by directing them to a web quiz. This strategy quickly reveals user preferences, bypassing longer conversion funnels. By embedding pixels in quiz questions, they gain real-time insights into ad performance, enabling rapid optimization of ad spend. (00:49:38)

🪜 Building a Retention Mechanism within the App: By building your product around retention metrics, you’ll naturally build a retentive product. For Ladder, its use of team chats are wildly popular, creating accountability and motivation in its users. And because these social elements drive so much consistency and retention, they work hard on driving users to these chats as quickly as possible. (01:04:49)

About Greg Stewart

📱CEO and Founder of Ladder, a fitness app dedicated to providing the world's best strength training plan from the world's best coaches, every single day.

💪 Greg took Ladder from zero to a million dollars in ARR with a zealous early focus on product iteration.

💡 “As a consumer business, I have learned that there is no muscle more important than growth — investing in growth, product-side growth, [and] retention. To have those learnings and that dial being controlled outside the building now makes no sense whatsoever to me.”

👋 LinkedIn | X, formerly known as Twitter

Links & Resources

Connect with Greg via LinkedIn

Connect with Greg on X

Join Ladder

Ladder on X

Episode Highlights

[0:54] Covid obstacles: Ladder launched during the pandemic but was initially geared toward gym goers. Early UA wasn’t about focus on revenue, but on product iteration to validate product-market fit.

[4:35] Loyal followings: Instagram microinfluencers were a key part of Ladder’s early strategy for driving UA — aiming for “perfect alignment” with fitness coaches.

[8:34] Onboarding: Ladder had a specific method for recommending programming based on lead source.

[12:41] From influencer to team member: The right partners were a fundamental part of Ladder’s success, not as a creator or tool-based platform but as a consumer business.

[16:46] Hardcore product iteration: Greg and his team built a set of tools for coaches after they hit a million dollars in ARR.

[22:54] Honest ad lessons: Instead of focusing on ad optimization and efficiency, Ladder asked how to tell the right stories to the right people.

[24:40] Decreasing price: The team went deep on analysis before lowering the price, with a single-minded commitment to Ladder as a customer-based business.

[30:35] New Year’s resolutions: A lack of growth following their best month ever mobilized Ladder to create a framework leading to effective growth loops.

[34:07] TikTok tactics: With diminishing returns from their Instagram efforts, Greg and his team decided to forge a new path via TikTok, which ultimately paid off.

[39:20] Money where your mouth is: “Organic is the best indication of winning content,” Greg says. But engaging content needs an effective CTA. The roundabout but telling answer is to understand your customer and provide value rather than paying too much attention to acquisition or monetization.

[48:29] CTAs that work: To reel them in, be upfront and direct to customers — and offer verifiable results.

[49:56] Hacking algorithms: Web quizzes are winners for identifying buyer personas, driving a critical move for managing spend.

[57:05] Bye-bye, LTV:CAC: Payback period is much easier to grapple with than variables that are out of the control of the team, helping Ladder to iterate on its annual offering thanks to a good handle on retention.

[1:05:06] High retention: Relentless focus on the customer’s view and experience is the key to driving UA and retention.

[1:14:56] Skeptical prerogative: Rather than building copycats and raising money, ensure there’s a clear differentiator around which the entire business is built. That way lies growth and scaling.