SparkToro Demographics: 3 Underrated Ways to Upgrade Your Marketing

It’s been about one year since we launched Demographics in SparkToro, and it’s one of our most popular features. Many of our customers use the insights to develop personas, run programmatic ads, evaluate brand marketing partnerships, and more.

But I have a feeling there are even more creative use cases that our community hasn’t yet tapped into.

So I’m outlining these cheat codes below. Enjoy!

Use job titles to reach people by their demographics

We get this question pretty often: How do I find the sources of influence for my audience of Gen Xers?

The best way to do this is to think more holistically about this audience. Do you already know of a social account that’s popular among this age group? Better yet, can you guess a self-identifier that they’re likely to use in their social media profile? Like a job title?

In a recent customer interaction, I suggested our customer find their audience of Gen X marketers with a potentially common job title: VP of Marketing.

SparkToro overview of some of the behaviors and demographics of people whose profiles include “VP Marketing”

My hypothesis is that these people have been in marketing for 10+ years and are likely to have reached the title of VP. I then compared this query against the title of “Marketing Director,” to see the differences in audience attributes across marketing levels. I figure a person with the title of “Marketing Director” is likely to report to a VP. A director might even be younger than a VP. 

Of course, we know that people of different ages can have different job titles — and age does not equal seniority level in a company. But I think it’s likely that in many instances, there is a correlation between age and job title.

In looking at the SparkToro Demographics of both queries we can see that in the age range of 36-50, 44% of people self-identify as Marketing Directors. And 48% of people who self-identify as VP Marketing. So while those percentages aren’t that different, my hypothesis holds some truth.

SparkToro Demographics data that show in the Gen X audience, 44% of people self-identify as marketing directors, and 48% self-identify as VPs of marketing

Next, I looked at SparkToro’s Compare Audience to compare how the sources of influence differ in VP Marketing vs. Marketing Director. Here are a few screenshots and some key differences:

SparkToro Compare Audience data of marketing directors and VPs of marketing
  • Social: Rand is a top follow for people who self-identify as VP Marketing. This is interesting to me because he’s also a Gen X-er!
  • Websites: and are popular websites for VPs of Marketing. Perhaps those are some sites to read, pitch or sponsor?
  • Hashtags: A top hashtag for VPs of Marketing is #digitaltransformation. This stood out to me because it’s representative of the business challenges someone in a leadership role would face in a non-tech company. Transitioning to digital tools is likely a top-of-mind pain point, and I think it’s worth analyzing that hashtag in SparkToro to see what other sources of influence or inspiration pop up.

It’s not to say that job titles will always yield perfect clues about demographics. But it’s a starting point that can help provide the breadcrumbs to marketing opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

Market more effectively to your email subscribers through firmographic + demographic data

This has become my favorite way to enrich the data of an email list. You might think you know your email subscribers well — after all, you grew that list. 

But you might be surprised. For instance, I had a feeling that most of the people subscribed to my personal newsletter were marketers, but I hadn’t thought through what kind of marketers they are, whether they work in B2C, DTC or B2B.

So I uploaded my list into Clearbit, a lead enrichment platform, and found this:

Screenshot of Amanda’s email subscribers’ firmographic data in Clearbit

Turns out my list is largely made up of B2B SaaS marketers and they work in small businesses! And a lot of them use MySQL, which is fascinating to me because I have no idea how to use SQL. (In fact, there is a good chance that I even wrote that sentence incorrectly.)

This firmographic data gives me a lot of ideas for SparkToro queries. I can now search for:

  • My audience uses these words in their profile: B2B SaaS
  • My audience frequently uses the hashtag: #smb
  • My audience frequently visits the website:

From there, I can learn about these audiences’ demographics, and try entering those as additional queries in SparkToro. For instance, among the B2B SaaS audience, other notable employer industries are Marketing & Advertising, and Venture Capital & Private Equity. Their most mentioned interests are Education, Science and Technology, Children, and Health.

Demographic data of the audience whose profiles include “B2B SaaS”
Skills and interests of the audience whose profiles include “B2B SaaS”

Future SparkToro queries could be anything from “My audience frequently talks about: investing” to “My audience frequently talks about: education.”

What I personally find most interesting in audience research is looking for the phrases people are discussing publicly online. We know that a keyword research tool will tell us what people are searching for and how often. But it’s only through audience research that we’ll know who is talking about these keywords or phrases.

So in this audience of B2B SaaS, we can see that people are talking about landing pages, content strategy, email marketing, and customer journey. (Er… I should probably create more content on all those things.)

Text Insights of the audience that’s in B2B SaaS

This one-two punch of firmographic and demographic data can give you a solid roadmap for what to do with your marketing efforts for the foreseeable future.

Analyze self-identifiers to bolster your audience personas

No, personas are not just about gender and age. And absent audience research, buyer personas aren’t really all that useful.

But if you have a suite of audience personas — made up of buyer personas, amplifier personas (those who are likely to amplify you, like journalists and creators), and attention personas (those who are likely to pay attention to you, like investors and peers) — you can consider running SparkToro queries that represent the people across your audience.

Let’s say you sell a product or service to the executive suite. It might be a good idea to search for titles like CEO, CMO and CFO.

Or if you’re a PR leader who wants to learn about potential amplifiers, you could run SparkToro queries for people who self-identify as writers, podcast hosts, or YouTubers.

Or you could even search for your competitors in SparkToro and see how the demographic breakdown differs.

From there, take a look at their Skills & Interests, and look for patterns and differences. In results for CEO, CMO and CFO, I found that management and leadership were common skills among the three groups. Unsurprising. But I also found that “startups” was a common skill in CEOs and CFOs, while “business development” was common in CEOs and CMOs.

Most Mentioned Skills among CEOs, CMOs and CFOs

What’s more, searching for self-identifiers can also open up whole new customer segments in the consumer marketing space. If your website gets decent traffic, you can run a query in SparkToro and see how that website audience self-identifies. For instance, some common self-identifiers among people who visit the website of CBD brand House of Wise include founder, blogger, DTC, and writer. Their audience isn’t just “women.” It’s inclusive of entrepreneurs, creators, and people who work in the direct-to-consumer space — some of whom may or may not be women.

SparkToro overview of the audience that frequently visits the House of Wise website

For eyeglass brand Warby Parker, common self-identifiers in their audience include designer, creative, and writer. If they wanted to expand their co-marketing efforts, they might look to the design and creative community.

SparkToro overview of the audience that frequently visits the Warby Parker website

The data on self-identifiers offer some solid clues for what people with these job titles are thinking about. It can give you a sense of motivations to keep a pulse on as you build out personas, and hopefully, it’s inspiration as you develop content pillars for your blog and social media.

These days, we would all be wise to get a little bit scrappier and more creative with our marketing efforts. Give these tactics a spin and see if you can find some additional use cases with our Demographic data.