How Foundation Closes Deals, Serves Clients, and Makes Ad Spend More Efficient with SparkToro

This content marketing agency uses SparkToro to more quickly close new client deals and secure more efficient paid marketing campaigns.


Chris Jordan, Director of Marketing
Ross Simmonds
Founder and CEO

Foundation is a content marketing agency that focuses on SEO-led creation, distribution, and content strategy. Aside from classic keyword research, they also research communities and social media channels to best distribute their clients’ content. But this involves a lot of time-intensive research. So they engaged SparkToro to efficiently identify high-value, low-competition marketing opportunities for their clients. As a result, Foundation has been able to more quickly close new client deals and secure more efficient paid marketing campaigns. Read on for their story.

A Bit of Context

Foundation provides various content marketing services: content strategy, content creation, and content distribution, which includes link building, social media management, and pay-per-click ad services.

Foundation’s team creates both top-of-funnel content (designed to earn search and social traffic) as well as bottom-of-funnel content that’s meant to convert website visitors into leads. They send personalized pitches to bloggers, journalists, and industry publications. This, of course, requires identifying niche communities and social platforms where there’s opportunity for clients’ content to thrive. And the guiding light through all of their efforts is something Foundation calls, "content marketing intelligence."

Content marketing intelligence, according to Foundation, is a means of understanding the business potential of a client’s content — where the client’s business is today, and where it could be after implementing Foundation’s recommendations. They comb through keyword data, social media stats, industry benchmarks, and audience research to find the most salient, high value opportunities for their clients to execute on.

While they’ve found the repeatable processes that make them a successful marketing agency, it used to take hours of time and energy to do the audience research (i.e. what their target customers are listening-to, reading, watching, talking-about, following, etc) that led to business growth for their clients.

Enter SparkToro.

Doing Fast and Reliable Audience Research

The Foundation team historically did much of their audience research through Twitter, Reddit, and other online communities. Using Twitter Advanced Search, they would find an influential account in a given niche, and look up that account’s most-liked tweets to find inspiration around the formats of content that people wanted, the themes that drove engagement, and the stories that carried weight.

They also crowdsourced story angles and channels that were loved by people working in specific industries by studying content in communities like Reddit, Quora, podcasts, Slack communities, forums, Substacks, and Facebook groups. But, when it comes to asking behavioral questions like, “What podcasts help you stay up-to-date in your industry?” they found there’s often a difference in what people say they do and what they actually do.

The Foundation team needed fast and reliable data to better understand the various audiences they serve — so they turned to SparkToro. SparkToro provides insights on what users are saying and doing publicly online. Rather than relying on self-reported data, SparkToro crawls billions of web and social profiles, mapping the data so users can see the influential social accounts, podcasts, websites, media, and YouTube channels in any given niche.

Foundation incorporated SparkToro into their workflow, and they now use its audience research tools to develop pitches for new business, refine their clients’ content strategy, and uncover content distribution opportunities. In one key client win, Foundation secured paid marketing opportunities with a higher ROI than the client’s existing Facebook Ads!

Tapping into Hidden Gems

One of Foundation’s clients, a leading internet infrastructure company, sought to increase awareness in a niche developer community. Foundation used SparkToro to run a thorough analysis of the niche’s sources of influence, and identified high-potential paid marketing opportunities. They then found relevant, organic influencers and analyzed their social media followers. This led them to taking a closer look at SparkToro’s Hidden Gems, social accounts that have good engagement and a solid number of followers but may not yet be mainstream. From there, Foundation uncovered those accounts’ podcasts and newsletters.

SparkToro Websites
SparkToro's Hidden Gems

Foundation reached out to these podcast hosts and newsletter writers, seeking sponsorship opportunities. Then Foundation made the business case to their client: they calculated that by investing in these niche opportunities, they would be able to reach more of their relevant audiences than if they ran targeted Facebook Ads.

SparkToro Websites
SparkToro makes finding relevant podcasts easy

Once they had client buy-in, Foundation invested heavily — up to $50,000. Within a month, the client saw 50% more qualified leads than they were getting from traditional digital advertising efforts.

After this, the client not only renewed their contract, but they also increased their budget with Foundation; no surprise, they’re still working with them today.

Improved Results Throughout the Client Relationship

Since adopting SparkToro into their workflow, Foundation has been able to close deals, deliver better insights and manage projects more quickly.

The velocity of deal closes increased because we’re able to pull data quickly. A lot of agencies use legacy tools that take weeks to gather meaningful insights. At Foundation we can turn things around in a day. Combine that with the fact that SparkToro can help us uncover innovative opportunities to drive ROI and it’s no wonder SparkToro has helped us close and retain some of the fastest growing SaaS brands in the world,

Ross Simmonds, Founder and CEO, Foundation Inc.

Foundation continues to use SparkToro to refine content strategies and distribution processes for their clients. They’re better able to learn how various audiences think, what their sources of influence are, and how to prioritize marketing efforts. They use this audience research to find more efficient micro-influencer opportunities — podcasts, newsletters, and social accounts with relatively small followings and high affinity are less costly than working with traditional influencers or expensive ad networks.

Foundation is also able to better target their earned media opportunities. They secure relevant podcast interviews for their clients, pitch media opportunities that align with target audiences, and identify guest post opportunities for relevant publications.

Business in 2021 has been great for Foundation, but more importantly, it’s been great for their clients. As one of the only content marketing agencies that prioritizes content distribution as a service, Foundation has been able to leverage tools like SparkToro to help them build a competitive advantage as an agency and drive meaningful, measurable results for B2B brands around the world.