It's Kind of Magic, Really

“Our margins went from 7% to 37%” - Using SparkToro, digital marketing agency Truly, Inc. massively reduced time spent in arduous audience research, while boosting accuracy and client ROI.

A Bit of Context

Truly, Inc is a digital marketing firm that focuses on building insights-driven strategies using digital ethnography. Their unique position in the industry involves their intimate and detailed research of social groups and behaviors online.

This detailed, ethnographic research can often be time-consuming and eat into profit margins, but the Truly, Inc team overcame this hurdle by introducing SparkToro to their research process.

Addressing the Problem

Truly, Inc are known for their precise formulation of painstaking research, consisting of a detailed manual investigation process, channel exploration, listening, and audience observation. This detailed manual analysis is a vital part of the company's success, and something no other software had previously managed to emulate or effectively automate.

Truly, Inc’s research process
Truly, Inc’s research process

However, Truly, Inc faced a problem: the inordinate hours this critical research took, and how that lengthy research ate into profit margins.

When CEO Tara Hunt met with SparkToro founder, Rand Fishkin, early in the product’s development, she had an instinctual trust that the tool would be able to unblock her team’s burdensome investments in these time-heavy, audience research tasks.

When Rand told me what he was building with SparkToro, I just about fell out of my chair! I've been hoping for a platform like SparkToro for years because it does in SECONDS what used to take us months.


Tara Hunt, CEO

Why SparkToro?

Truly, Inc provides something unique in the digital marketing sector: deep audience insight. That insight makes the campaigns they run—paid and organic—remarkable. Tara wanted a tool to assist with all the marketing tactics Truly helps their customers invest in, but it had to be accurate and comprehensive to serve as a real substitute for manual research.

Which elements of Truly, Inc's client services did SparkToro serve?

  • Digital PR - showing which sources reached Truly’s clients’ audiences.
  • Content marketing & amplification - giving Truly influential people and publications to pitch for every new content piece.
  • Digital advertising - informing social and display ad campaigns with hyper-relevant audience topics and interests.
  • Audience building - boosting the growth opportunities for their clients’ publications and websites with targeted, engaged audiences.
  • Market / audience research - learning the behavioral attributes, preferences, and sources of engagement for any audience, on the fly.
  • Ethnographic research - digging deeper into specific groups that resonated with their clients products and services to deliver better pitches and higher-ROI campaigns.

SparkToro was able to cut across several elements of the existing processes, with effective and streamlined alternatives. Whereas previously a research project might have taken days (or weeks) of manual research, SparkToro offers insights and information at the click of a button - saving the team days, and sometimes weeks.

With our ethnographic research, it's important to hone in on the community quickly... I used to spend a month finding the audience before I could even begin to start listening. With SparkToro, I can find niche communities of interest quite quickly... usually within a day. This allows me to get to the listening stage of my process quicker

But the choice to use SparkToro wasn't only based on saving time.

The search features and audience insights offered by SparkToro are also unique and exceptionally useful for brands needing to research audience patterns, behaviors, and interests.

SparkToro gives an incredible snapshot of an audience across multiple social networks, search, and even podcasts (which is so unique!). In a matter of seconds, I can get a view into the affinities of an audience, see who influences them, see what they're reading, what hashtags they're using, the websites they frequent, and more.

The Results

Introducing Sparktoro to the Truly, Inc workflow, several improvements were seen across the business:

  • Research became more straightforward and time-efficient
  • Projects became more streamlined
  • Profit margins improved
  • Client happiness increased

With SparkToro facilitating Tara's workflow, making her process more efficient and time-saving, she was able to deliver work to clients quickly and within budget. Where there had once been an issue with research running over budget (resulting in reduced profit margins), SparkToro helps minimize this risk and save time.

I can confidently say that we save weeks of work with SparkToro, which makes our clients happier! Our margins also went from about 7% to 37% the year we signed onto SparkToro.

Using SparkToro also helped Truly, Inc organize and prioritize their workflow, and even exposed new information and data they hadn't had access to before (specific research on podcasts, for example).

The audience data in SparkToro actually helps us shape editorial and helps us find writers for the brand publications - like Futurithmic.com for Nokia or Realtor.ca for the Canadian Real Estate Association - that we can reach out to for coverage!

SparkToro is a crucial component of their new research process. It is also an integrated part of their new business strategy, ensuring work is delivered timely, within budget, and with healthier margins.

Now I know where to put my efforts into my content, where to focus my engagement, which networks to spend money on, and which influencers to partner with. In a split second. It's kind of magic, really.