If you’re like me, you’ve known for some time now that Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, has been working on a new software. That software is SparkToro, an audience intelligence tool he’s developed with co-founder Casey Henry.
But what exactly does it do? Can it truly give you deeper insights into your target audience? Most importantly, how will it help your content marketing, social media marketing, and all-around digital marketing efforts?
Luckily, I was provided 7-day access to a free press version to find out.
In this article, we’ll discuss what SparkToro is, how it works, its pricing options, some interesting features, what I like about it (and what I don’t), and much more.
Let’s jump right in.
SparkToro Review: What Is It?
SparkToro is an audience intelligence platform meant to provide you deep audience insights. With just a few clicks, you can find out which websites your audience frequently visits, which YouTube channels they’ve subscribed to, what Twitter accounts they follow, which podcasts they listen to, and more.
Until now, this data could only be found through conducting grueling surveys, carrying out even more grueling manual research, or by being an extremely dedicated and creepy stalker (hopefully you’re used to just the first two).
As soon as you log in, you’re greeted by two videos. The first is a 2-minute watch describing in simple terms what SparkToro is and how it helps.
The other is a 6-minute video detailing exactly how SparkToro works, what makes up its database of information, and how it presents all of that information to the user.
So… How Does it Work?
SparkToro crawls countless social media accounts and web pages and stores it in its database (without any personally identifiable information, which is great). Then, it aggregates all overlapping and similar information to present to the user according to their search.
The search feature is broken down into two parts.
The first part lets you decide what kind of information you want and the second part determines what you want that information to be about.
Here’s what it looks like:
First, you need to select a search type from the drop-down menu. Then, enter your keyword(s). You can also specify a location.
The following are some examples of what searches can look like.
- frequently talks about video games
- uses these word(s) in their profiles aviation airplanes pilots
- follows the social account Elon Musk
- frequently visits the website www.facebook.com
- frequently uses the hashtag #designinspiration
Now, based on your search (regardless of which type of search it was), it will present all of the following data:
- Which social accounts that audience follows (including Twitter, LinkedIn, GitHub, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and more)
- What websites they visit and share
- Which podcasts they follow and share
- The YouTube channels they follow and are subscribed-to
- More audience insights, such as geographic distribution and common words/phrases used in their bios
For example, let’s take our first sample search “my audience frequently talks about video games.”
The results will tell me which social media profiles those that talk about video games follow. It will tell me which podcasts they listen to. It will show me a list of all the websites they visit and the YouTube channels they follow, and so on.
Here’s a screenshot of the entire results page:
This information can help me plan out an outreach campaign, which websites I should try guest posting on, which influencers I should try getting noticed by, which podcast I can try and land a guest spot on, and much more.
In other words, this tool is lit, fam.
SparkToro Review: What Features Does It Have?
Let’s take a look at all the features that come with SparkToro.
Everything I’ve detailed so far is what makes up the Audience Intelligence tool—so let’s move on to the next feature.
This is a particularly interesting feature that caught my eye. The Compare Audiences tool lets you, wait for it…. compare audiences. Here, the search bar from earlier shows up twice and presents data from two audiences.
Here’s what it looks like:
To me, this is very cool.
Since I believed that content marketing was getting a bit stale, I created a content marketing agency that specializes in 2D animation. We mix creative content marketing with amazing animated explainer videos. However, those are two very completely different things.
For that reason, I’ve always needed to compile two sets of data every time I do any kind of research. Additionally, I’ve always had to carry out two different kinds of marketing efforts. But now, thanks to Compare Audiences, I can pull up and analyze data on both of these things at once. This allows me to find any overlap and zero-in on it. I can now find channels, podcasts, websites, social media profiles, YouTube channels, etc., that both audiences have in common—and build a campaign or content asset focused on it.
They say that the riches are in the niches, and this tool here is your shovel.
The Profile Search tool allows you to enter either a social profile/website of a brand or person and pull up a ton of data regarding its/their audience.
For example, if a run a test search on Moz’s social profile, I’ll see Moz’s SparkScore (more on this later), Engagement score, average number of posts per week, and their average number of posts per month.
Additionally, I’m presented with the words that are frequently used in the bios of Moz followers, a breakdown of Moz’s entire following across different social platforms, the websites Moz followers frequently visit, the words Moz followers frequently use in posts they share, a city-level geographic distribution of Moz followers, and other social accounts that Moz followers frequently visit.
All that data in a matter of seconds—that’s actually pretty dope.
While going through all the information that SparkToro provides (and the subsequent ideas that run through your mind), it’s easy to forget stuff. You may also want to save a certain website, podcast, etc., and come back to it later.
For that reason, SparkToro offers the Lists feature.
It’s essentially a way to bookmark a certain result so you can easily pull it up at a later time.
As a content marketer, let’s say that I want to find the most popular content marketing podcasts. I do my search and navigate down to the list of podcasts. Each result that shows up on the page (whether podcast, website, or social account, etc.) has an “Add to List” button next to it:
Once I click that button, I can add that item to either an existing list or make a new one. As a result, I can create a ‘Content Marketing Podcasts’ list and add all of the podcasts I’m interested in to it.
All of my created lists will then show up under the “Lists” tab at the top of the page.
All in all, it’s a straightforward and super necessary tool.
SparkToro Review: Free Tools
Aside from the features mentioned above, SparkToro also comes with a few free tools. You can use these tools regardless of whether or not you’ve signed up for a plan.
Fake Followers Audit
By entering a Twitter account, you’re able to see how many fake followers that account has. The algorithm works by taking a sampling of 2,000 random accounts that follow whatever account you typed in, then looking at several factors relating to low-quality, bot, or spam accounts.
From there, if a profile triggers 7-10+ of the following signals, it’s considered fake:
- New Twitter User
- Display Name
- Location Issues
- Over Sharing
- Number of Followers
- Profile Keywords
- Default Profile Image
- URL Issues
- Number of Tweets
- Time Listed
- Number Following
If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty details of how this tool works, you can read all about it in this post.
Now, let’s run a report on my Twitter account and see how many fake accounts make up my insanely massive follower count of 45:
As we can see, 11.1% of my followers are fake. Wait, what? I swear I had nothing to do with this. Abort mission!
Trending is a page that displays all of the high-performing content and topics in the online marketing world. It analyzes tweets from thousands of marketers and displays/ranks those that are receiving tons of attention (likes, retweets, etc.).
It’s a powerful reading list of sorts that you can check out to find insights on different topics related to marketing. The list is refreshed every 15 minutes so you can stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and news (if it’s worthy).
You can also link your Twitter account so your sharing activity can be counted, as well.
The list displays the top 25 stories of the day. It also provides you with different dates and months so you can go back in time and read up on anything you may have missed.
You can check out this post if you want to read up on how the algorithm/tool works.
When it comes down to it, number of followers is a vanity metric. No, I’m not just saying that because I only have 45 followers (yes, I am).
According to SparkToro, to measure the true influence of a Twitter account, you need to analyze two other variables: interaction and engagement.
For example, a Twitter account whose tweets get countless retweets, tons of likes, comments, and shares are more influential and impactful than an account that gets little to no engagement but has more followers.
However, the only way to determine such a thing would be through hours and hours of manual research.
And as a wise woman once said: “Aint nobody got time for that.”
Fortunately, this is where SparkScore comes in.
SparkScore analyzes all those variables and gives you a score on a scale of 1 to 100, so you can get an accurate idea of how influential an account really is. For instance, if an account has 1000s of followers, but only receives a few likes or reshares per tweet, it would have a low SparkScore. It also gives you two numbers, global and relative. This way, you can see how an account compares to accounts of a similar size, as well as, against every other account, in general.
For example, let’s take a look at my guy Conor McGregor’s SparkScore:
I’m no SparkScore expert (yet), but I’d say 99 out of 100 is pretty damn good. 100% of his tweets get engagement and he also has an Engagement score of 89.
SparkToro Review: Pricing Options
SparkToro is broken down into five different plans:
- Free: The free version gives you access to a single list and one user. It’s best for someone who simply wants to test SparkToro’s functionality and get acquainted with how it works. With the free plan, you get 5 searches per month and limited results.
- Basic: The basic plan is $150/month on a monthly plan and $112/month if you opt for annual billing (saving you $456/year if you plan on using it for the long run). It provides you with 100 searches per month, the top 50 results, unlimited lists, and up to 5 users. This plan is best for solo consultants or individual in-house marketers.
- Premium: The premium plan is $350/month with monthly billing and $225/month if billed annually. The plan provides up to 300 searches per month, unlimited lists, up to 25 users, and displays all results.
- Unlimited: The unlimited plan is $600/month if billed monthly and $450/month if you pay for a year upfront. With this plan, you receive unlimited monthly searches, access to all results, unlimited lists, and up to 50 users. This, of course, is best for bigger agencies or content marketing teams & enterprises.
- 7-Day Pass: A 7-day pass is $450/week. It’s a one-time payment and you receive up to 1,000 searches for the week. You also gain access to all results, unlimited lists, and one user. This plan is best for anyone who just needs to use it once or twice but needs to gather a ton of insights, or if you’re only using it for a client.
Not gonna lie, I’d have to say that this tool isn’t cheap.
What I Don’t Like About SparkToro
To be genuinely honest (and fair), there aren’t many things that I don’t like about the software. The only thing I can actually think of is the price. It is a bit on the expensive side, fam. Maybe they can cook up a COVID-19 special offer of sorts that allows for a free month or two if you sign up for anything above the free plan?
Other than that, it is the first tool of its kind. For that reason, anything else that I could list down as a dislike would more so just be an improvement I’d like to see or an additional feature I’d like to have.
For example, there aren’t any features that allow you to quickly share information. Whether a ‘click to Tweet’ option of sorts or integration with third-party apps like Slack, so you can instantly info-dump stuff to a co-worker, being able to share select information would be awesome.
Aside from that, it would be great if it could help you come up with some content ideas for the data you pull up, though that might be a bit far-fetched (I’m getting spoiled now, I know).
SparkToro Review: Is It Worth It?
Ultimately, I think that SparkToro is definitely a tool that every marketer should be familiar with/could make use of. The data it provides in seconds would otherwise take you weeks, if not months, to gather manually. The Compare Audiences tool is particularly cool and will come in very handy for me moving forward.
Additionally, I can totally see SparkScore taking off and becoming a new metric to track. This also means that another Rand-founded-software will be responsible for a metric that marketers argue over, i.e., the whole Domain Authority is/isn’t a direct ranking factor debate.
All jokes aside, SparkToro is a unique tool that provides even more unique insights. Though it is a bit costly, you could always make up for it by putting the data to use and executing highly successful marketing campaigns and achieving a great ROI.
And that’s a wrap for my SparkToro review—I hope you found it useful!