Finding Your Target Audience’s Sources of Influence & Contact Marketing The Modern way

Amanda Natividad is a marketing architect at SparkToro and formerly head of marketing at Growth Machine and Lifopia

Intro: Welcome to the WP-Tonic WordPress and SaaS podcast, Jonathan Denwood and his co-host Steven Sauder interview the leading experts in WordPress e-learning and online marketing to help WordPress professionals launch their own SaaS. Take it away, guys.

Jonathan Denwood: Welcome Back folks to the WP-Tonic this week in WordPress and SaaS. We’ve got a great guess. I know I do often say that, but I’ve been watching a lot of her previous interviews. She is a true marketing expert. Totally knows her stuff and it’s should be a great show. We’ve got Amanda, I’m gonna let Amanda introduce herself and her surname. I’ve decided not to embarrass myself and try and pronounce it because with respect to Amanda. Amanda is the chief architect at SparkToro. We are friends of Rand. Rand’s been on the show a few times as well, and it’s just gonna be a blast of a show. So Amanda, can you quickly introduce yourself to the WP-Tonic tribe?

Amanda Natividad: Yes. Thank you so much for having me, Jonathan. My name’s Amanda Natividad. I am the marketing architect over at SparkToro. Although marketing is sort of a third career for me. Throughout my marketing career, I’ve worked at direct to consumer brands, B2B brands, all in various content marketing and head of marketing roles. But prior to this, I was a tech news journalist and then a classically trained chef.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, multi-talented, unlike me tribe. What’s it like to work with an SEO content legend.

Amanda Natividad: It’s incredible. I mean, it’s as amazing as you might think. But one funny thing was when Rand and I were talking about working together, I sort of had this panicked imposter syndrome moment, and then I blurted out, I’m not that good at SEO. I’m just okay at it. And he kind of looked at me blankly, like, and he said, I don’t care
Jonathan Denwood:
Amanda, He does that every time he comes on this show, he just looks at me. So Steven, would you like to introduce yourself to the tribe, Steven, the new people that are listening to us? 
Steven Sauder:
Yeah, my name’s Steven Sauder from If you have complex WordPress problems and it feels like you’re banging your head against the wall we can help solve ’em.

Jonathan Denwood: Yep. That’s great. And before we go into the main part, this great interview, I want you to listen to a message from our great main sponsor. We’ll be back in a few seconds. ‘

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Jonathan Denwood: We’re coming back. Like I say, you really want to utilize our sponsor service. They’re the champions when it comes to podcasting. So let’s go straight into it Amanda. So, content marketing, a big subject really still important, but I think it’s changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. What are the main couple things that you think have changed in the landscape, Amanda?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah, so I think over the past couple of years, the biggest thing that has changed is what is it? The EAT aspects of SEO. It’s what expertise authority. And what’s the last one. I’m blanking on it.

Steven Sauder: People just say eat and I’m like, oh yeah. Like, I know I know what that means, but like I always forget what each letter actually stands for-

Amanda Natividad:  Trustworthiness. That’s what it is. Its expertise is authoritativeness and trustworthiness. So I think over, especially in the recent, I think it was two years or so. The algorithms have been updated to try to filter out any untrustworthy content. So I think it’s been a pretty big change in recent years. We’ve seen a lot, of health and wellness websites get dinged for this. If they were not a trustworthy resource, if they didn’t have, good authority or good re or good, citations there, that was,  certainly a big issue in health and wellness. Not even just health I think also industries like finance legal, so that has become, kind of a big change in the recent years. I think, overall in the past, what, 10 to 15 years of SEO, we’ve seen the industry go from what some have perceived to be kind of a spammy or kind of scammy thing where people just try to get listed in directories to, business owners and marketers really trying to do a good job of providing the most helpful and valuable content to searchers.

 So I think we’re seeing a lot of that. I think there are a lot, of terrific examples in all industries of great blogs that are, ranking high in search and very much deserving it. So I think that’s been some of the changes and I think. The last thing I’ll say here is I think, especially over the past, one and a half to two years, amid the pandemic that we’ve been seeing a lot more marketers and a lot more teams become savvier about, sort of what I’ll call like non-paid marketing. Those side of marketing, that’s more focused on content and brand. I think we’ve been seeing a lot more marketers become savvier about that and a lot more business owners and stakeholders become aware of the fact that those things are long term investments, and over time they can pay you dividends on, your search ranking, your, your reputation, brand awareness. Those are things that I think are becoming not, marketers, or are becoming, savvier about.

And, I think it’s been a great opportunity for content marketers over the past year, right? Because we’ve seen that there’s been tremendous as physical events, had gone away last year. More and more brands had turned to content, as sort of the means to replace events. And I think people are seeing a lot more success with that

Steven Sauder:
When, people are talking about content today, do you feel like the conversation is still primarily around the written blog, post SEO type stuff? Or has that expanded because now there’s like a thousand different ways to publish content whether that’s, YouTube or podcasts or social media? Is content still like when people are talking about it and referring to it, is it still like mainstream more little, like more like long-form written pieces?

Jonathan Denwood:
Oh, that’s a great question. I dunno. So I think, I think the answer is in a lot of, I don’t wanna say the smartest people because, I don’t want to put anyone down, but I will say a lot of the marketing teams who are very good at brand marketing and very good at, seeing their marketing efforts as a long term investment, I think yes, are seeing content as more than just a blog or more than long-form content. And I think people are starting to, to understand, the need to optimize for YouTube. And, I think for some people that’s still kind of a, I mean, it’s still kind of a black box. We don’t know exactly the recipe to rank high on YouTube. I think more of us know how to do that on Google search proper, but I think people are still discovering ways to do this on YouTube.

And I think, like in shows like this, right, where, podcasters and show hosts are understanding the need to also cross-promote or cross publish on, YouTube. Like I don’t even think this is that common. I mean, I’ve seen this before, but it’s not, something to all podcasters do. So I think we are still kind of in these early days of reimagining what content is and it doesn’t have to be a blog. It doesn’t have to be anyone thing, but I think people are starting, to understand the different kinds of content platforms that work best for them and for their capabilities and interests.

Steven Sauder: Yeah. And I think you’re right. Like somehow it always feels like it still links back to somewhere where there is written something. Like a, a podcast will have show notes, right? Like on their website or a YouTube video will be posted alongside several paragraphs or something. Like it still exists in this written space because I mean that’s the web.

Amanda Natividad: Yeah. I agree. And there’s a little bit of that in YouTube, too. Right. Where, in the show, just in the video descriptions, we have all those opportunities for latent links, adding chapter markers, and also those things are all text. But that’s what helps you rank.

Steven Sauder: That’s so true. I didn’t even think about that. Like if I think back, like at my own like YouTube browsing, viewing history, like the number of times that I’ve opened up, like what has been written about the YouTube video has dramatically increased. Cause people have like other valuable content that they’re throwing in there, that I care about or wanna see about.

Jonathan Denwood: So Amanda understanding the audience, I’ve gotta tell you Amanda, one of the problems with podcasting is we’ve got a pretty large audience for this show, but who they are. I really don’t have much of an idea who’s actually listening to this apart from the numbers of quite large. First of all, how important it is to understand who your audience is to have an effective content marketing strategy. And if you got any quick insights about how you understand your audience,

Amanda Natividad:
I think it’s very important. I think there are a number of ways to go about this. Some of my favorite ways are to figure out if you can find maybe a handful of people specifically. Maybe it’s seeing who is viewing on the YouTube stream and then looking up those people, of course, based on their public social media accounts. And then just trying to get a sense of, the other social accounts they follow, maybe the websites they frequent, getting a sense of what they, or what they talk about online. You can do this through a kind of classic social listening. If you find them on Twitter and, and if they are active on Twitter, you can, follow them, put them on lists, and kind of keep a pulse in what they’re talking about.

and you can also tap into a tool like ours, I guess, SparkToro, which, I did not run this by Rand, but I like to call spark Toro, more for social understanding, not social listening. So I think, classic social listening tools will show you the conversations and hashtags or people in real-time. but spark Toro, we give you kind of, we update our, I mean, a lot of the social listening stuff that you would see in SparkToro, we update maybe once every three to four months. And so with that, you’re able to see things on a more thematic or more holistic level. Like you’re able to see, some of the key phrases that people within your audience, what they talk about publicly online, or what hashtags they’ve used over the past 120 days.

Things like that, that would give you a good picture of what people might be thinking in a given quarter or in a given season. And I think that’s really helpful.

 And then when you use spark Toro for some of this stuff you can, for instance, if you look at certain social accounts, spark score, you can see some of their related accounts. So if you’re able to uncover maybe a couple of your listeners, their, Twitter accounts, you can do a search like this. And then you could also, do searches for, maybe, whoever follows, your social account or the show’s social account. If you enter, some of the key influencers, maybe that you are related to, whether they’ve been on the show a couple of times, or they listen to the show, doing a search for them. You can kind of see, some of you can kind of do some pattern matching, or what are some of the other podcasts they listen to? Do they listen to this one? What are some of the YouTube channels they subscribe to? What websites do they frequent and what press publications do they follow? So you’ll be able to see a lot of stuff like that.

Jonathan Denwood:
Yeah. I’ve actually been utilizing SparkToro myself and I probably do a video tribe and show you my pathetic efforts around using the tool. But, I’ve been quite impressed so far over to you, Steve.


Steven Sauder:
So the underlying idea is that you’re looking for commonality in your,  group. But once you find that, like, what are you doing with that? Are you trying to produce content around that? So when people search for those things, are you trying to get engagement, or what’s the overall holistic idea or strategy once you have that commonality determined?

Amanda Natividad: Yeah. So what we say here is we help people find their audiences’ sources of influence so that they can do better marketing. So it could be a number of things. So this could help inform your overall content marketing strategy. Some of the things that SEO doing a keyword research strategy can’t answer. Like maybe a keyword research strategy can guide you with overall what topics to cover.  And like with regards to search volume and difficulty. That’s a whole separate piece.   But there, there might be an aspect to the quality of content that you want to produce, that a keyword research strategy doesn’t really tell you. There might be, certain ways of reframing your blog posts. There might be when you run some searches in spark Toro, you might learn, oh, actually my audience, based on what I’ve, learn about my audience, there’s probably more opportunity in podcasts than a blog for us at this time. Maybe we can do both, but let’s focus on the podcast so we can grow that over time and attract people that we, really need to reach, more efficiently. So that could be one,

A lot of people are also using our tools for, like buyer personas. So when you find some of the commonalities, you can start building out personas that are based on the public behaviors that they have online. Versus a survey where someone says, oh yeah, I read the wall street journal I’m smart, that’s one aspect. And then one of my favorite use cases for spark Toro is actually PR  we’ve had a couple of really savvy, PR consultants and agencies that have used the text insights that they uncovered in spark Toro, bake them into the pitch for a certain publication, and then came back to the publication to say, Hey, based on this search that we’ve done in SparkToro we’ve seen that your audience is frequently talking about these topics. And you haven’t covered these topics in your news coverage in the past two months, here’s why you should share our story. And here’s how this fits in. And I can’t mention publication names or anything, but we do have, a couple of real examples of this actually happening. And it worked with, these pitches.

Steven Sauder: That’s really cool. So it’s kind of like keyword research mashed up with like, lookalike audiences, but like before the person is searching for, or like about like what the person is talking about. When you’re doing keyword research you’re always like, what are people searching for? But if you’re using something like spark Toro, it allows you to hop into the conversation that your people or your group of people that are like following you, or you care about, are talking about so that you can like, even get ahead of that. It’s not just like where you’re researching. You can be a part of that conversation. It’s about like, like being a part of that group, instead of just like, oh, how do I cater to the people that are looking for answering X, Y, or Z.

Amanda Natividad: It’s also about finding a lot of these hidden gems and really bridging that gap between the things that people say they do and what they actually do. A lot of it is that. Like, like I kind of alluded to that with- 
Jonathan Denwood:
Amanda, you know me so well, Amanda

Amanda Natividad:
Exactly right. so I mean, there are other use cases and related to performance marketing that you could use with, Spark Toro, like finding podcast a sponsor. Cause you might find within a given niche, you might find a couple of maybe seemingly small podcasts that maybe you haven’t heard of, but maybe you’ll find, oh, based on the 5,000 people in my audience who know, who talk about this given topic, 5% of them listen to this podcast. That’s a pretty substantial amount. Like maybe I should consider sponsoring this. And then, because that podcast is so niche, it might not be like $20,000 to sponsor them. It could be a little bit more economical than that. You can also find YouTube channels that get outsized views relative to their, relative to their following.


And I did a search in the makeup and beauty product industry for this and something that surprised me was, there’s a, I think it’s a Korean skincare line called, so, I think it was soul ceuticals, it could, have been that one or someone else. Whatever subscriber account they had, I think it was five figures. They had millions of views, but then there was, a well-known publication. I believe it was glamor magazine. They had like over a million subscribers, but they only had thousands of views. I think it was like, I think it was like hundreds of thousand it wasn’t nothing. Yeah. But when you look at the actual view, count and engagement, it was higher in the, lower subscription account, Channel.


Jonathan Denwood:
I read Glamor magazine all the time. Amanda it’s my favorite publication. Actually. I thought you would know that, we need to go for our break, listen to some messages from a couple other great sponsors of the show. We’ll be back in a few moments folks.

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Jonathan Denwood:
We’re coming back. I also wanna point out that those couple sponsors, they’ve got some great deals, which you can have access to if you sign up for our newsletter. On our newsletter sign-up page, you will have access to some exclusive offers from those sponsors. So go over and sign up for our newsletter. So let’s go on with this great interview because it’s rather very important. They always seem to be traditional in slightly, we cater for the WordPress professional and SaaS startup communities. That’s what our tribe is, Amanda, but in more traditional, slightly larger organizations, let’s say at 25 to 500, you have sales departments and you have marketing departments. And there always seems to be, I wouldn’t say conflict, but stress. The sales department is always complaining that the leads that the marketing generate aren’t real leads. And the market, the department is always complaining that the sales department it’s always short term. They want a return on investment straight away. Got any insights into how that can be dealt with? So the sales and marketing departments can be aligned and everybody happy Amanda.

Amanda Natividad:
Yeah, that’s a good question. So I mean I have definitely worked in organizations where there was this tension between sales and marketing, where exactly what you described. We were not providing the leads that were highly qualified, that could progress for that final traditionally. I think, I mean, my opinion is I think there are some systemic problems with the traditional ways that we have tried to align marketing and sales. I would love to hear success stories of someone who’s done this really well, but I have a kind of a bone to pick with the classic MQL to SQL to PQL thing.

Jonathan Denwood: You need to explain some of those?


Amanda Natividad:
So I honestly don’t even know the overall terminology of this, but we’ll say in, in a B2B sales funnel, you might start with a marketing qualified lead and that would be somebody who comes to your site and goes great. What a lovely eBook I wanna download it. I’m gonna type in my email and I type it in and then maybe they get an email. They open the email, click on the blog post, and then maybe they do enough interactions over time that push them over to a sales-qualified lead. And maybe the sales team thinks great. Okay, well technically they downloaded our eBook. They read three of our blog posts. They must love our content and they must be ready for a demo. So I’m going to reach out and ask for a demo. Then maybe that reader consumer, maybe they go, okay, sure. I guess I’ll take the demo you offered it. And then they realize I’m not actually buying right now. I don’t have the budget right now. Rather just kind of continue to learn from your content. Maybe I’ll go to your event. I don’t know, but like I’m not ready. 
Jonathan Denwood:
And that’s when they hit the whiskey bottle, isn’t it?

Amanda Natividad: It is right. And then that’s where sales say, gosh, as you guys gave us a terrible lead. You need to fix your lead, scoring this isn’t working, all that stuff, which I think that’s, I think what I described as a pretty classic scenario, cause I think that the problem there is that’s where marketers are conflating engagement with intent to purchase. And you can have someone who loves your blog and who gets a lot of value out of it. And it’s like, I’m learning so much, but I’m not gonna buy. Yeah. Maybe I’ll buy next year. And I’m sure that’s frustrating for a sales team that needs to meet a monthly or quarterly quota. They don’t wanna, nurture a lead that might convert, 18 months from now. Nobody wants that.

Jonathan Denwood: Before I throw it over to Steven, this is the real problem. I totally agree with what you just said, but the real problem is they’ve got a problem with their offering their copy on the key pages of their website. who they’re showing bit linked to what, SparkToro is about, about who they’re attracting to their website because if you’ve got the right offering with the right message, they start approaching you, they start booking the demos you don’t have to do. Is that Maybe the crux of the problem?

Amanda Natividad:
I think that’s a big part of it. I think what we need to see what maybe marketers or teams need to do is kind of move more towards self-service options. And self-service doesn’t have to mean, a customer’s completely on their own and can never know, get support from a sales team. It’s not so much that, but I think there should be elements of that baked into the offering. And you can do this with free tools. Maybe you have really robust software that, is expensive and maybe that requires some white-glove service from a sales team. And I think that’s fine, but I think there also needs to be a balance of these maybe lower cost or free self-service options that a potential customer can engage with. That keeps you top of mind for them that keeps them thinking, oh, okay. Like I get what spark Toro does. All right, like I get some value out of this, but when I have the budget or when, when things change for me, I know I’m going to want to buy up into the premium offering.

Steven Sauder: So as we’re like talking about marketing, and like SparkToro. It’s about getting all this data about your customer and your users and how do you use that to market. But like another conversation that I feel is going hand in hand right now is this idea of privacy and privacy concerns and marketing. And it feels like the more rules that get made around privacy, the harder it is to market to your segment that you’re really trying to get to because the less you know about it. But like, what are you seeing right now in that space? The space of like data mining and getting data, but also balancing it with like user privacy and how not to I don’t know, abuse the data that we have access to.

Amanda Natividad: I mean I think what’s tricky about that is I feel like consumers have been trained to think about the wrong things with privacy. Where I think like, people don’t realize how much they are cooked or pixel by companies like Facebook or Google. But they, but they’re upset about retargeted ads that may or may not have anything to do with the way Facebook works or it has a little bit to do with it. So I think when people are upset about retargeting, that’s an example of, kind of privacy concerns gone wrong, where it’s, I mean, you looked at the thing, you went to the website, you clicked on it, you put things in your cart and I now, you are mad that you’re getting more marketing about it. Like that’s a pretty direct, behavior that is understandable, at least in my opinion to get market to.

But there are the things like, the kind of scarier things I would say that are like when like this was a couple of years ago, people have found that Facebook has been able to predict when a person is pregnant. Like that stuff is kind of creepy. But anyway, with regards to-

Jonathan Denwood: Just a bit.

Amanda Natividad: Just a little bit creepy, but I think with regards to, privacy and like what marketers need to do. I mean, we at SparkToro have always been mindful about privacy and how data is used. So we’ve been very upfront about, the data that we gather, it’s all based on what people are doing publicly online. So like private, social media accounts, we don’t, crawl that data cause we can’t. And it’s all also presented on aggregate. So we can give you text insights, like maybe self-identifiers that people use in their public social media bios or on the profiles. But we can’t tell you who’s saying that. So we have that. And I think, as third-party cookies go away and that’s been something that’s been on people’s radar or on marketer’s radar for a while. I kind of thing that’s a reason why more marketers have been, kind of learning more or getting better at some of the brand and content marketing because they’ve been realizing, okay, we can’t just lean on these cookies to help us with our retargeting or help us with our remarketing. We need to do other things that build awareness and affinity and drive value to our readers, to help them keep coming back.

Steven Sauder: It’s not just about creepy remarketing ads. It’s about building that engagement with, the user.

Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. We, need to wrap up the podcast part, the show folks, but Amanda’s agreed to stay on. And we got, some great other questions to ask Amanda. She truly is an expert in her field. I think she’s already shown that. Also, she laughs at my jokes, which is always, a blessing because they’re not that funny, are they? I’m gonna let Amanda tell you how we can find out more. Also, SparkToro does an excellent newsletter, which was sent to me, this morning and I’ll actually read it and excellent, fantastic content, Amanda. I dunno if you have a role in the newsletter, if you’ve done a great job, Amanda. So Amanda, how can people find out more about you and your thoughts, Amanda?

Amanda Natividad: Thanks, Jonathan. So you can check us out on We do have a free plan where you get five sample searches per month. We also have a couple of tiered paid plans. We also have free tools like spark score. And then finally we have the audience research newsletter, which Jonathan very kindly complimented. You can find that all on our website, And then as for me, you can find me on Twitter at @Amandanat and my personal site is

Jonathan Denwood: And what I love about Spark Toro cause I’ve been using it for the past few months is that obviously, I follow Rand’s new, blog posts and that, but what’s also been great to see is how you built out the educational content on the website. And they provide some excellent training materials now from Rand and the team that really explains how to utilize the tool. So, please do a dive into that before you really get stuck into it. It will become much more useful to you. So Steven, how can people about you? 
Steven Sauder:
Yeah. Head over to or reach me at my email, Steven@hustle,

Jonathan Denwood: And before we close the show, folks, please go over to the WP tonic Facebook group page and join us there. We have a great conversation. We are posting a lot more there it’s for people like you. You can ask any questions from our moderators and we’re trying to build a real community. And also like Amanda, we’ve got a great guest next week. Amanda’s been great. But we truly have a fantastic we got Dr. Sherry Walling joining us. So the other half of Rob Walling the founder of drip and, startups for the rest of us podcast. Sherry, is just a fantastic psychologist and we are be doing a deep dive in what are the characteristics of founders and business owners and why are some certain, very large business owners, a bit psychopathic? We’ll be diving either deep dive with, Sherry, and she’s just as fantastic as Amanda so knowledgeable. We’ll be back next week. Please join us. We see you soon folks. Bye.

 Outro: Thanks for listening to the WP-Tonic podcast, the podcast that gives you a dose of WordPress medicine twice a week.

#641: This Week In WordPress & SaaS: With Special Guest Amanda Natividad Marketing Architect at SparkToro was last modified: by