How to Master Facebook Ad Targeting & Zero-In on Your Audience

With over 2 billion active users daily and an average use time of 35 minutes per user, it’s a top spot for B2C and B2B advertising. There’s never been a  better time to be familiar with Facebook Ad targeting.

Facebook has hundreds of targeting and ad demographic options. To get the most out of your advertising dollars, you’ll need to zero-in on your audience.

In this article, we’ll explore how to get the most out of that money spent on mastering Facebook Ad targeting and zeroing-in on your target.

What is a Facebook Audience?

The “target” or “market” that you’re going to advertise to is called, “audience” on Facebook. You can target super specifically, like by the amount of education or income. Also targeting options include age, location, gender, job title and much more. The options are almost limitless. For real.

Let’s take a look at some examples.

For this GoPro ad, we might target photographers or people that love to hike or ski. Or we could use Pixel (more on Pixel below) to target users who have visited the GoPro purchase page but didn’t complete the purchase.

gopro facebook example

Or for this ad, Soylent might target vegans, people that like working out or moms that have recently liked their Facebook page or Instagram post.

soylent facebook example

The above examples are just a couple of the many hundreds of ways to target Facebook users. Let’s take a look at Facebook’s primary targeting methods:

Targeting on Facebook

Like we mentioned, there are literally hundreds of ways to target people. Keep in mind that you can use any combination of the targeting methods listed below.

    • Location: You can target users by state, locality, zip code, country, etc. You can get more specific too, like targeting them where they work vs. where they live.
    • Demographics: Demographics means data relating to a population, like age, sex, income, marital status, etc. Facebook offers a ton of demographic options.
    • Interests: Interests are really helpful in defining a target market. Let’s say you’ve got an eCommerce store that sells R&B records, you could target users who have liked vintage record player pages, music pages, R&B artists, jazz pages, etc.
    • Behaviors: Behaviors use the Facebook Pixel (discussed below) to target users. Pixel is a piece of code that tracks user behavior so that you can display ads to people that behave in certain ways. This is one of the most profitable ways to target, as for example, you might show ads to people who recently visited your website’s pricing page or subscribed to your blog.
    • Engagement: Engagement is when someone comments, likes or follows you or your pages on social media. If someone has recently liked one of your Facebook or Instagram posts, you can have Facebook show them your ads.
    • Partner Connections: This method of advertising shows ads based on behaviors users take off of Facebook. For example, if you’re a car dealership, you might target users who have recently applied for a new car loan.
    • Automatic Optimization: Use the many demographic and target options above to zero-in on an audience that works for your company. Facebook will automatically optimize your audience for you.
saved audience example

Let’s say you set up an ad to target new parents that recently joined a gym in Richmond, VA.

Facebook might optimize that ad to reach more new moms vs. new dads because new moms tend to click-through more often. Once you’ve settled on a target that works well, you can use that target to build a successful Facebook Audience (a.k.a. target market). Just remember to save your audience to make future audience building easier.

Increase Conversions Dramatically With Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel is a unique code that you plug into the backend of your website. The code tracks user behavior on your site so you target web visitors based on their behaviors.

The goal of using the Pixel is to optimize your Facebook Ads and audiences based on user behavior and the data collected. Pixel allows you to do things like; Retargeting users who have abandoned a cart, who have recently viewed your pricing page or subscribed to a webinar.

Installing Pixel

First, you’ll need to create a Pixel for your site. Navigate to the Ads Manager, click All Tools > Pixels.

set up your Pixel

You’ll be prompted to set up your Pixel, agree to terms and name the Pixel. Then, you’ll install it on your site.

Select manually install Pixel.

manually install Pixel

To install the code, you simply copy and paste it into the header of your website.

copy Pixel code

Find the <head> code in your website. Install the Pixel inside the header. It’ll look something like this when it’s in the right place:

locate your site header

Make sure you save your website data with that code snippet in place!

Next, you’ll set up specific events you’d like to track. The behaviors that you will track are called Events. You tell Facebook what each of these Events is for your website.

For example, to track Lead Generation, you’d toggle the Lead Generation button, and copy/paste the code snippet into the <script> portion of the page on which you track leads (see screenshot below).

For example, you might track the confirmation or thank-you page for signing up for a webinar that you’re hosting, since those people are likely qualified leads.

Once you toggle Generate Lead to on, you can copy the code snippet and paste it into the <script> of the webinar confirmation page you want to track.

lead gen tracking example

The <script> section where you want to paste this snippet looks like this:

find the page script code

How To Set Up Event Tracking For an Existing Pixel

If you’re already using Pixel and want to start tracking new Events, navigate to the Events Manager page > Pixels.

events manager page

Next, click Details.

add events to Pixel that exists

Then, click Set Up.

event tracking set up

This will bring you back to the options for manually installing the code snippet. Click manually install and follow the steps above for installing the code.

manually install Pixel

How Do You Build a Successful Facebook Audience?

Building a Facebook audience takes some time since, for the best results, you want the audience to be specific, but not too specific.

The first step in creating a highly-specific audience is to get familiar with your customer persona. You can build out a customer avatar to help you set up successful Facebook Audiences.

Here is an example of a good customer avatar. Notice how specific it is.

Customer avatar example

Additionally, there are three types of Facebook audiences. Each type has its advantages, so let’s take a look:

1. Facebook Saved Audiences

A Facebook saved audience is what it sounds like;  an audience you can create, save and use again in later campaigns. If you know your target market demographics well, you can use that info to create an audience to reuse in many of your campaigns.

To set up a saved audience, navigate to the Audiences page. Then, click Create a Saved Audience. If this is your first time using Facebook Ads, it’ll look like this:

first time using facebook ads example

If you’ve used Facebook Ads before, navigate to the same Audiences page, then click Create Audience > Saved Audience.

facebook ads audience

Next, you’ll see the Facebook Ads Manager audience creation page. This is where you can plug in those useful demographics you discovered during the process of mapping out your customer persona.

When you’re all set with your demographics, location, interests, etc., click Create Audience.

saved audience example

This saved audience will now appear on your Audiences page.

saved audience on audience page

When you want to use this saved audience in future campaigns, navigate to the Audience tab on the left side. Then, click on Use a Saved Audience and select the audience you’d like to use.

using a saved audience

2. Facebook Custom Audiences

Custom audiences are some of the highest converting. Upload a list of emails or phone numbers of the prospects you want to show ads to. You can also have Facebook exclude emails or numbers on that list, let’s say if you know those folks aren’t interested in your product or service.

Custom audiences also work with the Pixel, to help you show ads to folks that have visited your website, or taken another action online, such as viewing your pricing page.

Let’s say you sell a SaaS product for lawyers. And you want to create a Custom Audience and use a list of emails you’ve collected of local attorneys.

To create a custom audience, navigate to the Audience page, then click Create Audience > Create Custom Audience:

using custom audience

Next, you’ll see this page with Custom Audience options. To use a list of emails or numbers, you’ll want to choose Customer File.

upload file for custom audience

Afterward, you’ll have the option of uploading data from a file of your own or from MailChimp.

upload your own file example

If you are going to use your own file, make sure it’s a .CSV file or .TXT file. Check out Facebook’s best practices for uploading files.

After you upload the data, you’ll need to agree to Facebook’s terms and then name the audience. Click Next.

create a custom audience example

You’ll see a preview of how Facebook has classified your data. Make sure that Email matches up with your email addresses. Phone with phone numbers, etc. If the data don’t match the names automatically given by Facebook, just click the name to change it.

make sure data match example

This Custom Audience will now appear in your Audience list. It’ll say “Updating Audience,” in the Availability column while all the data is uploaded. Once it’s ready to use, you’ll get a notification from Facebook.

uploading file example

Just like all Facebook audiences, the more specific (without being too specific) your Custom Audience is, the better your results will be.

3. Facebook Lookalike Audiences

After you’ve created a few valuable Custom Audiences, you can start using the Lookalike Audience option to target users that are similar to the target you’ve defined in your Custom Audience.

Let’s say you wanted to continue targeting attorneys to sell your Lawyer SaaS tool. You could use Lookalike Audiences to target more attorneys in another state. Or even attorneys that weren’t in your email list that Facebook’s algorithms will find based on other criteria.

Navigate to the Audiences page. The, select Create Audience > Lookalike Audience

Lookalike Audience example

Next, you’ll have the option to choose which Custom or Saved Audience you want to base your new lookalike audience on.

Once you’ve selected the audience on which to base your new Lookalike Audience, adjust the settings for Location and Size, then click Create Audience at the bottom right.

save your lookalike audience

Facebook Ad Targeting Best Practices

Custom Audiences gives advertisers tons of options for enhancing ad results as there’s so much that can be done targeting Website Traffic and Events. Custom Audiences is a great way to retarget people that have already visited your site, making your ad dollars go further.

The average click-through rate of a normal display ad is about .07%, while a retargeted ad averages a click-through rate of .7%. So, users are about 164% more likely to click your retargeted ad than a non-retargeted one.

This section explores a few of our favorite ways to retarget website visitors and people familiar with your online presence.

Target Visitors Who Didn’t Complete a Purchase

To show your ads to people who visited a product page on your website, but did not complete a purchase, you can use Pixel’s website traffic events.

The way it works is that you create an event attached to the product page URL. Then, you’d exclude any other URLs, like the Thank You or Completed Purchase page.

First, click Create a Custom Audience from the Events Manager page.

create a custom audience page

Then, select People who visited specific webpage from the drop-down.

tracking events example

Decide how recent the viewers should be for your ad, then enter that number into the days box. Next, enter your product page URL.

enter your product url

If you click on Further refine by, right beneath the URL box, refine users by device and frequency as well.

The following setup would advertise to people who have visited, at least two times in the last 30 days from their iPhone or iPad.

refine your url tracking

When you’ve got your product page URL set and have refined it, you’re ready to set up the URLs you’d like to exclude.

This step is important because it tells Facebook that anyone who has gone on and completed a purchase (or any other event you want to exclude) will be excluded from this campaign. To do this, we simply want to exclude people who have seen the purchase confirmation page.

Note* If you have an eCommerce store, then you will have the option to simply exclude “Purchases.”

Change the button next to URL to Equals. This is because we want to exclude this exact URL.

Then name your audience and click Create Audience.

exclude url example

Note* If you want to exclude only people that have purchased certain products, then you’d only include that specific product page and therefore, you would enter that product’s specific confirmation page into the excluded text box (No. 2 above).

To get the most out of a product retargeting ad, you want the ad copy to be brief, maybe you’ll even apply a discount to the product ad. Like this one:

kit and ken example on facebook

Retargeting Visitors That Read Your Blog

As blog readers are much more familiar with your brand than someone that’s never heard of your company, you can bet that targeting your blog readers gets you more bang for your Facebook Ad buck.

This is great for low-touch SaaS companies or any company that sees decent conversion rates from their blog. You can show a product in your ad or even advertise another blog post or an eBook.

First, get to navigate back to the Pixel page > Create Custom Audience (see above).

Next, make sure that you set the URL to contains. We want to make sure that any URL with the word blog in the address is added to the group that we advertise to. So enter blog as a keyword in the space.

This setting will show your ad to anyone that views a page with the word blog in the URL. Example: or

target blog readers example

When you’re finished, click Create Audience and Facebook will save the audience to your audience list.

You can use these two different tactics for a number of scenarios:

  • Target anyone that’s visited your website.
  • To target people who have visited 2 or 3 specific pages on your site, like several products.
  • Target people who viewed a landing page, but didn’t opt-in to the list or offering.

In Conclusion

There are really endless options for targeting on Facebook. The great thing about having all those options is they allow you to zero-in on a very specific market or niche while Facebook optimizes the ads and audiences for you.

Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences can help you achieve higher click-through rates via retargeting and showing ads to folks that are similar to those that convert most.

What Facebook Ad targeting practices are you using that have improved your ad performance?

This post How to Master Facebook Ad Targeting & Zero-In on Your Audience originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Sprout Social

Do the Right Thing for Your Business … and Your Audience

This week was all about doing the right thing — being cool, kind, ethical, and respectful. Not in spite of your business goals, but to support them. Because it turns out, most people would actually rather do business with someone who isn’t a complete tool. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman talked about content authenticity — what
Read More…

The post Do the Right Thing for Your Business … and Your Audience appeared first on Copyblogger.


How to Implement a Marketing Strategy That Speaks to Your Millennial Audience

Depending on whom you ask, Millennials have an interesting reputation.

Ask their parents, teachers, and employers, and I’m sure you’ll get different responses from all of them.

An old Time Magazine cover story labeled Millennials as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”

Truthfully, I think that’s a bit harsh. But it’s safe to say their character traits are very different from those of the generations that preceded them.

Who are Millennials? Although the time period within which they were born is not exact, the term Millennials, also known as Generation Y, generally refers to anyone born during the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s.

Some people even consider anyone born in the early 2000s as a Millennial. But for the most part, anyone born after the late 1990s is labeled as Generation Z.

Why is it important for you as a business owner to recognize this group of people? For starters, this generation constitutes the largest slice of the total population in the United States.

Furthermore, Millennials are projected to stay at the top of these charts for decades to come:

image1 9

As a marketer, you need to learn how to clearly identify your target audience.

All of your products, services, and advertisements shouldn’t speak to everyone on the planet. That’s why learning how to use generational marketing to segment your target audience is a winning strategy.

If you are currently targeting Millennials, this guide will help you improve your efforts.

If you haven’t implemented a marketing strategy aimed specifically at Millennials, it’s not too late to start. I’ll explain everything you need to know to help you target the Millennial consumer.

Speak to their entrepreneurial spirits

Before you can start marketing to anyone, you need to try to understand how they think and behave. Develop a customer persona as a research tool.

One of the elements of this type of marketing tool is the ability to analyze the consumer’s work habits. Unlike previous generations who got jobs and stuck with them until they retired, Millennials have other ambitions.

In fact, 54% of Millennials want to start their own companies or have already started one.

That’s because they want their lives and schedules to be more flexible compared to the stereotypical workweek. In fact, 89% of this group say they would rather decide themselves when and where to work as opposed to working a standard nine to five job.

Further, 45% of Millennials would choose a job with a more flexible schedule rather than a higher pay rate.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that Millennials spend fewer years at the same job compared to previous generations.

image7 9

Use this information to your advantage when it comes to your marketing strategy.

Present your brand so that it appears flexible and helpful to entrepreneurs. Find a way to make your products useful to young adults who want to start their own businesses.

Recognize they probably won’t stay at their current jobs for long. Sell them a lifestyle that fits their needs and wants.

Understand how they live

Outside of their lives at work, you’ve also got to consider other places where your target market spends the majority of their time.

At the very least, you can assume they’ll spend roughly eight hours or so sleeping at home. Naturally, it makes sense for you to analyze their home lives.

But don’t make any assumptions. The home life of a Millennial is very different from that of previous generations.

Research found 65% of Millennials across the United States rent their homes. This is more than double the percentage of Baby Boomers who are renters.

Millennials are happy renters and don’t necessarily plan to buy a home in the foreseeable future.

image2 9

As you can see, there are other characteristics that this group looks for when it comes to their housing situations. They prefer apartments as opposed to houses.

This may have to do with their flexible lifestyle. They may not have, need, or want the possessions and furniture to fill the larger space of a house.

From a marketing perspective, you need to recognize this if you sell products related to the home furnishings industry. You need to adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly to target Millennials.

A Millennial won’t spend thousands of dollars on a couch if they know it’ll be kept in their apartments only for a year during a short lease.

If they plan on changing jobs and moving, they may opt to leave behind big furniture or sell it themselves. They won’t make a big investment in these products.

Millennials also want to live in lively communities. They want proximity to local shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. It’s important for them to find areas where they can walk, bike, and have easy access to public transportation.

We also know that 76% of Millennials who pay rent also own a pet. Marketers can build a customer persona as a pet owner.

Furthermore, it’s important to understand that the majority of Millennials pay rent because they want to.

Studies show that 60% of this group chooses to rent, while 40% say they can’t afford a down payment to buy something.

Marketers need to sell products and services that accommodate the needs of Millennial renters. If you’ve got an advertisement featuring a young adult in their newly purchased home, it’s probably not going to speak to Millennials because they can’t relate to that situation.

Don’t insult their intelligence

Despite what you may think about their character traits or work ethic, you can’t ignore the fact that Millennials are smart.

Don’t believe me? Well, more than one-third of Millennials have at least a four-year college degree. This makes them the highest educated group in the country.

And 87% of Millennials worked up to management roles in their workplaces over the last five years. This compares to just 38% of Generation X-ers and 19% of Baby Boomers who achieved that during the same time frame.

It wouldn’t be wise for marketers to try to outsmart this demographic.

Yes, you’re trying to sell them something. Embrace it. Don’t try to trick them or have a hidden agenda. They will be more willing to trust a company that is straightforward with its marketing strategy.

Be charitable and socially responsible

Millennials care about people and the planet.

If your company supports a cause, it increases the chances of Millennials buying something from your brand.

Here’s a great example of this strategy put to use with the Warby Parker’s “buy a pair, give a pair” campaign:

image4 9

The company donates glasses to people across the world who have vision problems and can’t afford help. This type of campaign will speak to a Millennial target market.

That’s because 81% of Millennials say they expect businesses to make a commitment to corporate citizenship. And 62% of this demographic say they expect executives and company leaders to focus their efforts on making improvements to society.

Partnering with the right causes and charities can help you with your sales.

First of all, it’s just the right thing to do. You’ll even get tax write-offs for your donations. But second, it will help you reach your Millennial audience and encourage more purchases.

We know that 70% of Millennials will spend more money on brands that support a cause they care about.

While charity is important, there are other ways for your brand to focus on social responsibility to target Millennials. For example, you can make products from recycled goods.

Do your part to minimize your carbon footprint on the planet. Partner with and support other brands doing the same.

You may already be doing such these things but not promoting them well. Don’t be shy. Share with everyone the ways your company is being charitable and socially responsible.

Create social proof

You won’t say anything bad about your brand.

Quite the opposite, you may be promoting your product as the best on the planet, which is obviously a biased opinion.

As I mentioned, Millennials are intelligent. You’re not fooling anyone with these types of campaigns.

Don’t get me wrong, your products and services might be great. But it doesn’t mean as much if these words are coming from you.

Instead, you need to get other people to say how great your brand is. Creating social proof to improve conversions increases the chances of Millennials buying your products.

Consider this: 84% of Millennials say they don’t trust traditional marketing. But they are more willing to trust their peers, friends, and family.

The best way to create social proof is by getting your current customers to become advocates for your brand. Encourage them to write product reviews.

Get people to post about your products on social media.

image5 9

As you can see, social media posts influence Millennials when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

You can also come up with customer referral programs as a way to get your customers to recommend your brand to others.

Tactics like these will be much more effective than traditional ads when it comes to your Millennial marketing strategy.

Go mobile

This should go without saying, but I wanted to include it regardless because it’s so important.

It’s no secret that Millennials are tech-savvy. In fact, 85% of Millennials have smartphones. In addition to their jobs and homes, you also need to consider where they live their digital lives.

They use social media, email, and apps on a daily basis, all from their mobile devices.

If you want to reach this audience, your company needs to have a mobile-friendly website.

If you are looking to take your mobile presence to the next level, consider building a mobile app. This is one of the best ways to increase sales by encouraging mobile spending.

Plus, with a mobile app, you can stay in constant communication with your Millennial audience by sending them push notifications.

This will make it more likely for you to generate sales from Millennial consumers.

Leverage social media

Millennials love social media.

Earlier I discussed how posts from their peers on social networks influence this group. But that’s not the only way you can use these platforms to your advantage.

Run campaigns that create FOMO (the fear of missing out). It will encourage your Millennial target market to jump on board.

Whether it’s a sale or a new trend, Millennials are constantly trying to “keep up with the Joneses” on social media.

That’s why they post about events on social sites more than any other generation.

image8 8

Your business obviously needs to be active on social media to survive in 2018.

But when it comes to your Millennial marketing strategy, social media needs to be at the top of your priority list.

Meet their travel needs

Earlier I discussed how Millennials live. They live in rental apartments to have more flexibility in their lives.

But Millennials also want to travel. Take a look at these numbers that prove my point:

image3 9

Furthermore, 69% of Millennials say they have a thirst for adventure. Brands need to recognize this to stay competitive and reach this demographic.

Don’t just sell a product. Sell a lifestyle.

Run ads and promotions to position your product within the travel industry. Sometimes you just need to get creative here.

For example, let’s say your company sells backpacks. Rather than running an ad that shows the bag being great for commuting to work or lugging belongings around town, you can demonstrate it’s the perfect backpack as an airplane carry-on bag.

This strategy can be applied to virtually every product. Don’t believe me?

Check out this marketing example from Banana Republic:

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They have a whole product line of traveler jeans.

What makes these jeans different from regular jeans? Well, according to the product description, these ones are soft and provide the perfect amount of stretch to keep you comfortable when traveling.

Realistically, they are just jeans. But it’s all about how you position your products.

I’ve seen this strategy used by other clothing brands as well. For example, some brands promote zipper pockets on their clothing that can fit a passport.

This way, customers know that their identification is secure when they are traveling. These are the type of functions and marketing tactics that speak to Millennials.


Think what you want about Millennials. But as a business owner, you should see them as a potential source of profit.

You need to change your marketing strategy to target this group.

They are educated entrepreneurs who pay rent and want to live a flexible lifestyle. Millennials don’t want to work standard nine to five jobs.

Be charitable and socially responsible to increase your chances of getting support from Millennial consumers.

Rather than using traditional advertising methods, try to create social proof instead.

Establish a strong mobile presence, and leverage social media platforms to your advantage as a primary distribution channel.

Try to understand as much as you can about the Millennial lifestyle. For example, use information about their travel habits to market your products and services accordingly.

If you look at the research I’ve shown you and follow the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll have a much easier time creating a marketing strategy targeting Millennials.

What marketing tactics is your company using to generate sales from Millennial consumers?

Quick Sprout

Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation

Quick Copy Tip

If you’ve studied copywriting, you know the purpose of the headline is to get people to click and start reading. And your opening copy needs to continue that momentum all the way to the offer or conclusion.

One way to do that is to make a bold, seemingly unreasonable assertion in your title or headline. A proclamation so jarring that the right person can’t help but keep reading, listening, or watching to see where you’re going with it.

As far as I can tell, copywriter John Forde (whose site tagline is, not coincidently, “Learn to sell or else …”) was the first to define the Proclamation Lead:

A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement, usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.

This type of lead works for both sales copy and persuasive content. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Forde illustrates the Proclamation Lead with a direct mail report that is ultimately selling an alternative health newsletter. Written by Jim Rutz, the piece immediately startles and tempts the prospect with a bold statement:

Read This Or Die

Today you have a 95% chance of eventually dying from a disease or condition from which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet. The editor of Alternatives would like to free you from that destiny.

The copy continues not by jumping to the offer, but instead by backing up the proclamation. In the process, the piece systematically removes the objections raised in the reader’s mind about the scientific validity of the bold assertions.

If you feel that example is a little too “direct marketing” for your audience, consider this from respected best-selling author Austin Kleon:

Steal Like an Artist:
10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

It’s the exact same technique for a completely different target market. The intent is to startle people interested in becoming more creative, while concurrently tempting prospects to further explore what Kleon means by “steal.”

The first example is copy designed to make a sale. The second example is content (a book) that is the product itself. But the reason why both “sell” is the same.

The key to these bold headlines and leads is the immediate emotional response provoked by the assertion. More importantly, that emotional trigger leads to immediate motivation to investigate further — and that’s what every copywriter aims to achieve right from the beginning.

That’s because implicit in the proclamation is a promise. In the Rutz and Kleon examples, you’re promised that you’ll learn about hidden cures to common diseases and the way creativity really works, respectively.

How do you come up with these types of bold beginnings? John Forde says they’re found via research, not conjured up out of the ether — and I agree.

For example, people often assume creativity comes from introspection, perhaps during long sessions of gazing out the window.

But if you research how artists throughout history actually work, creativity is much more about starting with something already out in the world — often the work of someone else — and making it into something new.

Austin Kleon discovered that truth, and then boiled it down to its shocking essence. After all, it was Picasso who famously said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

That said, the proclamation approach is not always the right one for every situation. For example, I could have titled this article:

Read This Unless You Want to Starve

But that would have been lame, so I didn’t. There are plenty of other headline and lead approaches that also work well, so that headline wouldn’t be accurate or appropriate.

If you find a counterintuitive truth that’s relevant to your persuasive aim, however, you might just see if you can turn it into an almost unreasonably bold assertion that works wonders. But remember, don’t steal specific copy approaches (in the artistic sense) unless you’re sure you can perfectly tailor them for your audience or prospect.

The post Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation appeared first on Copyblogger.


A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Traffic Audience Segmentation with Google Analytics

Call it a case of too much of a good thing.

Google Analytics puts a lot of data at your fingertips. It’s a mountain of metrics, and a deluge of dimensions. With it, you can drill deep down into your website visitors, their demographics, and their behavior.

But by default, it just throws everything into one enormous bucket. The reports show stats, graphs, and charts for “All Users/Sessions”.

And while that’s perfect for getting a big-picture-at-a-glance snapshot, you need to break things down a little if you want to find the buried treasure within.

Mixing everything together is good for smoothies, metallurgy, and cocktails. For analytics, you want to separate and segment.

Segmentation in Analytics

Click on any report in Analytics – audience, acquisition, behavior, or conversions – and you get a wonderful presentation of the data collected for your site. For everyone that visited during the chosen time frame (the last 30 days by default).


The beauty of Analytics, though, is in whittling away from general to specific. Of finding the statue of David within the block of marble. Or the chewy core at the center of a Tootsie Pop.

With audience segments, you can break that pile of data into more manageable sections based on the criteria that matters most to you. What insights are you looking for?

Segments group visitors together who share common traits or behavior. And the best part? You get to decide exactly what traits and behavior to group.

Knowing how many visitors you had last week is useful. But how many visitors did you have on desktop devices, from the United States, who viewed at least three pages, but left without making a purchase? That’s the power of segments.

Segments give you ultra-targeted insight into audience behavior, like visitors arriving via mobile, from which country, number of sessions with a conversion, visitor type, demographics, traffic source, value, browser, users with multiple sessions, and so on.

Sounds fantastic, right? Yet 41% are not using audience segments at all. Get out of that group.

There’s no end to the possible combinations you could create (although that’s technically not true…you are limited to 1000 segments that can be edited in any View, and 100 segments for any one specific View). Create an uber-precise segment for tracking and analysis that represents your exact audience and serves your particular needs.

Hit vs Session vs User

When creating a segment, you can often assign the scope as either user, session, or hit, so it’s important to recognize the difference:

  • Hit – an individual interaction with your website (usually a page view); a visitor did this, a visitor did that, a visitor…
  • Session – a collection of hits; one complete visit to a website
  • User – a person’s entire journey with your website (may encompass multiple sessions)

Most experts suggest focussing on users and sessions. It’s all about the relationship you have with them.

Segments: A Simple How-to

Getting started is mercifully uncomplicated. Even an Analytics amateur can create, save, and use segments.

To begin, simply click on the +Add Segment button at the top of any report.


You’ll next see the Segment dashboard, and you’re presented with several options. Down the left-hand side, you’ll find the View Segments column. You can select All, System (the segments pre-loaded on Analytics, like Converters, New Users, and Organic Traffic), Custom (the segments you’ve made), Shared, Starred (you can save segments to this favorites list by clicking the star beside their name), and Selected (the segments you’re currently using).

Do you want to work with an existing segment (select from the list), import from the gallery (custom segments created and shared by others), or create your own new one (click +New Segment to start from scratch, or click on the Actions dropdown beside an existing one, and select Copy to use it as your foundation)?


Let’s copy Organic Traffic. This will allow us to build a custom segment for all incoming organic traffic.

The next dashboard displays the current segment parameters. Because we opted to copy and build upon the Organic Traffic segment, there’s already one criteria listed:

Medium > exactly matches > organic

On the right, you’ll see a segment summary (updated in real-time when you add or delete criteria), and down the left are the categories and filters you can use to define your segment.

Options include Demographics, Technology, Behavior, Date of First Session, Traffic Sources, Enhanced Ecommerce, Conditions, and Sequences.


So far so good. Still with me?

You’ll want to zero in, so we’ll add a few more filters to this segment. Click on the +Add Filter button.

Next, click on the Ad Content dropdown menu, and you’ll see a long list of possible filters and criteria. Click around. Explore. There’s also a handy search field at the top to save you some time.

We’re going to segment by users who’ve viewed at least two pages during a session:

  • Type “Page Depth” in the search field and select it (it’s found under Behavior if you want to locate it yourself)
  • Click on “=” and select “>” (greater than symbol)
  • In the blank field, enter 2

Your summary will update, and you’ll see Medium: organic and Page Depth > 2 listed under Conditions. This segment now includes all organic traffic visitors who look at three or more pages during their session.


Starting to get the hang of it? Try this one on your own: add a country filter for visitors from the United Kingdom.

Done? Excellent. You can include that filter by either adding another condition (Users > Country > Contains > United Kingdom), or clicking on Demographics > Location > Country > Contains > United Kingdom. Either way, your summary will update, and your segment will now only count visitors from the UK.


We can make “organic” even more precise by adding a filter under Traffic Sources > Source > contains > google

Finally, give the segment a name that reflects what it is, such as UK Page Depth > 2 or something similar (whatever works for you), and click Save.

Congratulations. You just created your first audience segment. Kudos! This one will only exhibit organic traffic from the UK arriving specifically from Google that viewed at least three pages. How’s that for precise data?! It’ll be listed with all the other available segments, ready to be called upon whenever you need it.

Basic Segments

But segments don’t have to be complex. They don’t have to include multiple criteria, either. They can be very simple and straightforward:

  • By traffic source or medium (email, social, paid, organic, direct, referral, google, facebook, twitter) to get insight into visitor offsite behavior. Where are they coming from, and how are they finding you?
  • By user type (new visitor vs returning visitor, mobile vs desktop, frequent vs infrequent visitor, long vs short sessions, multiple pageviews vs single page) for insight into their engagement with your brand and company.
  • By location or language to understand your customer demographics better.
  • By Content Viewed (product pages, checkout page, thank you page) to get insight into their onsite behavior.
  • By Engagement (more than x pages, more than x seconds) to see how well your content and presentation is appealing to them.
  • By revenue, product viewed or purchased, brands added to the cart, or even product variants like specific sizes and colors.

The basic categories along the left on the segments dashboard – Demographics through Enhanced Ecommerce (which does require the ec.js plugin) – are easy to navigate and implement. Try them out.

The Advanced Options

Both Conditions and Sequences are considered advanced options. But that shouldn’t scare you (you’ve already mastered conditions).

As we’ve already seen, Conditions simply set a series of criteria that must be met for a visitor to be included in that segment. It allows for a tremendous amount of customization. There’s a bit of a learning curve – finding the right criterion and definition, for example – but there are plenty of tutorials that can guide you from absolute beginner to pro in no time.

Sequences are a series of conditions that must be met in order (step 1, step 2, and so on), but the fundamental idea is the same. A sequence where users visit your cart (step 1) but then don’t go through with an actual purchase (step 2) gives you an audience ripe for a follow-up.

The More the Merrier

Once you have a few favorite segments, you can start to compare one against another. Go to any report, click on +Add Segment, choose up to four different ones, and click Apply. You’ll then see the report with all segments presented at one time…color-coded for your convenience (thanks Google). Compare and contrast.


Get Fancy

The more comfortable you get with segments, the more you can create ones for every possible group of your audience.

How about a segment that shows you frequent and recent visitors that still haven’t purchased something?

  • +Add Segment
  • Behavior – Days Since Last Session < 5 (less than five)
  • Behavior – Sessions > 4 (more than four)
  • Behavior – Transactions = 0 (no purchases), or even Conditions – Page Title – contains – thankyou.html (your order confirmation page, but make sure you select EXCLUDE rather than include)

Once you’ve created a segment like this one, you can then create an Audience from it, and target only that group with ads promoting your free shipping, or current sale, or special coupon to entice them to pull the trigger (they’re obviously interested).

Creating an Audience from a Segment

Segments give you valuable, targeted data. And that’s a very good thing.

But they can extend beyond the Analytics dashboard if you create an Audience from a segment.

For the UK Page Depth > 2 segment we created earlier, let’s assume you’d like a way to send them – and only them – a special ad for a discount available only to UK residents.

Head to the segments list, find that segment, select Actions, and click Build Audience.

For this to work, your Analytics and Adwords accounts need to be linked (but don’t worry, Google walks you through it if they’re not yet connected).

Choose the View (your ecommerce site) and Destination (your linked Adwords account), and define the Audience. The definitions (i.e. criteria) will be prepopulated based on the segment you selected.


On the right, you’ll see a few fields:

  • For segments scoped to hits or sessions, you’re limited to Users over last 7 days (this will present the estimated size of this audience from users that meet the criteria in the last week).
  • Membership duration sets how long visitors will remain a member of this audience once slotted into it, anywhere from 1 to 540 days. If you’re creating an Audience for visitors with a recent purchase, for example, you’d set this for a relatively short period of time.
  • Segments scoped to Users gives the option of lookback days, either 7, 14, or 30. This is a time frame for Analytics to go back and find users that qualify for the Audience.
  • Eligibility tells you where you can share this audience, such as search and display ads (Adwords), or Google Optimize (for testing and personalization).

Give the Audience a name to help you remember it over in Adwords, and click Save. Done.

When you’re next in your Adwords account, you can select this Audience and create a targeted ad for them about your exclusive coupon for those in the land of tea, bangers, and mash.

It may be the gentle push they need.

See how everything comes together in the Googleverse?

Segments allow you to identify strengths, weaknesses, and patterns, find reliable revenue sources, and provide the guidelines to improve where you’re falling short.

There are many stellar custom segments ready to import, you can experiment and create your own, or simply utilize the ready-to-go standard segments there already.

The Google Analytics Help portal provides everything you’d want to know about segments but were afraid to ask.

They’re often ignored, but always beneficial. You can use them to track your most lucrative markets, identify where, when, and how the big spenders are coming to you, remarket to specific groups at just the right moment (via Adwords and Audiences), and more.

Anything you can do to better understand your audience behavior and acquisition is time well spent. Grasp the basics of segments, move on to more advanced techniques, and know your audience like never before.

It’s big data broken down.

Have you jumped in the audience segmentation pool? What filters do you find most insightful? Leave your comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Google Analytics 360 & DFP Audience Sharing

Google Analytics 360 & DFP Integration

A few months ago I wrote about two new Google Analytics 360 (GA360) integrations for ad supported websites: DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) and DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX). As I said then, I believe they are major game changers, they provide a robust solution to measure and optimize ad supported websites. I still believe that, even more so!

In a nutshell, the integrations brought two great improvements at that point:

  1. Data accuracy and completeness: a user that left the website through a click on a DFP or AdX unit, in the past, was considered a simple abandonment, but with the integration they are “seen” as ads clicked. This also allows a multitude of new analyses using metrics that couldn’t be merged before.
  2. Reporting: having all the data in one centralized place can save a lot of time. The GA360 interface can be used to create custom reports, dashboards and emails.

But since my last article, a few important things changed in the product. Last week, the GA360 team released an outstanding case study (link to PDF) discussing how AccuWeather delivers enhanced value to advertisers with DoubleClick for Publishers and Google Analytics 360. Below is a descriptive scheme shared in the case study.

Google Analytics 360 and DFP integration

In this article I will discuss an important development in the DFP & Google Analytics 360 integration: the Audience Sharing feature (beta) that allows publishers to share Google Analytics 360 Audiences with DFP bringing a series of benefits.

Google Analytics 360 Audience Sharing BETA

Besides the reporting capabilities already discussed in my previous article, the DFP integration enables deeper optimization opportunities with the Audience Sharing feature (beta), a way for publishers to share audiences they created using Google Analytics 360 data directly into DFP. These Audiences can then be used to target users that performed a specific task, read a specific type of content, came from a specific campaign, or any other information available on Google Analytics. You can do that either by building a segment on Google Analytics and building an audience out of it or by directly creating an audience and sharing it with DFP.

Below I discuss two use cases for this feature: optimizing ad serving by not showing some ads to some users (decrease impression waste) and providing better targeting based on user behavior (optimizing targeting).

1. Decreasing impression waste

It is very common to use DFP to serve house ads, which are intended to promote an action inside your website (as opposed to promoting an advertiser); this could be, for example, a registration for a membership or a page where you are trying to sell something. For Online Behavior, I used house ads to promote my book, showing an ad unit below every post on the website.

However, if a user had already visited the book page and clicked on one of the links to purchase it, I was wasting those impressions, and it would be more profitable for me to show Backfilled AdX ads instead of the book promotion to that group of users. Easy peasy!

The first step was to create an audience on Google Analytics including all users that have completed a goal of clicking on one of the book links on that page. Note that in the first step in the screenshot below I chose to share this audience with my DFP account.

Google Analytics 360 Audience

Once I finished creating this audience, I went on to DFP and edited my Book campaign line item to include a targeting criteria as shown in the screenshot below: Audience Segment is not Book Viewers.

DFP Targeting

Voila! Users that clicked on the book links didn’t see the ads anymore, they saw AdX Backfilled ads, and that helped raising my revenue 🙂

2. Optimizing targeting

You might also go the other way around.

Suppose you have a paid subscription along with content you provide for free to your readers. And suppose that you are currently using Google Analytics to measure those subscription transactions (you might as well use a Goal). That means you could identify which of your users are starting but not completing your subscription process. You could then create an Audience of all those users and remarket to them using house ads on your own website to try and engage them back with the funnel on future sessions. This would follow the same process described above.

Or suppose you are selling inventory to advertisers that are interested in people that care about sports. One simple technique would be to show the ads only on sports pages. However, some of your users that are interested in sports might visit the website sometimes and only look at the news section, but they are also interested in sports, just not on the current session. With Google Analytics Audiences, you could save “interests” across sessions, meaning that a person that is interested in sports will be part of a sports audience even if they don’t see a sports page in the current session. That would increase the amount of impressions you have available for sports fans.

Here is a similar example from the AccuWeather case study:

The integration between DFP and Analytics 360 is helping AccuWeather advertisers in other ways. For instance, one of its advertisers, a health related consumer product, wanted to survey users who had seen its ads on AccuWeather’s website. AccuWeather used Analytics 360 data to build a custom audience, blending those who had been exposed to that company’s ads on its website with location data to reach the right users.

AccuWeather shared this audience with its DFP account, which delivered the survey to that select audience. That’s how the advertiser learned that those who saw its ad on were actually 6.5 times more likely than the typical user to buy its product within the next 30 days. It’s not too surprising that this advertiser is making additional ad buys with AccuWeather this year.

Last, but not least, suppose you have sections of your website which are not very good at engaging your returning users, such as news articles. As in the previous paragraph, if you have different audiences for different interests, you could use DFP on the news articles to engage your users by showing them an interesting post based on their interests, this would keep them engaged with the website by providing them with targeted content.

If you are a Publisher, I am sure you are super excited about the opportunities this tight integration brings to your business. Happy analyzing / optimizing 🙂

Google Analytics 360 and DFP integration
Google Analytics 360 Audience
DFP Targeting

Online Behavior – Marketing Measurement & Optimization

How to Discover Whether Your Audience Is Bored with Your Content


Let’s be honest. Creating pulse-quickening, super-engaging content that blows the socks off every single reader 100% of the time probably isn’t realistic.

It would be nice, yeah. But it just doesn’t happen.

This is especially true for companies in so-called boring industries—micro-niches with very few people having an overwhelming interest in the subject matter.

But if you’re always boring your audience to tears, this will obviously have a negative effect on your traffic, leads, conversions, brand reputation, and—ultimately—profitability.

Basically, boring content is awful. Boring content is worse than no content at all!

If you think your content marketing campaign is in a death spiral, it’s important to resolve the situation ASAP.

I used to write some pretty boring crap. Once I figured it out, I changed my ways. Today, I’m not necessarily channeling J. K. Rowling all the time, but I do know when (or if) my audience is bored.

How do I know?

I’m about to tell you.

But first, let me spill the beans (well, sort of) upfront: it’s about data—the warning signs are in the data.

Whether you’re a marketer, SEO, or content creator, data is your friend. But don’t worry, I won’t tell you to buy some expensive analytics software. Nearly all the data I cite in this article is free.

Here are telltale signs that your audience finds your content boring.

Your bounce rate is abnormally high

What’s bounce rate?

Here’s how Google defines it:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e., sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

Basically, someone looks at your site and leaves.

You can find your bounce rate in Google Analytics.


How do you know if your bounce rate is awful or not?

Here are some benchmarks, according to the type of site you have:


Multiple issues can contribute to a high bounce rate.

Slow page load time, ugly web design, annoying pop-ups, or a crappy mobile experience are just a few of these reasons.

For example, mobile bounce rates are typically higher because of the less-than-optimal mobile design of some sites.


However, it can also simply be because readers are less than thrilled with your content and they’re abandoning ship before even making it halfway through.

If your bounce rate is over 70%, there’s probably cause for concern. If it’s over 90%, it’s a serious issue.


When there’s no other discernible reason, lackluster content could very well be the culprit.

You get few comments or no comments at all

Are you creating blog posts, guest posts, social media updates, etc. that are consistently getting little to no reaction?

Maybe you’re even asking open-ended questions at the end and begging for readers to chime in to spark a discussion.

What’s happening?

If nothing, take this as a warning sign.

In my early days of blogging, about ten years ago, I didn’t get many comments on my articles.

This one post (about postcards?!) received only 17 comments and basically no social shares:


I could have gotten all depressed about that.

But instead, I learned a lesson. Maybe my audience gets bored by stuff about postcards.

So, maybe I need to change my game a little bit.

I changed my game, and I really homed in on the topics and style my audience wanted. As it turns out, a post like this got hundreds of comments:


Comment counts are a great thermometer of the interest level of your audience.

If you write a sizzling-hot article on a sizzling-hot topic, the number of comments will reflect it.

But if you write a complete snoozer, no one will comment.

This is the kind of information that tells you exactly what you need to know about your content’s bore score.

Your content isn’t getting socially shared

I personally think that social shares are one of the most simple yet informative metrics in content marketing.

A quick glance at the number of likes, tweets, and other shares a piece of content receives often serves as a basic litmus test to see how favorably (or unfavorably) your audience has responded.

For example, it’s fair to say that if “Blog Post A” received 250 total shares and “Blog Post B” received only 12 total shares, Blog Post A was received by the readers significantly better.

While it wouldn’t be realistic to expect every piece of content to be a home run, a continually low number of social shares often indicates audience boredom.

The readers are simply not captivated by your content and don’t feel it warrants being shared.

The only caveat would be if you’re fairly new to the scene and haven’t really established an audience yet.

But if you used to receive a reasonable number of social shares and those numbers are noticeably dropping, boring content could definitely be the reason.

There’s a simple way to measure how your content is being shared.

You can use a tool such as Buzzsumo. Simply enter the URL of your website or blog, and click “Search!”

You’ll see a screen of results like this:


Granted, you may not have 430k shares on a single post like CNN does. Ideally, though, you’ll see at least a few.

Another free tool you can use is on my blog,

To use this tool, enter your blog’s URL, and click the “Analyze” button.


The report takes just a minute or two to generate—you’ll see a progress bar, telling you where the analysis is at.


When the report is complete, click “Content Marketing.”


The content marketing report shows you the social share counts across your whole website.

Here’s a summary of the social shares on my blog:


The “page shares per network” statistic tells you which individual pages were shared and the number of shares each page received:


You can also see the number of shares each page received according to the social network:


Using this tool allows you to get a very real sense of whether or not your readers are digging your content.

Look, if people are not sharing your content, they probably aren’t too impressed with it.

But let’s be realistic. If your traffic is low, your shares will be low too. No one is going to share your content if no one is seeing it to begin with.

Don’t beat yourself up over your low share counts unless you have really high traffic combined with low share counts.

There are usually several reasons why social sharing fluctuates and/or nosedives. Even a content marketing juggernaut such as Buffer admitted, “We’ve lost nearly half our social referral traffic in the last year.”

They even showed their numbers to prove it:


Kevan Lee, Buffer’s content creator, tried to come up with a few reasons why it happened.

Here are his maybes:

  • Maybe we need to hire a full-time social media manager to really devote some time and energy to doing great work on social media.
  • Maybe I’m no good at social media marketing.
  • Maybe our sharing ratio is off: Too much content, not enough conversation.
  • Maybe everyone else is failing, too!
  • Maybe we need to post more often.
  • Maybe we need to post less often.
  • Maybe, maybe, maybe …

So, while low share counts can be an indication of boring content, they are not the only measuring stick.

You have low Twitter engagement

Although it’s not always easy to determine what your exact engagement level is on all social media platforms, Twitter makes it incredibly transparent.

Twitter Analytics makes it super easy to get a feel for your engagement levels on its platform.

Here’s what I do.

I compare the number of impressions my content has received with the number of engagements, which includes retweets, favorites, link clicks, and so on.

Take a look at an example of this in Twitter Analytics.

A 28-day summary of this particular Twitter account shows that the number of tweets is down, impressions are down, profile visits are down, mentions are down, and followers are up.

This kind of data shows an overall decline in Twitter engagement, which suggests that the level of content being published on the account is less than exciting.


Obviously, that’s not the whole story, but it provides a fairly clear snapshot of how my Twitter audience is responding to the content I post on Twitter.

Twitter Analytics is helpful in that it provides month-by-month accounting for your Twitter engagement levels. You can instantly find out:

  • Your top tweet.
  • The number of impressions your top tweet earned.
  • Your top mention.
  • The number of engagements your top mention earned.
  • Your number of tweets.
  • Your total number of tweet impressions.
  • Your profile visits.
  • Your new followers.
  • Your mentions.
  • Your top follower.
  • The follower count of your top follower.
  • Your top media tweet.
  • The total number of impressions earned by your top media tweet.

In addition, using Twitter Analytics, you’ll get a sharper perspective of who’s engaging with you. My Twitter followers, for example, are interested in marketing and 61% male. There’s plenty of juicy information here:


How does this data help me?

  • I can understand how, why, and by whom my Twitter content is being shared.
  • I can understand the demographics of my audience.
  • I can retool my content to sustain higher interest.

In other words, all this data is serving a point: it helps me create more engaging content!

Your unfollow rate is climbing

Are your social media followers unfollowing left and right?

Is your audience shrinking rather than growing with each update?

This is obviously a sign that something is wrong.

Many social media users are particular about what pops up in their feeds, and they’re simply not going to keep following an account that’s not revving their engines.

There are a variety of free tools that show you who’s following and unfollowing you on various social media platforms.

A platform like Unfollowerstats gives you detailed reports on who’s following, unfollowing, etc., on Twitter.


Another Twitter tool is Tweepsmap.


Tweepsmap sends you an email summary of the number of people who followed and unfollowed you each week.


Unless you posted something that’s highly offensive, a high number of unfollows usually points to uninspiring content overall.

Traffic overall is dropping

If you’ve noticed a steady decline or, even worse, a dramatic drop in overall traffic, this can also be a sign that your audience is losing interest.

While they probably don’t expect everything you post to be completely awe-inspiring, it’s pretty easy to spot a sinking ship. Many people simply won’t come back for more.

Over time, this can cause traffic numbers to plunge. If you’re noticing that your number of repeat visitors is diminishing, boring content could be the reason for that.

To analyze your content from this angle, do a quick survey of your traffic stats on Google Analytics.

I like to run comparison reports to see how my traffic for a current period ranks against my traffic from a previous period.

Sinking numbers are a sign that something is wrong. This website I recently checked is an example of that:


Data is a tricky beast to tame. If you’re not careful with it, you can come away with a false picture of what’s wrong.

Data only tells you what’s going on, but it doesn’t diagnose the problem.

If you suspect that boring content is a problem, work on fixing it, and see how things change.


Boring content isn’t good for anyone. It’s not stimulating your audience, and it’s not helping your brand grow.

But what do you do if your content just isn’t exciting? How do you fix this problem before it gets out of control?

I recently contributed a post to the Content Marketing Institute that offers some ideas on what you can do when your content is boring. This will provide you with some specific techniques for remedying the situation and spicing things up.

Remember, data is your friend. You can get a clear perspective of what’s happening and ways to fix it by constantly looking at your data, running your numbers, poring over the metrics, and staying on top of things.

What measures have you taken to make boring content more exciting?

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