June 9, 2015 by Christina Hamlett
A Conversation with Ben Bradshaw
Here there be dragons. If you’re new to the business world – or just new to the mystifying challenges of digital marketing – it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re battling a formidable, untamable beast. When all seems hopeless, that’s when you call in a seasoned, dragon-slaying pro and ask, “Can you work your magic to make this problem go away?” Ben Bradshaw, Founder and CEO of SponsoredLinX, not only responds with a confident “Yes!” but also brings a swashbuckling arsenal of expertise in online marketing solutions, Facebook/Google Services/Google AdWords management, Search Engine Optimisation, app marketing, web development and mobile websites. (Rumor has it that there may even be some magic involved…)
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: For starters, you have a fascinating background that began with a childhood passion for magic. What was the inciting incident or inspiration that caused you to transition from getting yourself out of a straight jacket to getting your clients out of their online marketing dilemmas?
A: I was about five years old, still living in England when a magician turned up at my birthday party and started showing us all sorts of really cool tricks and this really got my attention. I remember being in awe and that feeling lasted a while, I also loved the fact that the magician was akin to a mysterious wizard at that tender age and it sparked my interest and passion for magic.
I started practicing the basics and continued on to the more advanced tricks, invested thousands of hours in my craft until I got the formula to make it work. It’s the same ethic I put into the business, put in the hours and hard yards until I cracked the code and got a brilliant formula that works to get clients continued success in their online marketing effort. Everyone loves the feeling of solving a problem with a method that works!
Q: What are the three key traits that made you start the digital business from scratch and make it successful?
- Solving business awareness issues – I had friends who needed business exposure and I helped get them traction online. I got a huge buzz out of helping them get traffic and conversions, though that so many businesses could benefit.
- Passion – I love digital marketing! It’s great how easy and cost effective it is compared to traditional media channels. It’s not a dull, dry and stagnant industry, it’s always dynamic, evolving and exciting.
- Knowledge Gap – I identified a huge knowledge gap in the market and subsequently, I also discovered a service I could provide small to medium business owners, who like myself, were crying out for.
Q: You’ve garnered quite a few prestigious awards since the company launched in 2006. Which one(s) are you the most proud of?
A: All of them each represent the success of everything SponsoredLinX as a company has achieved to date. It also validates my steep growth as an entrepreneur and believe me, a lot of crazy things have happened since the time the company was established.
Awards To Date
- Best in Search Top SEOs – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
- 50 Smart Company Award 2010
- BRW Fast 100 – 2013
- BRW Fast Starters
- Q400 Award 2010
- E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year 2013
- Top 100 Smart Company
- Smart Company – Hot 30 Under 30 – 2011, 2013
- Lord Mayor’s Business Awards – Special Mention Tradecoast Small Business Growth 2014
- Anthill Cool Company Awards 2014 – Top 100
Q: What does SponsoredLinX represent as a burgeoning company in the digital arena?
A: SponsoredLinX is the answer to online business marketing needs and the company’s rapid growth rate is an example of the demand and success that clients are constantly getting from the traffic, conversion and engagement that we generate for them.
Q: The digital revolution seems to keep reinventing itself on a daily – if not hourly! – basis. How does SponsoredLinX stay abreast of all these changes in order to offer cutting-edge solutions for your clients?
A: We have the best talent money can buy at SponsoredLinX and we continue to attract personnel that are technologically savvy and passionate about the digital marketing world. They love and breathe their jobs, are not afraid to go the extra mile and keep their eyes peeled for news, updates and advances in the industry that may affect clients.
Q: Speaking of this zippy and dynamically changing digital landscape we’re living in, where do you see SponsoredLinX in the next five years? How about the next ten?
A:There are amazing plans in place for us the enter the digital marketing space in New Zealand & Singapore, possibly Malaysia. In fact we aim for global expansion in the next five to ten years. The vast growth within the company so far has projected my vision for SponsoredLinX very far into a successful future, beyond Australian shores.
Q: When the Internet and Google first came on the scene, it was probably hard for a lot of people to fathom that there could ever be anything bigger, better, or faster for communicating, sharing information, and yes, even looking up totally mindless trivia. Through the eyes of an expert like yourself, is this as good as it gets…or are there more surprises in store that will make today’s technology seem like child’s play?
A: We haven’t seen anything yet! Technology is always being innovated to become better and more convenient than it was yesterday and this is now happening at an exponential rate. There is a plethora of new ideas being born every minute that are built, tested and implemented for easier operations. Take Google for example, they constantly have algorithm changes that are designed to get the search engine working in a refined manner that helps their goal of getting people the information they are searching for as fast as possible. Apple, Google and Facebook are the mainstream innovation leaders in society today, but you have to admit that ten years ago these brands have come a seriously long way in developing their technology.
Q: When it comes to online marketing, how do you minimize the unknowns?
A: Don’t Guess! I’ve written a book directly related to this subject in online marketing. Grab a copy and have a read. It removes the guesswork from your online marketing to harness the power of search.
Q: How do you escape assumptions?
A: Again, I prefer not to Guess. By investing the time to research and fact check where I possibly can to remove any grey areas. Sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling when the evidence isn’t there, but you will always make much better decisions with more information. Communication is the key.
Q: What are some of the most common mistakes that newbies make in online marketing when they decide to go the DIY route?
A: As the expertise, time and practice aren’t necessarily available they tend to:
1) Use irrelevant keywords in searches
2) Neglect the quality score system and the Genuine Relevance Gets Results (GRGR) rule
3) Direct traffic to a webpage not a landing page that’s designed to convert.
4) They don’t track their conversions
5) Lack of knowledge, they don’t take the time to educate themselves.
Expertly managed accounts can get you more value for your dollar and every time you guess something, you could be losing money on a campaign that doesn’t get you the best results.
Q: What are the current top online marketing trends for SMEs in Australia and New Zealand?
A: Everything is now driven by data. If it can’t be tracked and measured then we can’t know the exact impact it has on businesses. With mobile search now outweighing Internet search on desktops, the Internet of Things is increasingly gaining traction as the new buzzword. Even the term online marketing is obsolete. For any business to truly implement a strategic marketing plan, digital must play the major role.
Q: How do these trends correlate to what’s going on in other countries?
A: The interesting thing about all aspects of digital and online is that they don’t know borders. Amongst the more developed nations around the world, the rate at which businesses are taking up new and innovative ways of connecting and engaging with their customers is happening fast! The most telling of this is the rate at which mobile marketing is growing. But it still seems as though the rate at which digital marketing is growing is outpacing the rate at which it is being picked up by businesses, particularly when businesses try to tackle it alone.
Q: We’ve been hearing a lot about “mobile responsive websites” these days. What are they and why are they so important?
A: A mobile responsive website is a website which can adapt for any device that it is being viewed on and still deliver the best user experience. This means that when a website is being viewed on a mobile device in comparison to a desktop, which the website will automatically readjust, so that there is no need for a user to zoom in on tiny, illegible text, or for a user to wait a substantial amount of time for a website to load. It’s incredibly important that websites be mobile responsive due to the increasing rate of Internet search via mobile devices. Without a mobile responsive website, there are countless opportunities being wasted for potential customers to find your business.
Q: What’s the one piece of technology that you couldn’t live without for more than a day?
A: I hate to say it, but it really is my smartphone. The other day I accidentally left my phone at home and I felt like I was suffering from separation anxiety (joking!)
Q: If you had 15 minutes to communicate with your former self about the lessons you have learned, what would you say?
A: I’d sit myself down and explain just how important it is to strike the right balance between work life, and personal life. I’d remind them to put aside time for the ones they love, and tell them you love them, because no one lives forever. I would also let myself know how important good food and nutrition is. Health is the true Wealth.
Q: Where do you see your personal entrepreneurial journey taking you in the future?
A: Whatever I want. I think we create our own destiny and I am confident in my ability to follow my passions. I see myself spending more time on working on the areas of interest which get my creative juices flowing, such as my love of music and my passion for health and nutrition.
Q: You also have a new book in the works. Tell us what it’s about.
A: I’m actually working on two books at the moment. I have already released an online marketing book called ‘Don’t Guess’ which delves into why guessing when it comes to online marketing never works. One of the books I am working on now is a continuation of this which encompasses our ethos here at SponsoredLinX: Traffic > Conversion > Engagement. The other book I am working on focuses on the idea of the ‘Healthy Entrepreneur’. I am also working on an acoustic guitar album.
Q: So what’s the bigger challenge – writing a book or running a company?
A: Running a company by far. You know there are times with both (writing a book and running a company) that it doesn’t feel like work because I am so passionate about everything I take on. But if I had to narrow it down, running a company is the bigger challenge.
Q: Any other tricks up your sleeve? (I couldn’t resist!)
A: Always, but the trick would be ruined if you knew how it worked! A good magician never reveals his secrets.
Q: Where can readers learn more about SponsoredLinX?
A: Your readers can learn more about SponsoredLinX via any of the following sites and through following our social media accounts:
SponsoredLinX website: http://www.sponsoredlinx.com.au/
SponsoredLinX Resource Centre: http://www.optimisecentre.com.au/
SponsoredLinX Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SponsoredLinX
SponsoredLinX Twitter: https://twitter.com/sponsoredlinx
SponsoredLinX Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Sponsoredlinx/posts
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Just thank you for the opportunity to appear on Biz Buzz.