Ben Roberts is the director of Optipus, a company with one goal: to do SEO the right way. He helps build trust and credibility for his clients by looking at the marketing they own and create, such as their websites and blogs. He then blends it with earned marketing such as reviews, media mentions, and guest posts.
Ben spent nearly 10 years leading marketing teams at a SaaS startup, a top 100 UK insurance broker, and a large specialized outdoor e-commerce company. Ben spends much of his time building his personal brand which includes conference speaking, consultancy offerings, and media mentions. In 2018, he launched his book, Marketing Buzzword to Marketing Authority, where he uses all of those experiences to help other people build their businesses and careers.
Building a Platform on Land He Owned
Ben wanted to start his career before he finished university. While studying marketing, he started getting his feet wet by growing a business and learning how businesses actually worked instead of just hearing about it in a classroom. He started learning about real-world social media and SEO. In 2016, Ben went to the Social Media Marketing World conference where he was exposed to podcasts and he decided to give it a try.
When Ben was at that conference, he noticed many buzzwords he didn’t recognize. He decided he should launch a podcast to break down common marketing buzzwords for his audience. Three years later, Ben had created nearly 100 episodes while working full time. The podcast became the basis for his book, Marketing Buzzword to Marketing Authority.
Before Ben started his business, he spent years building his platform and constructing it on land he owned. He built his own podcast, his own email list, and his own brand. Even when the world fell apart during the global pandemic, he was able to launch a business successfully, all because he had built it on land he owned—his own email list.
Ben wishes he had started building his email list from the very beginning. It would have been a bigger and better list by now. He also believes that one of the hardest things to do when we’re starting a business is to stay consistent. One of his biggest lessons he’s learned during his journey is that less is more. When we have so much on our plate, we become inconsistent with our efforts in building our business. Once we lose our consistency, it’s harder to get important things done and to get back on track.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential podcast guests
We can’t be afraid of reaching out to people. Ben believes one of the reasons his podcast is successful is because he had the confidence to speak to as many people as possible. We might think that it’s hard to find people who’d want to come on our podcast but people are willing and love it when we ask them to share their stories and insights.
When we reach out to people the right way, no one is too far out of reach. Before we reach out to potential interviewees, we need to learn about them and what they’ve already done. Ben finds this a good way of showing that we care. We should reach out to them personally if we want this person to come on our show as opposed to sending a generic email that doesn’t show we know who they are or care about what they do.
Building an Effective Email List
Ben also shared his top two secrets for building an effective email list.
1. Give people a reason to join an email list
We have to give our customers a reason to join our email list. It helps to give people incentives and reminders about the benefits of being on our email list. If we just have a box asking them to sign up to our email list, people will not do it. By giving them an incentive, we motivate them to join our email list. This can be a discount or exclusive access to part of a group. Either way, there has to be a hook somewhere as opposed to just asking them to join our email list. If people don’t know who we are, they’re not going to subscribe. We need to give them a reason to subscribe to our list.
2. Be consistent and helpful
Over the years, Ben has learned how important it is to be consistent and helpful. We need to make sure there is value in every single email we send. When we send something, it helps to ask ourselves a fundamental question, “Would I want to receive this?” If the answer is no, then why are we sending this to someone else?
Everyone gets so many emails. Since we want to be customer-centric, it’s good to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. We want to be building rapport with the people that have joined our email list. We want to send them something that connects with them, so when they receive our emails they know it’s going to include something they want to receive. We should always ask ourselves, “Is it helpful? Does it provide enough value?”
Benefits of Writing a Book
Many people are scared about writing a book. It’s a major project that can take 18 months to two years to complete. It’s not an easy undertaking yet it can have many rewards.
Ben considers publishing a book based on his podcast one of his biggest successes. Over the years, his podcast has built an audience that the book was able to leverage to start his monetization journey. Ben is now able to speak on international stages across different countries.
For Ben, much of what he does revolves around SEO and personal branding. Even though the podcast was doing good, he wanted to do something that would be long-lasting and improve his credibility. A book would be something he could send to clients and leverage for increased media outreach. It would allow him to put together all the things he had learned from the podcast along with his knowledge and experience.
Writing a book has opened up many doors for Ben. He has received offers to speak at different conferences around the world, online and offline. He was able to connect with different people that he never thought he could connect with. His email list also grew exponentially because of the book. It’s the crux of owned marketing. His email list is something that he owns, has full control of, and builds his trust, credibility, and further extends the reach of his business and personal brand.
Ben believes voice marketing is having a much bigger impact than people realize. It’s predicted that 15.8 billion people will be using digital assistants by 2023 (Source: Statista). Currently, approximately half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion – uses voice-activated search and assistants across the globe (Source: review42.com). The shift is particularly noticeable in Gen Z where the stats show that 38% of them are willing to purchase via voice-activated ordering (Source: review42.com).
Thank you so much Ben for sharing your stories and knowledge with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
1. It’s better to start building our email list as early as possible.
2. When we reach out to people the right way, no one is too far out of reach.
3. To build an effective email list, we need to be consistent and provide value to our audience. We also need to give people a reason to join our list.
4. One of the benefits of writing a book is that it is long-lasting and will improve our credibility.
5. Voice search is one of the major shifts impacting businesses today.
Connect with Ben
If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about Ben or connect with him, you can find him on LinkedIn. You can also visit his website at ben-m-roberts.com or listen to his podcast at marketingbuzzword.com.
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