Instructor Spotlight: Ben Kinnaird

  • Digital Marketing

Ben Kinniard

Ben Kinnaird is the Head of Strategy at Sydney Digital Marketing, an agency specialising in Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Strategy & Programmatic Advertising. Ben has been helping iconic brands and organisations like BMW, Audi and World Animal Protection, develop effective integrated online solution.

Ben teaches ADMA IQ’s popular Digital Marketing Essentials course, due to start soon. We caught up with Ben to see what makes him excited about the digital space and get some advice on the key skills marketers need to succeed in this space.


What’s the best thing about working in digital marketing?

Where to start… No two days are the same in our industry and that brings a level of excitement to our business. Over the last 10 years I’ve seen so much change in the digital marketing landscape from the rise of social media, programmatic, marketing automation, chatbots and now artificial intelligence.  I understand that this can seem daunting to some organisations, especially if they have invested so heavily into one channel, however it’s also an exciting time, especially for those challenger or disruptor brands like AirBNB, Uber, Koala and so on.

Digital Marketing also provides plenty of career choices for those wanting to explore. You could be a graphic designer, web developer, copywriter, data analyst, videographer or a campaign engineer specialising in ad buying. The  ever-changing / always growing channel that is Digital Marketing is guaranteed to keep you engaged.


Name one thing that businesses often get wrong about digital and what they can do to get it right?

How much time do we have? I’ve worked with global enterprises to start-up businesses and there isn’t a common thread when it comes to digital mistakes.

Based on my experience, I’m most surprised by the lack of knowledge some companies have around data an analytics. To not understand how, when, why and who engages with your brand, product or services makes it extremely difficult to not only develop a go-to-market strategy, but to also attribute and measure success from any campaign activities that organisation may have.

What can they do to get it right? Well, firstly invest in good people. Too many times I see businesses invest in a new, bright and shiny toy (for eg: Salesforce), but they have no idea how to adopt the product into their organisation and, therefore how to leverage its full capabilities to drive revenue. Having a skilled Digital Marketer in your business will help identify the gaps, both systems (MarTech) and processes and help guide that business to better outcomes.


What was your all-time favourite digital campaign you a) worked on and b) wished you’d worked on?

Gee… That’s a really tough one! I’ve worked on many amazing campaigns over my time that it’s hard to pinpoint one specifically. I have collaborated with a number of not-for-profit organisations and charities over my tenure and it’s been a really rewarding journey. Some of these organisations include

The Surfrider Foundation, World Animal Protection, Ronald McDonald House Charity and most recently Beard Season.

Having the opportunity to empower these organisations and impact the lives of others is a really powerful experience.

I especially love how organisations and social enterprises are leveraging digital, social and mobile technology to drive awareness for their respective causes and, more importantly, how us as consumers have helped drive change.


Pick one thing that had a huge impact on the marketing landscape in last 5 years. Go!

Hmmm… Good question! I know this technology has been around for longer than 5 years, however from a marketing standpoint, I would have to say the mobile device has had the biggest impact on our landscape. Where would Instagram or Snapchat be without the mobile device, let along any social network really #selfie #metoo ?

The power of this little device is unbelievable and it’s given brands and marketers the opportunity to connect with consumers anywhere and anytime -aka “always on”. Now, I understand some may argue this isn’t such a good thing, and our younger generation are turning into zombies, but it also opens up the opportunity for creative expression, whether that be through video, audio or photography i.e.: New Podcast Shows, YouTube influencers and so forth.


What are the 3 most important skills digital marketers need today?

I’m sure we all have different opinions on this one, depending on our experience and background, but personally I would say the following.

  1. Know your data. We’ve all heard the saying “with knowledge comes power” and to gain knowledge is to understand the data. Now this data can come in many shapes and forms, but as a Digital Marketer it’s your job to interpret this information and leverage it’s power to drive insight and strategy for your business.
  2. Understand your audience. This dovetails into my first point above however I’m specifically talking about your target market. Who are they, where do they live, what do they consume, how do they consume it, when do they want to be spoken to and in what format/setting? I could continue, but I think you understand my point. As a Digital Marketer it’s imperative that you understand your audience, avatar or buyer persona, and how to communicate with them in a fashion that will drive awareness, consideration and conversion for your brand and or business.
  3. Get the basics right. Like I mentioned earlier on, there are some many new ad platforms, technologies and innovations on the market and sometimes we get distracted by the bright lights. I understand how important it is to stay agile and continue to evolve in an ever-changing landscape, however we need to get the foundations right first. Too many times I have seen businesses or brands launch a paid media campaign and have no success due to the customer experience on their digital properties, whether that be your website, app or social networks. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and map every interaction with your business before you go to market with a new campaign. Are you delivering “digital excellence” across every touch-point? If not, how can you do it better?


What’s the best career advice you ever got or would give to people starting out in digital marketing?

Never stop learning and investing time into yourself. I know this is easier said than done, especially in our fast paced lifestyle, however it’s so important. I’ve been teaching ADMA IQ courses for over 2 years now, and it amazes me how many people, from Senior Marketers to Coordinators starting their careers, have a lack of knowledge in the digital landscape.

By no means am I pointing the finger at universities, however the industry is evolving so quickly, that it’s hard to stay ahead when it comes to education and that’s why it’s important to constantly invest in yourself. Now that could come in the form of podcasts, subscribing to a digital influencer’s content (i.e.: newsletter or Youtube channel) or conducting a short course each quarter.

There are plenty of amazing and free resources available from the Google Analytics Academy to Facebook’s Blueprint that will put you in good steed moving forward.

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