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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, LGK Marketing CC is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile here.

Although I spend thoughtful hours selecting the perfect font for each project, I sometimes wonder if it is time well spent. Do clients appreciate this extra care? Does anyone notice? Does it matter? I am here to shout from the rooftops – YES, FONTS MATTER!

A recent client, “Kathy,” serves as a case study and the inspiration for my writing about this topic. Kathy hired us to do a website and then provide accompany marketing materials, graphics and social media posts, to be used for one of the events featured on the website. We needed two fonts for the lower third of a graphic: one for a headline and another for some accompanying text. I picked two fonts I thought looked good and captured the spirit of how I understood the event based on our conversations, but she did not like them. I must admit, this was a first for me; either I rushed the process, I had a picky client, or we were not in sync.

So, I went through font after font after font with Kathy. There are thousands of fonts to consider and we looked at Word fonts, Google fonts, fonts for purchase, custom fonts, etc. When we paired Voga and Playfair Display, we both knew it was perfect. There was a literal “THAT’S IT” moment in the form of a scream from both of us.

This led to our next problem. Playfair Display is a Google font, readily available for a free download. Voga, while available with our graphics program, was not so readily available for other uses. In this case, I picked the next-best matching font for these other uses. There was a subtle difference, as there is with many similar fonts, such as Arial and Tahoma, for example. In the end, Kathy noticed and I had to purchase the font for use on her project. This story had a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean it’ll always turn out that way.

Fonts are particularly valuable in affecting moods from horror (look at Creepster) to joy (look at Happy Dance). They can also help you visualize time periods, whether it’s the future (look at Orbitron) or the Middle Ages (look at Old English). Fonts can make you dream of a location, such as Ireland (look at Irish Uncialfabetiator) or an enchanted forest (look at Enchanted Land) and can serve as a precursor to things to come. A script font on an envelope, for example, creates visions of an invitation. Fonts can identify an age group, such as how the 5 Years Old font suggests a child. Whether the project needs to be branded as high-tech, friendly, bold, exciting or quirky, there’s a perfect font out there to coordinate with it.

'Whether the project needs to be branded as high-tech, friendly, bold, exciting or quirky, there’s a perfect font out there to coordinate with it.' - Leisa Chester Weir, LGK Marketing CC
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The infographic that follows gives you a more visual representation of what font can do for feelings, time, and place. It also gives a definition of the different types of fonts (helpful in searches) and how the different types are generally used. There IS a time and place for Calibri, Arial and Times New Roman, but expand your font world and I’m sure you’ll become a believer in the power of the typography!

The post Fonts Matter for Content Marketing: Going Beyond Calibri, Arial, and Times New Roman appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, The Lorem Ipsum Co is featured as one of the Top Content Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile here.

Content marketing has swept the business world over the last decade with businesses committing up to 80 percent of their marketing budgets to the relatively new phenomenon. But do you know if that investment is paying off? If you don’t have a clear way to measure ROI on your content marketing, you’re not alone. In fact, 59 percent of B2B marketers either don’t know or are unsure what successful content marketing looks like, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

59 percent of B2B marketers either don’t know or are unsure what successful content marketing looks like.
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Image Courtesy of the Content Marketing Institute

If you don’t know if or how a specific piece of content contributed to the bottom line, it’s time for a wakeup call. In order to understand how content can help your business, you need to be able to measure ROI (return on investment) on your content marketing quickly and effectively. Accurately measuring your ROI will ensure you are getting the best results from content marketing.

'If you don’t know if or how a specific piece of content contributed to the bottom line, it’s time for a wakeup call.' - Jeramy Gordon, The Lorem Ipsum Co
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What is Content Marketing ROI?

Content marketing ROI is the value you receive from your content marketing efforts compared to the costs associated with said efforts, especially the cost to create and distribute content. In order to understand content marketing ROI, you must first understand the goal of your content (i.e., web traffic, brand recognition, revenue, etc.) and then set key performance indicators (KPIs).

A few important KPI to monitor include:

  • Sales/Revenue
  • Web Traffic
  • SEO Improvement
  • Lead Quality
  • On-page Metrics
  • Social Media Engagement

In order to determine ROI, you must understand the cost associated with creating and distributing your content.

Calculating your ROI

For this explanation, let’s assume the goal is increased revenue. Even if you create all content in house, there are costs associated with that time and labor, not to mention your content distribution costs (i.e., PPC or social media advertising). Factor in the cost of stock video and images and any outsourced work as well. Once you have a firm grip on the cost, there’s a simple formula to help you weigh the costs vs. benefit of your content.

'When content marketing works as planned, it produces clear, measurable results in the form of web traffic or new sales prospects.' - Jeramy Gordon, The Lorem Ipsum Co
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When content marketing works as planned, it produces clear, measurable results in the form of web traffic or new sales prospects. The formula created by Convince and Convert, a digital marketing analysis and advisory firm, is one of the best: “Return minus investment, divided by investment, expressed as a percentage.” Here’s an example:

If you spend $1,500 creating and promoting a piece of content and that specific content nets two new sales valued at $2,500 each, that’s a 233 percent ROI.

  1. Return minus investment – $5,000 – $1,500 = $3,500
  2. Divided by investment – 3,500/$1,500 = 2.33
  3. Expressed as a percentage – 2.33 x 100 = 233

If you spend less creating a piece of content than you can accurately measure it earning in sales, it’s successful. However, content doesn’t always translate into direct revenue. Many content marketing metrics produce an ROI without obvious ties to income.

Here are a few of the top content marketing KPIs and how to measure them:

  1. Web Traffic: Web traffic is perhaps the single most important metric to measure content marketing success. Without traffic, there’s no revenue. To monitor the amount of traffic a specific content asset is producing, Google Analytics is the choice of most content marketers. You can build UTM tags to track and monitor content or campaign performance.
  2. SEO Improvement: Content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) go hand in hand. When a piece of content performs well, your entire website benefits through increased domain authority. To gauge SEO performance, you need to monitor how your content ranks for the target keyword. Many free and paid software services, such as Moz, monitor keyword performance.
  3. Social Media Engagement: Successful content can also produce ROI offsite. Social media is a perfect example. If the goal of your content is to grow your social media following, monitoring engagement is crucial. With so many purchasing decisions influenced by peer recommendations, social media growth should be a top ROI metric. Most social media channels have built-in analytics to help you monitor week-over-week or month-over-month growth and engagement.

It’s important to know that you do not need to track every single KPI. You can choose which metrics best suit your business and content goals. You can also change which metrics your monitor between content pieces. As long as you set concrete goals, you can easily and effectively measure ROI on your content marketing.

Now that you know what to measure and how; it’s time to get busy creating content with those specific goals in mind and watch the returns roll in!

The post How to Measure the ROI of Your Content Marketing appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, CTRL+ALT Digital is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile here.

Tax season is here, but before you file, make sure you know how to get the most from your return. Many individuals and businesses are aware of the more common items that can be deducted such as charitable donations but may not be aware that their advertising and marketing expenses can also be deducted. Knowing what’s allowable for advertising and marketing expenses can also help you and your clients strategically expand budgets in certain areas for 2019.

Which advertising and marketing costs does the IRS allow as deductions?

The IRS states that in order for advertising to be deductible it must fall under the category of reasonable and directly related to your business. A few examples of allowable business advertising expenses include:

Digital advertising

Some examples of digital advertising that can be deducted include email marketing, pay-per-click advertising (PPC), display advertising and search engine optimization (SEO). Digital marketing tends to be most effective when using a combination of strategies such as utilizing Facebook Ads for display and Google Ads for PPC, combined with a thoughtful SEO plan. As such, it’s likely that you’ll have licenses to a number of tools/softwares that you may be able to write off as well!

TV, radio and video production

Any TV or radio ads promoting your business are deductible, including all production costs. Additionally, explainer and animated videos are becoming more popular as effective marketing tools to succinctly convey the message. Studies show that users retain 95% of a message when watching it in video form, rather than text. Implementing video as part of a marketing plan can boost conversions while also being a tax deduction.


If you have a photoshoot for visual content needs for advertising and marketing your business, those costs can be deducted. This even includes clothes for the shoot!


Any costs associated with setting up your business website can be deducted. This can include copywriting, design, development and hosting costs. Be careful to classify your website accordingly though. If it’s an e-commerce site, this can also be deducted, but it does not fall under the advertising expenses category. If you design and develop the website yourself, your time/business expense cannot be deducted.

Event sponsorships

Sponsoring local events or any special events to advertise your business are included in allowable deductions.

Business cards, brochures, and other printed materials

Designing and printing of business cards, brochures or direct marketing pieces are fully deductible. You can spring for the better paper stock without debating about extra costs since you’ll be able to write it off. Postage is also included. The same applies to the printing and production of T-shirts used for advertising and promoting your business.

Meals and entertainment

With the 2018 tax changes, entertainment costs are no longer deductible but there is an exception if the entertainment is for business advertising purposes. For example, taking clients to a professional sporting event is no longer considered an allowable entertainment deduction but putting on an event for the purpose of advertising your business and the entertainment costs associated with it, is an allowable deduction. Meals at the event would also be deductible and not subject to the 50% limit that meals for other businesses purposes are subjected to. You don’t need to produce proof at the time of filing but you should ensure to have receipts handy in case you get audited. Audits can occur within three years of each filing.

More Than Meets the Eye

The above are just a few examples of some of the more common business marketing and advertising costs that can be deducted. The best way to ensure you’re getting the most from your deductions (and also not deducting anything you shouldn’t or categorizing incorrectly) is to have a professional handle your filing.

Nick Wilmot, an Enrolled Agent with Debbie’s Accounting Service, Inc, advises, “Not only does advertising increase revenue but remember when factoring the cost of marketing and advertising you get more than meets the eye. Since you get the expense it lowers your tax bill. For example, spending $2500 on advertising will reduce the business taxable income, and even at a 21% tax rate equates to $525 in tax savings. The end result is really only spending $1975 on advertising.” Knowing all the categories of advertising and marketing costs that can be included in deductions can also help you plan for yours and your clients’ 2019 strategies. As 2019 gets rolling into the second quarter, remind your clients of these allowable deductions and decide where to spend budget that’s most beneficial to their campaigns and marketing goals.

The post Turn Your Advertising & Marketing Costs into Tax Deductions appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Fu Dog Media is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in the United States. Check out their profile here.

As a restaurant owner, you probably know how critical it is to provide quality food on a consistent basis for word of mouth advertising. But if you aren’t using the wealth that you get from SEO, then you are doing your business a significant disservice. After all, you probably put a considerable amount into your website design. Both time and resources were spent making it look appetizing, both figuratively and literally. But the bad news is if you don’t use SEO to drive traffic to your website, no one is going to see it!

Since you have already invested so much in making your webpage look attractive, it makes sense that you would want to put in the additional effort to use SEO! Quality content is the best way to signal Google to get your page seen. And most importantly, it will help to get a return on your website investment by driving traffic.

How Effective is an Idle Salesforce?

Imagine that you have a sales force, but instead of sending them out into the field to advertise for you, you had them sitting in a room waiting for the customer to come to them? They aren’t going to make many sales if they sit back and wait. Well, if you aren’t using SEO, that is what your website is doing, idly sitting waiting for people to find it. When it comes to your website, content is king, and the right content will get your target audience to see your site and to ultimately choose your restaurant for the “best restaurants near me”.

If You Aren’t on Page One, You Might as Well Not be There at all!

Statistics say that approximately 90% of all internet users won’t go to page two of an organic search. When people are looking for a restaurant, they use predictable words to find one that matches what they want. If they are searching and you don’t come up on page one, but your competition does, nine times out of ten, they are more likely to go elsewhere. SEO is key to getting to page one of a search and beating other similar restaurants in your area.

It Can Help Highlight What You Specialize in

If you are an Italian restaurant with homestyle cuisine, that is your “brand”. So if someone is searching for the best Italian restaurant in your area, you want to ensure that you have the right keywords and key phrases to help them find you. You also want to make sure your food and restaurant pictures are appetizing and inviting! That is where the content on your blog and website works. You have to use content to make sure that when someone is searching for your brand, they can find it easily. If you don’t, your competitors probably will. And guess where your customers will likely go if that is the case?

To gain the most traffic, post content to your website that your audience will be looking for or that they will find useful. For instance, give away some of your cooking secrets, recipes, or news and special events information. If you want to continually drive them to your site, give them something that they will find helpful. It isn’t just content for content’s sake; it is content for the customer’s benefit.

Consistent Content as a Tool to Drive Traffic

SEO is a tool that helps to drive traffic. As you are sitting here reading this, Google is updating, organizing, reclassifying, and sorting through websites to make sure that users can find what they need. It isn’t a one and done proposition, but a continual one. So every time that you use the right keywords and key phrases on your site, it helps to push you ahead of your competitors who are not. That is why having a blog is key, but so is updating it on a continual basis. The more that you strengthen your tie to specific words, the higher Google ranks you on an organic search. And it is also necessary to have consistent and great content to leave a favorable impression to have them coming back for more, and Google ranking you high for credibility and reliability of information.

Quality Content is Relatively Inexpensive But Highly Effective!

Word of mouth will always help to aid a restaurant to thrive, but in the new age of the internet, it isn’t enough. The world has gotten a whole lot bigger, and that means that finding your target market is not as easy as it used to be. The good news is that you don’t have to find your audience. If you use content as a tool to further your SEO, they will find you! Content is a highly effective, very inexpensive, and proven way to push your beautiful website to number one so that it can be seen and do what it was intended to, bring people through your restaurant doors!

The post Using SEO & Content to Supercharge Your Hospitality Site appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Cibirix Digital Marketing is featured as one of the Top Content Marketing Agencies in Winston-Salem, NC. Check out their profile here.

Are you a content marketing professional who’d like to increase your productivity while also reducing your stress level? If this is you, you’re not alone! Keep reading for some tips to help you be more effective when it’s “go time,” and to help keep your sanity in the process.

Get Ready to Write

Getting ready before you start writing is perhaps the most important tip for effective content generation, if not for being more effective and productive in general:

1. Get to know your audience

Start with a clear focus on who you’re creating content for in the first place. If the content is for a particular business client, get to know that client. Who are they? What’s their business about (this is much more revealing than simply asking what they do, produce, or sell)? What’s their why? Once you solidly establish these things, it will be much easier for you to create content that they will appreciate, and that will truly reflect who they are, what they do, and how they do it for their future customers.

If you’re writing for a broader audience than a single client (a specific demographic or target niche market, perhaps) take some time to do your research and learn everything you can about the group in question. Create some customer or buyer personas (if you haven’t already), and refer to them often as you write and generate content. Think about what kind of language, tone, and approach will be most effective for connecting with this audience. If you can start by figuring out what makes them tick and how to connect with them before you ever pick up a pen or touch a keyboard, then what you write will have a much better chance of landing and sticking with your target readers.

2. Make a plan before you start

As the wise philosopher Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith (a character from the popular 1980s TV seriesThe A-Team) is known for saying, “I love it when a plan comes together.” It’s a great feeling when a plan comes together and things work according to plan, but in order to be able to enjoy that feeling, you must first have a plan. Let me explain.

If you’re a professional novelist, you may have the gift of being able to put pen to paper and just letting the ink flow. This method may be fantastic for writing a novel, but it’s not so fantastic for generating marketing content. If you jump into content creation without an outline or overview of what you want to achieve, you’ll probably have to do much more revision work on the back end, including more time-consuming rewrites. You need a plan first. Exactly where are you headed with this, and how do you plan to get there? If your creative juices really start to flow once you get going, you can, of course, choose to follow them and deviate from your plan somewhat. But the truth of the matter is you can always deviate from a plan, but it’s well-nigh impossible to deviate to a plan that you didn’t have in the first place. Make sense? Save yourself a lot of effort and frustration by taking the time to make a plan and make an outline before you start writing in earnest. When you know where you’re headed and which points you want to cover, you’ll be able to produce that content much more effectively, with much less back-end cleanup to do.

3. Use daily to-do lists

I’m a big believer in this one. I like to use Evernote (available as a web-based app or downloadable smartphone app – I use both), but the tool you use (pen and paperwork too) isn’t as important as simply making the decision to be consistent with daily to-do lists. They’re helpful for organizing your priorities and seeing at a glance what you still have to do. Being able to look and see what you’ve already checked off can be its own form of reward, too. (Yes! I did get something done today!)

Be realistic with your to-do lists, though. It’s fine to set the bar reasonably high enough to challenge yourself, but if you try and cram too many things on your list it can actually be de-motivating when you don’t even get half of them done. Shooting for about three main tasks to complete in a day is more realistic, and is something you can consistently achieve with excellence. From time to time, also take a step back to assess your to-do list from a higher perspective. If you find something on your to-do list that isn’t actually helping you to move toward your goals, you might need to reconsider whether it belongs on your to-do list at all.

Now Write! But Write Smarter, and Use Your Time Better

Following some good productivity and time management tips will also help to make your content writing much more effective and efficient. Here are a few short tips that will pay great dividends if you follow them:

4. Write when you’re most creative and effective

Know thyself. If you’re a morning person, for example, block off time every morning just for content generation, and save other tasks like returning calls or responding to emails for later in the day. Work to your strengths, and you’ll do better work!

5. Multitasking doesn’t work

Multitasking – despite those who try and tout its benefits – really isn’t effective, especially when it comes to generating content. You may artificially “feel” more productive if you’re trying to juggle 12 things at a time, but in truth, you’re probably little more than a frazzled juggler. Neuroscience teaches us that multitasking isn’t literally possible – your brain can only give effective focus to one thing at a time. Trying to turn yourself into a “multitasker” just tends to leave you more distracted and frustrated. No matter how full your to-do list is, you really shouldn’t try to do more than one thing at a time, if you hope to do any of those things well. Better to just focus on checking off one to-do list item at a time.

6. Grouping similar tasks is smart

You may not be able to multitask, but you can work smarter by tackling similar tasks together in groups. Tying to spread similar tasks out among other unrelated tasks usually isn’t as effective or efficient. Once you hit a groove in doing similar tasks, you can click through those tasks easier and faster. For instance, if you need to write several emails (or social media posts, or whatever), block off time to roll through all of them in one sitting, if possible. Then move on to the next thing!

7. Take breaks

Speaking of your daily work schedule … you’re not a machine. You’re a human, and even the best-performing humans get tired and lose focus at some point. Try as you might, you can’t just crank out amazing content all day long. When you sense that you’re fading, step away from the computer! Better still, be proactive and build some breaks into your daily schedule. Take a walk. Do some pushups. Go outside (The Sun! It’s so bright!) and get some fresh air. Don’t just work through lunch and eat a sandwich over your keyboard. Do something besides trying to crunch words and concepts all day; it’s counterproductive and unhealthy and will sap your energy and motivation. Every hour or two, get up, stretch, make a cup of coffee, read a few pages of a book, even scroll through some mindless social media if that’s what it takes to refresh yourself. If you tend to forget to take breaks, remind yourself by setting alarms on your phone or on your computer.

8. Delegate when appropriate

Know which tasks you need to own yourself, and which ones you could empower somebody else to do. This doesn’t mean you should just look to dump the stuff you don’t like to do or want to do onto someone else (not the best recipe for building office morale or culture!), but there may be some items on your to-do list that would actually be a better fit in someone else’s wheelhouse. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and learn those of your coworkers as well. Your goal in delegation shouldn’t be simply to take something off your plate but should also be to play to others’ strengths. If you can find a task to hand off that will actually give your colleague a chance to shine (a win-win!), then you’re approaching delegation with the right mindset.

9. Major on the majors

Even if you’ve been able to delegate some things, you’ve still no doubt got plenty of stuff on your to-do list. It’s essential to realize that not everything is urgent, much less important. ROI is what drives business investments, and the ROI of how you spend your time and focus your energy is something you need to assess from time to time, as well. Use the classic Eisenhower Principle to prioritize your workload tasks, and then put more of your energy into the things that are truly urgent and important. And we’ve alluded to this before, but if you notice that you aren’t getting much return from something into which you’re having to put forth time and effort on a regular basis … maybe you need to stop doing it. Keep the main thing, the main thing!

10. Reuse your best stuff

Great content is hard to create, so why not get all the mileage out of it you can? No need to reinvent the wheel, when you’ve already invented several perfectly good wheels! Look for ways to repurpose and reuse your best stuff, and let it keep working for you. For instance, you can convert an awesome how-to blog post into a great slide deck, or a visually-appealing infographic. It’s not plagiarism if you’re borrowing your own ideas!

How to Keep the Creative Juices Flowing 11. Don’t waste a great idea

Creative blocks suck, and they happen to the best of us. One way to prevent writer’s block from stopping you is to keep a notebook (physical or digital) for jotting down random good ideas when they occur to you. If it crosses your mind and seems like something that could be useable at some point, write it down (or type it out) before you lose it! You never know which of these gold nuggets may be just the ticket you need for a future content assignment.

12. Always be curating content

It’s not realistic to expect to be able to stay ahead of your content posting schedule at all times. However, you can give yourself a leg up when you’ve got to crank out something quickly by having a go-to stash of content. If you write a lot of content around leadership strategies, for example, then, by all means, subscribe to multiple leadership blogs and email lists. The goal here is not to plagiarize, but to help stoke your fire of creativity with some great starting blocks for your own content.

13. Listen

Often, some of the best ideas for what content to write come from your audience themselves, if you’re simply willing to listen. Every so often, take a quick survey of your readership (or whoever your target audience is) on which topics they’d like to see covered.

This is a lesson I learned well from my time as a youth pastor, and subsequently as a high school teacher. Whenever I would driving a bus full of teenagers on a church or school trip, I found that if I would just shut up and listen, the teenagers would tell me everything. Even if they weren’t specifically talking to me, I found that if just paid attention to what they talked to each other about, I could learn what was important to them. Then, if I used what I heard out of their own mouths as the jumping-off point for my next youth talk or high school lesson, it would land every time!

Now, you may not necessarily have the opportunity to drive your client or customer base on a long bus trip, but the principle is the same. Take the time to listen to what they have to say. If you’ll use what you learn from them and about them as you generate content, your next email, blog, or other marketing campaign will have a much better chance of landing and connecting with its intended audience.

14. Stay connected with your team

This may be the last tip on this list, but it’s also one of the most important. Unless you’re a one-person writing team (bless your heart if that’s the case!), you probably work collaboratively with others to some degree. If you do work with others, make sure that all parties (SMEs, writers, digital designers, etc.) have a clearly-communicated set of expectations and a clearly-defined schedule. In a word, communicate, and communicate often. Sometimes the one limiting factor that holds a content marketing organization (or any organization!) back is lack of good communication. Proactive communication can prevent a multitude of unexpected snags or frustrations in the workplace, and in your life at work.

The Last Word

If you’ve been in content marketing longer than a few days, you know by now that it can indeed be a busy and often stressful job. If you’re not careful, your work can eat up your time, suck all your energy, and even intrude into the non-work parts of your life, to the point that you feel like you no longer have a life. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Following good productivity and time management strategies can go a long way towards making you a better generator of quality content, and towards allowing you to have a better quality of life in the process. Use these tips as a starting point, and never stop learning and growing in finding what works best for you! If you have any question, feel free to contact us.

The post 14 Essential Tips for Being More Productive in Generating Content appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, the Lorem Ipsum Co. is featured as one of the Top Content Marketing Agencies in Lake Forest. Check out their profile here.

What is authenticity? With the quality of being genuine or uniquely engaging, content marketing that is authentic speaks to a deeper emotional level and goes beyond selling. Authentic content is arguably the best way to market to the next generation, which has grown weary of traditional marketing methods.

You would expect to see nothing but authentic content on the web. The reality, however, is that spinning software and subpar content writers are flooding the web with rephrased, rehashed ideas and information. It is increasingly difficult to find original, insightful content from thought leaders in respective industries. That is why it is important to recognize the value of authenticity.

About Authenticity and Content Marketing

An interesting insight into authenticity comes from the Harvard Business Review. According to the HBR, authentic employees focus on their appearance, a way of communicating and being your best self. This is applicable to content marketing in the way that you represent your brand in your efforts. The reason why you want your content to be authentic boils back to one big business: Google.

Google, the forerunner in search engine results, expects your content to be original. In fact, content that is blatantly a copy or spun from other content online can lead to blacklisting for your site. This type of black hat tactic has no place in the new frontier of content marketing. Instead, Forbes says, content marketers should focus on three key areas when working toward authenticity:

  • Native advertising
  • Content marketing suspicion
  • Content market saturation

Every business is putting out content. Therefore, your business has to make sure your content, whether it is blog posts, videos, or ads, is original, unique and authentic. You also have to worry about threats like fake news reports that could hamper your brand. Along these lines are the fact that consumers are becoming more perceptive to content marketing tactics. Consumers are more likely to purchase out of streaming video ads, i.e., as with Hulu, today than in previous years.

Then you have native advertising, which tricks consumers into thinking that other ads come from the brand itself. For example, if you are a vegan YouTube personality and your viewers constantly see ads for ground pork products on your channel, users may suspect that your brand is supported by the meat industry, which would be devastating. Working around these issues is key to staying relevant in today’s content marketing sector. Here are a couple of examples of content marketing authenticity in certain fields.

Neil Patel

The quest to find authenticity in content marketing begins with the king of content marketing, Neil Patel. Neil “helps you succeed through online marketing” by serving as an influencer in content marketing. He provides consumers with SEO tools, tips for starting a blog, content knowledge, a podcast, and videos. In terms of content marketing, the thought leader provides readers with actionable steps to take along with the latest marketing news.


Love her or hate her, Gwyneth Paltrow has transformed an online newsletter into a $250 million corporation. To be able to do this, her team of content marketers and writers focused on a niche of their audience. Goop honed in on the rich and wealthy able to afford the beautiful albeit expensive things the site hawks.

That is right, at Goop, the goal isn’t just blog posts and informative YouTube videos. In fact, those are sidelined to the shopping spree that is happening 24/7 here. Goop sells clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, accessories, and even books and children’s items. Of course, the price tag reflects the luxurious lifestyles of the intended audience. This is where Goop is golden, by providing the less than famous with an authentic glimpse into the otherwise secretive life of Beverly Hills-level home goods and handbags.

Your goal should be to remain true to your brand and provide content marketing that reflects the originality your business brings to the industry.

The post Authenticity: The New Frontier of Content Marketing appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Amplitude Digital is featured as a Top Advertising Agency in Los Angeles. Check out their profile here.

Whether you are a professional writer or a regular internet enthusiast, you know good content when you come across it. Well-written content engages, informs, entertains, and enlightens. There are few wasted words, one sentence leads logically into the next, and each word has a purpose.  It is refreshing and we seek it out. Sometimes we sift through social media posts, other times we share articles and blogs through tools such as StumbleUpon or Pocket.  The corollary is also true.

Poor content doesn’t hit any of the four points listed above, although it falsely tries to be engaging.  It has become an epidemic online, wastes everyone’s time, and is rarely sustainable as a business model anyways.  As a newer writer or content marketer, here is a list of 10 mistakes to avoid. This is meant to be helpful and save time as there is so much noise around the subject.

All caps, excessive use of exclamation marks, and clickbait words.

Many of us see these daily in online ads and headlines meant to get attention similar to this: “OMG YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS”.  There may have been a point a few years ago where this may have worked on Facebook (at least to get clicks), although nowadays, users are more savvy.  Go for an authentic headline that inspires legitimate curiosity. Your click-through rate and shareability will be way higher.

Short blog posts that do not have a value add for your viewers.

Many companies mistakenly think producing short, frequent content about anything will have SEO benefit.  You are far better off posting less frequently, and sharing more focused and informative content with your audience.  It is stunning how many large companies fall into that trap to this day.

Sharing content or media without attribution.

Aside from the fact it’s not cool, you could get busted.  There are a lot of sophisticated tools that track pictures, blocks of content, and even videos.  Secondly, a skyscraper article or mega guide with proper attribution may add value as a reference, increasing shareability and bookmarking of the content.

Very stock looking photos – we’ve all seen them.

You know them when you see them.  Think about it. If a business posts real pictures or diagrams of their process or real customers, you are more likely to think they are sincere.  If you see overly basic “success”, “thumbs up”, or other similar pictures that are generic, you will likely find the business or site less engaging.

Sentences that are filler or look like an outsourcer word stuffed them to hit a quota.

How many times have you googled “how do I…” or “how to make a…” looking for actionable advice or instructions and you come across filler content?  For example, “Always research xyz well and think before you act and make the right decision…etc. etc.”; paragraphs of non-actionable filler. Google is way more sophisticated at filtering this stuff out than it used to be.  They have also been known to reward content with longer time spent on the page and lower bounce rates.

Using a tone that doesn’t respect your reader.

Your readers view the ads on your site, buy your products, tell their friends about your content, and give you feedback. Don’t take them for granted. By respecting their time and being conscious of it, you are more likely to produce content that solves a problem or entertains them.  Really think about what would add value to them, and the writing will be easier. It’s best to aim for a sincere, informational tone. 

Re-sharing old news stories if not relevant.

One of the exceptions of short content is sharing a news blurb or story that actually is relevant, and otherwise would not have gotten in front of your readers.  That is fine. However, sharing old news repurposed with a clever new title is a rookie move.

Too many hashtags on social media posts.

We’ve seen these posts on Instagram:  #BuyMyProduct #Amazing #Sale #Hip #BuyMyStuff #AmazingSale #FollowMe #LookAtMe.  This also happens on WordPress categorizations. Think about the few terms that accurately represent the post. Less is more in this case.

Emailing a lot of publishers if the story isn’t share worthy.

This is a form of spam and a lot of newbie bloggers and content marketers do this after following some generic PR advice online. Don’t alienate your professional network by continually hitting their inbox with requests for links. Instead, save the best articles and carefully tailor an email marketing campaign to deliver the content to industry contacts that will be most receptive to it.

Repurposing old posts with no actual additional info.

Even senior bloggers that were once passionate about their content fall into this comfort zone.  I’m not naming names, but one of my favorite authors has been doing this repeatedly on his personal site.  I no longer visit it and your readers will catch on. A part-2 post is actually a clever follow up to a previously engaging post.  But, if there’s no new perspective or information, don’t do it.

The post Top 10 Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Design Extensions is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in Jacksonville. Check out their profile here.

Creating content is a major issue for many people. Understanding how you can creative massive amounts of content from a single piece of content (content multiplication) is key. In the post, I’ll explain how a single live talk can be turned into 10+ pieces of valuable content that will help with social media and search engine optimization.

Start with your Content Building Blocks

The key starting element of your content should be a video. If you already have one in mind, like a live talk or a great interview, then you’ve got a great head start. But, let’s say that you don’t. Start by shooting a short 3-5 minute video of you or another spokesperson talking about a topic that your followers are passionate about. That unedited video will be your starting point.

Note: You should shoot your video in horizontal (landscape) format, but keep in mind that you’ll later be cropping the video into square and vertical formats, so you’ll want to position your spokesperson with that in mind.

Next, you’ll need a transcript of your video. You can transcribe the video manually, but I recommend using a transcription service like Rev.com to save you time. You’ll use that transcription to add video captions, create quote cards, repurpose for longer text posts, and maybe even use for blog posts.

Edit your Video for Multiple Social Media Platforms

Now, here’s where the content multiplication magic really starts. You’ll need to edit your video into multiple versions that fit the ideal size and dimensions for each social media platform.

YouTube still runs on the traditional landscape format, so save a version with the dimensions of  1920×1080. For Facebook and Instagram, the square video is king. In a case study, square videos resulted in up to 30-35% higher video views and an 80-100% increase in engagement.

Instagram TV is in its own category, since it will only accept vertical videos. You’ll need to crop one version of your video into 1080×1920 vertical format. Keep in mind that Instagram TV’s time limit caps out at 10 minutes.

This illustration demonstrates the size of video graphics on Facebook, Instagram stories, and YouTube. 

Tools: If you need to edit your videos in a hurry, or you’re on a shoestring budget, you can quickly crop and export your video in multiple sizes using the InShot app.

Create Quote Cards with Quotables

Once your videos are finalized, it’s time to take a look back through your video transcript and identify a few really solid sound bites. These should be short, impactful statements. After you’ve identified at least two heavy-hitters, you’ll take those quotes and create text graphics using those quotes.

You’ll want to create two versions of your quote cards:

  • Square quote cards for Facebook and Instagram (800×800)
  • Vertical quote cards for Instastories (1080×1920)

You can overlay the quotes over a headshot of your speaker (preferred), or you can simply put them on a background that fits with your design colors.

Tools: If you want to create quick graphics, a tool like Canva or Adobe Spark can streamline the process.

Organize, Schedule and Upload

With all this content to keep track of, it’s easy to get disorganized. Once you’ve created all your videos and image files, make sure you’re storing them in labeled folders where you can quickly identify which video is for what platform and which pieces have already been published.

Ok, you’re organized now. What’s next? Well, you can’t just dump all of your beautiful content on your followers all at once. Now, you’ll create a schedule. You can do this with a Google Calendar, or an Excel Spreadsheet. To ensure that your followers don’t tune out, stagger your posts at least a week apart (longer if you can).

Here’s what that might look like:

  • January 16: Facebook Video Post
  • January 30: YouTube Video Post
  • February 6: Instagram TV Video Post
  • February 13: Instastories Quote Card #2
  • February 20: Instagram Quote Card #1
  • February 27: Facebook Quote Card #2
  • March 6: Instastories Quote Card #1
  • March 13: Instagram Video Post
  • March 20: Facebook Quote Card #1
  • March 27: Instagram Quote Card # 2
Total posts: 10

Bonus Points: If you want to create even more traffic to your social media pages, you can direct followers to YouTube for the full video when posting on your other social media channels.

And there you have it! You’ve just taken a single, short video and turned it into over two months worth of weekly content. Now, imagine that you create two, five, or ten short videos… Suddenly, your social media content calendar doesn’t seem so daunting.

The post Content Multiplication: How to Quickly Produce Social Media Content appeared first on UpCity.

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In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, SEO Smooth is featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in Boynton Beach. Check out their profile here.

Here are some surprising statistics: by 2020, Generation Z will account for 40 percent of all consumers with a direct buying power between 29 and 143 billion.

So how can they be reached? Their attention spans are shorter, and they’re extremely tech savvy, using an average of five screens (compared to three for Millennials). Gimmicks and display ads of the past no longer work.

The key to reaching this generation if they are (or will be) your target audience, is to create content that’s direct, easy-to-digest, and collaborative. Gen Zers want to be brand ambassadors, but they don’t want to be treated like consumers. They crave community and expect engaging mobile experiences.

Generation Z Versus Millennials

To market to Gen Z, you must understand what makes them unique.

Generation Z includes those born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. To date, Gen Zers are the only adults to grow up exclusively with technology. Most of them got their first smartphones in middle school. They form friendships online, create communities and express themselves online, and learn about the world through videos (primarily YouTube). They are also driven and focused on social and environmental change.

In contrast, Millennials are a scattered demographic. Some reports mark them as born from 1977-1995, others 1980-2000 or 1982-2004. This twenty year span left Millennials in a gray area. They are known as “digital pioneers” because they grew up right before smartphones and the internet really exploded. They are the most educated generation so far (one-third of them have Bachelor’s degrees) but ended up poorer than their parents. Where Gen Z wants to connect and support brands, Millennials want to be entertained and are more likely to follow brands for coupons or discounts.

Understanding the differences between these two generations, and how one emerged from the other, will help you create content that captures Gen Z’s attention and instills loyalty.

Creating Content That Resonates

If there’s one mantra for creating content for Gen Z it’s this: emphasize what’s in it for them over everything else. Gen Z wants personalized content, preferably through videos and bite-sized stories, from brands that show they care.

Here’s a breakdown of what to consider while creating your content for this hyper-aware generation:

Create Value, Not Sales Pitches

While sorting and filtering the abundance of information flowing through their screens every minute, a Gen Zer has one question on his or her mind: What’s in it for me? They want resources, inspiration, and something valuable. This generation is ambitious and they have the tools (social media) to make their ambitions a reality.

Instead of giving them a pitch to ask for something, provide help and empowerment. Content should focus on what you can offer them and how your services or product enhance their lives or help them achieve a goal.

is it ok for guys... | AXE - YouTube

Axe recently ran a Praise Up campaign to focus on helping guys feel comfortable with themselves and their insecurities by playing on Gen. Z and how traditional gender roles are changing. They encouraged men/teens to encourage each other and to feel comfortable being themselves.

Video, Video, Video

Gen Z is the first true generation of digital natives, so they consume (and create) more content than Millennials. They spend more than two hours a day watching online videos, so YouTube, Twitch and similar platforms are great places to start connecting.

But slapping something together for the sake of having it won’t work. They expect targeted, professional-looking videos that provide experiences they want to share. Optimize videos for phone viewing and make your content engaging through the use of storytelling. Help them learn something new or show how your brand is helping a cause. You can even go behind-the-scenes of your business to show the real people behind what you do.

Pizza Pops - Introverted Pizza - YouTube

This Pillsbury Pizza Pops video ad aims to specifically target the emotional side subconsciously of Gen. Z that feels that they have to look perfect all the time on social media. Instead this video aims to help them embrace what makes them “weird” and “unique”.

Here is some documentation on its strategy as well. 

Treat Them As Collaborators Not Consumers

Gen Z craves less separation between their lives and the brands they love. Gen Z wants to help shape products. They are more aware of their power as consumers and demand more from brands than just being told what to buy.

Gen Z is why influencers have become so popular. Celebrities are too untouchable, but YouTube personalities and other creators are real people who promote community. They foster a two-way discussion. Since Gen Z are creators themselves, they like to be part of a brand’s dialogue and story. Interactive content like competitions, events, and asking for ideas and feedback are great ways to target this generation.

Celebrate the many shapes and sizes of beauty | Dove - YouTube

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign aims to break stereotypes of what typical women’s bodies should look like by creating all different shapes and sizes of their bottles to encompass show women’s bodies are different shapes and sizes as well.

Think Micro Moments

Gen Z has a short attention span, clocking in at about 8 seconds (compared to 12 for Millennials). To get past their filters, content must be engaging and immediately beneficial. If you want them to read your blog post or view your video, you must show why they should care and how you can help.

Focus on bite-sized content that gets to the point. Speak to their aspirations. Give them a story to care about (and the meaning behind it), and they’ll happily give you their full attention.

Design and User Experience Must Be Flawless

If you’ve been putting off a thorough audit of your social media accounts or website, you’re already behind. Gen Z has high expectations for design because larger companies (Apple, Google, etc.) have cleaned up user experience. If a Gen Zer comes to your website and can’t easily navigate, or if it looks like something from the early 2000s, he or she will instantly leave. They have plenty of other content to consume.

You absolutely must be able to provide professional design and a great mobile experience. Think strong visuals with no clutter.

Tech Savvy Future Professionals

Generation Z has set a standard for how brands need to market and how technology will shape lives. Many of Gen Zers want to actually change the world (not just talk about it), and they might actually succeed. To create long-term relationships with Gen Z and tomorrow’s professionals, brands need to inspire, inform, and create products that reflect the world the next generation wants to live in. If a brand fails to do that, it will simply get left behind.

The post How to Create Content that Appeals to Gen Z appeared first on UpCity.

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