When Good Content Goes Bad: Extending the Shelf-Life of Your Content Marketing


Published on

Published in: Technology, News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • So I’d like to start by acknowledging something about creating content, and that is that investing in content marketing is no joke. And when I say “creating content,” I mean starting and maintaining a blog, or becoming a source of expertise in your industry with ebooks or graphics or reports, or entertaining and educating your audience with videos, or beefing up your social presence. It’s hard work to be continually creating things, and sometimes it really does feel like you need to be everywhere at once.
  • And once you’ve started creating content, you need to KEEP creating content. There are two reasons for this: The first reason is that once you’ve set expectations with your audience, it really hurts your brand to not meet those expectations. For example, if you update your blog inconsistently, people feel disappointed when they check back and don’t find new posts. The second reason is that you loose credibility if your content is stale – this applies across channels. And so a lot of people are hesitant to even START creating content, because they’re afraid of biting off more than they can chew.
  • I’d like to recommend three strategies to avoid having to clean out the fridge: You can create content that takes a really long time to go bad, you can learn to quickly react to timely events so that you can stay relevant, and you can learn to revamp content that you already have without starting from scratch. You’ll want to use a combination of all three methods.
  • I’d like to recommend three strategies to avoid having to clean out the fridge: You can create content that takes a really long time to go bad, you can learn to quickly react to timely events so that you can stay relevant, and you can learn to revamp content that you already have without starting from scratch. You’ll want to use a combination of all three methods.
  • You’ve probably heard the term “Evergreen” before, but a lot of people think of “evergreen” content as only an SEO site, or associate it with general resource sites like Ask.com or About.com – sites that attempt to become go-to sources for a huge number of general inquiries. But evergreen content can actually be really valuable for organizations and brands, as long as you find a way to make that content relevant to your specific organizational needs. And yes, it will boost your SEO rankings, but the main point here is to make the most of your content marketing resources by not constantly having to create new content.
  • So to put it as simply as possible, evergreen content is content that allegedly doesn’t have an expiration date. The truth is that all content eventually expires, but content that involves news jacking, frequently updates statistics, and current trends can all go stale overnight. There’s a time and a place for that kind of content, as we’ll cover in the next strategy, but evergreen content should avoid those kinds of things at all costs.
  • So to delve a little deeper, let’s talk about dates. When I say “dates” I don’t just mean literal timestamps, but that’s one place to start. It might sound obvious, but when you include a date, your content will be dated. A lot of content writers like to include some sort of time stamp, just so people know that your stuff is current, but that’s a decision every marketer has to make. Beyond time stamps, you need to think about less obvious ways of referencing a certain time – when you use words like “recently” or “lately” or even a phrase like “marketers today”, you jeopardize your content’s shelf life. The same goes for making predictions; even vague ones like “in the next few years.” Not to say that you shouldn’t use these words or phrases in your evergreen content; it’s just something to watch out for.
  • The next thing to keep in mind with evergreen content is to find your niche – that’s what separates your organization from a purely SEO driven site. The problem with creating really broad content (in order to avoid being too easily dated) is that is can also be boring. What with Google’s updated analytics, boring actually equals bad SEO, because if people are quickly bouncing from your site, you’ll move down in Google’s rankings.
  • This can be avoided by finding a niche topic that your audience really cares about (and YOU really know about) and speaking to that. What is everyone in your audience looking for? What are the questions your company gets asked over and over again? The great thing about this kind of evergreen content is that it doesn’t have to be product oriented – in fact, product oriented content is rarely evergreen, because your products are probably changing and developing all of the time. This is where helpful, educational content comes in.
  • The third thing to keep in mind as you create evergreen content is that you CAN actually update it – as long as we’re talking about minor tweaks, that won’t involve making another big investment of time. In fact, be sure that you ARE checking in on your evergreen content from time to time – there might be very minor touchups that can go a long way toward preserving that investment you initially made. It’s also possible that your “evergreen” content might expire for a reason you couldn’t have anticipated – all industries are susceptible to unanticipated changes. We’ll get more into refreshing and repurposing content in the last section of this talk.
  • So if you’re ready to get started with creating evergreen content, here are a few good places to start – FAQs, Instructions and How To’s, and high level best practices
  • If you’re going to make a list of FAQs, you probably don’t want these to be too product focused – ideally, your content is valuable even to people who aren’t in the market for your product or services yet. Instead, answer industry-specific questions that your audience might be wondering about. For example, at Marketo we make solutions that help marketers with lead generation, so we might answer a question like “what is lead generation?” Think about the types of queries your audience is typing into search engines – you can actually find out what questions visitors to your site are searching for using Google Analytics.
  • The same goes for Instructions and How To’s. People often point to Lowes’s “How to” videos. These aren’t at all product oriented – some of the instructions don’t even involve buying anything – but they’re valuable and (most importantly) very relevant to Lowes’s audience. This is also a perfect example of evergreen content. People will always wonder about the best way to clean and treat their deck, and the technology’s not likely to change very quickly.
  • Indexes and glossaries are actually perfect for evergreen content because they actually get better and more comprehensive with age. There’s a big initial investment in compiling this kind of content, but once you’ve made that first big push, you’re good to go. These do need to updated, of course, but it’s only a matter of adding new things as they develop – the basic content remains the same. Indexes and glossaries are also useful in almost any industry, whether you’re marketing directly to consumers or you’re in the B2B space. Almost every industry has associated buzzwords and terms, and you can get creative with it – if you’re selling shoes, you might make a list of “the most important shoe fads of the 20th century”, or “words that every shoe aficionado should know.”
  • Now we’re going to move to an approach that is basically the opposite of creating evergreen content, and that’s to really quickly and responsively create content that feels ultra current.
  • So creating evergreen content is important, but you also need to be responsive about creating new content. Basically, if you’re going to try and tap into some of those less Evergreen areas, you need to get them made quickly enough to take advantage of their shelf life. This can be really stressful for content marketers, because it can seem like in order be on top of trends you have to work really fast and do things on the fly . Especially if you’re a small team, or if your content is created being created by someone who has a ton of other jobs to do, working that fast isn’t always possible. Luckily, there are ways that you can set yourself up to react, leaving the bare minimum of content creation to the last minute.
  • First, let’s talk about how you can plan ahead – the purpose of this is to leave very little for the last moment, and to plan as much as possible. The first thing you should be doing is using an editorial calendar. This should include upcoming holidays, big international events, or even product launches that either your company is planning, or that is being planned in an industry that appeals to your audience. Depending on your audience, it might be worth tapping into really general popular events like the Academy Awards, or the Olympics, or even an election. Plan content ahead of time – this could be an ebook, a promotion, or even a few tweets – so that you can get your brand’s two cents in right away. If you know there’s going to be an industry event in April, you can probably hammer out a blog post and prepare some tweets as soon as you get the agenda. For content that we’re creating on social, we use Hootsuite, which lets us prepare and schedule tweets ahead of time – again, reducing your on-the-fly activities.
  • So here are some examples of content we produced that was meant to tap into particular moments. First, these are a couple of social posts we made, both of which we created really quickly but made us look really on top of our game. The first one tapped into “International Pancake Day” – it seems random, but that’s the kind of fun thing that makes your brand seem very human to your audience. The second post was made right after SXSW – posting on social about any events you’ve attended is a great way to keep your content fresh, and it’s really easy to do. At Marketo, our content and social team actually meet once a week for about 15 minutes to talk about what’s trending, either on Twitter or in the news (or both), and decide which items we can link our social posts to. We like to draw parallels between the moment and either our offerings or our community in some way. You can see that for International Pancake Day, we drew a parallel between personalizing your pancake toppings and personalizing your website, which is something our product can do. For this type of post, we obviously focus on faster, less design-focused pieces. While we definitely don’t recommend this for the bulk of your content, if you’re simply looking to tap into the trend, the less people involved=the better. If you rely on a designer to complete your ebooks, for example, an ebook might not be the best way to create ultra fresh content.
  • On the flip side, here are a couple of examples of much more complex, involved pieces that we made which were really “on trend.” The first one on the left is an infographic we made about viral publisher Upworthy. Everyone on our content team has been slightly obsesses with Upworthy for awhile, and had been noticing how popular their posts were. Basically, if you’re on Facebook or Twitter you’re probably seeing posts from Upworthy all of the time, and we were all really impressed with how engaged people get with their content. That said, Upworthy has been around since 2012, so we knew it had some lasting power – even though we were tapping into a trend, which makes our content feel very fresh, we had time to make a really thoughtful piece about how Upworthy creates such great content, and as you can see this piece is really beautifully designed. It might seem strange that a marketing automation company would invest time and money in a piece like this, but actually a big part of our audience of marketers are content marketers. Because we’re also content marketers, we figured that at least that portion of our audience would be interested in the piece, and (even better) be able to use what we discovered in their own content marketing. So even though it had nothing to do with marketing automation, it was worth investing in.
    The piece on the right, which is football themed, was used in our email programs leading up to the SuperBowl. Now this piece is a really interesting example because we actually didn’t create it to be used in SuperBowl themed emails – it was just dumb luck that we created this ebook at the right time. Obviously, our demand generation team was thrilled when we gave this to them just in time to be relevant, but we almost couldn’t take credit. Of course, the lesson here isn’t that you should rely on luck to create timely content, but you SHOULD be resourceful when it comes to matching your content to a moment in time. Especially once you’ve produced a fair amount of content, you might find that you already have a piece that can work.
  • So lastly, let’s talk about makeovers. We’ve already touched a little bit on updates and touch-ups with regards to evergreen content, but another strategy for extending your content’s shelf life is to become a content makeover artist. This is a little more involved than a small update, but if you’ve invested a lot in creating a piece, you might decide it’s worth an overhaul.
  • So if you do have an asset you think is worth giving an overhaul, you want to start with the really obvious – anything with a date. If you a study or a report cited in an ebook, for example, find out if there’s a more current version. Another way to refresh solid content is to add some new quotes – is there a thought leader in that area who’d be worth getting a new quote from? Whenever I consider revamping a piece of content, I also reach out to whoever I work with who knows the most about a topic. For example, we recently decided to make over a cheatsheet about creating an online community, because a few customers had noticed that the information was a little dated. I knew that I wanted to update some of the resources listed, and to template the cheatsheet with a fresh design, but I also reached out to our customer marketing team. The customer marketing team gave the cheat sheet a really thorough review, and were able to identify outdated content that I would never have seen.
  • Once you feel good about the currency of the content, you definitely want to give your piece a solid asset a VISUAL overhaul. Design trends change relatively quickly – often, something looks stale long before it’s actually GONE stale. You can usually identify an older piece of content in a single glance.
    This is just a small selection of assets that we recently redesigned. You can see the old pieces use stock photography, which was a trend for awhile but now looks very stale and boring, ust not that engaging and visually appealing. The new look and feel is more modern and more in line with our branding. The concepts are still similar, not the passing the button idea in the last piece, but the look is now much more modern.
  • Another way that you might want to makeover your content is to give it a whole new format, so you’re less refreshing it than dividing it up – otherwise known as repurposing. Here’s an example of how we repurposed one of our “big rock” content pieces – we turned our Definitive Guide into 2 webinars, 4 ebooks, and 2 infographics, all using the same But even something fairly short can be repurposed. An infographic or an ebook can becomes slide decks that you post to SlideShare, a blog post can become an ebook. One word of caution here is even though this is basically a design project, rather than an editing project, you still need to read everything over to make sure the content works in this new context. For example, we recently broke up our Definitive Guide to Lead Generation into several small pieces, and there were lines in the copy that referred to previous sections or assumed knowledge from other parts of the larger piece, so we had to read everything very carefully and edit in those place.
  • So those are my top three tips for extending the shelf life of your content marketing: leverage evergreen content, set yourself up to react and minimize on the fly creation time, and learn to refresh and repurpose the content you’ve already got.
  • We’re going to open things up for questions now, so let me know what I can expand upon or you’d like to hear more about! Thanks.
  • ×