Effective content marketing involves considerable time and resource investment. That investment should always be rewarded with an eventual return; whether it’s short-term or long-term. To maximise the longevity of a content piece, whether written or visual, many marketers opt for the “evergreen” tactic.
This ensures that content doesn’t become immediately outdated, and represents a return over a number of weeks, months, or years.
That said, as we move through campaigns, old content often becomes dated. Strategies adapt and improve as new data comes to light. Iterative testing highlights what works and what doesn’t, and this can leave some blog articles, white papers, and other written content in the doldrums. Sometimes, these historic pieces still attract lots of search engine traffic. Often, they don’t. In either case, it’s in your interest to optimise and update the most promising previous work, in anticipation of better performance or more timely relevance.
With a little spit and polish, you can repurpose published work and upgrade old content pieces to breathe new life into it, saving you resources and adding value to your website visitors without breaking the bank. In addition to re-edits and timely updates, blog content can form the basis for dynamic visual forms, providing ever-more variety to your audience.
You have a billion things on your tasklist and are already working flat-out to stay aligned with content and social strategy for your business. At the very bottom of the list is to invest time and energy into reassessing historic content on your website. These items have already been ticked off long ago, and it’s fruitless to revisit old battles, right?
On the contrary, looking at old content to find new ways to use it can help you to create new content in half the time. As just one small example, this can be achieved by combining elements of different blog posts or reworking the script of a video to provide the same info in a different format – to make it easier for your customers to consume. Furthermore, with some TLC, old and seemingly redundant content can be dramatically improved, updated, and re-published.
Benefit from a combination of hindsight and fresh perspectives to rework content and to take it in new directions. This is especially true for tutorial pieces and how-to guides, when it’s possible that new features or new technologies have changed the game.
Value can also be gained by merely by linking from one piece of content to another. In his list of ten ways to rejuvenate old content, entrepreneur Pat Flynn suggests linking to old posts that are relevant to what you’re writing at the present.
The principle of repurposing content
Repurposing existing content saves time and resources, because a chunk of the legwork has already been completed. The research stage has usually been conducted (although could be revisited), and there’s a solid foundation from which to build.
By repurposing content, you encourage increased shares, new inbound links from other websites, and a broader reach. It brings your content to life in new ways.
In the context of this article, I’m talking about repurposing historic content. In fact, marketers should always seek to get the most from one research stage as possible, with the condition that the type of content fits with the brand, and aligns with business goals and objectives. In theory, research for a blog post could be adapted to inform an infographic, webinar, animated video, downloadable ebook, and much more. These different elements support each other from a technical and user perspective.
Whether or not you have the budget or inclination to expand in such ways will depend on your audience, your business, and your ambitions – but the breadth of options provides huge opportunity.
Why repurpose old content?
Old content, in particular, is ripe for repurposing. One simple form of repurposing is the curation of old articles in list form, provided their quality and timeliness is relevant. The published articles in themselves become the main resource for a new piece. Efficient, and effective.
Furthermore, marketers must open their minds as to how different sections of existing blog posts give rise to more detailed accounts of those topics. For the ideation stage, sometimes the older successful pieces provide considerable inspiration. Provided that engagement statistics are positive, it’s clear that those topics are seen by your audience as relevant and can be explored further (and linked to easier from the “master” articles).
A successful blog post is ripe for repurposing into other formats by the very fact it’s successful (search traffic levels, engagement stats, conversion rates, links acquired, etc.), but the less-successful pieces could also benefit from the “repurposeful” mindset. The very same content could provide more value as a downloadable eBook, white paper, or even as a guest article situated elsewhere (although beware of duplication).
Furthermore, if an article is positioned promisingly in the search rankings (i.e. page 2) and improvements could be made with the addition of relevant visual elements like video, infographics, and presentations, and also updated copy, a dynamic social campaign, and better internal linking, the use of that initial structure and research for enhancements is definitely worthwhile.
Deciding which content to work with
Whether you’re repurposing content, or rejuvenating old content that’s plateaued, you should make informed decisions about where to focus your time and efforts. Not all mistakes can be rectified, and not all blog articles are ripe to be repurposed.
First off, you’ll want to follow marketer and entrepreneur Neil Patel’s advice and create an inventory of all of your content, as well as how it supports the wider goals of your business. If possible, pull a list of blog posts from within your CMS, and also carry out an audit of your social media channels and any resource libraries you have available, whether online or offline.
Once you have this list, you can start to group different types of content together and log the metrics that are pertinent for each of them, so you can determine what works and what doesn’t.
This is where your Google Analytics data is invaluable. Dig deep into your site’s analytics to see which areas of your site are being visited the most, and look into the individual performance of different blog posts.
You’ll want to look at a number of different metrics, such as how many page views they’ve received, how many times people have entered your site via each article, user drop-off, the different traffic sources that have driven these visits, and the amount of time your visitors are spending on each of your articles.
Your Google Analytics goals setup is paramount to this understanding. Bear in mind that attracting visitors to your site is useless unless they take action, so look at what visitors are doing after viewing different articles.
Traffic and conversions
If a blog post is picking up fewer views but has proved to be effective in generating conversions (newsletter signups, ebook downloads, enquiries, etc.) try to understand what makes it different from the others. You’ll discover various nuances, but the iterative improvements to copy, structure, visuals, CTA placements, and other aspects might have a huge impact over time for posts with low conversions.
Indeed, also try to understand why other pieces are attracting more traffic, even if conversion rates are poor. In an ideal world, you want high traffic and high conversions. This should be the ambition for any content marketer.
Remember that the richer a blog post is, the better chance it has of ranking in the search engines. Imagery, video, audio, and high-standard referencing of external sources all has an impact. In addition, good engagement is also a signal for Google that you know your onions. By repurposing basic content into various media, you enrich the user experience and the snowball effect takes hold.
Always track your metrics over time, so that you can analyse the performance of repurposed content and determine whether your efforts are having any effect in the long-term.
The multiple formats to consider
When repurposing content into other formats, there are many different options to evaluate.
With a little imagination, the sky’s the limit when it comes to repurposing your content. You can turn blog posts into videos, direct mail pieces into social media updates or company’s historical case studies into a dynamic infographic or interactive timeline.
Here are just a few of the different content types to consider when repurposing.
- Blog posts (onsite and offsite)
- Press releases
- Case studies
- Summary lists
- Social media posts
- White paper guides
- Interview videos and documentaries
- Photo galleries
- Quote images
- Slideshow Presentations (Prezi / SlideShare, etc.)
- Tutorial videos
- Vlogging (Video blogging)
- Online demos
What to avoid when repurposing and rejuvenating old content
Try to steer clear of content that focuses on ‘newsy’ topics or events that were current at the time but are no longer relevant to your audience. This type of content is typically created to react to something and while it might have performed well at the time, you’re less likely to see a repeat performance than if you use something evergreen.
The exception to this is if you’re working on a yearly round-up of the biggest stories or some similar piece of content which allows you to re-use news-based content in context.
For seasonal content – which is designed to tie in with specific holidays such as Halloween or Christmas – re-use what you can, but be sure to plan it in for the most relevant time of the year.
Finally, take some inspiration from Amanda Brenci, who advises against “sharing the slides and calling it a day.” Repurposing content can save you time, but don’t cut corners by simply taking a presentation and putting it online without context, or copying and pasting the script from a video. You’ll need to do a little extra work to expand upon the original content and to adapt it to be better suited to the context in which you’re sharing it.
Your old content often retains value. One study by HubSpot found that 76% of their blog views (and 92% of their leads!) came from old blog posts, and it’s well-known throughout the industry that content marketing and social networking are long-term tactics that deliver their value over time. With your old content already working for you, why not give it a helping hand to make it work that extra bit harder?
When it comes to generating conversions with your content, it helps to analyse your highest performing historical pieces and to look at ways to further optimise it. Add a stronger CTA, better internal linking to recent content, visual elements, a newsletter signup form, or anything else that will elevate the piece to a superior level and enhance the customer journey.
The needs of your target audience are always paramount. Will updating a piece of older content help to solve an issue that they have today, or is it not much use when it comes to addressing customer pain points? Take every piece of content on a case-by-case basis and use analytical data to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with edits, enhancements, and the repurposing of what’s already published.
Used strategically, the repurposing and rejuvenation of old content can result in significant results, without requiring a huge initial investment. The mindset should be to maximise your opportunities from initial research, and to supercharge blog articles that perform well and/or retain potential. Some articles will have been an error of judgement and best left to wilt, but many others will be ready for a boost to improve rankings, drive traffic, and achieve high conversion rates.