Great content helps drive traffic to your web properties, generate conversions that become promising leads, nurture prospects along a compelling customer journey, and increase your revenue and ROI from marketing.
However, creating all of this content takes a lot of work. So, most marketers strive to develop blogs, ebooks, videos, webinars, and other assets that will stand the test of time and produce sustainable results over the long haul.
Still, even the very best content has a limited shelf-life. Times, trends, and topics change, and your content marketing initiatives need to adjust accordingly.
Today, we’re going to explain when and why to refresh your content to keep your site, your messaging, and your marketing assets current and vibrant. We’re also going to throw in a few tips on how to do so effectively and efficiently so you can conserve resources while accomplishing more with less.
Why Is Content Marketing So Important?
Content marketing is the lifeblood of any successful holistic marketing strategy. Many marketers are quick to recite the mantra, “Content is king!” We believe content is more like the straw that stirs the drink, since compelling content fuels the success of all of your campaigns across every channel and every medium.
Need proof? Consider these statistics.
- 72% of marketers say content marketing increases engagement
- 53% of marketers say that blog creation is a top priority
- Content marketing leaders experience 7.8x higher unique site traffic that followers
- Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing while generating 300% more leads
Yet, the majority of businesses don’t have the budget or resources to produce great content consistently. That’s why it’s essential to develop content that will stand the test of time and will only require occasional minor updates rather than frequent major overhauls.
If you want to develop this type of enduring content, it’s important to understand one fundamental content marketing concept: the distinction between evergreen content and topical content.
Evergreen and Topical Content — What’s the Difference?
There are two types of content in the marketing world, and each one excels in different circumstances and delivers value in different ways.
- Evergreen Content – Sustainable content that deals with lasting topics, concepts, and questions. Evergreen content will remain interesting and useful over the long term, with only minor adjustments as new perspectives or opinions on the topic emerge.
- Topical Content – Sometimes called “timely content,” topical content is usually only relevant or useful during a given time. For example, an article on employer insurance policy options during Open Enrollment is only relevant during the fall and is subject to change with each passing year.
For companies with smaller marketing departments or limited marketing budgets, we often recommend an 80/20 split of evergreen vs. topical content development. This way, you can focus primarily on creating long-term content that is relevant to your industry while reserving a small amount of time and resources to create timely, topical, focused content when the situation calls for it.
However, keep in mind that even though evergreen content will hold its value for much longer — perhaps even years — all content eventually becomes outdated. Both types of content will eventually need to be updated, rewritten, or “sunset,” which is the process of redirecting blogs, webpages, or other assets to new or existing URLs or eliminating them entirely.
Take Note of These Red Flags When Considering Updating Your Content
It’s important to keep a watchful eye on your key digital marketing metrics. Not only does regular monitoring help you keep your primary stakeholders in the loop regarding your progress, but it also helps you understand where things aren’t going as planned and how you might improve.
So, when thinking about your content, performance is key. And if you’re noticing any of the following red flags, you should work with your team to create a plan and update your content wherever it’s having the largest negative impact.
- Low time on page: If readers don’t spend much time on the page once they arrive, they’re not responding to the content. Consider tightening up the language, separating your content blocks with additional headers, and adding more images and callout sections to add visual appeal. However, low time on page isn’t always a dealbreaker; if the time on page is low but the conversion rate is high, you’ve written a page that generates leads and does so efficiently.
- High bounce rate: Bounce rate indicates how many visitors are leaving your website after viewing a single page. A high bounce rate could indicate that the keywords you’re trying to rank for don’t match the content on the page or that the meta-description you’ve written for the search engine results page (SERP) is misleading. It may also indicate that the page content or page design simply isn’t executed well and doesn’t appeal to visitors. Review each page that has a high bounce rate, look for design or content elements that may be driving users away, and make updates as needed. (However, as with time on page, if these high-bounce pages also have a high conversion rate, then that’s an exception; the page is likely achieving its goals.)
- Great traffic, poor lead generation: If your site regularly publishes quality content that’s optimized for search engines, you should see growth in your website traffic. But if you’re not seeing a corresponding increase in leads, the information probably isn’t compelling enough to drive conversions, or the pages aren’t optimized for conversions. Make sure that your primary CTA is prominent on every page and that you’re linking to conversion pages in secondary callouts and within the inline text itself. You never want to be overly promotional, but you should also make the case that your products, services, and experience can help your consumers solve their pain points, answer their questions, and improve their lives.
- Lacking email engagement: If email marketing is part of your broader content strategy (and it should be), then you should be paying close attention to your engagement rates. Things like open rate, click-through rate, click-through-to-conversion rate, and spam and unsubscribe metrics are a good indicator of performance. Make sure your subject lines are direct, concise, and match the messaging of your emails. Also, you should only include one CTA in your emails (other than newsletters, which should contain multiple links to helpful content). Focus your efforts on driving your recipients to click on that one CTA so they can learn more or take further action.
If you’re part of a small team, you might not be able to check for these red flags as often as you’d like. And even if you do notice them, you might not have the time and resources to make the necessary adjustments. That’s why hiring a skilled and knowledgeable marketing partner who specializes in content marketing can improve your results and make your life easier.
However, if you’re not quite ready to consult with an agency, you’ll need to take matters into your own hands whenever you do have the time to make some serious updates.
How Often Should You Update Your Content?
There are so many factors involved in answering this question. To get a meaningful answer, you’ll need to consider:
- What’s your industry?
- Do you market to other businesses or direct to consumers?
- How long is your sales cycle?
- How important is your digital presence to your overall success?
- Do you place more emphasis on gated (requires a form-fill or other action to access) or free content?
- Who makes up your target audience and what are their primary pain points?
In general, we recommend that all companies perform a thorough content audit at least once every year. If your company can muster the resources, once every quarter is even better. And if you uncover any of the red flags we listed earlier, you should try to dedicate a few hours each week to cleaning up the lowest-performing pages or assets.
How to Perform a Content Audit
Regardless of your budget or bandwidth, you should create a content tracking spreadsheet. This document should include dates, titles, links, original design files, and brief descriptions of every piece of content you create. Share the sheet with your marketing teammates so everyone knows what content is in place and how they can make edits when necessary.
Once you have a descriptive and convenient content tracking spreadsheet in place, you can conduct a proper content audit. Here are the steps you need to take when reviewing your content marketing assets and strategy.
- Create a master list of all content assets and sort by funnel stage
- Top-of-funnel (TOFU): Content that creates awareness and sparks the customer journey through conversions.
- Middle-of-funnel (MOFU): Content that drives the customer to dig deeper and learn more about specific offerings from specific brands and businesses.
- Case studies
- Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU):
- Product or service instruction
- Live demonstrations
- Customer referrals
- Top-of-funnel (TOFU): Content that creates awareness and sparks the customer journey through conversions.
Every stage is important, regardless of your industry or sales cycle, so you’ll want to make sure that you satisfy each progressive step along the customer journey through the marketing funnel. That way, you’ll have content ready to help the prospective client or customer through their journey, no matter whether they’re almost ready to make a purchase or just starting to research their challenges and the potential solutions. If you notice any gaps where your content fails to cover a stage of the funnel, you’ll want to prioritize content creation and distribution of new content in these areas.
RELATED: Building Your Marketing Funnel, Part 1: Creating Brand Awareness
What Are the Benefits of Regularly Updating Your Content?
Regularly updating your content can help you:
- Improve search rankings through SEO
- Generate more conversions through helpful and informative assets
- Increase audience engagement by delivering timely and relevant content, offers, and promotions
- Create more sales opportunities by building trust with potential clients and customers
- Optimize revenue by demonstrating the value of your products and services
- Lengthen the customer lifecycle by establishing your business as an authentic and innovative thought leader
Remember that statistics, quotes, and other reference points in your content will age quickly, you’ll want to keep all of your content assets current and relevant. And if your business model changes, your content will need to as well. So, you’ll want to make updates that reflect your evolving products, services, and business goals and make sure to keep your webpages, blogs, and assets fresh and relevant.
Updating Content to Maintain and Improve SEO
Google and other major search engines are constantly updating their search algorithms to provide the best possible experiences for users. Specifically, these search engines want to serve only the most relevant content, which means you need to anticipate your potential customers’ needs and deliver focused and targeted messaging and information that answers their most important questions.
You can follow these content marketing best practices to address customer pain points and improve your search engine rankings.
- Conduct thorough keyword research using a proven platform such as Moz, SEMrush, or Clearscope. Look for relevant root keywords (“gardening supplies”) that you can rank highly for without having to compete with entrenched competitors as well as more specific long-tail keywords (“artisanal flower pots”) that might not have a ton of volume but are likely to draw more high-intent consumers.
- Write longer, more in-depth articles that tell your readers everything they need to know about topics that are relevant to your brand and offerings. Include helpful stats, insightful quotations, and accurate answers to common questions. Most importantly, every piece of content needs a strong, clear, and prominent call-to-action (CTA) that compels your audience to take a defined action.
- Develop a firm but flexible editorial calendar based on exhaustive keyword research, common consumer questions, and your primary product and service offerings. Leave some wiggle room for topical, timely content, but keep the focus on your larger holistic marketing strategy.
- Create and distribute content on a regular basis. This will signal to search engines that you’re interested in keeping your audience engaged and staying on top of hot topics and trends. It will also attract the eye of other websites that could become more interested in what you have to say and begin linking to your material.
- Promote all new content (gated and ungated) on all of your social media channels. By promoting your content, you ensure greater visibility, encourage more engagement and sharing, and remind your audience that you’re always working to help them make more informed purchasing decisions.
- Ensure that all of your content includes relevant and concise meta-descriptions, properly labeled keywords, and indexable alt-text for all of your images. Make smart structural use of your header tags, and include bulleted lists for increased readability wherever possible and appropriate.
Lastly, and most importantly, write like a real person representing a brand for real people. Your content reflects your business and a magnet for your audience. The more often your readers click on your material and the longer they stay on the page, the more likely they are to do business with your company and trust your brand.
So keep things simple, direct, and objective. Educate your audience, sprinkle in a little humor, and avoid excessive and unappealing self-promotion.
LaFleur Is Here to Help With Your Content Marketing Needs
At LaFleur, we have the talent and resources to meet and exceed all your content marketing needs. We also have the marketing experience and knowledge to get that content in front of your target audiences through the most engaging channels — including organic search, social, PPC, email, and content syndication — in unique ways that are both effective and efficient.
If you’d like to learn more about our agency, our experience, and our commitment to helping businesses just like yours achieve outstanding results and ROI, fill out our contact form or call us at (888) 222-1512. We’d love to learn about your business and make some immediate suggestions as to how we can help.
Content Marketing Institute, & MarketingProfs. (2018). B2B Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends — North America. Cleveland, OH: Content Marketing Institute. Retrieved from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017_B2B_Research_FINAL.pdf
HubSpot. (2020). Not Another State of Marketing Report. Cambridge, MA: Hubspot. Retrieved from https://www.hubspot.com/state-of-marketing