The Value of 'Old' Marketing Content Is Finding What's Evergreen
It doesn’t take too terribly long to build up a library of some size if you’re generating articles and other content consistently as part of your content marketing. If you’ve been at it for a while, then you may have more content than you realize, more content than you need, and more content than is good for you.
You’re probably asking yourself, “Is that even possible? Having too much content?” The answer is "yes." But the real questions you should be asking are, “how much is too much” and “How do I know what to keep and what to delete?”
Age Is Just a Number In Content Marketing
Your first thought might be the old rule about, “First in, first out,” which is an excellent rule of thumb for milk, meat, and other perishables. However, there’s no reason that your oldest content needs to be tossed first. In fact, if it’s still performing, it’s worth keeping.
A quick review of your analytics data will tell you what content is working, old or new. Just be sure you’re looking at your traffic data intelligently. Cumulative page views for a piece that’s been live for six years is likely to have far more page views than a 6-month-old piece over that 6-year period. Be sure to compare like data periods
Be sure, as well, to adjust for other factors, like any promotion you may be doing for one piece and not the other. (In this regard, the younger piece may look like the better performer, if you’ve recently featured it in social media posts, email marketing, etc.)
Once you’re sure you’re comparing apples to apples, it’s time to look for context. Is the traffic flow holding steady? Is it seasonal? Can you identify traffic sources for each piece? (Different sources will be of greater or lesser value.)
All of those data points should factor into your decision about keeping or deleting a piece of content, and on how to treat that content, if you do keep it. More on this below.
Engagement Matters, Part I
Knowing how many people are consuming a piece of content is great, but knowing how they’re consuming it and what the content is encouraging them to do is far more valuable.
Gather data points that tell you how frequently visitors take the action you desire. You may need to customize your calls to action (CTAs) to differentiate between actions taken in various places on your site. With that tracking in place, you can identify the pages that create more conversions. Digital marketing lives and dies by conversions, so developing content that converts reliably is critical.
Engagement Matters, Part II
Other engagement metrics matter, as well. Time on page, bounce rate, number of pages visited in the same session, and other metrics can all tell you how deeply your audience is connecting with a particular topic. These are no substitute for CTA engagement, but it is still worth examining these metrics as additional evidence for or against an article’s value.
Options Beyond 'Kill or Keep'
There’s going to be some content that it’s clear should be kept and some that should clearly be killed. In the middle, you’re likely to find some that could go either way. A few options you have are:
If articles aren’t quite connecting with your audience as you’d like, perhaps combining two or more of them would help?
If a mid-pack piece is being outperformed by similar articles, change its focus. You don’t want to keep writing minor variations on the same content targeting the same keywords. Doing so almost always pits you against yourself in competition for top listings on a search engine results page. But a new take on a similar topic is worth exploring for SEO and conversion improvements.
Don’t Fear the Purge
Finally, resist the urge to keep everything. It can be tempting to keep the lid on your desktop trash icon firmly sealed. You worked hard, or invested resources, to generate the content you have. But your business changes, the market changes, and your content library has to change along with them. Purge anything that isn’t relevant to your business goals and is not helping you answer your audience’s most pressing questions.
Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?
A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.
His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications.
Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")