Head of Strategy Insight: Applying environmentally friendly concepts to your content marketing strategy
When it comes to being environmentally friendly, the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) are a simple way of showing people how easy it can be. They encourage small lifestyle changes that can have a huge impact.
But why am I rambling about the environment in a content marketing post? Well as a marketer, you too can follow the the three Rs in your content marketing strategy.
Small but effective changes to the way you manage your content could mean the difference between a decent content marketing strategy, and a highly-successful one.
This insights article looks at how you can reduce, reuse, and recycle your content in order to optimise your content marketing strategy and drive strong ROI.
The facts are alarming. But the good news is there is so much room for improvement — and we have the power to recycle, reduce, reuse, refuse and remove. Let’s work together to #EndPlasticPollution https://t.co/t6uCIhJjrs pic.twitter.com/r4V3oUMr90
— Earth Day Network (@EarthDayNetwork) April 16, 2018
The first thing that comes to mind is “why would I want to reduce my content marketing efforts?” and that is completely fair. A common misconception is that quantity is more important than quality, and you should just fill your blog with as much text as possible. To an extent, this was once true, but Google’s algorithms are now much smarter and will reward your website for high quality content instead of just a dump of text. Google’s Panda updates focus on this.
So how do you ‘reduce’ your content marketing strategy?
1) Limiting the amount of ‘rubbish’ content that makes its way on to your site By this I mean you can still write the same number of words, just fewer individual pieces. Longer and more in-depth content will generally perform the same as or better than multiple short pieces.
2) Write words that matter A common issue writers run into when tasked with creating such in-depth content is adding filler text. You should be flexible with your editorial requests so your writers can be as creative as possible and create content that makes sense and adds value to the reader.
3) Avoid having too many cooks When there are too many cooks in the kitchen, the rubbish will pile up quickly. This is very true for content creation. I have personally never seen a case where multiple departments need to sign-off a content piece, and the content still goes live on the right date. This can seriously impact a content strategy, especially when other projects depend on specific content pieces following a timeline. For example, you might have a weekly email newsletter which needs five content pieces to accompany it. If there are delays in approving those content pieces, this reduces the impact of the newsletter. Try your best to narrow down the approval process internally, and have these conversations with your agency if you’re using one. They are generally well versed in content approval and you can lean on their experience.
The online content world simply has too much waste. So much great content gets buried in a blog, or is used once and forgotten. Sure, there are times where content is campaign-focused, and isn’t relevant after that, but can you say that about all of your content? No.
What can I do to reuse my content?
1) Identify content that’s easy to reuse Reusing content is easy. You just need to properly identify the right content to reuse. Simply look back at the blog articles, infographics, whitepapers, and eBooks you have created and ask yourself whether they can be used again. An example might be taking an old infographic (which is still accurate), and reposting it on social media. You’ll be surprised how much interaction you get with it from people who missed it first time around, or people who weren’t connected to that social platform.
2) Plan to reuse before the content is even created When formulating your content strategy, think about pieces of content that can serve multiple purposes. A common example is making sure the majority of your content is classified as evergreen. In today’s competitive digital news space, it’s extremely hard to compete by creating news-based content unless you are one of the top players in your industry. In most cases it’s a waste trying to compete. Instead, evergreen pieces serve as useful pieces of information for your visitors, as well as something that can be revisited a year later.
3) Breaking content into multiple parts for different audiences
The best example here would be creating an in-depth eBook or whitepaper that contains information for a range of target audiences. Since it’s so diverse, it might not be as effective as it could be.
You can very easily split your eBook or whitepaper into more digestible pieces of content and put them in front of specific people.
4) Don’t set and forget
This is probably the most common mistake content marketers make when creating a content strategy.
Once a piece of content has been set live, the job is not done.
Monitoring the success of each piece of content must be done as a minimum. When it’s not performing as expected, you need to do something about it and not just say “oh well, better luck next time”. You know what? You are creating your own luck here, and it’s not going to be better next time.
The monitoring phase is where you are most likely to find opportunities to reuse content, so make sure not to skip it.
Content is just like actual recyclable rubbish – once it’s served its purpose that is not the end. There are many avenues that can be explored to ensure you get the most value out of it.
How do I recycle my content?
1) Update old content
Don’t let your old content die! Maybe it wasn’t a great article you wrote five years ago, but it still generated a decent amount of organic traffic. The problem is that Google’s refined algorithm means it is slipping down the rankings.
Instead of writing a brand new article with the hopes of claiming back your #1 spot, just touch the old one up.
By doing this you are appeasing the algorithm by increasing the word count, improving the readability, adding rich content (embedded Tweets, videos etc.), all while maintaining the original URL. Just don’t forget to submit your updated piece to Search Console to get reindexed.
2) Push your content over a new medium
Your piece of content may have worked wonders organically, but the internet is now just too competitive. Instead of giving up on that piece, you should look at using other mediums instead.
Have an eBook on a conversion landing page? Post it to social media and throw a few advertising dollars at it.
Have a really interesting blog piece? Send it out to your email marketing list.
Maybe try your hand at guest blogging and try to get an article on to another related blog. Pro tip: make sure to remove that article from your site before it goes live on the 3rd party site to avoid duplicate content issues.
3) Identify your best performing content, and recycle it
This strategy is definitely on the risker side, but can pay off big time if done correctly. What you can do is identify your best performing pieces of content and change how they are used on your site.
For example, you might have a blog article that is driving a heap of traffic to your site, but isn’t getting many conversions and goal completions. You could take this piece of content, turn it into a PDF and promote it as a download around your site.
What you are doing here is finding a piece of content you know people want, and gating it. You’re forcing users to leave their contact details, helping you build an email marketing list or leads for your sales team to follow up on.
Be very careful with this tactic though. If the piece of content is already achieving your goals and objectives, it’s better not to touch it.
4) Turn a piece of content into a series
This one takes a lot more effort than the others, but is worth it when done right. Instead of forgetting (or even deleting) a piece of content, consider whether there is more to the topic. If so, turn the original piece into “Part 1”, and create some follow-up pieces.
This strategy allows you to explore topics in a lot of depth as you aren’t worried about creating an unreadable wall of text. It can increase user engagement too as they have the option to read the rest later, or go straight to the topic they are most interested in.
The environmental saying ‘be part of the solution’ can absolutely be applied to your content marketing strategy. All it requires is to think outside the box.
Even the smallest contribution to the environment can help considerably, and applying reduce, reuse, and recycle to your content strategy might just save a piece of content!