There’s nothing like a thorough cleaning session to make you feel organized, rejuvenated, and ready to start anew.
A solid spring refresh can be all we need to rid ourselves of the boring and drab days of winter. And while we definitely feel the need to spring clean at home, the same method should be applied to our work life as well.
No, we're not talking about cleaning your entire office, though that isn’t a bad idea. Rather, the work-related deep cleaning pertains to your company’s digital content.
As the years pass, and as our content strategies change, refine, and build, we accumulate a ton of content. While some of it can be classified as evergreen, there is no doubt quite a bit that is dated, no longer useful, or just plain inaccurate. Which is why you need to be implementing a yearly spring cleaning effort by means of a content refresh.
Why refreshing content is important
The goal of an effective content marketing strategy is to create material that your audience can use in their purchase decisions. And if you use your content in your drip campaigns and email nurture correctly, it is extremely effective at moving your prospects through the funnel. But if you’re expecting to maintain your status as a valued resource, one that’s knowledgeable and filled with the information your prospects crave, you aren’t going to achieve it by sharing out stale and dusty content.
What’s more, refreshing your content can greatly improve its performance. When you incorporate newer, more reliable data, updated images, and videos, you look more reliable to your audiences. It shows them that you have a ton of valuable knowledge and that you’re as up to speed as humanly possible. It’s a great way to boost traffic and conversions too.
When you update your content, it’s always smart to implement a distribution and promotion strategy around it, which will get more eyes on it, and increase the probability of converting new leads.
In order to remain a thought leader in your space, your content has to be routinely vetted and updated. Content decay is no joke, and the longer you wait to update your content, the more cringy your dated content becomes. But why does content decay in the first place?
What leads to content decay?
Content decays when it fails to live up to the test of time. For example, take the cringe-worthy advertisements from the 1950s. Most of them reflect the dated values and societal gender standards of the time. And while they may have been effective then, our jaws drop today when we see them.
Now, we're not saying that decaying content = sexism. By today’s standards, there are some key factors that indicate when content is decaying.
1. It’s not evergreen
Evergreen content focuses on topics that will always be interesting to your audiences. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the news cycles or what current trends are making their way into the fold. Evergreen content is reliably relevant. If your content focuses on quick fads or fading trends, chances are it isn’t evergreen and it won’t be interesting to readers next year.
2. It uses dated brand graphics
Over time, brands evolve. They change their focus, their taglines, their colors, and logos, etc. If your content includes dated branding, it sends a mixed message to your readers.
3. It’s based on old data
We all know that data helps substantiate claims and bolsters the reliability of our content. But data is only good for a year or so, and then it becomes old news. When you build your content around certain data points, it’s important to understand that while it may make your content more desirable in the immediate, it will also make it age quickly.
But how do you avoid having decaying content in your arsenal? It’s best to implement a set plan that allows you to identify, address, and update your content regularly.
How to identify decaying content
Identifying this content isn’t exactly rocket science, but sifting through all your past content to identify any that need an update can be an overwhelming undertaking. It’s best to tackle this with a set plan so you know exactly what you’re doing and can successfully implement changes.Here’s a good plan of action for identifying decaying content.
Create a spreadsheet
Instead of going through all your content and updating the dated pieces as you spot them, create a spreadsheet first where you can log the dated content. This will help you keep track of the items you’ve updated against the ones that still need to be addressed. It will also help you delegate and keep everyone assisting with these efforts on the same page.
Identify priority content first
Look at your metrics to see which content is converting, getting more downloads, and are basically more popular. This content is the priority, as your audience is still actively interested in it. Add it to your spreadsheet and mark it in a way that indicates it should be updated first.
Search based on terms and dates
The rest of your stale content will require some searching in order to identify adequately. It’s probably easiest to focus on the content that has stats, images, infographics, or videos. You can try doing a simple site search for certain related terms or phrases, or you can refer to your marketing automation software or CMS you use to create and publish your content. There should be a way to easily search your content and check dates to more quickly identify your older content that needs to be updated.
Tier out based on second and third priority
After adding the rest of your content that needs a refresh, organize them into buckets or tiers similar to how you did so for the priority content. Decide which content is second priority and third priority so you aren’t just updating everything willy-nilly.
6 ways to refresh decaying content
Now that you’ve identified the content that needs to be updated, and instilled a method for tracking each article, page, blog post, what-have-you, it’s time to get your hands dirty.
While updating the content will most likely be the most time-consuming part, there are various ways you can go about doing it. Below are some suggested methods for dusting off your old content and bringing it up to speed.
1. Rewrite dated content
Any piece of content that shares outdated methods, tips, or ideas, should be rewritten to reflect current standards. Oftentimes when businesses grow, processes they once used have been phased out for ones that are more beneficial. Perhaps you changed the way you pass clients off from the sales team to an account manager. Or maybe you no longer walk customers through your software in a particular way because you found that it neglected important areas and tools.
Making changes that result in better service for your customers is always the right call. But, if you created blog content or sales materials that outlined these dated practices, it’s time they got a swift update so they remain relevant.
2. Add images, infographics, and/or videos
Sometimes all an article needs is an eye-catching visual to bring it up-to-date. If there’s a piece of content that is a valued resource but looks a little drab, think about turning the text into an infographic. Reducing text and creating something that is visually pleasing but also more comprehensible will give the piece more value.
Also, consider taking a piece of content and turning it into a video. Twenty percent of people will read text, but 80 percent of people will watch a video. Plainly put, videos are more engaging. People like watching them.
3. Find updated statistics to include
As we mentioned earlier, data gets old fast. It’s wise to keep track of all the important content you’re creating that uses stats and data so you can easily go back and update it after a year or two when the data is stale.
It’s fairly easy to find updated stats online, as tons of marketing research is constantly being conducted. But if you really want to stay ahead of the curve, regularly conduct your own research by sending out surveys to your customers or audience base. Then you can easily use that data each year to create content that continues to be relevant.
4. Change the date of publication
Whenever you go back and update a piece of content, change the publication date or make sure you add a small line or two that states when the post was last updated. You’ll want to show your readers that you’ve taken the time to keep your content fresh, which just shows you’re dedicated to providing them with the most recent information out there. Plus, this will make it easier for you to determine when it needs another refresh.
Another upside to this method is that it makes your content more usable in other high-quality content. And when other people link to your content, it’s not only great for SEO, but it can drive high-quality traffic back to your site.
5. Re-share the content on social
After a piece of content has been refreshed, it’s time to officially give it life again. In order for it to get more eyes on it and be seen by people who can find it useful, you need to share it out on your social channels. Make sure you have a plan in place and know exactly which channels it makes sense to be shared on.
Don’t just share it out and be done, though. Track which channel is effectively driving the most traffic and then schedule more posts on that channel in the future. Also, try looping your team in on it by sharing it with them so they can share on their social channels, with their clients, and with their leads.
6. Add to or replace content in drip campaigns
Content fuels your email marketing. Drip campaigns are a great way to further distribute your newly updated content as well as provide your leads with the best resources possible. Go through all your drip campaigns and if you find that they’re using content that isn’t as informative or helpful as the one you just refreshed, replace them. And if during your content refresh you realized you don’t have a drip campaign that uses the content you updated, create one.
Content refreshes are absolutely crucial for maintaining your credibility and providing your leads with high-quality education and nurture. Use the method above for vetting, identifying, and updating your decaying content so you can continue to be a leader in your space.
Give your content the right refresh by revamping your entire content marketing software stack. See all available tools and learn which ones can help you best in your content refresh strategy!
Natalie Slyman is the Content and Social Media Manager at Benchmark Email, which recently merged with Hatchbuck. When she's not writing content or posting on Instagram, she's thrifting with her husband, cooking a mean Italian dinner, or finding a new St. Louis restaurant to check out.