I have produced a lot of content over the years. While I do my best to make most of it as much as I can, that isn't always possible. Sometimes a topic has a specific shelf life, sometimes it is more timely and other times it just outgrows its usefulness as things in the industry change. Given how long I have been working in this field, there is quite a lot of old content that is now more or less useless.
Every content creator knows the frustration of this element of creative tasks. No matter what you do, some things just aren't going to be helpful to readers years down the line. Thankfully, content can have a surprisingly long career if you learn to properly re-market it.
The Place of Old Content In New Conversions
One of the biggest concerns for many people is the use of old content to drive new conversions. Since they are always looking to turn leads, it makes sense that they would wish to put what they have already made to use. No one wants to spend the time, energy and money into generating content that can be recycled from elsewhere. It is inefficient.
So, how do we go about taking old content and making it shiny and new again?
Start With Isolating The Right Content
This is the single biggest step on this list. Your content isn't all created equal, especially where re-marketing is concerned. Some of it isn't going to be at all helpful because it is too old, too out of date, too boring, etc. This process can be broken down into three steps:
Step One: Look at what content did the best in the past
Any analytics platform is going to give you some metrics to work from. Keep in mind that the success of content is going to depend on your own definitions and you can use different types of successful content for different purposes.
For instance, maybe one post did incredibly well for traffic. Another piece did better for driving people to purchase a produce or subscribe to your blog. Maybe yet another was popular on social media.
If you are using Google Analytics, for example, proceed Behavior -> Site Content and spend some time there:
- Use the secondary dimension to see the primary source of traffic for your best content
- Use search field to filter results by keyword (and thus group your best-perming content into topics. Is there a clear pattern there? Do some of the subtopics you cover tend to consistently perform better?)
- Look at other metrics:
- Which pages have higher bounce rate than others (those are likely to need an update as soon as possible because higher bounce rate can be a signal of outdated content)
- Which pages served as an “Entrance” to your site
- Which pages encouraged users to spend the most/least time on your site?
- Which pages promoted users to leave your site?
This will help you identify your most successful and most problematic pages. Create a spreadsheet of those pages to map out your further actions (listed below) and set up a Google Analytics custom report to monitor performance of those pages once you start working on them.
I use Cyfe [Disclaimer: Cyfe is my newest content marketing client but I had been using them – and still am – for years!] to create dashboards like this because it saves time: Open your dashboard once to see the performance of multiple pages at a glance:
Step Two: Look for update opportunities
1. See how things have changed
It can be as simple as figuring out how things are different now versus how they were when we first created the piece. This doesn't always have to be pointed to, however. You can just create something new using the old information, but updated. Especially if you want to distance yourself from information that is now incorrect and start pushing people to seek out your new links rather than the old ones.
This really depends on your strategy, tone of brand and the content itself. Some stuff is going to lend itself towards being linked back to and some isn't.
Some topics are still relevant but the info is now out of date. Now may be a good time to bring it up again and write something that has new details that are important to know now.
Action item: Create a list of well-performing articles that require a quick update (without the need to write a full follow-up) and start with those. Put them in your editorial calendar and re-publish old content to a later date. You'll notice that Google will give them a traffic push once you do that because Google loves fresh content. That's the easiest way to increase search traffic to old content.
2. Link to older content internally
This also lets you potentially link back to the old content. How does this help? Well, sometimes it doesn't. But other times it may give you clicks, or just show that you are reliable because you have been covering it for a long time. Never underestimate the power of proving you are an authority.
Action item: Try this WordPress plugin to automate internal linking to well-performing content. Refer to your spreadsheet of those old articles you are working on to create links from across your blog:
Step 3: Update your call(s)-to-action
Don't overlook this step! In most cases, content that already generates traffic just needs a more effective call-to-action to improve your bottom line. A few ideas include:
- Create in-content email opt-in forms (here's a quick guide)
- Embed a poll to learn how to improve your content to serve the readers' needs better
- Add a contact form to generate more leads. Here's a big selection of free contact forms you can use.
There may be many other ways to diversify your blog CTAs depending on your goals. This is a good time that you come up with more ways to monetize your blogging too. Over at DirJournal Jennifer Mattern listed some ways to earn money from your blog without ads. I still use that guide as a reference when brainstorming new ways to monetize my writing.
Action item: Working on old content is a good opportunity to get your whole conversion process in order. Since you want your old content to generate more leads, organize your lead generation better.
Start using a solid lead generation platform that can synchronize with your on-site forms and let you keep in touch with your leads on a regular basis. I use Salesmate because it's very affordable and flexible. It enables me to monitor my best-performing leads to effectively follow up with them and get the convert faster:
Think New Media
One really great way to re-market content is to change the style of media that you use. In fact, this is probably my all-time favorite way of recycling my own and I use it at every available opportunity.
In my case, I take old blog posts and I use them in some key ways:
- Powerpoint PDFs
- Multi-part series
- Audio post / podcast episode.
The latter one is one I haven't really utilized myself because it has a sharper learning curve and more of a time constraint. But I know many people who have and the results have been wildly successful. Convince and Convert has a great post about how podcasting had grown in 2017 (updated for 2018). One statistic is that 15% of Americans listen to podcasts per month… that is 65 million!
As the format continues to expand and take over the digital consciousness, it could be a real opportunity for those who want a new way to present info in a field that is only going to keep getting bigger and better.
Of course, there are many other ways you can do this. I prefer the above methods as they are content styles I know well. That means I can make them quickly and appeal to a wider audience based on how they prefer to consume their media. I don't have to force them to read when they would rather watch, for instance.
Further reading: I laid out my re-packaging tactics in more detail in my older article here titled “How to Give Your Old Content Wings by Re-Packaging and Writing Smart Follow-up Articles”
Bonus: See If There's a Guest Posting Opportunity
This is another one I really like. Guest blogging has always been my bread and butter. So many blogs offer the chance to write for them and using new versions of your old content, written to be completely unique and up-to-date, can be a great way to do it.
It is also a way to get huge visibility with a new audience that is already interested in what you have to say. The rules can vary from site to site as far as how you link back to your own blog, video channel, etc. But if you can build a few powerful backlinks, there is an incredible impact on your conversions. Or at least a chance to get them onto your site, where your own efforts there can do the rest.
Your Content Can Still Work For You!
Yes, it is old, a little musty and maybe not entirely relevant anymore. But you can still use it to drive conversions. You just need to dust it off, make it shiny again and put it out there. It really is that simple, incredible as that seems. So get started!