The Value of ‘Old’ Marketing Content Is Finding What’s Evergreen

There is such a thing as having too much marketing content. Here’s your guide to evaluating the content you have to determine what you should keep, what you should update, and what you should delete.

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:

Combining Content

If articles aren’t quite connecting with your audience as you’d like, perhaps combining two or more of them would help?

Refocusing Content

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.

Does Your MarTech Stack Support Your Customer Experience Goals?

Your CEO has finally caught the customer experience fever and embraced it as the new competitive battleground! She is empowering all functions to propose 2019 budgets that induce the organizational transformation from product-centric to customer-centric. As CMO, where do you start? How do you operationalize the customer experience?

Your CEO has finally caught the customer experience fever and embraced customer experience as the new competitive battleground. As a result, she is empowering all functions to propose 2019 budgets that induce the organizational transformation from product-centric to customer-centric. As CMO you are naturally elated, but where do you start? How do you operationalize the customer experience? There will be changes required in people, process, content, technology/data and metrics/KPIs. In this post we will focus on just one of these: your data and MarTech stack.

Assuming you have bold plans for how you are going to improve and enrich the customer experience as they interact with marketing, the challenge quickly becomes, “Do we have a marketing technology stack capable of supporting the types of customer engagement we want to drive?” What new platforms and tools will you need to integrate? What systems will you replace? What new data integrations will be required? Below are three questions you can discuss with your Marketing Operations (MO) team to elucidate the technology requirements for improving the customer experience.

Question 1. How Do You Measure Customer Engagement With Marketing Content?

While the question seems simple enough, getting insightful answers is not. Marketers generally accept the premise that increasing engagement of customers with our content means they value it, that the experience is good, and that this will influence customers to buy more. From the customer’s perspective, having a good experience with my content means:

  1. It was easy to find.
  2. It was in a format I prefer.
  3. It was easy to digest.
  4. It provided the insights and answers I was seeking.
  5. It left me wanting more and pointed me in the right direction.

The possible answers to question 1 are:

  1. We just look at web analytics and see which pages and content get the most traffic.
  2. We use landing pages for all assets and record visits against the customer profile in our Marketing Automation Platform (MAP).
  3. We’ve integrated video and audio streaming services into our MAP and update customer profiles based on how much of the asset they consumed (think Sprout, YouTube, Wistia).
  4. We have embedded links in our content that drive customers to the next relevant piece and we measure the usage of these links (think Pathfactory).
  5. We use a content marketing platform to increase engagement and encourage “bingeing” of content (think Uberflip).
  6. We bring our content to the social platforms and blog, but drive the consumption back to the platforms where we can record engagement (and track where they came from using UTM parameters)
  7. All of the above

Question 2. Is Your Marketing Technology Stack Set Up to Support a Holistic Lead Management Process?

Does it mirror the customer journey map? Does it support tracking new customer acquisition and returning customers?

Many organizations originally set up a lead management process from the seller perspective, with it using the typical stages of new, engaged, MQL, SQL, Opportunity attached and Closed Won. Guess what, this is not customer-centric. The customer relationship does not end with “closed won.” A customer-centric approach will encourage and enable your sales and marketing teams to improve the customer experience at each stage of their buying journey. Imagine overhauling this process in the MarTech stack so that the stages are: unaware, aware, consideration, evaluation, decision, onboarding, adopting, value realization, loyalty and advocacy. Knowing what stage the buyer is in enables marketing and sales to precisely target them with the right content at the right time. The possible answers to Question 2 are:

  1. We have not implemented a lead management process in our MAP/CRM systems.
  2. We have the basic lead life cycle model defined, but the stage changes are manual.
  3. We have automated the lead management process stage changes from new to closed won.
  4. We have implemented in the technology a holistic customer lifecycle, based on the buyer journey, that includes new customer acquisition stages and existing customer expansion stages.

Question 3. Does Marketing Have the Data to Engage With Customers on Behalf of Sales, Operations and Customer Support?

Does it have that data at the appropriate stages in the buyer journey and with the right content for that stage?

Marketing has mastered the communications channels, owns all the digital properties and social channels, and creates all the engaging content for all buying journey stages. It is moving beyond just being the organization that helps sales find new customers. Marketing has the ability to be the customer communications service to the entire company, and in so doing becomes the organization most in the spotlight for providing great customer experience. So if marketing is going to communicate with new customers in the days and weeks after their purchase, or when contracts are up for renewal, or for customer support surveys, or reward loyalty, is the data available to them to automate this? The possible answers to Question 3 are:

  1. Marketing and sales systems do not have a bi-directional flow of data.
  2. Marketing and sales platforms are integrated, and marketing can see exactly where buyers are in their buying journey with sales.
  3. Marketing can see what customers bought, how often they buy, and when, and automate direct communications on multiple channels with customers as a result.
  4. Marketing can see customer support and operations interactions with customers, can see support contract dates and pertinent fields, and can automate communications to customers on behalf of these organizations.

Becoming customer-centric and driving great customer experiences is a whole-firm initiative and cannot be driven by any one function alone. Marketing plays a pivotal role because they own and are masters of so much of the communications technology, but it has to be integrated to enable marketing to offer communications as a service to sales, operations and support.

If your goal in 2019 is to improve customer experiences, and your answers to the three questions above are in the I, or II range, it is definitely time to review your MarTech stack, and the integrations it supports. Don’t be complacent. Determine now what it will take in the 2019 budget to enable you to lead on this important initiative and make customer-centricity a reality in the coming year.