Tricks pro digital marketers use to extend their content lifespan
700 days. According to one study that looked at a sample of 500 blog posts, 700 days is the average lifespan for a blog, in which it will receive 99% of its total traffic. 700 days doesn’t sound so bad, of course—until you also consider that about 50% of a post’s total traffic will come within the first week.
We’re so busy trying to build content that “stands out from the crowd” that we forget the true measure of effective content is its longevity. Does your content stand the test of time? Do people remember it? Do they remember your brand? If you can create exceptional content that lasts beyond its initial buzz, you can build brand equity over time that outshines the appeal of “going viral.”
There’s just one question: how do you build content that lasts?
It’s a simple question with many answers. Let’s take a closer look at the way professional digital marketers think about the content lifecycle—and what tricks they have up their sleeve for extending it.
Repurposing content 101
One of the most famous pieces of “content” in history is the Rosetta Stone: three ancient scripts carved into a giant stone tablet. But it’s not famous because the Rosetta Stone tells a compelling, amazing story. And it’s not that the Rosetta Stone capitalized on a viral trend dating to Ptolemaic Egypt.
No. The Rosetta Stone is the most famous version of repurposed content of all time.
Before the Rosetta Stone, scholars had no reasonable way to translate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. All the Rosetta stone did was jot down the same text in three languages: ancient Greek, demotic text, and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Repurposing the content in three ways meant modern scholars could translate ancient Egyptian texts with the confidence of translating ancient Greek.
Repurposing the content into its most useful form has helped the Rosetta Stone’s fame endure well into the 21st century.
What does that have to do with repurposing content today? It means the longest-lasting content will match the ideal message to the ideal platform. And in this context, “ideal” refers to how well it serves your customer.
As Aimtal co-founder Janet Mesh recently explained on Sarah Noel Block’s “Tiny Marketing” podcast, marketing is constantly changing. Marketers may like to plan, forecast, and strategize—but planning for how things will eventually change is just as vital to ensuring your content lives a long and fruitful life. Here’s how we approach it at Aimtal, beginning with defining repurposed content.
What is repurposing content?
Repurposing content refers to taking an existing piece—such as a blog post—and reworking its components until the content works in a different distributed format, like video. This lets you establish your “Rosetta Stone” appeal. You can match the right content to the right platform to reach the right audience.
Repurposed content means you can double down on topics or pain points that have resonated with your audiences by providing content in different formats. If you can find the best format for your specific audience, you have a recipe for content with longevity.
What platforms have the longest post lifespan?
So which content creation platforms have the longest content lifecycle? Well, it’s not that easy. It’s possible to create a video on YouTube that stands the test of time or to produce a blog post on your website that doesn’t—and vice versa. Let’s explore some of the top platforms for extending the content lifecycle—along with what works:
Search engine optimization
The best search engine-oriented content answers a long-standing question for customers and readers. As Moz points out, there’s a clear example in the case of Famous Footwear.
Footwear is a trend-driven market, which makes it hard to create evergreen content. But Famous Footwear does have one piece of content that continually ranks in Google: their “shoe size chart.” As of this writing, Famous Footwear’s shoe size conversion charts—including printable documents—still rank fourth in Google. According to Moz, that’s prime real estate: nearly 50,000 monthly searches for shoe size charts.
Why does content creation like this stand the test of time? People are always buying shoes, and they don’t always remember the US:UK conversions. So Famous Footwear provides a straightforward answer to a long-held question—and a question people keep asking. If you can accomplish the same in your content, your content can have a long lifespan. But what platform has the longest post lifespan? Let’s look at the top contender.
YouTube and video
A printable conversion chart for shoe sizes works great as a static page. It wouldn’t work so well for a video.
You might think YouTube and TikTok are as susceptible to short-term trends as any other platform, making them vulnerable to a short content lifecycle. But you’d be surprised, especially on YouTube. Trend Spot pointed out that it once published a piece on August 8, 2022. For the first two months of that video’s lifespan, it got a slow trickle of views.
A failure, right?
Not exactly. On YouTube, videos can easily catch second winds that increase their longevity. In October, the views started shooting up—including over a million and a half in less than 10 days. And even that second wind wasn’t short-lived. The spike led to a new, enduring popularity for the video, which continued to gain a steady influx of views, far outpacing its initial run. That’s the power of two important factors at work: your audience’s willingness to share interesting and unique content and the algorithm recognizing your content as helpful and informative, then serving it to a wider audience.
If you can find a good match of a helpful video with your audience, you might be surprised at the longevity you can achieve in your content creation.
What is an integrated marketing campaign and how does repurposing content fit in?
An integrated marketing campaign combines multiple channels—like content, email, and social media—while still centralizing its message around a target audience. On the surface, this seems like an easy way to fashion content: try to do a little of everything on every platform, then see what sticks. But according to Janet, that’s not always the best strategy. “Your customer isn’t everyone,” she says.
Instead, the advantage of an integrated marketing campaign is that you can use it to dial in your messaging. Identify what resonates with your target market and begin crafting content with their specific pain points in mind.
Content creation with a longer lifecycle comes down to identifying your core audience. Throughout an integrated marketing campaign, pay attention to the signals:
- Where do they live?
- Where do they work?
- Where do they socialize online?
- How do they consume information?
- Where do they consume information?
This is the empathetic approach: putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and paying attention to the signals they send via engagement and conversions.
Take a page from our book: Aimtal once worked with a client who wanted to expand their SEO footprint. They aimed to create large, top-of-funnel content that would capture a wide audience.
Aimtal performed an SEO audit and noticed some skewed results. The cybersecurity company was working in a highly technical field, which means they engaged with entry-level keywords as well as highly technical ones.
Aimtal didn’t suggest an integrated marketing approach—at least, not at first. Instead, we recommended creating a video series that could be top-of-funnel content. From there, the cybersecurity company could iterate more quickly, finding which topics attracted the most attention. Then they could turn that content into blog content. Further downstream, those topics could filter down to an email newsletter and social media content.
The point: when using the integrated approach, you don’t have to keep throwing a whole heap of ideas against the wall to see what sticks.
Janet’s advice? “Focus on one—or a couple of things—and do it across [those channels].”
Be selective about your entry points. Where does your customer want to find your content? What platform is the most useful for them? If you were selling recipes, a video tutorial showing exactly how much you want to sweat the onions will be more useful than a blog post with no pictures.
Why a long content lifecycle matters
Long-term return on your investment
Some more quotable quips from Janet: “Marketing is an investment and it compounds over time.”
When you’re building content, you know you’re going to put in a lot of work upfront. Maybe that means agonizing over every last detail of a blog post. Maybe it means putting in twice the time to edit a video as you did to shoot it. And when you’re putting in that work upfront, the possibility that your content can continue to pay dividends months and even years into the future can be motivating.
Nielsen, for example, pointed out an insurance company ran the numbers on its marketing efforts. And that company discovered that consistent marketing efforts generated 31% increased “incremental sales” over the long term, even during periods of economic uncertainty.
Additionally, Nielsen’s research says ongoing marketing efforts will account to as much as 35% of your brand equity.
These results also compound over time. One well-produced piece of content can produce a lot of returns for you—driving new views and attracting new followers to your social media profile. Two well-produced pieces of content start to become a pattern. The more consistently you build high-lifespan content and post it online, the better your reputation becomes.
Brand authority and trust
Let’s say you produce ten videos for YouTube. Maybe the first nine don’t accomplish much. They get a few trickles of views, and maybe one helps you attract some subscribers, but it isn’t until video number ten that you find a hit.
For some reason, video number 10 hit on a specific pain point with your audience. Your potential customers share that video online. You have something of a viral sensation on your hands.
If just one piece of marketing content becomes a go-to-resource in your field, then everything else you share from that point on will benefit from the “authority equity” this video helped create.
This can be something as simple as a helpful guide that’s important for top-of-funnel customers. And when customers think about which company to visit when they want to buy, they’re now ready to come back around to you.
As Forbes points out, 81% of consumers need to be able to trust a brand before buying from them. Your investment into evergreen content—even if not all of it works initially on your chosen platforms—will help you build that kind of brand equity.
Building a content repurposing strategy
- Create relevant content. What does it mean to create relevant content? Simple: answer the deepest questions of your customers. Those questions are the familiar ones—who, what, where, when, why, how. But the way you approach these questions will have a massive impact on the kinds of answers you find.
- Customer research. Ideally, when researching your customers, you’ll find as much of the available data as possible. For some marketers, that might mean getting access to in-house CRM data. You might find out information about your most recent users: their demographic profile, their jobs, their key pain points. You can also go a step further, analyzing the social media accounts of your ideal customers, for example, to give your marketing team an idea of the customer archetype.
How to refresh your content with a format “pivot”
Refreshing your content doesn’t have to mean starting from scratch. It can instead mean a strategic pivot: rethinking your platform, but not necessarily the content of what you publish. For us, that meant pivoting from a long-form newsletter to short “Marketing in a Minute” videos for YouTube, Instagram Reels, and TikTok.
Refreshing content like this should also come with benchmarks where you know what you’re measuring—and why. The strategy with “Marketing in a Minute” videos might be six months at a time, which gives the team behind “Marketing in a Minute” the ability to break down their performance by quarters. And those Marketing in a Minute videos can lead to short-form informative newsletters that resonate better—and more long-term—with our core audience.
Tactics to improve the lifespan of your posts
Build a core piece of content that you can break into chunks
You don’t need to start from scratch every time you publish. You can extend the life of every piece of content if you refurbish it and rearrange it for other platforms—while still paying attention to the same core message that succeeded on the first platform.
When Aimtal performed an SEO audit for the cybersecurity company mentioned above, we didn’t recommend reinventing the wheel. Instead, we looked for ways to take existing content and turn the most informative pieces into fresh content on different platforms.
Post, repost, and post again!
Sometimes, it’s just trial and error until you find data in the noise. So don’t be afraid to iterate! Post, repost, and post again—until you find the patterns resonating with your specific audience on specific platforms. With our pivot from newsletters to “Marketing in a Minute,” the focus isn’t always on the core messaging, but rather on discovering the formatting that works best for short-form videos until each video finds its audience.
Make use of performance analysis
Performance analysis isn’t just about deciding what types of content to publish. It’s also about looking for patterns:
- What format of content works best on each platform?
- What pain points tend to generate the most engagement from your target audience?
- What are the top-of-funnel topics that drive conversions throughout the funnel beyond attracting engagement?
These key insights can go a long way for planning future content. Even more importantly, they can help you understand your audience at its core. And isn’t that the heart of marketing?