Content marketing is an elusive beast. You can produce tons of the same sort of content that succeeded the first time, and then find that it all has a shelf life. Fortunately, you can easily make content that has long-term value to your business. What’s more, doing so is liberating, as you don’t have to constantly watch for the latest trends and hot topics, scraping together content while there’s still interest. Take a look at these guidelines for producing long-running content, and at the end you’ll see a list of some examples you can try yourself.
What Is Evergreen Content?
Image via Flickr by Horia Varlan
If you’re not familiar with the term “evergreen,” it comes from trees that do not lose their leaves in the fall. Essentially, evergreen content is not time sensitive, meaning it has an appeal for as long as it’s running, or at least for a very long time. The trouble with making evergreen content, however, is that it’s not invulnerable to irrelevancy. It’s important to make time-sensitive content sometimes, such as announcing your latest product or updates in a blog post, but evergreen content that is both high-quality and set around an interesting topic will regularly draw in more traffic.
The other side of regularly making evergreen content is that it implies there’s good reason for an interested visitor to go back and look at all of your older content. So if you want to start up a blog, a video series, or other campaign, make evergreen content a priority from the beginning. Each piece will get a healthy amount of views and visits from those who subscribe.
Know Your Audience
One of the worst ways to strike out with content marketing is to make the wrong sort of content for your audience because you don’t know what type of people they are. You have to discover and study your ideal follower, subscriber, or customer using apps or services such as Google Analytics. Why is this important for making long-term content specifically? Because if you don’t know who your audience is, you won’t know what sort of content they find interesting enough to look at, whether or not it’s brand new.
You can’t guess at the sorts of people that make up your target audience, either. True accuracy comes from testing and asking. Outline the typical journey a customer makes, from their first discovery through certain keyword searches to finding appealing content, until they’ve become regular customers. Encourage comments and opinions in all of your content. Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask your mailing list members, Facebook followers, and other audience members outright what it is they want to see. They will tell you their interests related to your business, things perfect for evergreen content.
If your regularly scheduled content is starting to grow cold, resist the urge to force out new content even more often to compensate. A much wiser strategy is to repurpose content you’ve already posted into a new format. For example, if a long-form blog post explaining some complicated topic is losing hits and engagement, you could turn that information into an attractive infographic. This format is especially easy to share, because it’s a graphic that transforms just about any challenging read into content with long-term value.
There’s nothing wrong with repurposing old content into other formats. In fact, it’s the right thing to do in many cases, because the other format options expose that content to a greater portion of your followers or to greater amounts of traffic. Some people might prefer to watch videos explaining a topic, while others would rather read articles or download an e-book or whitepaper.
Perhaps the best way to give content long-term value is by making it something others want to share. Make a piece that is meant to spark discussion or reach large numbers of people, then end it with a call to action, encouraging other content creators to make referral content or response content, or for viewers to share it on social media.
Give people something to do in relation to your content, and this will chain and branch out as more people see it and follow the call to action. However, a word of caution: It’s best not to do this too regularly, as it can look phony, like you’re fishing for engagement. Instead, pick a specific moment when exposure would be especially valuable, and make content around it that is so relevant it practically demands sharing and replying. This will help highlight what is most important to your brand and give it more personality.
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Ideal Forms of Evergreen Content
Keep in mind, before looking through the following list, that no long-term content will be very successful without following the guidelines above. It takes high quality and careful composition to get your content reposted and regularly seen. Here are some effective forms of evergreen content:
- Beginner’s guides/how-to: Draw people in with a problem and help them solve it, earning their trust. See this guide to creating interactive infographics for an example.
- Answer specific questions: absolutely brilliant for long-tail SEO keywords. Consider defining something people ask about, such as “What Is Laminate Flooring?”
- Reflections on news or trends: Use something time-sensitive that people will still remember for a while and link it to a more evergreen concept. This could potentially ignite passionate discussion.
- Statistics and analysis: fantastic for encouraging a potential customer to try or buy your product.
- Check lists or to-do lists: Invite visitors to compare their situation to your ideal. For instance, an insurance company could make a hurricane preparedness check list.
- Case studies: great for turning happy customer stories into content and vice versa.
Once you’ve found what kind of long-term content is best for your marketing campaigns, you can focus on that and create pieces that work to support and strengthen your business throughout the years to come. When your old content keeps working as you continually add more, the snowball effect can be amazing. If you need help with targeting the right kind of long-term content for your brand and followers, or can’t feasibly produce large amounts of content in-house, be sure to consider an organized team of experienced creatives and project managers such as the one at CopyPress.