How to Re-Purpose Your Content Marketing Duds Into Something Awesome

Michael Walton


February 28, 2018 (Updated: May 4, 2023)


Content marketing is all about testing and figuring out what works for your audience. This can mean that some of your earlier content is not effective or is made obsolete compared to what you have now, based on lessons learned as you went along. Fortunately, there’s no need to just let your old, underperforming content gather dust. Here are some effective ways to re-purpose old content, even if it didn’t work out the first time.

Adjust The Idea

Chances are that when your business started making content, you had less of a solid idea on what sort of topics, tones, etc. appealed to your audience. This can make looking back at your old content, sitting around gathering dust, rather embarrassing, but don’t worry about it. Now you are closer to knowing what works, even if all you know is that this old content didn’t work. Consider the content and think about what it was missing.

For example, a business that sells high-quality leather wallets may have made detailed videos on how certain wallets are made, where the materials are sourced, etc. This may have been appealing to people who already had an interest, like past customers, but for colder traffic it would be less interesting. However, if their audience tends to be people who are interested in dating, the business could try making videos that feature the same wallets, but have case studies or stories of how the owner of the wallet made a great first impression with a date, leading to a romantic story.

The most important thing for adjusting an idea to re-purpose content is deciding what the idea will make your audience feel, and how strongly, compared to your older content. Are you really torn between several ideas? Poll your audience and see which they like the best.

Be Number One

Image via Flickr by andrechinn

Sometimes you had a good idea for content, but after studying your competition, it’s clear that yours did not stand out from the rest. If you had a good idea, one that you know your audience cares about, commit to it on a much more serious level. Instead of just making a single, modest-production video, make the most thorough, impressive, and professional video on the topic. Converge every bit of information, or every piece of related entertainment, to create the one-stop source for interested traffic.

In short, sometimes re-purposing content just means trying again, and really shooting for the stars to stand out. That said, this can be a strain on time and resources if you do it for everything, so narrow down what content pieces, among the old unsuccessful ones, have a nice mix of lower competition and high audience interest. Then you can focus on those.

For example, a business on self help and learning could take a small blog post about how to create memory palaces, and create a comprehensive, professionally edited, entertaining e-book with helpful illustrations. It’s easy to see which is more appealing to a truly committed potential customer, and there will be far fewer competitors who can stay on pace with that level of quality and quantity.

Breaking It Down

One of the common problems with dud content is that it’s too broad and doesn’t capture a focused and passionate audience. This can happen when you create, say, broad list articles that don’t get particularly deep into any of the topics. If that didn’t go over well, consider instead making content pieces for each of your list items, or if they’re ranked: the number one item. In the same way that this article is not just a list, with “Re-purpose your content” as one of the items, go into detail and provide everything you can on a particular topic.

Keyword research can also help you figure out the best places to flesh out. Use analytics to find out what particular terms drove the most traffic to your old content.

Change The Medium

If you have a backlog of content from when you had less of a grip on what your audience wanted, consider whether posting it again, only in a different form, would be worthwhile. For example, say a local bookstore had a vlog where it published videos about fun events that happen at the store regularly. Perhaps over time, this business got enough market research to realize that a standard text blog was more engaging to their audience than videos.

In this case, there’s no excuse not to take the content from before, polish it up, and release it in this better-suited format. Even if you’d have to take a bigger step up in work, such as going from blog posts to infographics or interactive media, as long as you know your audience prefers the newer medium that you’re using, it is worthwhile to mold old content through that lens.

Evergreen Vs Timely

Evergreen content, or content that is not associated with any particular point in time, is typically the best thing to use when looking for content to re-purpose. After all, there may seem to be little point in re-posting content that was only useful on Halloween of last year, and isn’t appropriate any other time.

However, if you had timely content that didn’t work out last time, consider trying again at another appropriate time, such as the next holiday season if it was based around the previous one. Sometimes it pays to ask directly what people would prefer for a particular event, and how you could do something better. If your brand tone allows it, make light of how underwhelming your last attempt was in order to draw a contrast to a bigger, better targeted effort.

It’s a common rule that a business’s message must reach a customer seven times before they buy, on average. That is why you should take a green mindset with your content, recycling something old to show it off more and more. These strategies work brilliantly not just for old failed content, but for all of your older content, providing a lot more output for every idea you come up with. Instead of letting old content failures keep you from trying again, see if there is another way to approach that content, and you might succeed next time.

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Michael Walton

CopyPress writer

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