Content marketing remains a high priority for organizations of all kinds today as they struggle to stay relevant to customers while keeping ahead of the constantly changing algorithms of search engines like Google. Companies clearly need to generate a constant flow of high-quality, relevant, current content, but continually creating and updating content can take a toll and drive up costs. And finding a qualified staff that can keep up with the demand isn;t so easy these days.
The solution for a lot of companies today is repurposing content that they’ve already created, leveraging their huge libraries and data repositories in new ways to maximize value over time. Effective repurposing involves reimaging, revising, and republishing existing content in other forms or for other audiences.
For most content marketers, it simply makes sense to repurpose their content whenever possible. If, for example, a company has consistently published two blog posts a week for the past two years, that’s 208 blog posts. How many members of its target audience are likely to have seen all 208 of those posts over the past two years? Probably not many.
Thinking practically about how content is consumed and by whom can help put this into perspective.
“When you have a large library of content, it is unlikely your audience has read every article you ever published, so reintroducing them to that content is not only smart but essential,” says Ashley de Tello, founder of de Tello Publishing, a content marketing firm.
Refreshing dated content also sends signals to search engines that your content and site are up to date, accurate, and relevant, which can improve site rankings and send more web traffic your way, says Jas Banwait Gill, growth manager at SwagMagic, a provider of custom branded corporate promotional products. “Before investing time and energy into creating new content, determine ways to repurpose the good stuff you already have out there,” Gill recommends.
There is a risk, of course, of not being sufficiently strategic or detail-oriented when repurposing content to make it current and relevant enough to be both brand-supportive and SEO-friendly.
“Although repurposing content can save time and resources, it also has its drawbacks,” admits Jan Suski, content and outreach specialist at Chilli Fruit Web Consulting, a digital marketing agency. “The key is to ensure that the repurposed content is still pertinent and valuable to the intended audience. The goal is to avoid being perceived as indolent or unoriginal,” he says.
Antoine Amann, founder and CEOof Echobox, a publishing automation systems provider, points out that misgivings about repurposing content are often unfounded, and he has the data to back this up. “Our study of more than 600 leading content producers showed that simply resharing a post on Facebook at a later time generates on average 67 percent of the clicks the post originally received,” Amman says.
For example, Amann says,”if a piece of content on Facebook receives 100 clicks, simply reusing and reposting the same content at a later time will result in 67 additional clicks on average.” In fact, he adds,”13 percent of content publishers will see their social reshares even outperform their original versions.”
Yet few creators take full advantage of repurposed content on social media, Amman says.”Our analysis indicates that on average, content producers reshare just 8 percent of their total content.”
That represents a great deal of potential to get more bang for their marketing bucks. To do so, though, they need to convince others in the organization that repurposing makes sense, especially in an era where many marketers are calling for hyper-personalization to engage and move target audiences to action.
RATIONALIZING REPURPOSING FOR HYPER-PERSONALIZATION
To justify a content repurposing strategy in the face of demands for hyper-personalization, businesses can concentrate on the fact that different segments of their audiences might prefer distinct content formats or channels, Suski says.”Reusing content enables them to cater to these preferences while maintaining a consistent message and brand voice,” he states.
In addition, hyper-personalization, might be overrated and impossible to achieve in every moment, says Kirsten Markson, chief marketing officer of Keap, a provider of sales and marketing automation for small and midsize businesses. “The content required to do that is vast, and the payoff is likely not worth the effort,” she says.
Instead, Markson suggests that content marketers look at personalization “as a range of activities that deliver customization in the right moments.” Consider what’s most important to personalize and “trigger distinct communications in those moments vs. building a plan to try to personalize at every touchpoint,” she advises.
Markson further recommends using segment-based or cohort-based communications for the most part and personalization when it’s absolutely going to really help revenue. This might include when delivering reminders to repurchase or solicit reviews on a particular purchase or action taken. “But even then, the same content can likely be used by everyone who made that purchase. What’s important is delivering it to them at the right moment to spur them to take the desired next step.”
WHICH MESSAGES CAN BE REUSED AND WHICH SHOULD NOT BE
Not every piece of content can or should be repurposed, of course.
“Content that is extremely time-bound and specific, and messaging that is very specific for a particular audience or moment in time, is less likely to be able to be repurposed,” Markson says. She suggests that about 80 percent of content can be reused or repurposed, and about 20 percent, ideally, should be customized. “The more you can create content with broad but clear appeal and make small tweaks to it for each audience, the better.”
Each company and its unique audience will be different, of course. Data can help identify the best mix and which topics and formats can be repurposed most effectively.
Web analytics can help identify the content that has been high-performing, as well as the content that might have seen reduced backlinks, traffic, and keyword performance over time.
Gill suggests refreshing content with current data, new photos, and internal links to more recent and relevant posts. “You can then test out how well your old content works in new distribution channels, providing context for how to improve your efforts going forward,” she says.
A good place to start is evaluating and inventorying the content you already have on hand. DeTello shares a process she went through with a client who had more than 1,500 articles.
“While we continued to create new content for them, we also worked to create a system to determine which articles needed to be updated and when,” she recalls. “We looked at all the data and designed a formula that would calculate an ‘update priority score.’ This score took various factors into account, such as traffic, backlinks, [search engine results page] rankings, date of last update, and the sensitivity of the facts included in the article.” It then assigned “a different weighted value to each factor in relation to its overall importance and impact on our client’;s bottom line to generate a final score.”
This ranking system helped the client prioritize which articles to invest time in updating, repurposing, or republishing and stay on top of how the content was performing moving forward.
Having a plan in place to identify the content, channels, audiences, and repurposing criteria to use can provide a strategic foundation for leveraging existing content in appropriate ways, experts agree.
Here are some additional tips from content marketing experts on how to most effectively repurpose content.
TIPS FROM CONTENT PROS
Adam Coughlin, cofounder, managing partner, and chief marketing officer of York IE, a strategic growth advisory firm, has coined the term “drumbeat marketing” for his strategic approach to repurposing content. Drumbeat marketing, he says, is”a go-to-market approach that emphasizes strong messaging, discipline, and consistency, all in the name of repurposing content to give it continued life.” It focuses on establishing a strong point of view (POV) and then sharing that POV through multiple owned and earned channels over and over again. That repurposing helps marketers maximize the value of their work and reach new audiences.
Keep in mind that content isn’t just text-based, just visual, just audio, or just video. It’s all of the above, and more. And much of that content can be readily moved from one format to another without fatiguing audiences.
Suski recommends transforming text-based content like blog posts or whitepapers into visually appealing content like videos, infographics, or social media posts. “This not only provides a new perspective on the content but also caters to the different learning and consumption styles of the target audience,” he suggests.
Repackaging content in formats that can be used across multiple channels can also be effective, Suski says. “;An article can be utilized as a script for a podcast episode or modified into a series of social media posts or newsletter sections,” he says. “This way, the same content can reach different audiences through various platforms.”
Gated content also presents an opportunity for repurposing, says Cai Ellis, SEO manager at ToolTester, a website builder and web hosting and e-commerce company. “To produce a white paper or study takes a lot of work, and often brands may hide this content behind a form to gain email signups. This is a great marketing activity, but the content shouldn’t be solely kept there.”
When done right, Ellis says, these long-form pieces of content that involve unique studies or interviews could be very powerful to reuse.
“You could reuse a portion of the interview and pitch it to relevant media in your industry. You could also take a chunk of the content and turn it into a public blog post. Or, if your study was in-depth enough, you could add the findings to a statistics page on the topic to try and rank for people looking for data on that niche,” he says.
Today, some repurposing tasks can be automated through existing and evolving technology.
For instance, de Tello points to SocialOomph as a good tool for recycling content automatically. “You create the posts once and then put them on a schedule for when they will be published. SocialOomph can then repeat the content every three months, for example,” she says. “While you can continue to produce new posts, this recycled content can reintroduce your followers to your core content—the kind that never goes old and continuously provides value to your audience.”
This type of automation brings up another important and rapidly emerging tool that content marketers are using—generative artificial intelligence such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
Tools like ChatGPT could, for instance, be used to update content through commands like: “find the most recent research on…” or “update this data with similar data from 2022,” or even “review this content for current accuracy.” Users could break out various elements of the content, asking for more detailed or different coverage. The same types of prompts or queries could be used for visual or other content.
Forrester Research found that 19 percent of marketing executives in the United States are already using ChatGPT and 41 percent more are exploring potential use cases, while only 10 percent say they will not use this or similar tools.
While there are detractors and those who warn about the potential for the role of humans in the content creation process to be eliminated, Forrester predicts that”embracing intelligence creativity and accepting AI won’;t destroy these roles, it will save them.”
While still subject to certain limitations, like the potential for inaccurate information or information gleaned from non-reputable sources, tools like ChatGPT do provide useful resources for saving time and automating content repurposing and creation.
If you’re not already repurposing your existing content to some degree, it’s time to start thinking strategically about how to do it in ways that are relevant for your audiences. If you are doing so and haven’t considered ways to make that process more strategic and data-driven, or how to leverage generative AI tools, ample opportunities exist to save time and money while maintaining and even growing results, the experts agree.