Always On: How to Embrace Evergreen Content
Content marketing can often seem time-sensitive. It doesn’t have to be that way
January 30, 2020
Marketers create content to address the specific issues that audiences are focusing on at particular moments in time. We react to events, trends, opinions and industry debates. We also develop content campaigns to fit immediate business priorities: a quarterly target for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), for example, the launch of a new product, or the need to support an event.
However, just because content can talk to hot-button issues in the moment, doesn’t mean that it always has to. A lot of content marketing’s best work can take place over a longer timeframe, with a strategy that keeps working for months and even years. Always-on content that stays visible, and keeps reaching and engaging new audiences, can play a vital role as part of the growth engine for your business. It can continue to introduce people to your brand, drive demand for solutions and generate leads, long after it was first produced.
A business’s proposition and products can change, the audience segments that it’s targeting can change – and so can the needs and priorities of the people in those audiences. However, they don’t change all that often or all that much. When you design your content assets around what you stand for as a business, and the fundamental value exchange between you and your audience, they can be as relevant to the buyers of tomorrow as they are to the buyers of today. And that means you can maximise the return you get, from the time and resource involved in producing them.
Think of all the great thought leadership content that you’ve produced in the last three years. Then ask yourself how visible that content is right now. Is it hiding somewhere around page seven of your blog? Did it drop out of your Sponsored Content campaigns long ago? When did one of your sales colleagues last share it with a relevant prospect? Then consider how much you’re currently investing in producing content that’s designed to do the same job: replacing something that didn’t necessarily need to be replaced.
An always-on content strategy runs on content that is always relevant and always impactful; content that feels alive in any season of any year. Here’s how to consciously plan, create and distribute it:
Evergreen content has enduring authority
If you want content to feel relevant and compelling years into the future, aim to give the definitive and most authoritative take on an issue. Don’t be afraid to go deep – and go long. At LinkedIn, we’ve been able to generate continuous engagement through ‘big rock’ content assets that involve us literally writing the book on how to market on our platform: assets like The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, which is still one of our most important touchpoints for lead generation, more than five years after it was first published. Research that we conducted with Buzzsumo confirms that long-form blog posts of 2,000 words or more generate significantly more sharing and backlinks than shorter posts. These posts remain prominent in search results for years. Audiences continue to share them organically long after marketers stop actively promoting them. When you develop an always-on content strategy, you’re recognising this ongoing appetite for authoritative takes on subjects, and leveraging it more consciously by promoting this content rather than leaving people to find it for themselves.
Evergreen content has anti-ageing execution
It’s not usually the ideas in a piece of content that makes it feel old or out-of-date. Instead, it’s the time-sensitive details that remind audiences when it was produced and why. One of the easiest ways to produce more evergreen content (and get greater value from it) is to train yourself to edit out these details when it’s not strictly necessary to include them. If you’re filming interviews with influencers at an industry event, for example, try to avoid too many questions that reference the event specifically. You can then create short video clips based on the ideas that people share, which will feel fresh long into the future. Similarly, if you’re creating a post to wrap up key insights or learnings from an event, try organising it around the insights themselves rather than a list of the different sessions you attended.
Evergreen content can stage a comeback
If you keep a close eye on the analytics for your blog, you will often find that content you created for a specific moment is still generating traffic long after that moment has passed. A great example are the posts that thought leaders create at the start of the calendar year, with predictions for the next 12 months. If audiences are still finding valuable insight in these archived pieces then that’s the signal to give them an evergreen makeover. Go back over previous posts, update time-sensitive details, and give them a new lease of life.
Evergreen content has an evergreen media plan
An always-on media buying strategy maximises the value of evergreen content by playing the long game. If you’ve targeted a relevant audience for a piece of evergreen Sponsored Content, you can afford to bid low, leave the campaign running in the background, and reach your audience over a longer period of time while paying less for each impression or click. If the content isn’t time-sensitive, there’s no need to throw money at auctions in order to spend budget quickly. It’s fine to reach your audience in the moments that others aren’t bidding for. Doing so enables sustainable, always-on promotion of your consistently valuable, always-on content.
One of the most common mistakes that marketers is to assume that there are certain points in the year that they need to avoid in their media schedule. It feels sensible to pause campaigns during the holiday season or the summer months, for example, when we assume that people have other things on their mind and will be too busy to engage with us. However, while it might not add up to create lots of fresh content specifically for these periods, it most definitely does make sense to keep promoting evergreen content assets. LinkedIn data shows that addressable audience sizes and click-through rates both remain relatively high during the holiday period. What does drop off is the level of competition for these audiences. That can make these moments a great opportunity for new audiences to discover the value in your evergreen content.