One of my favorite outcomes of content marketing is the compounding effect content has for any business. You don’t simply write a piece of content, publish it, and watch as it fades slowly away out of existence. Good content sticks around for weeks, months, and even years.
With each new piece you publish, you’re adding more and more to your platform, and the traffic, buzz, and leads you receive in return start to grow exponentially. That’s what I mean about the compounding effect.
This sort of long-lasting, stable content is referred to as evergreen content. Like the trees it’s named after, this sort of content doesn’t weather with age. If anything, it grows stronger and fuller as time goes on.
For instance, in a self-conducted study by HubSpot, the marketing automation company found that “92% of our leads and 75% of our traffic in a given month are from posts published prior to that month.”
That’s evergreen content at work.
Before we dive into what evergreen content is, let’s first understand what evergreen content is not.
Evergreen content is not:
- News articles
- Weekly, monthly, yearly, etc. “state of the union” content
- Lists of statistics that change too frequently—especially on digital topics
- Event-based content
- Award announcements
- Product launch announcements
- Trending topics
- Holiday-themed content
- Recaps of the month, year, etc.
Evergreen Content and the Buyer’s Journey
Evergreen content is achievable, but it requires discipline. You must understand your buyers at a very specific level: their goals, pain points, barriers, communication channels, influencers, etc. This detail-rich profile of your buyers is called a persona. Understanding the needs of your personas, which are not likely to change that often, will lay the foundation for your evergreen content.
You’ll want to take this one step further and consider the buyer’s journey as a whole and how your personas move along that journey. What are the needs and challenges your personas face as they start down the path to purchase? In other words, what content topics will a persona need or want to engage with as their decision process changes the closer they get toward purchasing?
This is the heart of evergreen content. This is what gives evergreen content its power.
While your business may have many personas with varying journeys, at the end of the day, they’re all still finite. You won’t uncover an infinite amount of personas with an infinite amount of content needs. (And this is good news for anyone a little nervous about beginning a content marketing program!)
Once you identify your personas and journey needs, or touchpoints as we call them, you can build out the strategy for developing evergreen content.
Time for an Example
Let’s put the above principle into practice. Say we’re marketing for an airline called “Instant Airways.” Out of all of the personas we could have at Instant Airways, we want to focus on one: Vacation Planner Pam. She’s a 45-year-old mother of two, married, and works full-time. Her goal is to plan a yearly vacation for her family, but her biggest barrier to purchasing a destination vacation is the costly price of airline tickets.
How might we as Instant Airways’s content marketing team create some evergreen content to win her business?
If we look at the journey framework above, we know her first phase is Awareness. At this stage, we might uncover through our research that she has not fully committed to a destination that requires a flight. We want to spark that need through content.
To do this, we’ll create some evergreen content around topics like “10 Reasons a Destination Vacation is Perfect for Families” or “Why Every Family Should Vacation in the Caribbean.”
See how both of those pieces of content can be used and read by our persona for years to come? These are not fleeting topics. Those ten reasons should hold up even ten years from now, and the Caribbean isn’t going anywhere.
As Vacation Planner Pam decides to pursue a family vacation that requires a flight, she will enter the Interest phase. At this phase, Pam will build a list of criteria (either in her mind or literally) of what she needs to make her purchase decision.
For instance, she wants to bundle her vacation and flight. Our evergreen content topics might include “5 Best Family Vacations Worth the Flight” or “10 Incredibly Affordable Flight Vacation Packages for Families.”
As content marketers, we’ll continue to align evergreen-related topics to Pam’s journey through Consideration and Decision.
Once you identify your personas and understand their touchpoints along the buyer’s journey, you’ll find creating evergreen content is attainable and, perhaps, relatively simple to do (once you have the topics).
Because your personas are meant to be an aggregation of many buyers who have similar goals, challenges, and demographics, your evergreen content will speak to thousands of different users for years to come.
A Note on Timely Content
While this post advocates for evergreen content, I don’t want to discount timely content, which has its place in your general content marketing strategy. For instance, in our example above as Instant Airways, a nice piece of content for our persona Pam might have been “How Brexit Will Affect Prices of International Flights.”
This piece of content might be of great interest to our persona, especially a segment of the persona that is interested in international destinations. But, though the effects of Brexit may be felt for years to come, the topic itself is very time sensitive. In a month from now, Brexit may be forgotten by the general public and the post’s traffic and social shares may drop to zero.
Nevertheless, at that moment of time, the content works. So it should be written if possible.
How to Activate an Evergreen Content Strategy
With our complete understanding of evergreen content fully formed, let’s get to work on building it. Below we’ve provided some tips for activating your strategy:
1. Write for a broad audience.
Evergreen content should not only last for an indefinite time, but it should also resonate with a broad audience. Write for a general audience that is likely to share your content.
2. Optimize for SEO.
The biggest missed opportunity we see with businesses writing evergreen content is the lack of SEO (search engine optimization). If you intend this content to last for years, it should serve your website’s organic needs as well.
Find high trafficked keywords with little competition. The longer your content lives and the more readers it receives, the higher your piece, and in turn your website, will rank.
3. Set refresh dates.
Even the best evergreen content may need a little refreshing. To support a point, you may use a stat that becomes outdated within a year or two. Or you may reference a piece of technology that’s become obsolete (remember Google Glass?).
We recommend setting refresh dates in your editorial calendar. This will help remind you how often you should go back through older content for a bit of primping.
4. Repurpose timely content.
You’ll write plenty of timely content: it’s a must. From product announcements to events you’re attending, you’ll want to let your audience know what’s new with your company. But we recommend that with every timely piece of content you create, you should stop for a moment and consider how this content could be repurposed into evergreen content.
If you’re attending an event, write an article about the 5 must-haves to bring to any conference to maximize your experience. Or, in the example of Brexit from above, you could write about “The 10 Best Countries to Visit in the European Union.”
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