Is Your Content in Need of a Tune-Up?

February 2018

monitor showing content creation

Image: iStock

I have a friend who routinely keeps her cars in great condition even after they surpass the 200,000-, 300,000- and, once, 400,00-mileage mark. She swears the key to her automobile longevity is maintenance. She routinely gets tune-ups and oil changes on a set schedule – even when a manufacturer’s recommendation seems excessive.

A car isn’t the same as content marketing, but they do have something in common: both need routine maintenance to keep working as intended. And, when something breaks, it’s best to fix it quickly rather than let it fester. Here are some ways to keep your content motor purring.

Periodically audit your content

Deliverables add up, especially if you have a website or social media platform to constantly feed. Photos become dated. Reference dates in white papers, ebooks, infographics and case studies lose value at some point. Even the music underscoring a great video can scream “stale” if it’s a pop song past its prime (think of the 1980s’ prevalent use of synthesizers).

That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically review all of the content on your site – from imagery and web copy to the downloads offered in a knowledge center. Pull pieces that feel too dated and either delete or update them. Sometimes all it takes is a more contemporary font choice and modern color palette; sometimes entire copy blocks need to be gutted.

Get a second opinion

The removal, replacement or addition of new content should not be done in isolation. Form a committee that, at a minimum, includes someone responsible for copy and someone who merely consumes it. Content producers tend to be too close to a piece, especially if it took a great effort to create it. Consumers, on the other hand, will evaluate that same content for the value it brings, not how long it took to make.

Nurture news sections and blogs

When a new visitor goes to a website’s blog and immediately sees the most recent post was written months ago, it leaves an impression. So do old press releases still in prominent positions on a page. If other posts or media announcements are also spread apart by months, it could be intentional. But one purpose for a blog or newsroom is to keep people coming back to the site. So stick to a chosen frequency that fits your bandwidth and subject matter. And if your wishes outpace your workflows, consider hiring an outside firm to take up the slack.

A word about content mills

It is easy and affordable to find generic clip art and content to fill voids in your content strategy. Before turning to a content mill, though, consider partnering with people who truly get your organization and can write with your thought leadership in mind. You might find a decent 400-word piece for pennies on the dollar, but it may feel to a reader like filler, or require just as much work to fit it to your corporate style and tone and voice.

Experiment with pictures and prose

Every new car model includes exciting features. Why not your content too? Take some topics or approaches for a “test drive” to see how readers or viewers engage or rate it. Again, if you or your staff lacks the time to write quickly or build out a new platform or channel, consider hiring content specialists who do this for a living. The best are quick, accurate and creative in approach.

Focus on a piece’s worth, not just words

LinkedIn has become the go-to place for self-publishing and self-promotion of business articles. Yes, there’s a lot of noise but there’s also good content. Just be sure before you let the world know your views or share your experience, there’s value in what is produced. This requires looking at what others have written or experienced so you don’t just duplicate what’s already out there. Be original. Be instructive. Be you.

And there you have it: some tips to make your content last longer on the road to future sales and long-term customers. Let’s get those engines revved!

Anne