Don’t reinvent the wheel: Using existing content within your content strategy

04 April 2016

With the growth of content marketing as a central to digital strategy in 2016, we’ve seen the rhetoric around content marketing spiral out of control. According to some agencies, your content needs to be revered, provocative and above all uncompromisingly unique and never seen before. Understandably this scares off some brands, as the overwhelming nature of how we talk about content alienates those with smaller budgets and tighter guidelines.

Content can be trusted, useful, successful and important without inventing something entirely at-odds with your brand and budget.

Success doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel every time you develop a new strategy

If you’re developing a content strategy, your first port of call should be the content you already have. Brands can often panic, and assume that to be successful content must be completely new. As you may have guessed, I disagree with this.

Many companies already have the makings of a few potentially brilliant pieces of content- they just have no idea what to do with this content and how to build it into a strategy. A customer survey for example; this doesn’t sound inspiring, but it could be hosting some excellent facts which can be worked into interesting and insightful pieces of content.

Audit all your content

The basis of a solid strategy starts with a comprehensive and detailed content audit. Once you have a handle on all the content your company has created, and the impact of each piece of content, you’ll be able to start understanding what you might be able to build on.

We’ll be writing a fuller piece on the ins and outs of conducting a content audit later on, but for now here are the basics:

Step One: Collate your data

Data is at the core of an audit; data doesn’t lie, and allows you to look at your content in a totally unbiased setting. As mentioned, there will be a more detailed overview coming up on each step of the process.

You’ll need to pull all relevant stats on all the URLs on your site/blog, to give you an overview of the performance of each page, across a variety of metrics. You can use a selection of tools to do this. We use Open Site Explorer and Google Analytics, but there are many more you can use. You’ll need to pull the following stats per page:

  • Page views
  • Unique Page views
  • Average Time on Page
  • Bounce Rate
  • Total Links
  • Number of Linking Root Domains
  • Page Authority
  • Facebook Shares
  • Facebook Likes
  • Twitter Shares

Step Two: Categorise your Data

You’ll also need to look at each page/URL manually to apply your own logic, and add another layer to analyse. During this stage, you’ll need to look at the following:

  • Content Theme: What is the theme of the content you are looking at? You need to decipher what the topic of the content is; usually this can be sped up by decoding the topic of the content from the URL but you should definitely be sense checking this as you go
  • Content Function: What is the purpose of each piece of content, and what is the user meant to take from it? Usually this can fall into one of three categories:
  • Content designed to Inform
  • Content designed to Convert
  • Content designed to Entertain

Depending on your content strategy up to this point, you many need to add other function types, but I wouldn’t advise convoluting the process by delving into too much detail here.

Once you have your spreadsheet, you should have something that looks a little like this:

Step Three: Filter and Discover

You can then start filtering your data, to find patterns in popular content, unpopular content and content which as potential. This can form the basis of your content strategy, and will give you a good idea of whether your existing content does have potential.

Look for inspiration outside of your website

You should be really inclusive when doing this and make sure you look for inspiration in the following places:

  1. Your sales team: Have they developed any research or do they own any data you could use?
  2. Social media teams: If you’re running a content strategy it’s highly likely you’re already working very closely with social. Make sure you make full use of any analytics, research or tools that your social team use
  3. Surveys and industry reports: A quality report, or in depth survey can be a goldmine for a content marketer
  4. Your blog: Take some time to audit your blog independently, and discover which pieces are standing out to your audience

Develop your existing content

Too often content is created, promoted once and then dropped. There are so many things you can do to leverage the success of a piece of content way beyond what you perceive to be its sell by date:

Creating a content strategy based around your current content is a brilliant way to keep your content working for longer. Whilst you should be looking into new content pieces over the long term, using what you already have helps you learn about what your audience are already enjoying, and how you can build a strong strategy without reinventing the week every quarter.