Does Your Content Have an Expiration Date?

Garrett Mann

Senior Director, Corporate Communications

content expirationYou and your content marketing teams are no doubt pumping out lots of new content on a regular basis. It is important to produce new, fresh content, but when it comes to existing content does your marketing organization follow an “out with the old, in with the new” philosophy or is it “the more the merrier”?

Regardless of the approach you follow, the bigger question that many marketers are asking themselves is: how long should content be kept on the proverbial shelf before it “expires”? Considering nothing ever actually expires on the internet (check out this site that is still live which instructs user how to navigate the internet using Netscape – yes, Netscape), this is a way harder decision than it seems. And B2B content marketing is not like the beer industry – there are no freshness guarantees, born-on dates or “best by” dates. There are no strict guidelines to follow, so many marketers are left to their own devices to figure out whether their content lasts a day, a month, a year, or if it will survive the nuclear apocalypse.

There is content that is truly evergreen and there is disposable content that is manufactured for the short-term, but regardless, you always want to put your best foot forward when it comes to any content your customers can access – no matter how old or new it is. Because there are no established guidelines available related to content expiration, here are a few tips to help you decide whether your content lives to see another day or it gets put out to pasture.

Content: To expire or not to expire, that is the question

Does your content pass the sniff test?

You have to take stock of what you are currently producing. If your content is not producing, it makes no difference what its vintage is. If you are on the fence about retiring a piece of content, let your data make the decision for you. If it is not generating demand or affecting the bottom line in any way, its time to pull it.

Thou shalt do no harm (to your brand)

Content needs to be on point and current to your messaging, value prop, and what your brand represents. If the look and feel is outdated, you can redesign. However, if the content reflects past positioning for your company or product/solution, no matter how well the content performs, it is time for it to be retired as it can only do harm to your brand or create confusion with your customer base.

Don’t expire, re-invent

For any baseball fans out there, you know the story of the flamethrowing pitcher who transitions to a finesse pitcher when he loses velocity on his fastball. This is called re-inventing yourself and this concept certainly applies to content. Before you pull a piece of content from the shelves, you have to ask yourself if it can be re-purposed in any way. This can be as simple as updating it with a new version number or doing an aforementioned graphic re-design, or you can take the core value proposition of the piece and re-write it for a more current audience. Either way, you are taking a piece of quality content and making it relevant and extending its productivity for new audiences.

Don’t let your value prop die with your content – reproduce

My colleague Peter Ross wrote about the concept of composting ineffective content in the pages of this very blog. Some of your content pieces will not pass the sniff test, but certain parts, chapters, sections, or concepts from ineffective content can live on in a new format. Consider throwing your content into a compost pile rather than a trash pile so you can reproduce something great for your customers and prospects.

If you have any insight to share with the audience on content expiration, please feel free to leave a comment or you can connect with me directly on Twitter or LinkedIn.

composting content, content, content development, content expiration, content marketing

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