The Myth of Evergreen Content—And How to Make It Come True for You (Part 2)

In Part 1 we’ve been talking about how content marketers can realistically create evergreen content.

Journalists will tell you evergreen content is content that is perpetually relevant to readers. But, as marketers we know that’s impossible because of the way time, trends and tech change our prospects’ priorities—and consequently our own products, services and positioning.

But evergreen content can be a reality if we change our definition. In content marketing, evergreen content is content that maintains its value and relevance when updated to reflect changing tech and trends. How do we do that?

With a Master Content List.

A Master Content List is a spreadsheet of every piece, slice and bite of content you’ve created.

I know what you’re thinking—that’s probably a whole hell of a lot of content. But it’s totally possible to make this manageable.

We can use a Master Content List (download an Excel template here) to facilitate easy updating of content since it captures the information you need to know about the original version and lets you track the revision process.

(If you’re familiar with content strategy—not to be confused with content marketing strategy—this will sound a lot like a Content Matrix. That’s because I’ve adapted the idea as a revision tool for content marketers.)

So, if you’re like most content marketers, you’re already managing a ton of content. How can you incorporate a Master Content List into your toolbox? Here are three ways to get started:

  1. Start with new content. Sure, it’d be great if you could take the time to update the MCL with every piece of content you own. But that’s not reasonable for most of us. So, start with the content you’ve created in the recent past. Set a feasible boundary for yourself (Last quarter? Two months? Last week?) and add content created during that time to your MCL.
  2. Focus on key tactics. If you’re investing in growing your blog audience, focus on cataloging blog posts. (MCLs are a great way to track, expand and link your blog ideas.) If your goal is to build your white paper library, start there. Focus on the tactics that matter—and contribute—most to your marketing goals.
  3. Focus on particular topics. A client wanted to establish thought leadership around the Affordable Care Act with multiple tactics including white papers, webinars and presentations. But, as we know, the ACA is a perfect example of a topic that needs frequent updating as the regulations changed to keep their content relevant, valuable and ahead of the pack.

A few other tips:

  • Share the love. If you have multiple people overseeing content, share the MCL with them and have them update it with their content. Crowdsourcing MCL population is a great way to get up and going fast.
  • Make it a part of your process. Every time you publish something, make it a habit to add it to your MCL.
  • Add revision periods to your editorial calendar. The point of an MCL is to help you keep your content up to date. Add revision periods to your editorial calendar to remind you to check in, review and assign content for revision as needed by the revision cycle. (I usually assign content revision cycles of 3, 6, 9, or 12 months to keep it easy. Then I sort my MCL by revision cycle to identify the content that needs my attention at that point.)
  • Customize, customize, customize. Create an MCL that meets your needs. If you start with my MCL template, add fields you need and delete the ones you don’t. No one’s grading your MCL. It exists only to benefit you and the consistency of your marketing efforts.

The only way we can create evergreen B2B content is by maintaining its relevance and value to our prospects. When we do that, we can may be surprised at the mileage, impact and lifetime value of our content.