3 Steps For Up-Cycling Old Marketing Content

Ever feel like phoning it in when you’re doing content creation?

Ever had a day where you just can’t think of anything to create?

Let old content save the day! Chances are that if you’ve been creating content for a while, you’ve got some old gems in your back catalog. The lazy marketer would simply repost the old stuff and call it a day, but you’re not lazy. You want to present something better than purely recycled content. You want to up-cycle the content into something better!

Here are 3 steps to help you up-cycle old marketing content.

Step 1: Refresh your writing. When I look back at posts written years ago, I cringe at some of my language. I’ve learned many tricks since the old stuff was written, many ways of writing with greater clarity. Tools like SlickWrite and Hemingway can take your older content and show you the error of your former ways. Copy older content and paste it into these tools, make the necessary edits, and you’ll have better content in an instant.

Here’s an example from an old post called Transparency is the Currency of a Trust Relationship, from 2007:


I’ve got a couple of difficult to read sentences, one REALLY difficult to read sentence, and some cleanup to do. Here’s what the rewrite looks like:

Hemingway_Editor_-_Untitled_Document_ 2.jpg

That’s a significant enough difference that it’s new content, up-cycled from older content that, looking back, wasn’t great.

Step 2: Refresh your knowledge. Tools change. Algorithms change. Look back at your older posts in your Google Analytics data. Find the posts that are popular even years later but contain out-of-date information. Refresh the knowledge in those posts with the latest and greatest, and you’ve got new content. Even if the algorithms and tools haven’t changed substantially, there are new tools and methods you can apply to your old knowledge.

Step 3: Refresh your visuals. Again, as your skills improve, you should have newer, better ways to visualize data you’ve presented in the past. You might have presented an ugly bar chart that should now be a line chart. You might have presented a line chart that needed a moving average added to it. Use your current visualization skills to upgrade old content with new analysis.

If you’ve got straight photos or other non-data visuals, you can improve those, too. You might have a photo that you can improve with the newest Photoshop, or modify in an app like Waterlogue. Here’s a photo I used in a post back in 2008:

Homemade pasta with Oma Sauce

Here’s the same photo, now washed through Waterlogue:

Derivative work of Jessica Spengler
(used under Creative Commons By Attribution license)

This new image is an improvement, to me, of the original. Even if I don’t change anything else in the old content, this offers some improvement.

Refresh your writing.
Refresh your knowledge.
Refresh your visuals.

Do these 3 steps, and your old content will be better than ever as your new content!

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How To Use Google Analytics Cohort Analysis

Google Analytics recently released its new Cohort Analysis feature. Justin Cutroni did a huge, full writeup on his blog, which is well worth reading. Today, I’d like to dig into a couple of basic use cases for this new report so that you can turn the analysis into something useful.

If you’re unfamiliar with cohort analysis, it’s a method of analyzing different groups of people – cohorts – to see if they behave differently.

Cohort analysis is located under the Audience menu:


Fire it up. What you’ll see to start is something like this:

Cohort_Analysis_-_Google_Analytics 3.jpg

This is the daily view of people who’ve entered your site over the last 7 days and what percentage of them you’ve retained. We’ll focus on retention in this walkthrough, but you can change the metric to things like conversions, total traffic, and more.

I’ve annotated cohort analysis below so that you can see how it works. If we begin at February 10, we see 100% of the people who visited that day.

Cohort_Analysis_-_Google_Analytics 2.jpg

At [1] above, we see the number of people who came back on February 11 who originally came in on 2/10, 1.02%. At [2] above, we see the number of people who originally came in on 2/10 who have come back on 2/12, 0.51%.

What does this tell me? It says that my audience rapidly declines day after day very drastically. What might I want to test from that knowledge? If my audience falls off that rapidly, perhaps I need to do paid promotion of my content to ensure that people come back and see it. Perhaps I need to test re-posting to my social channels the content I’ve created recently so as to win back eyeballs at a greater amount. I could test either of these ideas and then come back to this cohort analysis in a few days to see if there’s a significant change.

Out of curiosity, does social media get people to come back? I’ll turn on my social media audience segment and compare everyone vs. just people who visit from social media, and I’ll change the timeframe from daily to weekly:

Cohort_Analysis_-_Google_Analytics 4.jpg

Wow, look at the difference in the percentage of people who come back from social versus all marketing methods! My social media audience may not be the largest audience I have, but it sure is a loyal one compared to the general population.

Suppose I question whether my email marketing is working or not. I can load an email marketing segment into this:

Cohort_Analysis_-_Google_Analytics 5.jpg

That’s dynamite. Look at how many people return week after week from email compared to social media. Email by far is my strongest channel so far for retaining my audience.

How about organic search – how does that cohort compare?

Cohort_Analysis_-_Google_Analytics 6.jpg

Organic search, shown above, performs badly compared to other channels. That’s a piece of analysis that demands I go find some insights. Why does organic search traffic behave differently and less loyally than other channels? The first place I’d look is in Webmaster Tools:


Above, we see that people are finding my site for terms that really aren’t as relevant to most of the content. No wonder organic search’s cohort performs less well on retention – people are finding me for things I don’t write about, and of course there’s no reason for them to come back.

This is the power of cohort analysis, to be able to understand how your different audiences perform over time, as groups. You’ll be able to answer all kinds of questions with the information in cohort analysis.

How often should you blog? Look in your cohort analysis for when people stop coming back, and blog often enough that they don’t lose interest and forget to come back.

How often can you send email? Look in your email segment to find where retention drops off.

What products sell best at what times of year? Look to see if a cohort in your eCommerce analytics behaves significantly differently than others.

Try out cohort analysis and let it inspire you to ask better questions about your audience!

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Do influencer lists and awards matter?

As happens every time another “influencers” list appears, reactions in the marketing community range from “OMG GRATS” to “This is BS”. The better question is, do these sorts of things matter?

The short answer is: only you can tell from your data.

If you’re looking for someone to hire or someone to read, then ask how often you consult lists of award winners or power user lists. If the answer is never, then lists don’t matter. If the answer is often, or as often as they come out, then lists matter.

If you’re a recipient of an award or listed in a directory of names, then check your marketing analytics. Did your data significantly change above and beyond normal activity?

For example, here’s what the average increase/decrease numbers of Twitter followers (the very, very top of the social funnel) look like for my account over the last 60 days, plotted with a 7 day moving average:


Note that the last couple of days, when a new award came out, are noted with the giant red arrow. The variance of new followers hasn’t substantially increased compared to what early January looked like. Thus, it would appear that for the top of my marketing funnel, new awards and lists don’t provide a huge bump.

Dig into your marketing automation system. If you’ve won an award, check the input field where people can tell you how they heard about you. Review your inbound email notifications. If no one ever mentions lists or awards, then you know that for your business, it doesn’t matter. If people mention awards you’ve won frequently, then you know they matter.

Only you can make the determination whether awards matter to you and your business. If they do, pursue them with vigor! If they don’t, then just smile, politely say your thanks, and move onto the next thing.

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