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5 Evergreen Content Tips for a Year-Round Marketing Strategy

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5 Evergreen Content Tips for a Year-Round Marketing Strategy

Does your content strategy use the “luck” of the green?

If you publish evergreen content, it does.

Evergreen content feels like a lucky strike – reaching a person at the exact moment they need it. Devoting some percentage of the content you produce to evergreen topics helps you get the most from your content marketing investment. It also can generate growth in subscribers, followers, or customers by serving go-to help and guidance website visitors want.

Think of including evergreen content in your strategy as seeding a forest of opportunities for your brand’s content marketing.

Include evergreen #content in your #ContentMarketing strategy to seed a forest of opportunities, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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What is evergreen content?

By definition, evergreen content stays “fresh” and has no expiration date. The term derives from trees and bushes that keep their green needles regardless of the season­ (they never go dormant). Similarly, evergreen content maintains or increases its value during a long (sometimes infinite) shelf life because it’s relevant – but not necessarily timely.

Content marketing is all about delivering the right content to the right person at the right time. But zeroing in on the exact moment a specific person needs a particular content piece isn’t easy.

Including evergreen content (blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, etc.) as part of your marketing strategy helps. Think of your evergreen pieces as the canned goods in your content arsenal. A well-stocked content pantry means visitors will always find something worth consuming.

Evergreen #content is like a well-stocked content pantry – it ensures visitors will always find something worth consuming, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

1. Choose an evergreen topic (and make it timeless)

You probably already have a lot of evergreen content – or potential evergreen content – in your library. They’re the timeless pieces (often SEO champions) that attract visitors month after month.

Here’s an example. Betty Crocker sells cake mixes and frosting, so articles that explain how to decorate a cake make sense for the company’s content marketing strategy. The brand’s evergreen article It’s the Perfect Time To Try These 5 Surprisingly Easy Cake Decorating Techniques appears high on the search result page for “how to decorate a cake.”

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What makes this piece evergreen? First, notice that the headline doesn’t tie the article to any event or holiday, even though cakes figure prominently in birthdays and seasonal celebrations.

Even though the publish date (March 19, 2020) appears at the top of the page, most readers won’t care even if they notice. After all, basic cake decorating tips don’t expire or change drastically.

Notice, too, that the multiple cakes on display offer enough variety to avoid limiting their appeal. (The pastel pink cakes might bring to mind Valentine’s Day, Easter, or a birthday, but the chocolate cakes keep the image applicable to more than just those events.)

TIP: Avoid trendy or seasonal images in evergreen articles. Timeless images send the signal that the content remains relevant today.

Avoid trendy or seasonal images to keep evergreen #content relevant all year long, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Now, let’s look at the first paragraph:

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If you’ve got time and energy, we’ve got the techniques you need to make beautifully decorated cakes. And don’t worry, there’s no experience required. Despite their impressive looks, these techniques are beginner-friendly!

That paragraph could have been written yesterday or 30 years ago. Regardless, someone who wants to know how to decorate a cake – a member of Betty Crocker’s target audience – would still find the advice helpful.

2. Create evergreen content about timely topics

Although evergreen pieces should be timeless, you can write about timely topics in an evergreen way.

For example, I wrote an article called Should the News Disrupt Your Content Calendar? Here’s How To Decide two years ago. Look at the publish date: March 17, 2020.

You can guess which “news” I was thinking about when I wrote it. But I didn’t mention the pandemic or COVID-19 in the article. The topic – news disrupting your planned content – felt timely, but I wrote it in an evergreen style by not focusing specifically on the news of that moment.

Tip: Before creating content about a timely topic, brainstorm all the related possibilities. Then, ask yourself which ideas would serve your audience well now and in the future. Prioritize the development of these ideas.

Before creating #content, ask yourself which ideas would serve your audience now and in the future, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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3. Turn existing content into evergreen pieces

You can modify existing content to create an evergreen version – even if you hadn’t planned the piece as evergreen from the start.

Let’s look at how the process could work using this article from NerdWallet: How To Find the Best Tax Preparer or Tax Advisor Near You. It’s dated Jan. 21, 2022 – timely for the current tax season. The article covers seven fairly timeless tips for finding a good local tax preparer. But the fourth tip includes dated information – a statistic about the average fees in 2020 – that makes the article already feel a little less than fresh.

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To create an evergreen version of that article, NerdWallet could simply remove that sentence. This minor edit would have little impact on the article’s usefulness – it’s a nice-to-have detail that’s not necessary to the piece’s value.

Think about how you can modify sections of your timely content to create evergreen versions of them. It may be as simple as writing a new intro to take out seasonal or dated references and publishing a new version.

The work needed to republish evergreen versions of your content would likely take fewer hours than creating an entirely new piece.

4. Link out to timely info

Evergreen content can still encompass a timely element without mentioning the time in the actual article. Let’s go back to the NerdWallet example. It includes a bullet (and link) that reads, “Find a local tax preparer for free: See who’s available to help with your taxes in your area.”

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That list will change every year. But the article remains evergreen (but still helpful) because it doesn’t include the frequently changing details – it simply points readers to a page where the (presumably frequently updated) information lives.

5. Plan to create evergreen content

You probably create evergreen content without giving a second thought to its “evergreen-ness.” But taking a deliberate approach to planning and creating evergreen content will bring you more luck, prosperity, and growth.

Follow these tips to ensure evergreen content is part of your content planning:

  • Think about each content piece’s topic and purpose. Which ones would do well as evergreen content?
  • Schedule a minimum number of evergreen pieces. You might decide to designate a percentage of total expected content creation to evergreen topics. Or you might plan to publish on evergreen topics two times a month, three times a week, or on some other interval. The point is to create it purposefully.
  • Highlight evergreen pieces on your content calendar (in green, maybe?). Noting evergreen content helps when you need to adjust the calendar to accommodate timely topics that pop up.
  • Choose goals for evergreen content performance that are appropriate to a long lifespan. For example, you may expect evergreen pieces to do well over six months or a year rather than within a single month or quarter.

And with that, your evergreen content should help your brand see green from its content marketing.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute




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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

Air Canada tried to throw its chatbot under the AI bus.

It didn’t work.

A Canadian court recently ruled Air Canada must compensate a customer who bought a full-price ticket after receiving inaccurate information from the airline’s chatbot.

Air Canada had argued its chatbot made up the answer, so it shouldn’t be liable. As Pepper Brooks from the movie Dodgeball might say, “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ’em.” 

But what does that chatbot mistake mean for you as your brands add these conversational tools to their websites? What does it mean for the future of search and the impact on you when consumers use tools like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT to research your brand?

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AI disrupts Air Canada

AI seems like the only topic of conversation these days. Clients expect their agencies to use it as long as they accompany that use with a big discount on their services. “It’s so easy,” they say. “You must be so happy.”

Boards at startup companies pressure their management teams about it. “Where are we on an AI strategy,” they ask. “It’s so easy. Everybody is doing it.” Even Hollywood artists are hedging their bets by looking at the newest generative AI developments and saying, “Hmmm … Do we really want to invest more in humans?  

Let’s all take a breath. Humans are not going anywhere. Let me be super clear, “AI is NOT a strategy. It’s an innovation looking for a strategy.” Last week’s Air Canada decision may be the first real-world distinction of that.

The story starts with a man asking Air Canada’s chatbot if he could get a retroactive refund for a bereavement fare as long as he provided the proper paperwork. The chatbot encouraged him to book his flight to his grandmother’s funeral and then request a refund for the difference between the full-price and bereavement fair within 90 days. The passenger did what the chatbot suggested.

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Air Canada refused to give a refund, citing its policy that explicitly states it will not provide refunds for travel after the flight is booked.

When the passenger sued, Air Canada’s refusal to pay got more interesting. It argued it should not be responsible because the chatbot was a “separate legal entity” and, therefore, Air Canada shouldn’t be responsible for its actions.

I remember a similar defense in childhood: “I’m not responsible. My friends made me do it.” To which my mom would respond, “Well, if they told you to jump off a bridge, would you?”

My favorite part of the case was when a member of the tribunal said what my mom would have said, “Air Canada does not explain why it believes …. why its webpage titled ‘bereavement travel’ was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot.”

The BIG mistake in human thinking about AI

That is the interesting thing as you deal with this AI challenge of the moment. Companies mistake AI as a strategy to deploy rather than an innovation to a strategy that should be deployed. AI is not the answer for your content strategy. AI is simply a way to help an existing strategy be better.

Generative AI is only as good as the content — the data and the training — fed to it.  Generative AI is a fantastic recognizer of patterns and understanding of the probable next word choice. But it’s not doing any critical thinking. It cannot discern what is real and what is fiction.

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Think for a moment about your website as a learning model, a brain of sorts. How well could it accurately answer questions about the current state of your company? Think about all the help documents, manuals, and educational and training content. If you put all of that — and only that — into an artificial brain, only then could you trust the answers.

Your chatbot likely would deliver some great results and some bad answers. Air Canada’s case involved a minuscule challenge. But imagine when it’s not a small mistake. And what about the impact of unintended content? Imagine if the AI tool picked up that stray folder in your customer help repository — the one with all the snarky answers and idiotic responses? Or what if it finds the archive that details everything wrong with your product or safety? AI might not know you don’t want it to use that content.

ChatGPT, Gemini, and others present brand challenges, too

Publicly available generative AI solutions may create the biggest challenges.

I tested the problematic potential. I asked ChatGPT to give me the pricing for two of the best-known CRM systems. (I’ll let you guess which two.) I asked it to compare the pricing and features of the two similar packages and tell me which one might be more appropriate.

First, it told me it couldn’t provide pricing for either of them but included the pricing page for each in a footnote. I pressed the citation and asked it to compare the two named packages. For one of them, it proceeded to give me a price 30% too high, failing to note it was now discounted. And it still couldn’t provide the price for the other, saying the company did not disclose pricing but again footnoted the pricing page where the cost is clearly shown.

In another test, I asked ChatGPT, “What’s so great about the digital asset management (DAM) solution from [name of tech company]?” I know this company doesn’t offer a DAM system, but ChatGPT didn’t.

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It returned with an answer explaining this company’s DAM solution was a wonderful, single source of truth for digital assets and a great system. It didn’t tell me it paraphrased the answer from content on the company’s webpage that highlighted its ability to integrate into a third-party provider’s DAM system.

Now, these differences are small. I get it. I also should be clear that I got good answers for some of my harder questions in my brief testing. But that’s what’s so insidious. If users expected answers that were always a little wrong, they would check their veracity. But when the answers seem right and impressive, even though they are completely wrong or unintentionally accurate, users trust the whole system.

That’s the lesson from Air Canada and the subsequent challenges coming down the road.

AI is a tool, not a strategy

Remember, AI is not your content strategy. You still need to audit it. Just as you’ve done for over 20 years, you must ensure the entirety of your digital properties reflect the current values, integrity, accuracy, and trust you want to instill.

AI will not do this for you. It cannot know the value of those things unless you give it the value of those things. Think of AI as a way to innovate your human-centered content strategy. It can express your human story in different and possibly faster ways to all your stakeholders.

But only you can know if it’s your story. You have to create it, value it, and manage it, and then perhaps AI can help you tell it well. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

While many brands talk about focusing on the customer, few do it. Less than a quarter (24%) of global brands are mapping customer behavior and sentiment, according to Braze’s 2024 Customer Engagement Review. What’s worse, only 6% apply customer insights to their product and brand approach.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies operate based on their structure and not how the consumer interacts with them,” Mariam Asmar, VP of strategic consulting, told MarTech. “And while some companies have done a great job of reorienting that, with roles like the chief customer officer, there are many more that still don’t. Cross-channel doesn’t exist because there are still all these silos. But the customer doesn’t care about your silos. The customer doesn’t see silos. They see a brand.”

Half of all marketers report either depending on multiple, siloed point solutions to cobble together a multi-channel experience manually (33%); or primarily relying on single-channel solutions (17%).  Only 30% have access to a single customer engagement platform capable of creating personalized, seamless experiences across channels. This is a huge problem when it comes to cross-channel, personalization.

The persistence of silos

The persistence of data silos despite decades of explanation about the problems they cause, surprised Asmar the most.

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Source: Braze 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review

“Why are we still talking about this?” she said to MarTech. “One of the themes I see in the report is we’re still getting caught up on some of the same stumbling blocks as before.”

She said silos are indicative of teams working on different goals and “the only way that gets unsolved is if a leader comes in and aligns people towards some of those goals.”

These silos also hinder the use of AI, something 99% of respondents said they were already doing. The top uses of AI by marketers are:

  • Generating creative ideas (48%).
  • Automating repetitive tasks (47%).
  • Optimizing strategies in real-time (47%).
  • Enhancing data analysis (47%).
  • Powering predictive analytics (45%).
  • Personalizing campaigns (44%). 

Despite the high usage numbers, less than half of marketers have any interest in exploring AI’s potential to enhance customer engagement. Asmar believes there are two main reasons for this. First is that many people like the systems they know and understand. The other reason is a lack of training on the part of companies.

Dig deeper: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today

“I think about when I was in advertising and everybody switched to social media,” she told MarTech. “Companies acted like ‘Well, all the marketers will just figure out social media.’ You can’t do that because whenever you’re teaching somebody how to do something new there’s always a level of training them up, even though they’re apps that we use every day, as people using them as a business and how they apply, how we get impact from them.”

The good news is that brands are setting the stage for the data agility they need.

  • 50% export performance feedback to business intelligence platforms to generate advanced analytics.
  • 48% sync performance with insights generated by other platforms in the business.

Also worth noting: Marketers say these are the four main obstacles to creativity and strategy:  

  • Emphasis on KPIs inherently inhibits a focus on creativity (42%).
  • Too much time spent on business-as-usual execution and tasks (42%).
  • Lack of technology to execute creative ideas, (41%).
  • Hard to demonstrate ROI impact of creativity (40%).
Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952

Methodology

The 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review (registration required) is based on insights from 1,900 VP+ marketing decision-makers across 14 countries in three global regions: The Americas (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), APAC (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea), and EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UAE, and the UK).

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through ‘Wow’ Moments in Experience Marketing

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through 'Wow' Moments in Experience Marketing

Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

In an era where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and digital noise, standing out as a brand is more challenging than ever. Enter experience marketing – a strategy that transcends traditional advertising by focusing on creating immersive, memorable interactions. This innovative approach leverages the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity to forge strong emotional connections with customers, making the sale of your core product feel effortless. But how can businesses implement this strategy effectively? This guide delves into the art of crafting ‘wow’ moments that captivate audiences and transform customer engagement.

The Basics of Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is an evolved form of marketing that focuses on creating meaningful interactions with customers, aiming to elicit strong emotional responses that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. Unlike conventional marketing, which often prioritizes product promotion, experience marketing centers on the customer’s holistic journey with the brand, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level.

In today’s competitive market, experience marketing is not just beneficial; it’s essential. It differentiates your brand in a crowded marketplace, elevating your offerings beyond mere commodities to become integral parts of your customers’ lives. Through memorable experiences, you not only attract attention but also foster a community of loyal customers who are more likely to return and recommend your brand to others.

Principles of Experience Marketing

At the heart of experience marketing lie several key principles:

  • Emotional Connection: Crafting campaigns that touch on human emotions, from joy to surprise, creating memorable moments that customers are eager to share.
  • Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer’s needs and desires at the forefront of every marketing strategy, ensuring that each interaction adds value and enhances their experience with the brand.
  • Immersive Experiences: Utilizing technology and storytelling to create immersive experiences that captivate customers, making your brand a living part of their world.
  • Engagement Across Touchpoints: Ensuring consistent, engaging experiences across all customer touchpoints, from digital platforms to physical stores.

Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the intricacies of crafting ‘wow’ moments, it’s crucial to understand who you’re creating these moments for. Identifying your audience’s pain points and desires is the first step in tailoring experiences that truly resonate.

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This involves deep market research, customer interviews, and leveraging data analytics to paint a comprehensive picture of your target demographic. By understanding the journey your customers are on, you can design touchpoints that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Identifying Pain Points and Desires: Use surveys, social media listening, and customer feedback to gather insights. What frustrates your customers about your industry? What do they wish for more than anything else? These insights will guide your efforts to create experiences that truly resonate.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Visualize every step a customer takes from discovering your brand to making a purchase and beyond. This map will highlight critical touchpoints where you can introduce ‘wow’ moments that transform the customer experience.

Developing Your Experience Marketing Strategy

With a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to build the framework of your experience marketing strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying key customer touchpoints, and conceptualizing the experiences you want to create.

  • Setting Objectives: Define what you aim to achieve with your experience marketing efforts. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or improving customer retention, having clear goals will shape your approach and help measure success.
  • Strategic Touchpoint Identification: List all the potential touchpoints where customers interact with your brand, from social media to in-store experiences. Consider every stage of the customer journey and look for opportunities to enhance these interactions.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Surprise, Delight, and Reciprocity

This section is where the magic happens. By integrating the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity, you can elevate ordinary customer interactions into unforgettable experiences.

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  • Incorporating Surprise and Delight: Go beyond what’s expected. This could be as simple as a personalized thank-you note with each purchase or as elaborate as a surprise gift for loyal customers. The key is to create moments that feel special and unexpected.
  • Applying the Principle of Reciprocity: When customers receive something of value, they’re naturally inclined to give something back. This can be leveraged by offering helpful resources, exceptional service, or customer appreciation events. Such gestures encourage loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Examples and Case Studies: Highlight real-world examples of brands that have successfully implemented these strategies. Analyze what they did, why it worked, and how it impacted their relationship with customers.

Best Practices for Experience Marketing

To ensure your experience marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to adhere to some best practices.

  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage data and technology to personalize experiences without losing efficiency. Tailored experiences make customers feel valued and understood.
  • Using Technology to Enhance Experiences: From augmented reality (AR) to mobile apps, technology offers myriad ways to create immersive experiences that surprise and engage customers.
  • Measuring Success: Utilize analytics tools to track the success of your experience marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) could include engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Section 5: Overcoming Common Challenges

Even the best-laid plans can encounter obstacles. This section addresses common challenges in experience marketing and how to overcome them.

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  • Budget Constraints: Learn how to create impactful experiences without breaking the bank. It’s about creativity, not just expenditure.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Ensuring a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints can be daunting. Develop a comprehensive brand guideline and train your team accordingly.
  • Staying Ahead of Trends: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in experience marketing and be ready to adapt your strategy as necessary.

The Path to Effortless Sales

By creating memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, you make the path to purchase not just easy but natural. When customers feel connected to your brand, appreciated, and valued, making a sale becomes a byproduct of your relationship with them. Experience marketing, when done right, transforms transactions into interactions, customers into advocates, and products into passions.

Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy. Are you just selling a product, or are you providing an unforgettable experience? Dive into the world of experience marketing and start creating those ‘wow’ moments that will not only distinguish your brand but also make sales feel effortless.


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