1996: The year content was named “king” in a burgeoning digital world.
2001: The year “content marketing” was officially coined and the modern content revolution began.
130 trillion and counting: The number of webpages currently indexed by Google.
One zillion infinities: The number of pieces of content you stand to create during your B2B content marketing career.
Zero: Perhaps the number of times you’ve asked yourself, “Do I really need to create a new piece of content?”
If the last one strikes a little too close to home, we’re not passing judgement — rather we’re reminding you that you don’t always have to start from scratch.
Consistent quality content creation comes with the territory; it’s an integral part of your B2B content marketing strategy. Content is how we reach, help, and educate our buyer audience. Furthermore, as buyers and buyer committees evolve, there’s always going to be a place for net-new creation.
But many times, refreshing, repurposing, and optimizing can play a major role in the creation process, and sometimes you may just need to stand down.
Do You Really Need a New Piece of Content? Yes. No. Maybe So.
If you need to fill your editorial calendar…
Stop, collaborate, and listen.
While no content marketer wants to admit they’ve created content for the sake of filling a spot on the editorial calendar, it happens all the time. Again, no judgement here. But we had to call it out.
So, before you feel tempted to fill a calendar opening, consider channeling that time and effort into more research or an audit. For example, performing an SEO and content audit, a task that aims to assess the current state of your internal content ecosystem as well as external variables, can unearth unique opportunities that can fill your editorial calendar with net-new and refresh ideas.
If a relevant and previously uncovered topic, trend, or paint point presents itself…
Go for it.
Your goal is to be the best answer for your audience. In order for your content ecosystem to thrive, you have to have your basics covered (i.e. product explainers or resource guides) and within reach for your audience. If you see gaps in those core areas, you need to fill them.
But as buyers become more empowered and voice search and assistants gain increasing popularity, they’re regularly uncovering new problems they need solved and more pointed questions they need answered. This means regular review of who your audience is and the questions they’re asking is more important than ever.
You should be regularly leveraging website analytics, Google Search Console, question analyzer tools, and the list goes on to unearth and inform content creation opportunities.
If no one’s talking about those relevant topics, trends, or pain points …
Then you should absolutely go for it.
Remember the legendary wisdom of Ricky Bobby’s pop: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
It’s rare that you’re given the opportunity to create thought leadership and demand around something that’s new to your internal and external content ecosystem. Of course, that window of opportunity won’t be open for long. HubSpot’s Brian Halligan famously did this with the term “inbound marketing” — a term that every marketing department now accepts, understands, and uses.
One note of caution, however: Creating demand around an original idea or rising topic requires vigilance, creativity, and integration with a range of content marketing tactics (i.e. influencers, paid and organic social media, email marketing, etc.) SEO is a long-term factor, but in the short-term, don’t let low search volumes deter you.
And if everyone’s talking about those relevant topics, trends, or pain points …
Proceed with cautious ambition.
Tackling a highly-publicized or popular topic is worth it when you’re confident in your ability to provide new and/or better insight and expertise than your direct and indirect competition. Becoming the best answer for a topic, trend, or niche is both art and science: You need the right expertise and the topic needs to be relevant to your audience. You need credibility and authenticity. And it all needs to be backed by relevant data insights.
If you think that your existing content is too old to be relevant …
Table net-new content creation … for now.
Instead of throwing out or forgetting about the old, consider giving it a revamp. Refreshing content has numerous benefits — from sending positive SEO “freshness” signals to search engines to boosting your efficiency and productivity.
Analyze the performance of that blog post, downloadable asset, or web page to understand traffic, rankings, engagement, and so on. Then couple those findings with first-hand research on other similar content in the external ecosystem. If you determine your existing content has potential for a second life, add new content, insight, resources, and so on. You can then republish and repromote, and continue to optimize.
If you determine it’s a lost cause, recreate and redirect the old content to pass any remaining authority onto your new content.
If you’re trying to reach a new audience…
Net-new or net-old, this one’s a personal call.
Talk of content personalization has reached a fever pitch. That means B2B marketers have more reason and opportunity than ever to create tailored content for new or specific audience.
Identifying a new audience segment fills your content pipeline with additional repurposing opportunities — or it can be the repurposing opportunity. Have you seen the rise of a new purchasing stakeholder group? Develop specialized content just for them. Do you have targeted content on financial management for healthcare companies? Repurpose and personalize your content for your legal or technology verticals.
If your content will target a keyword you already own search real estate for …
Target keywords that are already mapped to other pages — especially your service pages — could hurt your search footprint and cannibalize traffic from other content.
The good news is that your concept can be saved and utilized in a different way in the future.
However, that’s not to say your content concept shouldn’t be saved and utilized for the future. For example, you could evolve your concept to target a longer-tail query that’s related to your original idea. And using the hub and spoke content model, you can build out your authority around the overarching topic and implement strategic cross-linking to turn it into a smart SEO play. Long-tail keyword phrases also allow you to more closely match your audience’s search intent, creating the potential for rising in the (search) ranks.
If new content runs the risk of being duplicative…
Stop. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Duplicative content is a no-no, and has been and will be forever.
If you want to launch a new content type …
You have the green light.
Introducing new content types diversifies how your audience can discover, interact with, and digest your content. New content types also cater to changing audience preferences for content consumption. Maybe you want to evolve several statistical roundups into a single infographic. Or perhaps you want to enable your audience to solve problems and find answers to their questions through an interactive quiz.
But a quick note here: This may also be an opportunity for refreshing, repurposing, or optimizing existing content. So, be intentional.
Key Word: New
Net-new content creation should always be top of mind for content marketers. You should always be thinking about how you can inform, engage, and inspire your audience to action. But new content needs to provide new value — not fill an editorial gap. And not all new content needs to be built from scratch, rather there are several opportunities to refresh, repurpose, republish, and optimize for performance.
If you’re ever in doubt on what to do, we hope this piece lends some perspective. But if doubt persists, remember this tidbit from the incomparable Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs:
“We don’t need more content. We need better content!”
Want to identify areas where your content can be better? Use these Best Answer Content Examples to see how your internal and external content ecosystem measures up.