I’ll be honest: when I first heard a Hubspot webinar suggest that we “recycle” content, it made me cringe. I come from a background in journalism, where fresh content wasn’t only a better option -- it was the only option. Today I look back and realize my cringe was one of ignorance.

At that time, I was working as a marketing team of one at LevelEleven, a fast-growing tech start-up. That left me responsible for managing our website, PR and design teams, marketing software, social media, events and demand-generation campaigns. Then there was all of that fresh content. I’d aim to create a blog post each day, a webinar each month and an eBook each week.

With so many things to juggle, I finally gave in and tried recycling a few pieces of content just to save time. I quickly learned that doing so also allowed me to drive business. But before we get into that, let’s back up.

Defining “recycling” content 

Recycling, or re-purposing, in an inbound sense simply means taking one piece of content and using it to inspire new content that’s usually presented through a new medium. For example, you can:

  • Turn several blog posts into an eBook
  • Turn eBook pages or chapters into blog posts
  • Take the stats from an eBook and turn them into an infographic, or other shareable graphics for social media
  • Take the quotes from a case study and use them as testimonials on your website
  • Turn an eBook into a webinar, or vice versa
  • Turn a blog post into a byline for a media publication or a guest post for a partner company’s blog
  • Take the key points from an eBook or webinar and turn them into a checklist or template

It’s like choreographing a dance: if you know an older 8-count wows an audience, and your upcoming performance needs to wow, why not throw those counts into that new routine?

This approach will up your content quantity quicker while also offering you a greater chance to get in front of prospects. After all, their content consumption patterns change constantly, according to their device, the type of content most useful to them in recent past, heck -- even their mood. And recycling caters to those preferences.

Think about it: if the idea of reading an eBook exhausts a prospect, but that’s all you offer on their topic of interest, consider their attention lost. But if that prospect finds your checklist on the same topic? Now you've got their attention.

What happened when we tried it

One of the first times I tried recycling content, I needed to write our second eBook. Our first took months to create, and I simply didn’t have that kind of time again. So I took content from around 10 of our most successful blog posts mentioning "sales leaderboards" and spent about four hours tweaking the language, adding insight and organizing it all into one piece of content. To avoid overwhelming prospects, I turned it into a three-part eBook series.

So far, we can thank the “Sales Leaderboard Series” for over 400 new contacts, 6 of which became customers. We’ve closed multiple deals from other pieces of recycled content since.

Recycyled Ebooks

We also learned that this approach helps optimize calls-to-action (CTA). When we linked all of the recycled pieces together with CTA’s -- for example, including a button at the end of a blog post saying, “If you like this, check out our eBook on the same topic” -- we increased CTA click-through rates. In fact, last time we swapped out a random eBook CTA on the bottom of a blog post to another that linked to a recycled eBook on the same topic as that post, we increased the click-through rate on that button by 258%.

Recycling on your own: Back with data, build with creativity  

Curious which of your resources are recycle-worthy? Look at what works, starting with your most popular blog post. (Go for popularity in terms of organic visits, because that tells you the topic interests people enough to inspire searches.) Begin by building an eBook or webinar off of that post. Then also consider recycling the strongest lead-generating content in your resource library.

Obviously, when you try this, you want to switch up what you offer in each piece of content. People who download multiple pieces in a recycled collection need to learn at least a few new things from each. This takes some creativity, but you can begin by asking yourself how you can present the ideas in a new way and what kind of insight you can add.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can amplify quality content -- and the business results quality content offers -- with a smart recycling strategy. So don’t brush off the idea like I first did. Just get ready to celebrate more marketing ROI.


Subscribe to the HubSpot Academy blog!

Originally published Jan 5, 2015 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017