A Brief Component Analysis of Evergreen Content

And how to apply that framework to advertising
Brett Friedman

What does Evergreen mean and why does everyone keep talking about it? Ask one expert content marketer and they’ll tell you, at its core,evergreen means long-lasting. Like an evergreen tree, it’s content that continues to provide results for years after it's posted.

Ask 34 experts and you’ll get the roots, branches, and pines to that evergreen tree, filling out a more realistic definition.

From the responses of the 34 experts I asked, I’ve broken down Evergreen Content into 3 categories & highlighted some non-evergreen examples as well. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Components
  • Topics
  • Formats

Each category is ordered by most commonly mentioned to least.

Components:

  • Definitive: Covering all relevant topics in depth.
  • Informative & Motivating:Offers enough information for readers to fully understand and act on what is described. The content uses standard language/doesn’t overuse jargon.
  • Factual: Well-researched,evidence-based, example-based, and/or data-based information.
  • Unique: Introduces a new solution to the problem the reader is trying to solve.
  • Optimized: Written with basic SEO optimization in mind (backlinks, keywords, etc.).
  • Memorable: Makes the reader not only remember it, but come back to it for reference.
  • Adaptable: Can be re-purposed in multiple forms and used across many channels.
  • Brand Relevant: Maintains a connection to the brand and their goals for content creation.

Topics:

  • Common: Needs, problems, questions, or arguments that always exist and are discussed often.
  • Timeless: Unchangeable facts that are important to reiterate.
  • Fundamental: Principles that represent the basics/foundation.
  • Current: Day to day challenges of your readers.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Formats:

  • How-To/ Guides
  • Lists e.g. Top 10s
  • Checklists
  • Sectioned/Chaptered Long Form

It’s important to avoid anything that can fade quickly when building evergreen content, but how do we make content that doesn’t fade? Let’s break it down.

Non-Evergreen Elements:

  • Short-Term
  • News
  • Trends
  • Reviews
  • Tech
  • Fashion
  • Memes
  • Slang
  • Politics
  • Pop Culture

That’s an overview of what evergreen content is, but let’s follow our own tips here and discuss a method of making evergreen content.

Finding Topics & Creating Your Evergreen Content:

  1. Look back on your customers’ most common questions, industry publications, frequent Quora questions, Google trends, YouAutoComplete & AnswerthePublic to find a topic.
  2. List out as many subtopics of your chosen topic as you can
  3. List current perspectives on your chosen topic (a good way to do this is by looking at the top few results on Google)
  4. Determine how your perspective is new or more complete than what’s currently available
  5. Choose an article format
  6. Write, keeping SEO, non-time-related, standard language, and reader experience in mind
  7. Compare your draft to the top google result and add some extra information if necessary
  8. Put your content out for the world :)

Now you have some strong content that will last you forever, right?Maybe…

There’s one potential component to Evergreen Content that still garners mixed reviews - Updates. Do I update my content frequently to keep it alive longer, or will it survive on its own?

While some people believe updating your content often is what keeps it evergreen, others believe true evergreen content needs little-to-no updates ever! Evergreen trees live long without maintenance, but content may be different - my belief is that it depends on the topic.

There are tons of ways to combine components, topics, and formats to build awesome Evergreen Content, and that content (whether updated or not)can have a long-lasting impact on its readers! However, advertising is a whole different story - so how do we apply the same Evergreen Content framework to our advertising efforts?

Evergreen Advertising

Evergreen Advertising involves taking the same approach to ad creative as we do with the components of content. The goal is to build creative that provides performance results for months or even years!

There are two ways to do this. One way is with an idea that’s so good it captures the hearts and minds of humanity, completely shifting behavior of the average person.

The most evergreen ad ever made

Those ads are once in a century ideas.

Assuming your ideas are good, but not culture-shifting good, there is another way. The second way: make a good ad better over time. Make a strong tree and grow it stronger year over year!

I've talked about howto improve your top-performing creative before, but this is a little different. While the process is similar, it's more about the content than the creative.

Let's dive in.

For starters, you can’t directly apply all of the evergreen content components to your evergreen ads by nature of the medium, but there are interchangeable aspects between the two that need to be mentioned.

Components:

  • Informative & Motivating: Your advertising efforts, like your content, should tell readers something and push them towards an action.
  • Factual: At the start, you will be throwing ideas out into the world to see what works, but very quickly you will have data that tells you which ideas work best. From that point on, always follow the data when making & launching more ad creative.
  • Unique: Introduce a new solution to your viewers (your product or value prop) & make your creative stands out among the crowd.
  • Memorable: When viewers are not only converting & clicking, but saving & sharing your ad creative, you’ll know you’ve done a good job
  • Brand Relevant: Have fun with your ideas, but keep your focus on the end-goal always
  • Adaptable: Just as with content,you need to be able to re-purpose your ad creative for different channels(Facebook, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, etc.)

Following this component framework, you’ll be able to build better creative and continue improving it every time you make more.

Here’s a general method of applying that framework:

  1. Find the most universal need that your company solves
  2. Look at alternative solutions available
  3. Determine your uniqueness among those solutions
  4. Revolve your copy around your unique solution to the problem
  5. Change your visual creative to keep up with design trends

That last piece is key. Where there’s debate on how frequently content should be updated, it’s no question in advertising. Ads need frequent updates. Though ad ideas are evergreen, designs are trendy.

Concepts are evergreen. Designs are trendy.

Take the 'diamonds are forever' ad above. Look at how de Beers changed their creative over time:

Evergreen Concept, Trending Designs

Though the ad idea was exactly the same in every iteration, the creative changed drastically. That's how you make an ad work for 50+ years.

Looking back at what makes content and creative evergreen, there’s one main factor: customer awareness.

This tying factor was mapped out over 60 years ago by Eugene Schwartz in his Levels of Awareness model.

If your content or creative has the ability to take a total stranger to your brand from complete unawareness all the way through to actionable knowledge and purchase- congrats, you’ve made something evergreen.

But that's just my perspective.

Below, you can read 34 unique, expert perspectives on evergreen content.

Happy testing!

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