Strategies for a Successful Content Migration

Over the past few months, I’ve been involved with content migration projects for a couple of major clients. Though these projects have proven to be quite different from one another (one is a straight migration from a blog to a parent site while the other involves consolidating three hubs into one), they each taught me similar lessons about how to handle a complex and crucial part of content strategy.

The following lessons can help in deciding what to move and ensuring that what makes the cut continues to work hard for your brand.

Look at the data…

Identify a few key success measures aligned to your brand goals and objectives to guide your strategy for content migration. These could include conversion metrics such as CTA clicks or leads generated, engagement metrics like time spent and bounce rate, or even basic traffic metrics — it all depends on how you measure success and what you want your newly migrated content repository to accomplish for your brand.

From there, pull these metrics for all pieces of content and start sorting! If you know that your content needs to be optimized for multiple goals, consider creating a composite score of multiple metrics to sort success across multiple areas. Additionally, consider some of the questions you’d ask in a traditional content audit to uncover areas you may not have considered. For instance, what creative types perform best? While migrating, should you consider refreshing titles, images, or CTAs to be more effective? You will likely still need to look at some pieces in detail to help determine a final migration list, but an audit-like approach will help you triage and prioritize — especially if you have an overwhelming amount of content to consider.

…but not just the data

As much as you probably love a good data-driven strategy (I know I do!), there are likely to be multiple other factors to consider when determining which content to migrate. This can go both ways — you may notice some pieces perform exceptionally well when looking at the data but do not align to the objectives or messaging of your new site, so you can probably leave those behind. You may also come across more tactical obstacles — for example, maybe your new site will employ a different CMS that makes creating slideshows a pain — and you will want to have a plan in place to redesign or retire pieces that will require too much work to maintain, even if the data tells you they should live on.

On the flip side, you may come across some pieces that have not shown strong performance in the past, but now align well to what you want to convey on your new site. Be sure to migrate those and have a strategy in mind to promote or amplify them to measure their impact on your new site and overarching message.

Be prepared to adjust

Remember the content strategy on your new site can evolve as brand objectives change and as you start to understand how content performs in this new environment. It may be necessary to bring back old content that hadn’t initially been migrated — make sure you archive everything that doesn’t make the initial cut for this reason. Or you may find a need to conduct another audit and weed out more content. In any case, don’t assume that your migration and optimization work is done after launching the new site.

Embarking on a content migration project can seem overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with years of old articles to clean and manage. However, this type of project can be truly refreshing for your brand, allowing you to kick off your new site with a fully optimized content repository. Start with a data-driven strategy, keep an open mind to all considerations, and be prepared to adjust, and your content will be as successful, if not more, than it was before.

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