Did you know that content marketing such as social media posts, blog posts and videos have a carbon footprint?
All of our digital interactions generate CO2. This is due to the energy it takes to create, send, store and share our content on servers across the world.
If you’re new to digital carbon footprints don’t worry - it’s a learning curve for everyone (ourselves included). That said, addressing the carbon emissions generated by our content marketing is something we all must do to have a positive impact on the climate crisis.
For the most part, simple changes can go a long way in improving the energy efficiency of your content marketing. Better still, most of these changes can actually help you boost your marketing efforts as a result.
So here are our top sustainable marketing tips, based on what we’ve learned so far as the world’s first sustainable email marketing platform.
Plus by talking to our guests over on the EcoSend Podcast.
Ask Yourself: Is There A Real Purpose To My Content?
It can often feel as if we need to generate new social media posts or blog posts for the sake of doing so. But without a strategy in place, that content might not be achieving anything for your business or the users who stumble upon it.
So not only is this content not doing your business any favours, it’s also generating CO2 needlessly.
A simple change is to always work from a content strategy. If you can’t update previous content, any new content should look to create a relevant and helpful experience for users.
For you as a business, focusing on purpose will also save money by only creating content that drives engagement and conversions.
Choosing Sustainable File Formats & Sizes
Content marketing can include the likes of copy, images, video, gifs and other types of media.
Plain text obviously is the lightest way of creating content, but perhaps not the most engaging for your users.
While you don’t have to ditch visual elements altogether, compressing the files or choosing better file formats can reduce the CO2 produced as a result.
For instance, every time you shoot a video in 4K or use lots of HD images in your content - the carbon footprint of your content will soar.
Likewise, it’s so easy to download a stock image that has a large file size of 10MB+ and forget to resize it before you place it into your content.
By compressing images (like the one you see above!) and making your content and website lighter, this actually improves your on-page SEO. That’s because lighter websites are quicker to load, and this means your bounce rate will drop versus slow to load pages.
In the above case, resizing the image took the file size from 12MB to 133KB.
One study suggests that for every MB we use, 20g of CO2 is generated. Hence, simple steps to reduce image files are something all content marketers can do to be more sustainable.
Remember that designing for screen isn’t the same as designing for print. Whereas in print files you want to opt for the maximum DPI to ensure a crisp print out - content for screens can handle much smaller file sizes and still look great.
P.S: Not sure about the file sizes you’re using? Check your Google Drive (or wherever you store your creative assets). Arrange your content in order of size, and this will instantly tell you which files are the worst offenders.
Does Your Content Meet User Expectations?
Don’t we all hate it when we land on a website, or go to watch a video and it’s not what we’re looking for?
Anything from misleading titles to poor production can create a negative user experience. If users then have to consume lots of other content to find what they are looking for, this means more CO2 is generated from having to continue their online search.
A good example here is video marketing. When people give you 3+ minutes of waffle before they get to the point of the video, it’s not just tiresome for the viewer, but creates a larger carbon footprint for that content.
Making the journey from A to B as streamlined as possible helps your content marketing perform better, all while reducing carbon emissions.
Have You Considered The Life Cycle Of Your Content?
We often think of ‘evergreen content’ as more of an SEO tactic. But avoiding time-sensitive content can also make your website more environmentally friendly too.
Similar to producing an advertising banner with a date and time on it, digital content with short life cycles will continue to exist, but won’t provide any value to the user past a certain point. So that content will be viewed or shared, generate CO2 and provide nothing of use to anyone.
A better tactic would be to avoid limited-purpose content, and also look to update old content regularly.
For instance, updating old blog posts to be more relevant can actually have huge SEO benefits compared with creating new content.
FYI, Neil Patel recently explained that frequently updating content is why Wikipedia does so well on the search engine rankings.
So why not try this for yourself, and help the planet in doing so?
Understand That Tools Such As ChatGPT Also Have A Carbon Footprint
It might shock you to learn that ChatGPT has been found to generate 8.4 tonnes of CO2 per year - that’s twice the typical amount for an individual. Furthermore, Microsoft used 700,000 litres of water just to deliver ChatGPT training in its data centres.
One report suggests that in January 2023, ChatGPT required as much energy as 175,000 people use in a month on average.
The ability to ask AI tools anything might seem amazing. But the climate impact of researching, storing and transmitting such vast amounts of data is definitely a cause for concern.
When it comes to your content marketing, tools such as ChatGPT can also cause further problems. This includes AI written content not sounding authentic, and therefore, generating CO2 but not achieving the content aims.
Want to dive deeper into this topic? Listen to the EcoSend Podcast S2 Episode #8 How do we unravel the true climate-cost of AI and ChatGPT?', with Kasper Ludvigsen to learn more.
Explore Green Hosting & Sustainable Design Techniques
Your content marketing likely appears on your website in some form or another. However, most people aren’t aware that it’s now possible to choose green website hosting providers.
In our post How To Get A Zero Carbon Website, we explain that some hosting providers run on renewable energy sources. This is yet another easy switch anyone with a website can make to reduce their digital marketing carbon emissions.
Your website can also generate less CO2 by paying attention to the navigation and design elements.
For instance, removing buggy code from your site and ditching infinite scroll can reduce the amount of carbon produced by your website, and therefore, your content marketing too.
EcoSend - Get Sustainable Email Marketing For Your Business
Want to make your email marketing better for the planet?
EcoSend is the world’s first sustainable email marketing platform. Giving you everything you need to send beautiful email campaigns - EcoSend runs on renewable energy sources. Plus we’ll plant trees on behalf of your business just for using us. ✉️ 🌳
Sign up for your free trial of EcoSend to get started.
Or check out our Email Carbon Calculator to see how much CO2 could be saved just by using EcoSend.