HOW TO CREATE A CONTENT MARKETING CALENDAR THAT WORKS
Staying organised with your content marketing is one of the easiest enablers of success that’s in your control. Being organised is a complete choice and given the resource intensive and dynamic nature of content marketing it is a non-negotiable if you are looking to drive success.
Content marketing is characterised by its continuous nature and the many platforms and formats as much as the content topics themselves. So clearly a one size fits all approach to content won’t suffice with tailored content required to suit these platforms and formats This is where a content marketing calendar is an essential tool of your content marketing success.
What is a content marketing calendar?
A content marketing calendar is as you would imagine; a schedule of what, when, where and how you intend to publish your content. Additionally, content marketing calendars also serve as work in progress for content yet to be developed or to be updated and also what the intended promotional activity is.
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Content marketing calendars serve a purpose greater than scheduling
What gets measured, gets done! To have a highly functioning content marketing program you need to ensure that the production line is a ‘well-oiled’ machine. Your content calendar is a key way you can ensure all teams are achieving their content commitments.
The calendar should set key dates, budgets and responsibilities for content production and in doing so you’ll ensure that all of the required content will be produced and published on time. This is particularly useful if you have a widely distributed team of employees, agencies or freelancers working on your content.
Perhaps the best use of the content marketing calendar is as an overview document for management to review and align the rest of the business.
Why should you use a content marketing calendar?
- It will get you organised to avoid missing deadlines and allowing for inevitable changes, plus nothing kills productivity more than a blank content sheet.
- Posts need to be customised and crafted for each platform’s nuances, so having completed this in advance in a well-planned manner will enable your content to leverage the native strengths of each platform.
- A calendar will enable you to review content performance and reset for future content.
- A calendar will enable you to tailor messaging to what is happening in the wider community.
Lastly, you’ll experience a greater chance of success from your content marketing efforts, with 72% of B2B marketers believing a formal content marketing strategy delivers success.
4 key sections of a content marketing calendar
Probably the most critical element of your content marketing calendar is the editorial section. In this section you will display all of the pieces of content that you intend on publishing. By scheduling editorial content in advance, you will be organised to achieve your content marketing goals. It’s a great idea to schedule at least 6 months ahead which will allow you the flexibility to respond to any short-term content requirements that might crop up.
Your calendar needs to be accessible to your team, so selecting a cloud-based platform for it to be available as a working tool is important. It can be as simple as a Google Calendar or a Spreadsheet. There a literally hundreds of free downloadable templates available using Microsoft Excel, Google Calendar and Sheets or you can explore workflow platforms like Trello, Evernote and Hootsuite to name a few.
Of course, you’ll be thinking of promoting your content and as such having a calendar to remind you when you’ll be promoting that blog on Facebook or sending an email to your email database. Having a content marketing calendar is not complete until you have considered the effort to produce the promotional elements (ads, posts, videos etc) and any scheduling conflicts and considerations.
4. Future content ideas
There are always random ideas floating around for content that sometimes don’t quite have a topic pillar home. Having a section in your calendar that lists these ideas and assigns a date for review is a great way to minimise distraction and maximise those random moments of inspiration.
Other items to include in your content marketing calendar
As you can guess, your content calendar is the best communication tool for you and your team when it comes to managing the process of content marketing. Therefore, it’s a great idea to schedule in your calendar the following items.
- Updating existing content – Try not to let your content go out of date and keep it fresh by scheduling future edits in advance
- Auditing website content – Old content does not always serve you well. In fact, it has been that de indexing old content can increase search traffic.
- Off-site content promotion – It’s great to be working on your own content however we know that significant authority comes from guest posting and guest content in general. So, schedule it!
- Make your content marketing calendar accessible to everyone by using a cloud-based platform or application.
- Manage your content marketing calendar in conjunction with your larger, macro marketing calendar to avoid conflicts and promote alignment.
- Colour code the 4 key sections of your calendar by platform type to make it easy to distinguish.
- Use the content marketing calendar to provide sales teams with content to improve conversion rates.