This article was originally published in April 2018 and updated May 2019
Who doesn’t want to avoid the stress of tight deadlines? Writing should be a positive experience, no matter the form, and a marketing content calendar is just the document to provide your marketing team with some peace of mind.
The ultimate goal of any marketing tool is to increase conversion. In order to do that, a brand needs to understand its target audience and which challenge or problem it can help them overcome. Organizations also need to gain the trust of their consumers by portraying the brand as one that is helpful, knowledgeable, and able to meet their needs.
Your content needs to connect with your brand’s target audience by addressing socially inspired ideas and offering top quality solutions and advice. In order to create an effective planning document, it is important to understand why you are doing content marketing, plan what and how you want to do it, and then proficiently execute that plan.
A well-crafted content calendar establishes an effective workflow that is task-based and clearly outlines which parties are responsible for each step of the process. A content calendar provides a single communication channel to help everyone understand the common vision and understand their role on the team.
Your marketing content calendar should be part of your overall marketing strategy and copacetic with and supportive organizational goals. The entries in your calendar should be actionable and provide accountability. The calendar should detail every piece of content being managed in an at-a-glance format. And a top-quality calendar will be filterable for levels of details.
There are a number of things to consider as your team compiles the content calendar. Take into account internal and external events that may affect or influence content choices and audience actions/reactions – especially time-sensitive content surrounding holidays, events, campaigns, and product launches. Identify, know, and define the audience for each piece.
Utilize your company’s buyer personas so you are speaking the customers’ language and keeping in mind what they need or want from your organization. Be purposeful with the language style and tone of voice used in each piece. You’ll also want to ensure that design styles follow any established branding guidelines.
Be realistic about publishing frequency given the size of your team and their time availability. Start slowly then try to build without losing quality. Avoid the feast or famine approach. Establish a regular cadence for each social channel and remember that consistency equals credibility.
It also keeps content fresh and regularly appearing in readers’ feeds. Less time spent stress writing allows more time for analysis. Understand which content, style, and format have performed well by tracking which postings receive the most likes, shares, comments, and views. Then capitalize on your previous models of success.
A marketing content calendar brings order to chaos, saving time, money and stress. It breaks down the writing and publishing process into manageable steps, creating a storyboard that is a single source for the status of content on all your marketing channels.
If you find your team struggling for efficiency, it may be time to reevaluate and revamp your content calendar so that it continues to provide a clear framework. One of the best ways to grow your business is through content marketing so take control of your content strategy with a written, visual, shareable document that will allow you and your team to effectively and efficiently execute your content marketing plan.
CONTENT OF A CONTENT CALENDAR
A proper content calendar is more than just a list of titles and dates. We’ll cover some generic components of any content calendar but your brand should adopt the components to fit your organization. Items that might be components of a content calendar, in no particular order:
Management process to include who is responsible for each step from creation to publishing to response
Keywords – optimized for search
Goal – what you plan to achieve
Call to action, next step (theoretically related to the goal)
Status reminder that this is a continuously changing document
Channel or channels
Buyer funnel stage – address all stages of the marketing funnel
For the uninitiated, this may seem to be a lot of information in one place. Color coding works well to distinguish one type of content from another and is key to keeping multiple streams of information on the same document. Shorthand and abbreviations also work well to conserve space, just be sure to have a key or reminder somewhere so everyone handling the document stays on the same page. Bottom line, the organization of your content calendar needs to serve your organization’s purpose and make sense to the team regularly using it.
CONTENT CALENDAR TOOLS
HubSpot offers a free template that is an excellent starting place if you are just delving into the idea of using a content calendar. A number of basic fields, like the type of content, keywords, and dates are already set up, so you can quickly begin by adding your ideas. The reason this option is so simple is that it is an Excel spreadsheet. This fact can make it challenging to scale if your team expands or your plans change.
Marketing.Ai was designed by content marketers for the specific editorial calendar needs of content creators. It is comprehensive in scope and easy to use. In addition to the calendar feature, Marketing.Ai users are able to track the stages of content assets, communicate about targeting to buyer personas and track the categories of content published over time.
DivvyHQ was specifically designed for companies with large customer bases and is an excellent choice if your brand’s content marketing efforts have experienced tremendous growth over a short period of time. DivvyHQ’s editorial calendar features include a straightforward dashboard of tasks to be completed, an unlimited number of shared calendars, and workflow management.
Trello offers an affordable template that allows you to map your processes, set permissions, assign tasks, and track progress in real time. It has a number of fun collaborative features modeled after social media platforms allowing team members to “like” cards and concepts.
5. Content DJ
Content DJ is an all-in-one marketing solution. The brand states that it is the only editorial calendar tool specifically built for our current social media age. Content DJ connects different aspects of the content marketing lifecycle exceptionally well. Users are able to track and plan original content and optimize their social media posts. They can also easily source content for curation from the dashboard.
LooseStitch is designed in such a way that it makes an excellent choice for companies that outsource a majority of their content creation and management. LooseStitch users can create outlines and concepts which can then be shared for collaboration with selected users. The software allows brands to store and share both drafts and final versions of content.
You organize the rest of your business activities on a calendar, why not your content? By adopting this organizational strategy, you will find your content marketing efforts run more smoothly and keep everyone focused on your shared mission and goals. The experts at Strategy Driven Marketing understand the importance of an organized and goal focused approach to content. We’d love to help you with any and all aspects of your marketing campaigns or with whatever your needs might be. Contact us today to get started!