From social media posts and podcasts to whitepapers and webinars, many mediums are central to your content marketing strategy. Yet, balancing them all can be an absolute minefield.
It is, after all, easy to overwhelm followers on certain channels and neglect them on others. This will only lead to disengagement and a lot of wasted effort.
There are other considerations to make too, including content seasonality, priority and audience preferences across each channel.
Sidestepping your way through each of these issues can be an uphill struggle, but the task becomes much more manageable once you create a content calendar.
What is a content calendar?
A content calendar is a resource used to plan all content marketing activities. It’s often referred to as an “editorial calendar” or an “editorial schedule”.
Although they come in all shapes and sizes, a simple way to think of your calendar is as atool to efficiently manage the process of creating, publishing and sharing content.
The calendar will also clearly highlight when and where your content is published.
Why use a content calendar?
The biggest benefit of a content calendar is that the format allows you to easily visualise how your content is going to be distributed throughout the coming weeks, months and years.
By keeping it simple to understand, you can easily identify key gaps in your content marketing strategy and give yourself (and those around you) plenty of warning to develop more great copy in advance.
You can use the content calendar to highlight important events throughout the year as well, such as seasonal holidays, product launches and special promotions.
Other reasons as to why a content calendar is important, include:
- More consistency – by having a visual overview of your content output and ideas, you’ll be able to fill any gaps.
- Greater transparency – a content calendar keeps everyone in the know and enables them to take accountability for their roles in delivering a consistent flow of quality content.
- Clearer metrics – if you’re writing four blogs in one month and sending just fouremails across the whole year, it’s hard to gather a consistent flow of data. Withoutthe balance, your figures won’t provide you with a clear picture of what’s workingand what isn’t. A content calendar gives you the power to organise your approachbased on real figures to meet your central content marketing goals.
But before you can enjoy all these benefits, there are a few things to consider first.
Things to consider when creating a content calendar
The success of your content marketing strategy in raising brand awareness, maximising engagement and driving up sales hinges on how you create your content calendar.
So, let’s take a moment to consider what a content calendar should include. Of course, you want to provide a range of content that engages, educates and excites your followers, but this is easier said than done.
However, by closely considering the following questions and taking the right actions, you can put yourself on the tracks to scheduling success.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
#1 Have I set goals across different platforms?
As a business, you need to establish what constitutes success across each content marketing channel. This could be anything from an increase in the number of followers tohigh click-through rates.
Once you assemble a list of goals, make a note of how well each piece of content performed on your content calendar. Again, this needs to align with your overarching goals with content marketing.
Use this insight when devising future content for your calendar and you’ll likely build up interest over time.
Just remember to experiment, analyse and repeat. Not every piece of content marketing will work. But without the data, you won’t know whether you’re making strides towards your content marketing goals. How will you justify your need for a bigger budget for your next campaign without the data? You can’t.
#2 Where is my audience?
Many businesses do things, but never stop to think whether there’s a reason why they’re generating poor engagement and views.
There’s no one-size-fits-all remedy. You need to figure out where your target audience likes to ‘hang out’ and how they enjoy consuming content.
For instance, there’s no value in including TikTok into your content marketing calendar if you’re a financial adviser. Similarly, investing time and effort into writing a white paper isn’t worthwhile if you’re a B2C business.
It’s about knowing your audience and creating a content calendar that’s tailor-made towards addressing their needs.
#3 How will I categorise my content?
Design and structure make all the difference. If your content calendar looks uninspiring, isn’t clear or doesn’t offer much value, you’ll soon revert to writing everything on a stickynote.
The best content calendar templates go beyond just titles and dates. To give you a clearer overview of your content marketing efforts, you need to create one with the following details:
- By medium – this is where you name the type of content marketing, such as blog posts, email marketing and different social channels.
- By the nature of the content – use this to outline the purpose of each piece of content. For example, to generate leads, self-promotional, brand awareness, to drive engagement.
- By themes – even the non-sales orientated content needs to relate to the key services that you offer.
#4 What tools will I use when creating a content calendar?
Excel or Google Sheets are popular methods to develop content calendars. However, for complete transparency and collaboration, it’s worth investing in smarter tools.
One particularly great example is ContentCal. This innovative tool makes content marketing simple by putting everything in one place.
As the name suggests, everything is centred around a content calendar. You can create, schedule and post different forms of content all from one centralised hub – including social media posts, blogs and emails.
ContentCal even has a brilliant task assignment feature, allowing you to allocate tasks and approve content before publishing.
If you’re interested in finding out more, we have a series of talks lined up with the Co-Founder of ContentCal, Andy Lambert, coming up.
#5 What content has performed well previously?
Before you start contributing to your content calendar, performing an audit of existing content. It’ll enable you to identify popular content you can repurpose for another channel and an entirely new audience.
You can then build this into your content calendar to better meet your marketing targets.
Also, consider what tends to work well for your competitors, especially in terms of interest generated through their social channels and search engines like Google.
Don’t forget about timing as well. When you’re reviewing an old piece of content, take note of the time you published or sent it. Did one of your emails generate poor open rates at a particular time? Does publishing blogs on a specific day impact click-throughs?
You may find the content wasn’t even the problem. In which case, think about repurposing and reposting it again on a different day and time.
For articles that weren’t a victim of timing, pick out the ones with the potential to perform better via organic search.
Optimisation is one of the most overlooked elements in content marketing. Yet, it can transform your copy into a highly searchable and profitable source of business.
Tools like Google Analytics allows you to see which content gains lots of impressions but very few clicks for certain keywords.
#6 Do we have a database of evergreen content?
Managing multiple content marketing channels is kind of like having two or more kids. Whether you like to admit it or not, one always gets named “the favourite”. Tut-tut.
But instead of trying too hard and overcompensating, take a step back.
By visualising your content strategy, gaps become obvious. You’ll quickly see whether or not you’re neglecting a certain medium, content type or theme.
However, instead of simply producing reactive content with a short shelf life to plug any gaps, switch your focus to creating an archive of evergreen content.
As the name suggests, evergreen content is always topical and valuable to your target audience. So, if someone in your team is sick or you’re struggling to piece something fresh together one month, you can always repost evergreen content, knowing it’ll continue to gain traction across various channels.
A good way to find evergreen content topics is to use your findings from your content audit. By reviewing previous social posts, website organic traffic and email click-through rates, a pattern should emerge.
#7 Who will manage the calendar?
When it comes to using a content calendar, lots of confusing “what if” scenarios can unfold when you don’t clearly define roles from the start.
For example, the content might be scheduled at the wrong time, published without approval or not aligned with your wider content marketing strategy. Issues like this can cause frustration and look unprofessional.
To dispel these concerns, consider:
- Who will publish the content?
- Who will update the calendar?
- Who needs to be included in the approval process?
- Who decides how far in advance content is published?
- Who assigns titles to the writer?
- Who sources the imagery for each piece of content?
The key to maximising the potential of a content calendar is to make everyone involved accountable.
Documenting who will do what will help to avoid any unnecessary mix-ups and allow people to take ownership of their roles.
Discover more interesting content marketing insights
Hungry to learn more? Then check out our collection of articles about content marketing. You can also find lots of top insights and trends on our upcoming webinars.