Do you find yourself stuck with a never-ending cycle of low performing content? Have you been missing important dates to push out the right content at the right time? Is your content strategy suffering from lack of ownership as to who will create and distribute it?
These are some of the struggles content marketers come across quite often, but there is certainly a way to overcome it. The secret to a well-executed content strategy lies in effectively planning and scheduling it using a content marketing calendar.
From simple tools such as the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin to plan and schedule blog posts and Trello for content ideation and collaboration, Content Marketing Calendar tools have come a long way allowing you to run fully fledged content marketing campaigns across multiple platforms, several teams, and varying content types.
Let’s take a look at the most crucial steps you need to follow to plan your content a year ahead of time and then put your plan into action with a yearly content marketing calendar.
Step 1: Identify Content that Works
In order for your content to strike the right chords with your target market, you need to create a buyer’s persona, understand their interests, which networks they hang out on, what challenges they seek to address and what their expectations are from your brand.
This requires some brainstorming as well as researching your target audience, but in order to see what’s working you must create content and test it with your audience.
CoSchedule calls this strategy a “Lean Startup Loop for Content Marketing”
This helps you answer the questions relevant to your audience interests, measure what’s working and repeat creating content similar to the content that performs best.
You can also take help from tools like BuzzSumo to find key influencers, monitor competitor’s content, track your own progress and search topics that get shared the most.
Step 2: Define Topic Themes to Create Actual Content
Now that you already know which content works best with your audience, to help develop a coherent voice for your brand and consistency around what gets published when defining topic themes can be a great starting point for planning your yearly content marketing calendar.
Creating content themes also trigger customers to set expectations from your brand and help them come back for more of that content. Moreover, defining themes helps you narrow down topics that your audience cares about.
Spiceworks, an IT Company, has a complete marketing menu highlighting theme based campaigns. From eBooks, Webinars, Videos to Infographic Ads and Emails, all Spiceworks campaigns are designed around specific marketing goals such as raising awareness and getting click-throughs using the following themes.
Topics to create content can then be generated utilising pre-created themes as a starting point. For example, using Save the Day theme, Spiceworks knows the pains of their audience and shares something they can relate with.
Step 3: Distribute Content Ownership
Even in a company with a team of 5 to 10 individuals, content marketing is not something that can be left to one person alone. To make sure everyone is on the same page and you are not missing deadlines, you need to plan who should be involved in the editorial flow so the content is produced and distributed according to the plan!
According to Content Calendar, for mid-sized to large companies a typical content marketing team will include the following roles:
With a smaller team, you can narrow down the roles to:
- Content Strategist: Responsible for idea generation, managing workflow and overseeing the overall plan of action.
- Content Producer: Typically involving a writer and a designer responsible for generating content according to the plan.
- Content Distributor: Responsible for publishing the content on various platforms and measuring the results.
The team at Carousel, an online consumer-to-consumer marketplace, have a diverse team that contributes to their blog on a regular cadence. This article on decluttering your room is a great example.
Step 4: Identify Content Types and Content Distribution Channels
An important aspect of planning your content marketing calendar is to identify what goes in it on a weekly, monthly and annual basis.
This comprehensive post from Convince and Convert can help you choose content types you can fill up your content calendar with respect to your marketing goals and using your topic themes.
According to Post Planner, ideally, your content calendar should include up to 3 longer form blog post articles per week, 2 slide share presentation per week, syndicated content from sites such as BizSugar, StumbleUpon, and Reddit, daily comments on influencer blogs, a bi-weekly infographic, and monthly eBook.
Creating content without having a strategy to publish and promote it, is like throwing a party without sending out the invitations. Since each channel is different, your content should be curated accordingly. From blog posts to marketing emails and social media posts, you need to identify the marketing channels that best fit your business needs. You can use an editorial calendar template to fill in the right content for the right channel.
This is how your content will appear in a template:
You can also add columns for participation in aggregate sites or advertise your content using content advertising tools for maximum reach.
Step 5: Start Plugging Ideas and Roles Into Your Content Marketing Calendar
Here comes the fun part!
Now that you have worked on your content strategy from which topic themes to focus on to assigning workflows, identifying content types and the best channels to publish your content, you need to find a good content marketing calendar to prioritise tasks, target keywords and start scheduling content.
Now is the time to finalise:
- Content headlines
- The person who will create the content
- Due date
- Publishing channel
- Meta tags
- Publishing date
- Status (Started, in-progress, completed)
- Metrics (Comments, views, shares, downloads)
- Call to Action
From preparing and scheduling your emails, social media posts, webinars, blog posts and ad campaigns, you could create multiple calendars to keep your teams on the same page and working towards a unified goal.
It may seem intimidating at first to plan a yearly content calendar, especially when you are new to content marketing and want to adjust your strategy according to the results you are getting.
However, once you have done your homework and know what works (Step 1) rest assured that you are on track to getting your team organised and developing a consistent voice for your brand across the channels that matter to your business.