Content marketing is comprised of a lot of moving parts. All of those parts have to work together in order for your content marketing efforts to be effective. Failure to have a well-designed editorial calendar in place will make it virtually impossible to get ensure that all of those moving parts are in sync.
Content marketing is a key part of a successful business plan. It not only helps to drive the growth of a company, but it also serves as a complex element of engaging an audience, making it possible for marketers to reach out to and interact with consumers in a way that provides real meaning and value. It also establishes a company’s expertise. All aspects of content market, from the written word, such as blog posts and articles, to modern elements of content, including infographics and videos, allows companies to truly connect with their users.
In order for a content marketing plan to be successful, a cohesive editorial calendar is vital. An editorial calendar serve as the cornerstone of the content marketing plant, as it outlines what it expected within a certain frame of time, and also makes it possible to develop a plan that will allow you to successfully accomplish the objectives that you have set forth for your content-related efforts. Planning in advance will ensure that the various forms of content that you want to incorporate into your initiatives are addressed and accounted for.
Though the importance of using an editorial calendar for content marketing may be well known, creating one that will actually drive your content marketing plan can be challenging. After consulting with some of the leading content marketing experts, we’ve learned some very useful tips that can be used to help shape an effective editorial calendar.
Here’s a look at what the experts – and we – believe are the top tips for successfully creating an effective content marketing editorial calendar.
Figure Out the Key Dates
The most effective editorial calendars are those that incorporate ideas from the entire company. In order to do that, it’s extremely important for an editorial team to be aware of all of the most important upcoming dates; for example, product launches and other pertinent marketing projects.
These dates should be highlighted and discussed in all of your content plans. The sooner you have an idea of all of the important upcoming dates, the sooner you will be able to create a roadmap that you can use to drive your content.
It’s important to keep in mind that key dates aren’t just those dates that are important to your company internally. Other dates, such as holidays and anniversaries, are also important. For example, if you want your content to be tied into Christmas or you want to have a post that highlights your company’s fondness for National Donut Day, you’ll know when those dates are coming up and be able to prepare – and deliver – content for them in a timely manner. In other words, all important dates should be kept track of well in advance so that you can brainstorm the most effective approach for key events. All of those details should become an important part of your editorial calendar, even if you don’t have plans to create new content for it.
Evergreen on Your Mind
There seems to be a misconception that all content has to be time-sensitive. While yes, time-sensitive information is crucial to your company, it’s important to remember that there is a time and a place for evergreen material. As a matter of fact, incorporating timely content with evergreen material can actually help to increase the amount of visitors to your site. Why? – Because it can boost your reputation as a highly useful resource all year long.
Another benefit of evergreen content? It takes some of the pressure off of having to create real-time content and allows you to create content that really interests you. While time-sensitive stories might be of interest, sometimes, the stories you like to write the most are those that are based on evergreen information
Utilize an editorial calendar to manage time-sensitive content that you’re putting out. When there are gaps in your schedule, or there are gaps in the content that are in line with your products and the needs of your customers, fill them up with evergreen pieces. When you do have content that’s highly successful or pertinent, go ahead and boost it to extend the amount of time that it spends in circulation.
Incorporate All Details
Your editorial calendar isn’t the right place to try using abbreviations. Abbreviations may be useful, but they leave out key information, which can reduce the usefulness of your calendar as an important resource. The calendar will be a much more effective resource when it contains all information and serves as a complete record of your content. In short, the calendar will help to keep everyone on the same page when it contains detailed information.
Be sure that all of your entries track each individual that will be involved in a project, as well as the full title of each particular project. It might also be worth your while to tag the entries on your calendar with specific keywords that relate to the project and further explain the campaigns that they are going to be a part of, or the audience that they are intended for.
When a piece of content goes live, make sure that you link it your calendar, too. Doing so will serve as a final record, which is particularly good to have available if your content spans across several platforms. For example, if you have a hub of how-to articles and product guides that live in separate areas from your company’s regular blog, tracking those projects from one central location will help to give better direction for your activities.
Look at the Whole Picture
Creating excellent content takes a lot of time, and most importantly, preparation. You want to make sure that you have a calendar that really reflects how much time it takes to create and edit every item. This is true for all of the content that you and your editorial team produces, from blog posts to press releases.
An editorial calendar helps to centralize all of the activity that surrounds your content strategy. It makes sure that everyone is on the same page, and moreover, it ensures that everyone knows who is responsible for a specific task at a specific stage. If it usually takes a week to edit, then make sure that the initial due date for a writer reflects that span of time. If you have a design team that needs to be involved in the process, make sure to ask for an estimate of how long their part will take so that you can keep everything on track.
You also want to keep in mind that promoting your content is an important part of the process. As such, you should make sure that your calendar also reflects where and when a piece of content is going to be shared. It would be a waste to put so much effort and energy into a piece of great material only to have it fall through the cracks.
Allow for Flexibility
It’s important to keep in mind that one of the hardest parts of content marketing is its unpredictability; but, that’s also one of the reasons why it is so effective. For example, your product team may make an announcement that they will be making an update at the last minute, or the CEO decides to unexpectedly pen a guest post, or there’s a huge buzz on social media about the latest antics of a certain celebrity that goes completely viral.
These are all examples of reasons why you should make changes to your editorial plans, and your content marketing experts should feel comfortable and confident making these types of changes.
In order to allow for flexibility, you might want to leave a little space in your calendar to make it easier to allow for those last minute additions. If your schedule is packed too tightly, your content and your creators will have a lot less space to breathe.
Keep Readers in Mind
One of the best things about content marketing is that it affords brands the ability to create conversations around important topics within their industry. This allows you to set your business ahead of the crowd. It also makes it possible to offer an important service to your audience. You have to give them the information that they are interested in, and material that delivers value to them. In order to do that, you have to find out who your readers are, why they choose to read your content, and what type of information they want to see.
Use your editorial calendar as a way to switch things up and make things fun for your readers. For example, you can make up themes for your content on a monthly or quarterly basis, or you can properly space out serious and funny posts in order to keep a fresh tone. When you’re audience is engaged, you’ll keep them interested, and attract more readers, too.