When it comes to impressing a network of millions of followers, the last thing you want to do is seem disoriented and unprepared. Trust me, one thing that customers love the most about a brand is consistency. The efforts to stay visible give readers a sense of assurance and comfort that the brand cares about its audience and is well heard and acknowledged. But obviously, it isn’t that simple to get noticed, and it won’t just happen with a few sporadic posts.
To capture the readers' attention, you need a well-devised content marketing calendar that will help you deliver messages in a timely and consistent manner. So, if you think you are generating quality content but still can't engage your target audience, here's why you should have a content marketing calendar for your business.
What is a Content Marketing Calendar?
Streaming content on the right platform at the right time helps you capture the attention of your ideal customers. A content marketing calendar is a written schedule of when and where you plan to publish your content and in what order over a specified course of time. By devising a content-based plan, you can execute your content marketing strategy efficiently and timely.
Whether it is a promotional blog for your website or a social media post, planning ahead helps marketers maintain relevance and consistency, the two most important pillars of a content marketing strategy. However, the key to staying relevant and organised begins with a complete understanding of the best social media content strategies. In order to stay relevant to the target group, it's imperative that you first find out the platform that they are most active on. This way, you can create and post content that will help you reach your marketing goals faster. Now that we understand what content calendars are, let’s learn more about how it adds immense value to any content marketing strategy.
Why are Content Calendars Important?
If you are creating high-quality content to market your products/services, you certainly don’t want anything to fall between the cracks. A content calendar gives marketers a direction, especially when you're using a blend of different marketing strategies to promote your business. Here are three primary reasons why content calendars are a significant part of your content marketing strategy:
1. Stay organised
Curating high-quality content is one thing and generating maximum interaction from that content is another. A content calendar ensures that all your content-related goals are actually accomplished by giving you a proper direction. For instance, if you already have an amazing article written for woman's day, you'd probably want to repurpose it on different social media platforms on that day. If you forget to use that article on that day, it will lose its relevance, and you might end up missing out on this great opportunity to connect with your followers. A content calendar helps you plan, organise and schedule all your content-related activities weeks or months in advance, ensuring that nothing gets overlooked.
2. Collaborate more effectively
To make your content marketing strategy a huge success, you need to ensure that all your team members and partners who are either writing or streaming that content are on the same page. It also makes the delegation process much easier since everyone knows who is responsible for what. Content calendars keep everyone closely aligned to the company's overall content marketing goals, ensuring timely dissemination of the right information on the most feasible platform.
3. Get a bird’s eye view of the content
You definitely don’t want to be the only one not posting any content on a special day. The content calendar is designed keeping all the upcoming events in mind. This way, you don’t have to scramble to create anything to stay visible. A content calendar will ensure that you post meaningful, unique and relevant content for your audience every day, especially on major holidays. Content calendars also keep track of the previously posted content that can be repurposed or modified if need be.
How to Create a Content Marketing Calendar
It's ideal to create your content marketing calendar at least a month in advance. While you can also create weekly, quarterly or bi-monthly content calendars, planning a month in advance gives you more time to review your content or make room for last-minute adjustments. Trust us, the digital marketing world is quite unpredictable, so if you have a well-laid content plan that shows what's coming up next, you're doing good. Now coming to what exactly your content marketing calendar should look like, here's a list of some of the best practices that must be followed to create a simple yet super effective content calendar.
The platform you choose to host your content calendar depends on the amount of detail you wish to add. Most companies prefer to create content calendars on Google sheets that provide easy access to work, edit or share. Google spreadsheets offer a quick glance at everything while also allowing you to create multiple tabs for multiple content formats to be published on different platforms. You can create separate sheets for website content, email content, blogs/articles, social media content. Some other great options can be Microsoft Excel, Google Calendar, Coschedule, Loomly, Editorial Calendar etc.
2. Determine your content mix
The next step is deciding what to post and listing your content ideas on the calendar. The content mix comprises the topic, content type, tentative title/headline and a call to action. A close analysis of your marketing objectives will help you devise an ideal content mix for the entire month. There are dozens of content types, each of which must be listed against the most ideal platform on the content calendar. It could be a whitepaper, articles/blogs for the website, static or interactive infographics, case studies, questionnaires or social media posts. In addition to the content type, you should also list the most relevant keywords.
3. Decide on the publication frequency
The blog posts you create mean nothing unless it actually reaches your target audience. Sometimes, the best articles or social posts get buried at the bottom of the barrel before anyone could see them. And this happens when you're posting randomly at the wrong time. Every platform functions differently, and to generate maximum traction, you need to analyse the best publishing days and times closely. Spamming your audience with too much content can get meaningless. Therefore you need to track patterns for maximum audience engagement.
For example, maybe the content you post on weekends gets more readership and social shares than the content you post on other days of the week. Similarly, you need to figure out how often you need to publish on each platform every day. For example, some studies recommend posting only once a day on Facebook and LinkedIn, while a higher daily frequency (at least 15) can be suggested for Twitter.
4. Create content themes
Besides the regular everyday content, you should also include content ideas for upcoming holidays, sales events, special days or specific times/season of the year that impact your business. Curating content on such special occasions helps you stay connected with your followers.
Now, in order to come up with new content ideas, you need regular brainstorming sessions with your team. You can also add a separate column on the calendar where you can add a repository of random or trending ideas. You can also look for opportunities to repurpose content on different social media channels. A separate column can be created for content that can either be repurposed or modified for better interaction. Remember to colour code every column for better understanding.
Sometimes it is not about the content but a particular content format that doesn’t align well with the customers' expectations. Content calendars help you identify such content gaps to generate high performing content.
5. Evaluate your content performance and adapt
As you start publishing your content based on your calendar schedule, the next and most important step is to evaluate its performance. You can use analytics to measure content performance based on different KPIs. Your job as a marketer should not be restricted to just posting the content, but ensuring that it gets the desired response and reaches the right audience who will further engage with your brand. For this, you need to keep a regular check on what content types are performing well, on what platforms and at what times. Based on this evaluation, you can experiment with new ideas and make adjustments to the content calendar.
Core Components of a Content Marketing Calendar Template
An ideal content calendar is one that isn’t too complicated, supports various themes and is flexible for future content optimisation and last minute-adjustments. The core elements of the best content marketing calendar template are:
Topic/Title/Headline: The topic defines the concept of the actual content that will be created.
Content-Type: The various formats that your content will be created in, such as blog post, FAQ, video, infographic, case study, whitepaper, etc.
Due Date: The date when the content is intended to be completed.
Publish Date: The date when the content is set to be published.
Accountable: Name of the person responsible for creating/optimizing and publishing the content.
Proposed URL: The URL of the web property where the content will be published.
Primary and secondary keywords: The main keywords that your content will be positioned around. The primary key phrase must be included in your title/headline, page copy and URL.
Title Tag: As part of the SEO best practices, you should include a title tag (comprising 170 characters or less) for your content piece.
Meta Description: This is a brief description of your content (less than 160 characters) that appears on Search Results Pages; often acts as a call to action for your content. While some Content Management Systems (CMS) will auto-populate the meta tag, you can also create your own meta description.
Status: The status of your content- Not stated, In progress, under review, published or completed.
Call to action: Identify a call to action for your content. It can be a simple CTA button, a form, email signup or download.
Promotion/Cross-promotion: This column enlists your promotional activities once the content is published. Which social media platform can best promote your content? Can you promote the same content on multiple channels in different content formats?
If you already have a content calendar working for you, you now know how to make it the best. Content calendars not only help you plan your content ahead but gives you enough time to curate amazing high-quality content. But we also understand how challenging it might get to hire the right talent.
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