Content marketing is becoming an increasingly popular tactic in digital marketing strategies across all industries. Businesses are coming to terms with thinking and acting like publishers by providing audiences with quality content on a regular basis.
Typically, content marketing projects have lots of moving parts that come together at different times to form a consistent content marketing strategy. As a result, using an editorial content calendar can be crucial in managing the content marketing process. So for all you procrastinators out there, it’s time to get your 2015 editorial calendar in place.
Calendar Management and Template
There are many ways to format and lay out an editorial content calendar; however, every editorial calendar should include, at minimum, an annual look (see below) and detailed content roll out plans by month- always staying 60 to 90 days ahead. Your content editorial calendar should be available for all team members to view, either in a shared document online or saved somewhere on your business’ shared drive.
The calendar, created and managed in a spreadsheet, can take on a variety of shapes and sizes. The best editorial calendar organizes a content marketing strategy a year in advance, with every content piece that the organization intends to publish planned two or three months ahead. It will include not only the date of launch but the steps included in meeting those goals, as well.
The content strategist – or team – should frequently review the calendar to make improvements based on results and current trends, manage current projects, and brainstorm new ideas. A great way to collect ideas for the full year view of your editorial calendar is to gather team members to brainstorm for events coming up in the year ahead such as holidays, office openings or annual events. Here are some annual milestones you can consider when brainstorming for 2015:
- Business Quarters: What are your quarterly goals? What resources do you/will you have each quarter? What is your quarterly content marketing budget? Having this information at hand can make it easier for the calendar manager to stay on track with goals, resources, and budget.
- Selling Cycles: Does your business have specific cycles or trends throughout the year? Include any information regarding your selling cycles that can aid content producers and editors in their projects.
- Seasons: Does natural seasonality affect your business or does your industry have its own conceptual seasons? For example, an outdoor shop might need to market both summer and winter gear at separate parts of the year. This data can be useful when brainstorming content ideas.
- Holidays: What major holidays or industry-specific holidays could you create content around? Additionally, the actual holiday dates are important for developing publishing schedules.
- Events: What industry events are you attending? Or what events will be happening near you? This information is crucial to plan content projects ahead of time.
- Product Launches: What product launches should customers be aware of? Are you planning a big product release for 2015? Be sure to focus on specific product launches throughout the year with incredible content to support it.
- Deadlines: What are the current production deadlines for content that the team has set to create? Deadlines that are already set in stone should be recorded so other content projects can be planned around them.
- Company Goals: What are your specific goals for the business? What are you hoping to accomplish through these content projects?
- Metrics: What overall metrics will you track? Will you look at links, traffic, and conversions? Outline specific goals in the beginning in order to create effective content that meets them.
Monthly Calendar Creation
Each content project should have its own row on the calendar spreadsheet, which is organized by the designated publish date. The remaining columns should be filled out following these recommendations:
- Title/Description: What is the title of the content piece? Describe the piece so others can identify the main theme and message.
- Status: What is the current status of this project? This column could be color-coded or labeled with different categories like “in progress,” “on hold” or “with editor,” so the standing of the content project is easily identifiable.
- Type of Content: What type of content is this piece? Types of content include blog posts, articles, videos, podcasts, slide shows, whitepapers, etc. This information is also important for resource planning to identify content trends and popularity.
- Producer/Designer: Who is responsible for the creation of this piece? This person will be in charge of completing the content piece and managing the project throughout.
- Editor: Who is the editor for this content project? The editor is generally the last person who sees the content piece before it is distributed. This person is responsible for double-checking spelling and grammar while fact-checking content as well.
- Target Audience: Is this content piece intended for potential customers, current customers or another audience? What demographic are you targeting? It is going to be very important to identify this information before content distribution in 2015.
- Distribution Channels: Where will this content live? What social networks will be this content be shared on? Be sure the content distribution channels match where the target audience hangs out online for maximum content exposure.
- Promotion: What promotional efforts will take place to distribute this content piece? Will this content piece be amplified by another digital marketing channel? Perhaps this content piece could even be used in other online marketing efforts, giving it a longer shelf
- Meta Data Tags: What tags or keywords are associated with this content piece? Be sure to check with the SEO team on the best tags and keywords to use with each content piece for maximum SEO potential. What good is your quality content if it can’t be found? Ensure your content is optimized not just for your audience, but for search engines too.
- Metrics: What success metrics are you measuring this content project against? Are there baseline measurements? What are they? These metrics and baselines will depict whether a content project is successful or not.
- Notes: Are there any specific instructions or notes regarding this content piece? Are there updates to the project’s status? Add anything extra worth noting in this column.
Customize Your Calendar
You should look into customizing your editorial content calendar to fit your organization’s specific needs. Consider these additional columns:
- Image Link: If the content project is text based, having an Image Link column could help the person posting the content. The link could be to a website or to a folder or image on your shared drive. This makes for easy navigation and finding important information quickly.
- Social Updates: If you plan on sharing this content across social networks, you may consider including Tweets, Facebook status updates, and Google+ posts in order to track promotional efforts and easily share updates with the rest of the team.
Overall, there are many ways to adapt these editorial calendar suggestions to make it your own. The important part is getting your content projects organized in a way that is easily digestible for your team and the person managing the process. Utilizing an editorial calendar for content marketing projects is important in more ways than one.
Not only will your content be organized in a way that makes sense – chronologically by month – you will have a record of all of your past content projects. Additionally, content marketing project organization can aid in brainstorming future projects and provide content repurposing and refreshing ideas.