How To Boost Success With A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
A content marketing editorial calendar sounds like a great idea, but are they really worth the hype?
Many blogs that struggle with consistency have found an editorial calendar to be the perfect solution. Even blogs that don’t have that problem have been using a content marketing editorial calendar for years.
So, what about you?
Could you benefit from adding an editorial calendar to your content marketing plan?
Most of us know that the answer to that question is yes. We know that the number one way to get traffic to our blog is through the very habits that an editorial calendar will help us develop—organization. However, a lot of bloggers and marketers still struggle with knowing exactly how to set up and use a calendar to achieve their goals.
What You Need To Start A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
There is no shortage of free editorial calendar templates available for creating your editorial calendar. Some are digital, and some are even written out on paper, but none are more prepared for the modern age than the fully digital options.
The best part about using a paper editorial calendar is that it can help you start the habit of using one to plan your content marketing. Eventually, you’ll need bigger and better tools, but this is a great way to start out without making a major financial investment.
No More Spreadsheets: The Digital Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
When you’re ready to upgrade, a tool like CoSchedule can provide a fully digital solution, connecting your content calendar directly to your WordPress blog and social media networks. This powerful tool combines social media and content marketing scheduling with a robust productivity tool that will allow you to share tasks with your team and leave comments or critiques on their work. You can also schedule your blog posts with a drag-and-drop ease.
No matter which option you consider, the real magic is in how you put it to work.
Let’s dive into some of the actual nuts and bolts of using a content marketing editorial calendar.
What Is Content Marketing?
Before we get too much farther into the importance of editorial calendars themselves, it’s essential that both you and your team fully understand what content marketing really is.
We often hear buzz words like “content marketing” and “editorial calendar” without fully understanding their implications.
According to Wikipedia, content marketing is:
“Any marketing format that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.”
In short, it’s marketing that doesn’t suck. It’s marketing that’s actually helpful to its audience. But, what does strong content marketing actually look like?
Let me share a simple example.
Popular grill manufacturer Weber knows how to do content marketing.
A few years ago they launched a new site called “Weber Nation” that is 100% committed to helping its audience. It provides tips on grilling the best steaks, caring for your grill, and how to use a great grill to entertain your guests. While the advice works great for customers of actual Weber grills, owners of any grill brand can benefit from their information.
After a recent relaunch and a new iPad app, Weber is now doubling down on its content marketing efforts.
What does that tell you?
Content marketing pays off.
Does this mean that everyone who visits their site will purchase a Weber grill? Probably not, but it’s likely that Weber has gained millions of new fans that could all be potential customers.
It’s not about a quick sale. It’s about building an audience that trusts you long-term.
That is the ultimate goal of content marketing.
What Is A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar?
Most of us are familiar with the idea of a traditional editorial calendar that helps us visualize our content publishing on a calendar-like interface, but how does that differ from a content marketing editorial calendar?
Content marketing is highly strategic.
That means you need to understand your audience, what motivates them, and what they need to hear from you in order to make a connection to your brand.
A content marketing editorial calendar is essentially a planning document that gives you and your team a plan of attack for doing what Weber grills does so well. Like a traditional editorial calendar, it gives you a bird’s-eye view of what is going on. However, it should also accomplish the following:
- Provide a place to generate post ideas and key topics.
- Assign writing and other editorial tasks to key members of your team.
- Create a publishing schedule that helps you maintain a consistent presence.
- Allow you to make in-process adjustments with drag-and-drop ease.
- Visualize your marketing strategy in a way that everyone can understand.
- Act as a communication point to team members.
A content marketing editorial calendar gives you and your team a framework for being deliberate and intentional about how you are reaching and building trust with your audience. In part, it is a strategic marketing tool. In another way, it is a place to keep your team organized and on top of things. Both of these things are going to be very important as you move ahead.
Why You Need A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
In some ways, the content marketing editorial calendar is a simple tool for making our content marketing focus count. It’s what we use to make sure we are making the most of our efforts, and many times it is a game changer for us and our audience.
1. Content Marketing Requires Strategy
Content marketing itself is a strategic venture. It’s all about understanding what your customers want and giving it to them in a digestible way.
This is a strategic goal, and it requires a strategic tool. An editorial calendar is a place where we can see a panoramic view of our content marketing strategy.
2. Traffic Growth Is Usually Intentional
We usually accomplish what we focus on. If you are focusing on building traffic and/or blog growth, then making a concerted effort to plan your content will only make reaching your goals easier. Website visits will increase when you make consistency and quality your top priority.
The content marketing editorial calendar puts these goals front and center.
3. It Will Make You More Consistent
There is something powerful that happens when we write down our plan. It becomes tangible for our team, and everyone will be more likely to stick with it as they go along.
The editorial calendar will give our team the accountability it needs for building the discipline of creating content day after day.
4. Your Team Will Thank You
There is a good chance that our team could all benefit from better communication. Many teams use such a wide variety of tools that they often have a hard time staying on the same page.
A good editorial calendar will bring them to a single place to visualize and execute their shared goals.
5. Your Audience Will Love It
One of the easiest ways to please your audience is to give them something they’ll love.
Content that is focused on your audience’s needs are always welcome. They will appreciate your efforts.
Why You Really Can’t Live Without A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
If you use WordPress as your starting point, it is easy to estimate that there are at least 2.73 million blog posts published each day. How on earth are you suppose to compete with all of that noise? It isn’t enough to simply publish content. You need more than that.
1. Content Marketing As SEO
Content marketing is the new SEO. Sure, many of the techniques that we used to catch the attention of search engines still work, but those search engines are getting much smarter. Search engines like Google and Bing are heavily favoring unique high quality content over the typical SEO tricks. A focus on content marketing is more important now than ever.
2. You Need To Pivot
Let’s face it: If you’re not using a calendar already, then your efforts probably aren’t working as well as you’d like. Sure, you are getting content out there, but if it’s unplanned, there is likely room for improvement.
That could mean increasing efficiency.
It could also mean creating content that’s more timely and strategic.
Whatever the case may be, by implementing a calendar, you pivot your content into something far more intentional, and prevent your efforts from going to waste. While it certainly isn’t a silver bullet, it is most definitely a way to turn your content into a tool for growth.
The Step-By-Step Guide To Managing A Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
1. Know How It Will Improve Your Marketing
If you’re going to try and implement an editorial calendar with your team, you will need to be able to make the case as to how it will help you grow your traffic and improve your business.
This will take you right back to some of the things we discussed earlier in the guide about the business value of content marketing as a whole. Just remember Weber grills. It may even be useful to have your entire team review what they are doing as a group.
2. Understand Who You Are Talking To
It’s cliche to say that you need to understand who your audience is, but it couldn’t be more true. Not only do you need to make sure that you understand your audience, but your entire team will need to know who they are as well. A good place to get started would be with some basic customer profiles.
3. Take An Inventory Of Your Team
Who’s on your team, and how will each of them be contributing to the end product? This may sound simple, but it is an important question. If there is only one of you on your team, this step may be better spent writing down some of the tasks that will need to be completed and the order in which you will do them.
4. Keep In Mind What Your Content Will Look Like
Not all content is equal, so you should decide what yours will look like. The basic starting point is usually a WordPress blog, but it can vary.
With a blog, however, you will give yourself the most flexibility to experiment with long-form writing, short-form writing, video, audio, and even images. You may already have a knack for a certain type of content and if that is the case, let it be your guide. You should also identify the overall topics and themes that you want your blog to cover.
Think about unique content for social media as well.
5. How Often Will You Post?
Determining how often you will post new content to your blog will also determine how far ahead you plan your content. This is a very subjective question. Start with a minimum of two days a week and work your way up from there. Test it and see how many days a week you should post. For some, less is more and for others it is “the more the merrier.”
6. How Will You Plan?
Most teams that use content marketing editorial calendars like to have regularly scheduled meetings to plan out their content. You can use this free guide on running the perfect content planning meeting for a suitable format.
Managing Your Content Marketing Editorial Calendar
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and start using an editorial calendar for your content marketing.
You’ve made the right call.
Not only will you find yourself producing better content, but you’ll also become more consistent with your publishing. In turn, it should lead to a steady increase in traffic.
As you go, there are seven things that you are going to need to keep an eye on at all times.
1. What’s Happening This Week? What’s Happening Next Week?
If you are doing it right, you should have an answer to these questions at all times. How does your calendar make this easier?
2. Does Your Team Know What To Do?
Tools like CoSchedule allow you to assign tasks to each member on your team, making communication easier than ever. Everyone should know what they are supposed to do, and when they are supposed to do it.
3. Is There Healthy Communication?
Discussion about a new piece of content and how to make it better should be a normal part of the process. You should have something in place that allows you to have discussions, and share thoughts with your team.
4. What About The Assets?
Images and graphics can be important elements for great content marketing. Who will be responsible for them, and how will they be assigned? Again, CoSchedule makes this pretty easy with simple tasks that can be assigned to each team member.
5. Implementing Editorial Review
At our office, we use a peer review process to improve the quality of our work. Gathering feedback from our peers is a low-cost way to constantly improve the content that we create. Your calendar and editorial plan should accommodate for a step like this.
6. Reschedule As Needed
One tip for users of a paper editorial calendar is to use colored sticky-notes rather that just writing on the paper calendar itself. This gives you the same drag-and-drop flexibility that you will find in a tool like CoSchedule.
7. Keep Your Social Media In Check Too
While it is often missed, promoting your content on social channels is also very important. It is really the best way to spread your content online. CoSchedule makes this easy, allowing you to schedule your blog posts and your social media messages on the same calendar interface.
No matter what tool you choose, you need to select something that will set you up for success. I often find that those who take the time to plan, edit, and execute their editorial calendar are far more likely to succeed, and build the traffic that they need for the long run.
Content marketing editorial calendars aren’t necessarily new, but you might be surprised at how many people choose to not use them. That’s their loss and your advantage. The content marketers that dedicate themselves to great planning and content creation will always come out ahead.