How to Build a Content Calendar
Content marketing involves reaching out to the right audience, at the right time, to deliver the most relevant content, using the most appropriate medium… and doing this consistently. For months and months.
That’s not easy!
Streamlining your content marketing efforts can be daunting. It’s not unusual for content marketers to dabble into too many initiatives and eventually lose track of things. Muddled up schedules, various content formats, uncoordinated activities, unedited posts, and missed deadlines. All this eventually leads to one thing – Stress!
The good news is – you can get achieve all your content marketing goals with some planning (and a bit of luck)! Invest time in building a more systematic approach for creating, distributing, and scheduling your content activities. You can do this with a Content Calendar (also known as an Editorial Calendar).
A content calendar is your team’s dashboard. It spells out your strategy, eases collaboration, and helps in efficient publishing. It lets you organize, structure, and schedule content marketing efforts, and help you run the process like a well-oiled machine. Your stakeholders here can be internal teams, content writing agencies, graphic designers, and even your social media agency.
Here are the elements of a solid Content Calendar, and the tips to develop one.
1. Talk to the product owners and business teams
Your content calendar must be optimized to meet the business goals. Reach out to your product teams and get a pulse of the market. Discuss the specific features, benefits, and specifications that you MUST include in the communications.
Understand the customer lifecycle for the different products. For most products, you will find the following stages:
- Pre-Purchase (Aware, Appeal)
- Getting Information (Ask)
- Purchase (Act)
- Post-Purchase (Advocate)
You can find more models like AIDA (or the more recent 5A) or popular frameworks like the “sales funnel”. Use these to identify the sales challenges at each stage. These are your cues to build targeted and relevant content topics.
For example, for a life insurance company in India wanting to create “awareness” about their products can consider an article topic like “Do I Even Need Life Insurance”. This would fall into the “Pre-Purchase” or “Awareness” bucket.
2. List down the content type
Once you have identified the topics or themes, zero-in on the most appropriate format for the given set of audience and their media consumption behaviour. You can consider formats like long-form content, videos, newsletters, social media posts, podcasts, and so on. The key is to find your comfort level given the multiple variables like the time/ effort/ expertise/ cost required for producing each content format.
Most businesses make the mistake of launching on every channel and content type at the same time. Don’t spread yourself thin. Start with the content types you are most likely to succeed with. Success here means engagement, leads, and conversions.
3. Who will create the content and when?
If your content creation efforts are divided among multiple people, you need to make everyone aware of their tasks. For a single piece of content, a content writer, a graphic designer, an editor, and an SEO strategist, might need to work together. Make sure to set roles and assign responsibilities for each piece in your content calendar.
Plan your dates in this manner:
- Commission By (Date)
- First Draft By (Date)
- Roll out By (Date)
4. When (time of the day) and how often you will post?
The next aspect to consider is the schedule and frequency of posting your content. One good way is to analyze the performance of your previous posts and identify the trends. Find out the day/s of the week and time of the day that seem to be generating the maximum traction. While past performance does not guarantee future success, it is a good place to start.
On the other hand, if you are just starting off, you can learn from the experience of others. Post scheduling platforms like Hootsuite offer some awesome resources for you to dig into. Here is something we recommend – How to Create a Social Media Posting Schedule.
Also, consider the frequency of posting. Don’t spam. Just amazingly useful content regularly. Unless you are a pro and are looking for serious traction, once in a week is a good frequency for most businesses.
Remember, your content calendar needs to be flexible enough to accommodate content ideas that come from trending thoughts, the latest (and unexpected) developments, and the buzz in your market.
5. Where do you post the content?
The next key element of your editorial calendar is to select the platforms where you are going to publish your content. While you might have given it a thought while deciding on the content type, the simple rule is – be present where your target audience hangs out. You must take into account the user demographics. For example, if your readers are B2B tech decision-makers, you should consider publishing thought leadership content on LinkedIn and Twitter, to maximize traction.
Again, don’t try too many platforms at once. And when you eventually do, remember to repurpose the content for the other platform.
6. Content marketing tools/ templates/ platforms to make life easier
You will find loads of free tools and templates to help you create your content calendar. To start with, use a readily available spreadsheet-based template. When you’re comfortable, consider more sophisticated alternatives like CoSchedule, Trello, Airtable, Asana, SEMrush, etc. All these are powerful tools that will help you manage your editorial calendar and collaborate easily.
Lastly, it’s important to revisit and tweak your content calendar from time to time. Content calendars help you put your ideas on paper (isn’t that what we all need?) and then track the status and performance of each piece. So, take a look back and analyze what worked best in terms of content type, posting frequency, publishing platforms, scheduling, and other aspects. Adjust your content strategy and make changes in your content calendar.
So, go ahead and create a content calendar to streamline your content marketing efforts. Alternatively, you can hire experts from a content agency like LexiConn to help you get started with the process of planning and that of creating some amazing content for your business.