Content Marketing Planning: Tips on Developing an Editorial Calendar
Marketers largely depend on blogs to help attract web traffic, increase brand, service or product awareness and ideally generate leads. But, as good marketers know, it’s easier said than done. One of the quickest ways to tank your blog efforts is by having a haphazard plan – or no plan at all.
To achieve a successful blog, the content must be carefully planned out and in turn strategically executed. Our secret to producing successful content for ourselves and our clients? Editorial calendars: they serve as a roadmap for our publishing efforts, and most of all, acts as tools to keep us accountable. By planning out the year’s content in advance, we’re able to effectively brainstorm topics, identify trends and seasonal highlights, and also schedule out content according to our sales cycles.
So start your 2017 marketing efforts off right and ensure your editorial calendar is in good shape by following these tips:
- Get organized: Start by creating a calendar or spreadsheet where you can record topics, deadlines, themes, trends and more that will help guide your brainstorming efforts. Then take these high-level topics and start fleshing them out into a detailed plan. An editorial calendar serves as a playbook for everything you plan to publish on a monthly or yearly basis. It can include everything from blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, advertising opportunities, lead capture content and media campaigns.
- Do your research: You can’t create an editorial calendar chock-full of meaningful content that your audience wants, without actually knowing what that is. Before spending countless hours expanding your content strategy, take the time to evaluate your analytics and get to know what’s working and what isn’t. Are there certain topics that resonate better than others? What’s your top performing content? These are questions that need to be answered to ensure you’re on the right track to success!
- Determine post frequency: When it comes to producing content, think quality over quantity. Turn to your analytics to guide you on how often you should post based on how often your audience is consuming and how they are reacting to it. You can also use analytics to measure the effectiveness of your topics. This will allow you to pivot on future topics or continue to expand on more meaningful ones. But results take time, so be sure to give your posts some breathing room before analyzing too much.
- Brainstorm topics: Once you have an organized calendar or spreadsheet and a solid understanding of what content, which channel and how frequent your audience engages, it’s time to start brainstorming topics to fill in the blanks. Start by determining overarching topics and do diligent research to expand from there, filling in “post” days as you go. Inside tip: We assign 2-3 topics a month and create post ideas and headlines from there, then determine deadline and assign to the author accordingly!
- Work smarter, not harder: It likely goes without saying, but when your posts are published, mark them off or color code them to “completed” on the calendar. There is no better sense of accomplishment than crossing something off a long to-do list!
Remember, an editorial calendar, serves as your company’s content blueprint; stick to the schedule and you’ll be golden. Need some content inspo to get started? Check out our post “Popular Blog Formats and How to Pull Them Off” and keep an eye out for the second post in this series “How to Break the Content Marketing Boundaries.”