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 cohesive campaign. As a result, using a editorial content calendar is crucial in managing the content marketing process.
Calendar Management And Template
There are many ways to format and lay out an editorial content calendar. However, your team’s editorial content calendar should include an annual look, in addition to content plans by month for the entire year, always staying 60 to 90 days ahead. Additionally, you should appoint one person to manage the editing and upkeep of the calendar to avoid confusion among team members.
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. Below is an example template of the editorial calendar we use at Vertical Measures (feel free to download).
This calendar includes your content marketing plans for the year at a glance and offers a separate sheet to be used for each month, which includes a deeper look into each content project. Let’s take a closer look at how you might use this template or create your own original.
When developing your editorial content calendar, it is important to think ahead as far as possible. Look forward a year to events and happenings that could affect future content projects.
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 following year, like holidays or annual events. Consider researching industry events that you can create content around. Try to plan for 12 months in advance to avoid roadblocks throughout the year. Consider the following when brainstorming for the coming year:
- 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? 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? Typically, some content will be focused on specific product launches throughout the year.
- Deadlines: What are the current production deadlines for content that the team has set to meet? 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 be tracking? Will you be looking at links, traffic and conversions? Outline goals upfront so content producers and editors can work to create content to effectively meet them.
Monthly Calendar Creation
Each content project has its own row, ordered by the publish date. Due date and publish date should be filled in chronologically. 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 important for resource planning as well, 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 important to identify this information before content distribution.
- 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 leveraged by another digital marketing channel? Perhaps a content piece can be used in other online marketing efforts, giving your content a longer life cycle.
- 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 projects 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.
- Social Updates: This could be the same as the Promotion column, but could also be an additional section. If you plan on sharing this content across social networks (which you should!), you may consider including Tweets, Facebook status updates and Google+ posts that can easily be copied by all that have access to the document.
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.
Having a list of past content projects on hand allows for easier reporting and quick recognition of milestones and achievements. Additionally, content marketing project organization can aid in brainstorming future projects and provide content repurposing and refreshing ideas.