Most business owners know a solid content marketing  plan is vital for a brand’s online success, but not all of them know how to make it happen. A strong editorial calendar will map out content and keep you on track.
Research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute  found that:
- 53 percent of marketers in organizations where content marketing was most effective had a documented content marketing plan.
- 12 percent of marketers in organizations where content marketing was the least effective had a documented content marketing plan.
With content marketing generating triple as many leads as outbound marketing for 62 percent less money, it seems prudent to take it seriously enough to create a strategic plan.
Creating a Content Calendar That Works
Create a Strategy
- Identify the target audience. Who are your customers? Who are you trying to reach with your content campaign? If you are looking to move beyond your current customer base to branch out into a new demographic, define it.
- Profile the audience. Whether it’s current clientele or new ones, you need to know who they are and what makes them tick. This will help you determine how to engage them.
- Set a goal. What do you want to achieve with your content marketing campaign? Remember, a goal should be quantifiable.
- Plan to measure progress. How will you measure a campaign’s success? Success is in relation to the goal you set. Figure out what tools are available to track progress.
- Start with seasonal content. The easiest place to start is by identifying what’s happening in the world throughout the year. Holidays, seasons and events. You may or may not write content relating to each of those items, but it’s important to know what’s happening, so you don’t write something that makes you appear completely out of touch.
- Add industry-specific. Does your industry have an annual conference? Is there a time of year when there are usually new product launches? For example, the new car models usually come out in the fall. The fashion industry has fashion week in February and September. If you’re in those industries, you want to have content relevant to them at the right time.
- Look ahead to the internal year. Are there any business plans for the coming year to be announced? Any events to be held?
- What is the target market interested in? Here’s where the information from the first step comes into play. If the research has been done to fully define the target market, it should be easy to figure out what they want. What’s relevant to them and the business?
At this point, you may be feeling frustrated with how time-consuming the process is. If you want to learn how to create an amazing content calendar , you must set aside the time for some planning. Don’t give up. As the statistics above make clear, there’s no question this is time well spent.
The most valuable resource for content marketing are your people. Who will create the content? Is this an in-house project or will you use professional services? If it’s an in-house project, people need to be identified to write the content, edit the content and proofread the content before it’s posted anywhere publicly.
This is not an assignment to be passed on lightly. Writing content is time consuming and needs to be done skillfully to be effective. If you don’t have the budget to hire a full-time content marketer, consider sharing the wealth among the current staff. Assign writing to people based on their expertise, so they are writing on topics they are already knowledgeable about.
For planning purposes, keep in mind each piece should be edited by someone other than the writer. Ideally, the editor knows something about optimizing online copy for search engine rankings. A third person will need to proofread each piece. It’s never a good idea to have the writer or editor do the proofreading, because it really demands a fresh set of eyes for best results.
Of course, identifying resources could simply be to utilize the services of a content marketing firm. If this is the plan, be sure to assign the task of locating and hiring a service.
It’s time to put it into a format that is usable. An effective content calendar  will be something that can be digested at a glance. There’s no point in spending time creating it if it’s going to be tossed aside and never used. For the content calendar to be a useful tool, the format must be user-friendly.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. There’s more than one right way to do this. Possible column headers to include are:
- Date to be posted
- Details/content notes
- CTA (call to action)
- Assignments (writer, editor, proofreader)
An effective content calendar is a dynamic document. It should be revisited regularly and revised as needed. Best practice is to have regular separate meetings with key players to discuss content strategy and analyze results. These meetings will help keep things on track.
Creating a content calendar can be time-consuming … but it’s not nearly as time-consuming as wasting valuable resources on content marketing without a strategy.
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