A quick way to ensure your content marketing efforts don’t go to waste is to use a content calendar. Aligning your marketing plan with a calendar allows you to consistently publish content that attracts new customers. But what is a content calendar, and why does your website need one?
Content marketing is a low-cost way to drive traffic from search engines to your website and business blog. However, it’s not simple.
To be successful, you need a plan and robust website KPIs to track your progress. You can’t publish any old content and pray it ranks in the search engines.
Let’s explore what is a content calendar and why you should use one.
What is a content calendar?
You probably use a calendar to organise your life. It ensures you don’t forget that aunt Flo’s birthday is in two weeks or that you need to collect the kids late on Tuesday. It also helps you track your business meetings, ensuring you turn up on time and don’t ghost anyone.
A content calendar is very similar. It visually shows what’s due, what’s done and when articles will go. It provides clarity to team members. They can see who is responsible for each step in the content creation process.
Any bottlenecks are also easy to spot, allowing you to jump in and fix issues. You no longer need to send multiple emails to check if someone has completed a task. Instead, you spend more time mentoring your team and ensuring the overarching process is smooth.
Even if your team is just you, a freelance writer, and a graphic designer hired from Fiverr, having a content calendar will ensure a smooth workflow.
Of course, if your team is bigger, having a content calendar will ensure your writers, sub-editors, designers and marketing team can easily stay on track and motivated.
For most, a spreadsheet is the most logical way to organise your content strategy. However, this isn’t always scalable or easily shared with freelancers.
Hence the need to create a dynamic content calendar, easy to share with team members, quick to track and enables you to view where your content marketing is going and how that aligns with your goals and KPIs.
Why use a content calendar?
Documenting and using SOPs (Standard operating procedures) in your business can revolutionize how you serve your end customers. You can speed up or outsource repetitive tasks and spend more time with each client.
The same is true for content creation. With the right processes in place, you’ll have clarity when planning, creating and promoting content. It’s important to use a content calendar to speed up these tasks ensuring your efforts drive more targeted prospects.
Here are four reasons why you should use a content calendar.
#1 Better 0rganise and manage your team
If you’re currently storing content ideas on random post-it notes, notepads or slack, you’re wasting time being disorganised and inefficient. Thankfully, a content calendar can help you organise multiple pieces of information in a single place.
Having a single spreadsheet or programme you can use to collect ideas, plan out content arcs and record published posts can make you more strategic and focused. It can also help you find gaps in your content strategy.
As everyone can view the progress of an article from start to finish, you can manage your team better. You no longer need to email team members to check up on their progress. Other members can take ownership of the content creation workflow as they know what to work on and who they are waiting on.
#2 Plan better
A big reason most blogs and content marketing plans fail is a lack of planning. By being proactive (not reactive), you can build time into your week to plan, write and edit articles. Plus, you probably find you have better ideas if you’re not rushed.
I encourage our clients to keep a list of ideas in their content framework document that’s updated daily to ensure a constant flow of potential articles, making it easy to find things to write about.
If you’re feeling uninspired, you can start with this list. You can refocus by arranging ideas into topics and comparing them to what you’ve already published.
With a list of new ideas, you can create compelling content your target customer wants to read. Plus, you can plan better content arcs that fully address each question or concern the client has.
#3 Maintain consistency
Without consistency, you’re unlikely to reach your goals. If your audience expects a new blog article each week, it’s your job to deliver to keep them engaged. Otherwise, your audience is unlikely to grow.
By having a content calendar, you and your team have a clear plan of publishing frequency that will hold you accountable.
#4 Track your performance more efficiently
Without setting and tracking KPIs you won’t have a clue if your content marketing efforts are working or not. If you have time to analyse what articles perform well, you can attempt to replicate them and achieve even better results.
Tracking your KPIs in your content calendar allows everyone involved to see how your blog is performing. You can also use it to uncover insights that can inform your future efforts and make the process even more streamlined.
Having a content calendar is critical to your content marketing success and isn’t optional or meaningless marketing speak. A content calendar is a foundational aspect of your content strategy.
Key features of a content calendar
Your content calendar should have the following components:
- Publishing frequency
- Production workflows
- Team member assignments
- Idea repository
- Published content
- Reporting mechanisms
Pick two or three data points to measure that allows you and the team to quickly see if your strategy is a success or not. With clear KPIs, everyone is working toward the same goal.
If you’re publishing a new article weekly, pick a day and stick with it. Create a list of the dates when posts will be published.
The easiest way to rank your blog and website is to dominate a few topics. By having a list of topics, you break them down into lists of keywords to target. You can arrange these keyword lists into logical sequences allowing you to cover a topic in full.
If you’re publishing a new article every Thursday, your writer will need to email you the words on Tuesday. On Wednesday, you’ll need the graphics back. You’ll also need to edit, format and schedule the article in WordPress/CMS.
Writing out your process from selecting an idea to publishing an article helps you with clarity. It also ensures your team know the next step in the process. A flowchart diagram is the easiest way to detail your workflow.
Team member assignments
Build a better team with clear descriptions of each member’s tasks and how to contact them. Rather than waiting for you to return emails or becoming frustrated, team members can take ownership of the process.
Encourage your team to come up with new ideas and add them to a central document. The more ideas you have, the easier planning articles become.
As with new ideas, you should track what you’ve published in a central document that all team members can access. They can see when articles were published, what topics have been covered, and even look for gaps in the content strategy.
Having KPIs isn’t enough, you should track them daily or weekly. Regularly measuring your performance will enable you to fine-tune your content strategy. Also, by allowing your team to track performance, they can suggest ideas that could help you reach your goals.
Setting up your content calendar for success
As a dynamic document, no two content calendars are the same. You might use different content calendars for your business’s blog, social media and email. Some businesses will have multiple calendars to ensure their content efforts are consistent across their different channels.
If you run a small business, you must set up a content calendar today and start to build an effective content strategy. Even a skeleton plan is far better than none.
The few hours it will take to get the basics in place will be worth it as you’ll have a plan, what to track and when you’ll measure your progress.
If you need help building a content calendar for your website, we’d love to work with you.