Digital Marketing 13 min read
Content Writer @ Galactic Fed
Published 11 Aug 2021
When it comes to marketing, there’s a lot of content you can create. And as a marketer, you have tons of ideas. While there’s an ambition to get it all done, a robust content strategy can overwhelm even the most experienced marketers.
We’ve got some encouraging words to say: you can do it! But it’s essential to be organized and plan ahead. In other words, you need a content calendar.
A content calendar is a visual workflow of your content strategy. It helps you keep track of content types, promotional channels, authors, status, and publish dates.
You’re probably thinking: that sounds like a whole lot of work—is it necessary?
Here are three quick reasons why having a content calendar is a must-have for your marketing strategy:
Some say, for every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. So as part of our Digital Marketing Series, we’re asking you to take less than ten minutes of your day to learn how to create a well-planned, organized content calendar. (Just think about all the hours earned!)
If you look up “content calendar template” in Google Images, you’ll find many variations.
Our two cents? Don’t get attached to one template. Use them as guides but find a structure that works best for you.
To help you do that, we’re walking through the five W’s (and one H): Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. If your content calendar can answer these six questions, consider yourself ready to rock your content strategy.
Behind every good piece of content, there’s a reason why it was created.
To determine the “why,” take a step back and write down your business and marketing objectives. They could be:
Once you’ve determined your goals, you can build a campaign strategy and start brainstorming content ideas. It’s helpful to revisit the marketing funnel (and what sorts of content perform best at each stage of the funnel).
Source: Single Grain
For example, if you’re a freshly-launched business that sells eco-friendly cleaning products, you’ll need to build brand awareness and reach. That means your content strategy should focus on creating top-of-funnel (or TOFU) content—like listicles on why you should switch to green products.
Tip: Set aside some KPIs for each piece of content. This’ll keep you focused on the “why.” Standard content marketing metrics are unique page visits (UPVs), downloads, shares, time on page, and inbound links. At the end of the day, pick ones that make sense for your campaign objective!
With marketing objectives as your North Star, it’s time to brainstorm some killer content ideas.
Let’s say you want to launch three to four blog posts each month over the next three months. Sure, it may align with your company’s quarterly strategy to build brand awareness, but how do you pick the topics?
What do they do? They analyze top-performing content in your niche and help answer these questions:
This information can help you identify trending topics, keywords to target, the structure of the blog post, and possible titles.
Tip: Don’t forget to take a look at your own analytics. What links are people clicking on? Which emails are they opening? Believe it or not, the answers are right under your nose.
If you don’t have much historical data to work with, we encourage you to pursue feedback. Ask your audience what types of content they want to see! Customers appreciate it when businesses take the time to listen. (It’s super important for reducing customer churn.)
\ You figured out an amazingly click-worthy title for your next blog post: 101 Ways to Clean Your Dog Using Our Eco-Friendly Cleaning Cloths.
It’s click-worthy for sure and will bring attention to your brand, but can you come up with this content and meet the readers’ expectations? Is it a tangible project? (Can you actually clean a dog 101 ways using your eco-friendly cloth?! We need proof!)
Once you identify the content you want to create, you’ll need to determine how you’ll execute each piece of content.
Put yourself in your future self’s shoes: you’re getting ready to upload your piece of content. Do you have everything you need? Consider this checklist:
It’s best to get all your ducks in a row to reduce stress at the time of launch. If you’re coming across huge roadblocks to complete a piece of content, then you may want to reconsider it.
You should start creating your content calendar at this stage—it’ll help you visualize all the logistics. In the example below, you can see the information Hubspot chose to include, but feel free to personalize yours and add as many details as you want!
Tip: Here at Galactic Fed, we use Google Sheets for our content calendar. Its cloud-based architecture enables you to collaborate with anyone, anytime, anywhere, on any device. Plus, it’s free. (#NotAnAd, we swear.)
Start creating columns based on the “how.” Remember to ask yourself, what information do you need to include to ensure each piece of content is created? Whatever comes to mind deserves a column. We’ll be tackling some of these now in greater detail.
Where your content ends up totally depends on the type of content it is. Let’s say it’s a blog post, infographic, or ebook. Then you’ll probably publish it on your website. If it’s an educational video or webinar recording, you’ll upload it on Youtube or a video hosting platform. Or, if you created some fun video or photo content, you’d likely post it to your social media accounts. In short, where your content lives isn’t so cut and dry.
Neither is where you promote it. After putting in the effort to create a stellar piece of content, you should also put some time into your promotional strategy—actually, a lot of time. Some even recommend the 80/20 split (80% promoting content, 20% creating content). Hey—if you plan it well, you could find opportunities to promote your content months later!
Source: Orbit Media
Here are some places to promote your content:
As you can see, the options are endless. So for each piece of content you create, you’ll need to carefully consider where you’ll post it and where you’ll promote it. (Yes, this deserves a column in your content calendar!)
Tip: Where you post and promote your content is the tip of the iceberg. To get the most mileage out of your content, make sure it’s easy to share. Clean and simple URLs, “Click to Tweets,” and social share buttons are all ways to encourage more promotion.
This question may be easy. Perhaps you’re the one creating all the content as well as posting and promoting it.
Or, it may be a team effort. You may be working with several internal teammates and external contractors to get the job done.
If that’s the case, it’s important to establish ownership. To cover all your bases, return back to the “how”:
Attaching names to each of these responsibilities is essential for coordinating all the moving pieces in a timely manner.
Tip: In your content calendar, beside each team member’s name, include a column that describes the status of their work. Knowing if it’s in the planning stage, drafted and reviewed, or ready for publication will be helpful for all members of your team.
The perfect content calendar doesn’t exi—encompasses months of content. As we mentioned, planning well ahead allows you to line up content with business goals. It also ensures you don’t post a bunch of similar content in a row.
With that said, we don’t expect you to have exact dates nailed down months ahead. When you’re planning, try to plop in a general date into the calendar. As each piece comes together, you can adjust it.
To get the most bang for your buck, be strategic about your scheduling. Take a look at your analytics to see when your content receives the most engagement, and try to choose publication dates and times accordingly.
Once you pick a time, we encourage trying to stick to it. If one team member doesn’t, it could delay your entire posting schedule.
Tip: If you’re publishing a lot of content, don’t hesitate to create multiple sheets for each type of content. This will help you stay organized. Or, to help you visualize your posting schedule (and related tasks), consider using a monthly calendar (as the example demonstrates below).
And just like that, you’ve got all the information you need to craft the perfect content calendar—one that is strategic, well-planned, and organized. (Talk about a triple threat!)
If you need help along the way—with SEO or paid media guidance in particular—we’re here to help you. Together, we could fill that calendar with some incredible content!
Content Writer @ Galactic Fed