A content calendar is an essential tool for any organization looking to be proactive and stay on top of their content creation efforts. By using a content calendar, you can streamline your workflow, ensure consistency in your messaging, and improve overall content quality.
According to CoSchedule, 90% of marketers believe that using a content calendar has a positive impact on their content marketing success.
From choosing the right tools to setting achievable goals, read on to discover how a content calendar can help take your organization’s content strategy to the next level.
Three Benefits of a Content Calendar
A content calendar allows you to plan your content in advance, ensuring that you always have fresh, relevant content to share with your audience. By organizing your content into a calendar, you can see the big picture and avoid duplication or overloading your audience with too much content at once.
By planning ahead, we can allocate resources more effectively and avoid wasting time and money on content that doesn’t perform. A content calendar allows us to plan and optimize the distribution of content across different platforms. By scheduling content for specific channels and considering the best times to publish, we can maximize reach and engagement.
Consistency is essential when it comes brand building and engaging with your audiences. By strategically planning content, you can ensure that messaging aligns with your brand values and ensures that you are publishing content on a regular basis, both which help to build trust and credibility.
A content calendar can also help optimize content for search engines. By planning your content around keywords and topics that are important to your audience, you can improve your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your website.
Coordinate and Collaborate
Content creation often involves multiple stakeholders, such as writers, designers, editors, and marketing teams. A content calendar allows everyone to see what’s on the horizon and contribute their ideas and feedback. It can serve as a centralized hub enabling better communication and coordination among team members. By getting everyone’s feedback earlier in the process, I’ve found content is stronger – well-researched, well-written, and more creative.
According to a Content Marketing Institute study, 71% of successful content marketers use a content calendar.
How to create an effective content calendar
With an abundance of platforms, channels and storytelling formats available, keeping track of your content can become overwhelming. This is where a content calendar comes into play, serving as a valuable tool for planning, managing, and optimizing your efforts. The following is a standard step-by-step process but based upon your team and goals, you may want to adjust the flow.
Define Your Goals and Objectives
Before we start creating a calendar, ideally you will have defined goals and a documented content strategy to share with your content team.
What do you want to achieve with your content? Are you looking to increase website traffic, generate leads, or build brand awareness? It is far easier to determine content when you have outlined goals it’s trying to meet.
Determine Your Calendar Format/Tool
There are many different formats and tools you can use to create and manage your content calendar, from spreadsheets to online tools. Choose a format that works for your team and allows you to easily edit and share your calendar. Here are a few popular options, all of which I’ve used in collaboration with clients at one time:
- Google Sheets is a popular choice for creating content calendars. It’s free, easy to use, and allows for real-time collaboration.
- Trello is a project management tool that can be used to create content calendars. It’s a visual tool that allows you to see your content at a glance and assign tasks to team members.
- CoSchedule is a comprehensive content marketing platform that includes a content calendar, social media scheduling, and analytics. It’s a great option for larger organizations with more complex content strategies.
- Airtable is another great online tool with a variety of marketing templates available for team collaboration including a content calendar.
Find a tool that for you provides an intuitive interface, collaboration features, and the ability to schedule and track your content effectively.
HubSpot reports that 72% of marketers who use a content calendar say it has significantly improved their content marketing performance. Having a structured plan in place helps marketers stay organized, be more strategic, and achieve better results with their content efforts.
Research and Brainstorm Content Topics and Themes
Once you have your format in place, it’s time to start planning your content. Research your target audiences’ interests, pain points, and preferences and use this information to brainstorm relevant content topics. Compile and identify relevant dates, events, and industry trends to incorporate into your content calendar too. This can include holidays, industry conferences, or other industry-specific events. This information will strengthen your thought leadership and allow you to create timely content that engages your audience.
Assign specific themes or topics to different days or weeks to maintain variety and prevent redundancy. Consider incorporating a mix of evergreen and timely content to keep your audience engaged and informed.
Hold regular brainstorming sessions with your team to generate new ideas and topics. This helps to ensure that your content is well-rounded and meets the needs of your audience.
Plan Your Consistent Schedule
Next, map out your content over the coming weeks or months. Include specific dates and times for when your content will be published. This helps to ensure that you are publishing content on a regular basis and that your audience knows when to expect new content.
Specify at this time content types in your calendar, such as blog posts, videos, social media updates, and email newsletters to keep a mix.
Don’t try to create too much content too quickly. Overloading your calendar can lead to burning out your team and low-quality content. Instead, hold on to ideas in a backlog to reference when you need inspiration.
The same HubSpot study reveals that companies that document their content marketing strategy are 538% more likely to report success compared to those who don’t.
Allocate Resources and Assign Responsibilities
Assign responsibilities to team members involved in content creation, including writers, editors, and designers. Clearly define roles, deadlines, and expectations to ensure accountability and smooth collaboration. This ensures that everyone on your team knows who is responsible for creating and publishing each piece of content.
As part of your process, establish who will review and the criteria to facilitate seamless communication and feedback exchange.
Allocate resources and set realistic timelines to avoid burnout and ensure quality output. Consider creating templates for your content types to streamline your workflow. This makes it easier to create new content quickly and ensures consistency in your branding and messaging.
Analyze, Refine and Adjust
Hold regular check-ins with your team to review your content calendar and results. It’s important to regularly analyze the performance of your content to identify patterns, trends, and areas for improvement. Use these insights to refine your content calendar and optimize future content planning.
- Track your website traffic to see if your content is driving new visitors to your site.
- Track engagement metrics such as likes, shares, and comments to see if your content is resonating with your audience.
- Track conversions such as form submissions, email sign-ups, or conversions to see if your content is driving growth and revenue.
Be willing to adjust your content strategy based on what’s working and what’s not. Failing to adjust can lead to stagnant content and a lack of growth.
Conclusion and next steps
Implementing a content calendar can have a significant impact on your organization’s content strategy. By leveraging the benefits of improved planning and embracing this proactive approach, you can effectively manage and optimize your content efforts.
Remember, involving your team, measuring success, and selecting common themes are all essential steps in the process. While it’s important to stick to your content calendar as much as possible, it’s also important to leave room for flexibility. Priorities can change quickly, and you may need to pivot to address new events or trends. Harness the power of content calendars to take your content strategy to new heights.