“Publish or perish” doesn’t just apply to academics. To build brand awareness and drive conversion, customers need a steady stream of content published at the right time. It’s vitally important to adhere to an organized schedule, as some studies suggest organized marketers were nearly seven times more likely to report success than their peers.
To stay on track, you need a method of scheduling and implementing your marketing tactics. Ad hoc publishing simply doesn’t deliver results.
The heart of this scheduling demand is the content calendar. This vital marketing document brings all the information for your content strategy together in one place. This gives creative teams direction on production and allows brand managers to stay on track with distribution, promotion, and scheduling.
Today we’ll discover the best ways to implement a content calendar within your business. You’ll learn the essential elements of building and implementing content calendars to drive the right customer behaviors:
- What is a content calendar?
- Why are content calendars important?
- Benefits of a content calendar
- How to build a content calendar
- Best practices for your content calendar
- How technology helps content teams deliver better results
What is A Content Calendar?
A content calendar, also known as an editorial calendar, is a detailed content plan for developing and publishing content across a company’s marketing channels. The content calendar gives a detailed description of each piece of content to be published, its current stage of development, and any associated information about the campaign, promotion, or intent of publication.
Why Are Content Calendars Important?
Want your marketing campaign to be successful and on time? Then it’s time to get organized. An editorial calendar provides the structure to deliver your individual marketing assets and the entire campaign on schedule and on target. Use an editorial calendar to establish the parameters of success for your marketing:
Publishing cadence: Great marketing outcomes rely on timely execution to ensure customers receive the right messaging at the right time. There isn’t room to be haphazard or miss delivery targets. Your content calendar keeps those deliverable dates on track and keeps upcoming releases top-of-mind for the marketing team.
Content creation timing: Customers are asking for increased content to make decisions, as well as more diverse content offerings. This leaves less time in the day for developing assets. The editorial calendar is a project management tool for teams delivering and repurposing content and customer experiences. Modular content helps you get more content in flight faster, and the content calendar keeps you up to date on those assets needed most urgently.
Historical data: Content calendars inform the future, but they also document past success. They offer a comprehensive record of your delivery cadence, content mix, and (if you integrate performance analytics) their outcomes. A well-developed content calendar is a useful retrospective tool to identify what worked well and what could improve. The more detailed your editorial calendar, the better information you’ll have on hand for planning future campaigns.
Benefits of a Content Calendar
Content calendars serve various organizational purposes that help teams efficiently deliver the right content. They keep everyone on track, provide a roadmap for development, and can even increase the creativity of your teams:
Information centralization: Large-scale marketing requires many stakeholders to interact with an asset or content collection before delivery. Content calendar tools provide a centralized location for all information concerning creation, delivery, and marketing execution. The calendar gives team members at-a-glance direction about the next steps and a single source of truth about upcoming content releases.
High-level campaign reference: When teams brainstorm every component of the marketing collateral plan in one place, it’s easier to visualize the entire campaign and make data-informed decisions. An editorial calendar serves as a playbook for every stage of a marketing campaign. It provides a cross-reference across every marketing channel and a bird’s-eye view of how different content pieces work together to increase engagement and conversion.
Creativity and collaboration: Creative stakeholders work better when they work together. The editorial calendar is not just a record of planned deliveries, but also a powerful tool for ideation and storyboarding. Marketing managers and creative teams use the centralized information in an editorial calendar to identify gaps in the marketing plan, discover opportunities for new messaging, and dive deeper into relevant topics.
How to Build And Use a Content Calendar
A well-developed content calendar can be simple yet effective. The most important aspect of building a content calendar is providing a sufficient level of detail for the various elements of your content pieces and your overall campaign. Use these steps to build and execute a successful editorial calendar for your upcoming marketing initiatives:
- Choose a home for your calendar: A content calendar is a living, interactive document. While you can build a serviceable content calendar template using Excel, the team needs access to the document to use it effectively. Companies with a more mature marketing stack often integrate the calendar into their work management system. This allows you to incorporate creation and delivery deadlines, track progress, and monitor the success of delivered content.
- Establish goals for the campaign: When building a content calendar, start with your desired outcomes and work back from there. Are you building product launches or creating social media engagement? Whatever the purpose, establish the jobs your marketing collateral must accomplish. Enrich your calendar with information on buyer personas, pipeline stage, and search intent. This will ensure every piece pulls its weight and serves the correct purpose when scheduling.
- Outline marketing channels: The editorial calendar is more than a list of blog posts to publish. In a modern, omnichannel approach, teams deliver assets across a variety of channels:
- Presentations and webinars
- Social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter)
- Video (YouTube, TikTok, Reels)
- Paid ads
- Print advertising
- Plan and develop the content library: Using your goals outlined above, build out content ideas, types of content, social media platforms for promotion, and the purpose for each piece. Build your content briefs for the content library and a publishing schedule for production and delivery. Create a mix of assets to appeal to different audiences and stages in the customer journey: evergreen content, customizable templates, SEO-focused content, informative social media posts, LinkedIn outreach, and more
- Schedule posts for campaign delivery dates: Production may take a staged approach across the timeline of a campaign, but carefully monitoring the progress of in-flight assets and the publishing schedule ensures the campaign delivery stays on track. Fill in your calendar with important dates of delivery for each asset and post content tailored to each part of the customer journey.
- Measure your results: Take stock of your campaign success and use performance data to evaluate your efforts. Use the data from these exercises to improve future campaigns, streamline asset development, and shorten time to market.
Best Practices for Content Calendars
To ensure fast and quality content development to support your content calendar, use these best practices:
Set a publishing cadence: Consistent publication is one of the most important aspects of building domain authority and loyalty with your target audience. Set an achievable content cadence and stick to it, knowing that 83% of marketers believe it’s more effective to create higher quality content less often. Making improvements to the volume of content you publish over time is preferable to sporadic or inconsistent publishing.
Focus on topics: Organizing your content production around relevant topics makes it easier to build brand awareness and authority with your most likely customers. Make room in your editorial calendar development for the organization by topic to ensure you cover all relevant messaging.
Repurpose content: The desire for targeted and consistent content makes leveraging modular content development more important than ever. Use flagship content pieces such as e-books and white papers to create various other valuable and digestible information. One e-book can be repurposed into dozens of other content types like targeted blog content, short videos, podcast episodes, and infographics. This helps maximize return on investment (ROI) and return on effort (ROE).
Develop And Schedule Content Calendars Faster With Aprimo
To build a strong and consistent content library, you shouldn’t spend all day juggling spreadsheets. With Aprimo Productivity Planner and digital asset management (DAM), brand managers plan and execute campaigns with ease. Teams develop well-targeted assets faster. Aprimo combines the most powerful elements of work management and digital asset management in one place:
- Content development and delivery planning in a centralized, dynamic work management platform
- Modular content features that help teams quickly turn one valuable asset into many
- Distribution capabilities that get your messaging into the market faster
- Spend management tools to ensure you make the most of every content marketing dollar
Learn more about Aprimo and find out why we are the leaders in marketing resource management here.