It doesn’t matter if you’re planning social media posts or planning to roll out new website content; no marketing strategy can be successful without a plan. You always need an organized set of goals dictating what your brand’s online message will be, how those messages will evolve throughout the year, and how they will be communicated.
Enter the editorial calendar. You know you need one, and you’ve probably been avoiding the project altogether – but holding off in its creation could be doing you more harm than good. We want to help you get back on track and get this year really rockin’ with great results. So let’s make it happen, shall we?
One of the reasons business owners avoid editorial calendars is because they take time to set up. The reality is that this is true of all new projects. Once you have it up and running, it begins to function like a well-oiled machine.
Sure, it takes time to find a great format, figure out workflows, and make adjustments to the process. Once that’s done, though, your biggest (and how easier) project will be to load up content titles and ideas for each of your projects. You’ll also find you’re no longer wasting time scrambling to come up with last-minute content for items that were missed because they weren’t on a visual calendar to start with.
A quick look at your editorial calendar will help you figure out where you’re falling flat. When you create your initial calendar, it sometimes helps to look back a month and plug in what types of content you published. Did you randomly publish a couple of blogs, ten Twitter posts one day and then none for a week, or one YouTube video in what was supposed to be a two-part series? Having a strong editorial calendar in place will help you to establish a consistent publishing pace.
Sticking to the 4-1-1 Rule
Nope, we’re not dialing “information” for help. We’re talking about the 4-1-1 rule of marketing. This rule states that out of every six posts, there should be four pieces of entertaining or informational material for each one “soft” promotion (like an event) or “hard” promotion (like a sale). It keeps your audience interested and engaged without overwhelming them with advertisements and hard sells. Your calendar will help you to keep your ratio in check.
Ease of Planning Themed Content
Do you usually plan big promotions around specific holidays or events? An editorial calendar will allow you to target the big day and then map out the content you want to run in the days, weeks, or even months beforehand. Some promotions are fast-hitting while others require a slow build with increased levels of content as you hit the peak. Editorial calendars offer the visual space you need to map things out.
Ease of Planning Evergreen Content
Evergreen content isn’t tied to a specific time of year; it’s always relevant, no matter what season you’re in. Search engines love this type of content as it works well with keywords and doesn’t become outdated quickly. It’s important to make sure you’re adding evergreen content to your content marketing strategies, sprinkling it in between your themed content.
Diverse Content Scheduling
Having an editorial calendar makes it easy to see what type of content you have scheduled at any given time. You get to see content type, subject matter, categories, associated clients, and just about anything else you need to list, too. You’ll never end up posting two infographics in a row again, and you won’t spend too many days in a row on the same niche subject.
Worried about having a stroke of genius and not being able to fit it in? Using a calendar doesn’t mean you have to trash your title ideas; it means you can drag and drop them to different dates so your readers don’t get bored.
Another benefit of the content calendar is that it’s easy to pick something up and move it to a different date. Let’s say there’s breaking news in your industry and you want to fit in a new blog post on the subject. You merely have to browse your editorial calendar, find the day you want to publish, and maybe reschedule the original piece for a different day; a task that will be easy because you can simply pop the original piece into an empty spot on the calendar. You won’t have to pull your hair out wondering how to rearrange your scribbled post-it notes.
Marketing costs money. Most companies have a very specific dollar amount budgeted per month, quarter, or year. Content types may vary in price, which can make it difficult to know what to budget when you’re first starting out.
Think about the contingencies involved with creating each content type on your calendar. Maybe you can create videos in-house but need an outside graphic designer to do your infographics. Knowing your budget – and having it openly displayed on an easy-to-read calendar – will ensure you’re spreading your marketing dollars out wisely. Your goal (and result) will be that important campaigns get what they need each quarter.
More Traffic and Engagement
Having an editorial calendar isn’t just about mapping out a better content strategy. The entire process has a trickle-down effect, bringing more traffic to your website and social media platforms. Regular, consistent efforts result in ongoing increases in traffic as well as engagement. You’ll end up with more email sign-ups, more targeted leads, and a better overall ROI.
Planning Ahead, Looking Back
While it’s great to know what you’re going to publish in advance, it’s also incredibly helpful to be able to look back at what you’ve already done. Your marketing team should be tracking the metrics associated with every blog, newsletter, and social media post you put out in the universe. You’ll be able to look back at the reach, open rates, clicks, and engagement levels to determine which subjects were more popular with your audience. Creating more content around those same topics will help you to skyrocket your results.
Look, it would be false to say it isn’t a bit of work to set up an editorial calendar. But once you have it in place, we really think you’ll be amazed at how easy your content marketing strategies are to plan. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes!