Your prospective customers use search engines to find the information they want. Google alone performed more than 5.1 billion searches in 2012. The articles on your company blog, posts on social media, instructional videos are all content that appears in search results when your prospects go searching.
Once you understand who your prospective customers are, what motivates them, what actions they take and when they take them in the buy cycle along with the types of content you have or intend to publish, you should create an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar acts like a roadmap helping you plan and execute the right content at the right time for each buyer persona you’ve developed. You can download the simple content calendar spreadsheet we use to help us plan our blog articles.
The editorial calendar will ensure you create and publish content across all the relevant subject areas, in the appropriate and varied types and channels, and for all your prospective buyer personas throughout the buying cycle.
How to Make a Content Marketing Calendar
Follow these steps to set up an editorial calendar that will guide and inform your content creation efforts:
- Create an online calendar or spreadsheet that outlines your editorial plans. Include the article topics, content channels through which you’ll deliver them, and the buyer personas. Try to plan at least three months in advance, six months if you can manage it. Depending on your business, you may be able to plan a year in advance, but be wary of topics that might go stale and become irrelevant or dated during that long a period of time.
- By reviewing the effectiveness of content you’ve previously published, you can work backward from your marketing goals. If you understand what results the content you publish produces in terms of leads and conversions, you can plan an editorial calendar to meet your goals.
- Fill in the dates on your calendar with the topics, types of content to be produced, and the targeted persona. Review the calendar to be sure you’ve achieved a balance between types of content, such as social media posts, blogs, or e-books, the topics you want to cover, and the buyer personas you want to reach.
- Be sure you include a place on your editorial calendar that addresses the SEO keywords you want to include, the calls-to-action you want to incorporate into the content, and various stages of the buying cycle to be sure you’ve covered all the bases.
- Be aware of what’s happening in the world around you and in your business or industry in particular. Use key events, such as Christmas or Halloween for retailers or trade shows for B2B marketers, to spur content topics and to provide an opportunity to leverage content you create around those events.
- Recycling is good. Very good. Look for opportunities to repurpose your content across your various media channels. A whitepaper or ebook, for example, might provide dozens of smaller-sized blog posts that lead back to the original source. Bits of data or factoids might make great teaser content on Facebook or Twitter to guide readers to your website to learn more.
- Create separate tabs or otherwise highlight the various types of content you publish, such as blog posts, ebooks, etc., to ensure you are creating a balanced, interesting context mix.
Working through these processes you will have laid the foundation for executing an effective, winning editorial strategy to have leads find you, learn about your company, and get in touch learn more or buy from you. The days of scratching your head and staring at a blank screen wondering what to write are behind you.
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