How to Craft a Compelling Content Calendar
You know you need content, but where do you start? Begin with a content calendar that helps you plan all stages of your attack.
You know that content is important, but did you know having a documented content strategy can help you reach your business goals? Recent research has found that 69% of B2B marketers have an outlined strategy because great content is key to any outreach campaign. Part of that plan is being organized to create a content calendar.
Content calendars help your team plan out which topics you’ll write about, where you’ll post them, and how all your channels will work together during your campaigns. Calendars allow you to have one place where all this information is saved so each piece of content belongs to someone in the pipeline and people know their deadlines.
So, great. You know what a content calendar is, but where do you start with it? Let’s walk through topic planning, devising realistic timelines, and the key components involved in creating one for your team.
Tips for topic planning
- Create topic clusters and pillar pages so your content works together.
- This will help to deliver a deep dive while driving traffic to your other posts.
Planning what you’re going to write about is one of your first steps in the process to create a content calendar. Here are some best practices to follow:
- Plan right from the start – You may think you only need a couple ideas to get your blog going, but the sooner you outline the future, the better. Jot down every topic idea in a repository so you always have somewhere to turn when you have writer’s block.
- Create topic clusters – These are sets of related content that provide all sides of a specific subject. They can link back to each other and support your brand pages.
- Focus on value for your audience – Dive deep into who your target audience is and the kinds of content they want to see. Create topic lists that deliver something of value to those specific people as well as to key locations on their buyer’s journey.
- Incorporate pillar content – Connect all your topics in the cluster with a “pillar page,” a central hub about the overall topic where you link to individual posts and cover everything in one place.
- Do plenty of competitor research – Take a look at what your competitors are doing with their content. Which types resonate with people most? What could you do better? Which channels are other brands active on?
Think about how your topics will reinforce your other content, and link back to other posts in each blog you create. This keeps people coming back so those old posts still work for your brand.
Key components for your content calendar
- The most important content calendar components are the blog, social media, email, lead gen campaigns, live events, and paid campaigns.
- Include visuals and interactive content to engage audiences even more.
You should feel pretty confident about how to keep generating topic ideas by now, but what should you be including in your content strategy? Let’s walk through the must-haves:
Your blog is a hub for all things content. A well-researched, valuable blog post can complement any social media or lead gen campaign you’re doing. It shows you’re an authority in your field and helps you incorporate CTAs that are applicable to your audience’s interests. You can link back to this content endlessly, too. Plan your social content calendar (see below) around blog posts so all your outlets are consistent when people engage with you.
You may decide to have a dedicated social media calendar on top of your global content calendar. Social is one of your most important places for content, and it can determine what you’re doing with other campaigns. To get started, audit your current social network activity and figure out your top channels. Then, put analytics tracking in place to harness metrics and keep adapting to what people want to see.
You need a calendar that tells the team how frequently you’re sending out emails, whether related to a current campaign or just a standard monthly newsletter. Emails help drive traffic back to your site and can be a great way to interact on a more personal level because you get to talk to them in their inbox.
Lead gen campaigns
Getting fresh eyes to your pages and services ensures your business keeps growing. Include your plans for each lead gen campaign in your steps to create a content calendar. These campaigns take a bit more targeting so you can reach people who have taken a certain action or shown some interest in your brand.
What better way to dig into a trend or new service than to hold an event? Plan a webinar or Q&A so your audience can learn more about what you’re up to. Then, post about it on your blog and social channels, and send an email out about the upcoming event.
Finally, you’ll need great ad content for your paid campaigns. Make sure you incorporate these into your session to create a content calendar so you always know where you need content and when.
Don’t forget interactive content
Today’s consumers want to see interactive content, so you can’t depend on one-sided marketing to drive engagement. Here are a few tips:
- Incorporate images, video, and graphics – not just text – in each campaign.
- Break written things up with a fun image or infographic that supports what you’re saying.
- On social media in particular, post quizzes and polls so that people can give their opinion and interact with you.
- This will also allow you to gather more valuable info about them along the way.
The bottom line is to keep a customer-centric approach in everything you do. You need to maintain a steady grasp on your marketing flywheel, which is a cyclical marketing model that sustains itself to give you a steady stream of leads and prospects. Strangers must stay engaged with your content to convert. You want to avoid those leads falling out of their journey because your content stops resonating.
Mastering a timeline for content deliverables
- Plan out a timeline for the content to be created and vetted.
- Test out how long it takes your team to get the value and quality you need, not just quantity.
- Try to post on social between two and five times per week, and on blogs two to four times.
Then comes the calendar. You need to strategically plan out your content so you continue to interact with people as they move through your content marketing flywheel. That flywheel considers how you will attract people at the awareness stage, engage them at the consideration stage, and delight them at the decision stage. You need to know each touchpoint of their journey so you can post at the right time.
Create a timeline that includes content for each of these phases. Let’s take a look at some quick best practices for social and blog posting:
- Social media – HubSpot says that best practice is to post on Facebook and LinkedIn between two and five times per week. For Twitter, you can post daily or as often as you want.
- Blogs – You generally don’t want to post on your blog more than four or five times per week. Shoot for once or twice a week on smaller blogs, and larger blogs can stay around four. These frequencies may change depending on whether you’re focusing on increasing brand awareness or generating organic traffic.
You then need to factor in content for newsletters and email campaigns – which will be less frequent than blogs and social posts – as well as the frequency of your ad campaigns.
Start with what makes sense for the resources you have, including staff, money, and time. Ask what a realistic turnaround time is for each deliverable, including writing, designing, creating, editing, feedback, and posting. You may need a couple weeks to test things out and see what it takes your team to get everything done.
A word to the wise: Always approach your content calendar as if it’s more about quality than quantity. Always. It’s more important that you deliver value than post constantly.
Finally, remember you can’t just plan out your calendar and leave it. You’ll need someone to maintain it, assign tasks to people, create deadlines, and publish when everything is ready to go.
ContentBacon helps keep your flywheel moving
Content is one of your secret weapons to engaging people and growing your business, but are you being strategic? Your first step is to make sure you create a content calendar under control.
We’re here to help you at ContentBacon! Our team understands marketing and content best practices, combining the two forces to create stellar copy and imagery that will attract new customers and help retain existing ones. We focus on value so your brand builds trust and authority while getting ranked on Google.
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