Just like it’s a good idea to plan each day and the week ahead in advance to increase your productivity and ensure you’re not missing important tasks and milestones, creating a content calendar is a good way to ensure your marketing messages are getting to your existing and potential customers frequently.
Think About Your Target Audiences and Pay Attention to the Content They Like
If you’ve got a marketing strategy to guide your activities (every business should), then you’ll have thought about and documented who your key target markets are.
It’s pretty simple to then transfer this knowledge to a content calendar, to make sure that everything you’re doing is going to appeal to one or more of those markets.
When you blog or post to social media with the audience in mind, rather than focusing inwards on the needs of your business, it’s much easier to come up with content that will please them.
Make sure you keep track of the kinds of content that are well-liked and well-shared by your audience, and think about how you can do more of what works. But don’t fall into the trap of doing the same think over and over. As with so many things, variety is important, and you should keep experimenting with new combinations of topics, media and style. But try and keep the “voice” your business uses consistent. A web content style guide can be helpful, especially if you have more than one person posting.
Make sure you keep track of the kinds of content that are well-liked and well-shared by your audience, and think about how you can do more of what works.
You can track the popularity of your web content using Google Analytics by watching metrics like unique page views and number of clicks, and keep an eye on where that traffic’s coming from. This will help you decide what to post and which social media channels to use to promote your content and assist you in working out how to pitch your work to the audience. And Facebook Page Insights and Twitter Analytics can help with monitoring posts to those platforms.
This data will help you figure out which ones of your posts get the most readers, which ones are good for generating leads, and what social channel is referring the majority of your readers. Use this information to adjust your publishing schedule, as well as the type of content you post and the social media platform you use to promote.
Think about What’s Happening in Your Audience’s World
Because you’re thinking about your audience, you’ll probably be aware of what’s happening in their world and what important dates are coming up. Here are some examples:
- If your key target audience for your business is small business people, or perhaps bookkeepers and accountants, you’ll want to bear in mind key dates like the end of the financial year and quarterly Business Activity Statement deadlines.
- If you’re a floristry business you’ll be wanting to create relevant content for your audience related to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, for example. But the content will be different because your Valentines’s Day post will probably target men, while Mother’s Day could target female customers too.
- If your key target audience is recreational fishermen, then you’re content might revolve around what fish are active, what the tides are doing and what long weekends and school holidays are coming up.
There’s nothing worse than missing one of those key dates, and a calendar will let you prepare in advance. Don’t forget what the purpose of your content is and include a relevant call to action. It’s also a good idea to think about scheduling re-posting and re-sharing and re-purposing of content in the lead-up to key dates. You can plan ahead to cover the recurring events and important dates that happen at the same time every year.
While a focus on your audience is important, you’ll need to think about key dates for your business too. Do you have a new product launch coming up, or new service you’re planning to introduce? If you’re the person responsible for content marketing in your organisation you’ll need to be across what’s happening around the business.
Planning in Advance for Dummies
It’s really not that hard to plan ahead. We suggest that you start by looking at the year ahead to identify those key dates. Then start collecting ideas and plan month-by-month, and week-by-week, getting more specific about topics and specific words and media.
You might plan a weekly blog post, three or four Facebook updates a week, daily Twitter activity, and give some attention to Pinterest at the end of each week, for example.
Look at an overview of your year first and identify gaps in your marketing to keep an eye on the big picture, then view a monthly calendar and finally start to drill down to specific weekly and daily activities.
There are lots of online tools, apps and templates you can use to make the process easier, and we’ll cover some of those in a future blog post. We recommend WordPress as a website Content Management System (CMS) and blogging platform and the Editorial Calendar plugin can help with scheduling blog posts in WordPress.
The next step is deciding what types of content you can place into your calendar, including blog posts and social media updates. Here is a list of content you could consider adding:
- Recurring blog types, like our Marketing Monday and WordPress Wednesday posts
- Social media updates to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other platforms
- Your email newsletters and special offers
- Photo and video posts to Instgram, Youtube or Vine
- Publishing case studies, infographics and e-books
- News articles and announcements
- Media releases and product launch information
- Webinars and podcasts