Content marketing is an area that many businesses find tough to flourish in, but achieving success shouldn’t be all that complicated. One of the primary tools for effective content marketing is an editorial calendar, or content calendar, which, when utilized correctly, can make the difference between impactful, timely updates and poorly branded, inconsistent blogging. The simple reason a content calendar contributes to your success and helps achieve results is that planning ahead allows you to incorporate carefully thought-out marketing principles into your everyday content.
Let’s take a look at the main goals you may want to accomplish with content marketing and discuss how a content calendar can help you achieve your business objectives.
Attempting To Define Content Marketing
There has been quite a bit of buzz lately about content marketing, and it’s compelling some businesses to dive in headfirst without a clear plan of action. However, as with any style of marketing, an organized campaign is key to achieving even moderate success.
So, what’s all the fuss about? And what exactly is content marketing?
Alas, a single, clear-cut dictionary definition of good content marketing does not exist. Defining exactly what content marketing means to your company depends on your specific business needs; however, there are several overarching principles and key strategies that can be applied to almost any company. As Copyblogger, an excellent resource for content marketers, succinctly explains: “The trust, credibility, and authority that content marketing creates knocks down sales resistance, all while providing a baseline introduction to the benefits of a particular product or service.” The explanation given by Amanda Maksymiw, content marketing expert at Lattice, is also widely applicable: “Content marketing is the process of developing and sharing relevant, valuable, and engaging content to target audiences with the goal of acquiring new customers or increasing business from existing customers.”
Although every business is unique, most examples of successful content marketing work towards the following targets:
- Market Education: Providing relevant, informative content builds up your company as a strong, credible source of knowledge in the industry. Educating consumers also builds trust because you are offering transparent, useful information about the industry rather than blindly promoting your products or services.
- Brand Awareness: The more content you post, the more exposure your business receives; content marketing ensures that your content is valuable to your customers rather than irrelevant chatter.
- Generating Leads: The results-oriented goal of content marketing is to entice potential clients by positioning your company as a cutting-edge, thought leader in the industry.
Content Marketing vs. Copywriting
Keep in mind that content marketing differs significantly from copywriting. In most cases, direct selling and product promotion are absent from content marketing. Copywriting frequently employs hard selling techniques to promote products, whereas content marketing is focused on understanding what information your consumers want and making it available to them. Content marketing also relies more heavily on SEO and frequent updates than copywriting does.
How can an editorial calendar contribute to successful content marketing?
An editorial calendar is the best way to organize, plan and schedule your content to optimize the effectiveness of your content marketing. If your content marketing isn’t achieving the results you want, the fault may lie in your content calendar, or lack thereof.
Content is most effective when marketing principles are integrated into your posts at the earliest stage possible; an editorial calendar encourages long-term planning and allows you to map out your content for an upcoming period to ensure marketing techniques are being incorporated. Properly executed content marketing contributes to revenue growth in the long run, so a detailed editorial calendar is worth the additional effort.
Tips for planning your content calendar (and subsequently writing more effective content):
- Don’t focus on selling a product. Content marketing shouldn’t be based on direct selling or advertising, and neither should your editorial calendar. Of course, you want to plan content that will attract new customers, but advertising is not the only way to do so. Content marketing can be directed at a wider audience, beyond those consumers who are immediately interested in buying.
- Incorporate themes and holidays; this is where the ‘calendar’ aspect of content calendars fully comes into play. Coordinating seasonal themed posts provides your blog with a sense of relevancy and timeliness. You can plan your calendar weeks, months or even a year in advance depending on the scope of your marketing strategies. You don’t need to write entire posts ahead of time, but preparing a slew of strong headlines or main points will keep your blog orderly and well thought out.
- Be organized, but willing to compromise. Creating a content calendar ensures you always have a schedule to keep your content on track, but you shouldn’t obsess over an absolute adherence to it. You can’t plan hiccups, but you can plan to be flexible. Cultivate a reservoir of ‘plan B’ articles that are fairly timeless or ‘evergreen’ in nature; these can be used in a pinch if one of your scheduled articles falls through or must be quickly replaced.
- Mind the gaps. Take a look at your recent history of posts to see if any important industry topics have been overlooked or poorly covered; you can plan your new content calendar to improve upon the mistakes you’ve made in the past by filling in the gaps where your content is weak. Content calendars are excellent tools to help you visualize which areas or upcoming time periods are lacking strong content.
Structuring content marketing with an editorial calendar ensures you are using your resources to positively shape consumers’ perceptions of your brand, generate new leads, and establish your business as a reliable thought leader in the industry.
About the Author
Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.