Good marketing doesn’t just happen by accident.
It takes a lot of work behind the scenes to create quality content for your audience.
According to SEMRush data, 84% of companies had a content marketing strategy in place during 2020 (compared to 77% who said the same in 2019).
But whether you’re blogging, posting on social media, or writing email blasts, all of the content you create needs to support your larger business goals.
Defining those goals is just the first step. Next, you need to figure out how to get there.
That involves more than just coming up with topics to cover or gathering visuals to grab attention.
You’ll also need to determine when and where to distribute your content to most effectively reach your customers.
The best way to do that is by creating (and following) a content calendar. But what exactly does that entail? And why should you consider it for your business marketing plan? We’ll answer those questions below.
What is a Content Calendar?
First of all, what is a content calendar, anyway?
Like its name suggests, it’s basically a schedule for all of the marketing content you create for your business.
Content calendars can be simple overviews or complex spreadsheets, but they should help you keep track of what’s coming up next, when it’s going live, and where it will be published.
In short, it’s the what, the where, and the when for your content creation and distribution.
Figuring out the right content, the right timing, and the right channels for your marketing will prove crucial in helping you hit your performance metrics.
Whether you use an interactive dashboard or a document shared via the cloud, your content calendar will act as your marketing guide.
Why Should You Use a Content Calendar For Marketing Purposes?
Now that you understand the concept of a content calendar, you may be wondering why you need a guide at all for your marketing content.
The simplest answer is that, without a map, you’re more likely to get lost on your journey.
Developing and executing a quality content strategy for digital marketing isn’t easy. In order to establish your goals, track your progress, and achieve your ultimate aims, you need to have a game plan in place.
Having a content calendar will allow you to:
- Create and publish valuable content on a consistent basis
- Streamline your workflow for efficiency
- Visualize and support your overall marketing strategy
- Maximize creativity and potential promotion opportunities
Basically, a content calendar helps you get the most out of your marketing. It’s the roadmap you’ll want to follow in order to reach your final destination.
Let’s break down the benefits of developing a content calendar for your strategy.
Figuring out your workflow and scheduling need to be part of that game plan. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble maintaining consistency in both timing and messaging.
For instance, you could easily fall behind on posting content, which might put your campaign performance in jeopardy. You could also miss out on opportunities or even alienate your customers if you publish new marketing content too frequently or infrequently.
With content marketing, consistency is the name of the game. Having a content calendar can keep all of the details organized, get everyone on the same page, and ensure team members are accountable for their assignments and their results.
Having a content calendar can also make your workflow much more efficient. You can display everything in a visual format that’s easier to digest, which may help alleviate feelings of overwhelm or eliminate confusion about who’s responsible for what. You can avoid redundancies, figure out what to prioritize, and even work ahead to make the process more manageable.
On that note, a content calendar can help you see the bigger picture. Without a schedule for your content, you might get bogged down in daily tasks. In that scenario, it’s much harder to work towards your ultimate goals for your business. You might also be more inclined to post for the sake of posting, rather than creating something that really brings value.
Content calendars can allow you to connect the dots and step back to see how everything works together.
Another benefit to having a content calendar is that it can actually give you inspiration to further your strategy. Coming up with topics can become difficult after a while, but if you base some of your ideas on what’s current, you’ll never get stumped on what to post. A calendar can alert you to upcoming cultural events or seasonal shifts to make your content resonate even more with your audience.
Overall, having a content calendar can streamline your processes and pinpoint the factors that will help you reach your marketing goals.
How Can I Create a Content Calendar For My Business?
Now that you understand why you should use a content calendar, you might be wondering how to get started.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily need any expensive software programs to begin this process. If your organization already uses G Suite or Microsoft Office Suite, programs like Google Sheets, Google Docs, Excel, and Microsoft Word may be sufficient. The beauty of G Suite programs is that they can be shared and edited in real-time, which helps team members stay up-to-date whenever changes are made.
It’s up to you as to how you want to create your calendar. If you’re creating a template yourself, you’ll want to include the date or frequency of posting, the content type, the distribution channel or platform being used, the individual(s) assigned to the project, and any other information you’ll need to execute your strategy and track your progress. You may also want to include a column for KPIs like impressions, clicks, and other data.
If you don’t want to take on this extra burden yourself, there are additional platforms and templates that can help you visualize your goals. Some of the most popular options include:
- Sprout Social
You can use platforms like these to organize your calendar even more effectively and display must-know information for everyone on your team. You’ll just want to make sure that these services are aligned with your marketing budget and that they’ll be accessible to all as you scale. (If you work regularly with independent contractors or consultants on marketing and branding, check to ensure they can be granted or restricted access as needed.)
Once you’ve chosen the right platform for your business, created a template, and filled out your calendar – ideally for at least six months to a year, with room for flexibility – you’ll be able to execute your strategy and achieve your goals.
Take the Extra Step Now For Better Results
It may seem like content calendar creation isn’t crucial. But when you realize all of the practical benefits, it’s hard to argue against it. Trying to create and share content consistently without a calendar will make things much more difficult for your team. When you take the time to develop a content calendar as part of your strategy, you’ll set yourself up for success.