We have seen different Content Marketing strategies coming up during the last decade. That means companies are investing time and resources to be more accurate in their actions.
However, it is crucial to find the perfect cadence for delivering materials. On the one hand, being excessive is not worth it. On the other hand, a low frequency may not be sufficient since the goal is to stand as an authority in that subject.
What is an editorial calendar?
For starters, the idea of an editorial calendar may seem like just a spreadsheet with dates for publishing content.
However, it gives you a lot more control over your strategy than any other tool.
First of all, an editorial calendar is a schedule. In that sense, it really helps you to manage your time. But that is not all. An efficient calendar considers who your customers are, the channels you use, etc.
That means the chart is a little more complex: it maps your content, the responsible parties for each step, the buyer persona of the article, and your goals.
Take a look at the information a basic editorial calendar must provide you:
- content: what is going to be created and published, considering your marketing strategy;
- leaders: who is responsible for the content, whether internal — writer, editor, graphic designer — or third-party (agency, freelancer);
- call to action: the next step, considering the content’s goal — an extra content offer, a survey question, an invitation for a call, etc.;
- channel indication: where the content will be published and shared — the company’s blog, social media, emails, YouTube Channels, etc.
By doing that, you organize content production and publication.
Why do companies need an editorial calendar?
First of all, we are talking about sticking to the plan. In a survey that listed 5 big obstacles faced by B2B Content Marketers, for example, we see inadequate access to customers and lack of cooperation between departments.
Guided by the editorial calendar, the content production itself gets closer to the plan, as you can assess the resources you need to be more accurate in your actions.
Also, that gives your team a broader view of the daily processes, so anyone can collaborate with insights to improve the company’s marketing strategy.
That helps to align all the departments and put them to work based on the same goals.
Does your company need to improve its marketing results? Here are a few more benefits provided by the editorial calendar.
Simplify your content pipeline
Developing different materials may be a complex process. It depends on different people, and each step has its own peculiarities. The point here is simple: make it easier.
The calendar offers detailed information to avoid excessive reviews and the need for a new analysis. That’s essential when you deal with two or more similar projects.
Put things on a constant flow
According to Think With Google, 80% of people switch between videos and search pages when researching products on the internet. That means you need to find the balance to deliver constantly in all the channels.
With an editorial calendar in hand, you adjust your timing to take advantage of your resources. The marketing department can assign activities considering both short and long-term goals.
Moreover, finding your ideal flow can save a lot of money. Ultimately, the calendar allows you to optimize the use of talent in your team: the writers can alternate between blog posts and video scripts.
Despite working with multiple content formats, you reduce the budget needed and increase your Digital Marketing ROI.
One of the biggest challenges for marketers is the lack of time to develop a solid strategy that achieves a goal. From a micro perspective, that happens all the time, whether in writing or designing processes.
The mind behind the desk will not be effective and creative 100% of the time — they need guidelines, outlines, schedules. In short, the editorial calendar gives them reach and reliable information to support content creation.
The point is that any of those things are easy to do out of the blue. From that perspective, the editorial calendar is a powerful tool to provide what is needed to plan each task successfully.
What does an editorial calendar include?
To be useful, your editorial calendar needs to contain certain types of information that you and your team can easily locate.
This information also needs to be straightforward so you can better assess how well you and your team are accomplishing the goals you set.
An editorial calendar often includes the following:
- Specific themes
- Potential topics and subtopics for each theme
- Dates for special events, seasonal marketing efforts, and other important timeframes
- Distribution channels to utilize, including social media, blog posts, and your website.
- Posting times, which may include any combination of daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly scheduling
- Team members responsible for each task
- Timelines and deadlines
- Changeable status under each theme or topic (e.g., in progress, under review, in editing, approved, and posted)
Essentially, however, you will want to include the information that works best for your team and how you choose to conduct your marketing efforts.
What is an editorial calendar vs. a content calendar?
Your marketing and content creation teams can benefit from having both an editorial calendar and a content calendar.
While the editorial calendar focuses on the big-picture marketing strategy, the content calendar allows you to drill down and make plans for how to execute that strategy.
More specifically, the editorial calendar helps to plan for the long term, establishing themes and alerting team members to the content needs for an ongoing schedule.
A content calendar, on the other hand, serves as a way to specifically plan the content to create or re-purpose, what brand messaging to use in each piece, and any links, videos, or images to include. It is a more detail-oriented approach to content marketing.
How do you manage an editorial calendar?
Your editorial calendar, while a solid planning tool, isn’t set in stone. You will need to manage it throughout the year.
Circumstances and messaging needs can change as time goes by, so you will want to remain flexible.
Your calendar has to always match with the goals of your marketing department as well as the business overall, and how you accomplish these may require adjustments and new ideas altogether.
Managing your editorial calendar, then, means setting regular times to review what is included and make changes as necessary.
With each review, make sure everyone on your team is accomplishing the goals set out, and if not, find out why.
Also, be sure to measure and evaluate the performance of your published content, review the metrics associated with each one, and determine where changes need to be made to increase visibility, lower bounce rates, and increase click-throughs.
Two ways to accomplish this are by conducting a social media audit and by utilizing website analytics.
You may want to do this evaluation monthly or quarterly, then update your editorial calendar with what you find.
An additional way to manage your editorial calendar is to set up a notification system. Determine who will need to be notified at each step.
For example, once a writer submits a piece of content, a notification may need to go to an editor as the next step in the process.
Within these steps, you can also designate timeframes for completion and moving into the next stage.
How to create your editorial calendar?
Here’s a challenge that many companies struggle to overcome. The first editorial calendar tends to be a simple schedule.
However, that is not what you want, right?
In order to take advantage of the benefits we highlighted above, you can follow some valuable insights we listed below.
Check out the step by step to create your own calendar!
1. Define your Content Marketing Strategy
The question companies usually face is: how to align my strategy to the business expectations? First of all, that means turning results in positive ROI.
When it comes to Content Marketing, your goals must be attached to the core topics you hope to own in the Google search engine results page.
For example, if you are a technology company, you want to be the reference in “software development” and other related subjects.
That will help you identify the keywords your materials need to work with, which is the foundation of your SEO strategy.
You also need to map what types of content you will offer in each stage of the Buyer’s Journey — top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.
2. Choose the tool
There are plenty of templates you can acquire on the internet, but you may also consider developing yourself. Take into account your strategy, the company’s size, the available budget, etc.
Also, consider where exactly the platform will be available. All users must easily access it.
3. Assign roles
The editorial calendar must connect each task to the person or team responsible for it.
Even contents that demand an entire team must be explored in details, so its branches reach their respective actors.
It is crucial to assign individual roles, so the leaders can do the follow-up and ensure things will be done in time.
Here is an example of stages it must cover:
- title of the content;
- questions to the subject-matter expert;
- first draft;
- draft edited (or proofread);
- content approved;
- content published.
The task status can be easier managed if categorized by colors, for example.
4. Create a stock
Before you start publishing, create a post collection to guarantee that the schedule will work properly. Promote brainstorming meetings to gather ideas and assume there must be a regular flow from the beginning.
Besides that, determine specific goals for the quarter: increasing leads, improving brand awareness, improving search rankings, etc. That will help you identify the best content mix for the cycle and assign rules in the calendar.
5. Measure content marketing performance
By adopting Digital Marketing Metrics, you assure a data-driven management strategy to your team.
Despite being — or not — always involved in the process, any manager needs concrete parameters to assay performance and adjust the strategy.
That comes along with regular ongoing meetings. The main goal here is to develop solutions and refine the strategy by discussing results, processes, challenges, obstacles, methods, and other relevant factors.
6. Be consistent
Your editorial calendar must be flexible, not useless. When another task suddenly demands the responsible for the content, there must be a reschedule to previous content.
Use the calendar as a thermometer to analyze whether your team is working according to the plan or the other way around.
In fact, flexibility is essential to a marketing schedule. However, when the plan becomes merely a record of activities, it turns out that the editorial calendar is not fulfilling its role.
To conclude, create channels where your staff can provide feedback about the editorial calendar efficiency. By putting it to work in your favor, your strategy tends to be increasingly aligned with the business’ goals. So take these insights with you and check out the benefits by yourself!
Do you want to simplify this process? So download our editorial calendar template for free!