Content marketing is all about providing value to an audience—and usually for free. This typically involves creating and releasing a wide array of content (Social media posts, blogs, e-books, videos, etc.) across several platforms.
It seems simple: write the content, then post it online. But in reality, successful content marketing campaigns require a lot of work: generating content ideas, writing or creating the content to meet certain specifications, then scheduling the content’s release for maximum effect.
To make things a little easier, content marketers usually create a content calendar: a planned schedule for what kind of content to create, when to post it, and where.
While building a content calendar can be straightforward, there are actions you can take to help your content marketing strategy become even more successful. Personally, I love content marketing—so I wanted to put together a list of tips I’ve learned for how to create a content calendar that maximizes your reach, clicks, and conversions.
Table of Contents
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. The objective is to drive customers to action—sharing a post, clicking a link, making a purchase, etc. But the goal isn’t always to achieve this right away. Often, content marketing helps increase brand awareness and visibility, keeping your brand top-of-mind when your audience eventually needs to make a purchase.
That means content marketing isn’t merely about promoting products or services. Instead, it’s about providing something beneficial to your customers that entertains them, enhances their knowledge, or solves one of their issues.
What is a Content Calendar?
A content marketing calendar is a visual workflow that helps plan, organize, and schedule the content you intend to publish. It can include a release plan for blogs, social media posts, email marketing campaigns, and other types of content that support your content marketing efforts. Content calendars can also involve tools that automatically publish content for you—you link all related accounts to the app, provide the content, then set a time and online destination for the post. These apps often include analytical tools to help determine the reach and interactions of each post.
A content marketing plan can also involve an editorial calendar, which encompasses a broader workflow. Typically, an editorial calendar involves all content plans: content types, creator assignments and due dates, and more. Essentially, it provides a complete picture of the overall content strategy and serves as more of a project management tool.
Common Types of Content
In the realm of content marketing, diversity is vital. Creating a variety of content helps you cater to multiple buyer personas across all corners of the internet.
Some of the most common types of content you might create for your content marketing strategy include:
Blog posts allow you to share in-depth information, usually taking a long-form deep dive to provide a complete understanding of a specific topic. Blogs can help establish your company as an authority in the field and improve your website’s SEO. Remember, the most impactful blog posts provide valuable, actionable insights for your readers.
Emails are an invaluable way to maintain regular contact with your audience. Whether you’re sharing new blog posts, product updates, or exclusive offers, emails can help nurture your leads and existing customers. They can also be personalized to a high degree, increasing their effectiveness.
Social Media Posts
Social media platforms provide the ideal space for less formal, more interactive content. From quick updates to engaging in conversations with your followers, social media allows you to create a more personal connection with your audience. Each platform has unique advantages, so ensure your content is tailored to fit your desired platforms when building a social media content calendar.
Infographics simplify complex information into a visually appealing and easy-to-understand format. They’re perfect for distilling data-heavy research or illustrating processes into a simple, visual graphic. Infographics can boost engagement and shareability and help your audience retain information more easily.
Videos can be an engaging and dynamic way to share information or tell a story. From how-to tutorials to behind-the-scenes looks at your company, videos can be a powerful tool in your content strategy. Short-form video content, such as those shared on Instagram and TikTok, is becoming an increasingly popular way to share bite-sized nuggets of information.
Podcasts offer a unique way to reach your audience. They’re convenient, portable, and can make a more personal connection with your audience. Podcasts are perfect for long-form discussions, interviews, or even serialized content. They’re also great for establishing yourself as an expert in your field.
Webinars are online seminars that allow you to share in-depth information, usually about a specific topic related to your industry. They can be used to demonstrate your company’s expertise, teach your audience something new, or even as a lead-generation tool if registration is required.
E-books are longer, more comprehensive pieces of content that allow you to provide extensive information on a subject. They’re often used as lead magnets—free, valuable content given in exchange for contact information—helping to grow your email list while providing significant value to your audience.
Which Content Calendar Tool Should I Use?
Efficient content planning needs more than just a list of ideas and a publishing schedule; it requires an organized system allowing seamless collaboration among team members. This is where content calendar tools come in. The market offers many options, including free and paid applications.
An internet search should bring up many, many results. Most offer free trials to help you determine if the tool can meet your needs. I suggest trying out a few that fall within your budget to find one with the features you need. Some include a drag-and-drop interface, integration with popular social media platforms for automated publishing, and built-in analytics for tracking performance.
Personally, I prefer Loomly for social media calendars. I find it easy to use with an intuitive UI. But there is no shortage of options; you can take your pick based on your marketing needs and budget.
If you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, you might consider something basic and free until you can afford something better. For instance, Google Sheets offers no automation or social media integration. It’s literally just a spreadsheet. But it’s free, accessible, and allows for easy collaboration and sharing. It’s not ideal, but it could come in handy.
Tips for a Successful Content Marketing Calendar
A content marketing calendar is the heart of any robust content marketing strategy. It’s instrumental in ensuring your content efforts are well-structured, purposeful, and impactful.
Here are ten helpful tips that can help you create an effective content marketing calendar:
Pair Content with Business Goals
All your content should aim to propel specific business goals forward. Whether you aspire to expand brand recognition, increase lead conversion, or strengthen customer loyalty, each piece of content should be meticulously crafted with these intentions in mind. So, define your goals, then create content that helps push you in the right direction.
For instance, if you want to sell hammers, you might create how-to blogs helping readers learn how to complete simple home improvement projects. If you want to sell produce, you might share recipes. If you want to sell a safety device, share safety statistics on your social media pages.
Understand Your Audience
Identifying your target audience or buyer persona is fundamental to producing meaningful content. Learn their needs, preferences, and pain points. This understanding will guide you in creating content your audience finds valuable and relevant.
This typically involves some analysis or expertise. Luckily, the more content you create, the more you can learn about what resonates with your audience so you can further optimize your content toward them.
Diversify Your Content Types
A diverse array of content formats can keep your audience engaged and curious. Varying content between blog posts, social media updates, podcasts, infographics, or webinars can also help extend your reach across multiple platforms and appeal to different buyers.
Additionally, it helps you meet your customers where they are. If they’re on social media, searching for information, or watching entertaining videos—you can be there with them, providing value.
Determine MVP: Most Valuable Platforms
While diversification can help, keeping your goals, skills, and customers in mind is also important. If your target audience doesn’t use Facebook, sharing content on that platform won’t help. Additionally, if you can provide better value with long-form content, then something like Twitter, which locks you into short-form content, probably won’t help improve conversions.
Take time to learn which content can help you the most and which platforms are best suited to that content.
Almost by definition, a calendar is all about planning ahead. Your content strategy will often include a repeatable pattern for types of content, when you share it, and where. This can help you create a calendar template. Then, you can pre-write your content, then schedule it for publication. Planning ahead allows you to be strategic and flexible and provides ample time to accomplish other tasks.
Keep a Consistent Schedule
The most unfortunate truth about a lot of content is that it can be incredibly fleeting. While blog posts might appear in an online search, you’re competing with a ton of other internet content. This is especially true of social media posts—they come and go disturbingly quickly.
Consistent schedules ensure your followers don’t need to search for your content. You get to keep yourself in their algorithm and show up in their feeds unprompted. Posting on the same days each week—at or around the same time—can help your audience look forward to new content, even if only subconsciously.
The Algorithm(TM) controls us all! But keeping consistent helps game it in your favor.
Regularly Analyze and Adapt Your Strategy
Analytics should be your best friend when it comes to measuring the success of your content. Data can reveal which content types, topics, or channels perform well. Don’t hesitate to adapt your strategy based on these insights.
Analyzing regularly is essential. Trends can change more quickly than we realize. Look at meme formats—they can build in popularity, crest, fall, and become passe in a week, a few days, or even a few hours. Regular analysis helps you consistently create content that generates interest and interaction.
Re-share Valuable Content
While some of your content is fleeting, plenty of it will be evergreen. That means you can re-share it and re-direct your audience to previous blogs, videos, etc. This can help boost views and clicks, which can ultimately increase your rankings in search results.
On a personal note, re-sharing evergreen content can also give you a break from creating new content. This can help alleviate burnout and remove the stress of constantly needing to generate something valuable, engaging, and entertaining. Even just a small break today can help you create better content tomorrow.
Remember the 80-20 Rule
The 80-20 rule stipulates that your content should contain 80% valuable or entertaining content and 20% promotional content. This helps keep your target audience feel engaged rather than burned out by commercial content.
Remember: people are generally online for entertainment, information, or escapism. So lean into that when creating content!
Appoint a Content Calendar Manager
One great way to create a successful content calendar is to assign one person as leader or manager. You can still have a team creating and scheduling the content, but it all gets filtered through one person who understands the nuances of what works, when, and why.
This has several benefits: You can maintain consistent messaging, publishing, and content standards; you can reduce errors in content and publishing; and you can avoid miscommunications and general oversights. A content calendar can be a big project—so why not assign a project manager?