Develop a content calendar for supercharged campaign management

By: Ryan Gould

A fully-comprehensive content strategy is a living, breathing entity that must be sustained through vigorous attention and daily monitoring. This is difficult without the proper resources to keep your strategy organized – there are so many moving parts, that it would be easy to let one slip, which could then cause an avalanche of destruction as all the other variable parts of your strategy fall to pieces around you, which is the wrong way to do things.

The right way—develop a content calendar, where the sum of your strategy’s parts are all neatly contained for your convenience.

A skilled marketer can devise a content calendar that tells marketing managers, content writers and developers, as well as distributors, exactly what content to create, how to disseminate it, and when. The best part is, you don’t have to have years of experience to create a content schedule to behold. You only need to know a few tricks of the trade.

This is the easy way to devise a content calendar your team can be proud of, and one that supercharges your campaign for more reach, conversions, and higher ROI.

Not So Fast – What’s Your Strategy?

A fully-developed content calendar is actually the second step in a process that will have your marketing department running like a finely-tuned machine. The first step is to devise your content strategy, and it’s especially important because 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated strategy. Don’t be one of those, instead, devise a strategy that gives your campaign its fuel to rocket forward.

Your strategy is the purpose of your campaign—It’s the why, as well as the who, and where. Put simply, the entire process of your campaign should be laid out from start to finish, including the platforms you are targeting, the individuals you are aiming at, and the types of content and information you plan to distribute far and wide.

You must get tactical with your lead generation or else your content calendar will quickly seem like a mess of tasks with no clear direction. Instead, set SMART goals for your campaign. These are Specific,

Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

For instance, you hope to increase your web traffic by 50% in the next six-months by guest blogging for four to five major brands. Now that is a plan that can be inputted into your content calendar for simple follow-through.

Your content strategy should not only include your goals for the next six months to a year, but you should know everyone’s roles, who is involved in the content approval process, and who will be measuring stats and monitoring reports. There should also be information regarding how to tweak the campaign if those numbers and reports dictate a need for it.

Calendar Creation Made Simple

The platform you use to host your calendar depends on your preferences. Some use Google Calendar, while others might use a template. As long as you can track your content and where it will be published, you should be okay. You can even write your calendar on a print-out that is posted beside your desk.

On the other hand, Google Docs and similar platforms have the benefit of keeping your team on the same page. This includes your writers, marketers, salespeople, managers, and anyone else involved. When everyone is working off the same synced-up document, if changes are made, the team will know about those changes in real time. Keep that in mind as you choose your ideal calendar layout.

What Goes In?

Your calendar should include blog posts, social media posts, email newsletters, ebooks and white papers, infographics, videos, podcasts, webinars, and any other type of content you or your team will be creating as your campaign progresses.

If you think you need to constantly reinvent the wheel, don’t, as 29% of marketers reuse and repurpose content. As your calendar comes together, look for ways you can retool your content to fit another medium or audience segment.

Content Calendar Points to Consider

Your content calendar can be as detailed as you need it to be. Here are some elements you may want to include in your calendar for a boost in effectiveness.

  • Content Goal: Each piece of content should have a specific goal, and each should fall in line with your overall content strategy. For instance, a white paper may be used to increase email subscribers by 50% in six months.
  • Pillar Topic: Google reportedly awards topic-based content. Therefore, do your best to create content that falls under the umbrella of pillar topics. Your pillar topic is the main problem your customers will turn to you for, such as having to do their accounting on their own.
  • Subtopic: A content subtopic further whittles down your pillar topic. If we are using the above example, a subtopic might be finding easy and affordable help with Quicken accounting software.
  • Content Type: This is where you will specify if the content is a blog post, video, infographic or Facebook ad.
  • Author(s) or Creator(s): This is where you will list the developers of the content so that someone can be easily contacted in case the content needs to be tweaked or altered in any way.
  • Accompanying Media: Blog posts, white papers, and other pieces of content typically have images associated with them, or blog posts that should be linked to. You should have a place to list these elements so that they’re easy to retrieve at any time.
  • Links: Keeping the link handy once the piece goes live allows you to easily link to that content with other elements from within your content calendar.
  • Important Dates: Your content calendar should include the date the content was created, when it is scheduled to be distributed.
  • Distribution Location: Your blog posts might be published on your website and then submitted as PDFs to SlideShare. Record this in your content calendar so that no steps are missed.
  • Metrics: Leave a space on your content calendar to record important metrics, such as visitors, shares, downloads, and subscribers. Then, every few months or so, revisit your content calendar, examine your metrics, and tweak your goals and strategy accordingly.

Going Deeper

Of course, your content calendar can be made extra meticulous by including such distilled details as targeted keywords, headlines, and synopses. Whatever you need to envision your content strategy as a whole at a single glance, that’s how you should build your content calendar. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of details to start. As your strategy matures and grows, you can add more details along the way to supercharge your campaigns even further.

Give Your Team Leeway

Remember that sometimes plans get muddled, especially when real life gets in the way. Therefore, ensure you give your team a slight amount of leeway so that if one deadline is missed or an infographic needs a tweak before it can go live, your entire calendar isn’t thrown out of the loop.

Keep Tabs on Your Progress

Ideally speaking, one person should be involved with the monitoring and tweaking of the calendar. But the entire team should be consulted regularly so that if things need to be changed, everyone can be involved in those changes to help create an evolving content strategy that always hits its mark.


 

 

Ryan Gould
Vice President of Strategy and Marketing Services
Elevation Marketing
Linkedin | Twitter

 

A strategic marketing and branding expert, Ryan helps Elevation’s clients solve their problems and achieve their business goals through integrated marketing solutions distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands and having worked with a variety of Fortune 500 companies, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem solving.

Brand Smart 2018 Recap

By: Elina Yufa

When I’m walking across the street, I trust that that taxi won’t run me over (well, sometimes). When I ask Alexa to set a reminder, I trust that she’ll have a better memory than I do. When I make a purchase, I trust that it’ll go through without a hitch. We put a lot of trust into brands and how the world operates on a daily basis.

At Brand Smart 2018, futurists, researchers, branding leaders and agency experts came together and shared new ways to build, enhance and energize brands against the challenges of technological disruption. Behind all of this, I believe something much larger was revealed – the importance of trust.

Jens Ulrik Hansen of Future Associates laid the groundwork with the shocking understanding that we are currently going through a megashift and brands cannot think linearly anymore. There has been a steady decline in trust in media and a loss in confidence in search and social. With everything you do, your brand is really dealing with trust and upholding it.

We got a very real glimpse of this with industry analyst and AI expert, Susan Etlinger, as she shared with us the power of new interaction models and information asymmetry. AI was designed to mimic our way of life, thus involuntarily amplifying bias. With interactive programs like ALEX and Watson, JellyVision CMO Bob Armour and IBM program director and product strategist David Haucke are optimistic. These technologies have streamlined time-consuming processes and even brought fun (with chicken sounds) into once mundane tasks. AI saves us time to create more value.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with this surge, you’re not alone. From their recent report on AI, Carolyn Baird, Global Research Leader of IBM Institute for Business Value shared with us that 74% of marketing professionals believe AI will fundamentally change how they approach customer experience and how customers view their brands, yet only 41% of them have an AI strategy.

Although AI is becoming increasingly relevant, branding can also be simplified. Let’s be honest – we can’t all afford to create a sophisticated interactive program that does our laundry for us. Craft brands like Vital Proteins and Spikeball go back to the fundamentals of branding – supporting the people behind your brand and letting them set the narrative. They are perfect examples of how we can do so much more with less. As Nicholas Gonzales, Marketing Director of Spikeball beautifully put, “Smaller budgets make you sharper.”

Once you harness that community, how do you personalize the experience? As a digital marketer, the session that really struck a chord with me was about “seg-ME-tation” and understanding why customers buy brands. Surprisingly, 80% of people write lists, but 20% of those lists include brand names. Did you ever think about whether you wrote cookies or Oreos? How do you get your brand on the list? Our panel of leaders, including Elizabeth Ehrhardt of IRI, Carrie Bienkowski of Peapod, Michon Ellis of LimeGreen Moroch, and Sanjiv Gajiwala of Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co, suggested going beyond demographics and creating personas that incorporate attitudes and purchasing behavior, based on transaction data. Think precision over reach and find the values that you share with your audience to help guide the conversation.

In addition to understanding the customer journey, it’s important to keep in mind your growth model – what do you need to grow, and how do you want to grow? That’s not an easy question to answer and may require some big thinking. Margo Kahnrose of SpotHero and Erin Huizenga of Borough & Block guided us through the practice of design thinking – what we would normally call “the creative process.” Think about it like insurance for good ideas. Design thinking gets you ideas faster, puts boundaries around a scope, and provides a safe way to take risks.

When implementing your ideas, how often do you think about the security of the customer experience? How are you earning the trust of your users? The latest buzz-word is “blockchain.” Melvin Petties of Blockhive.org explained this tech innovation better than I ever could, but The Economist called it “The Trust Machine.” It’s a shared and public ledger that everyone can inspect, yet no one has the ability to alter. In this case, trust is about finding where the data broke, not about pervasion of privacy.

Last, but certainly not least, Erich Joachimsthaler of Vivaldi inspired us to move from a “world of walls” to a “world of webs.” Meaning, instead of solely comparing and defending ourselves from the competition, we must define our brand in creating trust and embed it into the lives of our consumers.

In summary, lack of trust is a blindspot, so here’s how to win it back:

  • Deeply understand where your customers stand on issues and find the values you both share.
  • Don’t be enamored by technology, but keep your eye on the purpose behind it.
  • AI has to be inclusive of everyone so bring diversity into your teams to take every angle into account. Be very careful of sensitive topics and interactions.
  • Stay ahead of the consumer and give them solutions they weren’t expecting.
  • Support the people behind your brand and get them to participate in value creation.

Elina Yufa believes in creating unique and valuable moments for people. She is the Associate Digital Manager at Hollister Incorporated with experience in marketing automation, content writing, and digital strategy. She has a BA degree in Communication from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL. She has been a loyal member and volunteer of the AMA for six years, transitioning from President of the Lake Forest College collegiate chapter to Associate Director of our Higher Ed & Collegiate Relations committee.