One of the cornerstones of a good marketing campaign has been two things: high quality content that engages the user and asks them to think and engage; and a continuous and periodic repetition of the message. This concept has been used in nearly every great marketing campaign throughout the ages – be they an online campaign, or an offline campaign. This has been the basis of marketing intelligence for a wide variety of organizations – from corporations to small-scale startups.
In marketing speak, the first one is known as ‘content interactivity’, and the second, ‘hammering’. In the case of online marketing, the need for regular quality content is a necessity – simply due to the fact that the average attention span of an online consumer is much lower than that of other traditional media such as print or television. In addition, with the high volume of content present in the online sphere, the message needs to be delivered continuously, otherwise it simply would get lost in the shuffle. To ensure that users are highly engaged, it is imperative to build a content calendar.
The Hallmarks of a Content Calendar
Nearly almost all marketing professionals use something known as a ‘Content Calendar’ to organize and plan for content as well as create a schedule for various forms of content across a wide range of media. While the primary functionality of the content calendar is to create a schedule, the calendar serves as a blueprint for all types of content that would be used – from articles to posters to videos. A high quality content calendar should possess the following traits:
- It should be relevant to message on a consistent basis
- It should be able to organize content to schedule posts ahead of time
- It should be able to manage content across a wide variety of media
- It should be modifiable to allow for swift and easy modification based on the use case
- It should use analytics to identify factors influencing popularity, for example: most shared articles on Facebook
- It should use analytics to anticipate short-term as well as long-term trends for marketing intelligence
- It should be goal-oriented to reach a fixed goal based on metrics
An Effective Content Calendar
An effective content calendar is a great tool that can be used by marketers, especially online marketers and bloggers to strategize and plan how to deliver excellent content that engages the user and helps the marketer to promote for their requisite product or service. There are two approaches to build an effective content calendar:
1. Short Term Content Calendar
A short term content calendar is one where the content strategy is being developed for a short period of time, such as a week. A weekly content calendar should contain detailed information about scheduled posts on both traditional as well as on social media – affiliate marketing content, advertising-specific content, and social media content. This is further divided into various types, depending on the media being used: blog posts for websites, images for social media such as Instagram and videos for YouTube and other similar video-sharing sites.
For scheduling of content, most content management systems such as WordPress feature in-built post-schedulers. In addition Facebook also includes a post scheduler, allowing marketing professionals to schedule posts that can reach their audience at the right time.
2. Long Term Content Calendar
The Long Term Content Calendar ties up multiple short-term content calendars, using broad points to fine-tune the given message that needs to be delivered to the audience. A long term content calendar uses “themes” instead of ‘topics’ to give the marketer a broad overview of the kind of message that needs to be provided to the audience. This can involve concepts that tie in to a specific season (holiday-themed content during December or Spring-themed content during the months of May-June); as well as tie up the overall message across all relevant media.
Using a short-term and a long-term content calendar, marketing professionals usually create a content strategy that is highly-tuned to the requirements of the audience, as well as serving the purpose of the marketers themselves.
Analytics for a Content Strategy
In order to build an effective content strategy, the use of marketing intelligence is imperative. The use of analytics helps to convert qualitative data such as blog posts and videos to quantitative pieces of information that can be easily compared to each other. Each piece of content, whether it is textual or visual, should be linked to an analytics platform so that its effect amongst the audience is measurable. There are a large number of tools, both free as well as paid ones that can be used to find out the effectiveness of the given content. The most popular of the free analytics tools include Google Analytics, which can be used to measure the performance of websites, get audience insights about blog posts, as well as for YouTube videos; and Facebook Insights, that help to measure the effectiveness of Facebook posts, as well as the audience reach for those posts.
The analytical data can be used by marketers and content developers to find the most shared articles, the articles and posts with the highest reach, the demographics and preferences of the audience and measure the rate of engagement of the audience, with respect to time over a period of 24 hours. This data can be used to find out which posts are preferred the most by the audience, where the audience is coming from, and the exact time when the audience is interacting with the posts. Using these insights, content marketers and bloggers can create a framework to find when the content should be posted, the most effective channels for organic and inorganic content, as well as the get an overview of the total audience feedback.
For almost all marketing professionals, the effectiveness of a well-planned content calendar is of utmost importance. A well-planned content calendar is usually the best method to separate a well-rounded marketing strategy from a poorly defined one. The benefits of the calendar not only help the marketing professional, in the hands of an experienced and effective marketer, it can be used to understand the pulse of the audience, and use it to mold the audience according to the marketers’ requirement.
Do tell us what is your content strategy, and how do you plan to improve your content calendar!