Effective Content Marketing Strategies: Establishing A Content Schedule

Published February 18, 2013
Content Juggling Muscle - 1600px

The most engaging websites are NOT static. Before long a static website becomes little more than a screensaver of your business card. Websites that really engage us are fluid; always changing and growing, always considering their audience - with new content coming in all the time.

A recent study from the Content Marketing Institute[1] suggests that in 2013, more than half of all B2C companies plan on increasing their content marketing budgets, and 10% of those making increases say they will be significantly increasing their investment in content marketing this year. To help manage this new emphasis on content marketing more efficiently and effectively, it’s essential to create a content schedule (also known as an editorial calendar). Establishing a content schedule will focus your efforts and ensure that when you engage your clients on the web that it’s worth both your time and theirs.

Content Marketing Spending 2013 Chalkboard Chart
Source: Content Marketing Institute

Content schedules are basically calendars that organize your contributors; letting them know when and what they should be writing about or creating each month. Some companies have dozens of freelance contributors spread all around the world, but most of us are managers and owners of small to mid-size companies trying to produce the content ourselves, or, if we’re lucky, with the help of a few willing coworkers. This is where having a content schedule can really be handy, and it need not be complex to be effective. In fact, it might be best to start with basics and flesh it out as you go along.

Example of an Advanced Content Schedule Excel Spreadsheet
An example of a scalable Content Schedule spreadsheet assembled in Excel.

The most basic content schedule might simply be a Word document consisting of pre-chosen topics, due dates and the contributors assigned to each topic for the month. As your content juggling muscles grow, you may find that including more information may help you and your contributors focus your content production efforts and hone in on particular audience personae. In this case an Excel or Numbers document will best serve for creating a more scalable content schedule.

Helpful Info To Include When Creating A Content Schedule

*A content schedule should, at the very least, include the first five pieces of information below.

1. Topic/Category* Edge focuses on topics such as Community, Industry News/Tips, Success Stories, Promotions and the occasional timely subject that may not fit into those categories, but is still relevant to the Digital Marketing and Advertising industry.

If your company doesn’t have any topics or content categories selected then ask your team: What is our goal for the content on our website? Create categories that are broad enough to give your contributors room to play, but make sure they are in line with your overall marketing strategy and serve your audience's interests. You may need to take a look at the content that is already being produced for your website and establish better topics that are more inline with your company's voice and goals.

2. Title/Main Idea/Focus Keyword* It may not always be possible to pin down a title before a piece is done, but sometimes a great title inspires the content. If you don't have a title, just jot down the thesis of the content, or even the focus keyword the content will support. Consider adding "Focus Keyword" as its own column on you content schedule.

3. What Goal Will This Content Support?* That’s a good question. If the content doesn’t support any of your primary goals, then the idea should most likely be reworked or scrapped.

4. Author/Owner* Who will be responsible for creating and delivering the content on time.

5. Due Date* Because without one of these stuff seldom gets done.

6. Target Persona. This might take some research, but it can be very helpful to create fictional personae based on the various attributes of your target audience. Contributors can then really picture the individuals whom they’re creating the content for.

7. Skill Level. Will this content be written or designed with a novice in mind or a black belt.

8. Media Type. Choose the media that best delivers the subject matter to your audience: Articles, Photos & Graphics, Videos, eBooks, Infographics, interactive, Case Studies, Tools, Microsites, Webinars, Slideshows, Podcasts, Games & Quizes, etc.

9. Media Channel. Web Page, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., or any combination of multiple channels.

10. Shareability. What is the likelihood of this content being shared - on a scale of 1-10? If a piece of content scores low, ask your team what it needs to bump it up.

This year more and more companies will realize that if they want to engage and grow their audience on the web, if they want to rank as an authority in their industry then an effective content marketing strategy must be deployed. Establishing a content schedule will lay the foundation to creating better content and more of it.

[1] Content Marketing Institute Study: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2012/11/2013-b2c-consumer-content-marketing/