How to Build a Content Development Calendar (That Will Make You the Envy of All Your Type A Peers)

By Dodge Communications (not verified) on August 6th, 2015

It’s time to kick-start your content marketing planning because the competition is getting intense. According to a recent Content Marketing Institute survey, 70 percent of marketers say they are creating more content than ever before.

Creating a content calendar may seem incredibly complicated and a task better suited to the guy who keeps a lint roller and Tide stick in his desk. But it doesn’t have to be. Putting together a tight content marketing plan can be as straightforward and rewarding as laying out your goals for the year.

Managing chaos
A content development calendar is a visual representation of your content marketing strategy designed to help organize, prioritize and manage content development and execution. Besides saving your hair, heart and blood pressure, it also:

  • Supports and aligns with your content marketing strategy so you can anticipate content gaps, identify goals and prioritize content creation projects.
  • Helps manage workflow so there’s a steady stream of projects underway instead of painful and exhausting crunch times at the end of the month or quarter.
  • Enables you to keep an eye on what’s working, so you can target the right audience and align messaging with where they are in the buying cycle.
  • Stimulates engagement with relevant content that’s planned around key events and important dates.  

Getting started
Start by focusing on your content marketing strategy. In order to stay focused on your goals as you plan, you’ll need to know the following:

  • Audience: Understanding your target audience will help you decide what content to produce and the best channel to reach them with.
  • Resources: Set realistic expectations for your content calendar. Understanding what existing content you have available, as well as the in-house resources to produce it going forward, will help you establish volume and frequency for each content channel.
  • Gaps: Once you’ve outlined your goals and gathered your existing content assets, identify the content gaps and work towards developing content that fills them.

Pack your toolkit
A calendar tool is a means to stay organized, enabling you to store files, edit, assign and track tasks, as well as schedule posts. There are even some that can also help you create content topics. Check out these top-trending tools.

Like calendar tools, a template helps track content development, workflow and execution. How you structure your calendar will depend on the how much content you’re pushing across various channels and the number of people involved in the content development process. There are many templates to choose from—and they’re free. Depending on your marketing goals, identify what fields you’ll use to track content development and success across channels and audiences – such as title, publish date, content type, channel and topic. You can even include advanced fields such as phase of buying cycle, CTA and gated/ungated content.

Crushing it with your content calendar—and analytics
Once you’ve developed a formal process for managing content, use your calendar and analytics as a framework for guiding and evaluating the success of your content marketing strategy. Identify topics or types of content that performed best. KPIs should include traffic metrics—such things as page views, downloads and sharing metrics. Tap into the power of Google analytics to see which channels generated the most referral traffic.

Great content is only as good as the marketing strategy behind it. The content calendar puts you in control of all the moving pieces, allowing you to see the entire playing field, so you can spot gaps, fill in and get the most from each and every asset. Lint roller not included.

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