We all want to be a marketing superhero and create content that generates hundreds of leads. However, getting to that point can be a long process. To do so, you have to test a lot of different content ideas and be aware that not all of your content will be successful. So how do you go about it? You need to use a tool that is essential for managing any content marketing strategy: the editorial calendar. Let’s have a look at the 5 steps you need to follow to make your editorial calendar a success.
What is the perfect editorial calendar?
An editorial calendar for a blog or website is a management tool which is used to plan and prepare the content to be created over a given period.
Yes, I know, this rather formal definition seems to come straight out of a content marketing textbook. To give you a better idea of what it involves, let’s say that an editorial calendar helps you answer some crucial questions about your web content, which can be summarized as follows:
- For who? What buyer persona is your content targeted at? At what stage of the buying cycle?
- For what purpose? What is the expected action? What call to action will be included in the content?
- What? What are you going to talk about?
- When? What is the publication date?
- How? Will it be written content? An infographic? Is the content snackable?
- By who? Who is responsible for creating the content?
The perfect editorial calendar addresses all of the issues faced by each buyer persona at each stage of the buying cycle. The task of creating an editorial calendar can be broken down into 5 key steps:
01. Build your buyer personas
The first question to ask yourself when creating an editorial calendar is, of course: “Who will the content be targeted at?” Who are your buyer personas? What are their demographics? What are their aspirations? How do they search for information?
When building your buyer personas, you need to ask plenty of questions and ensure that you are as thorough as possible. Once you have done this, you’ll then need to prioritize them according to how important they are for your company: a persona who is a priority (the ideal buyer), and personas of secondary importance (influencers for example).
One thing is true of all buyer personas: they want to know more. They want to learn, to find answers on a given topic. This also happens to be why you start using content marketing.
But you still need to provide answers to the right questions. So what questions do your buyer personas actually ask? To find out, forget about using PERSONA.com and take a methodical approach:
- Are they existing customers? You should ask your teams (yes, ALL your teams: e.g. sales, customer success, accounting) to list the questions (yes, ALL the questions) that your existing customers ask.
- What are your competitors doing? Take a look at their content strategy. What questions do they answer?
03. Rank content ideas
After this creative brainstorming phase, you should have a whole load of possible content ideas at your fingertips. Now it’s time to put them in some sort of order. The first step is to match each content idea with a buyer persona and with a corresponding stage of the buying cycle.
Then, you should rank content using both quantitative and qualitative methods:
- Rank content quantitatively using SEO: this uses tools such as the Google Search Console or the website Ahrefs to identify search volumes related to content that you are going to be create.
- Rank content qualitatively using a “business score”: the aim of content is to address an issue faced by one of your targeted customers, but there should also be as much overlap with your product as possible. For example, at Plezi, an article about buyer personas or the editorial calendar will have a better business score than an article about duplicate content, because readers of the first articles are more likely to be interested in our product.
04. Give your editorial calendar a form
An editorial calendar is such an important part of any content strategy because it is both a strategic and an operational tool. We see it as a map to guide the team or the external providers responsible for creating content. But they still need to be able to view it somehow.
The format you use simply depends on how complex your calendar is. It can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, as was the case at Plezi during our first 3 years. However, this can have drawbacks when you want to collaborate with others or if you want to track the progress of content as it is being created.
In practice, project management tools often quickly become essential, and at Plezi we could no longer do without them. We now use the Asana project management tool to produce our editorial calendar. It lets us see at a glance what stage of the process and what stage of promotion content is at, the writer, the priority, and the publication date. When we click on the content task, we can see relevant information, accompanying documents like the brief, comments, and also all of the subtasks. But you don’t have to be limited to just using Excel or Asana to create an editorial calendar. There are also dedicated tools available like CoSchedule, which invented the concept of “10x Content”, and which first showed the value of using an editorial calendar as part of a B2B inbound marketing strategy.
You can also use other tools like Airtable, Trello, or Freedcamp. To help you, we’ve put together templates to create an editorial calendar in one complete kit (with examples for Excel/Google Sheet, Airtable and Trello):05. Continuously evaluate and adjust your calendar
An editorial calendar is a management tool that lets you know exactly where you’re at with your web content. But just because you’ve written your editorial calendar down in some form doesn’t mean that you have to follow it blindly through to the end. If you see in Analytics reports that certain pieces or types of content perform better than others in terms of traffic and engagement, you should definitely explore those further.
If you use marketing automation software and you notice leaks at one particular stage of the buying cycle, you obviously need to address these by making sure that your content is relevant. An editorial calendar should be something that continuously evolves. The key is finding a balance between your long-term plan and the ability to respond in an agile manner.
Have you already created an editorial calendar to manage your content strategy? What methodology and tools have you put in place to make the job of writers easier? Let us know in the comments on this article!