It’s the end of the year. Final holiday campaigns are going out, and you’re on the home stretch. One more project is looming over you: The content calendar for 2014. If you’re dreading creating it or have just decided to avoid it altogether, think again. Content calendars give you a clear picture throughout the year of where your digital marketing is heading. When you’re at a loss for what to do next, content calendars provide a strategic roadmap.
There’s no special sauce for creating the perfect content calendar. Every company is different, and every company’s content calendar is different. Make a separate Outlook, Google or other calendar to store the information, or simply use the old standby: an Excel spreadsheet. Whatever display method you use, here are four tips to help you get started with content.
1. Plan for holidays
Start by making sure major holidays are on the calendar. These are the anchors for your content throughout the year: Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving. However, make sure all the lesser known holidays are on there, too. Even if you don’t market around them, it’s good to know they’re there. Imagine sending an invitation for a sale on Veteran’s Day and not mentioning anything about freedom and gratitude in your content. Not good!
2. Add email campaigns
Oh email, the most important ROI-producing element of marketing. Add each type of campaign you create: welcome series, daily newsletter, weekly newsletter, re-engagement campaigns, special offers and more. Color code each type for a wide picture of when it occurs over time. This visual helps you determine any gaps in sending your content or any times when you’re sending too much.
Want to implement a new campaign? Maybe you’ve wanted to try a gender-specific email or a campaign promoting your loyalty program. Now is the time to pencil these ideas into your content calendar.
3. Decide on events
Now it’s time to add events. Include summits and conferences you’re hosting or attending. These events will influence the content in your emails campaigns at the time they take place.
Here’s an important one: include your teams’ time-off dates. It won’t affect the content you’re putting out, but it will affect the production of content. If two members of your three-member marketing team are out one week, you’re going to want to consider sending less email at the time.
4. Add the finishing touches
It’s the sprinkles on the cake, the sparkles at the party. Too many, and it is overkill; just the right amount and you’ve scored big. Smatter your marketing campaigns with social media promotions and contests. This can enhance the content you have in your email marketing and grow customer engagement.
If your website has a blog, include ideas for topics on your content calendar. Perhaps you have recurring blog topics weekly, or maybe you post bi-weekly. Whatever the case, jot down ideas for this content channel to the best of your ability.
Those are my four tips!
What’s important to remember about planning a content calendar is none of the information is set in stone. Move it around. Add campaigns. Take away campaigns. Your content calendar isn’t static; it’s alive and kicking.
These are the practices I’ve found work best when creating a content calendar, and they’re by no means the only ways. If you have more ideas for making a kick-butt calendar, share them in the comments. Good luck on creating your 2014 content calendar!