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How to create a more strategic editorial calendar

Nadine Long

November 2016

Editorial calendars can be overwhelming – if you’ve ever pulled up a big, color-coded spreadsheet in a meeting and watched eyes glaze over, you know what I mean. And often, content calendars can be either extremely cluttered with notes and deadlines, or a little too simple, containing just content titles, authors and publication channels. Finding the right balance of simplicity and strategy for your content calendar can make all the difference.

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Here are a few tactics to consider if you’re ready to take your content calendar to the next level:

Rethink your planning team

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If your editorial planning sessions only involve marketing team members, it might be time for a shakeup. Consider including someone from your sales or product teams to contribute to a brainstorm session. Subject matter experts should be included regularly, to make sure you’re incorporating any upcoming trends or topics they might be aware of.

Align your topic frequency with your budget

If your company is spending more money pursuing one specific market over another, shouldn’t you be creating more content to serve their unique interests and needs? It’s easy to disconnect an editorial calendar from the overall marketing budget and just plan out content based on instinct, but it makes sense to map the amount of content you produce for each audience segment you’re marketing to. Include the market or audience designation alongside the content title in your calendar to make sure you know who you’re writing to.

Map out your CTAs

Just as you shouldn’t create a ton of content for the wrong audience, you shouldn’t create content without an action for the reader to take. Not every CTA has to be an aggressive sales pitch – you can encourage your audience to read more resources, download something helpful, or get in touch with questions. Including CTAs in your planning calendar helps you make sure you have a good variety of calls to action with a range of different urgency.

Include benchmarks in your calendar

If you’re creating a content calendar regularly, you’re also (we hope) measuring the effectiveness of that content. Taking one or two key measurements – visits, time on site – for a previous content piece about the same topic can help you set a goal for how you want your new content piece to perform, and gives you a baseline understanding of how effective that theme usually is, as well as help you determine what the most effective CTA is over time. That way, when you report on your most recent content, you can compare and contrast the pieces to see why there might be a performance difference between the two.

Remember, a content calendar is only useful to your team if you stick with it. Refer to it often (not just at planning meetings) and you’ll begin to reap the rewards of an organized content strategy.

What methods are you using to take your editorial calendar to the next level? Tell us on Twitter.