A content calendar is integral to a successful strategy, whether it's blogging, advertising or really anything marketing or digital. It keeps everyone on the same schedule and ensure that tasks get done. A calendar also keeps everyone on the team accountable since the whole team can see what everyone is supposed to be working on. Most of all, it can help organize each team member's day/week/month to help them plan what they need to get done so your business can run smoothly. The reasons not to have one? Well, they are few and far between. But not knowing how to build a content calendar won't be a valid reason if you keep reading.
Analyze past Content
There are a number of data points to consider when building your content calendar for the month, quarter, year or beyond. The basis of the data is to decide what readers liked the most, either by looking at views, engagements, clicks or other metrics. How do we do this? If you don't have software like HubSpot, Google Analytics will be your best friend. (Happy 10th Birthday to Google Analytics by the way!)
The data you'll want to concern yourself with are your page performance and you page referrals. For page performance, head to "Behavior > Site Content > All Pages" in Google Analytics. If you have trouble finding it, you can type it into the search bar. This page shows you things like pageviews, average time visitors spent on the page and more. Take a look at a screen shot of this page for Verge Pipe Media.
Sorting by pageviews, you can, well, see the pages with the most views. This will tell you what the most popular posts on your website were and on what pages your audience spent the most average time. The average time on page essentially tells us what pages people spent the most time reading. So these metrics can show you what topics attracted the most views, as well as what content was engaging enough to keep people reading. This can greatly help you in creating your content calendar as you can set a plan for writing on these same topics in a style that your readers found most appealing in the past.
Now let's look at another page on Google Analytics, "Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals." Here under the "Secondary Dimension" tab, click on it and under "Social" is the selection for "Shared URL." Click this to show the social network used, as well as the post that was shared on the social network. This tells us how people landed on your post, i.e. through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
What does this tell you about your social media content? Well, it shows you what platform you posted the link to your content on. Having this information can tell you where your posting is most successful, i.e. on Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever platform it may be. This data allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of your posting strategy. If popular blogs are doing well on Facebook but not on Twitter, maybe you need to boost your Twitter posting. You can also see overall what platforms are working and not working for you brand. This allows you to strategize for your content calendar so that you are posting to popular platforms while also beefing up some of your poorly performing platforms.
By knowing what blog topics are popular with your audience, as well as the platforms you are receiving the most feedback on, you can start to develop your content calendar. It's important to keep your buyer personas in mind and the content that has worked well in the past. You should also try new content that your data supports may want to be read. Also keep in mind the direction you want to take your business. If you have been writing about a certain industry but would like to expand to different ones, start slow. Don't completely overhaul your content strategy as you will lose your audience base from before. Maintain a large percentage of content around the industries you wrote about earlier, while throwing in one or two blog posts in between to show your expertise on new industries.
Building the Calendar
Let's breakdown Verge Pipe Media's content strategy for a minute. We rotate our blogs so that pretty much everybody on staff is writing one every week or two. Using the data discussed above, we will determine which topics have performed the best and take the top 4 or 5 topics. From there, we determine which topics we would like to focus on the most, again keeping past data and our buyer personas in mind. Then we'll outline some prospective titles for blog posts for the next quarter and schedule out due dates and posting dates, as well as determine the platforms we will post to.
For an example, this past quarter we had a blog post due every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The blogs would then be edited and scheduled to post the following week, usually Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and then save Friday for evergreen content (that is, content that has performed well in the past). The platforms we decided to use are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus, with Pinterest and Instagram optional based on content.
Having this all laid out in a spreadsheet and sharing it for the week each Monday allows our team to know what everyone is responsible for, what they're working on and when things are due. There is little room for things to slip through the cracks and our organization runs much more smoothly running off of a content calendar. Yours will too. Now that you know how to build a content calendar and you're looking for more information on integrating digital and inbound marketing into your traditional strategy, check out the free eBook below!