In an ideal world, your content calendar should cover all of 2015. You might want to make adjustments, but get the strategy for the year planned out now.
Your content plan should involve more than just scheduling a blog post once a week for the next year.
When making a content calendar, consider the following:
- What are your keyword/phrase targets for 2015?
- Where are the gaps in the resource section of your website?
- What older content needs to be updated or pruned?
- Where are the gaps in content for your marketing and sales process?
- What types of content does your audience consume?
- How often do you want/need to publish new content?
Let’s start with keyword research.
Break the keywords down according to search intent as follows:
- Informational – The searcher want to understand something new.
- Evaluation oriented – The searcher wants more detailed information.
- Purchase oriented – The searcher wants to make a purchase.
While there is no hard and fast rule, I typically target the information oriented keywords in blog posts and the resource section of my website. I aim for the evaluation oriented keywords and phrases with the contents on my product and services pages. I try to target purchase oriented keywords on sales pages. If you haven’t already set up the site architecture to support your SEO goals, you should do so now.
This doesn’t need to be that complex. Go through the resource pages of your site. These should contain all of your evergreen content. List all of the content in a spreadsheet including the title of the page, the month and year of publication and the URL of the post.
Go through this list carefully and determine which content is fine as it stands. Make a list of the content that needs to be pruned or updated.
Map out your Customer Decision Journey (CDJ.)
I prefer two systems to map and evaluate the path your customer takes through your business.
- John Jantsch has championed the path of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat & refer.
- Harvard Business Review presents an alternative view of the path to purchase called the Customer Decision Journey: consider, evaluate, buy, enjoy, advocate & bond.
I see advantages for both, but I think John Jantsch’s version is better for small businesses for a few reasons. First, the second model assumes that you already know the brand. As a result, there is not a focus on building awareness. Second, we know that purchases are made for emotional reasons. The logic is simply a way that we rationalize the purchase to ourselves. Yet in the second model, emotion is left out until after the purchase. That said, pick the model that best fits how your customers make decisions.
- Are there gaps in the content?
- How much of your content is oriented on inbound lead generation as compared to new customer engagement?
- Do you need more nurturing campaigns?
Make a list of the content that you need over the course of the next year.
What type of content does your audience consume?
Look over your analytics for the past year. What content was the most popular? Now find some of your audience members on social media. What type of content do they link out to? Are they reading blog posts or watching YouTube.
How do you want to track your content?
Some people prefer a Google Calendar, while others use a spreadsheet. There are even software packages to help you with content calendars. I personally prefer a spreadsheet.
You will need to select what you want to track. I prefer the following:
Theme. Is there a longer story arc? Ideally your content should be broken up into longer campaigns or lead up to events. Perhaps you write a series of posts leading up to and building interest in a webinar.
Month. I like to track the content by the month. This allows me to spot and time themes around other things going on in my business.
Release date. You just gotta know.
Type of content. Are you releasing a white paper, blog post or podcast?
Topic and title. Self explanatory.
Who. Is anyone else involved? Will you interview someone? Will someone else write it?
Schedule/draft dates. This is particularly important if you have a number of content creators on staff. Who is responsible for what by when?