Content marketing has become the backbone of a strong marketing strategy. Marketers have learned that if you build the content, they will come. In that spirit,  you’re in the right place if you’re looking to find some pro tips for writing a better content calendar in 2021!

At first, content marketing and building out a content calendar might sound easy, right? You brainstorm some ideas, think about where they will live, who will create them, and whip up a simple calendar.

But for a truly effective content marketing strategy, you have to keep doing this every month. Oh no! How do businesses develop new, fresh, and engaging posts on the regular? When consistency is critical for success in content marketing, that puts on a lot of pressure!

The key is in making a smarter content calendar that actually works for your business. Too often, content calendars are treated as an afterthought or a way to help keep teams on track. In reality they are a powerful strategic planning tool that can provide teams with helpful insights and data into planning for the future.

Are you ready to take your bland, cookie-cutter content calendar and turn it into a valuable planning tool that can generate better content and get the team working smarter, not harder?

Let’s dive into building a better, more effective content calendar.

Tips for Writing a Better a Content Marketing Calendar

Keep a mix of evergreen and timely content

We all get stuck in the trap of wanting new, new, new. While new and timely content is an essential part of any content marketing program, a more important piece is evergreen content that can be used again and again any time of year. Even brands that thrive on seasonality benefit from having content that can be promoted year-round.

These types of evergreen pieces are usually the most valuable for your customers. These types of videos or articles can showcase the value of your product, highlight a special hidden feature of a product, answer commonly asked questions, or educate the customer on your industry.

When planning out evergreen content, the focus should be on creating value for the customer, not just creating content that is not seasonal. Try starting a list of customer questions or pain points. These make great videos or articles that can be shared regularly on social media, included in FAQ pages, or even added to welcome series when onboarding customers.

When building out a content calendar, after the year has been populated with all relevant holidays and events it’s a good idea to go ahead and populate the calendar with evergreen content even into the next year. Especially if your team already has evergreen content available then the calendar’s almost half done!

Create Content Buckets

Content buckets are topics or themes that speak to different aspects of the business. These are especially helpful with large content teams who have a lot of freedom with creative direction, but they are also an incredible way to get focused and clear on the goals of the content marketing strategy.

If your business is the hub in the center of a wheel, content buckets are the spokes! They are themes directly related to your company’s core goals. Deciding on these buckets ahead of time will allow the content team to be more focused and direct with their messaging.

Content buckets can be anything deemed helpful and educational for customers as it relates to your brand, however, limiting the number of buckets is key. Most brands will want to stick with 4-6 buckets or less. These should also be broad, general topics that are used as a guide.

For example, a vitamin supplement company might include topics such as health and wellness, vitamin education, company sustainability, and active lifestyle tips.

Refresh Top Content Yearly

With such a big focus on new content, it becomes easy to forget about old content once it’s done being promoted. But time and money went into creating that content so it still offers value to your readers.

A great practice to get into so that great, old content doesn’t sit collecting dust in the backend of your site is to update top performing content yearly. We say top performing because not every post is going to be a win and some things are going to be very timely. If your business publishes thousands of articles a year, it would take a whole team of people just to go through and update each one.

Instead, focus on your top performing content from the year. Look at the top 15-25 articles or however many in the top spots are sending your website consistently good traffic. Those are the ones that should be updated.

When it comes to updating posts, this little trick can up your ranking for those posts, save time for your content team, and fill in the content calendar with posts that you know the audience will love.

Use guest posts and User Generated Content (UGC)

Don’t do all the work yourself! Reach out to influencers, thought leaders, artists, and even your customers to create content for you.

Partnering with other content creators is a great way to not only take some of the workload off your team’s plate but also helps to expose your brand to their audience. Of course, many of these types of collaborations will require a budget but the brand exposure that comes with partnering with the right influencer is worth it. In fact, some successful influencer marketing campaigns can earn $6.50 for every dollar spent.

 With 48% of customers claiming that user-generated content is a great method for them to discover new products, it’s no wonder that so many brands have added this as part of their content strategy.

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

If you’re not creating multiple formats of content from one piece, you’re working too hard! Each piece of planned content can actually be 5-7 individual pieces of content that can be used across multiple platforms. Every creative asset should be delivered in multiple formats to make this easier.

Blog posts should be Instagram Stories series, videos formatted for YouTube can be chopped up into 15-second snippets for social media, and white papers can become animated videos.

People enjoy consuming content in various ways. By delivering content in multiple formats you’re not only making the content creation process more manageable, but also increases the chances that the content will hit the right people.

Create a section in your content calendar with content types and needs for each channel like graphic and video sizes to make sure this important piece becomes part of the content process.

Report and Review

This most important part of creating a better content marketing calendar is to review and analyze the data. We know this is the number one thing that gets forgotten when it comes to content. Why track the success of a single blog post?

Simple! To know if you should waste time writing on that same topic again. Or to understand if your audience prefers written content over video. Without taking time to analyze the performance of content campaigns, you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall and leaving what sticks.

By reviewing top performing content each month, the content team is now in a better place to reuse the top evergreen content because it can just be plopped into the calendar for the next month or year. Analysis can also inform content teams about what types of content to create more of. They’ll be able to see if this audience loves how-to articles or if they just live for product release videos.

Reporting allows teams to shift focus to the content that actually converts and retire content that is just collecting dust in your backend.

Conclusion

Content marketing can be simple if you make it work for you. If your team is constantly trying to chase down content, they will always feel like they are behind. Working with a more strategic, smarter content calendar will get better results and create a more efficient team! Start implementing some of these changes today and let us know how it’s helped your content creation process.

AUTHOR
Elsbeth Russell
Elsbeth is the Marketing Content Manager at SharpSpring. Through the creation of lead-generating content, including white papers, blogs, infographics, and thought leadership articles, she leverages her nearly 15 years of experience in journalism, marketing and communications.