Strategy. It’s what a CMO is all about. From coming up with the blueprints for your company’s email marketing efforts to developing an overarching social media marketing plan, the buck stops with you when it comes to that all-important big picture. Not only must you create a unique strategy for each channel of online marketing, but you also have to keep in mind how they all fit together into your organization’s master marketing plan.
One way to make the process easier is to center as much of your digital marketing strategy as possible around one channel. Hence the increasing focus on content marketing in the business world – using a blog as the anchor and centerpiece for your entire online marketing strategy just makes sense.
Blog posts can contain SEO keywords to draw search traffic, can be shared on social media, can be used for outreach, and can be sent via email. Once a solid plan is in place for the blog, the other aspects of online marketing fall into place easily.
The challenge then is keeping all these moving pieces in mind while crafting a blog strategy. What’s the best way to ensure that you hit every single mark you need to? An editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is nothing more than a list of topics along with the dates they’ll be published. It sounds simple – and it is, beautifully simple when you’re looking at the finished product. It’s all the thought and careful planning that go into its creation that makes it a complex strategic document – and a necessity for any business.
So how do you go about developing one of these bad boys for your own organization? Follow these 6 steps and you’ll be well on your way.
1. Decide on a blogging schedule.
This will depend on the resources available to you. Does your team have enough time to handle 4-5 blog posts per week or only 2-3? Maybe you can only commit to one per week right now, or even one every two weeks. That’s fine – just determine a schedule you know you can stick to. This will tell you how many blog topics you’ll need to come up with.
2. Clarify who your audience is.
Don’t just spout demographics here, like ‘middle-aged men with a certain income,’ or ‘teenage girls’ – develop a few detailed customer personas. These personas should reflect the specific personality, interests, lifestyle, behavior, problems, and desires of someone in your target market so that you can use that information to appeal effectively to that exact group.
3. Create blog categories.
Most companies develop blog categories as an afterthought – they write some posts and then create a category to fit each one. This approach is actually backward – categories should be developed before a single post is written, in order to ensure that every single post fits within your carefully crafted content marketing strategy. Come up with five to ten categories that interest your customers and that are related to your business – these will then inform which topics you choose.
4. Brainstorm topic ideas.
Now that you know who you’re writing for and what categories your topics should fall into, coming up with topic ideas shouldn’t be too difficult. Make sure to include a mix of SEO-keyword rich topics and social media shareable topics, as well as topics that establish you as an expert and leader in your industry. List at least ten topic ideas for each of your categories in order to ensure you have plenty to choose from.
5. Incorporate holidays and special events.
An editorial calendar is the very best way to ensure that your company gets the full amount of leverage possible from every holiday and special event such as product launches, conferences, etc. List every holiday and event so you’re sure you don’t miss a single one, and then decide on the exact topic you’ll write about for each one.
6. Fill in your editorial calendar!
Now all that’s left to do is fill in your calendar! Taking into consideration how many posts per week you’ll be writing, first fill in the date-specific post topics related to holidays and company events. The slots left over can now be filled in with the strategic topic ideas you brainstormed in step 4 – a couple from each category. And voila! Your content marketing strategy conveniently capsulized in an easy-to-implement editorial calendar. Now, all that’s left to do is write those posts and then use them to their fullest in your overall digital marketing efforts.
If you’d like help developing an editorial calendar for your company’s blog, contact us here at Zen Media. Our content marketing experts would be happy to help.