In a world screaming for more content, it can seem overwhelming (and downright impossible) to keep up.
Content creators publish 7 million new blog posts, 320 billion emails, and 720 thousand hours of YouTube videos every. single. day.
That’s global, but your business has its own marketing initiatives to try and compete.
Whether you’re a solopreneur, startup, or enterprise organization, your company craves more digital content.
But how in the world can you keep up with everyone’s content needs?
- Product marketing needs new blog post feature announcements next month
- Sales is begging for more lead-generation content assets
- Event marketing wants promotional support for an upcoming networking Happy Hour
- The CEO asked for help publishing original thought leadership pieces on their LinkedIn and Medium accounts
- Your web team has identified SEO content gaps that need to be filled to maintain organic traffic growth
Sound about right? Fortunately, keeping up with all your content needs doesn’t have to be a fast-paced never-ending nightmare.
You just need content marketing calendar software.
Yes, a content marketing calendar. Not a content calendar, nor an editorial calendar, and not a general marketing schedule neither—you need purpose-built content marketing calendar software.
What’s that, and why do you desperately need it?
Great questions. You’ve come to the right place for answers.
Let’s get into it.
What Is Content Marketing Calendar Software?
First, let’s define a content marketing calendar. A content marketing calendar is a program that outlines the step-by-step process to take any piece of content from ideation to creation to publication to promotion. It details the who, what, when, where, and how behind your content.
It’s not simply a content calendar. A content calendar only organizes and tracks content creation workflows and publish dates.
That’s a great start, but you need something more.
A content calendar without a more integrated strategy is still just throwing a handful of darts at a board and hoping one might stick.
Content marketing doesn’t operate in a silo—it’s dependent and depended on by practically every team in the marketing department and several other teams around the company, too.
Content marketing calendar software takes a holistic approach to content planning, creating, publishing, and promoting:
- Plan: Strategically outline what needs to be created, why, and to what end.
- Create: Allocate the right people, resources, and bandwidth to get things created on time (every time).
- Publish: Send your brand-new content asset out into the worldwide internet at the right time.
- Promote: Ensure promotional support from various teams to squeeze every bit of juice from every project.
- Repurpose: Reuse instead of recreate existing assets to save time and money.
An integrated content marketing platform like Optimizely CMP helps you do all that and more. Beyond just content scheduling, use Optimizely CMP to plan (and monitor) your budget, SLAs, metrics, brand compliance, and content performance from a single source of mind-blowing truth.
Pareto Principle: The Not-So-New (But Often Forgotten) Marketing Doctrine
Pareto Principle states that roughly 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. Applied to content marketing, this might mean:
- 20% of your articles contribute 80% of your blog’s traffic
- 20% of your email campaigns lead to 80% of your email revenue
- 80% of your new leads come from 20% of your whitepapers
- 20% of your creative assets get used in 80% of your campaigns
- 80% of your business revenue comes from 20% of your customers
And so on and so on. You get the picture.
Don’t believe us? Go check for yourself. No, really. Go check. We’ll be waiting.
So, what does Pareto Principle have to with your content marketing calendar software?
With the right platform, you can apply this magical principle in so many insightful ways. For example, you might discover you:
- Use 20% of your time creating content assets and 80% promoting them
- Have 20% of your team members contributing 80% of the work
- Spend 80% of your marketing budget promoting 20% of your content
- Have only a handful of customers who generate the majority of your revenue
These are just a few examples.
However, there’s no way for you to know any of that without a content marketing calendar. You can’t effectively plan, execute, and track important marketing activities—and especially not at scale.
You’ll end up wasting valuable time on the 80% of content that isn’t driving business results.
For example, you’ll waste time publishing YouTube videos, creating top-notch Instagram Stories, and striving to build your Twitter profile when your blogging is already generating 90% of your website’s traffic.
Or vice versa—you’ll spend time pumping out written content all over the internet when your audience loves and craves illustrations and videos.
You’ll waste time focusing on quantity over quality for every content project.
And, eventually, you’ll burn out.
Content marketing calendar software keeps that from happening by keeping you on track.
What Exactly Do We Mean When We Say “Content?”
We’ve already thrown around the word “content” about 39 times already (yes, we counted)—but what does it actually mean?
Merriam-Webster defines it as “the principal substance (such as written matter, illustrations, or music) offered by a website.”
Basically, you could consider any digital asset content to some extent:
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Product pages
- Email campaigns
- Social media posts
- Digital ads
And the list keeps going.
However, it’s important to distinguish what role your types of content play. We like to define content as either an (a) asset or a (b) promotion.
For example, when you create a brand-new blog post (asset), you use social media content, email blasts, and advertisements (promotions) to drive traffic to the principal substance—which is your blog post.
However, suppose your company sends an important end-of-year recap email to customers. In that case, your email becomes the content asset, and your blog announcement, digital ads, and social posts become the content promotional levers.
Okay. You know all about content, content marketing calendar software, and the Pareto Principle.
Now, it’s time to dive into all the nitty-gritty ways you can use a content marketing calendar to forever change your marketing processes (and results) for the better.
5 Ways to Use Content Marketing Calendar Software
1. Brainstorm Content Ideas that Align With Goals
Content for content’s sake is a well-tested strategy for devastation and despair.
You can’t produce content just because competing companies X, Y, and Z are doing it—you need content ideas that support goals.
Want immediate site traffic? Run ads.
Want more long-term traffic for less budget? Develop an SEO content development strategy.
Need to drive customer engagement? Launch an email campaign.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but the content you create should align with your goals.
Don’t create goals to align with your content—create content to align with your goals.
Content marketing calendar software helps you avoid shiny object syndrome and ensures your content ideas match up with the big picture.
For example, it lets you know from the get-go that it’d be a waste of time to produce a lead-generating guide if your team’s primary KPI is website traffic.
Optimizely CMP’s integrated platform puts your content ideas side-by-side with your KPIs and budget constraints. This ensures your ideas never get too big or disconnected from your primary goals. It’s easy to get lost chasing the next great content idea on the next big medium—but a content marketing platform keeps you on the straight and narrow path to nailing your goals (not just producing more content).
Avoid shiny object syndrome and ensure your content ideas match up with your team’s goals. For example, it doesn’t make sense to waste time creating lead-generating guides if your content team’s primary KPI is blog traffic.
2. Create a Workback Schedule for Every Piece of Content
Setting a publish date for an asset without a content marketing calendar is like using Tinder with your eyes closed. If your team needs to produce a critical asset in 45 days, you need a schedule to create a realistic workflow.
Here’s what to consider when creating a workback schedule:
- Set a deadline: When do you need to hand over the completed project?
- Define the tasks: What step-by-step actions need to happen to achieve that completion date: drafts, creative input, revisions, etc.
- Determine availability: What people, resources, and existing assets are available to execute the tasks? Can you repurpose an old asset? Are your team member’s bandwidth exhausted? Do you have budget to hire an agency?
Run through this routine with every piece of content. It ensures you don’t miss any steps along the way and don’t overcommit to projects your team can’t handle.
When your collective marketing department uses content marketing calendar software, everyone is on the same page regarding KPIs and initiatives.
Your video team knows it’s going to need to launch its lead-gen webinar in two months to give breathing room from next month’s new product launch—and your demand generation team knows it’s going to need to save part of Q2’s ad budget to help promote both campaigns.
Optimizely CMP gives your team both a high-level bird’s-eye view and a deep-in-the-weeds calendar view to plan out all marketing initiatives. Marketing campaign management features (like templates, calendar tools, and drag-and-drop workflows) ensure visibility and alignment on every objective, task, and campaign so that you publish on time, every time.
3. Ensure Resources and Bandwidth Are Available for Content Creation
It takes people, hours, and money to produce content. You can’t create content without all 3.
Before you commit to a project, you need to ensure you have the right balance of bandwidth and resources. An integrated content marketing platform like Optimizely CMP gives you all the insights you need to red light projects or shuffle priorities:
- Capacity Planning: Understand who’s working on what and when. These insights will help you discover under-utilized and over-utilized team members so that you can balance workloads accordingly.
- Budget Management: Track your budget from start to finish to ensure you have the dollars to complete a project.
- Time Tracking: Use historical team data to predict future output and create more realistic deadlines and timeframes.
4. Guarantee Promotional Support from Other Channels
Ensure your promotional teams have the capacity, budget, and space to promote your pieces of content. An integrated content marketing calendar could reveal an upcoming content-heavy month—identifying this early on can help you space and prioritize content to give each the love it needs to succeed.
For example, you don’t want to spend weeks writing a comprehensive guide if there’s no room for an email announcement or ad support on launch week.
Here’s what teams and channels you need to consider for promotional support:
- SEO: Set up the right internal linking structure to feed your new content all the SEO juice it needs to grow organic traffic quickly.
- Ads: Target the right look-alike audiences for relevant content across social media and Google search result pages.
- Social Media Marketing: Get your content promoted across organic social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
- Blog: Announce your new content with a CTA-heavy blog post.
- Email: Send your subscribers personalized updates that keep them in the know on new and upcoming content.
- SMS: Use text marketing to communicate with your phone-focused audiences.
- Podcast: Consider using your podcast channel to highlight your asset at the beginning of an episode or as the sole topic.
- Creative Support: Your content might need creative assets like branded infographics, imagery, and videos.
If you want to enlist the help of any of these channels, you’ll need to get on their schedule early—like, way before you plan to hit publish. Just like it takes time to create content assets, it takes an equal amount of time (and sometimes more) to draft a social media calendar or email series.
5. Track and Optimize Content (in Real-Time) to Its Utmost Potential
Many marketing team’s content strategies fail because they focus on producing content instead of optimizing it.
Remember the Pareto Principle? It’s not necessarily about producing more content—it’s about optimizing each asset to squeeze as much juice out of it as you possibly can.
Optimizely CMP’s digital asset management features empower you to easily measure content engagement, conversion tracking, and influenced pipeline and revenue from a single integrated dashboard.
No more throwing darts at the board to see what sticks. With a unified content marketing platform, you know what’s working and what isn’t.
Insights like this make content success and “going viral” a replicable experience rather than a one-off one-hit-wonder.
Tracking content helps eliminate redundant work and under-utilized assets. Without content marketing calendar software, many teams duplicate work, wasting time, money, and human resources.
With Optimizely CMP, you can see how often any given asset is downloaded and used. This helps inform the content you create (and don’t create!) moving forward.
- Wasting budget on assets that already exist
- Cannibalizing content by recreating and republishing identical pieces
- Using old, out-dated assets that are no longer on-brand
And yes more:
- Repurposing existing content for new purposes
- Turkey-slicing assets to extend their use
- Making poor content good and good content great
Content Marketing Calendar vs Editorial Calendar
Though the two terms are often used synonymously, editorial calendars and content marketing calendars aren’t the same. They both serve different purposes.
An editorial calendar is a high-level overview of your upcoming content themes and marketing strategies. It documents the yearly, quarterly, or monthly topics and broad outlines far in advance.
On the other hand, a content marketing calendar details the granular nitty-gritty details that go into creating, publishing, and marketing every piece of content. It includes the step-by-step tasks necessary to take a piece of content from ideation to publication.
Use your editorial calendar and your content marketing calendar together to build cohesive marketing plans.
For example, your editorial content calendar may dictate an outline promoting your business’s new product coming in Q3. Your content marketing calendar would then detail the necessary content items to make a big splash: product guide, whitepapers, how-to videos, turkey-slicing blog content, etc.
Using your two calendars together helps you avoid shiny object syndrome and focus your collective efforts on the right things. Without it, you’ll start churning out content for content’s sake—and that’s a recipe for disaster.
Use a Content Marketing Platform (Don’t DIY)
Optimizely CMP’s content marketing platform provides content marketers with a one-stop-shop to plan, create, distribute, and measure every content effort. It aligns everything from your bandwidth to your budget to your key performance indicators (KPIs) and all the steps in between.
Sure, you could DIY your own content plan without a sophisticated cloud-based program like Optimizely CMP. For free, too.
All you’d need to do is check every marketing team members’ calendars, send a thousand follow-up emails, chat back and forth in Slack all-day, manually update every project’s status, and then open about 17 different tabs when distribution time eventually rolls around.
Wow. That sounds miserable.
If you got excited about that DIY approach, then Optimizely CMP isn’t for you.
Optimizely CMP is the golden response to Pareto Principle—it’s the 20% of your software needs that’ll drive 80% of your business results.
It eliminates bottlenecks, whoopsies, not enough times, and I forgots with an integrated platform that does it all.
No more jumping between different project management and task management applications to dial-in the perfect publishing schedule.
Brainstorm ideas, compile SEO research, plan content assets, outline steps, ensure promotional support, and distribute at scale—that’s what you can get done from within a single tab with Optimizely CMP.