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How To Double Your Content Marketing ROI In 2014

Dec 30 2013, 2:41pm CST | by

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How To Double Your Content Marketing ROI In 2014
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How To Double Your Content Marketing ROI In 2014

December brings many traditions: enjoying the holidays, wrapping up projects from the year that’s ending, and gearing up for the year ahead. One piece of the process is evaluating how you did in relation to the audacious goals you set on January 1.

For many businesses, 2013 was the year you were going to launch a blog and publish daily, keep growing your active social media accounts, and master the art of weekly guest posting. But as 2014 approaches, it’s time to assess and be honest about your progress thus far. If your content marketing efforts didn’t live up to your expectations in 2013, I have one tip for you. It’s time to master the editorial calendar.

The power of the deadline

In his book, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari,” Robin Sharma writes, “Never set a goal without attaching a timeline to it. To breathe life into a goal you must attach a precise deadline to it. It’s just like when you are preparing cases for court; you always focus your attention on the ones the judge has scheduled to be heard tomorrow rather than on the ones without any court date.”

What Sharma so brilliantly captures is that any activity that’s left to the “important but not urgent category” quickly falls victim to the realities of day-to-day to-do lists. Anything without a clear deadline can be done tomorrow. Anything without strict accountability lacks an incentive to get done. These maxims are particularly true in content marketing.

For businesses struggling with their content marketing, simply attaching deadlines to activities (and having an accountability metric) is the first step toward moving into action. Luckily, this is something that publishers and editors at magazines, newspapers, and periodicals have known for decades.

One of the best tools that traditional journalism lends content marketing and brand journalism is the editorial calendar. While its roots are somewhat hazy, the gist is that most magazines plan out their publishing schedule a year in advance. Each month has a theme. Some are obvious, tied to holidays or major industry events, depending on the publication. Others clarify a specific focus to guide editors is assigning features, buying photography, and recruiting appropriate advertisers.

In brand journalism and content marketing, we can leverage the editorial calendar in much the same way. If you’re interested in other thoughts on tools that traditional journalism lends to content marketing, check out How to Become a Great Brand Journalist to Augment Your Content Marketing Strategy.

The nitty-gritty of the editorial calendar

Building your editorial calendar goes hand in hand with creating an effective content marketing strategy. It’s an output and a tool that keeps you organized. A good content calendar will reflect all the work that goes into creating it. But it’s important to remember that the editorial calendar itself isn’t your strategy. It’s just one way to frame the activities that need to happen, to track progress, and to establish accountability.

From here on out in this article, I’m going to assume that you have the fundamentals of a good content strategy in mind. If you need a refresher on any points related to this topic, I recommend the following articles.

What an editorial calendar should look like

Setting up your editorial calendar isn’t difficult. A basic Excel sheet or Microsoft Word Table will do the trick. At a minimum, it should contain the following information:

  • Date
  • Writer or content producer responsible for drafting the piece
  • Working title
  • Your target keywords
  • Content format (e.g. blog post, white paper, etc.)
  • Call to action
  • Status

These details are largely operational. But frequently, breakdowns in the content marketing process are purely logistics. You forgot to assign a topic to your writers. Copy sat in your inbox for weeks, without being handed off to your blog manager or graphic designer to move to the next step. A writer missed a deadline on a specific deliverable. The more you’re able to track these issues, the more effectively you can correct these issues in real time.

How to turn your editorial calendar into content marketing command central

But the real magic starts to happen when your editorial calendar becomes content marketing command central. Rather than just a list of deadlines and titles, which are helpful, you begin to centralize your critical content marketing information in a meaningful way.

More fleshed out content calendars can include any or all of the following:

  • For individual pieces, they might include approval chains, alternate titles, and target publications
  • Overall campaign goals, mapped to each individual piece
  • Details on your audience profiles, mapped to each individual piece. Who are you speaking to with this article? What aspect of their experience do you want to dial up, specifically?
  • What publications are you targeting with your overall campaign, what’s their demographics and contact details?
  • What are your key performance indicators overall for the campaign? How is each individual piece performing against those metrics?
  • What are the biggest successes of the campaign?
  • What roadblocks or issues have you run into as part of the content campaign you’re managing?

When mapped out on a quarterly or annual basis, your fleshed out content calendar will start to provide the 30,000 foot view you need to ask tough questions. Evaluating the data, the following kinds of questions often emerge:

  • Are we going a little too heavy on a specific topic?
  • Should we be talking more about this particular subject?
  • Are our calls to action all connected to our business goals?
  • Are our core audience profiles clear, and are those individual’s needs, desires, and goals reflected in the content that we’re producing?
  • Does our topic and channel distribution reflect our core audience profile?
  • Is our ongoing performance meeting the key performance indicators that we set?

Your editorial calendar can become much more than just a list of dates and targets. It can serve as a centralized workbook where you manage your entire content flow. It can also serve as a strategic hub that makes it easy to evaluate your progress at any specific moment in time.

The importance of progression

One way to evaluate whether your editorial calendar is reflecting the kind of growth you want to see in your content marketing strategy is to look for progression. Are you:/>/>

  • Telling an increasingly interesting, effective, or compelling story to your audience?
  • Developing your thought leadership in a progressive way in the market?
  • Deepening the perception of your expertise around specific issues?
  • Nurturing leads or relationships through a specific course that leads to an end goal?
  • Creating a body of assets that can be cross-leveraged to help achieve your goals, while limiting your burden to create new content?

If the answer is yes, this shows that you’re growing your capabilities as marketers as well as meeting your business goals. If not, revisit what’s missing from your strategy (and thus, from your calendar) and work to build it in, one piece of content at a time, with a clear deadline and the kind of accountability that will ensure it gets done.

Conclusion

Content marketing requires the ability to see both the strategic and the operational. You’re managing hundreds of moving parts, and evaluating whether different aspects are successful almost instantly. An editorial calendar could be your most efficient tool for achieving that goal. Does your organization use an editorial calendar in your marketing efforts?

For more insight in the realms of marketing and entrepreneurship, follow me on Twitter @JaysonDeMers.

Source: Forbes

 

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