It isn’t uncommon for marketers to believe content calendars and editorial calendars are interchangeable phrases. However, they each serve a different purpose within your content strategy.
Differences Between Content Calendars and Editorial Calendars
The best way to define the difference between the two is to remember that your editorial calendar is part of your content marketing strategy – and that your content marketing strategy involves MORE than developing an editorial calendar.
First comes the content marketing strategy
Many businesses depend on content strategies playing an integral role in their marketing efforts. This reality is especially true for companies marketing their expertise and knowledge instead of selling a product.
Because prospects spend a significant amount of time researching before moving through the buyer’s journey, a content strategy helps you control their experience with your brand during the awareness stage. Creating a content marketing strategy involves the following steps:
1: Create a Mission Statement
Your content strategy’s mission statement plays a pivotal role in your brand’s content because it governs your team’s strategic and creative decision-making. Mission statements should include:
- A sentence that describes your target audience and how your content can help them.
- The information you intend to produce and distribute.
- How you expect your audience to react (move through the funnel) because of your content
2: Define Your Goals & KPIs
Your content marketing goals and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) should connect with your company’s overarching mission, goals, and vision. Answering the “why” question is just as important as the “how” and “where” questions. Ask yourself if you’re creating this strategy to:
- Build relationships.
- Generate additional leads.
- Improve customer experiences.
Define your content strategy’s goals by sticking to between three and five, creating objectives for each, documenting them, and ensuring they have long-term sustainability.
3: Identify Your Target Audience Personas
Here’s where you’re outlining your target audience and your efforts for reaching them. Here, the idea is to create fictional personas, describe their pain points, identify solutions, and explain how your company’s products or services specifically solve their problem. HubSpot has a persona template that’s useful during this stage of your strategy. Ask yourself the following when identifying your target audience personas:
- Can you describe your ideal customer?
- Do you know what drives them to make a purchasing decision?
- How does their buying process look?
- Can you identify ways your brand can grab their attention?
4: Develop an Outline
Schedules are tight, and, ultimately, you want to engage with your customers than working on tedious paperwork. Outlining your content marketing strategy helps you determine the details it should and should not include. When developing your outline, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do we need to produce and distribute content?
- What types of content do we need to achieve our goals?
- How can we get the content we need?
5: Conduct Keyword Research
Getting lost in the shuffle is the last thing any company wants to face, especially with content publishing on the Internet at such a rapid rate. Conducting keyword research allows you to focus on the keywords you currently have, are missing, and should improve. You can achieve this goal by using keyword research tools. Here are some examples:
6: Complete a Competitor Analysis
Completing a competitor’s analysis involves looking at messaging, reviews, websites, and all pertinent content by or about your direct competition. Your research should include the following points:
- How does your content compare to the strengths and weaknesses of your direct competition?
- Identify how your competition positions itself within the market.
- Look at the content they’re producing and try to identify which is the most successful.
Then comes the editorial plan
After completing your content strategy, it’s time to see how it ties into your editorial plan. The editorial plan is where your editorial calendar comes into plan. This tool outlines content themes for blog posts, emails, infographics, and other pieces of content that are pertinent to achieving your goals. So, in a nutshell, your editorial calendar helps your company roll out the content in your strategy.
Identifying what should or shouldn’t be in your editorial calendar depends on the needs you intend to meet with your content. Here are some examples of elements you can include:
Here is where transparency is critical. If your entire company knows when marketing projects, product launches, and other events occur, they can share ideas you can integrate into your editorial calendar. Other key dates include seasonality, holidays, and company milestones.
While time-sensitive content can help drive traffic, include evergreen content to help attract repeat visitors, you can convert into buyers. Creating evergreen content provides year-round content opportunities that take some of the “real-time” marketing pressure off.
Details are Critical
While you might understand your abbreviations and shorthand, that doesn’t mean the rest of your team does. Create entries that track the project’s full title, people assigned to that project, the deadline, and links to any assets they need. Those assets could include content briefs, guidelines, personas, and more.
Examples of Editorial Calendar Tools:
- Airtable: This tool allows you to switch from calendar, gallery, Kanban, and table views and extend the functionality of your calendar using blocks.
- ClickUp: Organize your editorial calendar, set deadlines, incorporate checklists, create tags, create subtasks, and more.
- KanbanFlow: Like Asana and Trello, KanbanFlow allows you to generate topic clusters and move content cards within each section.
Which is Best for Your Organization?
The quick answer to this question is – both. Organizations need both because your content strategy sets up the roadmap you need to follow when developing your editorial calendar. Your content strategy provides an outline for the channels, content formats, and workflows and how those elements tie to your target audience. Your strategy ensures you’re creating the right content, targeting the right customers, and delivering it at the right time.
That’s where the editorial calendar comes into play – the delivery. Your business needs an organized workflow, and editorial calendars help you achieve that goal. At a glance, you’ll see when content is due, what it is (blog, article, white paper, and more), who the responsible party is, and where it’s going to land (email list, landing page, blog, social media, and more).
How to Use Content Calendars and Editorial Calendars
Now that we’ve differentiated between an editorial calendar and a content strategy, it’s time to talk about how they differ from content calendars. It’s easy to confuse them because they sound similar – content and editorial.
Marketers use content calendars frequently to delve into deeper details regarding the day-to-day management of their content production and publishing schedule. When there’s a content calendar, it allows for the flexibility you need for on-demand or one-off assets. That way, teams can produce timely and valuable content as unexpected demands come up.
As a recap, we can use editorial calendars as a guiding framework that ensures publishing cadence and advance notice for content. For example, editorial calendars are often monthly, quarterly, or yearly. That way, teams have a general outline regarding publication requirements and deadlines. Use your editorial calendar to assign writers, editors, designers, and other team members responsible for creating and distributing the content.
It takes time for you and your team to develop a successful content strategy. Put that strategy to work using an editorial calendar. Flesh that content calendar out even further when you use an editorial calendar. There are dozens of content strategy and editorial calendar tools available to help you achieve these goals. If you need help creating these assets, contact nDash for access to a pool of some of the world’s most elite writers.
What is content strategy?
Before defining a content strategy, we must first understand how to define content. Content includes audio, augmented reality, virtual reality, graphics, text, and more. Content is the information we provide to our target audience that’s applicable in a given framework. Examples of content include blog posts, buyer or customer testimonials, case studies, eBooks, emails, guides, images, infographics, quizzes, polls, white papers, and more.
A content strategy is when businesses take their goals and objectives, translate them into a plan, and produce content as the primary method for achieving those milestones. These strategies focus on planning, creating, delivering, and maintaining the content the business produces.
What should a content strategy include?
Content strategies should include your company’s mission statement, goals, target audience personas, keyword research, competitor analysis, and a strategic roadmap for goal achievement. That roadmap should include a budget for creating and distributing content, content goals, a timeline for reviewing and auditing, content types, and an editorial calendar.
How do you manage an editorial calendar?
Managing an editorial calendar starts with finding the right tool. For example, you can use Excel or Google Sheets to keep everything organized or – if you want to keep everything connected to your email – you can also use Google or Outlook calendars. You can extend these management strategies to tools like Asana and Trello, which allow you to create separate cards for each piece of content and assign someone to complete them.
What should an editorial calendar include?
Your editorial calendar should include essential elements, including the content you’re producing according to your content strategy, the team members responsible for creating and publishing, deadlines, and the channels you plan to use for distribution. Consistently update your calendar with important dates, themes, topics, and posting cadence.