An essential component of a successful B2B content marketing strategy is a well-built editorial calendar. Think of an editorial calendar as a guide or a structure for all the content that will be crafted to deliver on your strategic content marketing goals.
In my experience, one of the main reasons content marketing strategies fail or fall short of meeting objectives is they aren’t founded on a clear editorial calendar or they veer significantly away from the established editorial calendar. Yes, an editorial calendar is merely a guide and not always set in stone, but it’s like a map where if you stray too far and too often, you will lose direction altogether.
All that being said, it’s critical to build an editorial calendar focused on meeting the objectives of your B2B content marketing strategy. In this article, we’ll explore what you need to do to create an editorial calendar that gets results.
Choose End Goals
You can’t figure out how to get somewhere if you don’t know where you want to end up. Before you start picking topics for your blog posts, white papers, guides, or social media posts, you must determine the end goal of your content strategy. It can be as specific as “Realize a 40% increase in organic website traffic in six months” or less specific in the case of “Increase organic keyword ranking, build brand awareness, and establish thought leadership.”
Setting a goal for your content marketing efforts guides your efforts, especially your editorial calendar.
There are several types of research you should perform before writing out an editorial calendar. The first is keyword research. Even if improving organic rankings isn’t your end goal, you still want your content to show up in search results for prospects. Use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords that have strong search volume.
Make a list of 8 – 10 keywords that you want to focus on with your editorial calendar.
Know Your Target Audience
You should be able to draft up a 2 – 3 sentence buyer persona for your target market without a second thought. Do this. These are the end users of your content, so it’s crucial to continually re-focus on the buyer persona, their needs, their job duties, and how your content can help them in their jobs.
For B2B content marketing, it’s important to continually have the target audience at the center of all your activities.
Check the Competition
Another type of research that helps with building an editorial calendar is competitive research. Look at 3 – 5 of your closest competitors. Check their website, blog, or any other marketing or educational materials available. What types of articles or blog posts are they writing? Check their social media. Are they sharing articles? Are followers engaging with their articles (i.e., liking, sharing, commenting)?
The goal here is not to copy anything that your competition is doing, however, getting a good sense of the content they are creating can help you identify opportunities to create valuable content.
Survey Existing Clients
You know your end goal, identified your target keywords, have a clear picture of your target audience and researched what your competition is up to. Now it’s time to ask your existing clients what types of questions they have that you can answer, what information would be helpful, what they wish they knew before they became a client, or what would have helped streamline the decision or onboarding process. This can be an informal process or a formal email survey. For many B2B firms, it simply entails listening closely to clients during all conversations (including emails).
Content marketing can also help with retaining your existing clients, so it’s beneficial to turn to them to see if there is content you can create to help them now or in the future.
The biggest struggle people face when building an editorial calendar is sourcing topics. Staring at a blank page and willing topics to life is often fruitless. The great news is that you have a wealth of topics at your fingertips and all you need to do is turn to your coworkers. I suggest starting with customer service or service delivery. These folks deal with new clients and long-term clients daily and can typically provide a slew of wonderful content topics. The sales team is also a rich source of topics.
Often, all you need to ask is “what are some frequent questions you hear?” or “what would help our clients?”
Draft a Mission Statement
At this point, you likely have input from clients and employees. However, before you start running through the list of potential topics, I suggest drafting a quick mission statement to guide your B2B content marketing pieces. This outlines the purpose of your content, who the content is for, and what you want to accomplish with it. For a software firm, a possible mission statement may be “Create articles for the software implementation team that streamlines the process and helps them to onboard users quickly.”
It’s time to brainstorm. Take the list of topics you got from clients and your internal team and start brainstorming. Look at the keywords and see if there are any topics that immediately jump out at you. At this point, there aren’t any bad ideas. Just create a large list of topics. Think about the sales cycle and brainstorm topics for your entire audience – from people who know nothing about your company to those who know your products or services but need to convince an internal team.
The goal here is to draft up a large list of topics.
Now that you have a large list of topics, take a break. Go refill your coffee cup or go for a short walk outside. If you have the time, put aside the list for a day. The key is to take a breather from the list and come back with a fresh perspective. When you come back to the list of topics, start to refine the topics and schedule them by month. Assign each post or content asset to a subject matter expert within your team who can help create or contribute content. Stack the critical or most requested topics at the beginning of the calendar. Then assign anything seasonal or time-sensitive to the appropriate months in the calendar. Schedule any building articles in order (start with foundational topics and move up from there).
Many topics won’t make the cut but that doesn’t mean they are trash. Keep a running list of “Future Topics” where you can move these unused topics and continually add to them as well.
At this point, you should have a well-ordered list of content topics arranged by month and assigned to the responsible party. Congratulations! Now it’s time to get to work. Launch that B2B content marketing strategy and keep an eye on the editorial calendar throughout the process to ensure you and the content contributors stay on track.
Need help with launching your B2B content marketing strategy? Contact us today to find out how we can build a content strategy for your company that gets results.