Practical Ecommerce

Developing a Content-marketing Editorial Calendar for Ecommerce

Ecommerce merchants often struggle with content-marketing ideas. But there are actually endless sources of inspiration. For example, a t-shirt retailer could note a t-shirt in a movie. This "Warning Offensive" t-shirt, from the movie Lockout, could spark the idea for an article about t-shirts from science fiction movies. 

Ecommerce merchants often struggle with content-marketing ideas. But there are many sources of inspiration. For example, a t-shirt retailer could note a t-shirt in a movie. This “Warning Offensive” t-shirt, from the movie Lockout, could spark the idea for an article about t-shirts from science fiction movies.

A content-marketing editorial calendar is simply a list of what content your ecommerce business will publish. It includes where that content will be published and promoted and when it will be published, republished, or promoted.

The process of developing an editorial calendar for your blog, social media posts, and videos will help to make your content more successful and your company’s execution better. But the magic, if you will, is not in the list itself, but in the creation process.

The act of creating a content-marketing editorial calendar, as described in six steps below, requires you to focus on your content strategy. Ask yourself how you will implement that content strategy and what your content should achieve for your business.

This focus and planning is really what leads to success. After that, you simply need to execute the plan and measure the results.

Step 1: Have an Audience or Audiences in Mind

Content marketing is really the process of creating, publishing, and distributing content to attract, engage, and keep customers.

Notice the emphasis on customers. The ultimate aim to is attract, engage, and keep customers. So have a particular sort of customer in mind when you plan your content.

An example might help make the point. Imagine a new online t-shirt retailer called Sweet Hazel’s. Sweet Hazel’s has two target customer groups. The primary target customer is the professional, beard-casual man. This customer is:

  • Age 25 to 50;
  • Concerned with grooming and fashion;
  • Interested in men’s health and wellness;
  • Engaged with friends;
  • Immersed in pop culture;
  • Probably has a beard and may have tattoos.

Sweet Hazel’s secondary target customers are women who are interested in or associated with the company’s primary customers. These customers are:

  • Age 21 to 45;
  • Interested in relationships;
  • Immersed in pop and alternative culture;
  • Particularly invested in music and reading;
  • Engaged with friends;
  • Probably has a tattoo.

Even starting with a simple list like this will help you plan your content marketing.

Step 2: Have Business Goals for Your Content Marketing

Marketing, whether it is a pay-per-click ad or an article, should be purposeful. Smart marketers don’t, generally, buy ads or publish blog posts without an aim or a goal.

As you develop your content-marketing editorial calendar, try to come up with a couple of overarching goals that your content should achieve. Here again, an example might help.

Imagine the Sweet Hazel’s t-shirt store. It is new, and it has no customers. The store will use things like ads to drive immediate sales. But long-term, the store wants to rely on email and social media as much as possible.

With this in mind, Sweet Hazel’s content marketing goals are around building relationships with customers. Specifically, the store hopes its content will earn it:

  • 5,000 email subscribers;
  • 2,500 Facebook fans;
  • 5,000 Twitter followers;
  • 2,500 Pinterest followers;
  • 500 Instagram followers.

Sweet Hazel’s business is starting at zero on all of its social media accounts and on email subscribers. So these are some pretty ambitious goals, especially since the store hopes to achieve these sorts of numbers in just its first year.

The goals you set for your content marketing campaigns will, most likely, be quite different. Regardless of what goals you set, try to be specific. Having these goals in mind will help you significantly when you get to step four and start to develop your content ideas.

Step 3: Know What You Can Do

As you develop your editorial calendar, it is important not to plan more content or more-difficult-to-produce content than your business is actually capable of making. Put another way, you need to know what you can do. If you can write one blog post a week, and nothing more, don’t schedule more than one blog post a week.

Imagine that Sweet Hazel’s has just one content producer. This person is also responsible for many other marketing and operational tasks. So the store decided that, as a company, it can produce:

  • One blog post per week;
  • One Facebook post each business day;
  • Five original Twitter tweets per week;
  • One Reddit post per week;
  • 100 Pinterest pins per week;
  • One Instagram post per business day.

It is important to note that these counts represent those items that will appear on the editorial calendar. The content is free to repost, retweet, or engage in social conversations. This list, then, covered the planned social content, that would, in most cases, support the company’s blog posts.

Develop a similar list of your business’ capabilities before moving to step four.

Step 4: Develop Content Topics

In the first three steps, you (a) identified your target customer, (b) set some goals for your content marketing campaigns, and (c) set some limits so that you did not try to do too much.

Now, it is time to develop your content topics. What will you write about? What will you post about? What will you make videos about?

Keep in mind that content marketing works best when it is useful. If you can provide content that helps your target audience complete a task or achieve some goal, you will be successful. So aim to be useful.

Second to useful is entertaining. People seek out entertainment, and if the content you produce entertains, you will attract potential customers.

Let’s continue with our example to help describe how you might develop content topics. The Sweet Hazel’s t-shirt store made a couple of decisions about its content.

The store’s weekly blog post would be the hub of its content-marketing strategy, feeding the Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit posts. The blog post was to focus almost exclusively on the company’s primary target customers.

Pinterest and Instagram posts would seek to engage both the primary and secondary target customers, with the latter getting about 75 percent of the focus on these networks.

Remember, this applies to just planned social media posts — original content designed to support content marketing. The company will still share, repost, repin, and retweet things on social outside of the editorial calendar.

Using the information Sweet Hazel’s had about its primary target customer, the company’s leadership sat around a table, sipped coffee, munched on dried cherries and blueberries, and came up with 13 blog post titles-topics, enough for the first three months of the campaign.

  • “7 Reasons You Should Grow a Beard”
  • “10 Best T-shirts Seen In Science Fiction Movies & Shows”
  • “Sacred Geometry for Your Next Tattoo”
  • “Would Time Dilation Drugs Be Cruel and Unusual Punishment?”
  • “Your Grandpa’s Favorite Classic Cocktails”
  • “The World’s Ten Best Wet T-shirt Contests”
  • “Depressed? Try Transcranial Direct-current Stimulation”
  • “What Will Beards Be Like in 100 Years?”
  • “10 Mobile Apps That Will Make You Smarter & Why They Work”
  • “5 Grooming Tips for a God-like Beard”
  • “Why Your Work Projects Are Always Late”
  • “10 Science Fiction Movies You Should Watch This Month”
  • “Pankration: The 40-something, Working Professional’s Combat Sport”

There is no easy way to describe the brainstorming process other than to say you should look for topics that would interest your target customers; that would be things your target customers would search for on Google or Facebook; and that are things your target customers would share with friends.

Step 5: Create a Draft Editorial Calendar

There are many tools to help organize your content marketing editorial calendar. But one of the best approaches for small online retailers may be to use a Google Sheet or similar, cloud-based spreadsheet program.

Consider running publication or distribution dates down the left column, with additional columns describing a destination or publication place, like a blog, Facebook, or Twitter. For each entry, include a time, a topic, and a description.

Blog Facebook Twitter
topic description topic description topic description
Sunday April 3 7 Reasons You Should Grow a Beard 9:00 am: Listicle, entertaining, based in fact. Want to know why everyman should grow a beard? Check this out. 9:15 am: Support blog post, include image of handsome bearded guy. Beard Envy? Why Everyman Needs a Beard. 9:15 am: Support blog post, include image
Monday April 4 Beard Meme Noon: Image from 4-3 blog post, with meme, like “I am sorry, I cannot hear you over the majesty of my beard.” Link to blog post. Beard Meme 3:30 pm: Tweet the Beard Meme from today’s Facebook post.
Tuesday April 5 Beard post list 6:00 pm: Post the list of the 7 reasons from 4-3 blog posts in bullet form, link. Comment on a Great Beard 9:00 am: Post a comment and a picture about a famous fellow’s great beard.
Wednesday April 6 Beard and t-shirt image 10:00 pm: post an image of a bearded man in Sweet Hazel’s t-shirt. Looking good. Why no beards on American Presidential candidates? 9:00 am: Post a question, why don’t any of the male presidential candidates have beards?

Larger stores will want to include the author, photographer, or videographer for each content item and, perhaps, information about the content status — whether it’s completed or still in development.

Step 6: Refine Your Editorial Calendar

Once you have an initial content-marketing editorial calendar developed, you will need to almost continually refine it.

You may need to reschedule or even replace a content item. Or you may find that your initial assessment of how often you could publish was wrong. Finally, you might find that you are not meeting your goals and need to publish more or differently.

The process of developing an editorial calendar for your content marketing should require you to focus on a content-marketing strategy, including understanding your target audience, the goals you have for content, and how capable your business is of generating content. This sort of focus will improve your likelihood of success.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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