As someone who manages multiple content calendars, I completely sympathize with the difficulty of keeping up with even one. From blogs, to emails, to downloadable content like videos, webinars, podasts, and slideshares—not to mention the never-ending social media battle—it's enough to drive a marketing manager crazy! The struggle is so real, it's enough to keep some folks from jumping into inbound marketing (gasp!)—but it needn't be. Luckily, content calendar management is an area that software/app developers have taken notice of.
There are a large number of independent apps and plug-ins for the various blogging and content marketing platforms: DivvyHQ, Percolate, Zerys, and CoSchedule to name a few. Between your marketing automation platform, integrated content calendar apps, and a little good old-fashioned task management, any marketer can reign in her content planning to something manageable.
While I can't personally speak to using all the apps available, a simple online search will help you identify the apps that integrate with the platforms you use (Zerys and HubSpot for example), and once you narrow it down, you can find plenty of reviews in the app stores. To help you narrow your search, I've put together a top-10 wish list of features that will be most useful to an inbound marketing program.
Top 10 Wishlist of Features in a Content Calendar Tool
1. Assign Tasks
Identify who's responsible for each step of content development (writing, editing, review, and posting). Also look for features like email notifications when assignments are made, reminders, and past-due notifications.
In inbound marketing, we base our content around our personas, so you'll have different content 'buckets' that tie to your different personas, their pain points, and stage in the buyer's journey. Any content calendar tool should be able to tie assignments to topics for tracking purposes.
In addition to tracking topic, you'll want to track what types of content you're sharing (videos, webinars, blog, eBook, podcast, etc.). This will help you later analyze what formats work best with your personas and certain topics.
4. Reporting Capability
Look for apps that have a reporting and/or exporting feature so you can evaluate #2 and #3 above to guide your future content planning. You'll want to make sure you're regularly hitting all your personas and varying formats, and reports will eliminate the need to manually track what you've already done and when.
Ideally your content calendar tool would integrate with your marketing automation platform so that you can analyze performance metrics like page views, conversion rates, and CTA clicks of your various content. Some apps also integrate with ical and Google calendar so the due dates and reminders show up on your daily calendar. Pretty slick.
6. Scheduling Ability
If your app integrates with your marketing automation platform, you'll be able to still schedule the content to post through that platform. If you're using a standalone app, or are not using marketing automation at all, look for a content management tool that allows you to "push the button" to publish the content once it's final.
7. Customizable Fields & Commenting
Based on your needs, it'll be helpful to be able to add customized fields like those available in Edit Flow, such as meta data, photo needs, interim deadlines, keywords, and other information specific to that piece of content. Comments are another example of a customized field, but this feature is also available in apps that don't have customized fields. This ability is useful so you can contain correspondence within the content tool itself, and not have emails flying back and forth with your authors and subject matter experts.
Wouldn't it be great if you didin't have to constantly re-type those interview questions or blog outlines? A tool that allows you to store templates for repeated use will save you tons of time when you're assigning tasks and developing content.
9. Ease of Use
This is extremely important if your coworkers will be collaborating with you inside the content calendar tool. Nobody likes "just another system to learn," so make sure you choose an app that's simple to use and will make everyone's life easier.
10. Recurring & Contingent Tasks
We started with tasks, and I'll end with it too, because after all, that's how stuff gets done! The ability to 'automate' your task management with recurring and contingent tasks (shifting due dates and making due dates contingent on completion of the previous task) is broader than just content management. It's a feature that even much project management software lacks, but hey, it's my wishlist, and I'll add it if I want to. All joking aside, this feature is key to making life easier for marketing and project managers alike.
Apps Can Make a Content Marketer's Life Easier
So there you have it. This list is by no means exhaustive, and your needs will vary based on systems you already have in place. But be sure, there are apps out there to help you avoid being overwhelmed by content calendaring. What apps have worked for you? Please share in the comments below!