Unfocused. Confusing. Random.
These don’t tend to be positive adjectives, especially not when it comes to content marketing. Your users won’t respond well to this kind of stimulus and may even be driven elsewhere, away from your content, website, and business.
Content strategies and schedules, by their very nature, help you to avoid this confusion and the bad taste it may leave among your users.
With a content schedule, you suddenly find that you are able to craft long-term strategies rather than simply releasing content here and there with no real focus.
This is a general way of looking at the benefits of a content strategy or schedule, but let’s drill deeper into why you really need this kind of structure in place.
What happens when you don’t have a content strategy and schedule
1. You find it difficult to post regularly
There aren’t many reliable recent statistics on this, but research from 2016 found that companies who publish 16 or more blog posts per month find themselves generating 3.5x more traffic than companies in the 0 to 4 posts per month category. With this in mind, you need to make sure you are posting with the right frequency.
You also need to be posting at the right time. Analytics can tell you when your users are most likely to be online, ready for the latest updates. But, without a content schedule in place, it’s going to be difficult to act on this.
2. Content becomes haphazard
This is all about the difference between publishing content for the sake of it – because you think that’s what businesses are supposed to do – and publishing content with a purpose in mind. If you are in the former category, your content is the equivalent of someone nervously stalling for time or filling up awkward silences on a bad date. Don’t go down this route.
Each and every piece of content you produce needs to be worthwhile. It needs to have a point in mind – it needs to be saying something. Without a strategy, this is difficult to achieve, and your content teams may find themselves struggling for inspiration.
3. There is no content journey
Great content goes beyond this idea of individual purpose and authority. It’s unlikely that you will be able to fully flesh out and explore all of your ideas in a single 500 to 800-word blog post, so you may decide that you want to leave a teaser for the next piece in your content series – or you may want to break up a larger piece into smaller bite-size chunks. This can be very effective for fostering engagement over time, as your users want to keep coming back to consume the next piece of content.
Think of it like a documentary series. If you were watching a documentary about the unification of Italy in the 19th century and the show ended on a teaser for next week or a half-formed cliffhanger idea – you might be somewhat disappointed if you tuned in next time to find a documentary about the fall of the Mayan Empire or the migratory habits of the plains buffalo. You’d be interested, but you’d be wondering what happened to the Italian history documentary, and your engagement levels would fall.
4. You forget where the user is
Well, the user is on the other end of the line, browsing content on their phone or computer. But this is not quite what we mean. We mean, where is the user at on their own journey?
Think about where your content fits into the user’s journey towards conversion. Perhaps the content needs to be deployed near the beginning of the pipeline, identifying a problem that the user might not have even realised they had. Maybe the content is designed for somewhere further along in the pipeline, delivering a solution to a problem and nudging the user further towards conversion. Or it could be that the content offers vital post-conversion support for customers. Without a strategy, it’s difficult to recognise this and therefore difficult to release content accordingly.
5. You find it difficult to plan seasonal content
There will be times of year at which certain content pieces are particularly relevant. Of course, times such as Christmas and New Year are the obvious dates for seasonal content releases. But there may be other dates, too – dates that are more specific to your business or industry. This may relate to increased demand for certain products across the year or an event that your team has planned.
Without a schedule in place, it’s going to be very difficult to achieve this kind of seasonal content publishing in a timely manner.