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Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

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Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

Quick: Name the tool most critical for effectively managing your content marketing program.

No matter your role or responsibilities, the answer should be an editorial calendar.

Why? Content creation involves a million small tasks. A reliable system keeps track of all those processes and each content piece’s status as it moves through them.

But content marketing editorial calendars can do much more than that.

They can streamline strategic collaboration, track marketing performance, and identify content repurposing opportunities.

With a thoughtful approach and proper configuration, editorial calendars can enhance team productivity and add clarity at every stage of your brand’s content marketing journey.

Learn how to build a customized content marketing editorial calendar – and how to maximize its benefits – with these tips, examples, and templates.

1. Set the foundation for an effective editorial calendar

Gather key information from your content marketing strategy to inform your content creation plan. Answer the following questions to help determine what to track in your calendar and stay focused on your marketing goals.

Who are you creating content for?

You can’t create the right content if you don’t have a clear understanding of the target audience. Use the insights in your content personas to focus on their informational needs and topical interests.

What will your content help your business achieve?

Are you looking to generate leads? Increase your thought leadership? Drive attendance to your events? Your content marketing mission and goals will impact what you publish, where you publish, how often, and how your team prioritizes, organizes, and categorizes/tags its content creation efforts.

What creative resources do you have?

Will you work with an in-house team of writers, designers, and videographers? A stable of industry pros sharing their insights? A mix of internal and external contributors? The tracked formats, frequency, and workflow stages likely depend on with whom you’re collaborating and the nature of their expertise.

TIP: Need to enhance your creative capabilities to handle the workload? Follow this complete guide to outsourcing content creators.

What will make your content distinct?

How can your brand deliver content with a unique mission? What unmet industry needs can the content address? What gaps exist in your or your competitors’ content? Can you tie your content to industry events for added exposure? Knowing how to attract a larger share of your audience’s attention lets you fill the content marketing editorial calendar with impactful ideas and assets.

What are the steps for producing quality content for your brand? What tasks and team members factor into your content workflow? Who manages each aspect, who else helps, and who needs to approve the pieces? Those insights determine what information to include in your calendar and how to structure it for optimal use.

2. Build your content marketing editorial calendar

Multiple calendar-building options exist, from simple spreadsheets to project management software. You can also use calendar tools integrated into content workflow management platforms and access free templates online.

Picking your calendar tool

Knowing some of the pros and cons of each option will help determine the best choice to build your marketing editorial calendar.

Project/task management software

Tools like Trello, Airtable, Basecamp, or Asana are great for organizing tasks, collaboration stages, and asset status. They include tagging, annotation capabilities, and drag-and-drop functionality that make them ideal for tracking content from ideation to execution.

For example, Clare McDermott recommends Airtable for content planning because it combines elements of spreadsheets and databases.

@Airtable is amazingly useful for editorial calendar planning because it’s an elegant combination of spreadsheet and database, says @clare_mcd via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

As shown in her editorial calendar template example, one calendar tracks multiple elements – the headline, author, deadline, topic/category, and production status.

You can use filters to zoom in on specific details about the content pipeline, such as articles by a particular author or assets that include visuals.

1670844304 582 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

Image source

However, some project management tools build templates with developer or marketing needs in mind. You need to adapt them to work well in an editorial environment – which could become more of a time-suck than a time-saver.

Editorial workflow management platforms

Dedicated content management and editorial workflow software can offer editorial calendaring features better suited to the needs of content marketers. They are also more likely to integrate well with other enterprise content technologies, like your CMS (e.g., WordPress), email marketing systems, or asset management tools.

All-in-one systems can be complex and pricey, so they may not be the best option for small teams or smaller-scale content marketing programs.

Fortunately, some offer free editorial calendar templates without purchasing a software license. They may include advanced features that would be hard to build on your own.

For example, ContentCal asks a few questions, such as your types of content, publishing frequency, and target platforms. With that information, it creates an annual calendar with target publishing dates for each type of asset.

1670844304 550 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

Image source

Spreadsheets

You can always start with a simple Excel spreadsheet or a shareable Google Sheet. It’s easy to configure them to track fundamental tasks like production steps and publishing dates for a blog or social media posts. Just label the columns and rows for all the information you need.

For example, the CMI editorial team bases its editorial calendar on a template like this one for the blog. It details the production information for each day’s article – headline, author, topic category, and workflow status. (Download your own copy and adjust it as needed).

1670844304 259 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

Uploading your spreadsheet to a cloud-sharing system (like SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive) makes it easy for your team to access and update the information as each asset moves through the process.

Spreadsheets lack advanced features that make complex workflows easier to manage (like content that involves sales or requires developer skills). They also can quickly get unwieldy when tracking multiple processes like creation and performance tracking or multi-channel content experiences.

Also, spreadsheets don’t always integrate well with other enterprise systems and processes, so consider your collaboration needs before choosing this option.

Start with essential workflow details

How you fill out your editorial calendar ultimately depends on your goals, resources, and content plan. At the most fundamental level, it should include these fields for each content asset:

  • Date of publication
  • Topic or headline
  • Author
  • Required features – cover image, video or audio asset, ad obligations, etc.
  • Owner – who manages the workflow for that asset and/or approves the final piece
  • Status – update as the content moves through the publishing cycle

Add useful extras

Depending on the content and workflow, you may want to track the following elements to ensure your content follows the strategy over the long term.

Distribution channels

When working with multiple channels, tracking the where and when of distribution is critical.

You can use this starter template as a model. It tracks basic publication details for each channel, such as the targeted personas, publishing frequency, and topics. This example also includes fields to identify relevant calls to action and target KPIs.

1670844304 712 Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates for Content Marketing

While CMI was used as a reference for this template, the content does not reflect its channel plan. Click to download a copy.

TIP: Learn to build a channel plan to put your content in the hands of the right consumers at the right time.

Content formats and types

Are you focused on a single type or multiple types of content (e.g., blog posts, podcasts, videos)? What format(s) will be used for those types (e.g., live streaming interviews, scripted presentations, product demos)? Tracking this information is helpful, especially when repackaging your assets into other formats or for use on additional platforms.

Visual elements

Don’t overlook the appeal of visual content in terms of social-sharing potential and brand recognition. Tracking the visuals – such as cover images, logos, illustrations, or infographics – ensures your content has a consistent look and cohesive brand identity.

Topics/categories

Including topics and categories makes your calendars more searchable and can help uncover opportunities to fill coverage gaps.

Keywords and other SEO metadata

This information includes meta descriptions and SEO titles (if different from the headlines). Including these details in the editorial calendar visually reminds you to optimize the content for targeted keywords and align with the business’ SEO strategy.

Calls to action

Tracking CTAs on your editorial calendar ensures every content piece is focused on achieving a goal for your business.

URLs

Tracking the URLs of each published piece can help content inventories and audits and make it easier to build backlinks to your highest-converting content assets.

Repurposing details

You can add fields to indicate the content’s last update date and its performance against a target KPI. Indexing this information turns your content marketing editorial calendar into a mini content audit to identify high-performing content to recycle and republish.

Sample

Manick Bhan offers a sample template for this small-scale content audit. In addition to tracking the content’s original and updated publication dates, it includes the page title, author, total impressions, and topical category.

1646910888 160 How To Reduce Reuse and Recycle Your Content for Improved

3. Keep your editorial calendar filled and focused

A consistent publishing schedule requires a steady flow of engaging topics and ideas to turn into valuable content.

Incorporate a running list of story ideas into your editorial calendar. The list can also be an easy reference when looking for gaps in your coverage or provide extra inspiration for your team’s creative brainstorms.

Ben Taylor, founder of HomeWorkingClub.com, suggests using a card-based project management system like Trello. “Create a column for ideas, then anybody on the team with access can submit them,” he says. For ideas you plan to take forward, just drag their cards into your workflow.

@homeworkingclub likes @trello for #brainstorming because it lets ideas move easily through your #content workflow via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Again, the fields to track content ideation can vary. At a minimum, track the following:

  • Topic idea
  • Owner of the idea
  • Target keywords/categories to which the content would map
  • Who might be available/qualified to author the piece
  • Marketing goal the idea aligns with
  • Projected publishing timeframe

4. Evaluate more ways to use editorial calendars

Editorial calendars can be helpful for a range of content marketing tasks beyond tracking your creative process and managing your publishing workflow.

Diversity and accessibility compliance

To ensure your content complies with accessibility standards and features diverse perspectives, include those details in your tracking system. For example, the CMI editorial team’s calendar includes a field to note that the content has been reviewed for inclusivity considerations and/or highlights the expertise of writers from diverse backgrounds.

External collaborations

If you work with external content contributors and influencers, add the relevant details of those engagements to the content marketing editorial calendar.

Whether you use dedicated influencer management tools or just add a separate tab in your main editorial calendar spreadsheet, these details can simplify the assignment process and ensure on-time assets:

  • Writer’s name
  • Contact details
  • Preferred topics
  • Standard turnaround times
  • Channels and platforms they work with

Reporting

Keeping a record of the content as it is created gives you a head start in tracking the performance of each piece and regularly sharing the results with your team and upper management.

You can add columns (or tabs) to your main calendar to keep on hand the most relevant analytics like page views, clicks, or conversions. Alternatively, you can grab the most pertinent information about the content from the calendar and plug it into a separate reporting template.

Aligning content across the enterprise

Sharing your content calendar with sales, marketing, HR, public relations, and other departments helps them understand and better leverage your content efforts to further their own goals. That connection may make them more likely to alert you when they’re involved in new events or opportunities that might spark fresh ideas or impact your project priorities.

Ease your process pain with the right editorial calendar

The possibilities are practically endless when it comes to using editorial calendars to organize your content marketing and keep your efforts moving in the right direction. What additional tips, tools, and ideas have worked well for your calendaring efforts? If you have other suggestions, please share them with your fellow content marketers in the comments.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please add it in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Updated from an April 2017 post.

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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