Plan your content calendar

You’re on board with expanding your email marketing, now you just need to figure out what to send to your prospects and customers. By planning ahead, you can create a cohesive and consistent email marketing program that is much easier to sustain.

Trello is especially suited for managing digital marketing calendars because of this card flexibility. Trello’s based in Kanban style of project management (think sticky notes on a whiteboard.) We like the Trello card and board interface, and it’s ability to support visual items in a to-do / task format. Agile teams often use Kanban as a way to keep many people moving on large, complex projects, by breaking down individual tasks into cards (sticky notes.) If your desk looks like mine, you might like Trello too!

You can also use any calendar, including a Google Calendar for this task. The principles are the same.

Make a list of topic ideas that you want to cover in email. These should be relevent and interesting to your audience. We usually keep a list handy so when a customer asks a question, we jot that down. Other customers likely have the same questions!

Organize those topic ideas by grouping them together. You can produce a series of topics in groups and cover them in, say, a four week timeframe, or you can spread them out and intersperse them with other content pieces. If you have an audience that is similar – you sell e-commerce products to a specific audience, the grouping method works well. If you sell services to different audiences, use a rotating content plan, and send only the relevent content to each audience. Each audience group might only hear from you twice a month, but you might have four or six emails per month to two or three audience groups.

Using trello to plan a digital marketing calendar

We’ve set up a board (a test board) showing some examples of how you can use Trello for content calendar planning. To prep for setting up a board in Trello, gather the following information:

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Identify some key marketing information:

  • Product release dates
  • Marketing campaign details
  • Your top keyword search phrases

Then, plan out your content calendar in Trello.

  • Create one Trello list for Editorial Calendar, one for Social Media (either by platform, or in general)
  • Create one Card for each blog or social media post
  • Create one card for each email you plan to send (weekly)
  • Use the keyworded search phrase in your blog post title (and make it the card title)
  • Within each blog post card, add a checklist (you can copy them from other cards by duplicating them) so you have the same process each time
  • Include sketches or ideas of graphics you want the designer to remember (even if that designer is you, in the case of me!)
  • Assign it to a person – Trello will notify them via e-mail
  • Add a due date- – Trello will notify you of upcoming deadlines via email
  • Add a color label – in this case, we’ve labeled them by importance – red being hot (before it was finished), yellow being medium and green being normal. But you can also color code by product line (all purple for one product line, all green for another, for instance) or by topic group (all red about content marketing and all blue about social media marketing.)
  • Include updated notes when you have made a change to let other team members know – they’ll get notifications in their e-mail in box that you’ve updated the card.
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Once you have planned them out in Trello, keep it open or make it your default page on your browser so you see it daily. Often, we get sidetracked, and Trello can help jog your brain to get back to work quickly if you see your task up top. Don’t be afraid to drag around your cards based on what you’re working on, not necessarily by deadline, as Trello will still remind you with reminder icons that change color when you get closer to the deadline.

If you add the Calendar power up, you can switch to calendar mode, dragging cards on to their due date or their start date as needed.

Plus, you can attach everything you need for a particular post, including images, documents, and have discussions with your team or approvals within each individual card. Once complete, you can archive the cards.

Top Trello digital marketing organization tips for teams:

  • Use checklists within cards
  • Tag  your colleagues or staff
  • Attach images associated with that post
  • Use it for discussions and approvals with your team
  • Attach documents, Drive links and Dropbox links
  • Move them around on a calendar in Calendar mode (power up)

Trello’s flexibility lies in seeing different project tracks at one time, and moving the cards – or tasks – around really helps to manage time and ensure your team is working on the critical items. It’s easier to use than, say, MS Project, it’s free and we argue, a lot more fun to plan content calendars (and stick to them.)

Some clients will often have large boards with a lot going on. Feel free to move your lists around as you work with your team, keeping the hot items on the first screen as much as possible. Set reminders and assign to people so they get an email reminder to go do what it is they have been assigned them to do.

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Trello’s checklists are great for documenting process that can be copied and pasted over to new boards, thus creating consistency for your team.

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If you’re not using Trello, you can keep the same information using a Word document, and Dropbox for images. Load up folders for weekly content (messaging/copy, images) and link your Word doc to the Dropbox folder. You can also use Google Drive similarly for image and document folders and then attach those links to your Google marketing calendar.

The importance of sending email regularly can’t be overemphasized. We see it with every client – content drives traffic and traffic can be converted to interested prospects. Conversions can be nurtured to become customers. Customers can be nurtured into evangelists. Your business is found on the web by the things you have written on your website! You can’t be found for the things you don’t say!

Having a calendar makes this easy – the planning is done, all that you have to do each week is go in and create the content: write the words, snap a few photographs or screenshots. Once you’ve got your content, assembling it into well-designed and well-organized email is your next step!