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Three Mistakes that Could Ruin Your 2018 Marketing Content Calendar

Type: Blog
Topic: Customer Experience

As the landscape of marketing technologies continues to shift, and the tidal wave of communications that go out to customers grows, marketing teams grapple with finding effective ways to manage their content flow across the organization. A tried and true way to tackle this problem is found in the creation of content calendars that map content for specific parts of the organization and then roll-up for a cross-organizational view of outbound communications.

Unfortunately, these calendars go bad about as fast as a gallon of milk.

Life intervenes, priorities change, new initiatives are proposed and the calendar is superseded a month after it’s created – becoming an artifact no one talks about and few can manage.

As you look ahead to a new calendar year and the onset of calendar-building season, consider a new approach to content calendars by avoiding the three common mistakes that doom them from the onset.

Account for them and your calendar becomes a valuable and important guide.

Mistake #1: Ignorance of the full scope of channels and messages 
A common problem with the exercise of creating a comprehensive content calendar is lack of understanding about just how many communications are actually received by customers throughout the year from your organization. When was the last time your organization looked at all communications currently being sent to your customers? For many companies I work with, the answer is never.

Fix: Perform a Communication Audit

Outbound communications fall into three categories:

  1. Items You Must Send – content you must send your customer about changes in regulations.
  2. Information Your Customer Wants – The educational or informational content that helps your customers make an informed decision, do their job better or answer their questions.
  3. Content You Would Like to Send – promotional information about your latest version, incentives to upgrade or to buy a product at a discounted amount.

Your organization may see these communication types as completely different, but your customer views them as all coming from your organization. Understand that as your customer meets different experiences with your company (purchasing a new product, an outage or change to your service, an issue with delivery) one or more of these communication types will ramp up. The result: your company’s information appearing very often in your customers’ inbox.

Mistake #2: Confusion over the review and approval processes 
Is it clear within your organization how a new communication (or channel) is introduced? A growing number of easy-to-implement marketing technologies allow individual groups within a company to communicate with customers at the click of a button without truly understanding the ramifications caused by their actions.  Adverse consequences of this action can result from increasing government regulation and/or a detriment to the overall customer experience. And don’t forget to consider third parties in this approval process.

Fix: Define Your Review/Approval Model in Advance

Look to the marketing department’s use of project briefs with outside agencies or internal processes around notifying customers of significant company issues as a starting point for comprehensive review and approval process. Using an existing process helps individuals and departments understand and adopt the acceptance of a new “review and approve” for all communications with less pushback.  The best models are structured with three tiers:

  1. An Operational Tier responsible for day to day communications,
  2. A Steering Committee responsible for evaluating exceptions discovered by the Operational Tier, and
  3. An Executive Oversight for decisions and rulemaking on exceptions.

Mistake #3:  Non-participation from essential stakeholders 
Everyone that has a stake in outbound customer communications must feel like they are part of the creation of the new processes and ongoing approvals around communications. In order to have a vested interest in the success of this initiative, the reason why the process is necessary must be clear and measurable indicators must be in place (e.g. reduction in opt-outs, decrease in customer complaints, increase in open rates) and shared in a consistent manner.

Fix: create a cross-functional governance team

A cross-functional governance team with representation from every business unit or group that sends outbound communications must be formed early.  This team should create the process for reviewing and approving communications.  Individuals on the team must have accountability and feel equally represented at all three levels of the review and approval process.

As you begin 2018, take a different approach to your marketing calendar. Yes, it will take longer to create and yes, you’ll need a lot of help from a lot of different people. But if you stick with it, the result will prevent communications chaos and set a template for future editions.

Best of all, it will result in real, measurable improvements in customer experience, compliance and marketing efficiency. Make progress on those goals and pretty soon you’ll be promoted out of the calendar-making business altogether.



About the Author: 

Eric V. Holtzclaw is  Chief Strategist  of PossibleNOW. He’s a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. Check out his book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior – Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior. Eric helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide preference management solutions.

Follow me on Twitter: @eholtzclaw | Connect on LinkedIn: Eric Holtzclaw

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