Annual Content Planning: 5 Types Of Content You Need To Improve Results

Annual Content PlanningDo you think Annual Content Planning is  about filling your editorial calendar!

It isn’t! 

Does this surprise you?

It shouldn’t. 

Because the content marketing landscape is saturated since most businesses use some form of content in their marketing mix. 

Based on analyzing over 1 million articles in 2018,  Steve Rayson, founder of Buzzsumo, discovered that 50% of content got 4 shares or less!

Histogram of social shares

So what does this mean for your content marketing?

Focus on the content marketing that achieves the goals of your organization. And this includes serving a higher social purpose.

To do this, create and maintain content that your audience views as useful and worth consuming. 

As a result, readers will give you permission to communicate and engage with them. And, over time, you build share of audience attention.

Instead of filling your editorial calendar to keep publishing new content, use annual content planning to focus your efforts based on the results of existing content marketing. So you improve your best road-tested content and focus new content marketing efforts to remain visible.

Annual Content Planning Defined

Annual content planning provides a resource-efficient approach to your content marketing. The goal is to support your organization and employees and to offer real value to your audience.

Start by auditing all of your organization’s content  to find your best “road tested” content based on tests and business results. 

Then optimize, update and improve the high performing and useful content. Also transform it into other content formats and distribute it to additional platforms and devices.

At the same time, get rid of unused, unread and expired content.

By updating and continuing to distribute existing content, you get the most out of your resources and keep your best content visible and viable.

As a result, you:

  • Focus on road tested content to make it an entryway for reader action.
  • Provide the information external and internal  audiences want and need  when and how they want it.
  • Drive sales and support customers before, during and after purchase.

Annual Content Planning: 5 Types You Need To Succeed

When you plan your content marketing for the full year, you reduce the amount of content you need to create.

Because you focus on the major content efforts you need to keep your brand visible.

At the same time, you provide your core audiences with the information they want in format they need based on the combination of their context and the device. This translates to the content format and platform.

Annual Content Planning

1. Annual Content

Annual Content is a major piece of foundational content marketing to position you in your niche. As foundational content, original research or new analysis, it requires resources and budget for creation, reuse and on-going distribution.

  • Content Planning Objective: Annual content positions you as the go-to authority on a specific topic. 
  • Content Planning Options: Original research is one of the most popular types of annual content. Or use pillar content such as an ebook or industry review. For on-going success, select a topic that needs yearly updates.
  • Publication Timing: Publish once a year. Make it the centerpiece of your editorial calendar.

Case Study
In 2014, Andy Crestodina ran the first Orbit Media’s Annual Blogger Survey to answer, “How long does it take to write a blog post?”  He learned that original research:

  • Increased visibility.
  • Expanded guest opportunities.
  • Received press mentions.
  • Grew list of survey takers. By emailing past respondents each year, the list grows.
  • Keep URL. Andy adds the new results and input to the existing ones and publishes it on the same URL to retain search signals.

How lond does it take to write a typical post?

Actionable Content Planning Tips:

  • Include attention-getting elements.  Add images, video, audio, and influencer quotes.
  • Plan and create different content formats. And distribute this reformatted content to key platforms for each format type.
  • Develop multiple blog posts. Create 2 to 4 articles or blog posts from this content.
  • Use PR outreach. Compile a targeted list of bloggers and journalists who cover the topic of your annual content. Send each an email about your annual content and spotlight relevant points for each writer.
  • Schedule next annual update. Get team input for making improvements next year. Also track results and  costs over time.

2. Event Related Content

Create Event Related Content for the top industry and location events related to your business.  They include:

  • Industry and category conferences,
  • Major cultural, sports and local events, and/or
  • Business-related events.

Use these events because they spotlight key topics and thought leaders. Also, they provide hooks for content creation, offer non-text content, and attract social media attention.

  • Content Planning Objective: Take advantage of focused attention to reduce distribution cost and attract new audience attention! 
  • Content Planning Options: Give live presentations and/or training sessions, write articles about presentations, get influencer and/or attendee input for roundup post, create content to spotlight sessions, sponsors and local sights, and/or interview presenters, influencers and/or attendees to create post-event content.
  • Publication Timing: Depends on the number of events per year related to your business. Create content to tap into event interest before, during and/or after event.

Case Study:
Together, Top Rank and Content Marketing Institute create award winning pre-conference ebooks for the annual Content Marketing World conference. They ask speakers to give their insights across a variety of topics. In addition to creating high visibility content, they help to increase conference attendance.

The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing 

Actionable Content Planning Tips:

  • Include relevant calls to action. In addition to building your email list, get readers to take other actions, like purchase. 
  • Extend the life of event content. For example, transform live presentations into webinars and videos.
  • Take part in event-related social media. Even if you don’t attend an event live, you can participate in the social media conversation.


3. Quarterly Content and/or Seasonal Content

Use quarterly content or themes to support and highlight major business and/or sales efforts. Focus on key business initiatives or seasonal themes. Extend quarterly themes to blog posts, social media and other content formats.

Use product-focused quarterly content to learn more about unknown visitors and provide targeted content upgrades. For example, Yale Appliances offers product-specific buying guides.

Example of how to tailor content to new visitors

  • Content Planning Objective: To attract people from outside of your addressable audience.
  • Content Planning Options: Offer seasonal checklists, ebooks, webinars or other educational content.
  • Publication Timing: Once per quarter. Use to support related smaller content throughout the quarter.

Case Study
Spin Sucks offers a “30 Day Challenge.” It consists of 30 blog posts that focus first quarter business activity. This useful content aligns with Spin Sucks’ other content and leads prospects further into the purchase process!

Spin Sucks 30 Day Challenge

Started as a set of monthly content, Gini updated and expanded the 30 Day Challenge into a paid e-book. Further, it primes participants to buy other products.

The Communicator's Playbook

Actionable Content Planning Tips:

  • Assess existing quarterly content before choosing new topics.
  • Partner with non-competitive companies to expand your offering and reach. 
  • Offer content in different formats to maximize engagement.

4. Monthly Content

Include one content hook per month for content that attracts broad attention. I call this “Crowd Pleaser Content” since it helps to expand your reach beyond your audience. Where appropriate tap into holidays and/or other events from your promotional calendar. Also include relevant calls-to-action to drive readers to take specific actions.

When you plan this monthly content planning, develop related content distribution presentations and outreach to keep it visible over time. 

  • Content Planning Objective: To attract more readers, viewers or listeners beyond your addressable audience.
  • Content Planning Options: Roundup posts and other in-depth content that appeals to a wider audience. Tap into influencers and other crowd friendly topics.
  • Publication Timing: Once per month. You don’t need a separate piece of content for the months when you publish your annual and quarterly content.

Case Study
To support Dr. Teri Fisher’s Voice Den Party, I created a roundup blog post, 30 Top Voice Influencers: The Inside Scoop You Need To Get Up To Speed.

Voice Influencer at The Voice Den Party

Since the content supported his event, Teri helped me to get input from people I didn’t know.

Even better, it created a lively conversation on social media and helped me to connect with voice experts.

Actionable Content Planning Tips:

  • Tap into the power of roundup posts. So participants help to promote the content.
  • Invite an expert or influencer to take over your blog. This can work well to cover your blog during vacations.

5. Weekly Content

Offer weekly or every other week servings of your content to your audience to get them to want to read your content. I call this consistent content.

So it becomes part of their weekly content consumption. As a result, you reduce the need to pay to promote it.

  • Content Planning Objective: To remain visible to your audience, both external and internal. Also, to build a habit to look for and consume your content.
  • Content Planning Options: Include any content format, text, video or audio. Ideally provide a structure to make creation easier.
  • Publication Timing: Once per week or once every other week. Ideally publish on the same day and time to help create a content consumption habit.

Case Study
The Actionable Marketing Guide Newsletter is published every Tuesday.  I write unique content  specifically for the newsletter.

Like an old fashioned letter, I write it in a  personal voice and add my distinct New York City perspective and marketing lessons.

To expand newsletter distribution, I moved the Actionable Marketing Guide Newsletter archive to the blog.  So anyone can view past newsletters and the traffic goes to my blog.Annual Content Planning-Weekly Content Example

Actionable Content Planning Tips:

  • Create a structure for your weekly content. An established format makes this content easier to create. 
  • Tailor weekly content for  employees and distribute to them.
  • Post newsletters on your blog and share on social media. 

Annual Content Planning Conclusion

The bottom line:
Annual content planning provides the structure and content you need to guide your content marketing over the course of the next year and beyond.

It’s not about stuffing your editorial calendar.

Instead annual content planning allows you to focus on the best performing content you already have based on measurable results. Also to ensure you offer the content that your audience needs when, where and how they want it. So they decide to buy from you.

So annual content planning aligns your content marketing with your business goals. As a result, your content marketing yields trackable results over time.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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Article initially published on January 4, 2018. It was updated on January 17, 2019 and on December 10, 2020.

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