Considering tools that can help you and your team get more results from content marketing? We’re here to help. Even though we provide an intelligent content strategy platform (Cobomba), our goal is to help you select the right tools that will help you reach your marketing goals. One of the ways we can do that is by sharing what we know about different solutions for content planning, not just the one we sell.
When it’s all said and done, we want you to be able to choose the approach that’s best for you. To get started, let’s talk about how content planning in a spreadsheet vs. content planning in Cobomba compare in following areas:
- Templated workflow and documented content strategy
- Data-driven insights and recommendations
- Collaboration and communication
- Calendar management and maintenance
Is a spreadsheet or Cobomba a better content planning tool for me?
Spreadsheets are an easy option for managing content plans and are usually available on your computer via the software your company already purchases whether that be Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Airtable, or some other spreadsheet program. Spreadsheets for content planning can be enhanced by adopting one of the many content calendar templates you can find online.
However, spreadsheets lack data-driven recommendations for content strategy decisions; they must be managed, shared, and maintained individually; and they must be customized extensively if they are to serve as a documented content strategy and provide a templated workflow for your organization.
Cobomba provides content strategy recommendations based on data, provides a single source for capturing content strategy and aligning your team across any number of content campaigns, and provides a templated content planning workflow that elevates the capability of your team and makes calendar management easy.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the spreadsheet is its flexibility to take on a vast range of use cases and be customized to suit so many applications. Marketers everywhere use spreadsheets to whip up social media posting schedules, organize lead lists, document customer journeys, and create detailed content calendars.
The easiest way to get started planning content with a spreadsheet is to run a web search and adopt one of the many content planning templates available. From there you can build out the spreadsheet to accommodate a range of personas, journey stages, content topics, and content brief details.
Cobomba is custom built to optimize the content planning process. This means users already start with a framework that provides a persona library, five customer journey stages (awareness, consideration, conversion, retention, and advocacy), and a templated framework for capturing the business objective, content topics, and content brief details. There is no need to build these features from scratch.
The Cobomba system provides broad flexibility when defining content objectives, persona details, content topics, and content brief specifications. However, there is less flexibility in reconfiguring customer journey stages and the major elements of a content brief compared with spreadsheets. On the other hand, there is an ample notes section where custom details may be added.
Spreadsheets provide the ultimate flexibility in creating a content planning system customized for your specific needs. However, they require an initial investment to identify and adapt an appropriate template to begin using them for content planning. If flexibility is your primary criterion, spreadsheets are likely your best choice. Cobomba provides an attractive alternative that removes the initial burden of customization for content planning and provides considerable flexibility in most dimensions.
Templated workflow and documented content strategy
Spreadsheets can be useful tools for documenting and aligning a team’s content planning work to best practices. The way this is typically done is by creating multiple tabs that are listed sequentially and then providing a legend to help users understand the steps required to navigate from one tab to the next.
This approach can be labor intensive to set up and maintain, and it requires the creator of the system to provide all of the “smarts” related to content marketing.
Cobomba provides a three step content planning process that has templates, ideas, and best-practice alternatives available in the system from the moment of login. The work flows naturally from 1) defining the business objective for a content campaign, 2) collecting the relevant content topics, and 3) populating the content briefs that make up the content calendar. Plus, the platform is always improving. New updates are added regularly without any activity required by the marketing team.
When you build content plans with Cobomba, you naturally capture the essentials of a documented content strategy. Year after year having a documented content strategy has been highly correlated with success in content marketing according to the Content Marketing Institute’s annual survey. For example, in the 2020 report 69% of the most successful organizations had a documented content strategy vs. 16% of the least successful organizations.
It is possible to create a templated workflow and document your content strategy with a spreadsheet. Still, Cobomba takes the manual work out of this process and gets everyone on your team on the same page when it comes to the steps and the details of effective content.
It’s hard to beat free. Most marketers have access to a spreadsheet tool on their own computer based on the software their organization already purchases. Examples of these tools include Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Airtable among others. The basic functionality of each of these tools is similar, and there are free content planning templates available for each of them to get you started.
Cobomba is priced as subscription software, or Software as a Service (SaaS). This means marketing teams pay a monthly or annual fee based on the number of users to securely access the software from a web browser. Current pricing for Cobomba is $29/month/user if paid annually or $34/month/user if paid monthly. Relative to other dedicated content strategy and planning tools, this makes Cobomba quite affordable for small and large teams.
For almost all marketers, using a spreadsheet for maintaining a content plan will be a less expensive option than Cobomba. Cobomba provides an affordable option for those wishing to upgrade their content planning experience, align their teams around their documented content strategy, and improve content performance with data-driven recommendations.
Data-driven insights and recommendations
Unfortunately, the biggest advantage of spreadsheets may also be their biggest liability. You can create any kind of content planning structure that you want. However, you are required to build data integrations yourself or rely on data you transfer manually from other resources. Free content planning spreadsheet templates are suitable for organizing a content calendar, but they don’t have means for providing recommendations based on data for your specific organization.
Cobomba surfaces data-driven insights directly to marketers as they are planning their content. For example, after a marketer documents the business objective for a new marketing campaign, Cobomba’s Content Topic Explorer will collect hundreds of potential content topics based on the product category and target audience. It then sorts these topics by popularity and journey stage (search intent). A marketer can then start building content briefs with a number of content topics ready to go. During the brief creation process, Cobomba suggests suitable CTA’s, content formats, and promotion channels based on the intended audience and the journey stage of the content.
Cobomba is the clear winner versus spreadsheets when it comes to data driven recommendations to guide content strategy.
Collaboration and communication
Collaboration in spreadsheets was once managed with email attachments and shared drives. While this is still the case for some teams, many marketers take advantage of cloud-hosted shared storage and real time collaboration provided by such tools as Microsoft’s OneDrive or Google’s Drive. These platforms allow spreadsheet users to view and edit a common file in order to contribute to content planning.
Cobomba provides a single source for an organization’s content strategy and detailed content plans. This makes it easy for teams to collaborate at the level of a single brief or coordinate strategy across multiple product lines. The system of marketing initiatives and the persona library allows teams to align on key assumptions before diving deep into the content calendar. Alignment memos enable marketers to quickly send templated emails to collaborators inside and outside the organization with the critical details for marketing initiatives and content briefs.
Collaboration via spreadsheet tools continues to improve. However, for the purposes of content planning, Cobomba provides a streamlined experience for collaborating on content strategy and communicating the details of the content calendar.
Calendar management and maintenance
Content calendars in spreadsheets typically organize content briefs or content assets as rows with an assigned publish date and other milestones along with additional plan details filling out the columns. Spreadsheets also allow the user to sort and filter by relevant criteria such as date or content type in order to create the desired view. When a new asset is created, rows must be inserted with care taken to populate the desired fields and not break the established formatting.
When a new marketing initiative or content brief is created in Cobomba, the assets throughout the platform update automatically. This means the persona library and content calendar will be up to date and marketers won’t need to copy and paste the same information in multiple places in order to update the plan. Similarly, as many details as possible are pre-populated based on the marketer’s previous choices. Other choices are provided as dropdown lists to make the process of getting to a content calendar as quick as possible. The calendar filter functionality empowers the marketer to compose a plan view by date, review status, marketing initiative, persona, journey stage, content type, and content objective. These specific views can be downloaded in spreadsheet format if desired.
Calendar management and plan maintenance is more powerful, easier, and more reliable in Cobomba. Cobomba also provides the option to download a content calendar spreadsheet format as needed.
Should I use a spreadsheet or Cobomba to plan my content?
Only you know your priorities for your marketing team. We can provide different aspects to consider as you determine the best fit for you and your team. Maybe the tool you adopt for content strategy and planning should make you smarter and help you consolidate files and tools around a single source of truth. Or maybe you’d prefer something your team is already using or is a “blank sheet” that allows you to build your own calendar and workflow from scratch.
Spreadsheets for content planning typically fit those who:
- Already have access to a spreadsheet tool and have no additional budget or the ability to consolidate the use of other tools to free up budget
- Create and distribute marketing content infrequently or lack organization commitment for a documented content strategy
- Have time, resources, and experience to use a range of research tools to validate content planning decisions
- Want the most customization and flexibility for content strategy and are willing to put in the work to maintain planning documents and train team on effective use
Cobomba works well if you:
- Have a budget of $30/month or more or can reallocate budget by consolidating other tools
- Have personal and organizational commitment to consistent content marketing effort as a way to drive leads, sales, and customer engagement
- Want data-driven recommendations to inform content strategy without needing to spend hours researching with other tools
- Want a templated content marketing workflow that makes it easy to build and maintain a documented content strategy and content calendar
Looking for more information on adopting a smart content planning process? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Smart Content Planning.
Deciding what content to create and then how to distribute and promote it is a guessing game for most marketers. Cobomba is content strategy software that uses AI to help marketers plan the right content so they consistently grow sales with content marketing.
Cobomba is a platform designed with a built-in content marketing workflow that enables you to build your content strategy with data-rich recommendations and consolidate other tools for research and planning. This leads to streamlined planning and team alignment.
Having your content strategy and content calendar in one place makes it easier to demonstrate the effectiveness of your marketing activities. You’ll also be ready to feed your team and your tech with the data they need for creation, distribution, and measurement of your content. Try it out for free and start demonstrating your marketing effectiveness.