How to Build a Marketing Calendar for Your Ecommerce Store – A successful marketing campaign is similar to a brilliant Broadway production in that it does not occur by chance. Long before the curtain rises, brands must keep their entire team on the same page, achieve tight timelines, and execute quality control on all collateral.
Preparation for a successful marketing campaign takes rigorous planning, attention to detail, and, on occasion, forecasting. You can’t prevent unexpected deadlines or hurdles from disrupting your marketing efforts, but you can plan ahead with a precise marketing calendar that includes attainable goals, techniques, and answers for each campaign.
Let’s look at the nuts and bolts of creating an eCommerce marketing calendar, as well as some tools that can make the process go more smoothly.
A marketing calendar is a document that contains precise plans for various marketing activities. This spreadsheet, database, or table is used to keep track of the activities, deadlines, and goals that will be used on a project over the course of a specific time period. Some marketing calendars, for example, plan out campaigns over the course of a year, while others break down efforts into quarterly, monthly, or weekly cycles.
A marketing calendar’s ultimate purpose is to clearly display the contents of upcoming marketing projects as well as their position in a company’s timetable.
How to set goals for a marketing calendar
Calendars for marketing should never be created in a vacuum. Every campaign you add should have clear objectives, as well as defined goals and KPIs that determine its overall performance. To put it another way, goals are necessary for marketers to understand what their campaigns should achieve—and how to get from point A to point B in the most efficient manner feasible.
Setting goals for campaigns on your calendar, on the other hand, isn’t always easy. Knowing what you want ahead of time might help you avoid unexpected mistakes and stay more nimble in the industry. Above all, you’ll want SMART objectives: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Begin by posing the following exploratory questions:
- Which campaigns have strict deadlines and which ones don’t?
- Where in the timeline can you provide some deliberate flex space?
- How can you make each goal’s cohesiveness intentional?
Keep in mind that strategies and goals are not the same things. You may start setting out stepping stones to get you there faster once you know exactly what kind of results you want from each campaign (goals) (tactics).
How do you build a marketing calendar?
Now that you’ve established your objectives, it’s time to create the framework for your marketing calendar. Let’s take a deeper look at the five processes that must be completed in order to construct a functional system.
1. Set your time frame
How far in advance do you plan to track your marketing efforts? Is it necessary to have distinct calendars for different time periods? The sooner you get the answers to these questions, the sooner you can begin creating spreadsheets that function properly.
The majority of businesses plan their marketing initiatives in three stages:
- Monthly planning allows you to respond rapidly to changing needs while staying ahead of the game.
- When you plan quarterly, you can respond to changing budgetary constraints while preparing larger marketing efforts.
- While a one-year calendar may put you miles ahead of the competition, bear in mind that long-term goals are sometimes more rigid.
Make sure to communicate your timeline expectations to all stakeholders involved in the planning process, including your sales team and outside partners.
2. Choose your channels of choice
Not every social media platform or activity should be included in your marketing plan. Before putting them on your board, think about the platforms that need to be planned. Fewer channels allow you to split down activity by category more easily, but more channels may provide slightly better visibility.
Create distinct calendars for individual marketing channels or find a good balance for your master marketing calendar. Keep in mind that the purpose is accessibility, not overly complex information. Make the necessary adjustments to your strategy.
3. Create long-term flexibility
Chances come up in the weirdest places—and frequently at the last minute. Make sure to leave room in your marketing calendar for some much-needed flexibility. Create a contingency plan or a system of checks and balances in case things don’t go as planned:
- Have a backup strategy in place for major campaigns.
- Allow ample time between deadlines to make changes.
- Prepare supplemental content ahead of time (just in case)
As you devote more time to your marketing calendars, you’ll see inflexibility before it has a detrimental impact on your ultimate results. Building a flexible calendar, in either instance, is a proven method to avoid falling short of your objectives.
4. Pick your campaign types
Not every campaign is made equal. You should break down your marketing actions into various campaign categories as you plan.
For the most part, this consists of one of five vertices:
- Content: releasing content to the public that promotes your company Promotions: any coupon, sale, or discount presented to the audience’s attention
- Giveaways are used to gain new followers, leads, or viral attention.
- Product: introducing new products or services to the market.
- Making people aware of your brand, products, or values is called awareness.
Keep in mind that the purpose of a marketing campaign is to develop a sequence of multimedia communications centered on a particular subject. Make sure that all of your marketing goals are aligned with the same aim and campaign, and that your brand voice is woven into the tale.
5. Assign levels of importance
Not every aspect of your marketing strategy is equally important. Some campaigns, content, and product releases will take a back seat, while other top-line activities will have tighter timelines and outcomes that are more important to your brand’s success.
Assigning priority levels to your material helps keep your team on the same page and, as a result, helps you finish assignments and chores ahead of schedule. This can be accomplished by employing a tier-based system to color-code or number entries.
Most marketers today divide their campaigns into three levels:
- Tier 1: Campaigns that are vitally critical to your brand’s success are prioritized first. This list will almost certainly include everything involving new product launches, massive promotions, or major events.
- Tier 2: This material will most likely take a week or more to plan, and it may include marketing reports, brand awareness initiatives, and other things. What is the rule of thumb? Mid-tier material will necessitate some internal cooperation.
- Tier 3: These marketing campaigns may take little to no time to put into action. Tier 3 activities include things like sharing branded photographs or creating seasonal content.
There aren’t enough levels here to fit your workflow? If your firm requires it, feel free to add a fourth or fifth tier of importance.
Best tools for building eCommerce marketing calendars
Select a marketing calendar technology stack that meets all of your goals. You can go all-in with a thorough or enterprise-grade tool, or keep things simple with platforms that cover all the essentials. It’s entirely up to you!
With that in mind, here are a few resources to get you started:
Google Sheets is an excellent place to start if you’re seeking for simplicity. This powerful tool, similar to Microsoft Excel, allows numerous users to collaborate on the same page. Create various sheets for different types of marketing campaigns by adding charts, changing data, and creating separate sheets for different types of marketing campaigns.
While Google Sheets is free for personal use, bigger teams will need to purchase a business plan ($6 per month per user).
Enterprise-grade software, such as TrueNorth, is frequently used by larger eCommerce businesses. This sophisticated platform allows you to construct extensive marketing calendars that include graphic charts, timelines, and other built-in features. Google Analytics is one of several connectors that help speed up the data entry process.
This is the most expensive tool on the list, so keep that in mind. TrueNorth begins invoicing at $99 per month after a 14-day free trial.
Trello’s visual organizer is ideal for marketing calendars in the early stages. To get things started, the site provides a variety of templates (including marketing calendars). Different campaigns can be created under each card, or distinct columns can be designated to hold individual tasks. These cards can be seen in two ways: as columns or as a calendar.
Trello offers both free and premium plans for personal boards as well as more complicated jobs. Its adaptable pricing models grow easily, which may be beneficial to newer businesses.
Leverage your resources with flexible storytelling
Creating an eCommerce marketing calendar is only half of the game. Now is the time to start incorporating relevant, meaningful marketing objectives that align with your company’s goals and customer expectations. “Is this campaign going to get us the results we want?” you might wonder. “Are these pieces of collateral effectively telling our story?” Gather all of the resources you’ll need to build a system that works best for you.
Keep in mind that your marketing schedule needs to be both flexible and perceptive, adapting to new events, trends, and delays. It may be a strong foundation, but it should never stand in the way of development or change. Be open to changing your strategy as time goes on, and keep an eye out for new technology or recommendations to help you improve your schedule even more.
As a result, determine your deadlines. Include thorough notes and goals. Above all, make sure your projects and marketing are consistent. Finally, your marketing calendar will be a powerful and impactful part of your marketing toolkit—all you have to do now is get started.