Creating a Marketing Calendar: Tips, Tricks, and Templates for Success
In the world of marketing, chaos and confusion is sadly the norm. Whether it's a new product launch, or a social media campaign, tasks can pile up faster than a tower of Jenga blocks.
If your marketing team is in complete disarray all too often, start by creating a marketing calendar.
This nifty little tool helps to organise campaigns, projects, tasks and deadlines effectively. These are mapped out for everyone to view, streamlining workflow and ensuring everyone's on the same page. Say goodbye to missed deadlines and disorganisation, and hello to a well-planned and successful marketing strategy!
If skyrocketing your business is your goal, it’s time to get started on your marketing calendar!
- What is a marketing calendar?
- Marketing calendar formats
- Types of marketing calendars
- How to create a marketing calendar from scratch
- Marketing calendar FAQ
What is a Marketing Calendar?
You've probably assumed a marketing calendar is just a calendar with marketing tasks and deadlines.
And hey, you're right, but there's way more to it than that!
A marketing calendar maps out your entire marketing strategy, now and in the future. It includes your marketing objectives, tasks, deadlines and milestones. Furthermore, it defines the strategies for each of your marketing channels, such as social media and email.
Naturally, you'll want a planned schedule before jotting it onto the calendar. This can be done with a little brainstorming and some good ol' fashioned notepad scribbling. Your marketing calendar does the rest, putting all of the pieces together, and providing you with an overview of your entire strategy.
Let's break it down even further on what a marketing calendar can show:
- Marketing campaigns you're working on i.e. product launch, rebranding, brand awareness, etc.
- Marketing projects like email marketing, social media strategy, etc.
- Specific tasks for those projects i.e. content creation, ad creation, website updates, etc.
- Deadlines for all of the above.
- Who's responsible for which task?
- Milestones and progress reports.
By the end of a campaign, your marketing calendar will show your successes and failures. By providing these unique insights, you can make changes for the next campaign. For example, if your ads received engagement, check the calendar to see when they were launched, platforms used, and their respective creative messaging.
Marketing Calendar Formats
When it comes to marketing calendar formats, it's tempting to purchase the first kitty calendar you see at the store. But, by going digital, you'll have an interactive calendar that can be changed in an instant.
Below are the most popular marketing calendar formats available in 2023:
Google Calendar lets you schedule tasks, set reminders, and share with other users. It's simple interface and compatibility with other google products make it ideal for businesses.
Excel Spreadsheet or Google Sheets
These spreadsheets are highly customisable, allowing you to input tasks, deadlines, and other information. It's easy to update and share with teammates.
PDF or Paper-based Calendars
PDFs can be made from any of the digital calendars, or even from scratch. You can then share or print the marketing calendar for physical viewing. However, as your team grows and activities become more complex, a paper-based calendar may not be sufficient.
There are many dedicated marketing calendar apps containing project management tools to keep things running smoothly. These let you create boards and cards, simplifying task delegation and tracking. Examples include:
Types of Marketing Calendars
Marketing calendars aren't a one-size-fits-all solution, so you'll want one that fits your needs.
Here are the most common types of marketing calendars:
Marketing Calendar: Shows all marketing campaigns along with their respective tasks, deadlines and goals.
Marketing Campaign calendar: Lists all activities, deadlines and tasks related to a single campaign. This type of calendar serves best for complex campaigns, like for brand awareness which require different departments to work together.
Marketing Project Calendar: Lets you track individual projects like content creation, email campaigns, and website updates. It focuses on one aspect of your campaign, rather than the entire thing.
Quarterly Marketing Calendar: Lists all campaign marketing activities for the quarter including tasks, deadlines and checkpoints.
If you're managing different teams, select a calendar that caters to a specific marketing strategy. For example, if one team handles website maintenance while another does social media ads, you can create separate marketing calendars for both. Alternatively, you can choose a marketing campaign calendar if your campaigns are complex and require collaboration among different teams.
Let's go through a few marketing calendar examples:
An editorial calendar or content calendar, lets you plan all content publishing tasks. It lets you plan out your blog posts, social media posts, articles, videos scripts and other types of content in advance. In this calendar, you may assign a team of writers, editors and strategists to work in unison.
Here are a few examples of tasks found in an editorial calendar:
Organic content traffic: Keyword Research, Blog posts, and Guest Posts.
Email marketing content: Newsletters, Promotional Emails and Special Offers.
Social media content: Images, Social Media Posts, and Video headlines, scripts and descriptions.
Ad campaigns content: Text Advertisements, Display ad copy and article ads.
As you can see, a content calendar plans all content creation tasks for multiple marketing strategies, including social media campaigns and organic traffic. You can keep track of the content in different stages and assign tasks to team members at the start or as you go.
Social Media Marketing Calendar
Unlike a content calendar that encompasses all types of content, a social media calendar focuses tasks strictly on social media tasks. A social media team may comprise copywriters, video editors, and a digital marketing analyst.
Here, you'll plan tasks related to social media marketing, such as:
Social media posts: Create surveys, videos, quotes, images and on.
Social media ads: Identifying campaign objectives and their targeted audiences. Then create ad copy and visuals by writing scripts and designing visuals.
Social media engagement: Responding to dms, social media comments, running contests, etc.
Analytics tracking: Setting up metrics and KPIs, and measuring performance.
Social media influencer partnerships: Finding and communicating with social influencers, or other companies in your industry to collaborate with.
Website Marketing Calendar
Website's seldom stay stagnant, whether it's redesigning the homepage, optimising page speed or updating plugins. A website marketing calendar lets you plan and track all website related tasks.
Here are a few tasks you could include in your website marketing calendar:
Website design updates: Incorporating new UI, UX aspects and visual elements to keep things fresh. Planning and scheduling updates to ensure your site runs smoothly.
Content publishing: Scheduling publishing dates for blog posts submitted by your writers.
Analytics and reporting: Set up analytics tracking systems to monitor site performance. If your website consistently goes down, they'll see why and fix it.
Maintenance: Schedule security updates, website backups, and other technical main-though such as fixing broken links or updating plugins.
These are just a few project marketing calendars you could incorporate into your marketing strategy. It ultimately depends on your preferences, team size, resources, goals when deciding which one will be best for your team.
Just ensure all calendars are updated as tasks are completed or delayed - that way, everything runs like clockwork.
Planning Your Marketing Calendar - How to Get Started
- Choose your Marketing Calendar Format
First things first, pick your preferred marketing tool, whether it'd be Excel, Google Sheets, or a project management tool like Asana. This depends on your campaign's complexity, budget, and team size. Just ensure all team members are onboard and have access to the same calendar.
- Define your goals
Do you want to increase brand awareness for your product? Perhaps you're going through a rebranding phase and are using social media to build a following?
Whatever your goal, set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based) and plan accordingly.
- Find Out Your Target Audience
You could have the best copywriters and video editors, but if you don't know who your content is for, it's all in vain. Before starting the content creation process, research the target audience and create content they'd most likely engage with.
There are multiple online tools to find out an audience's demographics . If you intend to create and post Facebook ads, use the Audience Insights tool to suss out your target audience.
Some characteristics you'll want to pay attention to include the following:
- Job title
- Purchasing habits
- Websites visited
By knowing this information, you can now define what marketing strategies to use, when and where to post the content.
- Plan Your Marketing Strategies
Now, it's time to define your marketing strategies that target your chosen audience and achieve the aforementioned goals.
Some examples include:
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising: This ad model lets advertisers post an ad that goes to the top of the platform’s search results. Once a user clicks on the ad, the advertiser is charged a certain fee.
Social media marketing: This involves creating and publishing content that resonates with your target market on various social media platforms. You can then generate leads, increase website traffic and build relationships with your audience.
Content marketing: Producing content that educates, entertains and adds value to your target audience's lives. These come in the form of blog posts, ad storyboards, video scripts, guest posts, articles, ad copy, or ebooks.
Email marketing: Send personalised emails with your brand at the forefront. For example, fitness influencers may send client success stories, or send weekly newsletters with tips on how to get fit.
Remember that a marketing calendar isn't exclusive to any of these. You can also create calendars that include multiple strategies. Just ensure it's clear and well-defined. It's easy to mix up strategies and tasks, which can lead to confusion down the line.
- Set Tasks and Choose Your Calendar
Tasks can range from creating copy for social media ads to handling security updates or website maintenance. Keep tasks concise and clear, so everyone knows exactly what they need to do.
Now, you'll want to choose a calendar that fits how you run things. This can be a quarterly calendar with all tasks listed, or marketing campaign calendars that list all campaigns.
- Create a Timeline
Once you know your marketing strategies and tasks, make a timeline for each one. Set a launch date, deadline, and milestones to measure success. You can then evaluate each campaign throughout its entirety, and make any adjustments.
On top of that, start creating realistic deadlines for each task. For example, if a content writer is assigned to write a comprehensive, a one hour deadline may be insufficient. At this point, it’s best to ask the writer for an estimated time frame for completion, timeline, then include it in your timeline.
- Assign responsibilities
If you're running two projects simultaneously i.e blog posts and social media adverts, you'll want to be extra clear on who's responsible for what. Your copywriter, for example, may be writing copy. It can quickly become confusing when employees are assigned tasks to different separate marketing projects, so ensure you're aware of who's tackling what.
On top of this, you'll want a hierarchy or a chain of command for who's in charge of the entire operation. A standard marketing team may comprise of:
Team leader - Responsible for reviewing and approving tasks on each phase.
Editorial manager - Oversees content delivered by the team, ensuring quality and accuracy.
Digital strategist - Responsible for optimising any digital campaigns, such as SEO and PPC.
Design team - Creates visuals and designs for campaigns, ranging from Facebook ads to email templates.
Web developing team - Optimises and maintains your website for maximum performance.
- Measure and Analyse
A stagnant calendar that never changes is one-dimensional. Allow team members to check off tasks, provide comments and feedback, and mark progress as they go. If tasks are delayed, this should also be reflected asap in the calendar.
Once you finish a campaign, evaluate its performance based on your timeline and goals. Were tasks done on time, or were there any delays? Were tasks missed altogether? Was the team able to hit their goal?
By continually evaluating your marketing activities via your calendar, you can make subtle adjustments throughout to remedy any deficiencies.
For example, if certain tasks are consistently being missed or delayed, you could adjust the deadline or reassign tasks to other team members. Or, if a campaign isn't performing like you hoped, you could allocate more resources i.e hire new members or allocate more funds to it.
- Share Your Marketing Calendar and Get to Work!
The next step goes without saying: take action and get to work! Share the calendar with team member tasks and deadlines. Keep a close eye on progress, actively manage tasks, and adjust where needed.
Marketing calendars give much-needed clarity, promote accountability and proactivity, and help ensure that campaigns achieve their end goal. Furthermore, it's the perfect reminder to track your team's progress - lets face it, you can't improve what you don't measure.
Marketing Calendar FAQ
Felt like we missed something in this guide? Check out our marketing calendar FAQ:
What should be on a marketing calendar?
A marketing calendar includes all marketing activities, along with deadlines and team member responsibilities. It should also have a clear hierarchy of who's in charge and allow team members to provide feedback and track progress.
The tasks themselves could range from blog posts to email newsletters, social media posts, webinars, and website design.
Why is a marketing calendar important?
Have you ever assigned someone a task only to find out it's been forgotten, or worse, duplicated by someone else? On the flip side, you may have accepted a task only to realise you're already overloaded with work.
These types of issues are common, but having a marketing calendar ensures everyone understands their tasks and deadlines, reducing misunderstandings and promoting accountability. Furthermore, if problems do reach the surface, these can quickly be addressed and adjusted with your marketing calendar tool.
Besides preventing conflicts between members, it also allows managers to oversee tasks unfolding and have a bird's eye view of the entire project. This also lets them allocate resources accordingly, as well as assign more tasks or reassign if necessary.
What is the benefit of a marketing calendar?
By consolidating all relevant marketing tasks and deadlines in one place, your team will have a clear overview of all their tasks. This gives clarity to team members, keeps people accountable, and encourages collaboration.
Other benefits of creating a marketing calendar include:
Improved organisation: Instead of team members writing tasks on sticky notes or remembering deadlines, a marketing calendar provides an organised view of all tasks and deadlines.
Valuable insights: a marketing calendar lets you evaluate what's working and adjust tasks, resources, or goals as needed.
Time saving: by keeping all information in a central location, members can access the calendar for what they need. This can save hours of back-and-forth messages, trying to understand who's doing what.
Overall, a marketing calendar allows for longer-term planning and goal setting, which can achieve your brand's goals more efficiently. It also lets you plan short and long-term goals at once.
Can I plan events on a marketing calendar?
Yes, planning and inputting events for future reference is especially easy on a marketing calendar. This could be anything from trade shows and conferences, to webinars and podcasts. However, opt for a digital marketing calendar - you'll stay up to date, and can make adjustments on the fly.
Streamline Workflow with a Marketing Calendar
With so many tools and channels to keep track of, creating a marketing calendar is vital for businesses of all sizes. It's a single source of truth for all of your marketing efforts and helps keep you on track and focused on the ultimate goal. And by planning ahead, you won't ever run into any surprises.
Once your marketing calendar is set up, your team members will take control and ownership of their tasks. And as campaigns come to fruition, you can review what went right and what went wrong. This will help you to continuously improve your marketing efforts, and better align them with your overall business goals.
So, what are you waiting for? Start creating your marketing calendar today and see the difference it makes in your business!