You may not realize this, but calendars are useful for more than just remembering birthdays and anniversaries.
They can also do a heck of a job helping your marketing team stay on target when launching a campaign. Every marketing plan worth its weight in gold has a fully populated marketing plan calendar to go along with it.
Having a calendar as part of your marketing plan helps your team understand their workflow — what’s supposed to happen and when. At the same time, it helps them envision the roadmap to success.
Building a marketing plan calendar isn’t necessarily easy. However, it gets a lot easier when you have a template in place that you can populate with plans for multiple campaigns.
Here’s how you can build and identify the right template for your marketing plan calendar.
What is a Marketing Calendar?
Your marketing efforts are bolstered by your content. But developing great content isn’t enough — you also have to think strategically about when and why you post each individual piece.
Your marketing calendar helps you consider all of that. You’ll organize your content (for your blog, social media profiles, and other channels) in a way that optimizes engagement and ensures every piece gets its time to shine.
If you don’t have a marketing calendar set up, you run the risk of one piece of content getting overshadowed by another or posting multiple times on the same day. The last thing you want to do is put your well-thought-out content in a position to fail because you posted it at the wrong time.
There are a few different approaches you can take to set up a marketing calendar. You can have a larger, overarching calendar, or you can have smaller calendars for specific types of content.
Below are summaries of three types of marketing calendars you may want to use.
1. Marketing Plan Calendar
This is the mother of all planning calendars, from a marketing perspective. This will include everything in your marketing plan.
Your marketing plan calendar moves beyond just content creation. It also includes project timelines, major milestones, and expected dates of completion for the campaign in general.
This is the resource your team members will look at when they need to remember any dates involved in your marketing plan, be those content or task-related.
2. Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is a calendar you’ll use to organize all of your content thematically throughout the duration of your campaign. This is where you’ll include themes, topics, and dates for various content types as well as other important dates to remember during the campaign.
Here’s an example: let’s say you’re a flower shop planning your editorial calendar for the year. You may want to highlight dates such as Christmas or Mother’s Day (high volume periods) as particularly important time frames in your content planning approach.
3. Social Media Calendar
An editorial calendar encompasses all your content, whereas a social media calendar only captures your social media platforms. This content may be a part of your editorial calendar, but only social content will be included in your social media calendar.
This is particularly helpful if you have a robust, multi-channel social media presence. If you’re active on several channels, having a calendar strictly for your social media marketing efforts will prove invaluable.
The Role of a Marketing Calendar in Your Content Marketing Strategy
When you’re brainstorming a content strategy, you’ll want to have your team members throw out all their ideas — good and bad — to see what sticks in your hearts and minds. And while there’s a time for throwing everything against the wall, at a certain point, you’ll need to think a little more strategically about what you’re doing from a content marketing perspective.
When developing your marketing calendar, you align all of those great ideas in a structured way that makes the most sense. Timing matters and your marketing calendar enables you to get the most out of your content.
Imagine writing 52 captivating blog posts (it may not be best practice to write all of these at once, but just picture yourself having this many great posts in the can at one time). Would you post all of them in the span of two days?
Of course not. Much of the content would get buried on your site and you wouldn’t be able to reap the SEO benefits.
A better approach would be to post once a week (or maybe 2-3 a week) over a longer period of time. A marketing calendar allows you to implement a tempo to your content marketing by plotting out when you’ll post everything.
To Excel or Not to Excel?
You may be wondering what format to build your marketing plan calendar in. You have several options at your disposal, some better than others.
Many people use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for this type of document, and it makes sense as to why. Excel is one of the leading spreadsheet formats due to Microsoft’s prominence in the office computing environment.
Excel isn’t a bad tool in any way — although the number of rules associated with using it effectively can be somewhat exhausting. However, here’s the main problem: you’ll likely have to set up a marketing plan calendar in Excel from scratch.
That’s going to involve a lot of formatting. If you’re the type of person who simply loves designing spreadsheets in Excel, that may be right up your alley.
Many marketers don’t have time to set up a marketing calendar in a program like Excel or Google Docs. Our suggestion is to find a marketing software program with previously established templates.
So much time and care go into building an effective marketing calendar. Why spend even more time setting up the format when someone’s already done that work for you?
What a Social Media Calendar Template Looks Like
As noted above, your social media calendar will look slightly different from an editorial calendar or even your marketing plan calendar. It only covers your social assets.
A typical social media calendar will contain the following information:
- Length of the social media campaign
- Frequency of posts
- Platforms you plan to use
Here’s how a hypothetical week of social content may look:
- Monday: 2 tweets, 1 Facebook post, 1 blog on LinkedIn
- Tuesday: 2 tweets, 1 Facebook post, 1 Instagram post and story
- Wednesday: 2 tweets, 1 Facebook Post, 1 blog on LinkedIn
- Thursday: 2 tweets, 1 Facebook post, 1 Instagram post and story
- Friday: 2 tweets, 1 Facebook Post, 1 blog on LinkedIn
Note: these aren’t necessarily best practices for the number of posts or which platforms to use. This is just an example to show you how your calendar may look after you’ve selected the social networks you’d like to use.
A Marketing Calendar Template that Supports Winning Marketing Campaigns
So what will a successful marketing calendar template look like? Some of the basics include clearly listing the campaign the calendar belongs to as well as the responsible team members for each task/content format.
Your calendar should match the length of the campaign. In other words, don’t include months/weeks falling outside the campaign’s range – that’s useless data your team doesn’t need.
When it comes to the actual calendar part of the template, here are some of the features you’ll want to include:
- An overview of all major campaign-related tasks and associated deadlines
- The schedule for all content marketing posts
- The schedule for all of your social media posts
- The schedule for all your email marketing efforts
Different members of your team may be responsible for each aspect of your marketing plan. Still, it’s good to have all this information in one place.
View your marketing plan as an ecosystem, with all parts interrelated. Your calendar enables your team members to understand how these pieces will function together and when they will occur. That way, there’s less confusion and clutter.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Plan Calendar Template
There are two great things about having a marketing plan calendar template.
One is that having a template will save you from building a new calendar for every campaign. You’ll simply populate the template with any new information depending on the campaign.
The second great thing about using a marketing plan calendar template is that it makes scheduling your content much easier. Being able to view everything in one spot makes it so much easier for your team to know when and where everything will post.
Once you’ve made the wise decision to use a marketing plan calendar template, the next step is to determine how to design one. You can either make your own (as noted above, that’s A LOT of work) or you can fill in an existing template.
You’re in luck, as Welcome has a free marketing plan calendar template you can customize to fit the precise needs of your team.
So what are you waiting for? Welcome is an industry leader in providing digital marketing software solutions that help you engage and convert more clients. With our free template, you can save time while implementing a tried and true template that allows marketing teams to get results.
For more information on how we can help you build and bolster your marketing plan calendar, contact us today.