What Exactly is a Marketing Calendar and Why Do You Need One?
You already know thorough, careful, and strategic planning is critical to growing a successful business. This goes for all aspects—from finances to operations to, of course, marketing! And in order to make sure all of your marketing trains are running smoothly as possible, are on time, and are actually getting to their destination, it’s best to use a marketing calendar as a living document that keeps track of all your activity and tactics.
Below we’ll dive into exactly what a marketing calendar is, why you should have one, and how you can create your own.
What is a marketing calendar and why is it useful?
Successful marketing requires a great deal of planning ahead and many moving parts; without a way for your whole team to keep track of all of those moving parts, it can get to be a little overwhelming. That’s why a cohesive, syncable marketing calendar is a must-have tool for a growing business. It allows you to track goals with ease and keep a pulse on the marketing activities that will help you achieve them.
Salesforce found that 86 percent of workplace failures stem from a lack of collaboration; a marketing calendar works wonders as the single source of truth to keep everyone on the same page.
Why do I need a marketing calendar?
Content marketing is the strategy of creating quality content for use across various digital marketing channels. The difference between content marketing and traditional marketing lies in the value offered to the reader. Traditional marketing focuses on everything the brand wants the world to know. In contrast, content marketing focuses more on the reader’s wants and needs by answering their questions, showing them how to solve a problem, and generally providing information of value and relevance at no cost to them.
Types of marketing calendars
Marketing calendars come in several different forms. The right type will depend on what you’d like to use it for. A few examples of tactic-specific calendars include:
- Editorial calendar – Regularly writing and posting fresh content to your blog is a great way to drive traffic to your website. An editorial calendar will serve as the perfect way to plan ahead and stay on a consistent schedule.
- Campaign calendar – Using a campaign calendar is one of the best ways to plan a successful marketing campaign. A marketing campaign will likely involve a lot of ads and content over multiple channels. Planning it all out in one easy-to-reach spot will ensure a smooth execution.
- Social media calendar – A social media calendar will allow you to plan and schedule all of your social media posts across multiple channels, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.
- Email marketing calendar – Email marketing is a highly effective way to stay in touch with your target audience, build customer relationships, and drive conversions. Keeping it all straight can be a challenge–especially for more complex email marketing.
How do I create a marketing calendar? What should be included?
The point of a marketing calendar is to plan and schedule content in a way that makes things easier for you—so the best way to create one will depend on your company’s needs. You may also find you need to adjust the setup of your calendar as you figure out what works best and how many people will be in and out of it. However, there are some key aspects to keep in mind as you build your marketing calendar.
To get started, we suggest breaking a sheet down into the following columns:
- Timeline/dates – This is perhaps the most essential part of your marketing calendar. You should always include the dates your marketing activities will take place. If you’re planning a campaign, include start and end dates, as well as individual dates on which you’ll post each piece of content or host an event.
- Themes – This is a helpful column for brainstorming relevant content. What sort of topics and themes are relevant at each particular time of year? How can you incorporate those ideas into your content?
- Tactics/topics – This is the column in which you’ll put the final content plans. For example: a blog post and its title, an Instagram post and the topic it should cover, or a newsletter and the info you’d like it to include.
- Status – This column will let everyone viewing the calendar know the status of the content. Is it a work in progress? Is it completed and waiting to be posted? Or is it live?
While these are the basic pieces of information that should be included in your marketing calendar, it’s also helpful to include who on your team is in charge of which pieces of content and how you will measure the success. This will keep everyone on track and allow everyone to understand the objective at hand.
In many cases, multiple calendars for different channels and types of content will be necessary. Additionally, it’s important to make sure your calendar is shareable, syncable, and easy to use! Half of a marketing calendar’s importance is keeping your whole team on the same page, so being able to easily make adjustments and edits that the whole team can see in real-time is vital.
At the end of the day, your marketing calendar should allow everyone to easily see exactly what needs to be done and by when.
&Marketing’s Marketing Calendar Template
As you can see, a marketing calendar is an essential tool. However, building one from scratch can take a lot of work, and we know you don’t have that kind of extra time.
That’s why we’ve created an easy-to-use marketing calendar template to help you get started. It has everything you need to start planning and scheduling the content that will land you right in the eyes of your target audience. Download it today to start customizing it for your unique business’s needs.
About the Author
Marketing Manager Ann Ehinger serves as the link between clients and creative to drive projects that deliver results. With over a decade of experience working in the nonprofit, technology, and agency space, Ann is adept at managing a project from idea to completion while navigating all the ups and downs that pop up in between.
&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.
Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?
We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.