How to Create a Marketing Calendar (Plus Free Template)
The digital marketing world is a whirlwind of different ideas, trends, and technologies cropping up one after another. It’s no surprise that companies sometimes pay millions of dollars for marketing campaigns, only for them to fall flat. This is why you need a marketing calendar.
Many companies don’t know that a comprehensive marketing calendar can exponentially improve your marketing activities without using up all your marketing budget.
This article discusses everything you need to know about how a marketing calendar can transform and optimize your digital marketing team‘s efforts.
What Is a Marketing Calendar?
A marketing calendar – also called a content marketing calendar or editorial calendar – is an excellent organizational tool to improve your marketing efforts. Think of it as a shared planner for your team and a single reference point for all the components of your marketing funnel.
It’s also essential to recognize that a marketing calendar isn’t just a scheduler or a due dates reminder. It’s a valuable tool that can also be used to brainstorm ideas, develop your content strategy, and discuss important dates.
Additionally, it’s not just startups or small businesses that benefit from it. In fact, as your organization grows, a marketing calendar becomes a necessity.
Every team’s marketing calendar will have unique aspects. However, they all have the same essential components.
- Project or task. This element of your marketing calendar accurately describes what needs to be done, whether a website launch, product launch, or social media campaign.
- Person responsible. Every calendar should define who is accountable for each task.
- Deadline. Every project or task must have a deadline. Having a centrally located marketing calendar means that other individuals or teams reliant on your work can see your planned release dates.
From these three essential elements, you can craft a marketing calendar that comprehensively outlines your marketing strategy. You will boost your campaigns by having an organized and harmonious workflow.
Types of Marketing Calendars
Marketing calendars should be crafted based on the needs of your organization. Thus, various types of marketing calendars can be tailored to the preferences of the groups who use them.
Physical calendars can be whiteboards, commercial calendars, and printed customized PDFs.
Physical calendars can be inefficient, especially in a hybrid or remote work environment. However, they are intuitive, easily accessible, and highly visible. Physical calendars are most beneficial during planning and brainstorming sessions.
You can also use spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, to make a highly customizable and effective calendar system for your team.
Everybody knows how to use spreadsheets, so you won’t have to train team members on a new application. Cloud-based tools ensure the files are easily accessible. Spreadsheets are typically used by teams who want simple marketing calendars that are easy to modify.
Another tool that can be repurposed to create a marketing calendar is Google Calendar.
Google Calendars are highly customizable and are already in a calendar format. Here, you can create color-coded tasks, hour-by-hour schedules, to-do lists, events, and reminders that you can customize to reflect complex timelines. You can also create repeating reminders for periodic content.
A Google Calendar is effective for teams that need a more streamlined approach because it already has many preset tools and functions, unlike spreadsheets. You can also use it with other tools from Google’s Workspace suite, such as Google Docs, Google Slides, and Google Sheets.
Dedicated Marketing Calendar Apps
Marketing calendar applications have all the tools you need for a balanced and well-planned approach to whatever project requirements you have.
While spreadsheets and basic calendars are great tools, a dedicated marketing calendar app can bring out your team’s highest potential. They provide advanced features, so you don’t have to fiddle with customizations yourself.
Here are some popular marketing calendar apps:
Top Reasons Why You Need a Marketing Calendar
Perhaps your team is functioning well enough as it is right now. Maybe you’re struggling to justify the investment of time and money required to create one. Consider these benefits first.
Better Scheduling and Planning
Most teams have a whirlwind of projects and deadlines. Managers need to be very flexible and dynamic to address the multiple problems that can come up in production and delivery. However, this also makes the process messy, especially if teams are so busy that they forgo tracking their progress.
Having a concrete plan for your marketing team’s activities will help minimize the chaos that content production can bring. Marketing calendars are designed to be rigid in terms of tasks and deadlines but flexible to allow for allowances. This way, managers can get the best of both worlds by having a clear schedule and flexible plans.
Single Source of Truth
Marketing departments are often composed of different teams, working together or individually. To add to the complexity, external groups such as IT and sales are usually required to coordinate various project parts.
A single source of truth for all teams sets a reference point for timelines and release dates. It enables each functional group to be more effective as they can match each others’ timings and assess the state of a project without having to go through the command chain.
Effective Team Collaboration
Teams can collaborate better when they have visibility of each other’s tasks, timelines, and workloads. Sales can provide valuable inputs to the marketing message. Likewise, marketing may have insights into optimal new product release dates.
By eliminating silos, team members can work together more freely and effectively. Informed teams can also self-govern better. Likewise, as managers have better visibility of timelines and workloads, they can also improve organizational planning, events, and budgets.
Whether you’re a third-party marketing firm or an in-house marketing department, chances are the end-users of your projects will want to be heavily involved in the creation process.
Having a marketing calendar allows them to quickly look at the state of their projects which helps bolster trust and confidence. If they want, they can easily identify which aspects of the project they would like to prioritize based on the current progress.
Track Project Performance
To be effective, marketers need to have an effective system for tracking the metrics of every project based on marketing goals.
Whether it’s a social media campaign or a single ad, you need to monitor how it impacts your marketing metrics to determine if it was effective or not. Whether you want to increase your subscribers, visits to your webpage, or requests for demos, you need to track the impact to improve subsequent initiatives.
Contributes to a Sound Marketing Strategy
A well-documented marketing plan and calendar ensure you are executing your marketing strategy, which ultimately boosts your company’s growth.
A good calendar allows you to create and deliver high-quality projects without exhausting your team members. Instead of rushing through tasks and chasing deadlines, you can deliberately plan more compelling content that appeals to your target audience.
Plus, you also make the process repeatable. A documented marketing strategy combined with a comprehensive marketing calendar is nothing less than a written plan for success.
How to Create a Marketing Calendar: Step-by-Step
Here are the steps to create the best marketing calendar templates for your team.
1. Identify Your Target Market
The first step to making any marketing calendar is to create a comprehensive profile of your target demographic.
This profile will serve as a guide for your overall marketing strategy and specific activities. It will inform marketing decisions, such as SEO keywords, types of content, channels, posting times, and language.
To identify your market, conduct thorough research to determine the following aspects:
- The socio-demographic profile (age, location, etc.) of your target audience
- Their most common engagement method
- Ideal times of engagement
2. Determine Content-Type
With your ideal market defined, you need to identify how you want to present content to them. There are many different types of content on the internet, and each group reacts to them differently. All of the other aspects of your calendar hinge on determining what types of content you will develop.
Some examples of the most shared content produced on the internet are:
- Blog posts
- YouTube videos
- Emails and newsletters
- Social media posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
3. Decide on Responsibilities
It’s essential to define who is in charge of what. Each team member has a crucial role that they need to fill. Some examples include:
- Content manager
- Content creators (graphic designers, blog writers, videographers, etc.)
- Social media manager
- Email marketing manager
Responsibilities for your marketing campaign will also vary based on what kind of content you put out.
4. Set Publication Frequency
Now that you know what types of content you will publish, you need to decide on the frequency that you will post on each of your marketing channels.
This decision will be informed by the amount of work necessary to produce one content unit. For example, if a complete blog post takes five hours to make, how many posts can your team realistically make in a day, week, or month?
5. Assemble a Backlog
To make matters more efficient, you need an excellent marketing calendar backlog. This backlog is simply a list of all the content ideas you plan to prepare for your marketing channels, whether your website, YouTube channel or social media page.
Your backlog should include the following information.
- Responsible team member
- Type of content
- Tentative title
- Priority level
- Publication deadline
6. Arrange Your Marketing Calendar
Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to create your marketing calendar with the type of calendar that you’ve chosen. Whether you’re using a spreadsheet, Google Calendar, or a particular marketing calendar app, you can now compile all the necessary elements to create a marketing calendar.
To help you get started, here is a FREE Marketing Calendar template.
How Interrupt Media Can Help You Execute a Marketing Calendar
Digital marketing can undoubtedly be complicated, but it doesn’t take much to immediately improve your company’s online exposure. This article discussed everything you need to know about creating a marketing calendar that works – but there’s an even better way with Interrupt Media.
Interrupt Media is a professional digital marketing consultant that can help you develop and execute the best possible marketing calendar for your teams.
With our professional guidance, you don’t have to go through an exhausting trial and error phase before figuring out what works.
Contact us now to boost your digital marketing efforts!
Topics: B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Operations