What Is A Marketing Calendar and Why Is It Important?

Want your marketing to deliver better results? Try using a digital marketing calendar or marketing schedule to pre-plan out your campaigns.

Running an ecommerce business is fast-paced, and juggling multiple things at once – from marketing to sales to fulfillment to bookkeeping – is no easy feat. The key to staying on top of things? Organization.

That’s where marketing calendars come in. When building and executing a marketing strategy for your ecommerce store, marketing calendars can be a valuable tool for helping you pre-plan and keep track of each of your campaigns and channels. The result? More cohesive, effective, and efficient campaigns for improved marketing ROI.

What is a marketing calendar or marketing schedule?

Marketing calendars or marketing schedules outline your future marketing activities. Think of them as guides to help you plan, track, and monitor the progress of your campaigns.

Most marketing calendars include critical information like:

  • Campaign names: This helps you distinguish between campaigns and should help you recall the essence of it at a glance.
  • Campaign dates: Important dates include when the campaign will go live and when it will end.
  • Team member names and responsibilities: This ensures accountability, especially if you’re managing a team or contracting a freelancer to help you out with your campaigns.
  • Results: Periodically tracking and adding data into your calendar can help you evaluate what worked and what didn’t so you can optimize for future campaigns.

You can write marketing calendars on whiteboards, printed on paper, or hosted on a digital platform. They can cover the month, the quarter, or the rest of the year and include any of your marketing channels, from SMS to email to social media.

More importantly, marketing calendars act as a sort of campaign management hub. Whether working alone or with a team, marketing calendars clarify who is responsible for what and whether each campaign stage progresses on time.

Why do I need a marketing calendar?

With a transparent overview of all your marketing campaigns, you're in a better position to ensure that they stay on track, on time, and on budget. Building marketing calendars do take time, but they’re also highly beneficial, even critical to your business success.

Marketing calendars help you stay organized

As mentioned earlier, the key benefit of marketing calendars is organization. There can be many layers to your marketing calendar. You can have a high-level calendar that takes a macro view of your overall strategy, and combine it with more specific calendars that outline your social media, editorial, and influencer marketing timelines.

By helping you coordinate your strategies across all channels, that’s where the value of marketing calendars really shines.

Marketing calendars keep you consistent

To achieve marketing success, you need to be consistent. A digital marketing calendar ensures that you stick to a schedule and prevents you from posting new content sporadically.

Being consistent with your marketing efforts, whether regularly publishing new articles on your blog or frequently engaging with audiences on social media, is important because it increases your brand exposure. This, in turn, makes it more likely that potential customers will be able to recognize you – and your business.

Marketing calendars build more cohesive campaigns

If you're marketing on multiple channels, you need to ensure that their messages are in sync. For example, if you're running a campaign on email and social media, you'll want to ensure that parallel messages are going out simultaneously. By coordinating across platforms, you’ll be able to reinforce the effectiveness of your campaign.

Marketing calendars allow you to plan ahead

Don’t let busy seasons sneak up on you. Drawing up a marketing calendar forces you to sit down and plan ahead, which could be the difference between success and failure for your sales campaigns, especially during the holidays. Pre-planning is key to ensuring you’ve built enough promotional hype, prepared enough inventory, and allocated enough resources for ads and paid marketing.

In short, marketing calendars help you better align your growth, sales, and marketing strategies for maximum results.

How do I create a marketing calendar for my ecommerce business?

Before you start thinking about your marketing calendar, you need to pin down an overall marketing strategy. You need to answer questions such as: How frequently do you intend to post on your marketing channels? What is your target market and ideal customer profile? Which channels will you use? How much budget will you be allocating to content creation, paid ads, or influencer marketing?

Once you have an overall strategy in place, it’s time to start filling in your calendar with specific dates and campaigns. For example, a two-week ‘End of Summer Sale’ that lasts from mid to end August, with marketing to start in late July or early August to build awareness.

If you’re not sure where to start for your marketing calendar, you can use your merchandising calendar as a reference to make sure your campaigns align with your product launches.

You should also consider questions like:

  • Are there any sales seasons you would like to participate in, such as Black Friday Cyber Monday?
  • Do you have any specific marketing plans around the holiday seasons, like Christmas or Valentine’s Day?
  • Are there any quirky holidays or niche interest days you want to include, like May The 4th or International Fried Chicken Day, or do you have a “brand anniversary” to celebrate?
  • What will your selling cycle look like for the coming year? For example, are you selling products specifically for the winter or back-to-school season?

To get the most value out of your marketing calendars, it’s essential to track campaign results and learn from them. Try asking yourself why one campaign is more successful than another. Did posting on social media versus sending out emails make a difference? Are there certain niche holidays that resonate more strongly with your target audience? Is there a difference in ROI between a month-long versus a two-week campaign? That’s the most exciting thing about marketing – you get to continually experiment, optimize, and evolve your strategies.

Frequently asked questions about marketing calendars

Why do I need a digital marketing calendar?

Marketing calendars help you keep your marketing campaigns organized, consistent, cohesive, and well-planned for maximum effectiveness and ROI. Additionally, they provide transparency and accountability by consolidating individual responsibilities across all channels and campaigns while allowing for results to be documented for valuable insights.

What should a marketing calendar include?

Key details include campaign names, campaigns dates and durations, names of who is responsible for which tasks and a space to record campaign results. When planning your marketing calendar, you must always keep your target customer profile in mind to ensure that your campaigns align with their interests and spending habits.

Is there a sample marketing calendar example I can use?

We’ve built a holiday marketing template and a Digital Marketing for Retail Stores Playbook to help you get started, but remember that there’s infinite room for you to customize your calendars according to your specific team or business needs.

Plan, build and execute your marketing calendar with Shopify

As they say in marketing, failing to plan is planning to fail. Building a digital marketing calendar and pre-planning your marketing schedule is key to ensuring that your campaigns are consistent, cohesive, and well-organized so that your efforts don’t go to waste.

The best part? It’s easy to launch, measure, and learn from your marketing campaigns with comprehensive yet straightforward reports on Shopify. There are also many apps on the Shopify App Store you can use – such as PromoPrep and Calendify – to help you plan, track, and automate your marketing calendars.


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