Do you use an email marketing calendar? 📅 You’ll clarify your goals and the steps you need to take to reach them when you plot out your content and email.
A comprehensive marketing calendar can make marketing easy … but not simple. The more promotional avenues you include on your calendar, the clearer your marketing path will become. But don’t get caught up in the minutia. I tend to go deep, then get stuck in the details and not make any progress because I’m trying to make it perfect.
With an email marketing calendar, you’ll be able to get the best response for your marketing dollar. Don’t know where to start or want to freshen up your 2020 plans, follow these steps to get started.
Evaluate the previous year
Look back at your to-do list from the prior year to see how your performance measured up. Did you develop every content idea from last year? If you didn’t, consider starting your calendar with these.
Evaluating the previous year’s analytics will help you identify what email topics generated the most engagement. And you can decide which items to carry over into the New Year.
In writing this article, I went through this process for my own business. I found 10 articles that I had started and got mostly finished. I just need to edit the pieces again, film a tutorial video, and add a downloadable checklist to make these articles publishable.
If every article takes me 3 hours from start to finish, I’ve saved myself at least 10 hours (they still need some work) and at least 10 brain cells. (I don’t have to come up with a topic again.)
Create your email marketing calendar and content marketing system
Decide your priorities and goals
Goal setting is the backbone of email marketing. It helps you come up with content ideas, keeps you focused, and pushes you to succeed.
So what do you want to achieve? Grow sales by 35%? Get 300 new customers? Having your goals spelled out and posted in your office will give you a boost of inspiration whenever you feel frustrated and help you stay focused when challenges come your way.
My goals for 2020
- Once a month sell an email course
- Organize WordCamp San Diego
- Have 80 monthly email clients
Now that I have my goals, I’ll need to work on the ideas and curriculum for the courses, so I’ll need to add that to my project management system.
I need to promote the heck out of my monthly email service to reach my goal. I’ll also need to systematize the monthly email service so it’s smooth and easy for customers and doable for me.
If one of your 2020 goals is to build your email list read, “How to Grow Your Email List“.
Segment your audience
Now that your goals are written out, the next step is to identify your target audience (a.k.a. buyer personas.) And then segment your audience so that people get the information they want.
If you’re running a health food store, you can likely segment your customers into categories more specific than merely “health-conscious individuals.” Group your audience based on demographics, behaviors, pain/challenges, interests, and email preferences.
Align emails to your audience
Identifying your audience makes it possible to talk directly to them when you’re writing the emails. Segmenting your audience into specific groups makes it possible to send emails that are specific to that subscriber’s particular interests and needs.
The goal of identifying your audiences is to send email campaigns for specific buyer personas. You don’t want to send the same email to everyone in your audience since they’re at different stages on their path-to-purchase.
Here are some common emails businesses send:
- Informational emails: These emails provide critical information that your audience needs to solve their problems.
- Pitch emails: These emails create awareness about your product and persuade your audience to give it a try.
- Follow up emails: Sent a couple of days after your pitch email to remind the audience about your product and why it’s the best solution for their problems.
In 2020 I need to uplevel my game here. I’m pretty good about segmenting per topic, as I have a few different free opt-ins on my site. But I need to do more topic-specific emails to these segments.
Determine who owns each email campaign
Your email marketing calendar should contain information about who is responsible for each campaign and the status of the campaigns. The status of each campaign can be broken down into three categories:
- New: A topic that was recently added to your calendar and hasn’t been started yet
- In progress: An email that you’re currently writing
- Complete: An email that has been completed and is ready to be sent
Commit to a schedule
Once you’ve defined your goals and audiences, decide how often to send your email. There are two things to take into consideration before you commit to a schedule.
- Consider your customers as sending emails too often can make you lose subscribers in the long run.
- Make your schedule sustainable so you don’t end up feeling discouraged that you’re unable to live up to the goals you have set.
Whatever schedule you choose, be sure to stick it.
I’m on a once a month schedule. I’m happy with that right now.
Choose the days and time of day to send
Choose a specific day of the week to send your emails. Test which days are best for your audience by splitting your list into equal parts, and sending on each day of the week, and comparing rates.
Once you have determined the best day of the week, test the send time. However, be sure to only carry out these tests on emails that are not time-sensitive.
If you’re sending a monthly email you may want to test which week works best. But here’s the thing, an unsent email is never read. Don’t get stuck in the weeds trying to get the best email send time and day. Just send it and look at the analytics after the send for your open and click-through rate.
Brainstorm ideas and plot email content
The next step is to hold a brainstorming session so you can discover creative ideas for your email marketing campaigns. Plans should be formed around themes like:
- A new product launch
- An upcoming webinar
- An upcoming sale or event
- Holidays that are important to your business
I have a planning meeting on my calendar, and I’ve invited a few friends. We get together on Zoom and work on our content for an hour. Why do I invite friends? For accountability. I know I’ll get my planning done when I have friends on the line.
Want to join me for my next planning session? Sign up for the Content Planning Mastermind.
Now that you have a list of topics and send days, it’s best to pick a date when you’ll start creating content for your campaign.
Sending emails is a task that involves three key stages,
The testing stage is where you check images and links and confirm that everything looks and works the way you want it across email inboxes and browsers.
It’s advisable to set aside a couple of days to complete your content so you’ll deliver useful content, not simply self-promotion.
Evaluate your content regularly
If you want effective email marketing, regularly check your analytics and record them. Analytics should be a part of your email marketing calendar.
Evaluate your content weekly, monthly, or quarterly to see the type of content that works and what needs to be tweaked. If you notice a kind of content that performs well, include similar content in the future.
Now that you know the value of an email marketing calendar give it a try. If you follow these steps, it will be easier to write the best content and keep your subscribers reading.