How do you ensure you’re sending out your newsletters, promotional emails, and more at the right times? It takes a little planning, forethought, and set-up, but starting with an effective email marketing calendar can simplify a major piece of the puzzle.
Once you plan and visualize when to send out your newsletters, kick off your email campaigns, and schedule your marketing follow-up emails throughout the year, it’s easier to stick to your guns and follow through. That means the goals you set for yourself at the start of the year (or sales cycle) will be more achievable and doable than ever.
If you’re not sure where to start or how to schedule your email campaigns, check out these 5 email calendar templates. You’ll master the art of the email marketing calendar in no time.
When to schedule time-based email campaigns and marketing follow-up emails
According to MarketingSherpa, 72% of people prefer to get promotional messages through email versus any other platform.
Your subscribers expect these emails and prefer them delivered via their inboxes, so it’s wise to jump on the bandwagon.
Of course, the power of promotional email campaigns is doubled when you tie them into marketing gold mines like holidays, national observances, and special days of the year. Think National Coffee Day, the Superbowl, Valentine’s Day, the first day of Spring, or National Cleanup Week (Not sure when each holiday falls? Search Engine Journal has the entire year broken down by holiday via this marketing calendar.)
Here’s an example of a spring email offer from Birchbox:
Before you start planning and scheduling email campaigns, go through your calendar and mark any holidays or special events that tie into your business, especially annual sales and promotions.
You can take this a step further and use events that are personalized for each individual subscriber. These can include things like birthdays, wedding anniversaries and anniversaries of when they subscribed.
These email marketing campaigns can be created to automatically get sent from Campaign Monitor using data you already know about your customer. This information could be stored in your Salesforce CRM, Shopify eCommerce or another tool that integrates with Campaign Monitor.
Your promotional email campaigns can be one-offs, but, more than likely, you’ll send a series of emails and reminders to tempt your subscribers. Follow these calendar templates to schedule a winning promotional campaign.
Calendar template #1: Email campaign for one-day events
- 2 weeks before sale/promotion/event – Announcement email
- 1 week before sale/promotion/event – Marketing follow-up email/reminder
- 1 day before sale/promotion/event – Final follow-up email and last chance reminder
Calendar template #2: Email campaign for ongoing events/promotions
- 2 weeks before the ongoing event – Announcement email
- 1 week before the ongoing event – Marketing follow-up email/reminder
- 1 day before the ongoing event – Reminder
- During the event – Reminder
- 1 day before the event ends – Final follow-up email/last chance reminder
When to schedule informative, useful email newsletters
As opposed to promotional email campaigns, informative newsletters are usually entirely non-promotional. Instead, they seek to provide your subscribers with useful, helpful, or pertinent information.
You can schedule these to send around holidays if the topic is relevant (for example, you can send cleaning and organizing tips around National Cleanup Week). However, these types of emails are also great for filling in gaps in communication between you and your audience. It keeps you in constant contact, builds trust, and provides value.
This informational email newsletter from Resy, an app for booking tables at restaurants, is a great example. In it, the company highlights hot dining spots around NYC:
These newsletters can also be personalized based on each subscriber’s behavior in previous email campaigns. As a subscriber clicks on specific content topic links you can use that behavioral information to personalize future newsletters with more of that type of content.
To create your own newsletter-worthy email content, look at the content you create on your main channels as a jumping-off point. Tie in your helpful emails and use your newsletter as a linking opportunity.
Calendar template #3: Informational email newsletters
- Look for gaps in your email marketing calendar between promotions, sales, and events – Send one-off emails with helpful tips, how-tos, or recommendations (can tie into web content)
- Weekly, during optimal send-times – Send out a weekly newsletter with updates, links to recently published content, and helpful tidbits (provide an opt-out option if weekly is too often for some subscribers)
When to schedule event announcements and promotions
Have a big event coming up that needs some promotion? Is a big change coming to your company that you need to communicate with your loyal subscribers?
Sending out an event announcement is a great way to keep your audience up-to-date with all the goings-on.
Big events are especially important to advertise via email. For instance, if you want to invite locals to an in-store gathering, a big party, a concert, or a benefit, they’re more likely to respond to a personal email invitation.
That’s because emails drive conversions better than any other marketing method, including social media. Additionally, email has an average organic reach of 79%, which means over three-fourths of your recipients will receive and read the emails you send.
This example from SXSW showcases how the yearly conference uses email to help get people to register:
This email from Hudson Ranch and Vineyards, meanwhile, is a great example of how to make an email invitation to an event seem exclusive:
Calendar template #4: Event invitations and promotions with marketing follow-up emails
- 4-6 months before the event – Save the date announcement: Let subscribers know what the event is, plus where, when, how, and why it’s happening
- 3 months before the event – Official announcement/invitation: Depending on the type of event, formally or casually invite your subscribers, detailing time, place, and other important information
- 1 month before the event – Begin weekly marketing follow-up emails/reminders: If your audience needs to save their spot or register, remind them and provide a call-to-action button in these emails
- 1 week before the event – Last chance reminder (“Spots are filling up quickly”, “Time is running out to register”, etc.)
Calendar template #5: Announcements
This template depends on what type of announcement you’re making.
For example, if you’re going to announce a huge customer appreciation event, you can really build it up. On the other hand, if you’re making big changes to your business model/website/some other factor that will affect the customer experience, you need to avoid dropping hints and be as transparent as possible.
This template is for the former scenario when you can really have fun with it.
- 2 months before the big announcement – Build up anticipation for the actual announcement, but don’t give it away yet (“A surprise is coming…”, “We’re getting ready for something big”, etc.)
- 1 month before the announcement – Follow-up email reiterating the initial message
- Weekly, up until the announcement – Reminder emails with curiosity-inducing hints
Email marketing campaigns are nothing without a plan to implement them. If you don’t take the time to schedule your emails and optimize send-times, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to grab more interest, opens, and click-throughs.
Even more than that, your goals for the quarter or the year may slide by the wayside without a solid email marketing calendar to stick to. This calendar guides your marketing and helps you send the most impactful messages imaginable.
Use the templates above to schedule your emails for the biggest impact, then let ‘em loose. You’ll make a much bigger splash with your subscribers and customers.