Imagine you’re going to Antarctica. Would you show up unprepared? Hopefully not! More likely, you’d plan months ahead to make your trip a success.
Just like going on a big journey, email marketing works best when you have things mapped out—and the most effective way to do that is with an email marketing calendar.
A calendar lets you anticipate important dates, make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and track campaigns in real-time. It helps you take back control of your email schedule and have visibility for the whole year, stress-free.
Let’s explore how to create the ultimate email campaign calendar! But first things first…
An email marketing calendar is a template that lets you schedule your email content throughout the year. The layout may vary, but typically it includes:
Important dates: Yearly events and key company dates to remember
Cadence: How often the campaigns will be sent (e.g. monthly or weekly newsletters)
Email marketing goal: The purpose of each campaign
Target group: The intended audience for the campaign
Task owner/reviewer: The people responsible for creating the campaign and reviewing it before sending
Subject line and preheader: The text that will grab people’s attention in the inbox
Status: The campaign’s progress (e.g. ‘not started’, ‘drafting’, ‘reviewed’, ‘ready to be sent’ and ‘sent’)
A/B testing: Which elements of the campaign will be tested (e.g. emojis in the subject line vs. no emojis)
Deliverability maintenance checklist: Making sure the email will reach the inbox once it’s sent (more on this later!)
There are lots of benefits of email content calendars, including:
Boosted campaign quality: With everything mapped out, you can deliver engaging email content that resonates every time.
Clearly-allocated responsibilities: So everyone in the marketing team knows which part of the email workflow they’re in charge of.
More targeted email campaigns: Clearly outline who the newsletter is for, and why you’re sending it, to make sure it aligns with your overall email marketing strategy.
Improved tracking and visibility: With a calendar, it’s easy to keep track of your campaigns when they’re scheduled upfront.
Enhanced team wellbeing: There’s a reduced risk of content creation burnout, and no one is overwhelmed by sudden deadlines or uncertainty about what to send.
Let’s take a look at each of these elements to get the most out of email content calendars!
Imagine it’s Christmas and you receive a newsletter sharing a customer testimonial. There’s nothing wrong with that—but it won’t stand out to you as much as a “Happy Christmas, have 20% off on us” might!
A well-timed email that aligns with special events will resonate much more with your subscribers.
You can also identify specific dates for your company, such as the anniversary of a new product launch, the day your business launched, or a colleague’s birthday, and do something special to mark the occasion.
To kick things off, here’s a quick list of resources and special events to add to your content marketing plan.
1 January: New Year’s Day
1—7 January: New Year’s Resolutions Week
26 January: Australia Day
1 February 2022: Chinese New Year
4—20 February 2022: The Winter Olympics
5 February—19 March 2022: Six Nations Rugby
8 March 2022: International Women’s Day
17 March 2022: St. Patrick’s Day
18 March 2022: Holi
27 March 2022: UK Mother’s Day
1 April 2022: April Fools’ Day
2 April 2022: Ramadan begins at sundown
17 April 2022: Easter Sunday
22 April 2022: World Earth Day
8 May 2022: US Mother’s Day
12 May 2022: International Nurses Day
17 May 2022: World Baking Day
20 May 2022: World Meditation Day
28 May 2022: Amnesty International Day
1 June 2022: Global Running Day
5 June 2022: World Environment Day
19 June 2022: Father’s Day (US + UK)
21 June 2022: International Yoga Day
Plastic Free July
1 July 2022: Canada Day
17 July 2022: World Emoji Day
19 July 2022: World Product Day
30 July 2022: International Friendship Day
6 August 2022: Cycle To Work Day
8 August 2022: International Cat Day
15 August 2022: National Relaxation Day
18 August 2022: Never Give Up Day
21 August 2022: Poet’s Day
5 September 2022: Labor Day
7 September 2022: Global Talent Acquisition Day
22 September 2022: World Car Free Day
25 September 2022: World Dream Day
30 September 2022: International Podcast Day
1 October 2022: International Coffee Day
5 October 2022: World Teachers Day
16 October 2022: World Food Day
24 October 2022: United Nations Day
5 November 2022: Bonfire Night (UK)
11 November 2022: Veterans Day/Remembrance Day
24 November 2022: Thanksgiving
Marking out the date of each newsletter will give you a clear deadline to aim for—plus, it’ll help you to establish the right sending cadence for your email marketing campaigns.
If you’re wondering how often you should be firing emails into the universe, then test it out! You could run an A/B test and send weekly vs. biweekly newsletters to two different groups, and find out which one gets the highest open and click-through rates.
We also analyzed our email data to see if there were any patterns related to sending frequency and conversions. It really depends on your subscribers and what you have to offer, but we found that emails sent several times per week have slightly lower open rates compared to monthly newsletters.
However, click rates were higher for the more frequent newsletters. Read the full article below to see all the data!
And what about sending dates and times? Our 2021 data found that Wednesdays generate the highest open rates, closely followed by Mondays. And regardless of the day, opens were especially high between 10AM-12PM.
But don’t just follow the trends—make sure you check in with your target audience and analyze your metrics to find out what works best for them.
Your content marketing efforts should always have a target in mind. Rather than just emailing aimlessly, you need to have a clear idea of where you’re going and why. Your email content calendar is a great place to define this!
Do you want your subscribers to follow you on social media? To buy a new product? To visit a web page, or to discover a new feature? Whatever goal you choose, just remember to make it ‘SMART’:
Let’s pretend we’re sending a promotional email to sell our new selection of umbrellas (I’m British, so that’s the first example that popped into my head!).
Our SMART goal could look something like this:
Specific: This email will motivate readers to click the link and visit the new umbrellas page
Measurable: If the email click-through rate is above 10%, then we have achieved our goal
Achievable: We have a high engagement rate across our campaigns and social media, so this is a realistic target
Relevant: This aligns with our company goal to drive umbrella sales in 2022
Time-based: We’d like to hit this goal within one week, allowing time for subscribers to open the email
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to send the same newsletter to your entire email list. Some of your subscribers might be based in warmer climates, for example, so they don’t have to worry about umbrellas too much!
They’ll be more interested in your sunglasses collection, which calls for a different type of email. In this case, it’s far better to send separate, relevant email content to each group.
Plus, personalized emails generate 6x higher transaction rates!
When planning your email marketing calendar, take a moment to reflect on who your campaign is most relevant to. With MailerLite, you can divide your subscribers based on their preferences, behaviors and characteristics.
Before sending, you’ll want the email to go past at least two pairs of eyes to make sure that it’s up to standard.
It’s a good idea to highlight this in your content calendar template, naming the people responsible for creating and reviewing the email. That way everyone is clear about their roles, and there won’t be any last-minute panics about who was supposed to be doing what!
When drafting and reviewing the email content, take a minute to read this handy guide on crafting content that people care about, to make sure your newsletter is ticking all the boxes.
And if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, we’ve got you covered with this checklist to go through before you hit ‘send’.
Just like a trailer gets you hyped to watch a movie, your subject line and preheader give people a sneak peek into what to expect from your email, so they need to be ace! They’re the first things your subscribers will see in the inbox, and those first impressions will have a big impact on your open rates.
That’s why it can be helpful to mention your subject line and preheader in your content calendar. Your colleagues will be able to give feedback and establish whether they stand out enough.
Pro tip: Send yourself a test email to see how it looks in your inbox before you send it to your subscribers
The key is to keep the subject line concise (around 41 characters) so that there’s space for the preheader to show in the inbox. Your goal is to create an irresistible ‘hook’ to motivate people to open your email.
But avoid things like writing in all-caps, exclamation points and currency symbols, or your email could be marked as spam.
To learn more about writing the ultimate subject line, check out this guide below.
Including the project status in your calendar view is a useful way to track its progress. You could create a dropdown menu in Google Sheets or Excel with the following categories:
Added to the email builder
That way, you’ll be able to see at a glance how your content marketing strategy is coming along.
If you’re going to A/B test a part of your newsletter, then it’s useful to include that in your content calendar. That way, you can track what’s being tested regularly, identify areas that you haven’t tested as much, and post the results after. This gives you an instant overview of how to improve in the next campaign.
In case you need a reminder, A/B testing is where you create two variations of your newsletter and send them to two groups in your email list. The ‘winning version’ (aka, the one with the most opens or clicks) is then sent to the rest of your subscribers.
You can test different subject lines or different versions of the email content, for example. To learn more about A/B testing, check out the ultimate guide below.
Before you hit ‘send’, you want to ensure your email deliverability is the best it can be. Deliverability reflects the chance of your email reaching the inbox, and there are several things you can do to boost it—so it’s a good idea to include them as a checklist in your editorial calendar.
You can click on the headings to learn more about each one.
|Exclude inactive subscribers||These are the people who don’t open, click or engage with your campaigns, and you can see them listed in the ‘Subscribers’ section of your MailerLite dashboard.|
|Verify your email list||Our email friends at MailerCheck can clean your email list and remove any catch-all email addresses, typos and full inboxes that will bounce your newsletters.|
|Utilize Inbox Insights||MailerCheck also allows you to analyze your campaigns for any red flags, such as spammy content, HTML errors, or any sender authentication issues.|
|Perform Inbox Placement||Test your email before you hit ‘send’ to make sure it passes all the spam filters.|
Content calendars can go a long way in easing your schedule. If you want to streamline your email marketing process as well, then you might just love MailerLite! Its straightforward builder lets you create interactive email blocks such as videos, surveys, coupons and more to help you stand out in the inbox.
Yay, your newsletter is sent!
Your work is almost done, but first, you want to keep a record of your metrics, including open and click-through rates. Your email marketing calendar is the perfect place to do that. You can track trends over time and streamline your campaigns according to what works, and what doesn’t.
But how do you know if your metrics measure up? Every niche is different, so we’ve compiled a list of industry benchmarks for you to track how you’re doing.
Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to never worry about what to put in your next newsletter because it’s already sorted. Pretty magic, right?
Successful email marketing campaigns are planned well in advance, and a content calendar is the best way to keep track of it all. With an email schedule template like this, you’re well on your way to a stress-free email marketing plan and a happy marketing team!