From a hand-written to-do list to the calendar app on your smartphone, there are many ways to keep track of the critical details about your business. But as your company scales in size, you will need an online marketing calendar that grows with your business to optimize your marketing strategy.
An online marketing calendar is one of the most powerful tools that any online marketer can use. Veteran online marketing professionals understand that expertise in email marketing, social media outlets, and content marketing is just the beginning – coordinating these tools into an overall online marketing strategy makes everything run smoothly and efficiently.
That’s why The Loop Marketing is sharing our secret sauce for free: a fully customizable online marketing calendar on Google Sheets designed to assist cross-functional marketing teams in working together, coordinating publishing schedules, and meeting deadlines.
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What’s The Difference Between a Calendar and a Marketing Calendar?
When remembering specific dates or appointments, Google Calendars, paper calendars, and Apple calendars stand the test of time. What those calendars cannot do is properly schedule marketing, content, and social media campaigns.
Digital marketing calendars are fully customizable and allow you to track progress on any campaign your company is running. The beautiful thing about a cloud-based marketing calendar is that everyone has access to it: at home, at the office, or even on the road, your employees stay up to date.
In addition, cross-functional teams can work together on deadlines or coordinate work schedules.
On the other hand, if planned, copywriting might be effectively leveraged as an effective email and a quality content piece with minimal effort. The content calendar can show those managing online marketing where there will be potential problems and potential opportunities.
If you’re looking for something to keep track of appointments and Zoom meetings, then go with something simple for your phone or a planner. But once you need to start putting together content campaigns, it’s time to find yourself an online marketing calendar.
Every company with a digital marketing presence needs to leverage its content calendar to collaborate with all aspects of its marketing team successfully.
5 Things Every Content Calendar Needs
So you are starting to realize you need an online marketing calendar, but you have no idea what to look for. Here are 5 things every digital marketing calendar needs to benefit your company.
It’s 2022: the cloud stores everything on the internet. As someone who loves handwritten to-do lists, they are no replacement for online digital marketing calendars.
Software like Monday, Airtable, and Google Sheets offer access from anywhere at any time to your marketing calendar for all of your employees.
Don’t worry about losing your calendar, as almost every online content calendar is built on the cloud, meaning that once it’s up and running, your online marketing calendar stays up.
To make an online marketing calendar genuinely great, it needs to be completely customizable.
If you only use Pinterest and blog posts to obtain leads, having a content calendar with every social media outlet on it will take up a lot of unnecessary time and space.
On the other hand, if you’re keeping track of emails, content hubs, or even analytics, your digital marketing calendar needs to reflect that.
Running a fully customizable online marketing calendar allows you to scale up or down your marketing campaigns with a click of a couple of buttons.
Identify what you need in an online marketing calendar, find a customizable template, and work laying out your digital marketing campaigns.
3. Promotion Plan
On a basic level, your online marketing calendar needs to list out all of your upcoming blog posts and the day they are going live.
But everyone who knows SEO understands that going live is the first step in the marketing process.
Content promotion is key to getting eyes and ears on your posts early on to build backlinks and other promotional opportunities.
A helpful online marketing calendar is set up to lay out an entire promotion schedule for every new blog post, including the social media type, text, and any included images.
Designing a comprehensive promotional plan ahead of time for blog posts allows you to focus entirely on your marketing campaign’s bigger picture and how it aligns.
4. Content Hierarchy
Don’t let your content float in the abyss by not creating content with a larger goal in mind.
Developing a content strategy often relies on various hubs (or clusters) related to key performance indicators. Your online content calendar needs the functionality to design, revise, and create all-encompassing content hubs.
Content hierarchy identifies which blog posts, videos, and web pages are your pillar content and the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of funnel pages for your website. By doing so, you create a clear plan of action for every visitor on your website to get them from one post to another to eventually become a lead.
Online marketing calendars should lay out the path for your upcoming content funnels through easy-to-use functionality.
5. Schedule of Events
Lastly, like any calendar, your online marketing must highlight important events (not found on a regular calendar). These include specifically related holidays, upcoming promotions, or events where you can reach out to an engaged audience.
How you lay these dates out is up to you, but knowing these dates/events is essential to creating a fully-fleshed online marketing calendar.
Benefits of an Online Marketing Calendar
We cannot stress this enough: if your company has an online presence, you need an online marketing calendar. If that isn’t enough, here are a couple of reasons you should invest your time and energy into a digital marketing calendar.
Create fully-developed marketing campaigns.
Allow yourself to see the bigger picture by creating your digital marketing campaigns from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel.
An online marketing calendar places all of your upcoming content (blogs, social posts, videos, etc.) in one place so you can see how every piece of the marketing funnel fits together.
Collaborate across teams.
Every employee related to your campaign has the opportunity to comment, edit, and schedule their part of the campaign since the cloud real-time updates your content calendar.
As your marketing team grows, this collaboration is essential to identify areas of progress, brainstorm missed opportunities, and create valuable content for your customers.
Never miss a promotional opportunity.
Have you ever suddenly realized that it is a holiday but have nothing planned to share on social media platforms? Or do you struggle with content ideas?
With every date in front of you, your marketing team will never miss a chance to optimize the number of eyes on your website or social media page. Identify important dates and lay out your marketing plans to highlight relevant content.
Types of Marketing Calendars
What kind of online marketing calendar you use depends on your marketing campaigns, the number of people on your team, and your knowledge of content campaigns.
There are a variety of different options available, both paid and free.
We created The Loop Marketing’s free 2023 Online Marketing Calendar using Google Sheets, a free-to-use, collaborative spreadsheet that’s entirely customizable to your marketing campaign’s needs.
Anyone with a Google account can set up a Google Sheets content calendar. The benefit of using a spreadsheet is how easy to use they are.
Add a couple of columns here and there, and you’ll have a basic content calendar. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit fancier, Google Sheets does that, too, with the ability to color-code, add drop-down choice menus, and almost introduce any type of if-then formula to your spreadsheet.
Because of its ease of use, and customization options, Google Sheets is the perfect option for first-timers looking to make an online marketing calendar.
For something more functional in creating a production line effect for your online marketing calendar, Trello might be what you’re looking for. Users can create a complete timeline for work where every team member can move tasks to the next step when they’re completed.
Trello is a wonderful tool but lacks a lot of the functionality that comes with Google Sheets, Airtable, and Monday regarding online marketing calendars.
Airtable is like Google Sheets on steroids. Everything you want or need in a spreadsheet is available using Airtable, including creating multiple views.
While a bit more on the technical side, where Airtable truly shines is the vast array of pre-made templates for any content calendar you imagine, they have a template for everything from content calendars to wedding details.
But a word of warning, Airtable has a learning curve, so if you’re looking for something simple and easy, you might want to start with Google Sheets.
For a comprehensive marketing plan calendar, Monday has got it all and then some. Monday is one of the market’s most advanced workflow management tools and works great for larger teams looking for collaboration opportunities.
If you’re looking for an entire workflow system alongside your online marketing calendar, The Loop Marketing recommends Monday.com.
How To Use Our Free Online Marketing Calendar Template
The Loop Marketing’s 2023 free online marketing content calendar is a simple Google Sheets spreadsheet. Here are a couple of instructions on how to optimize and best use our updated online marketing calendar.
Accessing The Loop Marketing’s 2023 Free Online Marketing Calendar
Access our 2023 Online Marketing Planner by clicking the link above. You must have a Google account to access and use Google Sheets.
When you click on the link, the Google Sheet will open. All you need to do in order to get started is click the “Use Template” button in the top right corner of the page.
This copy will be yours to edit, use, and share. We recommend bookmarking the link to your new Google Sheet in your browser for easy access.
The Setup for Marketing Teams
Start by opening your saved copy of the Google Sheet and invite your team members to join the sheet by clicking the share button at the top.
Ensure the invitation you send is for someone who “can edit” the sheet so that your team members can make changes, updates, and edits to the calendar.
Customize the online marketing calendar to fit your team.
Every business has different processes and different fields that are uniquely important for what they do.
Get a feel for the variables that come in our downloadable social media content calendar, delete the ones that are unnecessary and add necessary new fields.
Start Using the Online Marketing Calendar
Now you are ready to populate the content calendar.
Let’s say you want to start by scheduling a bi-weekly blog.
Insert the blog’s name into the content field in the cell that correlates to the publication day. If you do not know the name, input June Blog, July Blog 1, etc.
Buyer Persona: The buyer persona is the target person you plan on reaching with this post.
For example, if you are a plumber, you have multiple target customer types. On Pinterest, you may want to target the “female head of household,” on LinkedIn, you may want to target “business owners. “
Owner: Next, you input the owner, which is a required field when working with a team.
The owner is the internal person responsible for creating, sourcing, and/or sharing the content.
Status: Come up with status options that suit your team’s process.
Some examples include opportunity, planned, pending, approved, declined, scheduled, and posted.
These statuses are important for content workflow as it allows the other team members to know if a piece of content is ready or already scheduled in situations where the owner is out sick or unavailable.
Finish this by checking off which social media platforms will feature the content. Start by having your team fill in all the important posts you can come up with for the next few months. Make sure that every post has an owner assigned to it.
If it is a blog post, you may want to share it on Twitter and Facebook.
Get ahead of schedule by filling in all the important dates for your business. Maybe you are a jewelry company with Valentine’s Day promotions or a doctor’s office that wants to remind people to get their flu shots.
Ready to take the next step in your marketing journey? Call The Loop Marketing today.
Questions about how to plan and implement your online marketing schedule? Our experts at The Loop Marketing have everything you need, from web development services to our elevated marketing plan designed to be a full-service marketing option for your business.
Unsure what you need, don’t hesitate to call The Loop Marketing at (312) 728-7716 or contact us online.